Thursday, 30 June 2011

MMJ: The Last Few Days!

Day 27
MMJ: Day 27
Dress: Me-made Socialite dress
Belt: Anthropologie
Shoes: Marks and Spencer
Me-Made Category: A
It was hot, hot, hot in London on Monday, so this dress was perfect.  Apologies for the crazed expression!


Day 28
MMJ: Day 28
Vest and cardigan: Boden
Skirt: Me-made from New Look pattern, pre-dates my blog
Shoes: Clarks
Me-Made Category: A
Roobeedoo commented that this skirt looks Bodenesque so I thought I'd embrace the fact today!


Day 29
MMJ: Day 29
Blouse: Me-made Violet
Skirt: Me-made Beignet
Shoes: Clarks
Me-made Category: Blouse, B, Skirt, A
It's a Colette Patterns frenzy today.


Day 30.... last day!!!!!
MMJ: Day 30
Top: Me-made from 1950's pattern
Vest: Primark
Skirt: Me-made A-line skirt
Shoes: Marks and Spencer
Me-Made Category: top, now A, skirt, B
As today is the last day, I thought I'd go out with a bang and a full complement of me-made garments


Well, I've done it, I've worn at least one me-made garment every day for the month of June!  I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself, I must admit.  If you'd told me I'd have been doing this challenge last June, I'd have stared at you blankly, having exactly two me-made garments in my wardrobe at that point. So what have I taken away from this challenge?

  • I've realised that the vast majority of my me-made garments form a capsule wardrobe i.e. they can all be worn with each other.  This was part intentional, part accidental but it's come in very useful during the past month.
  • The above point is true because most of my wardrobe is made up of navy blue, with the odd splash of red, grey and occasional green.  I need to experiment with a few more colours.
  • The surprise star of MMJ has been my Beignet skirt.  I barely even considered it for this challenge as I thought it was strictly a 'must be worn with tights skirt'. How wrong I was.  I've also realised I'm not too old to show my knees.
  • Taking my photo every day, although tiresome, really highlights which styles suit me and which don't.  I think high waists are more flattering on me, as are knee length skirts.
  • I love wearing my handmade clothes, and any compliments I've received during the past month have felt well and truly earned.

So my post-MMJ list of urgent things to make is as follows:

  • Black Beignet skirt
  • Another pair of high waisted trousers
  • Two Ginger skirts, one denim, one red

I've really, really enjoyed taking part in this challenge, I've loved seeing how everybody else has been wearing their handmade clothes on a day to day basis.  Being part of the MMJ Flickr Group community has also been very inspiring.  You'd be hard pressed to find a more talented and supportive group of people anywhere.  Thank you Zoe for setting the challenge, and thank you to everybody who read my MMJ posts and took the time to comment.  Your encouraging comments, compliments and advice on what to wear were the highlight of my day.


And finally, I can't finish off a post on MMJ without mentioning Karen from Did you Make That's amazing daily posts.  She set herself the challenge of photographing herself with a stranger (whilst wearing her me-made outfit) for the entire month.  And boy did she deliver!  Each post is beautifully written and photographed, and she manages to go from hilarious posts to posts that made me literally cry my eyes out in the blink of an eye. What an amazing achievement!   Happy Thursday everybody. x

Monday, 27 June 2011

MMJ: Days 23, 24, 25 and 26

So, what's been happening for the past few days?....


Day 23
MMJ: Day 23
Top: Pendrell blouse
Trousers: Banana Republic
Sandals: Camper
Me-Made Category: A
This is a pretty easy combination and was exactly what I wore on Day 12 too.

Day 24
MMJ: Day 24
Shoes: Kew
Me-Made Category: Both verging on A
After languishing in my wardrobe unworn since its birth, this top has received the most compliments of all my me-made clothes this month.  Very strange.

Day 25
MMJ: Day 25
Cardigan: John Smedley
Shoes: Marks and Spencer
Me-Made category: B
I wore this for my son's school fair and it was a big hit.  Lots of people asked me where I bought it from!!! I think it was the fabric which got them all so excited.  It's still a pain to get it to sit right, especially the wrap bit at the back, but I can live with it because it's such a lovely dress for summer.  In fact, I was tempted to skip off and pick flowers in the adjoining meadow as I was wearing just the right get-up.  You'll be relieved to know I didn't...

Day 26
MMJ: Day 26
Skirt: Beignet
Shoes: Clarks
Me-Made Category: Top, C as it's fresh off the machine, Skirt, A
Today was hot, hot, hot so I decided to give my new Sorbetto a spin.  I made this top with the intention of taking it on holiday so today's hot weather was a good practice run. Verdict?  Perfect, really cool in hot weather.  

I can't believe a whole month has almost gone by, every day of which I've been clad in my hand stitched clothes!  Happy Monday. x


Friday, 24 June 2011

Just one Sorbetto?

Along with the entire sewing world, I’ve been very tempted by the Colette Patterns new, free download, the Sorbetto. And who wouldn’t be tempted? All the irresistible elements were there: free pattern, only two pattern pieces, easy peasy and quick to make. It was Karen’s assurance that she barely used half a yard of fabric that finally lured me in. I promptly e-mailed Karen for sizing advice and she wisely suggested adding an extra inch to the two inches she’s already lengthened her version by. Good advice - in its original state, the Sorbetto is virtually a crop top.

I originally bought this Ikea fabric with the intention of making a skirt, but it was soon usurped by a whole load of other skirt contenders and I forgot about it. I rediscovered it again recently and it was the perfect fabric for a muslin/first attempt – very light and summery.

The fit was fine, although still a bit boxy for me so I took in the side seams a little. I also followed Karen’s advice to use French seams which means no raw edges are on display (the neck and armholes are bias bound). Once cut out, the entire thing took barely an hour to sew – definitely my kind of top.
I tried wearing it with all different kinds of bottom halves, tucked in, untucked, belted etc and this was the combination I liked the best.
For me, it’s definitely a holiday top as it’s a bit too vest-like for everyday wear. But hey, give me a linen vest with front pleat and bias edges over a shop bought vest any day of the week. It’s tempting to make another one for my holiday because it’s so quick to make and uses so little fabric, but I think a sleeveless version of the Pendrell is probably more me. I’m going to make another Pendrell and see which looks the best… a sleeveless top version of the Pepsi challenge if you will.

So, have you made a Sorbetto yet? Do tell, as I love seeing all the endlessly inventive ways of bringing this great little pattern to life. x


Wednesday, 22 June 2011

MMJ: Days 19, 20, 21 and 22

This is a quick catch up to bring me right up to date with Me-Made-June...
Day 19
Blouse: Newly me-made Violet 
Skirt: The very first thing I ever made! It's New Look 6843, before I had a blog
Shoes: Hobbs
Me-Made Category: Blouse, C as it's only just been born, skirt, A
This skirt is a winter wool skirt which I had to retrieve from its packed-away state to combat the weather.  I've worn it to death, it's very plain but a really good fit, and it goes with everything.


Day 20
Blouse: Me-made Rabbit blouse
Skirt: Gap
Shoes: Marks and Spencer
Me-Made Category: B
I really like this blouse and will try to wear it more.  Not necessarily with this skirt though, I think just on the knee is a more flattering length for me.


Day 21

Blouse: Boden
Skirt: Me-made Beignet
Shoes: Clarks
Me-Made Category: A
My Beignet is fast becoming the skirt equivalent of my 1940's trousers.  A second version is right at the top of my list after MMJ is finished.


Day 22

Cardigan: John Smedley
Necklace: Superdrug (!)
Skirt: Another pre-blog make from New Look 6843
Shoes: Clarks
Me-Made Category: A
I made this skirt as an in-between project on my dressmaking course (we were supposed to make one garment per term but you know me, I wanted to gallop ahead.)  I'm amazed by how well made it is: perfectly constructed lining, invisible zip, cool waistband made from bias tape etc.  Beginner's luck I think!

In other news, I made my first Sorbetto top yesterday!  No photos yet, as London was engulfed in torrential rain all morning - so any pics would have come out pitch black.  And finally, I finished my Oolong Dress!!!!!   I'm just leaving it to hang before taking photos but I'm VERY pleased with it! x

Monday, 20 June 2011

MMJ: Days 15, 16, 17 and 18

I think four days of outfits is about the maximum anybody can stomach at any one time, so this post will take me up to two days ago.


Day 15
MMJ: Day 15
Top: Me-made from a 1950's pattern
Vest: Primark
SkirtMe-made 1960's A-line skirt
Shoes: Clarks
Me-Made Category: Top, now a B, skirt B
I wish I could claim it was my own idea to wear these two me-made items together, sadly it wasn't, it was Roobeedoo's!  She was spot on though, as I love red and turquoise together, why didn't I think of it?!


Day 16
MMJ: Day 16
Top: Me-made from a 1930's pattern
Trousers: Me-made from Simplicity 3688
Shoes: Clarks
Me-Made Category: Top B, Trousers A
Still feeling in a turquoise mood, hence the top.  I did try the two turquoise items together but I looked like a nurse.


Day 17
MMJ: Day 17
Dress: Socialite dress
Belt: Anthropologie
Cardigan: Marks and Spencer
Shoes: Clarks
Me-Made Category: A
Strangely enough, I wore this dress a lot in the winter with tights and a cardigan. I was hoping to wear it in a summery way today but couldn't because a) my limbs were a similar hue to the actual dress - not a good look and b) weather conditions in the UK in June were positively wintery (!) so tights and cardigan it was.   

Day 18
Top: 1950's Blue Roses top
Trousers: Me-made from Simplicity 3688
Me-Made Category: C, never worn
...and with good reason.  Even though the fabric is gorgeous I'm really cross that I wasted it on this top as I hated wearing it and will probably never wear it again.  Reasons?  Too short, too drawstringy and the neck is still uncomfortably high.  The fabric is too pretty to cast aside though, so I think I can refashion it by lowering the neckline (again) and taking the casing out at the bottom to increase the length.  Grrr. I even look like I'm smiling through gritted teeth, which I was!

Apart from the blue rose top, these were a good few days - I do love wearing my handmade clothes.  Happy Monday. x


Saturday, 18 June 2011

Violet in Polka Dots

Along with gingham, polka dots will always hold a special place in my heart.  In fact it's a daily battle to stop myself sewing every single thing I make in polka dots, I love them so.  When I first saw the Colette Patterns Violet blouse pattern, with its super-cute Peter Pan collar, there was never any doubt what fabric I'd use for it!  So without further ado, let me introduce you to Miss Violet..


I used a stretch cotton polka dot fabric I found in Cheltenham and vintage fish-eye buttons from eBay. In terms of construction, this is probably my favourite Colette pattern to date.  Everything fits together perfectly, just like a jigsaw.  It probably helps that the last few tops I've made have all been blouses with collars and facings, so it was pretty easy for me to get my head round the instructions from the start.  It came together like a dream and I had no sizing issues.  I made a size 8 (I'd say the equivalent of a UK size 12) and the only adjustment I made was to lengthen it by 1.5 inches.  This was because I thought I'd like to wear it untucked, but actually the style of the blouse looks best tucked in on me.  It's still wider at the waist than I'm used to and I was considering taking the side seams in but actually, once tucked in, it's more comfortable having that extra bit of room.  I'm especially pleased with the fit across the bust and the shoulders - the two areas where I usually encounter problems.
I'm really pleased with it.  I love the neat, feminine style and it has some really pretty details: back yoke gathers, slightly gathered sleeves and my personal favourite, a Peter Pan collar.
It's made me realise I need more higher waisted bottom halves in my wardrobe.  I think I'm now in dire need of a black Ginger skirt... and a red one... x

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

MMJ: Days 11, 12, 13 and 14

We're nearly halfway through June now and I still haven't been filled with despair over what to wear yet!


Day 11
MMJ: Day 11
Cardigan: John Smedley
BlouseMe-Made from a 1950's pattern
Trousers: Boden
Me-Made Category: A
I needed to wear something pretty comfortable today as I was lugging things around on my craft stall.  I love this gingham top!


Day 12
MMJ: Day 12
Top: Me-made Pendrell
Trousers: Banana Republic
Shoes: Kew
Me-Made Category: A
I wear this Pendrell a lot, usually untucked, as it's super long and you get the full benefit of the lovely fabric that way.  It always perks up the plainest of outfits with very little effort.   


Day 13
MMJ: Day 13
Cardigan: John Smedley
Skirt: Me-Made Beignet
Shoes: Clarks
Me-Made Category:  A

My default combination of red and navy.  Never fails.


Day 14
MMJ: Day 14
Jumper: John Smedley
Skirt: Me-made from a Japanese pattern book
Shoes: Kew
Me-Made category: B, verging on A
Fab weather today so out came the legs - wahay!  


I'm having a great time mixing and matching everything in my wardrobe.  Some of you have even chipped in with outfit suggestions.  Thanks Roobeedoo, your suggested combo will have its first outing tomorrow!  x

Monday, 13 June 2011

Oolong progress

After a good deal of pondering and chin stroking I finally decided what I wanted to do about my Oolong lining.  I would underline it with a plain, similar coloured muslin.  Now, being both lazy AND impatient I didn't think I could bear two separate sessions of  cutting out from a single layer of fabric on the bias. So I put the underlining fabric underneath the dress fabric and cut them together.  Most unorthodox, but it did save a lot of time.  I then pressed each pattern piece which more or less caused the two layers to fuse together. An hour of sewing later and my fabric was underlined.  It couldn't have been more straight forward if I'd tried - the complete opposite of my silk lining fiasco in fact.  Phew.
Front bodice section
Now it was time to sew the bodice.  At this point I consulted Sunni's tips for sewing on the bias. Sunni gave me some excellent advice after my last Oolong post and plea for help.  I'm re-iterating them here but you can also find them in the Sewing School section of her blog, A Fashionable Stitch.  I urge anybody thinking of sewing on the bias to read through her tips before you begin - they're REALLY helpful.


Sunni's Tips for Sewing on the Bias

  • Use a longer stitch length than you probably normally do - like a 3mm. You can straight stitch or zigzag, but longer is better so that when the bias shrinks back up it won't pucker.
  • As you sew, pull/stretch the seams as you go (just a little, don't try to distort it). It really does work and helps the seams not to pucker too! 
  • One more tip when sewing is to sew strips of tissue paper or freezer paper to the actual seams. Then tear them away after you've sewn your seam.
  • I personally don't think that hanging the pieces - like the pattern says - really helps anything. Instead, hang the finished garment for 24 hours.
  • Don't finish the edges with a serger, instead pink or zigzag after you sew the seam.

Following the above tips to the letter (yes, even the tissue paper one), I sewed up the bodice which was now cut a size larger (8) and tried it on.  Joy of joys, it fitted!   I then sewed the skirt section and attached them together.  I'm now the proud owner of a bias cut dress (still minus sleeves and facings though).  The relief of it all working out OK in the end is enormous, I really thought I'd have to abandon the whole project.  It was worth persevering, as a bias cut dress skims your curves in the most flattering way.  Even though I say so myself, it looks much better on me than it does on the dummy, but here's a sneaky peek on said dummy anyway.  
I'll let you see the finished dress on its owner when I've given it sleeves and hemmed it.   Wahay! 


In other news, I sold a LOT of my handmade craft stuff at the fair on Saturday.  I'm pretty relieved about it as I made tons of stock.  So that's lots of hard earned cash to go fabric shopping with!  Happy Monday. x






Saturday, 11 June 2011

MMJ: Days Eight, Nine and Ten

Happy weekend everybody.  I've got my craft fair today which is why there haven't been many sewing posts recently.  I have managed to squeeze a bit of Oolong sewing in though which I'll let you have a sneaky peak at next week.  In the meantime...


Day Eight 
MMJ: Day Eight

Top: Me-Made 1950's Wrap Top
Vest: Primark
Trousers: Banana Republic
Shoes: Camper
Me-Made Category: C
My first C category wear, otherwise known as the poor children of my wardrobe.  After twenty minutes of trying to get this wrap top into place, I realised why it's never been worn, whatever I did, it just wouldn't stay in place and as soon as I moved it all went horribly wrong.  Finally, just as I was about to take the scissors to it, I tied it at the front, instead of wrapping it around me and voila, I could walk and move in it.  Success!  

Day Nine
MMJ: Day Nine

Top: Jigsaw
Skirt: Me-made 1960's A-line skirt
Necklace: Anthropologie
Shoes: Clarks
Me-Made Category: B
I've only worn this skirt a couple of times but that's mainly because it's quite a recent make.  With hindsight, I should probably have hemmed it a bit higher, but it's a nice shape and a pretty good basic.

Day Ten
MMJ: Day Ten
Cardigan: John Smedley
Top: Jigsaw
Skirt: Me-made 1960's A-line skirt
Shoes: Clarks
Me-Made Category: C
Another one from category C, but that's because I only made it about two weeks ago.  It's made from the same pattern at the previous day's skirt, but this version seems to have a bit more pizazz to it, probably because of the splashes of red in the fabric.  

Me-Made-June has been great so far, it's amazing how quickly it becomes second nature to wear your handmade clothes every day.  Right, I'm off to stand in a field and flog my wares, wish me luck! x


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

MMJ: Days Five, Six and Seven


Thank you to everybody who took the time to comment on my last post.  I LOVED reading about how long you’ve all been sewing, how you’d categorise yourselves and what you've achieved (a lot).  It’s a subject I could happily discuss for days on end and never tire of.  I’ll definitely be returning to it at a later date. In the meantime, I’ve got outfits to talk about.  Want to know what I’ve been wearing for the past three days?  Read on..

Day Five
MMJ: Day Five
Top: Me-made from a vintage 1930’s pattern
Trousers: Me-made from Simplicity 3688
Shoes: Camper
Me-Made Category: blouse B, trousers A
I’ve only worn this blouse once before, but it was when I met up with my lovely fellow bloggers in Brighton so it did have an appreciative audience! Today, paired with my 1940’s trousers, this was a super comfortable outfit.  I ended up staying indoors as it rained all day so they were in effect a form of high class PJ’s.  And yes, I was totally overdressed for a day of slouching around, but did I care? No.

Day Six
MMJ: Day Six
Top: Marks and Spencer
Trousers: Me-made from Simplicity 3688
Shoes: Camper
Me-Made Category: A
These trousers are amongst my most worn me-made pieces.  They go with absolutely everything and make my legs look  longer than they actually are.  What’s not to like?


Day Seven
MMJ: Day Seven
Top: Me-made Colette Patterns Sencha
Belt: Jigsaw
Trousers: Banana Republic
Shoes: Camper
Me-Made Category: B
After a long run of navy blue, I needed some colour today, so out came my Sencha.  It’s made from a stiff quilting cotton (a rookie error) so looks much better untucked.  I also lowered the neckline an inch or so when I made it as it was unwearably high necked in its original state. It’s been worn twice, both times when I hadn’t been sewing for long, so I felt really self-conscious in it.  Having now made and worn my own clothes for over a year, I’m a firm believer that if you feel good in what you’re wearing, the chances are that you’ll look good too. Amazingly, this time round, this blouse has had a really positive reception – five compliments received today!  I could get used to this…  

Monday, 6 June 2011

What are your best bits?

Tilly wrote a really thought-provoking post yesterday about how we categorise ourselves as stitchers.  When do we stop being novices or beginners and start thinking of ourselves as intermediate?  It really got me thinking...  I started sewing when I signed up for a dressmaking course in September 2009.  I only initially signed up for a term but loved it so much I ended up doing a whole year.  After that year I felt confident enough to embark on sewing my own clothes from patterns without the safety net of my sewing teacher permanently on tap.  It also coincided with the start of my blog.  I was still very much a beginner in all sorts of ways.


Since then I've sewn a lot of clothes myself, participated in several sewalongs and started selling things at craft fairs.  I think I can tentatively class myself as an intermediate stitcher now.  As Tilly points out though, the flip side is that there's lots of fearless trying out of new techniques at the beginning which tends to grind to a halt after a while.  Yes, my sewing productivity is high, but most of it is repeat makes of tried and tested patterns.  This is by no means a bad thing, in fact quite the opposite as I tend to make second versions of the clothes I know are a good fit.  But it's always good to push yourself a bit, so I'll definitely be trying to add some challenges to my sewing this year.


I then started thinking about what I've achieved this past year and a half that I'm really proud of....
My beloved handmade trousers
...after long consideration, I think making myself a pair of trousers and sewing a skirt from a  Japanese pattern book are the two things I'm most proud of. 
If you'd told me I'd be doing either of those things 18 months ago I'd have laughed long and hard in your face!  So I suppose nothing is too difficult if you set your mind to it (except bound buttonholes and sewing with slippery silk lining fabric maybe).


What I'd really love to know is what you're all most proud of yourselves in sewing terms. It could be a tricky technique or simply sewing from a pattern that doesn't say 'Easy' on the front. Don't hold back, I'm really nosy interested to hear.  It doesn't have to be just one thing either, tell me everything!  Let's all crow about our achievements.   Happy Monday x

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Me-Made-June: Days Two, Three and Four

Good evening! Well we're now into day four of Me-Made-June and the excitement of finally taking part definitely hasn't worn off yet.  In fact I'm surprised by how much I'm enjoying it: both wearing Me-Made clothes every day and seeing what everybody else in the Me-Made community is wearing - I love it! Here's what's been happening for the past three days....


Day Two
MMJ: Day Two
Top: Monsoon
Skirt: Me-made Beignet
Shoes: Clarks 
(blatantly copied from Tilly after seeing hers at the Goldhawk Road meet-up!)
Me-Made Category: A
I wore this skirt all the time through the winter months as its perfect with tights.  I've never worn it bare legged before as I always felt the length was a bit knee revealing. But I suppose one of the aims of MMJ is to map uncharted territory so bare knees it was. And guess what?  Strangers didn't stop in the street and point at me, not even once...


Day Three
MMJ: Day Three
Dress: Me-Made Crepe dress
Me-Made Category: B
I've worn this dress twice.  Despite spending what seemed like weeks on end working on the fit of the bodice, it still doesn't feel like it fits properly on the shoulders. Once it's on though, it's wonderfully cool and swishy and was perfect for yesterday's sunny weather in London.  The MMJ Flickr Group mini-challenge for that day was to photograph ourselves spinning. Well, that should be easy in this dress, I thought.  Not quite.  My two 'helpers' thought it was absolutely hilarious seeing me spinning around like a lunatic in front of the camera and insisted on jumping into every shot!
Mum's finally lost it...

 Day Four
MMJ: Day Four
Blouse:  Me-Made from a 1950's pattern
Skirt: Me-Made Beignet
Shoes: Clarks
Me-Made Category: both A
Even though the blouse is a relative newcomer to my wardrobe, I've worn it quite a few times, which is a great result for something that started life as a muslin.  I loved wearing my Beignet so much on day two, I gave it another spin today. x



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