Sunday, 9 February 2014

My Home Sewn Week - Sunday

And just as quickly as it started, my home sewn week was over! (Forgive me for starting a sentence with the word 'and').

Before wrapping things up completely though, there is still one day and two homemade garments to write about - yes, two!

I'll start with the outfit I wore for the majority of the day; a super cosy jumper, mixing different fabrics of ponteroma and printed cotton:

The angle of the picture doesn't show it brilliantly, but the floral inserts on either side of the top are actually even! 

When I first made this top, I wasn't 100% sure how I felt about it, but having now worn it out for coffee with friends, I do really like it! It was very comfortable to wear, and even though the sleeves are only elbow length, the thick knitted fabric made if really warm. The construction process itself was pretty straight forward too, this was a bit of a freehand chop and stitch - I'm hoping that knitted fabric will never let me down and shatter my illusions of it forgiving a lot of mistakes! The one thing that did cause me trouble though, was something that really shouldn't have done; I stitched the right sleeve on upside down, cuff to shoulder. How I didn't notice this at the point of pinning is completely beyond me...I considered leaving it as it was, but quickly concluded that, however hard I try to convince people an uneven domed cuff is the new fashion, I don't think anyone would buy it.

The second garment I wore today was a real achievement for me, as I finally made something I have shied away from sewing since I started out on my sewing journey: a pair of trousers!! We'll, jeggings if we're going to get technical, but still, they are an item of clothing, worn on the bottom half of the body, that isn't a skirt!!

I hadn't actually been contemplating making trousers until I came across this heavy weight stretch cotton. I really fell in love with the modern monochrome photographic floral print, and couldn't see it in anything other than a pair of trousers. Does that happen to other people? The fabric absolutely dictated the garment, rather than the other way around.

The thing that had always put me off making trousers was the number of seams and not understanding the construction method, plus, finding a decent fitting pair of trousers is really difficult, so I didn't think that making them would be any different (which is a little ridiculous, considering that one of the reasons I started sewing was to have a wardrobe of clothes that fit perfectly!)

Luckily though, I had an old pair of work trousers, which were already dismantling themselves down several seams that were crying out to be my real life pattern. Another plus, is I knew that these trousers fitted well.

Once I had cut out 2 of every piece, it actually became really clear how to sew the pieces together and this was a really quick project! Obviously, I'm still working up to installing a fly and constructing a proper trouser waistband, so elastic was my friend here, a medium width piece, cut to fit comfortably around my waist was stitched into the waistband piece, and there you have it! A pair of jeggings!

I know that these trousers aren't perfect, but they are unique and turned out better than I thought they would, so I'm really glad that I finished my homesewn challenge with them!

Phew! 1 skirt, 4 tops, a dress, and a pair of trousers later and I'm done! I have really enjoyed documenting this week, but I'll be honest, I'm looking forward to getting dressed in the morning without having to think about what I'm going to write about my choice! That aside though, I think this last week has made me view my homemade garments in a new, positive way; I've learnt to see them as part of my wardrobe and how they can be incorporated into my day to day life, without feeling the immense pressure of wondering whether to wear something I've made and risk someone seeing a dodgy seam or loose button and realising it has been made by an amature seamstress in her bedroom!...

...And hey, If nothing else, I've discovered that I need to invest in some fabric in a colour other than blue!

Thanks for joining me on my journey this week, and I'll see you soon (but not tomorrow!)

Em x

Saturday, 8 February 2014

My Home Sewn Week - Saturday

Bonjour et bienvenue sur ma poste de la couture pour samedi!


Hello and welcome to my Saturday post! 

(Thank you to my lovely housemate Henni for helping with the French)

So why have I gone all continental, you ask? Why, because of this book! It is beautiful, non?

That's right, it is a French sewing book, yes, French! 'Un ete couture' I find there something extremely romantic about a book, filled with pictures and instructions about how to make beautiful dresses, after all, what is it they say about Paris and fashion?!
The piece I chose to make first, was the oh so cute Top Liliane...

Those cropped sleeves, the bows down the back, the potential fabrics it could be made in. Swoon!

Now, some of you may have noticed at this point, that the book is, indeed, written in French, which I did find pretty daunting at first, but luckily for me and anyone else who is not able to read or speak French (one of my ambitions for this year is to change this!) there are super clear pictures illustrating how things should look, plus, the simplicity of the top is one of the things I love most!

Please excuse the creases in the top, it has been worn out today to my grandma's birthday lunch, and yes, I did have pudding.

I chose to make my blouse in a lavender coloured cotton that I have had for a few months, as I thought the sweet leaf detail really complimented the simplicity and elegance of this shape, and I love the French connection with lavender.

My absolute favourite thing about this top though, has to be the bows down the back, in the summer I may dare to wear it with nothing underneath (oo-la-la)but in British winter time, this simply isn't an option! I chose to use a purple ribbon for the bows, as I felt it added a fun pop of colour to the back.

See you tomorrow for the last post of my homesewn week, where I will look back and reflect on the last seven days outfits, and I don't just mean how much blue I wore (totally didn't pick up on that until now!)

Ps. Did anyone get the joke? 'Look back and reflect?' Like I am in the above photo?...
...Je suis très désolé...

Em x

Friday, 7 February 2014

My Home Sewn Week - Friday

It's Friiiiiidaaaaaay!!!

I have no idea where this week has gone, I don't know about anyone else, but it seems like only yesterday I was cramped into a confined space on a Monday morning train, bashing my shin on a folded Just me?

OK, so no home sewn challenge could possibly be complete for me, without the presence of one of my four Mathilde styles, so, roll on the Mathilde dress!

I don't know if there is much more I can say about this dress that hasn't already been said in my previous post, but I absolutely adore Tilly's pattern, and take any opportunity I can to wear this dress! I have worn it to the cinema, to a wedding, to a Christmas meal and to work, and each time I wear this dress, I love it more, from the sweet pleats to the quirky buttons down the back and even the full sleeves - Tilly dun' good here!

Today I've teamed the dress with some thick black tights, light tan brogue boots, a big fat chunky cardie (I would live in this if that wasn't so impractical and unhygienic) and a brown belt to cinch it in a bit at the waist.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I really, really recommend adapting a sewing pattern if there is one you love. Experimenting leads to so many new possibilities, and I love pinching a bodice pattern from one dress and stitching it onto the skirt pattern of another to create something completely new and original to me - it really is quite cool knowing that no one else out there in the world is wearing exactly what you are! Plus, if, like me, pattern cutting is something you haven't quite mastered yet and you merely look on enviously at others who clip and grade, this approach is perfect for you!

Enjoy the rest of your Friday!

Em x

Thursday, 6 February 2014

My Home Sewn Week - Thursday

Thursday Greetings from behind my box of tissues and cough syrup - achoo!

Anyway, enough self pity, and on to something any fellow stitchers may find amusing, this is nothing to do with my homesewn week, but I wanted to share it nonetheless:

I don't know about anyone else, but I suddenly feel the immense pressure to tidy my room, slap on a coat of lipstick and run to the shop to buy some powder! Hmm...on second thoughts, perhaps not...instead, I'll share with you today's outfit - the blue jersey tube dress.

This dress was my first successful attempt at sewing with jersey - from past mistakes I have now become acquainted with the tension dial on my sewing machine, so the seams don't all end up wibbly-wobbly (or at least, they are far less wibbly-wobbly than they started out!)

I like the easy wear-ability - that's the beauty of a tube dress, throw on some heels and grab a clutch for an evening look, or don a cardie or denim jacket and some flat boots for day wear - a versatile item for the wardrobe (multifunction fashion is my friend!)

If anyone is wanting to make a dress like this, I can't stress how wonderfully simple this was to make! I have a very much loved tube dress in my wardrobe that was the exact shape that I wanted to create (minus sleeves) so used it as my pattern. I laid it out on top of the fabric and cut around it, leaving a 1.5cm border for seams - there are some great youtube tutorials on how to do this. The forgiving nature of jersey also means there is no need for bust darts or waist darts, it just fits the contours of your body as is!

I will be honest, this is not a dress to wear whilst scoffing a big roast dinner (take my word for it) but it does make you feel super secure and like you're having a big hug all day long!

If when I make this dress again, I will allow a bit more give around the arms, as reaching upwards sometimes leads to the dreaded sound of snapping threads! I think this is due to me not quite creating a big enough head on the shoulder to ease into the armhole, I wanted a slim fit sleeve and may have cut it just a little too slim!

I can't believe how quickly this week is going! See you tomorrow for my TGIHSF (Thank God It's Home Sewn Friday...No?....OK...Bye)


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

My Home Sewn Week - Wednesday

Day three of my homesewn week is here! Happy hump day everyone! (Hump day always makes me chuckle like a child!)

Today, I wore one of my most worn garments, I made it over Christmas, and I think it may have made its way into my heart as my favourite piece! 

When I went on my first shopping trip to Goldhawk road, I picked up this beautiful chiffon yoryu (chiffon with tiny raised lines) for about £1.20 a metre!! I knew instantly that I wanted to make a top, but I really ummed and ahhed about what style to do, I nearly bought the gorgeous Hawthorn pattern from Colette patterns (I still am planning to do this!) but then all was decided for me when we cleared out some patterns at work and a beautiful collarless shirt just happened to head in my direction! I like the mono simplicity of this shirt, and I think the style just has a really smart, casual feel.

I was quite daunted by sewing this, as it was the first piece I made using a pattern that didn't have any instructions! Luckily the pattern cutters at work are so talented that their pieces fit together like a dream, and with a little head scratching and lots of lines drawn in washable pen, I muddled my way through. As I've said several times before, when I sew, my creations are far from perfect, but they are a labour of love, so purely for that reason, I will love them...even those which will never leave the back of my wardrobe...

See you on Thursday!
Em x

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

My Home Sewn Week - Tuesday

Hi everyone, its the second day of my week of homesewn blogging!

Now, like most people, I have a lot of things to be thankful to my dad for, and today in particular, I am extra thankful to him for retiring at the end of last year, because now, his old work shirts have found their way in to my sewing box, hurrah!

I really love the versatility of a simple button down blouse, so an easy refashion of one of dad's old shirts was an obvious choice! 

I foolishly didn't take a 'before' shot, in case all went hideously wrong and I destroyed a perfectly decent shirt and it was captured on camera, but I think it's easy enough to see how I altered a standard mens shirt into a feminine blouse by removing the sleeves and collar. I then made a simple neck binding with fabric from the sleeves. 

Today I teamed the blouse with a mustard skirt and chunky necklace for a work day, then for the weekend I'll wear it with a pair of jeans...a staple wardrobe essential for the whole year round!

See you tomorrow!

Em x

Monday, 3 February 2014

My Home Sewn Week - Monday

Happy Monday! (Or whatever day it may be that you're reading this...)

This week, I'm undertaking a double challenge which was set by my sister; 1. wear something I've made, everyday of the week, and 2. blog about it. I have to admit, thanks to my obsession with making new things, the former was less of a challenge, the latter however, seems quite a bit more daunting, but I'm going to give it a whirl! 

Now, I've tried this once before, but forgot to photograph the evidence and it then felt a little dishonest to reenact the week in front of my mirror, plus, changing hairstyles 7 times in a row to disguise the dishonesty is somewhat tedious and hurts the arms! 

Anyway, here was my homesewn outfit on Monday 3rd February 2014:

The homesewn part of this outfit is the skirt, which was super fun to make, as it was a total experiment with no pattern to contain you, sometimes, starting with just pretty fabric and imagination (and Pinterest for inspiration) is really liberating!

A few months ago I subscribed to CLOTH magazine (which I am still pining over) and received some gorgeous fat quarter squares that I had been waiting to use for the perfect project. I don't know if anyone else does this, but I find that I tend to cling on to fabric, rather than use it, because I'm worried that the garment I make won't do it justice! Yesterday afternoon though, whilst indulging in some pie and a lemsip, I laid out the squares like tiles to see what I had, and decided that I just loved how the blue and green shades worked together. I've wanted to try making something using a mashup of prints  before, and think that a skirt was a really good way to experiment. 

You can see from this picture that the waistband, front panel and side panels are made from different prints, all joined with the common colour theme. 


I don't imagine you'll be surprised to learn, that like  most of the things I make, this was a really simple project, with lots of room for mistakes that can easily be worked out (believe me!) 

I didn't use a pattern for this, but instead, just worked with the fat quarters, letting them be my pattern. I laid the piece I wanted to make up the front of the skirt in the middle, then built up either side of this square. I halved the piece of cloth that I wanted to use for the side panels and stitched these to the left and right side seams (I actually ended up reducing the width of the side panels later, but that's a perfect example of there being room for error!) then halved the square I was using for the back of the skirt and stitched these to either end of the side panels, so at this point, the skirt was basically a long rectangle made from an assortment of fabrics! 


I wanted to join the skirt at the back with an exposed zip, and fortunately, I had one in the perfect shade of green! At this point, I must confess that I had an 'incident' with the zip involving twisting and teeth facing the wrong way (zips can be confusing!) but we shan't dwell! 

To make the waistband, I cut 4 identical strips of the final contrast material, stitching them at the side seams and encasing the raw edge along the top of the skirt, added a green button and a quick bit of hemming and there you have it! 


Having only made this skirt yesterday, I gave myself no time to back out of wearing it, so threw it on with a cream blouse and blue boyfriend fit blazer and hey presto! A new outfit for the wardrobe and a project I will definitely be creating again.


See you tomorrow!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Bibs, Frumping, Ghosts, Cereal and Frankenstein - The Overdue Return!

Well, well, well. It has been a very long time since I last wrote, and to be honest, the longer it has been, the more pressure and anxiousness I have felt to write again – yet, here I am, laptop resting on my knee, emergency chocolate supply by my side (very important) and little threads clinging desperately on my clothes as evidence of a weekend spent in the company of my sewing machine.

I feel it important to begin with a very brief explanation, the headlines if you will, of why I have been absent from the blogosphere for so long. So: I left my job, moved to London and have started on the most incredible journey in an entry level fashion role – yes, that’s right, I spend long days surrounded by beautiful dresses, stunning fabrics, fancy sewing machines, gorgeous trims and unbelievably talented people! Everyday provides copious amounts of inspiration and encouragement for my own sewing experiments (and the occasional new fabric scraps and sewing patterns - winning).

Oh, and one other thing has changed for me – I also now have a fringe: Hi!
Now, brief catch ups out of the way, I thought I would ease back into things by sharing with you some of the garments I have made recently, after all, if you're reading a sewing blog, you're probably a little more interested in the sewing itself than my career path and hair choices!
This was probably one of the quickest and simplest things that I have made - and who doesn't just love a quick and easy sewing project every now and then?!
I'm not exaggerating, this top was literally made of two squares sewn together, leaving gaps for armholes and cutting a hole for the head (not essential, but please be aware that without this step, you would look like you were wearing a child's fancy dress ghost costume) then finishing the edges with a little hemming and bias binding! I added a little decorative button placket on the back, but this is purely because of my mild to moderately extreme obsession with buttons.
Don't get me wrong, it's far from a perfect make, but I'm really loving casual, easy to wear styles, and this top can be thrown on with a pair of  ripped jeans (as demonstrated) or some smarter chinos or tucked into a pencil skirt - a staple shape that I plan to make again!
The thing I love most about this dress is the fabric (from work) - I love all the shades that work together to create an ombre effect and really summery style (I'm thinking ahead a few months!)
(Please note the left sock which has made it's debut in front of the camera)

I think I might have actually told a lie, the thing I like most about this dress, is finally finding a use for the bluey/purple lace that I have had stowed away in my fabric box for months - I initially planned to make my own version of a dress warn by Scarlett Johansson, but then I remembered, I am not Scarlett Johansson, so the dream was short lived...but alas, it has found an even greater purpose, working alongside this beautiful cloth.
This was yet another simple creation, which could be simplified further by excluding the zip, but I thought that it added another fun element to this cheerful dress.
When I went on my first trip to Goldhawk Road last summer, I acquired this beautiful autumnal fabric, which caught my eye because of the sweet mustard yellow flowers.
Inspired by some of the beautiful equipment style ditsy print blouses I have seen on the high street lately, I thought that this print would look good in a similar style shirt - so that's what I did!
I adapted a shirt pattern that I really liked sewing from before, creating a V-neck and 3/4 length sleeves to create a more casual look to suit the print, and added some cute wooden buttons, et voila! 
I admit, this blouse treads a fine line between vintage/quirky chic and frumpy old lady, but either way, I have in the past been referred to as being 'old before my time', so I figure it's a win - win situation!
Something else that has caught my eye since being in London, is an abundance of pretty pinnies. I think they look so smart and different dressed up with a shirt for work, or dressed down and worn over a loose t shirt for a more casual look. When I got to thinking about it, I realised that the concept was really just a skirt with a bib and long straps - so I thought I'd take a stab at making my own!
I'm not 100% satisfied with this make,  and I'm not embarrassed to share things that haven't worked perfectly with you, because to only show things that have worked as intended, would not only be a dishonest fabrication of my sewing journey, but would also leave me with a pretty empty sewing blog! This aside though, as a concept and starting point, I'm really glad I gave this a go! Plus, I made my own pattern from scratch, which is always fun to experiment with. I will definitely be attempting this again to iron out the glitches, as I think it could become a wardrobe staple.
I like the detail of crossing the straps over at the back to add some interest to the garment - if nothing else, it was an excuse to use some more of my beloved buttons!
Ok, so this skirt has nothing at all to do with breakfast cereal, but unfortunately for me, due to some clever marketing and TV advertising, feminine red clothing will now always make me think of branded morning meals!
Before starting in my new job, I never gave much thought to pleating and how it worked, and had several unsuccessful attempts at pinning, pressing and tacking length after length of fabric to try and create this beautiful effect. I now know though, that you can get professional machines to do this for you! Luckily for me, I didn't have to splash out on this, as this perfectly sized length was being thrown out at work - result! Cue the pleated midi!
This year, I am aiming to embrace the world of refashioning. Believe it or not, I find it so much easier to start with a flat length of fabric and creating a new skirt or top from scratch, than taking an old blouse or unloved dress and transforming them into something new. On this occasion though, a Frankenstein-esque refashion was the first thing that came to mind to make a fun, quirky jumpsuit.
What did this jumpsuit start its life as? I hear you ask. Well, I'm even hesitating over my keyboard right now, wondering whether to reveal it...Oh well, what is there to lose? I did mention earlier about being honest. This jumpsuit was once a pair of pyjamas. Yes. Pyjamas.
I completely fell in love with the print when I stumbled across it in a 'final clearance' sale that I went to when trying desperately not to spend my Christmas money, here is a close up of the print, as I don't think the above photo does it justice.
I tried the PJs on in the fitting room of the shop, tucking the cami into the waistband of the trousers, asking myself 'am I really considering doing this?' and, as you may have guessed, the answer was obviously yes! After all, what is a jumpsuit anyway, if not a onsie that is socially acceptable to wear in public?!
Besides, if anyone says anything, I can claim it's some new London fashion trend...and if that doesn't work I can run home to bed and hide - at least I'd already be dressed for it!

That's all for now - I do have some other new creations to share with you next time - now I'm back on the blogging planet, I plan to stick around - It's good to be back!
Em x