Making Me-Made-May Relevant

Sounds like a tongue twister, doesn’t it?  When I decided I’d do #mmmay17 I didn’t just want to do my usual, “wear as much made by me clothing as possible”.  Because there’s not very much in my wardrobe (excluding undergarments) that I haven’t made.  I needed to step it up, make it a worthwhile challenge for me.

So while I will wear as much clothing made by me as possible during the month, the decision was made to identify gaps (excluding undergarments!) and to try to fill them using stashed fabric, scraps and left overs, and my re-make/re-cut bag.  The first item identified was a nice pair of pjs.  Mine are a bit mix and match, not exactly what I’d call “nice” pyjamas.

I dug out the Carolyn Pajama pattern by Closet Case Files and then went diving into the stash boxes.  Out came a bright and rather mad handbag print poplin that I’d bought years ago to use as lining in handmade totes and small handbags.  There was enough left to make the short sleeved top.  To top off the slightly mad look (well, mad for me – it’s bright!!) a metre of pink chambray joined the bag print to make the shorts.

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I didn’t toile…  I’d cut the Morgan Boyfriend jeans a couple of weeks before to the 18, but in the toiling process realised they were far too big, I did not need to size up.  So this time I just went straight to the 16, did a small FBA on the top and went for it!  It all fits really well, by some miracle!

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Carolyn pajamas, top is handbag print cotton poplin, shorts pink cotton chambray

I didn’t do any piping, contrast stitching, ribbons etc.  There really didn’t seem to be any need.  The instructions are clear and pretty straight forward, the top went together in an afternoon, and the shorts followed quickly the next morning.  I need to get used to sleeping in a top with a collar, but otherwise I’m really happy with the result.  I did go digging again to see if there was anything else I could use – to make another pair!  We’ll see, there may be another pair with longer trousers in the pipeline.

I also decided I needed another short sleeved tee, with a scoop, rather than v-neck.  I emptied my jersey fabric box which is was pretty much full of small pieces, left-overs from previous projects.  I tried to find fabrics of similar weight and colours that went together well and came up with this.  I used the Birgitte tee that I’d changed a couple of years ago to allow for a contrast yoke, cutting the yokes and neckband in the ivory and the remainder of the pattern in the silver grey marl.

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Short sleeve Birgitte Tee with contrast yoke

It’s a success.  Really comfy to wear and the neckline doesn’t gape when I lean over or bend down – which I do a lot of on the allotment!  The neckline has been raised by 3cm to get this right.  I really need some clothes to garden in, some thing comfy and breathable and that doesn’t let people look down my top….  And pockets – lots of pockets!  That’s my next identified gap.  Gardening clothes.

collage contrast birgitte

 

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I know lots of people just use something old from the cupboard, but even though I may have made some of my clothes a while ago – I don’t regard them as being good for gardening in!  They’re still nice!  I might reach into my re-cut bag for this part, depending on whether or not the pattern pieces of what I choose fit on/in!

 

Silver Dream

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Burdastyle trousers and silk top

It’s good to be pushed out of your comfort zone sometimes.  I joined in with a Facebook Group sew-along that started in January where the challenge was to make 8 items using patterns already in your stash.  The idea, to look again at what you had bought and never got round to using.  Those poor patterns you buy on impulse because you like the cover, or you’ve seen someone online make it and you liked it but for some reason you just haven’t committed.

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It all came to an end at the end of April, and my 8th submitted item was these trousers.  The pattern is Burda 6689, I think I bought it about 3 years ago, intending to make Daughter No 1 a pair.  Needless to say we never got round to it, so it was the perfect pattern to finish off my collection of tops.  The fabric is from Fabric Godmother.  Thank goodness there wasn’t a stipulation that the fabric all had to come from the stash too, because I’d have lucked out here!!  Although, this is the only new piece I bought to complete the challenge.

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Gratuitous bum shot, you can still see the pockets through the fabric…

I initially toiled the 46, then realised, as usual, that it was too big.  After making the 44 the crotch depth had to be reduced by 1cm, crotch curves had to change (come closer to the body) and the back crotch scooped out a little more.  The crotch length in the back was decreased, bringing the waistband down about 1.5cm.  The inseams were taken in on the back only.  That seemed to work, the toile hung straight and there were minimal drag lines.  There was a hope that the final fabric, having more body than the toile fabric, would hang well and all would be good!

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The fabric itself is yummy, quite soft and subtle with a decent stretch.  However, I think it’s one of those fabrics that will lose colour on folded edges so although I ironed the front crease in well for the photos and first wear, I will not continue to do so.  I think I will end up with a nice pale line down the front of my pants.  I used a piece of left over Liberty city poplin for the pocket linings and inner waistband.  This stops the waistband stretching out of shape with wear.

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I love the back pockets, initially I wasn’t going to do them, but I’m glad I did.  I took my time over them, with the stretch fabric I didn’t want things going awry.  I basted and whipstitched and did all those things you’re supposed to do with proper pockets, rather than just whip my way though!  All the insides are overlocked, I could have French seamed the pockets but was worried about seeing the lines through the outer fabric.

 

(Click on the thumbnails to see full size images)

The finished trousers are pretty good.  I think I still need to work on the crotch depth/length though.  Might just be the fabric, during the day they definitely get baggier and looser around the bum area and I end up pulling the waistband up more.  The front still needs work too, that’s a job for the next pair.  Once I put them on I wasn’t so sure about the length!  I’ve been wearing floor skimming Birkin Flares all winter so these tapered pants floating high above my ankles feel a little funny.  So I unfolded the 3cm hem and dug out some wide bias tape.  I’ve attached the tape with a 5mm seam and used that for the hem.  So these pants are 2.5cm longer than they should be, I never thought I’d be lengthening a pair of Burda trousers for me!!!

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I love the colour of these pants, they go with just about everything in my wardrobe and can switch between casual and smart with ease.  If I don’t come up with anything else, I might even wear them to a wedding we have to go to in July.  I quite liked using only patterns from the stash, not including the Burda magazines, I didn’t think I had all that many – turns out there are plenty, and still some I haven’t used (let alone printed off or downloaded…..).  No more waste!!

For Me-Made-May this year I’ve decided to identify gaps in my handmade wardrobe and to finish them within the month, as well as to use more from my re-make/re-cut bag.  So we’ll see what I come up with!

 

 

An Exercise in Refashioning

I have a bag of items to be re-cut -remade.  Why?  Well, some items don’t fit anymore, some items we don’t wear (either because we don’t like them anymore or because there isn’t a need for them) anymore.  Clothes are like buildings, they need a purpose, and if the original purpose is no longer viable, you need a new purpose.

One piece in my re-cut bag was some black and white silk and cotton originally from Ditto Fabrics.  I’d made a lovely blouse (ages before this blog existed) and wore it quite happily until I caught the sleeve on a door handle and ripped a nice big gash in it.  There was no way I was going to throw it out.  It languished long though, until I re-found this pattern in a Burdastyle magazine, #105 February 2016.

I carefully unpicked all the French seams, darts and pleats and ironed it all nice and flat.  I had enough to piece together the side panels, sleeves and shoulder yoke.  I had a piece of black viscose in the stash that matched the black of the spots.  Perfect for the front and back.  The yoke was interfaced with a fine sheer polyester fusible to make it stronger, the cotton and silk is a slightly delicate fabric.  The polyester also makes the cotton and silk less transparent so now I can wear a black bra without the straps showing.

I love this top.  Seriously, I’ve worn it 4 times since making it (first week in April) already, that despite the temperatures not exactly being short sleeve friendly.  I like it with the sleeves fully down as well as rolled up, the contrast colours in the sides make me look a little thinner (BONUS!!) so just for that it’s a winner in my book!  🙂

But it wasn’t the only one I made.  Back in 2008-ish, I made a maxi dress using a stunning black, silver and gold silk satin from Fred Winter in Stratford on Avon.  Oh man, those were the days when there was no way I could get out of that shop without spending on fabric.  Such a shame they haven’t kept their standards up.  Anyway, I don’t wear dresses, and certainly have no call for a silk maxi dress in my every day wardrobe.  So it sat in my re-cut bag.

I cut the back on the back of the skirt part of the dress, using the centre back seam instead of a fold, the front all had to be unpicked to make room for the front and side sections, as well as the sleeves.  Facings and the shoulder yoke were slotted in where I could, but I tried to make sure the shoulder followed the right direction of stripe.  I wanted it to go across the front and back, leading into the sleeve.

I used the overlocker on this make and shortened it about 5cm from the original.  I also tacked the sleeve cuff to the side seams to keep the fold up.  The silk is fairly heavy which means it doesn’t want to stay up when folded.  It does make it tricky to iron after washing though.  However, it’s another save as far as I’m concerned.  I have something I will wear (am already wearing) all summer, and into the winter as well I’m sure.

My re-makes aren’t always as successful as these, but now I’m keen to get more done, that bag won’t empty itself!!  What do you do with the things you no longer wear?

Fade to Grey

I’ve been making lots of grey items this year, it’s a colour I really like, especially for the winter.  It’s going to be overtaken by blue for the spring and summer soon!  Back in January, or maybe even February, I finally made the Lark Tee.  It had been on the list to make last Spring, then bumped to Autumn, and now it’s finally done.

The fabric is a pale silvery grey viscose jersey from Croft Mill Fabric, also bought early last year.  It is lovely and soft, with good drape.  I used the copy shop version of the Grainline Studio pattern, this being the first pattern from Grainline that I’ve made.  I chose the scoop neckline with three quarter sleeves.  I made a 3cm FBA, which I now think I could have done without in the size I made – either that or add the FBA to the smaller size.

The instructions are clear and concise, there’s not much to making a tee really!  The shoulder seams were stabilised with iron on tape, and I feel that this fabric could have done with something on the neckline too, but not the iron on stuff, it makes it too stiff.  But without any stabilisation the neckline tends to drift downwards during the day.  Fabric with good drape will droop!

This is also the first time I’ve attempted blog photos myself.  Without any daughters at home and a hubby who just doesn’t “get” what I’m trying for, I’ve tried doing the photos on the self timer on my phone.  Nothing like taking millions of pics of yourself to make you feel self-conscious and a bit silly!

Another top that had been on the sewing list for a while is from last February’s Burda magazine (103 2/16), it has a hi-low hem, woven in the back and jersey in front and on the sleeves.  I had thought it would be good in a linen jersey that I got from Ditto Fabrics, either last year or the one before, with some silk left over from a previous project on the back.  But before I committed my nice linen jersey, I definitely wanted a toile!!

I cut the 44, adding a small FBA, and due to fabric shortages had to cut a yoke for the back, with the pleat falling from that, rather than from just below the neckline.

I’m fairly chuffed with it, probably will shorten the back hem a bit, you end up sitting on it so it gets all creased and crumpled – not a good look in pretty silk.  I’d also need to enlarge the sleeve in the bicep area for the linen jersey.  In this pale grey from Fancy Silks in Birmingham, the sleeve is ok, there is enough stretch, but the linen hasn’t got as much give.  I need to drop the darts a couple of centimetres and might also make the FBA a little bigger – just in case!  It must be right for the linen and silk!

I’ve worn this top loads since it was finished back in early-mid March, so that must mean it’s a successful toile – and very wearable!

I’ve managed a few more self-timer photos of some other tops made this month, hopefully they’ll be online soon.  I want to make a pair of Morgan Jeans for the summer, started a toile this week which wasn’t altogether great, so I’m working out the gremlins there.  I already have the fabric – bought it last year with the pattern when it first came out…..

Seventies Floral

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Lekala tie front blouse

Another new blouse, another new like!  I know lots of sewists have had success with Lekala patterns and I was tempted but unsure of how they would be on me.  I had some credits from a sewing competition prize a few years back and decided to give this pattern a try.  It’s only taken 3 years to get to this stage!

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The fabric chosen for the blouse was given to me by a friend.  It’s a retro 70s fabric, dark blue with orange and mustard floral details.  Some of the flowers are rather large, definitely eye-catching!  It’s got some man-made fibre content and is fairly transparent.  I think I will be needing a cami to get full use out of this top though.

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So, with Lekala you enter your measurements and, like magic, a pattern is generated just for you to print off and start making.  The instructions are brief, much like the Burda magazine patterns.  I made a toile to check the fit first, and overall it was quite good, the shape was promising but I needed to make a 2.5cm FBA, raise the neckline a little, for me it was a trifle low, and widen the sleeve in the bicep area.

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Adjustments done, the making process was relatively painless.  I used the overlocker on this instead of French seams, the man-made fibres aren’t too keen on precise pressing so French seams probably wouldn’t have turned out nice and neat.  Fine sheer fusible interfacing was applied to the cuffs and the side seam to support the seams containing the invisible zip.  It really didn’t take too long to make, although the instructions are brief & consise, they are clear and direct.  I must make the cuffs a little tighter though, they hang a little, rather than sit nicely above the elbow.

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I like the result, although I wish there’d been a little more fabric to enable me to pattern match across the back.  It’s no train-smash, but it would have looked nice.  I love the shape of the top, the tie is just right, not too big and floppy and the print is fun.  I will run up a cami in a beige silk soon and then I can safely wear it out and about, and show my friend what I’ve finally made in her fabric!

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Lekala 4286

I’ve got another couple of patterns that have hung around for ages to make up this week, I managed to trace the Morgan Jeans by Closet Case Files on the weekend, and have cut a toile for a pair of Burda trousers.  Fabric will be from the stash – I’m getting through it at last!!

Blue Tropic

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Blue Tropic, #138 Burdastyle 8/2011

Making a start on delivering on my revised sewing plans for the last 1o days in March.  I might have been ever so slightly optimistic about what I’d get through when I changed tack in my last blog post, but we should always aim high…

So of the 7 projects I had on the new list, I managed 5.  I’d have done better but a nasty cold (man flu) held me back badly and no sewing at all was done for at least 4 days!!  That would definitely have been enough time to finish the entire list.  But no matter, those projects will be on April’s list instead.

This fabric was supposed to be realised in a different pattern, but when I made the toile of 115B 8/15, I just didn’t like it.  It was too straight, too long and I wasn’t convinced it would take me into spring and summer.  So I nicked the pattern that was supposed to be made in the cotton voile.  It was the right decision!  I just love the fabric.  It is viscose, but like no other I’ve had before.  It’s fluid and soft and has a cool touch, not to mention a fabulous sheen that makes it look like silk.  The colour is just stunning too.  The fabric was bought 5 years ago from a shop called Tatler’s in Derby.

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The front of the top has been lengthened by 10cm and the line flows well into the dipped back hem.  I also omitted the opening on the back, only having the button loops on the yoke.  It isn’t necessary to open the buttons or to have the extended opening to get the top over your head.  Those are the only changes made to the pattern.  Usually I would have used French seams on this fabric, but in the interests of a quick make, I overlocked the lot.  I do love this pattern, having made a fair few versions over the years in different fabrics.  This might just come close to beating my up-to-now-favourite, the black and white spotty silk version.

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Narrow rouleau loops encircle bronze flower buttons from the stash.
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Soft gathers from the neckband are very flattering
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Caught chatting, this is a very comfy top!

I’ve no regrets at all about switching patterns on this top, the cotton voile will be allocated a different pattern, perhaps one with ruffles….  There have been a load around on Instagram and although I’m not a ruffly person, I’m ever so slightly tempted….

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I must remember not to wear my new things too long before getting the photos taken, creases!!

Stick around, the other items on the list just need photographs (although I’ve worn a couple already).  I am missing my resident photographer and am in the process of training up Mr W.  It’s a slow process…..  😉

Grey Shadows

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Last month’s sewing, planned, executed and only slightly delayed in being blogged and shown off!  Most of my plans have been to make more tops -for me.  My stash had a few pieces of grey viscose jersey, all slightly different shades, ever so slightly different in handle and weight too.  In addition to this, I’d got two grey fabrics in South Africa, one a knit with a texture in the knit.  So you could call this my shades of grey adventure, but I’m not going there….

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First up is a grey stripe viscose jersey knit from Croft Mill Fabrics, bought at the end of September.  I opted to make the Maria Denmark Birgitte, using the three quarter sleeve and v-neck option. This really is a quick pattern to make, about an hour or two of your afternoon should suffice.  My adjustments from the original pattern are simple, shorten the body by 3cm, and add an FBA.

collage birgitte

Next, the textured sweater knit.  I suspect this has a fairly large man-made fibre content, given how static it becomes with wear!  The pattern I chose is 107 from Burdastyle January 2015.  It has been on my to-make list for some time, one of those waiting for the perfect fabric, as always.  This might not be the perfect fabric, the pattern probably really needs something with a bit more body, but this is what I had and I wanted to use it up!

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I liked the shape, the neckline and the dropped shoulders.  The pattern itself is simple, only 3 pieces.  It promised to be another quick make!  Now, if you really want to make it quick, add hem allowances to the sleeves and body pieces, and make a facing for the neckline.  I wanted a contrast, both in texture and colour, so wanted to use the binding  to add detail.  I used some of the fabric left over from a previous (and again, unblogged) top.

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Perfect position for pretty pendants

It took a little while to get the binding on, but oh boy was it worth it!  It wasn’t tricky, just needed time and concentration.  I love the contrast and the way it highlights the curved detail on the sides and the neckline.  That neckline is perfect for showing off a pretty pendant.  I made this without any adjustments, deciding that there was enough ease in the pattern to make it fit, but completely ignoring the fact that the other half of the FBA adjustment still needed to be made.  What was that about concentration??

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Never mind, I have a cosy, comfy sweater I like to wear, and a stripy tee to wear under it!  My grey tee shirt adventure will continue, I finally made a Lark tee!!  That and more, next time, there might even be an update on the new list for March.

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