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
There’s no time like the end of the year for some peaceful reflection/anxious soul-searching, so I was keen to participate in Crafting a Rainbow’s Top 5 of 2014. This year’s been a cracker on the sewing front. After a year of making clothes, I took the plunge in July and decided to stop boring my nearest & dearest with the offspring of my Janome and instead let them run free and wild on the internet. Since then, I’ve grown my little backyard plot of cyberspace into a happy place with some lovely new internet chums.
So without further ado, here goes… The Hits:
Clockwise from top left, this Tilly & The Buttons Mathilde in chambray was an early make and has been well-loved. It must have been beginners’ luck as my pattern moderations resulted in a slimmer fit and short sleeves with no tears shed. Oh, and did I mention that it appeared on Tilly’s blog?!
I’ve made four Colette Moneta dresses, including the polka dot and black ones shown here (the polka dot snap also proves that I do occasionally step away from the fireplace!). There’s something about this pattern which results in a perfect fit and finish every time. It also represents my early foray into sewing with knits. I have worn all four versions as many times as it’s polite to, without people wondering if you ever wash your clothes!
That just leaves my Emery in crazy loud £3 fabric, and the Sureau in Liberty Tana Lawn. I spent considerable time getting the fit right on both of these, and it paid off. I have to remind myself of this when I’m in the grip of a sewing frenzy and am desperate to get to the finish line.
Last weekend I did something a little out of character. I left my house with the sole purpose of meeting people I’d only ever read about on the internet. Don’t get me wrong; I’m no stalker. I’m just a girl who loves to sew clothes! It’s part of my life these days. But it’s a solitary hobby, and our human condition requires us to seek out like-minded folk with whom to share our interests. So I did!
The meet-up was in honour of Lauren LLadybird’s visit to London. As well as Lauren, there were a number of other bloggers present who have provided so much inspiration and, frankly, good sewing company since I discovered the sewing blogosphere. Slightly star-struck as a meet-up newbie, I felt like I was rubbing shoulders with internet royalty. To the rest of the world we were just a noisy gaggle of shoppers. I wasn’t sure how communal fabric shopping would work in practice, but it turned out to be more expensive than the solitary version! And so much chatting… I can’t tell you how exhilarating it was to strike up conversations with total strangers (whether I’d stalked their blogs or not). Within minutes we were scrutinising each others’ outfits, fondling fabric, examining seams, trading tips.
I had to leave early so missed out on the post-shopping refreshments and gossip session, but not before I’d made a few friends and purchases. I tend not to buy fabric without a project in mind. Of late, I have also been giving lots of thought as to what kinds of garments I want to make. I embarked on this sewing journey to fill the gaps in my wardrobe with clothes I love and would not find or afford in high street shops. To date I’ve veered towards outfits that I wear for work, for example my Emery Dress. These patterns tend to be more exciting and eye-catching, and frankly more interesting to make and write about than wardrobe staples. But I want to increase the handmade garments I can wear in my leisure time too. New Year’s Resolution alert!
Inspired by fellow sewist Rachel’s navy blue corduroy Grainline Moss mini skirt, I had to get myself some dark blue cord in A-One Fabrics. My favourite Goldhawk Road shop, Classic Textiles, didn’t disappoint either. I left with a few metres of blue cotton chambray with a Grainline Archer shirt with gathered back detail in mind. I also scored some fabulous elephant print cotton lawn and floral poplin for my future foray into children’s sewing. The final purchases were totally gratuitous: African Wax Prints in cherries on navy, and crazy cerise. I didn’t need either but the group thing was working its magic and 5.5m of Wax Print for £12 seemed like an offer I couldn’t refuse.
On the sewing front, I have been making slow progress with the birthday frock. For some reason I’m making a real meal out of this one. Googling pattern reviews has been akin to looking up medical symptoms: you begin to fear the worst. The spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down was the arrival of my latest Moneta. I don’t know how it happened! One minute I was busily preparing pattern pieces for the Vogue 1342, and the next I had cut out a Moneta in black jersey that I’d bought earlier in the summer. I am thrilled with this make. It was straightforward and provided almost instant gratification. It fits beautifully, and as it’s a black longer-sleeved version it’s both seasonally appropriate and stylish. I love it! Happy sewing!!
At the risk of repeating myself – here’s another Moneta! Seriously, I’ve got to give up the easy stuff and crack on with developing my sewing skills. But it was too hard when this fab leopard print was in my stash purring to become a late summer dress.
As usual, this is definitely my temporary favourite! The fabric was from the ever reliable and always unpredictable Simply Fabrics in Brixton. I love that you’re never more than a cat’s whisker away from animal print when fabric shopping in Brixton! There’s something about this feline number that gives me a spring in my step when I wear it…!
Is it wrong to love a pattern so much that you just want to make it over and over? I’ve just finished my third, yes third, Moneta. And there are still more to come! I wanted to show you my first version today. It doesn’t make me sound like the most intrepid of sewists, but everything about this pattern suits me down to the ground. The Moneta flatters a curvier figure, it’s quick to make, there’s no need to worry about fit, and it’s so darn comfortable to wear in our glorious British heatwave. I want one in every colour!
I’m rapidly becoming a Colette Patterns devotee. Apart from liking their aesthetic, I seem to fall within their standard proportions for sizing. The Laurel dress and the Beignet skirt both fit straight out of the envelope with no need for alterations. This came as a relief after my early foray into commercial patterns last year. Unlike high street fashion sizing, which has increased in line with the population’s increasing waistline, for consistency’s sake commercial pattern companies have stuck to their original 1940-1950s sizing statistics. These are rather unforgiving on a modern figure (unless you have a perfect hourglass shape with a waspish waist). As a newish sewist, I found it hard to get the fit right and lacked the skills and confidence to tackle serious alterations. Since then I’ve mainly used indie patterns and have found their use of ‘modern’ sizing much more suited to my shape.
I have also learned that pattern companies specify the cup size they design for. Colette Patterns draft for a C cup, while the big commercial companies draft for a B cup. So if you are larger than a B cup you should use a high bust measurement to select the right size, and then alter to fit with a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA). It’s a shame it took a year to figure that out. So that’s my next major challenge. Anyway, I digress…none of this is relevant to the Moneta, and that’s partly why I love it so much! It’s homemade fast fashion at its sassiest.
The polka dot version was the first of my many Monetas. I went for the three-quarter sleeve. The fabric was from Simply Fabrics in Brixton. I fell in love with the colour. As with many of the fabrics in this fabulous place, it was sample for a High Street store. No further details known! I snapped up a couple of metres, then panicked and sent Mr S-S-L back the next day for another metre.
I found the pattern really easy to follow. The only fiddly bit was sewing the gathered skirt to the bodice while feeding the clear elastic tape under the needle. I don’t have an overlocker so all the sewing was done on my sewing machine using a zig zag stitch, regular foot and ballpoint needle. I had avoided stretch fabrics thinking that only an overlocker could handle them. Not the case! I’m sure a walking foot would ensure an even better finish.
I can’t promise that I’ve made my last Moneta. I’ve filled a huge gap in my wardrobe with smart, yet casual, comfortable dresses.
Which patterns have you loved so much that you’ve made multiple versions?
Crumbs! This blogging lark requires serious narcissistic tendencies. I wasn’t expecting to be cavorting for the camera when I began my adventures in fabric. But, for the sake of sewing, and since it’s just you and me, here is my raspberry Moneta from Colette Patterns.
I’ve taken the plunge with sewing knit fabrics since Tilly enticed us with her Coco, and now I’m hooked. Without an overlocker, I thought this would be beyond me. It has been much easier than I expected, and the patterns tend not to require complicated alterations to gain a perfect fit.
This dress couldn’t be more simple to make up. The pattern is extremely flattering. It came together really quickly in under an hour, and hey presto! I was wearing it to work the next day. Although, now I’ve seen it from the front it doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Perhaps I’ll wear a jacket next time!
Still getting used to the camera!
The pink stretch viscose came from a fabric expedition to Goldhawk Road. It has a lovely weight to it, so it drapes well but seems to have grown a little by the end of the day. I made up the dress in a size Medium with no alterations using regular zig-zag stitch for the seams and hem. I stabilised the neckline with double-sided stay-tape, which kept the fabric from curling as it stitched it. I’m sure there will be more of these to come…