This year for simplicity I pledged to wear at least 1 hand made item each day and I documented via instagram. It was a fun month although my motivation and inspiration started to drag towards the end. I think it reflects what I usually wear (double-knit or die I say) although I repeat items a lot more than I did here
Continuing on my quest for work-wear that feels like PJs, I finally jumped on the Vogue 1250 bandwagon and like a broken record I can add my cry to the masses – “what took me so long?!”.
Made from a soft golden light-weight double-knit found on Goldhawk Road, I started cutting the pattern at 6:30pm last night and was done by 10:00pm. It’s such a dream to go together.
The only tricky bit was figuring out the full bust adjustment, as there is really only 2 pieces to this pattern – the upper back, and the rest. I took flat measurements and added a couple of inches to the skirt at the centre back. I knew I’d need more room at the bust but I didn’t want to add any at the waist so rather than a normal FBA, I winged it. (Sorry if it doesn’t make sense – the pictures didn’t come out as clear as I’d hoped.)
The net result is a much deeper tuck at the shoulder giving more room at the bust. I had my fingers crossed the whole way but I like how it turned out.
The pattern is the Swing-Top from the kick-ass Dixie-DIY. Although this early version has been discontinued Dixie has just released her new Concert-tee pattern which I have earmarked as soon as I find the perfect wide-striped knit.
The other super find on Dixie’s site is the Never Fear Knits series she made last year – a seriously comprehensive guide to sewing with knit fabric. Using all the tips this top came together in less than two hours after printing the pattern and would be perfect as a first foray into sewing jersey. I used a zigzag stitch for all the seams and left it un-hemmed.
To say this is comfortable is an understatement – it is ridiculous and now I want to make a million of them.
There has been many a meaningful discussion of late around what we sew and why. Sewaholic’s take on frosting vs. cake and Colette Patterns’ practical wardrobe posts both put into words the thoughts I’d had about Wardrobe Planning the second time around.
For the fall Palette challenge I’d gotten excited and begun collecting images that evoked the mood of melancholy chill in the air (I’d just been to the Dianne Arbus exhibition at the Tate Modern and may have been melodramatic).
Then I found images of clothing I’d like to make and own – on the surface, a dream wardrobe.
Vintage inspired clothes that made me drool – the only problem was that when I really tried to imagine myself wearing these clothes, I couldn’t. Circle skirts that feel costumey, high waisted sweaters that choke and give uni-boob, pencil skirts that cut mid cankle and hobble anyone daring to walk more than two feet – I did not want to wear these clothes.
The reality was that on a scale between comfort and figure flattery my own balancing point falls more on the comfort side than the other.
So with the stars aligning the Spring/Summer Palette Challenge and Me-Made-May I’ve decided to bring a little more reality to the table.
Like Caitlin from the Coletterie, I’m quite a homebody and when I broke down my time into a simple pie-graph it was clear that to make it through MMM I need to plug the lounge-wear shaped hole in my wardrobe.
The next gap is with the work wardrobe. I began the new job last week (thanks for all the good wishes – I’m loving it so far!) and for the first two weeks I don’t need to worry about it but after that management training starts. I’m looking for a compromise between smart/professional but still comfortable enough to move around in. I think double-knit dresses may be my saviour.
And finally a little frosting for sight-seeing with shirt-dresses, trouser-jeans and pretty prints.
So rather than a concrete plan, this time around I have a palette of colours and a general idea of where the gaps are which seems as good a starting point as any!
As always I planned big with last fall’s challenge and finished somewhat mediocre. You would think I’d learn but let’s face it planning is half the fun and I am totally okay with not finishing everything. So this week I’ll share my Spring/Summer sewing plans, starting with the colour palette.
It began with a pinterest board. In anticipation of a spring challenge I began collecting images of blossoms and daffodils and once it was announced that the challenge would be spread over a longer period I added images of sun soaked summer lakes (who else wanted to vacation at Kellerman’s).
From there here is the resulting palette:
Soft Black // Ivory // Gold // Dusky Pink // Navy // Sky Blue
It all kicked off with the collection of inspiration images on a pinterest board. These formed the basis for a fall colour palette. I loved the changing leaves against smokey blue skies.
The colours were quite a departure from my previous wardrobe which was dominated by blues and greys and other muted shades. I was only able to bring 20 kgs of luggage to the UK so it was a fresh start to my wardrobe. You can see the change below – the photos on the left are from Self-Stitched September 2010 and on the right is everything I made in 2011.
In terms of garments I started with a very limited wardrobe so it was expanding on the basics.
It was fun to start experimenting with croquis, which have now developed into my own mini-me version.
The Pants: I’m part way through the fitting process with both the Colette Clovers and the Wide-Leg Pants but as anyone who’s attempted pants knows – it’s a long and frustrating process. So right now, we are on a break.
The knit top: I found it was cheaper and easier to just buy one – I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel 😉
The blazer: This is about 80% done – it just wasn’t inspiring me.
The dresses: Are still on the cards at some point this year but they’re cross seasonal so it doesn’t matter if I put them off.
The biggest thing I realised is that I need to feel motivated in order to sew. I steadfastly refuse to let it become a chore or something I have to force myself into. The result is that the less exciting items got pushed to the back of the list. It’s something I need to think on how to remedy.
Still, the palette worked well which is why I still consider the challenge a success. Most of the garments I sewed that weren’t part of the original plan were still consistent with the palette.
I found the fabric during this trip to Walthamstow market for £2.20/metre from Classic Textiles which is a stupidly good price.
I bought a metre and a half, just planning on making this classic version (only alterations were addition of a back vent and halving the waistband height) but there was enough left over make the mini version(ok so this counts as mini for me) below.
For the second skirt I used the jenny pattern and all the length of the fabric left over. From the scraps I cut a strip the length of my waist measurement and about 3in wide. I used an invisible zip on both skirts and this double knit has enough stretch that I was able to use it to make a standard waistband. Then on a whim I added little patch pockets to the front.
This is probably the most realistic picture of what I wear most days. It was just a whim to make this version but I swear it has become one of the most worn thing in my wardrobe.
4 hours, £3, 2 skirts, 1 very happy camper.
Ps. Yup, I’m still working on the Colette Pattern Fall Palette Challenge. You can see the details and progress so far by clicking the ‘Fall Wardrobe‘ link at the top of the page.
I love this fabric but it is entirely unsuited to the season. A super light weight silk cotton, I purchased it in June with the intent of making a light and floaty summer top. When you see the fabric up-close you can tell the cotton thread is the warp and is a more maroony red than the silk which runs across the weft and is more a burnt orange so it’s nice and breathable with a saturated colour.
The shop I bought it from was my local fabric store in Onehunga and is an Auckland legend. Antique Fabric and Lace have the self-proclaimed “largest range of Beaded Sequin Motifs in the world”. Like a museum they only display a small proportion of their collection at a time and still check out the walls.
I can’t even explain the mix of things you can find here, just look closely at the pictures and you’ll get the idea.
I split the front and back pieces in half horizontally then slashed the bottom piece in four places from the hem to the stitching line and spread them each an inch apart. The fabric has a nice balance of drape and body so I wanted almost a circle skirt effect. The gaps were filled with tissue and seam allowance added to the midriff top and bottom.
I only had 1.5m of the fabric but it’s quite sheer so I was very lucky to eck out an extra layer for the top of the bodice, the rest is finished with bias strips.
Unfortunately when I tried it on it felt too shapeless and it was too late to add more darts. Instead, I added two black ribbon ties under the bust where a waistline dart would form and when they’re tied they produce just the right shape.
So there it is, and I think I may be in denial about the cold weather. Still, with a cardigan I think it will still get some wear… silk is warm right?
It’s a simple white lace kimono sleeved tee, based off Colette’s free Sorbetto tank pattern. I raised the neck front and back then used this tutorial from Analog Me to draft the kimono sleeve.
The lace is a cotton found on Goldhawke Road which the proprieter swore had also been purchased by buyers from top shop (hmmm, take that with a grain of salt) however at only £4 a meter it was a good deal. The underlining is a slinky synthetic twill that feels really soft and would be a nightmare to sew if it weren’t together with the cotton lace.
I cut the lace out first then squared the edges of the lining on the cutting board securing with pins. With the lace on top I used more pins to hold it in place before hand-basting around the edges and along the dart legs. Once the basting was in place, cutting the slinky fabric was easy and the rest of the top was sewn as one layer.
What I really like about it is that the simplicity of the pattern meant I could spend more time on things like this and french seams and hand-tacked binding. The details combined with the silkiness and weight of the fabric means that this feels like a quality garment even if it only cost £7. It’s something about the heaviness of the fabric that reminds me of trying on expensive clothes, I think.
Unfortunately, the pattern would have to be graded up 4 sizes to fit me.
Fortunately, it reminded me I had a scant metre of tana lawn from the Liberty remnants bin. (Yes, I made a muslin from Liberty fabric).
Unfortunately, it really was scant so I couldn’t add any length to the Sorbetto bodice and I had to have the patterns going opposite directions on the front and back.
Fortunately, I managed to squeeze it out of the fabric.
Unfortunately, I cut it the wrong way and wound up with two left sleeves (which is so much worse than two left feet when it comes to sewing).
Fortunately, they still set in okay.
Unfortunately, I attached the bias binding for one sleeve to the wrong side and had to unpick it.
Fortunately, I distracted myself from the tedium of un-picking with my pretend husband Jon Stewart and the Daily Show (seriously he’s the only person who has me laughing in a room by myself. Wit and intelligence is hot!).
Unfortunately, I was so distracted guffawing that I went and sewed the binding on backwards again.
Fortunately, third times a charm and I really liked the finish.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough bias binding to finish the hem the same way to preserve as much length as possible.
Fortunately, Allison C. posted this tip for baby hems last week and it worked a treat.