Friday, 30 October 2009

Buttons and bubbles



You may remember that a little while ago I started making a bubble skirt for Princess Bunchy here, which I actually managed to finish in the nick of time for the big party here. As you have had only glimpses of fabric and finished item, I felt impelled to share with you the whole creative process. After all, the show and tell is the fun bit of blogging, and even more fun, it's not confined to once a week like a primary school.




The pattern was from Samantha at The Handmade Dress, and is called Miss Iris;  I think I would buy her patterns for their lovely names alone: it is so much more exciting to buy a name than a number.




The fabric is from the Arcadia range by Sanae for Moda - patchwork fabric again, which I found in an Aladdin's cave of a shop in Canterbury called J.E.M.'s: it is the tiniest shop but has the most compendious range of all sorts of things crafty, from fabric to yarn to buttons to beads to ribbons to sewing machines ... I don't quite know how they fit quite so much into such a small space.



As I have said before, Samantha's patterns are a delight to work with: they are so simply constructed, with such clear instructions that they are well within reach of those of us who are a little challenged on the dressmaking front. They are also multi-sized and printed on lovely thick paper, so that they can easily be used again and again.




Samantha helpfully advises you to trace the pattern onto some more paper to avoid cutting the original, and you will see that I used some very fetching pink tissue, which was all that I had in the wrapping paper drawer, having mislaid the tracing paper, which I am sure that I have bought on numerous occasions, in the certain knowledge that it is a useful thing to have in the house, but tracing paper is one of those things, like graph paper, which defeats my effort to locate it in an emergency, having burrowed itself into the furthest reaches of the darkest cupboards, and however many times I buy it, I never have it to hand when I want it.


As Princess Bunchy would say, I think it is the Borrowers, of whom there are at least two in my house. (Which was why I lost a skirt for six months, someone having absorbed it into the morass which was their sartorial storage facility, and only returning it anonymously when a new wardrobe was bought, which necessitated a certain amount of delving into festering heaps under the bed and on the floor, and thus unearthing my skirt, which I had come to the conclusion, after months of searching in vain for it, had spontaneously vaporized whilst my back was turned. And no, it wasn't actually a Princess what did it, and no, it wasn't even worn, and it was probably my fault for buying a skirt from Oxfam, in a fabric and style which faintly resembled the sort of shorts that an adventurous boy might keep uninvestigated in a heap for six months, all the while denying all knowledge of said skirt, because such things are of no relevance to his ilk.)

Where was I? Oh yes, cutting out Miss Iris. Note that I ironed the tissue paper first, as one should do with patterns in the quest for accuracy, and I have to say pink tissue was much more pleasing to work with, on both aesthetic and practical grounds, being slightly stronger than that self-destructing palest buff-coloured pattern paper favoured by the giants of dressmaking, and certainly a much prettier colour.



For those of you who are even more unskilled than me on the dressmaking front, I should like to recommend a grid ruler and cutting mat: I bought these some time ago in the vain hope that they would make a patchwork quilt for me, but although there hasn't been much progress on that front (I think it is like buying fancy mops and dusters from Lakeland: I have the feeling that they will suddenly bounce around the house unaided, just like in Cinderella, and in a trice I will have sparkling floors and shining horizontal surfaces. Unfortunately they don't come with a cleaning fairy, and thus languish accusingly in dark cupboards, probably playing Sardines with the tracing paper.). Sadly, the mat and grid didn't come with a quilting fairy, either, but they, in company with their friend the rotary cutter, make cutting out straight a lot easier.

Except if you get a cutting mat, please don't do what I did. In fact, it all started with the Head Chef, who in an unaccustomed fit of orderliness stored the mat vertically, propped up against the spare leaves for the dining room table, which also lurk in various dark corners around the house, because there is nowhere to put them when we don't have a dozen people to dinner. By the time that I in my housewifely inefficiency noticed that the mat was not lying safe and flat under the sofa, the damage was done, and an unsightly bulge had appeared in the middle of the mat, which makes it a little awkward to keep things straight and even. (And I do admit that I possibly compounded the damage, by trying to iron the mat straight again. Please do not attempt this in your possibly more well-regulated home.)




But zip, zap, the skirt was finished at least two hours before the party: the pattern was so straightforward that I didn't make any mistakes, or have to unpick any seams, and I even managed to get the elastic into the waistband without twisting it at the first attempt.




However, there was no cause for complacency - I had bought a plain white T-shirt to match, and as Princess Bunchy robed herself, I decided that this was all too boring, and started rummaging in my button box.



You can see the end result, which was all sewn on with contrasting coloured threads, whilst the General hovered in the doorway berating me for telling him that we would leave half an hour before we actually drove out of the gate (it was all part of the finest calculation: aim to leave half an hour before you need to, then although you will be half an hour late leaving, you will actually be on time, and be able to do something inefficiently time-consuming while the clock ticks on, like writing a blog post as I am doing now, when I should be driving out of the gate ten minutes ago.).



One day my ambition is to write a simple tutorial from which you will learn something useful, but I think that is something towards which I must work, crabwise probably. In the meantime, under the What I Learn heading (my first physics teacher at secondary school had this as the final heading for each lesson, and I found it so useful: you could just skip the rest and remember the What I Learn) is:

1. Don't apply heat to a self-healing cutting mat as it will melt and deform,

2. Pink tissue paper makes life more fun, and

3. It is very difficult to cut a straight line without a ruler.

And, 4. The application of buttons will always improve anything you care to make, so keep your button box well topped up.



Have a good weekend, and I hope for your sake that it is a buttony one.

33 comments:

Bobo Bun said...

You sound my kind of woman for needing to sew the buttons on at the last minute.

Lisa x

Itch2stitch.com said...

You have done a fine job on that skirt, it is fab. I love the look of those patterns too. As for the buttons, brilliant, reallly looks good. I have a cutting mat and one of those brilliant grid rulers too, they really do help make the job a bit easier don't they! Have a lovely weekend. suzie. x

TheMadHouse said...

Love the skirt, but I love the way she is wearing it with the converse boots. Incredably stylish.

Tabiboo said...

A beautiful skirt and such wonderful fabric - it looks even better close up.

Have a lovely evening & weekend,

Nina x

Ticking stripes said...

Fabulous post - love the button edging. Thanks for popping over and joining in. More than happy for you to take a picture to use on yours - if I knew how to make a button I would!

silverpebble said...

It's wonderful to see the creative process in action. I adore the fabric you chose for the bubble skirt and tthat little button trim you added to the T shirt - the perfect touch!

Floss said...

Hmm, yes, perhaps I shouldn't feel so glad to have only had sons... I rather envy you having the opportunity to dress up someone else! Super skirt, lovely button details, and thanks for the advice - it sounds just like the kind of advice I need!

marigold jam said...

As always a lovely post - you did well there and I love the button trim on the tee-shirt to go with it. Like you I bought a cutting mat and a rotary cutter etc but sadly no fairy to go with it and my quilting efforts remain just that - efforts which need to be made up into something though definitely not a full size quilt I cannot imagine ever managing to make enough squares to do that!! Funny the fairy doesn't come with the cleaning tools either isn't it? Maybe she will turn up one night and we'll wake up to a sparkling house and a beautiufl quilt too.

Jane x

whoatemycrayons said...

I am so glad I am not the only one who loves buttons, for no particular reason.

Beautiful fabric, I must really get round to learning to sew one day. I love the idea of making my own clothes but suspect I lack the patience and skill required.

Michela said...

Love Princess Bunchy's t-shirt!!!!!
Have a lovely weekend!

...Miss...Maddie's... said...

A darling little skirt for your Princess... and the buttons are the icing on the cake. (or should I say on the T-shirt)Such a versatile pattern. I'm sure it would look delightful in a crepe or cotton for the Holidays too.
Do enjoy the weekend and all the pleasure it is sure to bring.
Susan

Ruth said...

I have read somewhere (but for the life of me cannot remember) that if you have a warped cutting mat that you should soak it to soften it in a bath of warm water then allow it to dry flat with some weight on top to restore its' flatness. You do, however, need to check your grid measurements on the mat afterwards to check that they are accurate. :)

Cottage Garden said...

Pomona, you are a wonder! Are there more than 24 hours in your day perchance?!! The skirt is fab and as for the buttony T shirt - LOVE it!! As ever a great post, I'm going back now to catch up with your one from yesterday which for some reason ducked under my radar...

Have a great weekend! Jeanne x

Lola Nova said...

I very much enjoyed reading your post, it gave me many smiles. I love the skirt and the button shirt. I actually went through a very similar cutting mat story with the Mr. at the root and me trying in vain to set it right again with an iron. And you have reminded me that I need to be searching the second hand shops for buttons, my stash is a bit weak at the moment.
Have a glorious weekend!

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

I'm in awe of anyone who can make a garment!!!

Always remember 'losing' a pair of jeans once, only to find them in the winter, lodged in a bush bare of leaves. Well, we are in the path of some powerful Westerly winds here! BFN. Lesley

niftyknits said...

you write so amusingly - I have a Lakeland habit too :-)

andamento said...

The skirt looks nice but I especially like the buttons on the t-shirt, ace idea!

Cally's Cottage said...

Lovely skirt- lovely post!!
Warm Wishes,
Cally

sarah-jane down the lane said...

She looked fantastic and those buttons were integral and simply worth the wait!

Happy Halloween,

Sarah x

Chrissie said...

Wat I learn:
1 You are disarmingly honest and thereby funny
2 Princess Bunchy is a lucky girl
3 I am right to hoard buttons, whatever anybody says

Greedy Nan said...

Whoops! Meant to be doing stuff which is house-tidying like but was drawn to see what the latest blog update was and now the lovely man has returned and I've done nothing. Beautiful skirt and top for PB. Must see if there's a grown-up size for me.

Menopausal musing said...

Great post Pomona....I sighed and nodded my head in recognition of the stuff that disappears after you buy it. My house is full of hidden things......... Now, I also need to be enlightened re rotary cutters. Have never used one and am wondering: are they for cutting paper patterns or can you use them to cut out fabric?

jennyflower said...

Gorgeous- and I wonder if you bought the fabric from my pal who works in Jems? My cutting board is very very buckled- up until now until now it hadn't crossed my mind to iron it- just to make sure I never left it leant up against the radiator again!

Sarah said...

Very cool! especially with the converse boots - my kinda girl!

Jennifer Montero said...

Pink paper DOES make life more fun and something as simple as a nice button can cheer up your whole day.

Thank you for reminding me of the little things :-)

Pipany said...

A great post Pomona with lots of lovely tips, thank you. Rotten about your cutting mat. I must admit to only recently getting one myself and then thinking what a plonker I was for leaving it so long! It was luck that the girl in the shop told me to alwyas keep it flat, because I had plans to prop it against the wall. The skirt is gorgeous by the way x

Felicity said...

its so pretty and i love the buttons, sometimes i wish Joshy was a girl!!! fliss xx

Florence and Mary said...

If only I could think about moving on to sewing clothing!!!

Victoria xx

alice c said...

How clever of you to have buttons which were EXACTLY the right colour just when you needed them - you obviously have a serious button box.

Calico Kate said...

Well done ~ it all looks fabulous and I bet Miss Bunchy was the belle of the ball. Love the button trim. Did you try leaving the mat flat with some books on the bump for a while - it may well still flatten but ironing wasn't a good idea - though it gave me a giggle!
Love the button stash.
CKx

elizabethm said...

A cutting mat? Never heard of these. I only ever make curtains nowadays but I am tempted.

Suzy's Vintage Attic said...

Hello Pomona

What a lovely skirt! I love what you have done with the t-shirt very pretty.
Isabelle x

andamento said...

Me again! Just to let you know that I've nominated you for a blogging award - see my last post for details. You're not obliged to accept!

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