On the cutting table: May

Hey hey! Happy Wednesday! It’s been a while since I’ve done a planning post, mainly because life has got in the way recently. I’ve been sewing here and there, but without any real plan against it all. Sometimes it’s nice to do that – to just make things because it takes your fancy, rather than meticulously scheduling everything in. I’ve had a few thoughts in mind for my spring/summer sewing (and my plans this month reflect that a little) – I did so much last year that I don’t think I’ll need all that much that’s new, but more on that later this month.

My sewing plans for May are, I think, a realistic take on what I think I can get done this month. Chris and I are going to Portland for the last weekend in May (Memorial Day over here) so I’ve tried to plan accordingly.

  • Multiple pairs of Helen’s Closet Avery leggings: I’m really into running at the moment but the thing I find frustrating is that I can hardly find leggings that fit me properly. It’s the age-old problem that if they fit round the waist, they stretch too much over my hips/rear and go see through. If they fit me around the hips, they’re too loose around the waist and they fall down. I’ve already muslined the Avery leggings and I’m pretty pleased with the results. I just need to get them sewn up in fabric I want to wear. Luckily I have AWESOME fabric up my sleeve (or rather, in my stash) so I’m looking forward to finally running in complete comfort. This will be my Make It Happen project for the month.
  • White linen Alex shirt: I know. I just can’t quite quit this pattern. But with summer approaching, I can’t get a loose white shirt out of my head. I want to use it as a normal shirt, but also something to throw on as an extra layer on cooler evenings. I already have a white shirt, but that’s a bit more fitted. This should be a good, casual basic.
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Like this, but in white. I might put the pockets on this one, too. 

  • Red Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes: Remember last year I had these wonderful red culottes that I loved, but then managed to irredeemably rip the fabric on a nail on a trip to the pub? Well, I loved them so much that I’m making them again. Those culottes were awesome. I obviously need more. The Winslows are a quick, uncomplicated sew, so I should be able to rustle these up in no time.
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They will be mine again. Oh yes, they will be mine again. 

What are you sewing this month? How are your SS18 plans working out?

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The eyes have it

Hola! I know I said last time that I’d be back into regular blogging since I’d settled down into the new job, but I LIED. I’d do it again, dammit! It’s taken me longer than I thought it would to get back into working life. Turns out that after spending all day at a computer, I don’t really want to sit and write blog posts about what I’ve been sewing in my off time. And I have been doing a little bit of sewing. I have a small backlog to tell you about, and I have actually started making a pair of jeans! More on those once I’ve finished them, but for today let’s take a look at something a bit more simple – a Sew Over It Molly top.

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Can you believe that this is only the second pattern I’ve made from the City Break ebook? After all my fangirling? I’ve made all the Alex shirts, but so far I haven’t ventured further. The Molly is the first pattern in the book, and it’s probably the simplest with only four pattern pieces – a front, a back, a sleeve and a neckband. It’s designed for knits, which is probably why I’ve ignored it so far, but now I’ve made my peace with jersey it’s time to give it a go.

It is simple to put together, too. I’ve made quite a few easy t-shirts over the last six months (the TATB Agnes and the Deer & Doe Plantain), and this one’s probably the easiest due to the sleeve construction. The kimono shoulder means that there are no fiddly sleeve heads to contend with (not that sleeve heads are that complicated in knits; it’s more that these are super-simple by comparison), and you insert them on the flat, so it’s a single, straight seam. Otherwise, I cut a 12 and blended out to a 16 at the hips as usual, but I also reduced the seam allowance a bit on the sleeves – when I pinned it together it looked like it would be a smidge too snug. I’m glad I did, too, as they feel quite comfy, all told, though I’d maybe take a little out of the length next time.

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I feel like I don’t have that many light-coloured tops at the moment, so I cracked out this funky eye-print jersey which I bought at Drygoods Design a month or two ago (looks like it might be sold out now). Chris doesn’t like it. He thinks the eyes are a bit creepy. I can maybe see his point – perhaps it’s a bit much to have a whole top out of it. I’m thinking it might be better as a highlight fabric. I’m looking forward to the new Tilly & the Buttons book, Stretch, being released over here. There’s a raglan t-shirt in there that I’d like to try (the Frankie??), and I have enough of this stuff left over to get the sleeves out of it, and then I’d do the body in a contrast colour. Anyway, the fabric is lovely and soft, and although it’s quite light, it also feels quite snuggly and it was a pleasure to work with.

So yeah, the Molly was a nice, quick sew, and I’m sure it’ll see plenty of wear over the spring, but I’m not entirely convinced by it. If it was a toss-up between this and the Plantain, right now I think the Plantain would win. I’m not sure the combination of the sleeves and the drop shoulder suit me, and I don’t think the front view photo is the most flattering pic of me, but maybe I just need to let it grow on me? I printed off the entire pdf, so I have the dress extension – maybe I should give that a go and see what happens?

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Ice cold in Alex

Hiya! Hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend. Chris and I went up to Vancouver for a couple of days to see what’s going on, and I think it might be love. It helped that it was a beautiful couple of days, but man, what a nice place! It reminded me a lot of Sydney – a modern city built around water that’s full of friendly people. We spent Saturday exploring Stanley Park and Gastown, then yesterday we went on a tasting tour of Granville Island Public Market. If you ever find yourself in Vancouver, get yourself on one of those tours. We emerged from it feeling stuffed to Christmas Day levels, but so satisfied. Vancouver: recommended.

I took my latest finished project with me in the hopes of getting some decent pictures, but while it was lovely and sunny outside, it was damn cold too, and this Alex shirt does not lend itself to colder climes. I made it out of this gorgeous sand-washed rayon which I waited ages for. I spotted it on the Hart’s Fabric website over the summer and knew that it had to be mine, but alas it had all gone. I was a little despondent because in my experience, a lot of fabric shops won’t restock once they’re out, but this time my luck was in. They got more a month or two later, and I swooped like a fabric-obsessed magpie.

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It was worth the wait. This blush-pink stuff is BEAUTIFUL. It’s soft, it’s flowy and it’s everything I could want to bring my year of obsessive shirt-making to an end. It’s the perfect vehicle for an Alex shirt, lending itself brilliantly to the slouchy look. I began sewing it in November, and then… I left it until last weekend to finish. I got to the point where you have to hand stitch the collar closed and decided I’d leave it for the next day. That day never really came – I got busy with sewing a few things for our trip to Hawaii, and I discovered that knits weren’t so bad after all, and the shirt languished in a pile for a month or two. I know, I’m an awful person.

Anyway, once you stitch the collar closed the end is in sight with this project. It’s just the sleeves, hem and buttonholes left and then you’re done. So, I got on with it and sewed the last button on in front of the Super Bowl. Now, don’t get me wrong, some American sports can be exciting (Chris and I have been to the ice hockey a couple of times and had great fun), but I’m just not seeing it with American football. It was a good job I had something to do whilst it was on, cos I would have been bored to tears otherwise.

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I don’t really have much to say about this one. It is my fourth version of the Alex (see here, here and here for previous attempts) and I think I’ve pretty much got it down pat now. I left off the pockets this time, but I did do buttonholes. I don’t usually bother since it’s so loose I can get it on over my head without any trouble, but I might want to use it as a layering piece in the summer and maybe tie it over a dress so I thought it was worth it this time. And for once, my machine behaved beautifully and I had a completely Zen buttonhole experience. Win!

It’s lovely to wear, too. It feels so soft against my skin and the loose fit means I will always be able to have a big dinner and not feel a thing. This fabric was worth holding out for, and I’m glad I’ve finally managed to make it into something that’ll see heavy rotation in my wardrobe.

Yay!

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My top five hits of 2017

Hi everyone! We’re two weeks away from a new year, so I’m emerging from my mince pie coma to review the old one, following Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow’s Top Five series. I might not have finished my sewing for this year just yet (I am panic sewing shorts for my trip to Hawaii next week. Did I mention I’m going to Hawaii? I can’t wait), but this year has been particularly busy for me, sewing-wise. I’ve made a grand total of 32 garments for myself, plus a giant quilt, and I’ve taken on projects that pushed my skills a little.

Looking back, this has definitely been the year of the tried n’ true (TNT) pattern for me. I fell in love with just about every pattern I tried and made multiple versions of them all. So let’s take a look at the five patterns I just couldn’t quit in 2017.

Deer and Doe Plantain top

This year I think I finally got over my fear of knits. Rather than faffing about with zigzag stitches on my sewing machine, I tried out sewing on my overlocker instead. And do you know what? It was pretty simple. I only made the Plantain for the first time a month or so ago, but it’s fast become a favourite, and I’ve made two more since (yet to be blogged). It’s a straightforward sew and I like the relaxed fit through the waist which makes it great with jeans – basically the basic t-shirt of my dreams.

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Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes

Oh my Winslow culottes, how do I love thee? Seattle gets a reliable hot summer (more than hot enough for me, anyway), and I wanted something that would help me stay cool AND combat the dreaded chub rub. The Winslows in rayon were the perfect solution. Soft, flowy and a reasonably quick make. When you’re doing your best to stay out of the heat, minimal time at the iron is key. I wore my Winslows throughout the summer, and when I accidentally ruined my first pair, I made another straight away.

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Closet Case Patterns Carolyn PJs

The Carolyns were another response to the heat. I only brought flannel pjs with me when we moved, so I needed something a bit lighter to sleep in. One day it occurred to me that my duvet cover would make a perfect classic pjs, so I hit Ikea up and got cracking on the summer version (with shorts and short-sleeved top). And they’re awesome. So light and comfortable! Turns out that a queen-sized duvet is a bountiful source of fabric, so I made the long pants for autumn/winter and some PJs for Chris with the excess. I also had a go at inserting piping for the first time and now I want to put it on everything.

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Sew Over It Penny dress

When Sew Over It released the Penny dress back in June it was love at first sight. I was having a major shirt/shirtdress phase, and the Penny scratched an itch for a smart summer dress with buttons and a collar. I made a couple of versions in rayon and despite a tantrum over a wonky hem, I love them to death. Whenever I wear my Pennys, I spend most of my time twirling about in them.

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Sew Over It Alex shirt/shirt dress

When I say I had a shirtdress moment this year, maybe I should expand it to include anything with a  button. I made so many shirts and shirtdresses in 2017 it’s ridiculous, but I think the Alex shirt was my first make of the year. I made it in a bit of a panic in time for my hen do (which happened after I got married, but that’s another story), and this version in black rayon has been my go-to casual going out top ever since. It’s so cute! It’s got enough space in it that I can easily get it on over my head without buttons, and I love the relaxed look – it looks good tucked or untucked. I’ve since made the shirt dress version in a chambray, another shirt in blue silk and I have another on my sewing table right now.

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We got a better camera in May, so my photos suddenly got marginally better. 

 

 

Against the clock

Hi everybody! I’m back in the US after a bit of a whirlwind weekend in the UK. I’d been looking forward to this weekend for a long time – my oldest friend Chloe got married and asked me to do a reading at the wedding. I was delighted to be involved in the day – it was a lovely, laid-back do, with lots of joy and laughter. Chloe and James looked truly happy and it was the best start to married life they could have hoped for.

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The happiest of couples. 

Anyway, I wanted to make my outfit, but I knew I didn’t want to make a party dress. I’ve got a few of those and I never wear them, plus autumn in the UK is a tricky time to dress for. Separates were the answer. I’m still really enjoying the whole 1930s-extra-in-Poirot look, so I wanted something drapey and a bit sophis. The Winslows were a good bet – quick and easy to make and with the Sew Over It Anderson Blouse for the top, I thought it’d be a pretty good outfit.

Naomi warned me about the Anderson Blouse earlier this month as she’d seen some negative reviews around the internet, so I erred on the side of caution and made a muslin. The hem is super wide and is gathered in with a ribbon, but I left this out as I’d be tucking it in anyway, so I just cut a size 12 and had plenty of room for my hips. As it turned out, the only alteration I made was to shorten the sleeves by an inch. Looking at the photos I think I’ll take off more – the cuffs aren’t snug to the wrist so they look a bit long without any wrist puff action.

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These photos aren’t the best – snatched pre-dinner by my mum on her point and shoot camera. I should have taken mine but it was too much for my luggage. Instead, let’s admire that flamingo fabric! It’s rayon from Harts Fabric (still in stock I think). 

I did have a few issues with the instructions. The pictures aren’t all that clear and I fudged the neckline bias binding. It wasn’t clear which side you’re supposed to attach it to, so I guessed that it should face the inside. The pattern piece is about two inches wide, but I think it ended up about a quarter of an inch wide when stitched. I’m obviously doing something wrong there, and I can’t work out what it is. Not a major problem, as I’m happy with what I’ve managed, but I’d like to know how to do it right!

My other issues with my final version were of my own making. I sat down to make it on Wednesday. I was due to fly on Thursday. I’m not a speed-sewist and for good reason. In my haste to get things done I sewed the hem end to sleeve end, right sides together, and then overlocked it, resulting in a weird Mobius strip of a seam. I didn’t notice my mistake until I went to set the sleeve in and realized that it wasn’t going to happen. I wanted to finish it off that night, but with a Girl Scout meeting to get to and some serious unpicking to sort out, it was going to be a race to the finish instead.

Mistake

Yeah. Completely wrong. 

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I finished it on Thursday morning with just enough time to pack, shower and get to the airport. It was stressful. I sewed the cuff poppers the wrong way round on one side. Moral of the story: don’t leave things to the last minute.

The pants

I’m now four pairs of Winslow culottes in and I don’t really have much to say about them anymore, construction-wise. I will say, however, that these are not quite how I envisioned them. I had three metres of flowy black triple crepe in my stash that would have been perfect for these, but it’s a shame that it was IMPOSSIBLE to sew with. I tried just about every needle in my pot and not one could produce two stitches together. I gave up and hit my local JoAnn store in a panic, ending up with thicker crepe that was much better behaved.

I thought I would make a full length pair, but with the super-wide leg I looked like a cross between MC Hammer and Morticia Addams. I asked Chris for his opinion: “Well, they’re certainly a statement, aren’t they?” Thanks, sweetheart, that’s very diplomatic. I lopped seven or eight inches off the bottom to show off my shoes instead.

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SO VERY WIDE LEGS. I wouldn’t normally go this wide (my bum looks huge), but it was fun swanning about in them all day.

It was probably the right decision as I had a number of lovely compliments about my outfit from other wedding guests throughout the day. The venue, Kirklinton Hall, is basically a ruin with a roof (think Thornfield Hall in Jane Eyre, after Bertha burns it down), so a lot of it is open to the elements, but I was warm enough all day, AND I didn’t have to worry about sudden gusts of wind exposing my pants to all and sundry. Win.

So yeah, none of this outfit went according to plan, but in the end I’m pleased with what I achieved, and that I’ve got a couple of pieces with more mileage than a party dress.

Kirklinton Hall

Thornfield, I mean Kirklinton Hall.

 

 

Rayon and on and on

If I remember 2017 for anything, sewing-wise, I think it’ll be my year of obsession. I’ve been going nuts for shirts and shirt dresses, and if I can make them in rayon then that’s just perfection in a project. I’m feeling the need to try something different now, but before I put my obsession to bed I thought I’d have one last hurrah.

The one piece of fabric I wanted to get out of my stash was this BEE-YOO-TIFUL rayon that I bought from Britex Fabrics in San Francisco on a trip in June. That place is amazing, but it ain’t cheap. I could have come away weighed down with all sorts of fabric goodness, but at the same time I didn’t want to bankrupt myself, so I set myself a two-yard limit. I think I made the right choice cos I’d pull this rayon out of my stash every now and then just to stroke it. Anyway, I wanted to sew it up straightaway, but the colours and the pattern are more autumnal than summery to me.  Now that we’re definitely switching seasons here, its time has come.

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Back to the roof today. We had to dodge the showers to get these photos.

I’ve loved wearing my Sew Over It Ultimate Shirts, but I’ve made them all out of crisp cotton so I fancied seeing what it was like in something a bit floatier (spoiler: it’s awesome). The Ultimate Shirt is supposed to be fitted, with long vertical darts on the front and back, but I left them out this time to maximise the floof around the waist. I think it works – this fabric should be free to drape and float, so who am I to refuse it?

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Since this is my fourth version of this pattern and I’ve pretty much nailed the fit for me I knew I was in for a straightforward sew. And that’s what it was, until I got to the cuffs. One of the cuffs is in the right place. The other is not. There are three notches at the end of the sleeve to help you attach the cuff – two for a small pleat and one for the cuff opening. I somehow managed to put the cuff opening in the wrong place so now the pleat is slightly out. By the time I realised I had already sliced the opening and there was no going back. I am not going to worry about that too much, though. I like to wear my sleeves rolled up, so really, who’s going to see?!

Collar

The buttonholes were a lot of fun, too (note the use of sarcasm here). I know a bad workman blames his tools, but really automatic buttonholes are just bloody temperamental, aren’t they? I always do a couple of tests before committing to the real thing, and I reset the machine between every buttonhole, just in case, but this time it didn’t work. The first two were a hot mess – the machine decided to stop halfway up the second side so I had to stop and unpick. I held my breath and started again, and luckily the rest of them were ok, but I did have to go out for peanut butter M&Ms as a reward.

I’m not going to lie; I love this shirt. I know I say that about a lot of things I make, but I really mean this one! One of the things I like about my Alex Shirts is the relaxed fit through the waist. I’m not such a fan of the flat collar or the plain cuffs (even though you never see them) on the Alex, so this feels like a good compromise. If I’m going to put the Ultimate Shirt to bed for now, this feels like a good note to end on.

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Ultimate floof.

Penny black

You know how I said we were expecting a heatwave here in Seattle? Well, when I started this dress it had well and truly arrived and I melted like the Wicked Witch of the West in a water fight. Air conditioning is really not a thing round here so I spent most of my time sitting next to a fan and trying to stay as cool as possible. Unfortunately I didn’t quite get my latest Sew Over It Penny quite finished before the warm weather disappeared.

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Different location for my photos this time – there’s a mini allotment on the roof. We don’t have a tub but those tomatoes look like they’ll be pretty good in a week or two. 

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I think rayon is the best fabric for summer. It is the only thing I wanted to wear because it’s so light, floaty and breathable. It’s perfect for wafting about the city on the hunt for the nearest ice lolly. That’s not to say it’s not without its pitfalls. While wearing my red Penny dress I went to the loo at our local cinema and got halfway down the street before I realised that my skirt was tucked into my knickers. I wouldn’t have clocked it had I not spotted my reflection in a window…

Despite that embarrassing experience I knew that my red Penny would not be my last, and that I’d crack out the rayon once more. I spotted this lovely bird/feather print on the Harts Fabric website (still in stock!) and, thinking that the birds all ran in the same direction, I bought 3.5 yards as suggested by the pattern notes. Turns out I needn’t have bothered. The birds face up and down, so with some clever placement I was able squeeze it out of about two yards – plenty left over for something else I think!

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Who needs to twirl when the wind will do the job for you? 

Having learned my lesson from last time, I added extra notches at the skirt waistline and got my head round the collar and button band construction much quicker (NB SOI have now updated the pattern with the missing button band notch). I did, however, struggle with threading the elastic through the waist channel. It was easy enough until I hit the side seam and the button band and then things ground to a halt. I ended up having to unpick the casing so I could give it a hand, which means the waist isn’t quite as neat as it could be. Do you have any tips to make it easier?

I also had a bit of a nightmare with the hem. After letting it hang for 48 hours, Chris very kindly helped me level it out again. It looked fine when I tried it on with the pins in, but when I hemmed it and tried it again, it looked wonky at the sides. Cue a tantrum and snapping at my husband who really didn’t deserve it and continued to very patiently help me. He really is my better half. Anyway, the team effort worked and the hem is now much more level.

I’m a big fan of this dress. It’s great for warmer temperatures, but I can also see it having a life beyond the summer. Paired with some tights and a cardi, it’ll work into spring and autumn. Till then, I’m going to pretend I live on the Riviera and swish about in it some more.

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The silk that almost got the better of me

Hi everybody! How’s your Sunday going? I’m posting this with one eye on Game of Thrones (don’t worry, no spoilers) to bring you something I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while but just never got round to it. Part of my Me Made May pledge this year was to finally cut into some blue silk I’d bought from the Man Outside Sainsburys at Walthamstow Market last year. Well, I may not have blogged about it at the time, but I am still a woman of my word and I completed a new Sew Over It Alex shirt well before my 31 May deadline.

 

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Thought I’d change up the location today – this is the ground floor courtyard in my building and an attractive water feature.

I’ve covered the Alex dress and shirt before this year, so I won’t say much about the pattern – just assume that I made it in the same way, yes? You’d think that by my third attempt on a pattern everything would be plain sailing, but no! From start to finish, this Alex was a pain in the proverbial.

I had originally planned to make an Alex dress out of this, thinking I had bought more than I did. It turned out I only had 1.5m, so I had to settle for the shirt instead. Even then I had to do some pattern Tetris and single layer cutting to eke it out of the length. If that had been my only issue with the fabric I think I’d be ok with this make, but sewing it turned out to be a massive ball ache.

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I wanted to treat the fabric nicely, so I went out and bought sharp needles and some proper silk pins. Turns out I needn’t have bothered. The pins were super difficult to push through the layers, and when I tried sewing a scrap, my machine let out a big fat ‘nope’. I don’t think it managed to sew a single stitch. I tried several different needles and finally settled on a 70/10, which was the best of a bad bunch. The machine was still skipping stitches so I ended up taking things reeeeaaally slowly but there are a few places where I had to go over the seams more than once. All this made me wonder whether the Man Outside Sainsburys was mistaken in telling me it was a silk, but I did a burn test and it looks like he was telling me the truth.

Anyway, since the fabric and hardware weren’t playing ball, I figured that I’d probably have issues with sewing the buttonholes. I ended up only doing them on the button tabs and even then I had to unpick a few times. I didn’t want to risk it on the placket, so I ended up just sewing the buttons straight through. I can get it over my head without any bother so they don’t need to be functional.

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Despite my issues, I do still like the finished result. It was worth the extra effort to go slowly, I’m pleased with how it looks and it does feel nice to wear. Now that we’re in the middle of summer, it’s a little too warm for me to wear it right now, but I’m sure it’ll be in heavy rotation once the autumn arrives.

 

Penny for my thoughts

I’m thinking of renaming my blog. Confessions of a Broken Record sounds about right, since today’s post is about yet another shirt dress. That Winslow culottes post probably lulled you into a false sense of security, but mwhahaha here I am to talk to you about my Penny dress!

My love of Sew Over It’s patterns is well-documented, and I had to have this one as soon as it was released in June. Of course I did; it’s a shirt dress. The Penny is a casual day dress, with a button-up bodice and a circle skirt attached to an elasticated waist. I reckon I’ve been missing out on a whole world of swishing and twirling since I last made a circle skirt several years ago, so it’s definitely time to give it another go.

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To maximise my Penny’s swish factor, I went for this summery rayon (unfortunately out of stock) from Harts Fabric’s online store. I am fast falling in love with Harts – they’ve got a great selection and their service is really prompt. I managed to eke the dress out of 2.5 yards (the US is not on board with the metric system) with a bit of pattern Tetris and some single layer cutting.

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This is the only side photo I got where I wasn’t gurning. Looking at this pic, I may add an extra bit of length in the bodice as it’s pulling up slightly at the front.

Now, normally I find SOI’s instructions super clear. Really, it’s difficult to go too far wrong with their patterns, but this time I found them a bit confusing in a few places. I had to add notches to the skirt waistline so I could attach the bodice evenly, while the button placket construction was just a bit odd. You’re supposed to partially fold the facing out to the front of the bodice, but the instructions don’t specify by how much. It was only by looking at a kink in the facing piece that I had an idea of what was supposed to happen. It didn’t really make sense until attaching the collar. I think this could put off an adventurous beginner.

Other than those little blips the dress came together really nicely. A special shout out should go to Chris, who very patiently helped me level out the hem. I left it to hang for a day and in that time the bias shifted by 3.5 inches (apparently I’m not on board with the metric system either). Since I don’t have a dummy anymore I had to put it on to mark it accurately. Chris got his tape measure out and diligently marked out an even line with pins. He was bothered it wasn’t right but I think his eyes were playing tricks on him as it looks pretty good to me.

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Of course, I love this dress. As soon as I finished the hem I spent a good hour swishing and twirling around the flat in it. It’s light and floaty and will see me through the summer very nicely. I’ll definitely be making more, because I am so not over making shirt dresses just yet (not sorry) but I’ll make sure I’ve got my June/July sewing plans out of the way first.

Do you get obsessed with sewing particular garments?

 

Inspiration from the big screen: 20th Century Women

I’ve spent a lot of time on planes over recently – at least 24 hours by my count. Like most people I never sleep properly on transport, so I’ve been catching up with all the films I’ve missed at the cinema. Watching films that are intended for the big screen on the back of an airline seat isn’t ideal but I reckon I’ve done pretty well out of it. I’ve now seen all but two of this year’s Oscar nominees for best picture (Fences and Hell or High Water) plus filling in some long-lasting gaps in my viewing (Avatar. Don’t bother).

One of these plane movies was 20th Century Women starring Annette Bening, Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig. Bening plays Dorothea, a bohemian single mother in her 50s who enlists two other women to help raise her teenage son, Jamie, in late 1970s California. It’s an interesting take on raising a child – all three women use their own experiences to influence him. They don’t necessarily get it right (whatever ‘right’ is), but they all act with Jamie’s best interests at heart, showing him the world as they see it. There aren’t any plot twists but a great ensemble cast playing well-crafted characters. I’d recommend seeking it out if you can.

And do you know what? They wear some lovely clothes too! I love the late 70s fashions in the film. It’s modern vintage – no fussy features, simple to wear and comfortable. If I want to go for a vintage look, it’d be my era of choice. A lot of the clothes could be easily recreated using indie patterns – here’s a quick round-up.

Dorothea (Annette Bening)
Dorothea wears a lot of Liberty-style prints throughout the film, but my favourite has to be this pussy-bow blouse that features in the publicity shots.

I’m thinking the Sew Over It pussy-bow blouse or a hacked version of Tilly and the Buttons Mimi blouse would work here. And obvs, you’d have to use a Tana lawn like this one.

Abbie (Greta Gerwig)
Abbie’s style is a bit more punk than the other characters – think Patti Smith with a dash of Debbie Harry. My choice for her slouchy shirts and rolled up sleeves would be the Sew Over It Alex shirt in bright rayon. I did have a shirt like the one below planned, but then I used my red rayon on my Winslow culottes. Kinda wanna buy more now…

 

alex-front

Alex shirt

Julie (Elle Fanning)
I loved just about everything Julie wore in this film, which is basically a lot of denim skirts and blouses, and we all know about my current love for a good shirt… Anyway, I particularly loved this midi length skirt, which I reckon would be great as a Colette Zinnia (version 1) in a simple blue chambray.

Front view resize

My Zinnia from last year.

I’m also a big fan of this outfit (yellow and blue developing into a bit of a theme here), which I can see as a Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt and a SOI Ultimate shirt in light cotton lawn.

 

Red ultimate shirt

One of my Ultimate shirts in cotton lawn.

Do you ever get inspired by the costumes you see on the big screen? Let me know in the comments!

Oh, and hello to Jason Isaacs.