Saturday, 13 February 2016

Greg's Malaysia Shirt!

It's February! *phew* And I've been busy, but alas not with sewing.  But today I did manage to convince the illusive Greg to let me photograph him in his Christmas present - yes, it's taken this long just to get a photograph - so I present to you... Greg's Malaysia shirt!

We bought this fabric when we were on holiday in Kuching, Malaysia in 2014.  It's a traditional Sarawak batik with a shot of gold through it and a border pattern.

I picked up roughly 2.5m (it's only about 1.15m wide) for about £6, and it sat untouched until last Christmas when I finally got my act together.

I'm actually quite impressed with this pattern - it's one of the more modern, wearable men's shirts patterns I've seen.
Because it's such a special fabric, I decided to do it properly and I bought BurdaStyle 6874 - a formal men's shirt sewing pattern in a slim fit style.

Style A: Contrast collar & cuffs with covered button placket and wide back pleats.  Style B: Button down collar with one open pocket and close back pleats.  Style C: Regular collar with two button-close pockets and narrow back pleats.
I also did a full run through of the pattern, after taking Greg's measurements and choosing the right size from the packet, and made quite a dashing white self-stripe shirt with contrasting collar and cuffs and concealed buttons (Style A) out of an old bed sheet... And then he tried it on and it was just too small; too tight on the chest and about 2" too short on the arms and body (my fault for not checking!).  Consequentially, the bed sheet shirt will be finding a new home with one of our friends!  Only then did I made a proper toile of the body and one of the sleeves to test the length adjustments.

For the final item, I decided to make a Style B front (without the pocket), with Style A back and Style C collar.  I started by fussy cutting the front with the button holes first, and sewed the placket down.  I then used this to line up the rest of the fabric to make sure all the patterns lined up.

Would you look at that pattern lining up! I'm still chuffed that I managed that!
Finger to show you where the button placket is as it's a bit camouflaged.
The back yoke is meant to be cut on the diagonal to give a bit of bias stretch when moving, but the pattern was so uneven that I decided it was better to cut it straight.  I've warned Greg not to do any heavy lifting in the shirt!

The centre back yoke lines up with the body apart from at the ends where the pleats are, but no one will notice!
The sleeves are also lined up with the body pattern to make the most of the border pattern on the fabric - I used the border pattern to make a slightly contrasted collar and cuffs to give the shirt a more formal and polished feel.

The pattern goes slightly askew at the bottom as it is hand printed.
The collar and cuffs are made from the full border pattern, so have a different pattern inside and out (in case Greg's feeling funky and wants to pop his collar... hahaha).

I originally cut the yoke on the bias (as per instructions) but it just looked daft, so I decided to use that piece for the inside yoke lining.
The only part of the pattern that proved problematic (despite doing the fully bed sheet shirt run through) was the button placket.  The instructions aren't very clear and there's no real way to match the pattern.  Thankfully it's not hugely obvious as the rest of the shirt is so bold that you don't notice them.

The button placket design also leaves an unfinished edge on the inside, so I covered that up with a little square of fabric.
I think overall if probably took me a good 8 hours to make this shirt from start to finish, as I had to be so precise cutting it and fully tacked the stitch lines during the construction.  I also went through two 250m thread spools making it - which was a surprise - because of all the top stitching.

All in all, I would definitely make it again.  It's a really nicely fitting shirt after the pattern has been adjusted and (as with any sewing) it's hugely satisfying to know that you made it out of a sheet of fabric.

I did go a little bit mad while making it though because of the intense pattern.  I don't know if it's just that I was really excited about the new Star Wars movie, or if I'd just been sewing too long... Anyone see the resemblance?

Look closely...

Darth Vader's TIE Advanced X1 Starfighter (source)
Speak to you soon!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Dot Coms and Stashbusting!

The last few weeks I've been working on my personal website,  Since I finished my MA in Product Design, I decided to update my website to display my designs efficiently, and to use it as an online portfolio - exhibiting my designs and discussing the theory behind them.
Click image to see website

I'm pretty happy with the look of it, though I do feel like I've cheated a bit as it's on Wordpress not Blogger.  I am oddly sentimental about Blogger, so do feel like it's a shame that I've made the leap but at the same time, it just didn't cut the professional mustard.  Thankfully, Paper Yak doesn't need to be that professional (hooray!) as it's my hobby blog, not a professional one.

Speaking of hobbies, I've also been taking this time to start sewing again.  It started with my sewing box being accidentally tipped on the floor.  I should add that it's been full to the brim with bits and bobs for quite a while now and the little magnetic clasp just couldn't take it anymore, so unceremoniously spilt it's contents over my office floor.  After spending the first 20 minutes untangling and re-winding bobbins I noticed loads of things I had completely forgotten about including two sewing patterns that I've quite literally had since I first learnt to sew aged 12.

If you look at the basic shapes, they're all pretty good patterns to make updated items from.  Except the one on the top left, don't look at that one!
On further inspection (and quite remarkably) I noticed that I could still use these uncut patterns - though I am at the opposite end of the size scale than when they were bought!  Once the sewing box was re-assembled, I decided to root through my fabric stash to see if I could match up any fabric with the patterns I'd discovered.
Yes, yes, I know they're mirror images.  I cut the blue pleather out the wrong way by accident.  I also sewed the feature zip in upside-down the first time as well.  That's what you get for late night sewing!

Finding just under a metre of navy faux leather (bought for a prototype model for my MA), I ran up a leather mini skirt, adapting the pattern to add a feature zip.  It's modelled on a skirt I already own but I made a mock-up from an old bed sheet first as this meant I could also move the side zip to centre back for a smoother look.  Obviously, I've not quite finished it yet (probably forever doomed to sit with my other unfinished items!), but once I've bought some iron on hem web it'll be ready to wear.  Not bad for 2 hours work, and I'll have only spent money on the hem web - everything else was stash-busted!

I did originally take a photo of myself in the catsuit but decided it's too revealing for the blog (gone are those days methinks!), so here's a salacious wrist.  I will post a good photo of it once I've got it on with my gym wear.
I also managed to run up a cotton lycra catsuit! (FYI: I've got history with catsuits!) But alas, that wasn't stashbusted, I bought a load of grey marl cotton lycra for that.  The catsuit is to wear as part of my gym wear when I go to aerial silks (look it up, it's awesome!) as it stops my top rolling up when I do inversions.  I actually bought far too much of the fabric as I forgot that I only needed 1.5m not 3m, but it's got a nice drape so I might use it for a t-shirt dress (using the Seamwork Mesa pattern I downloaded the other day!).  If I use up the excess fabric I've only just bought does it count as stash-busting??

Next on my hit list is a new winter coat.  I'll be stash-busting my mass of camel wool for that one (I honestly don't know how long that's been sitting on my shelf!), but I bought some fancy lining to go with it and splashed out on a pattern (Burda Style B6845A) as I'm determined not to mess that one up!  More on that soon!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

When did writing a blog get so hard?

Sorry for neglecting you, Paper Yak!

These past few months I have been working hard on projects for my uni course (which culminates with our degree show in October), and I have been neglecting both this blog and my official course blog too.

Why is blog writing so hard?

I feel like as I get older, and with all this technology that surrounds me, I spend most of my time trying to escape - fleeing the oppression of the everpresent iPhone and striving to spend more time in the park, on the grass and just outdoors in general.  It's something that my university practice is starting to reflect as well.  My products are grounded in philosophy and look generally at our relationship with nature and how we experience time. (Remember: I'm on an Arts course now! A lot of the designs I produce are have a heavy emphasis in deeper meaning.*)
*Deep meaning builds relationships with products, which makes you less likely to throw things away and encourages responsible consumerism.  Or atleast that's how my engineering brain rationalises all the touchy-feely design.

So unfortunately, Paper Yak has been in hibernation for a bit and I can't promise how regularily I will be updating. However, when I loosen my grip on one form of social media, another one takes in the slack, so you can find me regularily updating my Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Putting together my brand mood board from my Pinterest pins
I am also planning on doing more re-branding over here and on my website to try to make myself seem a bit more professional (fingers crossed).  I'm working my way through a cracking book, How To Style Your Brand by Fiona Humberstone, all about how to make your brand represent you the best.  It was a recommended read by Clarise Crafts, a small business owner I follow on Facebook, and I've had great fun working my way through it!

I'm still doing crafts in my spare time, so when I complete my second stage re-branding, I will make sure that I link this blog up to any crafts I publish on Instagram, so any of you (if there are any of you) can see them here as well as there.

In the meantime, check out my social media (I'm PaperYakUK all over the web) and MA blog, and hopefully I'll post here soon!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Election Night Party!

If you've been following my twitter and instagram, you may have noticed my recent election themed craft projects.  Well, that's because I am having an election night party with a few of my friends (after we've all voted of course) and we will be watching the results come in live!

Now I know this isn't everyone's cup of tea, but just in case I've peaked your interest, here's a few of the things I've been making...

Party rosettes

I've made for each person who will be at the party, and we'll randomly assign them when they arrive.  I've also tried to be vaguely proportionally representative, so there's a mix in there, including the Monster Raving Looney party (though perhaps I should have made more SNP).

To make rosettes, you will need some thin card, some tissue paper, a safety pin and a glue stick.

Cut one small and one large circle out of the thin card for each rosette.  The small circle will be the centre of the rosette, and the large will form the back.  Write the party name on the small circle.

Cut out three long strips of tissue paper, two 10cm wide and one 20cm wide.  The two thinner ones will form the ruffle on the head of the rosette and the wide one will form the tail.
Fold the two thinner pieces in knife pleats, about 3cm wide, and zig-zag fold the wide piece across the whole width.

Pinch the tail piece about 2.5cm from the end, and squash the end piece so that you can glue it down to the backing card.  Glue the first ruffle piece to the backing card, following the circle around, and then glue the second into a smaller ruffle just inside the larger one.  Stick the center card in the middle and tape a safety pin on the back and you're good to go!

Guess Who? House of Commons - General Election 2015 Edition

This one was inspired by a wonderful version of politicians Guess Who that I played at the Manchester People's History Museum as part of their election exhibition. For the party, I made a more light-hearted version, with silly pictures of the politicians (who doesn't love a photo of an MP mid-bite?) and the odd strange fact about them.

You can print off the PDF of the board (A3 size) and the playing cards (A4 sized) here.

2015 Election Guess Who:   Board  //  Cards

All you have to do is cut them out on the dotted grey lines!  To make them more resilient you can stick them to some thin card like I did, but they should work just as well on paper.