Friday, 26 June 2015

Playing out

I may not be going on a far flung holiday this year, but am I down hearted? Nope. My biggest sewing project to date is finally done, and we have another camper van too. Summer is a state of mind and my mind is now fully on summer.

East Anglia has more coastline than any other part of the UK, we have country parks and campsites galore. Who needs abroad? Here we are at lovely Cudmore Grove country park on Mersea Island, where fields and woods meet quiet beaches.

The perfect setting for a four piece summer outfit.

With 60s style glasses and vintage Mexican hat on a windy beach.

My four piece set:
  1. Open front skirt with wide waistband, one bound button hole, 5 hooks and eyes
  2. Jacket, worn open, or closes with hooks and eyes. 
  3. Shorts, in stretch cotton with back zipper and high waistband
  4. Fitted sleeveless top in stretch cotton 

After Braque - printed cotton by Makower found on ebay.

Materials and patterns used:
  • Jacket and skirt - Makower cotton "After Braque" - 3 metres. 
  • Contrast blue poplin, John Lewis - I metre from stash 
  • Blue cotton & spandex fabric for shorts and top - 2 metres from local fabric shop
  • 50s Advance 6260 - bodice used for jacket
  • 40s Anne Adams 4075 - skirt with added waistband
  • Simplicity 1590 - shorts
  • Advance 6710 - fitted top

Making notes: 

The choice of the After Braque as my main fabric was a bonus. It has so many blues it's easy to find fabric to match for the contrasts and the additional pieces.

First scallops, first collar, first bound button hole, and first trouser/shorts! There was so much learning on this make. Stretch cotton with spandex was another new to me experience. Really comfy, easy to sew, useful for so many things - my top didn't need any closures because of the stretch.

Total time taken: 5 weeks (at least).

Taking your skirt off on a windy beach !

Safe away from the sea.

A fine end to the day.

The verdict

Five weeks is a long time to be sewing one project, but overall I am delighted, all the pieces can be used alone so you can actually count it as 4 outfits!

The sleeveless top has been taken in a a bit more since taking this pictures. I think the front of these shorts also looks a bit roomy, while the back is a bit snug! Well I don't mind actually, but I will try and fix the fit if I do another. I have come to the conclusion that trouser patterns either fit you after a couple of attempts, or you move on to the next one.

If like me you've always wanted a set like this, I'd say have a go. It may be time consuming, but I just started and in a fairly haphazard way and it came together. I may add to it, a pair of trousers with my remaining cotton spandex, and perhaps a long sleeve blouse. I also need to add pockets to the skirt! This game could go on and on.

I am posting this as part of the Four Piece Vintage Inspired Mini Capsule Wardrobe on Flikr. Fortunately it's much easier to wear than to say. I was about half way through this set when the group was formed by Rochelle from Lucky Lucille. Suddenly I was no longer alone in my mad project! Hurray.  I can't wait to see what everyone else is up to.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Bewitching Sportaville & Marignan skirt

I have discovered my super-power at last. I can make my bottom half disappear in a field. 
This picture has been dubbed the Floral Predator, and it's a fair description. 

The skirt is a restored Sportaville 1950s find, and the amazing fabric is a scenic print by the French firm Marignan.

The backdrop is our local bluebell woods. Apparently Tim Burton has a house around the corner.

Dearest little dears. 

That vanishing trick is down to this amazing print. I was searching Ebay for projects when it caught my eye, the sumptuous print is on a soft cotton barkcloth. I counted 7 colours, and I bet it cost a fortune when it was new.

Sportaville were a British maker of quality separates from the 1940s through to the late 70s Sadly all that remained of this one was the three panels of fabric, and a scrap of waistband with the original label attached.

The three former Sportaville skirt panels hanging in the back garden, each is 34" wide by 26" long.

The Sportaville label on the restored skirt .

Re-making can be harder than making from scratch. I stabilised the top edge with bias binding, which stopped it fraying and going off grain but made it bulkier to pleat. After trying 4 different pleats all of which looked awful, I looked on Etsy and found a similar barkcloth skirt with stitched down pleats, which I copied. I have left the it un-hemmed as it was only 26" long, and it still had the original over-cast stitching to stop it fraying.

But how do I know this fabric is by Marignan? Well I have bought this print before, several years ago, again on Ebay.

Scenic print fabric by Marignan

Waterfall close up 

Grand Teint Meuble Marignan - 'Grand teint' apparently refers to the quality of the ink

This print is so dreamy. The indigo and lavender on pale yellow have a kind of other-worldly look. It's a metre plus of furnishing fabric, enough for a cushion or something but I think I will frame it and put in my stairwell. I now assume this is 1950s too.

Sportaville and companies like them owe their reputation to using this kind of high grade fabric, but Marignan and companies who supply them are often a bit hidden. I am so used to seeing novelty print skirts all over the inter-web, but looking at these two prints makes me really appreciate the sheer quality of the stuff that was being used, essentially to make a fashion product. It was as they say, a very different age.