Me Made May 16: I did. Did you?

Hello (sheepish whisper). It’s been quite a while. i honestly didn’t know if I’d come back to writing this blog. Which is a shame. It was an absolute lifeline when I was at home in London with two very small children. Being in touch with the sewing community kept me on the right side of sane. Just. A year into life in Malaysia and with a full-time job, I have a lot less desire to spend my evenings in front of a computer screen, but I am still sewing and I do stay in touch with my favourite bloggers even if it tends to be on Instagram!

I answered the call to Me Made May with a pledge to wear something handmade every day, which I more or less do most of the time these days. I got to the end of the month with no repeat outfits and learned a couple of things to boot.

Although I wear my handmade clothes almost every day, I really missed my favourite Muji linen dresses. They are so comfy and loose-fitting but after this week’s new Inari Tee Dress even they may become obsolete. FYI: I think this just may be the most versatile and flattering dress ever!

Over the course of this year I have been consciously making clothes in solid dark colours and in jersey to redress the balance of my wardrobe and to reflect my fashion preferences. MMM was reminder that my early handmade clothes were often inspired by my love of colour and print. As I reached for my favourite black Moneta, I realised I wanted to look more sleek and elegant than ‘colourful art teacher’ chic. We all had one, didn’t we?! There’s still a fair bit of colour in these photos, but some solids too.

The month also revealed my pattern company loyalties. When I like something, I want it in every colour and texture. Chances are I will buy all of your patterns. Witness my numerous Colette Patterns outfits (Wren, Moneta, Laurel), and multiple Tilly and the Buttons numbers (Mathilde, Agnes, Bettine), not to mention ALL the Grainline Studio patterns! There was a profusion of indie patterns, and according to these photos, only a couple of big pattern companies (the floral scuba McCalls M6886, Simplicity 2444, and the Big Purple One – Simplicity 2406).

Being ‘coerced’ into wearing all the handmade clothes I could lay my hands on meant that I rediscovered a few gems that have been languishing at the back of the wardrobe. I kicked off Day 1 with my first ever Tilly Mathilde (not pictured here). It was like a reunion with a dear friend. Why was I not wearing this every week like I used to? Is there such a thing as too many handmade clothes??

The daily selfie-taking did me in eventually. The light in the tropics is unforgiving and harsh. If I didn’t get my photo taken pre-school run it wasn’t possible. Lord knows there’s enough pressure in my life getting myself and two small people out of the house by 7.45am without a blog-worthy photo shoot thrown into the mix. My five year old did me proud and snapped a few of these – clever girl. The downside is that her school photo came this week. There she is with hand on hip and giving good ‘right leg’ while the other kids stand up straight. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…!

I’ll sign off (for another 3 months!) with one of my two new garments from May – a black Colette Wren (the other was the Grainline Alder at the top of this post). It’s a winner and ticks all the boxes for dark, solid colours in a flattering, work-friendly jersey dress. It’s been lovely to catch up. Take care all. x

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Wren

Happy New Year in the Gregorian and Chinese lunar calendars! I started the New Year with a diet – a smart phone diet! And as with most diets, once you get over the worst bit it becomes a little bit life changing!

I’d noticed that I was spending increasing amounts of time enthralled with your amazing sewing blogs and visually tantalizing Instagram feeds. It was time to give it a rest and rejoin the real world!
I’ve enjoyed taking time out and regaining some reading and sewing time, but now I want to share with you my new Colette Patterns Wren dress. I’m really pleased with it after the alterations I made. The fabric is a gorgeous and light viscose knit that feels like it’s floating on your skin. In order to get a perfect fit I read and re-read Thimberlina’s detailed description of her alterations. Thank goodness for other bloggers doing the hard yards! I mocked up a bodice and found that not only was it too short, but there was not enough coverage across the wrap, so I lengthened the whole bodice by 1″ and extended the front wrap panels by 1/2″ at the top, grading out to 1″ at the bottom which resulted in a much more substantial overlap. It worked! To stabilize the neckline I added clear plastic tape around the whole of the front and around the neck. This has given me much needed bust-security and so far there hasn’t been so much as a flash of bra!

My final tweak was to swap out the original skirt for version B. I thought it looked a bit full for my taste, so added a Moneta skirt instead. What do you think?

Laurel by the Sea

I’ve been on a roll with Laurel by Colette Patterns, but I think I’ve come to the end of the run for now. It’s become a wardrobe staple: a simple shape, a quick and easy pattern and a perfect way to focus on the fabric.

 This fabric is a geometric print viscose from Spotlight. I only ever go in for a zip and usually come out with at least three different fabrics, plus patterns and notions. It makes for an expensive lunch break!  Looking at these pics, I’m glad I took my time over the pattern alignment. This is one print that would have looked dreadful had I not centred it. As with the tropical Viscose Laurel, I omitted the back zip and used bias binding to finish the neckline.


So here I am dazzling everyone with my Snow White complexion. Some people manage to look effortlessly golden on the beach. I just look hot and bothered!
Have you been reading Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow’s Better Pictures Project? I can’t be alone in not enjoying the photography sessions. I don’t think it’s the highlight of my husband’s week either! Yet I’m still compelled to record my handmade clothes. For this post I thought I’d take up Gillian’s October homework challenge to incorporate movement into photos.

So a small improvement I think. But with this scenery to look at, it was fairly easy to forget about being photographed. Gillian’s definitely inspired me to raise my game! #betterpicturesproject 

Laurel in the Highlands

Chances are, you come here for the sewing. You might even drop by to see what the ‘daft cow’s up to now’, wondering why on earth I choose to put photos of myself on the internet. Either way I thought it was high time I threw in a bit of scenery for good measure.
We’ve just come back from a lovely break in the Cameron Highlands, the land of tea and strawberry plantations. We managed high tea with scones, cream and jam; a roast dinner; and a drinks in front of an open fire in the local pub. It was the perfect opportunity to get some outfits photographed against a backdrop that didn’t include my balcony wall.


So here I am amidst the tea bushes in my latest Laurel by Colette Patterns. I’ve been on a roll with this pattern as it’s a really good fit for me, and the perfect vehicle for interesting and striking fabric. I’ve made five of these babies so far, and can’t imagine there won’t be more. It’s a feminine shape with a gently flared skirt, although it’s a bit crumpled here after a long drive.

I bought this gorgeous Japanese cotton from Malin Textiles in People’s Park, Singapore. I was very taken with the bright bauble colours on a dark background. The lady who sold it to me said that it was a ‘famous’ style print. Knowing nothing about Japanese textiles, I wondered if anyone could shed any light? I’ve photographed the selvedge below for any Japanese speakers. Any information would be gratefully received.

A Laurel for the Tropics

I’m almost always clad in dresses these days. With the daily temperature of 36 degrees celcius anything fussy or complicated feels too cumbersome. I’ve also found a few really lovely pieces of fabric on my travels so was thinking about a simple shape to show them off to their full. My first indie pattern was the Colette Laurel, blogged here in denim and here in Liberty lawn. It’s a really simple shift dress that fits pretty well out of the envelope.IMG_1217

So I thought that the Laurel would be the perfect way to use this fab tropical print viscose. As before, I took a few inches out of the side seams on the skirt to avoid the ‘grown-up wearing a children’s nightie’ look. The viscose drapes beautifully so I thought it was a shame to interrupt it with a zip. I tested my Laurel top and realised that the dress would slip over the head without any trouble. So I omitted the zip and used black bias tape to finish the neckilne. This dress makes me happy. It’s become a firm favourite as it packs easily, looks more statement than simple, and is just so comfortable to wear.

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I’m getting my head turned by all of your delicious new makes but trying not to succumb! For the record I’ve mainly been: obsessing a little too much over the Closet Case Files Sallie jumpsuit; getting my pattern pieces ready for the Prima magazine culottes; and deciding between the BHL Anna and Zeena. Progress is extremely slow but I firmly believe that a hobby should be a pleasurable escape not another pressure. Well, I’m trying to convince myself of that! Either way, no new patterns until I source a new printer cartridge!

A Well-Loved Denim Laurel

I find myself drawn back to denim over and over. Is it something in my distant past, I wonder? Too much of my adolescence spent dreaming of Jon Bon Jovi? Either way, I think that you just can’t beat a classic shape in a classic fabric. I made this dress almost exactly a year ago, and at this time of year I find myself wearing it week-in, week-out. The Laurel by Colette Patterns was my first paper indie pattern and was a Christmas gift last year from my craft-loving sister-in-law. I fell in love with the luscious packaging and the detailed instructions, and decided to try my hand at a simple denim dress.

Denim LaurelI diligently traced the pattern,  cut out a muslin and stitched up my first version in a US size 8. I wasn’t entirely convinced that the shift dress style was flattering to the more curvy figure. I mean, it’s kind of synonymous with the 1960s, chic, slender, boyish look. Not something that really springs to mind when I think about defining my style. I decided to have a crack at a simple pattern modification and took a few inches from the side seams from hip to hem. I did the same on my later Laurel, and I wonder in both cases if this made the dress pull a little across the stomach. It works better on this denim version as I foolishly took rather too many inches off the hem when cutting out the pattern to conserve fabric for my Colette Beignet skirt. So I think the rather short length and perkiness of the denim helps this version to sit better than the Liberty Laurel. I made bias binding for the neckline and sleeves from a vintage-y ditsy blue floral cotton bought during my quilting years from a Walmart in Texas!

Denim LaurelNow I’m a bit more confident with trouble-shooting fit issues, I think I’d be tempted to lower the bust darts by an inch. Gosh, even writing that down shows how far my skills have improved in a year. There’s no doubt that the Laurel is a versatile number. I’ve tried out the shirt version, which I also love, and will no doubt return to this dress version when I find some perfect spring-weight printed cotton. Wait……! I think I’ve got just the thing… cerise floral African wax from my last trip to Goldhawk Rd….

The 2014 Misses!

 Top 5 2014 #sewingtop5

Where there are Hits, there have to be Misses! Thankfully I’ve not had too many catastrophes this year so I’ve ended up with just three contenders.

First up: Exhibit A – my Colette Dahlia.

Plaid matching

It’s probably obvious that I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so the Dahlia debacle was a definite low. Lesson learned – I managed to turn it around and ended up with a dress I could live with. The encouragement I received from you all as a result of my moaning was truly inspiring. Thank you. I put the problems down to not scrutinising my toile closely enough, and for choosing a fabric that wasn’t really suitable. It turned out I wasn’t the only one having serious fit issues. The cherry on the cake was having my salvaged rag appear in the Colette Patterns Dahlia Sewalong Round-Up (thanks to Clarinda Kaleidoscope for spotting it!). They clearly hadn’t read the accompanying post!

The V1342 Party Dress

V1342

The next ‘miss’ I am confessing to is my most recent birthday frock, the V1342. Don’t get me wrong, I rose to the challenge and loved the look of it, but the soft viscose hasn’t held it’s shape well. The result is a skin-tight fit around the behind and baggy ruching across the bust – not a good combination. Having worn it just once, it’s already losing its shape. No-one, and I mean NO-ONE wants a droopy bosom! I was never entirely happy with the finish partly due to complexity of pattern, softness of fabric, and general lack of skill on my part. It was made as a birthday one-off, and was a fabulous challenge. But I’m unlikely to wear it again without some serious sewing first aid so I think I will reuse the gorgeous teal fabric for a garment I will get lots of wear out of.

The Colette Beignet

Denim Beignet

My final exhibit is my Colette Beignet denim skirt. There’s nothing technically wrong with this number, I just haven’t worn it. Well, maybe twice! I approached this pattern methodically and carefully, and wanted to use it to develop my skills. I took time to top-stitch seams and chose perfect buttons; I was rather proud of the finished garment. The problem here is that it just does not flatter my shape. Probably my biggest lesson of the year has been to really consider what suits rather than making something I’ve seen someone else look fabulous in online.

Sewing Resolutions for 2015

Father Christmas left me an overlocker under the tree, so next year’s first goal will be to learn how to use it. My other ‘resolution’ will be to slow the pace down a little. I have loved churning through make after make; it’s addictive and there’s always something exciting that I want to make next. But it’s not sustainable in the long term, and does not match my objective for well thought-out sewing choices as an alternative to impulse-buying on the High Street.

My 2015 sewing pledge is therefore to devote time and space to improving my skills! See you next year, sewing chums. x