Goals

One of my sewing goals for the foreseeable future was to make something with buttons, well buttonholes really, and I’m a firm believer in using courses, to push me out of my comfort zone and try something new in a controlled environment with an expert teacher on hand to rescue me if I cock things up. So when I saw that Sew Over It were running a course to make the Alex shirt/shirtdress from Lisa’s My Capsule Wardrobe: City Break e-book, I booked myself onto it without delay.

I was shopping my stash, and picked this chambray to work with.

Beautiful chambray with little red green and yellow dots woven in.

This had been hanging around in the stash for far too long. I’d won it in a giveaway three years ago, and in my head it was always going to be a shirt, so it finally had the chance to fulfil its destiny! I wasn’t sure there would be quite enough to make the shirt dress, but I reckoned I could cut it as long as my fabric would allow, and see how it went.

I was at the Clapham shop this time round, and it was a different teacher, Dominique. The course was over two Monday evenings, and as anticipated, the first class was mostly concerned with the preparation, choosing the right size pattern to use, and cutting out. We got going on the first bits of the sewing, and I managed to get as far as having the fronts and back sewn into the yoke, by the end of the first session. The second session whizzed through, with the collar, side seams, sleeves and sleeve insertion, and finally buttonholes. I was really happy that this class gave me the chance to practise using the buttonhole foot, and to work out how to space the buttonholes correctly. I do feel a lot more confident on this now.

The class was really good fun, and it’s always lovely to see how six people can make six very different garments, even though you’re all working on the same pattern.

The only thing I had to do to finish the shirt at home was to slip-stitch the collar down, hem the sleeves and the bottom, and sew on the buttons.

Before doing all that, I had to decide whether it was worth the candle. I had my doubts about the grading of the shoulders and/or sleeve head. Dominique had assured me that this is a drop shoulder shirt, and the yoke extension over my shoulder was right. But I wasn’t convinced. When I got home, I took a few pics to check, and whatever the pattern is *meant* to be, I personally feel like the sleeves bouffe out too much at bicep level, making me look like I’ve got massive man-shoulders. Or at least that I’m boyfriending the shirt of a man with massive man-shoulders.

It wasn’t so bad if I had my arms down, but as soon as I lifted my elbows, I looked like I had huge eighties shoulder pads.

I COULD have undone all my sleeve sewing and redone them, but as I didn’t have enough fabric to recut the sleeves, it would have meant shaving only a tiny bit off to reduce the ease, which wasn’t going to help a great deal. I decided “stuff it!” and kept them as they are, with the proviso that this shirt wasn’t going to be something I wear outside the house. It is therefore now officially a nightshirt, which is good actually, because it’ll come in handy for my summer holiday. It also resolved the issue of whether I would need to shorten it to more of a shirt length, because it’s definitely too short to wear as a dress, but it’s the perfect length for a nightshirt.

Having decided that, I went ahead with the rest of the finishing off work. I had already decided that the buttons were going to be red, green and yellow to match the woven accents in the chambray. Rather than trying to find buttons that would match in style and come in the three different colours I decided to go random, and bought three bags of colour matched buttons in various sizes from Ebay. I picked out eight that were about 12mm across, and sewed them on.

Tada!!!

And since I’ve got three bagfuls of buttons left over, I decided to string the yellow ones together to make a bonus necklace.

I might do the same with the red and green ones now

Fabric buying

I mentioned in my last Me Made May post going on a fabric buying trip. This was a last minute get-together of some sewing bloggers at Walthamstow market. Some I knew already, some was meeting for the first time. I totally failed to get any photos (I’m a terrible blogger, I hang my head in shame) but at least I can share a picture of my haul.

There’s a theme here, isn’t there?

From top left going clockwise:
* a beautiful silk jersey with amazing drape. I’m calling this colour heliotrope. It’s quite a pinkish purple and there should be enough for a top. From the world famous Man Outside Sainsbury’s.
* a pale grey Cupro. I only got a metre and I’m starting to regret that. I don’t know what I was thinking – I should have got more. I guess it will be a straight skirt, unless I can find something to pair it with and make it go further. Another TMOS one.
* 2 metres of something white and synthetically silky. From Fabric Store. I might try using it for a summer blouse.
* a dark grey chambray from Saeeds, enough for a top.
* a rather splendid dot and floral print stretch Cotton. I only got enough for a short skirt for the summer. Again from TMOS.
* a hot pink viscose, from the Textile Centre which is an absolutely perfect match for…
* Navy and pink floral viscose, also from the Textile Centre. I got lots of this, because it was ridiculously cheap, so there’s plenty to make a dress.

I have to say, I can shop way way quicker when I’m on my own. I could probably have whizzed through and got all these in under an hour. But it’s a lot more fun to go shopping with a gang of other sewers. Claire of Sew, Incidentally has organised a few meetups ups at Walthamstow and she was talking about making these more regular – some on Saturdays and some on weekdays – so if you’re interested you could do worse than to follow her on Instagram.

I think this is probably enough to cover my summer sewing!fabric

MMM17 – Week 4½ – The final reckoning

And so we come to the end of May. It’s been a lot easier this year, mostly because I have a a larger wardrobe of me-made clothes to play with. Which is great!

My pledge was to wear me-made outfits for the whole of the month, with the exception of undies, tights and shoes. I’m very happy to report that I managed this without any difficulty. My personal challenges were:

  • To make sure I photo-documented each day’s outfits and again I managed this, posting on instagram every day. I was a bit late posting my weekly round ups here, but I suspect that is probably no bad thing.
  • To dress with a bit more care, especially with regard to jewellery and accessories. To be honest, that basically boiled down to handmade jewellery and hair clips. Although I don’t have a lot of handmade jewellery it was enough to keep me going and it encouraged me to start playing with beads again.
  • To get on with some making. That was largely done in advance of May, but I did get a new top finished and I’ve beaded a t-shirt although I didn’t actually wear it. I also started a shirt of which more later.

This felt like a proper summery outfit!

The White Swiss Dot Top
This top was a work in progress that I had started last summer. I had a beautifully light Swiss dot cotton, that I had always intended to make into a Shell top. I wanted to use the pattern from the workshop I did with the Thrifty Stitcher, making the Hong Kong top. I did all the cutting out, but I didn’t have quite enough fabric to cut the front facing on the fold. That’s OK, I told myself, I can easily make the facing from two pieces and sew them together. Unfortunately I wasn’t paying attention when cutting and I totally forgot to add a seam allowance, so was going to need to piece the front facing from three bits, instead of two.

And it didn’t get much further than that…

Until Friday of last week. I was going to a fabric-buying meet-up on the Saturday and I wanted something to wear that would be light and comfortable for a hot day. I pulled out the bag with all the white top pieces and got down to some sewing.

The first thing I did was to piece the front facing to make sure that it was going to work. Once that was done it was a really easy and quick sew. I was having to remember the instructions from two or three years ago, but really this is one of the simplest things that a person can make. I still get very excited by the magic of bagging out!

I wanted to work out what needed to be changed about the pattern. I knew that I needed to adjust the shaping of the sides, under the arms. I’d not made a note of it when I finished the Hong Kong top. So that has now been recorded. I managed to confuse myself with the markings on the side seam, which led to a bigger bust dart than is strictly necessary, and a slightly shorter top. I’ve now corrected the pattern so that I don’t make that mistake again. I also think I need to lengthen the pattern because the top is just a bit too short to tuck in to a skirt, and because it’s a light fabric it’s short enough to get blown up by even a gentle breeze, revealing more than anybody really needs to see. I’m not going to worry about that too much for now, but my plan is to keep an eye out for a suitable cotton that I can use for a border to extend the top a little further.

Anyway, that’s the story of the White Swiss Dot Top

Back to MMM musings and reflection. I wanted to consider which items I didn’t wear this month, to see if there’s any reason why not. When I checked, I found there were three skirts that didn’t make the rotation, one of them because I need to fix the waistband and the other two because I didn’t have the right top to go with them at the time. There was also one dress that I didn’t wear because it wasn’t really weather-appropriate. I’m pretty happy with that – I think it means my handmade wardrobe is flexible enough.

I did find I was using my refashioned and embellished t-shirts quite a bit. I wore eight of them, a couple of them twice in the month. I would like to think that when it comes to me made May next year I will have a few more handmade tops that I can use. I could make a distinction between t-shirts where I have genuinely carried out some refashioning, usually to rework the neckline to make it more comfortable, and t-shirts where I’ve simply added some decoration, without actually changing the shape or structure of the garment.

So now on to the last of the photo compilations:

Day 22 – Treble pink! The Watermelon Belcarra blouse with the self-drafted pink polka dots skirt, and baby pink pearl earrings & bracelet set.
Day 23 – The aforementioned Hong Kong top, with the unremarkable black pull-on skirt. I’ll be honest, that skirt was made almost entirely so that I could have more than one option to wear with this top. The jump ring earrings completed the outfit. The Tuesday Teaching Twofer was all repeats : the crystal embellished t-shirt with the black self drafted cropped leggings and the pink moustache skirt.
Day 24 – I was wearing repeats but in a different combination. It was the navy Juliette blouse with the giant floral half circle skirt, accessorised with the jump ring earrings and the seaside bracelet.
Day 25 – The NotSkater dress along with the earrings from the Little Fishies set.
Day 26 – Back in the Bonkers Zoë Dress, because it’s nice cool cotton. Accessorised with the iridescent blue earrings.
Day 27 – This was the meetup day and the debut of the White Swiss Dot Top. I wore it with the Paisley Leftovers skirt, which I’d  had to fix, because its exposed lace zip was proving to be a bit dodgy. I decided to replace it with a safer concealed zip. Also the Little Fishies jewellery and a me-made flower hair clip.
Day 28 – The Dress of Many Colours with the lemons bracelet and a pink flower hair clip.
Day 29 – The blue roses dress, worn with the iridescent blue glass earrings
Day 30 – A home kind of outfit, as I took today off work. It was the imperfect polka dots belcarra (with the imperfect dots on show) with the unremarkable black skirt.
Day 31 – And finally… the Hong Kong top again, and the counterintuitive black birds skirt, accessorised with the jump ring earrings and the seaside bracelet.

I’ve been totally happy with my wardrobe choices for the month. I don’t have any wardrobe orphans or major gaps so I’m counting this as a successful Me Made May. I was a bit sad as it came to an end because I love being part of this worldwide challenge and I’ll miss seeing everybody’s daily contributions, but I’ve got a whole load of new Instagram friends to follow and it makes life a bit easier to open up my rtw wardrobe again.

As always, my thanks go out to the lovely Zoe of So Zo, for creating this wonderful challenge that brings so many sewers together each year.

Roll on May 2018!

MMM17 – Week 3 – Almost on time!

MMM is still feeling quite easy. That must mean that my handmade wardrobe is fitting seamlessly into my everyday life!

Week 3 went like this:

Day 15 – The #Sewdots no 2 batwing dress was nice and cosy for a not-so-warm day, and I wore it with the Dressmakers Ball pearl jewellery, which gained this outfit a couple of nice compliments – always appreciated!

Day 16 – I wore the Blue Roses dress, with my new Little Fishies jewellery set. I was also teaching, so I wore my grey/blue unblogged leggings and beaded Christmas T-shirt, with the shocking pink moustache skirt.

Day 17 – The first MMM outing for the Cairo Top, with the Counterintuitive Black Birds Skirt. The bird appliqués are getting a bit grungy now, the felt has pilled quite a lot over the years. They’re OK so long as you don’t look up close – fortunately there’s nobody hanging around at my knee level! I wore the baby pink jewellery, because I felt it matched the pink in the top.

Day 18 – The imperfect polka dot belcarra top, tucked in, so you didn’t get to see the imperfect polka dot border, with the Squares and Triangles Circle Skirt. I added my lime bracelet, to match the green in the skirt, and the jump ring earrings, which are fast becoming my earring “neutrals”.

Day 19 – The Two Becomes One t-shirt, with the aubergine ponte skirt, one of my wardrobe essentials. The top was TOTALLY chosen because I wanted to wear my newly made iridescent blue glass tube earrings.

Day 20 – I pulled out the chilli stripe jersey dress, because I love it and it feels summery. But I did end up feeling a bit chilly (ahahaha! see what I did there?), so I added my slouchy teal cardigan, and was surprised at how well they went together. I wore the same earrings, because I was feeling the love!

Day 21 – Another sunny day meant the Under the Sea dress, on which I still haven’t altered the neckline like I wanted to. Same earrings, because they are my new favourites, and they went with the outfit, and the lime bracelet which was also quite matchy.

You know you can keep tabs on all this day by day on Instagram, don’t you? See the daily me-made outfits in real time (hashtagged with the official #mmmay17), and also odd photos of whatever I happen to be doing that I remember to photograph.

MMM17 – Week 2 Catch-up

I’ve got my act together and I’m all ready with Week 2 of #MMM17. It continued to be quite easy, with a couple of skirt repeats, and lots of jewellery repeats.

Day 8 – Chartreuse Belcarra blouse with the aubergine ponte skirt. The jump ring earrings.

Day 9 – The black refashioned t-shirt with the stripy neckline, with the You Mean I’m Wearing Orange?! Skirt. Plus the pink pearl jewellery and a me-made hair flower clip around the back of my head. For dance teaching, I kept the t-shirt and added a pair of leggings I got from Hannan Mahmoud, a costume designer in Cairo, which I adapted because they were indecently low-rise, and a sequined hip scarf which actually belongs with a costume I made a few years ago.

Day 10 – At last! The Jif Lemon Dress came out! I think this remains my favourite ever make. Worn with my lemon bracelet.

Day 11 – The big floral half circle skirt and yet another embellished t-shirt – the one I call the midnight garden tee because of the black flower & bead appliqués. The jump ring earrings AGAIN!

Day 12 – First skirt repeat, the Black & White and Pink All Over skirt teamed with the beaded Christmas tee. I then had my first photo-documentation fail, because I went to the Dressmakers Ball on Friday night and completely forgot to take any pictures of my outfit! I’ve had to gank these from the Crafty Sew & So Facebook page. Go take a look there at all the amazing dresses people made and wore! For the record, I was wearing the Party Skater dress, all beaded up, together with matching hair ornaments, and matching pearl necklace, bracelet and earrings.

Day 13 – I was exhausted from the drive back from the ball, as I didn’t get home till 4.00am, so I didn’t actually get dressed until I had to go out. I was volunteering at the Guildford Wine Festival, where our charity, Oakleaf Enterprise, was running a blind wine tasting table. I had to wear the official Oakleaf t-shirt, but I paired it with my unremarkable black skirt, and the Dressmakers Ball earrings and bracelet.

Day 14 – Was a jimjams day!

So that’s us all caught up.

Oh, that Dressmakers Ball thing…? That was BRILLIANT!!! There were about 100 sewers there, all dressed up to the nines. And the really fun thing was that everyone *loved* it if you asked about their dress. It was so inspiring! I’m already planning next year’s ballgown…

MMM17 – Week 1 Roundup

It’s half way through May and no Me-Made May posts? I’m slacking!

It’s been going very well, and so far it’s been pretty easy. The main thing I’m noticing is that I’ve relied a lot on my refashioned Primark t-shirts, largely because most of the tops I’ve made so far are sleeveless or short-sleeved, and it’s not been the right weather. Hopefully the later half of May will be more summery (ever the optimist!)

I’ve been trying to make sure I wear jewellery every day, to accessorise whatever I’m wearing. I don’t have a great deal of me-made jewellery, but I’ve tried to use what I have got, and I’ve made a couple of extra bits and pieces. On Monday night I pulled out my big bag of beading supplies, and put these little babies together.
IMG_20170515_222002_782 IMG_20170515_222002_785

However, I haven’t done any fabric-based making or refashioning this month yet. I need to crack on with that.

Here is week 1 of #MMM17:

Day 1 –  Navy Juliette top with the pink polka dots skirt. Also baby pink pearl earrings and bracelet.

Day 2 – The Bonkers Zoë Dress. No jewellery, I forgot, my bad. I changed into dance teaching gear, leggings, refashioned tee, moustache skirt. And I remembered to put on some jewellery, same baby pink pearl earrings as Day 1.

Day 3 – Crystal embellished t-shirt, and my new unremarkable black jersey pull-on skirt. Also my jump ring earrings.

Day 4 – Black Juliette top and the Black & White and Pink All Over straight skirt. Seaside bracelet. Also my berry pink cardigan when it got chilly.

Day 5 – Refashioned lilac t-shirt with the new black & white neckline and black denim straight skirt. Baby pink pearl earrings again.

Day 6 – Saturday was a lounging about at home day, so self-drafted leggings and the stripy refashioned t-shirt.

Day 7 – The Under The Sea dress. With the seaside bracelet of course, but it was on the arm holding the selfie-stick!

That’s probably enough to be going on with, I’ll do week 2 in a separate post.