Next level scrap busting

Hello from the living room! It’s chaos in the flat this weekend – we’re gearing up to put it on the market so we’re having a few jobs done to make it look a bit more presentable. As I speak there’s a builder outside installing a new front gate. The kitchen, where I usually sew, is currently a bomb site with all the building materials spread out, so I’ve been sewing in the living room today, in amongst all the furniture from the study which is being replastered.

Anyway, you know when you have some fabric that you love so much you can’t bear to chuck any of it away? I had that with some home décor fabric I got from Ikea last week . I got two metres with the intention of making some cushion covers so that everything vaguely matches in the living room (those estate agent photos are on my mind!). I won’t bore you with the cushion covers, but I ended up with loads of little scraps that I was determined to use.

cushions

I don’t normally put all my cushions on one sofa but the living room is such a mess at the moment this is the only clear space there is!

Ever since I’ve been with Chris he’d been using dumbbell weights to prop the door open. It’s a bit of a cliché to have unused exercise equipment lying around the house, but it’s not the best impression to give to potential buyers. This month’s Love Sewing magazine has a pattern for a doorstop that’s basically a cuboid with and handle. It only takes a small amount of fabric, so perfect for scraps.  It has an outer shell with a zip in the bottom, then you fill a lining bag with 1.5kgs of rice to create the weight.

bottom-zip

The zip. 

Of the scraps I had, I could only do the handles in single pieces – all the other pieces had to be sewn together to fit the pattern. It was a bit of a jigsaw with at least one of the pattern pieces using five separate scraps. I don’t think it matters all that much with the blue and white fabric as the print is random enough for the joins to be largely unnoticeable.

patchwork-pieces

Dedication to using my scraps, right there. 

The instructions were well written and easy to follow. I had a brief brain fart with inserting the side panels, but once I’d got round that, it all made sense. In short, the pattern markings are important as they tell you where to turn corners! I did ignore the instructions for the lining bag though. It suggested filling it with rice/dried kidney beans/gravel before sealing it with some hand stitching. For a bag that no-one is EVER going to see, I wasn’t going to bother making it look pretty, so I just did a line of machine stitching at the top and stuffed the lining into the outer. Some things just aren’t worth bothering with, are they?

lining-bag

One of the two lining bags I made. The other one is also a bit of a patchwork affair. 

I ended up making two of these, but I only really had enough fabric for one and a half, so I had to raid my scraps some more. Luckily I had some lightweight blue denim which works quite nicely, and the inner bags were also from the scraps bin (you might recognise it from the laundry bag I made the other week). It’s all good value for money. I spent £10 on the fabric, £1.98 on the zips, and £1.80 on three kilos of rice – I’d say less than £14 for five cushion covers and two doorstops is pretty good!

blue-and-white

Number 1 matches those cushions nicely. 

They’re both now in situ in the living room and bedroom, and I’m happy that the living room is a bit more tied together (OK, matchy-matchy). Now, does anyone want to buy a flat in Colliers Wood?

denim-and-patches

Number 2 is more of a mish-mash. 

What?! Some unselfish sewing?!

I like to think I’m a generous, giving kind of person, but when it comes to sewing I turn into a selfish cow. I like to wear what I make – after putting all that effort in I think it’s a good thing to be able to enjoy the fruits of my labour. However, if friends and family have requests, I’ll certainly consider them. One of my latest projects (I am trying to clear a blogging backlog at the moment) was a special request from my friend Sophie. You might remember that I made her new daughter a mini Geranium dress a few months ago. Sophie had been searching Not On the Highstreet for a laundry bag for Alice but found that they were all mega-expensive. Could I make her one? Well, I’m a sucker for a baby gift, so yes, yes I could.

Sophie offered to pay for the materials, but knowing the cost of quilting cotton I said she may as well have bought her own finished bag anyway. Luckily, I had just the right combo of scraps in my stash, which were coincidentally left over from the bunting I made for her wedding three years ago (and featured in my very first blog post!). I like it when things come full circle – it’s like the sewing equivalent of saving the top tier of the wedding cake for your first-born’s christening.

front

Check out my super neat appliqué!

Anyway, I could have made a standard drawstring bag – like the kind you used to use for your PE kit in primary school – but I decided it was high time I had a go at a project from my library of sewing books. I found instructions for a lined drawstring laundry bag in Sewing in No Time by Emma Hardy, which I had been given for Christmas a few years ago. The sample used in the book is pretty hideous (fabric choice goes a long way to sell a project), but the shape looked good and the instructions seemed easy to follow so I thought I’d give it a go.

back

And the back. So good to get rid of some of those scraps. They’re all a bit girly for my tastes so they were only going to be used for gifts. 

I followed the instructions pretty closely, apart from the outer shell. You’re supposed to sew three strips into a tube, but I didn’t have enough complete fabric so I had to do some patchwork, which involved a little bit of headscratching as I worked out the right dimensions to produce same-sized squares. I also wanted to personalise for that Not On the High Street look which meant using a larger panel in the middle so I could fit her name on nicely in felt appliqué. The inside is a single length of a blue/green ditsy print cotton, so that was nice and easy to put together.

2016-09-05-22-45-54

Innards. 

I’m really pleased with how the machine appliqué turned out. I used a square notepad to make templates for the letters, so I could be sure that they’d turn out in proportion. I pinned the letters to the shell and I made sure to slow reeeaaallly slowly so I could be as accurate as possible – and it paid off! So neat!

Probably the hardest part of sewing the bag was threading the drawstring as it ended up being quite a tight fit. I used some spotty bias tape I had in my stash but if I was doing this again I’d use proper cord as threading it through resulted in a fair bit of stretch (of course it would, it’s bias tape…).

In all though, I’m pretty pleased with the finished article. It’s a great stashbusting project and I’m particularly happy to get rid of some of those scraps of quilting cotton I’ve been hanging onto for too long! It was a nice, easy project to get on with over a couple of evenings and doesn’t take a lot of thought. It’s now in the post on the way to Sophie, so I hope she likes it!

2016-09-05-22-48-45

Stuffed with a couple of hoodies to give you an idea of shape. 

PS. I notice that Emma Hardy has a new book out and has been promoting it in some of the sewing magazines. The projects featured in those magazines also featured in Sewing in No Time with the same photography and everything. Is it the same book under a different name??

Pattern review: the Overture set

Howdy ho! I hope you’ve all been having a wonderful summer – mine’s been crazy stressful thanks to the demands of a shitty project (hence the radio silence over the past two months). I haven’t felt like there’s been much time for anything and I ended up being told to take a week off once the project went live. I had grand plans for that week. I was going to do ALL the sewing, but it coincided with a heat wave and all I wanted to do was spend time in the coldest place in south west London. Turns out it’s the fruit and veg section of the Colliers Wood Sainsburys, but that’s another story.

Pattern envelope

The only thing I did manage to make was the Overture top by Storybook Patterns which came free with the latest issue of Simply Sewing magazine here in the UK (it was still available in Sainsburys yesterday… I spend too much time in that place). It’s a floaty dress/top with a little pointed collar and a pleat in the back to give it a bit more volume. The full shape was something of a departure for me, as I usually prefer a more fitted silhouette, whether it’s a cinched waist or slimmer bodice, but I figured it would be good for big dinners and hot temperatures.

The samples in the magazine were made up in cotton lawns, but I knew something with more drape would look good. Luckily I had some funky and floaty pineapple print viscose that I bought on a recent trip to Copenhagen in my stash. I also had some black crepe for a contrast collar, so I was all ready to go.

Pineapple viscose

Pineapple viscose from Stoff & Stil in Copenhagen. Our hotel was two streets away. I had to visit; it was FATE. 

Assembling the pattern
If you’re going to have a go at this pattern, I’d recommend looking at all four pattern sheets together before you start tracing/cutting out. Because the pattern has a lot of fullness, the back bodice pieces won’t fit on a single sheet, so you have to trace or stick them together – four separate elements make up the single pattern piece. I didn’t realise this and got myself really confused. I suspect it’s something to do with printing/paper restrictions, but I almost gave up as a result.

Fit and drafting
My measurements corresponded with size D and I was pretty pleased with the results, cos it fit me straight out of the packet. Normally I’d grade out for the hips, but looking at the finished measurements, I was confident I wouldn’t need to. The drafting was also spot on with everything matching up nicely.

Front

The front. The hem is higher at the front than the back. 

Instructions
Judging by the level of detail in the instructions, the Overture set is aimed at ambitious beginners. It’s a reasonably simple pattern, but it teaches some useful skills including two different seam finishes, pleats and inserting a collar. These are all explained really clearly and are accompanied by pictures, which is great and I felt there was something to learn in there for more experienced sewists. For the most part I skimmed the two sheets of instructions, but I appreciated having my hand held a bit more when inserting the collar. I have to say I couldn’t be bothered with the Hong Kong binding used on the back bodice, preferring to use the overlocker, but the side seams are nice and Frenchified.

Back

Here’s that back pleat. In the wind, the back billows out like a cape, making me look like a superhero. Unfortunately these photos were taken on a still day. Shame. 

Results
This top took me four days to complete, what with the heat, stops for ice cream breaks and not being able to fathom out how to assemble the pattern properly. I’m quite pleased with the results. I’ve done a reasonable job in pattern-matching in places, and I’m happy with the finish, which is lovely and neat with a hand-sewn collar and hem. I may change the button at the collar, as it’s a little too big and is making the collar itself sit awkwardly, but I’m generally happy with the way it’s turned out.

Back collar

Kind of difficult to see in this photo as it’s all black, but the button has skewed the way the right hand collar piece sits.

I really enjoyed sewing this top, and I like the floatiness, but practically speaking I’m not sure how much wear it’s going to get – for now at least. In this fabric, the shape doesn’t lend itself to layering, so now we’re leaving the summer months behind I may not get a chance to wear it as is.

The Overture top is the first pattern I’ve made that I’ve got free with a magazine, and I’m impressed with the results. Looking at their website, Storybook Patterns are only just setting up, but I’d be interested in seeing what else they have to offer. One to watch!

 

 

 

A Datura to cheer me up

Happy Sunday all! I hope you’re all having a top weekend, wherever you may be. This weekend’s been a bit of an odd one. Chris and I have been out and about doing things – we’ve been cultured at an exhibition at the Science Museum, been to see Independence Day: Resurgence (it’s hilariously bad) and made some good in-roads into getting rid of some of the clutter in the flat. It should have been a fun weekend, but it’s been overshadowed by the EU referendum result. I know we’re not the only ones, but we’re both desperately disappointed at the prospect of leaving the EU and the fallout makes me uneasy for the future. As I write this, we’ve no effective PM or opposition and the Leave campaign seems to backtracking on all their pre-vote promises. I just hope that the coming weeks bring more stability and answers because I don’t feel it’s an understatement to say that my country is going into meltdown right now.

Anyway, you don’t come here for tinpot political comment. You come here for the clothes! My latest make the Deer & Doe Datura blouse, which has been sitting in my pattern stash since last year but it’s only now that I’ve got round to making it. Leigh over at Clueless Seamstress recently made her first version (and it’s ace) and it’s spurred me on to having a go myself – I need more tops for the summer, of course.

Datura front

Definitely a bit of excess around the hips there.

For a first attempt I went for View B with the Peter Pan collar as I thought it would be less of a fiddle than the triangle cut-out version. I used pink cotton for the bodice for a bit of colour (I am learning from Me Made May, see!) and blue Atelier Brunette cotton lawn for the body. You might recognise this from my Mimi blouse, and I’ve still got a little left to do something else – which is fab, cos I do love this stuff). I’m not sure I’d buy the pink cotton again. The wrong side is coated with a thin layer of shiny stuff which I wouldn’t want next to my skin, but it’s ok because the bodice is self-lined so it’s all facing inwards.

Datura collar

Close up on the collar – one of the things I like about this is how the Peter Pan collar mirrors the pattern on the body. 

Speaking of the bodice, this was the most difficult part, but only because the instructions were so sparse when you get to attach the front to the back at the shoulders. The method has you pushing the front straps up the inside of the back straps, right sides together but it’s not very well explained in the booklet. I used this sewalong for clarity, but I soon realised I’d done it before on the Grace dress – I just hadn’t recognised it. I do like it though – it produces a very clean result, and when you pull it through, it’s particularly pleasing to see it just work.

Datura side

The envelope says that the Datura is an Advanced pattern, but I think it’s mostly due to the bodice construction – the rest of it is pretty straightforward. Even the hem is bias bound, so it’s easy-peasy.  It’s been for a reprint since I bought it, and looking at the website it’s been downgraded to a 3/5 for difficulty. I certainly had no problems beyond the shoulders. I needed to lower the darts by an inch or so, and I graded out a few sizes at the hips, which I probably didn’t need to do, with hindsight – it is a little baggy round the hips. The only other change I made was to omit the buttonholes on the back as I can get the top on without any bother.

Datura back

From the back. I might have had a nap on the sofa this afternoon, hence the creases… Ooops.

Although it is a little bit bigger around the hips than I would normally like, I do like this version. I’m pleased with the fit around the bust, shoulders and armholes, and it’s summery and light which will be great on warmer days. I can also throw a cardi over it, so it’ll take me into autumn too. I’m going to have a go at Version A next, and I’ve got the fabric (all stash – yay me!) ready to cut out. More on that one another time!

I love sewing, but…

I like sewing. I think that’s pretty clear. I like finishing a project and having something lasting to show for it. I like it when the insides of my clothes are really neat. I like learning new skills, putting them into practice and getting better at them over time. But, we can’t love every single aspect of our hobbies, and man, are there some things that get my goat about sewing! Here’s my top three:

Bobbin running out of thread

I daresay I am not alone in this. You’re merrily sewing a line of stitching, you get to the end, back tack and clip your threads and then you turn your work over to see that the bobbin thread ran out halfway down the line. UGH. I have so many better things to be doing than stopping and rewinding the bobbin! I try to remember to wind two at the start of a project but sometimes I don’t have any extras so I run the gauntlet of frustration instead.

Empty bobbin

So empty. So sad. 

Pinning and cutting out fabric

I love fabric. I love making it into things. But I hate pinning it and cutting it out. It takes so long! I just want to get to the good stuff and start running bits of material through my machine, but obvs you can’t do that unless you’ve got proper shapes cut out in the first place. I cut out on the kitchen table, which isn’t quite high enough either, so if it’s a particularly complicated pattern to cut out I can end up with a sore back. I’m looking at you, vintage shirt dress.

 

Skipped stitches

Another thing that ruins my flow is skipped stitches. What could be causing it? Incorrect tension? Poorly threaded needle? A dull needle? Wrong size needle all together? I feel like I have to go through every option every time to find out what the problem is, so I change the needle, rethread, sigh, rethread again… And then, once it’s sorted, I have to unpick my work and re-do it! Pesky needles.

Skipped stitches

So many skipped stitches. Why did I persevere? Seam ripper ahoy!

What could you do without in sewing?

Selfless crafting for a new arrival

I’m at an age now where if my friends aren’t getting married (and let’s face it, they are all doing that at the moment – just one left to go this year), they’re having kids. And all these happy events mean more gift giving. The latest new arrival is my good friends Mark and Sophie’s little girl Alice, who popped out a week or two ago at an eye-watering 9lb (not so little then…). I’m normally much better organised on the present front – after all, there’s at least six months to prepare – but this time I’d only managed to do half my gift before the baby was born.

Cardi front

Teeny tiny cardigan! She’ll be in it for all of five minutes but it’s still cute!

The first part of my handmade present is the Swingset Cardigan from Little Crochet by Linda Perman. I’ve made it several times before (firstly for my goddaughter here) and it’s always been well-received. It’s a really cute little cardi and because I was making the smallest size I think I completed it in a day. It crochets from the neckline down so you increase the stitches in the yoke as you go and eventually add the upside-down shells straight on. The yoke is probably the trickiest bit, though it’s just a case of concentrating, counting and trusting that it is going to turn into a yoke, because at the start it doesn’t look like much. I used three little clear buttons from my stash and marvelled at how teeny tiny the finished cardigan is.

Cardi back

From the back. I like the contrast of the dense yoke and the lacy shells in this cardi. 

Once I had the text from Sophie that Alice had made her entrance, I had to get my skates on with the other part of her gift. I knew I wanted to sew a little dress, but had no idea what to make since it’s not all that often I sew for babies (i.e. this is the first time). A quick Google brought up Made by Rae’s Little Geranium dress, which is a free pattern for 0-3 months. There’s a full pattern with a couple of add ons for kids aged up to 12, but since we’re approaching the summer I figured Alice would probably have grown out of it by the time she needs sleeves. You might recognise the fabric from one of last week’s Chardons (stashbusting FTW) and I found the cute little daisy buttons in my button box.

Front

SO. SMALL.

What struck me about this pattern is just how minuscule it is. Again, since I don’t spend a lot of time around newborns I forget just how small they are. The pattern fit onto two pages of A4, though granted, you do only get the front and back bodice pieces, a pocket and the layout instructions. The skirt is just gathered, so you only need to cut out a rectangle the width of your fabric by 11 inches.

Pocket

Pockets. Completely unnecessary on baby clothes, but why not, eh? 

The Geranium is a quick sew (well duh, it’s a fraction of the size of grown up clothes). The bodice is self-lined with three buttons or snaps at the back. Whack the skirt on and you’ve got yourself a dress. The instructions are comprehensive so there’s very little chance of going wrong. I did have to unpick the skirt a few times though, as my stitching in the ditch left a lot to be desired and I didn’t manage to catch the bodice. More practice required, obvs. I also put on a couple of patch pockets because babies need somewhere to put their loose change.

Buttons

Close up on those buttons, and if you look carefully, my less than perfect stitching in the ditch.

Along with the cardigan and dress for Alice, I also slipped in a little book for Mark and Sophie, Go the F*ck to Sleep. Have you seen it? It’s worth a look for any prospective parents with a sense of humour. Check it out, but probably best not to read it to your child.

Have you done any selfless sewing/crafting recently?

 

 

Final Me Made May round up!

Well, despite not managing to post updates in the last ten days or so of Me Made May, I did manage to complete the month. I smashed my target – I had pledged to wear me-made five days a week but actually wore handmade clothes for all but one day of the month. And that was a much-needed pyjama day so I am not begrudging myself breaking the streak. My interest in taking photos waned a bit towards the end of the month (and of course, taking photos is not the point), so here is your slightly depleted final installment of bad photography and awkward poses!

19th

Day 19: My Tilly and the Buttons Arielle skirt. Still love this one, though the lining does twist about a lot when I have a rucksack on my back. Not much I can do about that one, though!

20th

Day 20: A long day at work and at Guides in my blue Colette Zinnia meant that all I wanted to do was get my feet up and have a glass of wine. That’s Chris in the background blocking the telly.

21st

Day 21: If I look bedraggled in this one, it’s because we got caught in a downpour in Dublin. This is my second rayon Mathilde blouse.

22nd

Day 22: Feet up in my Margot pyjamas – made ages ago but unblogged.

25th

Day 25: Not the best view of it, but here I am at the Book of Mormon in my gingham Grace dress. Enjoyed the show – not the best I’ve seen but still pretty funny with some catchy tunes. Top tip: don’t go if you’re easily offended.

27th

Day 26: Believe me when I tell you that this is my bird print Scout. I’m at a Prince tribute night on ice at Alexandra Palace here and the lighting was not playing ball. It was good fun, though – basically like the roller discos you went to as a child but with better music. My name is Jo. And I am funky.

29th

Day 29: And another unflattering photo of my zigzag Scout! I swear this one looks better in real life. Chris and I were on a walk in Oxshott woods, hence the greenery.

31st

Day 31: Cheesy grin because I made it to the end! This is my blue Zinnia again, which I think is possibly my most worn me-made of the month (three times I think?). Hardly surprising though – it’s probably my favourite project this year.

 

So now that May is over, what have I learned? Well, as I said at the halfway point, I feel like I am sorely lacking in colour in my handmade wardrobe. It’s either blue (who am I kidding, it’s mostly blue), white or black. It’s summer now; I need more colour in my life! It doesn’t help that a lot of the fabric in my stash is blue. I’m relaxing my stash diet for the summer months so I can sew colours that suit the season and I’ve already got a few things planned that are a bit brighter.

Speaking of summer, I spent the month hoping that it wouldn’t be too warm as I would have struggled to find clothes suitable for work in hot weather. It would have been one long parade of Scouts for the whole month (it’s Me Made May, not One Week One Pattern). Light and airy workwear is on the cards for the future.

There are a few patterns that I’d like to revisit because I still like them, but I reckon I could do a better job with the fit. For example, my Mortmain has all sorts of problems in the bodice that could probably be solved with an FBA, and my Mathildes are ace, but again the darts are a bit high.

Last year I found that I wore mostly separates during Me Made May, whereas this year a few more dresses have crept in. That’s cool – I’ve made a few since January and I’m really enjoying wearing them.

It’s been quite an enlightening month for me and I’ve really enjoyed seeing what other people have been making/wearing both on the blogs and Instagram. Lots of inspiration on offer (e.g. have you seen Hila of Saturday Night Stitch‘s Instagram feed? AWESOME) so I’ve finished May wanting to sew all the things. I should really get a handle on what I want to sew and how it fits into my wardrobe – I’ve got a reasonably clear idea of what I want to do over summer, but before I make a start on my A/W2016 collection (ha!) I want to have a go at the Wardrobe Architect series. Maybe I’ll find out even more?

Ahoy-hoy!

Did you know that ‘ahoy’ could have been the standard greeting used for answering the phone? Alexander Graham Bell suggested it, but Thomas Edison’s ‘hello’ proved more popular (and let’s face it, Lionel Richie singing ‘Ahoy! Is it me you’re looking for’ wouldn’t have had the same ring). This evening I’ve got a couple of skirts to show you, one with a nautical theme, that I’m entering into the Monthly Stitch’s Indie Pattern Month New to Me competition.

Green chardon front

I’ve admired Deer & Doe’s patterns for a while and I bought the Chardon skirt and Datura blouse patterns last year, but I’ve only just got round to having a go at them. With the summer fast approaching, I wanted some new skirts that I could wear for work. The Chardon is perfect – it’s a simple design with inverted box pleats and optional belt loops that looks great in a variety of fabrics. So of course, I made two.

My first attempt is in a mint green cherry blossom print cotton I got from John Lewis which was part of its 150th anniversary range. I bought three metres at the time, thinking I’d make a flouncy dress with it, then changed my mind as I thought it was a bit too girly-girly for my tastes. Less is definitely more so using it for a summer skirt seemed a better option.

Green chardon back

I think I made the right decision turning this into a skirt rather than a dress. Girly, yes, but a dress would have been a bit too much for me.

I cut a straight size 42 and started to sew it up. For a beginners’ skirt, I thought the instructions were really clear, though a printing error in my English booklet meant that the steps appeared out of order. Luckily I could put my French degree into practice and work out what was going where (I don’t get to use my degree that often so this excited me quite a bit). However, I felt the instructions missed some things that would help take the skirt to the next level. For example, I understitched the waistline facing and the pockets so they wouldn’t peek out. I don’t think it’s so much of a problem with the pockets, but I could see the facing popping out all the time.

Facing

Here’s the understitching on the facing. I love the finish here – oh so neat and crisp!

I made a couple of other changes to the construction. I used an invisible zip as that’s what I had in and I couldn’t be bothered to make the bias binding required by the pattern, so I did a normal turned and stitch hem. Since I’m tiny it worked out well – turning the hem up by an inch or so took it up to the perfect length for me.

For my second attempt, I used an anchor print chambray that’s been sitting in the stash for about a year. I love this stuff – it’s super soft, but presses really nicely and holds the pleats really well. It also looks really nice from the inside – overlocked edges look crisp and neat, which just pleases me no end.

Anchor chardon front

A nautical skirt needs a Breton top to go with it, obvs. Here you can see that the pockets are sitting a bit higher. Much more comfy.

I made a couple of changes from my first attempt. I sewed the belt loops a bit too low down on the waist, so I moved these ones up a bit, and I also felt that the pockets were too low. With my arms straight by my sides I could just get my hands in them which didn’t feel comfortable. I moved them up by two inches and now they feel much more comfortable.

Anchor chardon back

The Chardon is a lovely skirt that I’m really going to enjoy wearing throughout the summer. The blossom print one will be great for work and the chambray version is a bit more casual so more of a weekend/holiday skirt. I’m particularly chuffed that I’ve managed to turn two fabrics from the stash into something I’ll get a lot of wear from. As a first taste of Deer & Doe, I’m pretty chuffed. Next stop, the Datura!

Belt loops and pleat tops

The pleats are stitched down to keep them in place.

zip

A more general shot of the innards.

Anchor chardon salute

Yes. Well…

 

A good vintage

As soon as I announced that I had a posting schedule I knew I would break it. This post is coming to you a day later than planned because I have spent the weekend gallivanting in Dublin. It was a nice little trip – visiting a friend to catch up on Eurovision because we missed it when it was aired last week. Like many others, Eurovision is a bit of a tradition for us. We always try and watch it together and according to my score sheet, my douze points this year went to Belgium. I never pick the actual winner…

Front

Yes, it’s blue like all my other clothes, but it’s stash fabric, so what’re you gonna do?

So anyway, here’s my latest make! It’s a Sew Over It vintage shirt dress and I am just a teeny bit pleased with it. It’s my second version of the dress, having made the first in a class earlier this year. That one probably won’t get blogged – it’s a perfectly wearable dress but there are so many things I’d do differently (like sew the buttonholes in a straight line) that I’d rather show you a completely successful version. Like this one.

Side

The armholes are finished with bias binding. 

My latest attempt is made in a lightweight cotton lawn from Goldhawk Road which will be perfect for summer, if it ever turns up. The guy in the shop said it was Liberty, but I’m more inclined to believe it’s Liberty knock off. It doesn’t feel silky like tana lawn and it had a printing imperfection near the selvedge which probably wouldn’t happen with Liberty fabrics (I like to think their quality control is a bit more advanced). Nevertheless it’s super pretty and it was really nice to work with.

Back

The dress itself is easy to make and fit. It has pleats in the waist instead of darts and it has a lot of ease around the waist. I made a size 12 and added an extra inch to the bodice length as my first version sits a little bit too high, and I wanted to be able to wear a belt at the waist. It’s not a difficult project – the sewing is straightforward as long as you’ve marked everything up properly. The hardest part was attaching the collar. The very clear instructions have you sandwich the collar between the bodice and the facing so you’re sort of attaching it blind, although there is a pattern marker to help you. It’s a bit of a faff, but it does produce a nice neat finish.

One of my triumphs with this dress was definitely the buttonholes. My first version used thicker fabric which meant my machine had a hissy fit at the waist seam. I must have done the first buttonhole above the waist at least ten times, and that’s not an exaggeration. But on this dress the buttonholes went in like a dream, and when the machine went a bit haywire I calmly unpicked, rethreaded and carried on. Eleven buttonholes later I heaved a sigh of relief and congratulated myself on holding my temper.

buttonhole

I mean, look at the state of that! Ripped out SO. MANY. TIMES. 

I can’t wait for warmer weather so I can wear this dress without freezing. It’s a flattering shape on me and will be brilliant for work – I don’t have enough summer work clothes so this will really help. I’ve got a few other fabrics in my stash that would suit the pattern – I just need more time to make them up.

What are you making at the moment?

Detail

I added belt loops where the pleats meet at the waistline. This photo doesn’t show them very well, but I also really like the buttons – they’re a little bit shell-like but with an offset square carved out of the middle. Simple, yet sweet. 

Me Made May round-up no. 3

It’s Wednesday, so it’s time for another Me Made May round up! We’re now more than halfway through the month and while I’m enjoying wearing clothes I’ve made myself, I am getting a bit bored with taking daily photos (and let’s face it, some of them this week are bloody awful). I’ll persist though, because I am learning stuff.

Anyway, here we go with this week’s outfits!

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Day 12: My favourite Grainline Scout. This was taken on an impromptu night out with my old team, hence the awful photo. It was fun though, good to catch up on the gossip.

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Day 13: Copied RTW top in butterfly cotton lawn. I love this one – really comfortable and easy to wear. Still persisting with the blue though.

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Day 14: My gold shoes! These still feel a little tight over the top of my feet, so I wore them around the house all day to try and stretch them a little bit. But gold shoes are always awesome.

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Day 15: My nautical viscose Scout. Let’s see if I can wear all my Scouts at least once during the month. I make that four so far. Only three more to go (and is it bad that I can’t think what the other three are??)

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Day 16: My green Zinnia. Look! Some colour!! I do like this skirt – it’s about two years old and by now, cost per wear must be in the pence I wear it that much. As one of my earlier makes it’s not great on the insides and it has a small tear next to the zip, so I will retire it soon, but I need to make a new one and soon.

Day 17: I didn’t manage a photo yesterday, but I wore my black and white gingham Grace dress. 

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Day 18: My first repeat – my purple Anna dress, which has been through the wash since the bird poo incident.

Since last week and all that blue I have been making a conscious effort to wear more colour. However, it’s hard to wear colourful me-made clothes when all you seem to have is blue! Colour aside though, I think I’ve got a good mix of handmade and casual work clothes – I’m not struggling to find things to wear in the morning, but I am picking a few things up that I’d like to make again, whether that’s to revisit a pattern or replace a well-loved garment. The sewing list grows ever longer…

How’s your Me Made May going?