Sunday, 10 December 2017

A British Outfit: DIY Hook and Eyes

Hello all, for this post I'm going to hand you straight over to Zoe!

Hello! My name is Zoe and I’m one of Lauren’s classmates. I’ve known Lauren for 3 years now as we started our time at Rose Bruford together. Hopefully you’ve all been keeping up with Lauren’s ‘A British Outfit’ series as this is what this post is all about!
The silver hook and eyes on top were made by Zoe and the bottom hooks and eyes were the reference point

At the end of our course, as you may know, we are required to do a dissertation style project which can be practical. The variety of things that have been chosen to be researched this year has been fascinating but Lauren’s research area has particularly interested me. It’s a concept that’s never crossed my mind before but has been a fascinating process to watch! As a result I have naturally offered my services for anything she may possibly need. One of the biggest challenges I’ve seen come up so far has been acquiring things that are now completely made overseas.

One day I walked into our workroom to find Lauren and one of our lecturers slaving away with some pliers and a great deal of frustration over the topic of making hooks and eyes for one of Lauren’s garments. After watching for a while, I and another classmate sat watching quite intently with a burning desire to give it a go. After around half an hour of sore fingers and mild swearing, I added my attempts to the pile for elimination once everyone had produced their finest work.
My attempts at making hooks and eyes
Unsurprisingly, from every angle the pile of our finest work looked incredibly sad. None of us were expert metal workers or mass producing machines. After having a long hard look at all of the attempts, the final decision was made and my hooks and eyes were the most normal looking. One of our other colleagues described mine selection as ‘the ugly ones from a regular box’ which was quite bittersweet and very funny.

Anyway, Lauren figured you would love to know how I did it! One thing to remember before going into this project is that your hooks and eyes won’t be perfect. You aren’t a machine. Each one will be unique but that’s part of the beauty.

This is what you will need!
Wire (British/country of choice). One metre should be enough for practices and then the real deal. Ormiston wire very kindly send me a sample to play with.
Tiny pliers! The main pair of pliers that we used were borrowed from someone who got them from a Christmas cracker.
Hooks and eyes for reference
Second pair of small pliers (optional) I’ve put a second pair of pliers as optional because at some points when I was trying to even out what I’d made, it was easiest to hold the fastening with one pair and bend with the other.


To make the hooks
Step 1. Make a guide.
To make the hooks and eyes around the size of a standard box, I made the guide around 2cm with a third mark at 2.5cm long. Remember this is a rough guide! The picture below doesn’t have the third guide mark, at the time I just guessed.

Step 2. Holding the wire
Pick up the end of your wire with your pliers. To get the best shape here don’t let the wire pop out the other side of the pliers. If you can start the end of the wire in the middle of the pliers jaws.

Step 3. Making the loops
What you need to do here is curl the wire as tightly as possible around the jaws of the pliers. This will give you a tight loop that you will use to see the hooks and eyes down with. Once you’ve made the first loop, hover the wire over your guide and cut the wire at the 2.5cm mark. After this repeat step 3 to make the second loop on the other side. Your curled wire should sit roughly within the 2cm guide nicely. Unless it’s quite a lot out this isn’t a big issue if it doesn’t fit. You may need to tighten the loops you make by using the pliers to push the loops into the long bits of wire This is what mine looked like after tightening the loops.

Step 4. Creating the point
At this point, it’s time to create the point that will make the hook. Roughly find the middle of the wire and bend the two ends together creating, what I’ll admit looks like quite a phallic shape. The closer in length the two ends are to each other the better.

 Use the pliers to make the point as tight as possible without creating a sharp point. The two loops may start to cross over and if this happens use your fingers to lightly pull them away from each other enough so that they sit close together but don’t overlap.


Step 5. Creating the hook
This is the final step! Find the rough middle of the point you’ve created and bend it towards the loops creating the hook. If the hook is at an obtuse angle, use the pliers on the point end and press to close the gap enough so that it would work as a functioning fastening. And there you have your own hand made hook!


To make the eyes
Step 1. Cut the wire
Go back to the guide we made for the hooks. Cut a piece of wire to be around 2cm long using the guide.

Step 2. Making the loops
Just like for the hooks, hold the end of the wire in the middle of the pliers jaws. As tightly as possible bend the wire around the pliers creating a loop. Repeat this on the other side of the the wire and then nip the ends of the loops to tighten them up.

Step 3. Making the eye
This bit is the hardest bit. Start by putting the middle of the wire in the jaws of the pliers and lightly bending. Move the wire slightly to one side and lightly bend. Repeat this on both side until you have a gradual curve over the eye. Once you’re able to get the loops into the jaws of the fliers both together this step is complete.

Step 4. Finishing the eye
Once the gradual curve has been made, use the pliers to tighten the bottom by pushing the loops together. They don’t need to be tightened up a large amount, just to your personal preference using the premade eye as a reference. And there you have your hook and eye! Good luck with making your own hooks and eyes and hope this was helpful!
DIY hook and eyes on top and reference hook and eyes below
Thank you for reading, and huge thanks to Zoe for putting this tutorial together!
Lauren xx

Saturday, 2 December 2017

A British Outfit: Eco-printing silk

Hello all! Today I'm going to share what I've learnt about eco-printing. Eco-printing is the process of wrapping up assorted plant matter around fabric and steaming or simmering it to extract a print. My British-made silk was sourced from Botanical Inks, and I chose the Habotai which I thought was most appropriate for lingerie.
First I mordanted my silk with alum (which I found a UK source for here) and I soaked another strip of silk with iron water to work as an iron blanket which should intensify and darken the colours in the print.
Next it was time to collect the various plant matter, and I did this by walking around the roadside with a massive metal bucket and some snippers. At the end of my expedition I had poppies, dandelions, elderberries, hollyhocks, Queen Anne's lace and hawthorn berries. I scattered these on my wet silk and placed the iron blanket on top. This was then rolled around a stick and tied tightly with string.
Then my bundle was simmered in a pot for 2 hours and let in the pot overnight. You can see how much darker it went overnight! The bottom image of the collage below is the bundle unrolled with all of the plant matter still on it.
Below are the results! The lighter strip of fabric on the top is the silk I'm going to use for my bra and the strip on the bottom is the iron blanket, and you can see how the iron in it has made the colours much darker. The prints weren't as defined as I had hoped for and the berries definitely provided most of the colour. The poppies left no trace at all. If you look closely at the left hand side of the top strip of fabric there's a beautiful amount of definition, and you can even see the imprints of the string. That was the portion of the silk that was on the outside of the bundle. I asked the Printing Botanicals facebook group what they thought of my results and the advice was to bundle tighter, to steam and not to simmer, and to look to leaves for crisper prints. It's sad that I don't have time to experiment further with eco-printing but now it's time to get on with making the bra! I'd love to come back to this technique in the future and really have fun with trying out different leaves and seeing how well they print.
Thanks very much for reading and to Lesley for providing me with all of her dyeing equipment and knowledge to use!
Lauren xx

Monday, 27 November 2017

A British Outfit: Fitting the bra

Hello all! Today I'm going to share the fitting process for the bra portion of my British Outfit. In the last post I discussed the designing and drafting process, and finished with the first calico toile. I had tacked in where I wanted the design lines to be (as you can see below) but did not cut them as separate pieces, because I wanted to get the basic fit right first. In the first fitting I shortened the straps by 3", lengthened the CB by 1/2" on either side and lowered the CF by 2". The excess at each SF was pinned out in a dart.
I found that when I transferred that dart straight to the pattern piece, it warped it too much, so I divided the amount that needed to go and split it evenly on the pattern piece. I then ended up changing the design lines slightly (10 points if you can spot where!) and cut down those lines to divide the pattern into upper cup and lower cup pieces.
In the second fitting there was still some excess in the right cup, so I adjusted the pattern in the same way I did for the first fitting. After looking back at the fitting photos (above) I decided to use the pattern pieces for the right cup for both cups in the next fitting, because the shape of the left one looks a bit off. Below you can see the difference in the pattern pieces for each side. I ended up using the pattern piece on the right for both cups of the bra.
 For the third fitting I decided to use a drapier fabric that was more like the silk that is my final fabric. No changes were made in this fitting as I was happy with the fit.
Below are the final pattern pieces ready to cut out of the main fabric.
So that was the fitting process for my bra! In the next instalment of this series I'm going to discuss my experiments with bundle dyeing.
Until then, thanks for reading!
Lauren xx

Sunday, 19 November 2017

A British Outfit: Designing and drafting the bra

Hello all! I have something a bit different for you today. In the final year of uni I have to do an independent research project, and luckily for me I had the option to choose a practical topic. Very much inspired by Nicki's One Year One Outfit project I aim to find out how feasible it is to create an outfit of clothing that has been made exclusively from British materials. I then want to see how well each garment bears up to every day use and to see how much it would actually cost to sell these garments to the public. Included in this outfit is a bra, pants (or knickers to those under the pond), shirt, trousers, jumper and shoes. I thought it would be fun to blog about the process as I go, so let me tell you all how I got to this bra muslin that you can see below.
If you take a look at modern underwear almost every component is unsuitable for this challenge. Stretch fabrics contain elastane (or lycra) which is a synthetic (or unnatural) fibre. Elastic itself is used to hold the fabric snug against the body. Metal or plastic rings hold the straps in place and metal hook and eyes fasten the bra at the back. I decided to look back in time, right up to the beginning of the evolution of the bra in the 1920s and 30s. The unfortunate thing is that by the 30s elastic had been invented and so was still instrumental in keeping the bra snug against the body, as illustrated by this bra here. However the earliest bras made in the 20s were not made to fit close to the body, but instead just to cover the chest area. This one I found fastens with hook and eyes at the back. I also found contemporary bras made by Cara Marie Piazza of Calyx intimates which are made from naturally dyed silk. This bra from her collection and this 1930s bra were my main inspiration for the designs below, but if you want to see the myriad of vintage bras and sewing patterns I looked at they can all be seen on my pinterest board dedicated to the topic here.
I drafted a bra using the basic bra pattern given in Michael Rohr's Pattern Drafting and Grading which was published in 1961. The lines were simple, it was drafted for non-stretch fabrics and it would be easy to adapt into the design that I wanted. First I had to draft a bodice block to fit my measurements before then using that to draft the bra pattern. I used the bodice block that came with the book, but then had to take a whopping 8 inches out of the bust so it would fit my body. I then decided that it would be a good idea to muslin the bodice up quickly, get it to fit like a glove, and then draft the bra onto it.
Because I'd adjusted the bust to co-ordinate with my own measurements the bodice fit pretty well. The darts were perhaps a little high, but it was decided to leave them as is and see what would happen in the bra fitting.
This meant that I was then good to go with the bra drafting. I stopped at step number three before elastic was added in at step number four. I made the cup a princess seam by cutting down the dotted line between A and C on the pattern pieces and left the back intact.


Michael Rohr's Pattern Drafting and Grading, published in 1961
 The next step was then to trace off the pattern pieces, cut them out in calico and sew them up, ready for a fitting. You may note that the design of the bra below is completely different from my original designs, but it was nice to have a very fluid process and important not to set everything in stone. In the next instalment of this series, I'll share the fitting process. I hope you enjoyed this slightly different content from me. I'm certainly enjoying the challenge that this project brings.
Thanks for reading!
Lauren xx

Friday, 17 November 2017

Cosy Jumper

Hello all! For this months Minerva Make I decided that I needed something to combat the impending cold and this Atelier Brunette French Terry fit the bill perfectly. I aimed to make the perfect layering piece. You can read all about the making process on the Minerva Crafts blog here.
 Thanks to Minerva Crafts for the materials for this project and to Zoe for the pictures,
Lauren xx

Saturday, 21 October 2017

A new silhouette

Hello all! The fabric for my latest Minerva make has had many incarnations in my head, and you get to see the version that made it all the way to the finish line. I've been working on my princess seam bodice block and combining it with a pencil skirt to make a dress pattern. The original next step was to swing out the skirt pieces to make a full skirt for this dress, but I was curious to try out this new silhouette to me so I left the new dress blocks as they were. You can read all about the making process on the Minerva Crafts blog here.
Thanks very much for reading, to Minerva Crafts for providing the materials for this project and to Grace for taking the pictures!
Lauren xx

Friday, 6 October 2017

Checked Shirt

Hello all!  My third and final year of uni has started in full force ( I'm 3 weeks into making for the first show of the season) but this is one of the things I made to wear on my trip to Amsterdam before summer holidays had finished.
My wardrobe plan for Amsterdam was all about the layers. Jeans, plus a tank top, then a shirt, jumper and coat to be added or taken off when appropriate. This worked really well. The fabric I think is some kind of cotton blend that I bought in Birmingham with Ben last winter. The original plan was to make it into a dress but it's going to be worn a thousand times more as a shirt.
I used the men's shirt pattern that I drafted for uni last year and that I used for the white linen shirt I made a few months ago. This time I made the yoke a little longer and added seam allowance to the collar so it's much more in proportion. The only thing I'd change now is to widen the cuffs a bit.
I paid particular attention to the pattern matching across the centre front, side seams and sleeve seams. Miraculously the collar actually matches the yoke, with no particular planning. The only change I'd make at the cutting out stage would be to centre the check at the pleat on the back piece. It looks a little off here.
I did the proper plackets this time, and I'm slowly getting to grips with the technique. It really helps to have a ready to wear shirt in front of me so I can see what I'm aiming for. The placket could do with being a bit shorter, and so could the sleeve.
My biggest mistake with this shirt was to flatfell the seams on the left hand side of the shirt on the outside and the seams on the right hand side on the inside! At this point in the game it was too late to change it, and probably only people who sew will notice, but I know that I could have had a neater finish had both the sleeve seams been flatfelled on the inside. The hem didn't particularly like being folded over twice and topstitched and I wish that I had bias bound it.
Despite all of this, I love this shirt and will never take it off.
Thanks very much for reading and to Bethan for taking the photos!
Lauren xx