Thursday 30 April 2015

How I embraced my inner Molly Ringwald and chopped up two old dresses to make a new one, AKA the 'Pretty in Pink' phenomenon

     As my confidence with sewing has increased I’ve moved on from just producing children’s clothes and have started to sew a few more things for myself, sometimes for fun and sometimes for necessity. I love second hand clothes and will happily trawl charity shops and eBay to find pieces I like at a low cost.
Zip front blue dress

Red and white dress

     Here are two dresses I’d bought second hand for a couple of pounds each online but, after a good few months of wear, I thought they needed a bit of a revamp, mainly because the blue one was a tad short on its own (I tended to wear it with leggings and a jumper for precisely this reason) and the tulip skirt of the red and white dress was a little too restrictive for my liking. And so a Molly Ringwald style mashup ensued!
      For those of you not familiar with Molly Ringwald she enjoyed the height of her fame in the 1980s in several – fantastic – John Hughes films, including The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink. It’s in Pretty in Pink that Molly’s character chops up two (actually quite nice looking dresses) and makes one new dress for her prom (which, outside of the 1980s, doesn’t actually look so great). Hence this project has been nicknamed ‘the Molly Ringwald dress’, although I should point out I have no aspirations to write an agony aunt column for the Guardian, and I had every intention of ensuring the finished dress actually looked nicer than the sum of its parts.
     The blue dress was originally from Tesco and is a medium weight fabric with a slight stretch, so highly versatile. The red and white dress is from H&M and the fabric varies: the top is a thin and flimsy jersey while the red skirt is a heavier cotton mix. I decided not to touch the top of the dress as I’d probably wear something over it anyway as it’s too sheer to wear on its own. Since it was the tulip skirt that was the problem I planned to cut slits into the skirt and sew in triangles of fabric from the blue dress.
Unzipped all the potential is visible
     Because both dresses were a good weight of fabric both cut easily and with minimal fraying. I used a basic straight stitch on the inside with a zip zag on the seam allowance to prevent fraying. I found it a little tricky to get the point of the triangle stitched in neatly and ended up doing a little hand sewing to finish the pleats off ok. The most important thing however was to be sure that the hems of the new panels matched the existing skirt exactly. One of the handy things about reworking old clothes is that with careful planning you can make life easier for yourself, i.e. using the existing bottom edge for the new hem.
Blue triangles of fabric and the red dress marked ready to cut
     The finished dress definitely shows more than a little of an 80s influence, part punk/part preppy, and I wouldn’t look out of place in the background of the party scene in Some Kind of Wonderful. I love the contrast of the orangey red and the black/blue print. Going from what was previously a tulip skirt to basically a circle skirt means it is far more wearable, even if I am still modelling it with leggings.
Panels in place

Circle skirt

Still rocking the cardigan and leggings combo

     Another successful upcycling project where second hand clothes have been given a third lease of life, preventing sending fabric to landfill unnecessarily while also having a bit of fun with my wardrobe.

All blog content and photos are Copyright of Charisse Sayers Proofreader & Copywriter I welcome all feedback and would love to know your thoughts so please get in touch, comment, share, like and generally get involved – you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (charissesayers1)!

How I embraced my inner Missy Elliott blinging up these Adidas toddler trainers

     As a teenager and while dancing around my room at university (rather than studying) one of my biggest musical heroes was Missy Elliott. She worked hard, she wasn't afraid of success and most importantly you got the impression she didn't let anybody walk all over her - my kind of role model. Now, while I might be more Primarni than Armani I do love a bit of bling and this project harked back to my youth where I saw Missy perform live at the Hammersmith Apollo, London. Missy had recently injured her foot and spent the majority of the show riding around the stage on a mobility scooter entirely covered in crystals (I’m not joking). She also shamelessly promoted her trainer range with Adidas like a true business woman.
The finished toddler shoes looking awesome

     As I’ve stated I’m not big on expensive clothes – I go for quantity over quality every time – and trainers never excited me so as a skint student I didn’t indulge in buying any. However, when a friend of mine who remembers how much I once loved Missy recently gave my little one a pair of super fly dinky Adidas pink trainers I was instantly inspired to engage in some serious bling action.
     I already had the gems and tweezers leftover from my wedding shoes, where I’d taken a £12 pair of Primark’s finest purple satin shoes and covered the soles with gems. You wouldn’t believe how many people complimented me on my wedding shoes asking where they were from, I got some very shocked faces when I told them my thrifty secret! So all that was left to get was the superglue and then, making sure all the windows were wide open, I got to work.
My wedding shoes after a walk on the beach
     Because the shoes were white and pink I reflected this with clear and pink flat back crystals. The gems were only cheap from Hobbycraft a couple of years ago, and it’s easy to find similar ones online, but it was necessary to use the special tweezers otherwise placing the gems on would have been too difficult. I simply covered a small area at a time with glue and then carefully placed the crystals on, checking they didn’t slip off and also that they tessellated properly. I was very careful not to get any glue on me, the table or anything else.
Special tweezers and some gems


I used bigger gems round the back in a single row

     I tried to leave all of the logos etc free so it was obvious they were genuine Adidias, even if they weren’t genuine Missy Elliott shoes! Talking of which, once complete I tweeted the shoes tagging Missy and she ‘favorited’ them – one of the musical heroes of my youth liked my little craft project, happy days!
'Adituff' is still visible at the front on purpose

Missy 'favorited' my tweet!

Photos on Twitter

     I should point out that the diminutive model loved them too, running down the road admiring her twinkling toes in the sunshine had her giggling with joy. I will be honest, not all of the gems have survived after a couple of rough and tumble strolls around town and the park but it doesn’t matter, they still look great and children aren’t in their shoes for very long before they grow out of them so they’ll survive long enough to enjoy plenty more sparkly walks.

All blog content and photos are Copyright of Charisse Sayers Proofreader & Copywriter I welcome all feedback and would love to know your thoughts so please get in touch, comment, share, like and generally get involved – you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

Wednesday 29 April 2015

A chambray toddler pinafore dress decorated with woven hand loom motifs

      As my last blog showed I acquired a hand loom at Christmas and swiftly set about making some pretty flower inspired woven designs. However, once they were made I didn’t really have a clue what to do with them so I thought I would incorporate them into a new dress design.
The finished dress
The hand loom

One of my hand woven trims
      Using the same pattern as I had for the Care Bears dress and the dog print dress for Crufts I started to design something that would make the motifs the star of the show. Using some blue chambray leftover from the easy child’s skirt I’d made I set about making a pinafore dress.
I love this plain chambray cotton
      As the chambray is quite sturdy I decided to only half line it, using red cotton that was actually leftover from a set of pillowcases I once chopped up to upcycle my dining room chairs! This left the bottom hem with a raw edge so I chose to sew a strip of the red cotton along it, helping to balance the design visually but also to provide a neat finish to the raw edge.
Lining for the back

Lining for the front and bottom strip visible
The red fabric is leftover from this project!
     To help bring out the pale blue of the smallest flower I used light blue buttons on the shoulders and under the arms. Both the chambray and the lining were a dream to sew so it didn’t take long at all, especially as I’d used the pattern pieces a couple of times already so I’d had plenty of practice.

The buttons enhance the smallest flower
      Finally, I just had to hand sew on the woven trims and that wasn’t hard, although I was conscious of making sure they were firmly attached because toddlers are not known for being gentle on their clothing! I love the finished look, I think it’s really smart and considering the fabric used was all leftover from other projects and the flowers were very quick to make it’s a real statement dress, while being entirely practical.

The dress from the back

All blog content and photos are Copyright of Charisse Sayers Proofreader & Copywriter I welcome all feedback and would love to know your thoughts so please get in touch, comment, share, like and generally get involved – you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!