Posted in Sewing

Completed: Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dress (version 2)

Every now and then a pattern comes along that you just adore.

 

For me it’s this, the Cleo dungaree dress by Tilly & the Buttons.

I made a denim version of this in December and I wear it all of the time.  One Cleo in my wardrobe is simply not enough though so here is my second – a lovely soft aubergine needlecord version.

You can read about the construction and my thoughts on this pattern (spoiler: I love it) in my original post here.

Posted in Sewing

Completed: Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers

There is this common belief amongst sewing people, especially those new to sewing, that trousers are difficult to make.

Where this has come from, I have no idea. Let’s get one thing clear here – trousers are easy!

One of the first sewing patterns people try their hand at – and one I always get my GCSE textiles class to start with – is pyjama bottoms.  A pair of trousers is really not that much different.


That being said, I rarely make trousers. Not because they are difficult to make but, jeans aside, I just don’t really like wearing them. I tend to wear dresses and skirts which err on the side of vintage throughout the week and jeans or (forgive me, fashion police) jeggings on the weekend.

But I have had this Sew Over It Ultimate Trouser Pattern in my collection for ages now. Years. So I put it on my #2017makenine list to encourage me to make it.


I decided to make a toile for this pattern. Like I said, trousers are not particularly difficult, but you will probably need to do a few tweaks to get the perfect fit. And let’s face it, a saggy bum is never a good look.

For my toile I cut a UK size 12, my usual size in Sew Over It patterns, and this resulted in a pretty good fit on my hips and legs. I have quite chunky thighs though, so if you have slim legs you might find that you need to grade the leg seams in a little. The size 12 waist was much too big for me though and I ended up taking a good two inches off the side seams and a further half inch off the centre front and centre back seams.


To make these adjustments I tried the trousers on, inside out, and simply used pins and a pen to mark out the excess fabric. I then transferred the adjustments to my paper pattern pieces.

Onto the actual garment…

As well as not being much of a trouser wearer, I’m also really not at all keen on prints on trousers, so I went with a basic black cotton with a bit of a stretch for my trousers.


But then, the more the more I thought about it, I just could not see myself ever wearing a pair of plain black trousers.  My boyfriend even suggested, quite rightly, that I was just making them for the sake of it. They’re just not my style at all. So I decided to hack the pattern a little to create more of a cropped 1950’s capri pant style with little side vents at the bottom of the legs.

And just look how cute they are!


The fit is just perfect – seriously my bum has never looked so good in a pair of ready to wear trousers – and I love that they now have a bit of a vintage touch to them. This is much more my style.


I have not worn them yet but I will do, just as soon as it gets warm enough for me to flash some ankle. I can see these becoming a favourite in my spring/summer work day wardrobe.


And if you’re reading this and you are one of those who has always been too scared to tackle trousers, just do it, they honestly are a lot easier than you think.

Posted in Sewing

Completed: Colette Patterns Anise Jacket

Settle in, this is going to be a long post.


I’ve made a jacket and I am so very, very pleased with it. I bought this pattern a few years ago when it was first released and it has just sat in a box ever since. I think I was scared of it. Scared of wasting expensive fabric and, well, scared of failing. So I decided to make it one of my #makenine2017 makes with the view that this would pretty much force me to step out of my comfort zone and make it.


The fabric came from Fabric Godmother after an awful lot of deliberation. I knew I wanted something blue and fairly light weight as I wanted it to be a jacket for spring. I opted for this lovely looking but slightly unusual cotton with a raffia weave. With hindsight I probably should have gone for a drill or a light weight wool. While I like the look of this fabric,  it frays pretty much as soon as you look at it and it pulls so easily. I have two young cats with sharp claws who like to get involved with everything, including my sewing. Which means this jacket had pulls and snags in the fabric before it was even sewn up. That aside, it looks lovely and is exactly the weight I wanted. For the lining I went with a vintage silk, also from Fabric Godmother. It wasn’t cheap but I absolutely love it, so it was worth it.

I cut a size 8, my usual size in Colette Patterns, and set about making a toile with the expectation that I would need to do an FBA at the very least. Nope. I didn’t have to change a thing. I had forgotten that Colette tend to fit me straight out of the packet. Happy dance.


There were a lot of firsts for me in this pattern. First bound button holes; first welt pockets; first jacket, first lining of a jacket and the first thing I have made on my new sewing machine (a Brother Innov-is 350SE, which I completely love).

My first bound button holes may well be my last bound button holes. It might just have been my fabric but I really didn’t like them. They were fiddly to do and then, after all the effort, just looked a bit weird. I ended up binning them, re-cutting the front piece of the jacket and doing regular button holes. Still, I had a go and now I can happily never do them again   tick them off my skills list.
Welt pockets are a similar process to bound button holes but, probably because they are a bit bigger and because I got to use some of the dreamy lining fabric, I enjoyed this process  a lot more. I love how they look too.

Much of the construction and the lining of the jacket was pretty straight forward and it all came together quickly. I really was not prepared for all of the hand sewing though. I don’t mind hand sewing but it is not my best thing and it takes FOREVER. I watched three films while I was sewing it up though, so that was all fine.


I think it took me about a week to make this jacket, which is a lot longer than I normally take to make anything. I enjoy the instant gratification that comes with a speedily sewn garment, so I am surprised that I didn’t get sick of this. But with this, the gratification kept coming as I worked my way through new skills and witnessed it all coming together.

By the end of it I couldn’t stop grinning. I made a jacket. I came right out of my comfort zone and made a jacket. I don’t know why but I never really thought I could make something like this. I think it is now time I started having a bit more confidence in my ability.

Posted in Plans, Sewing, Wendy Project

The Wendy Project part 3 – Wardrobe planning

I went along to the Knitting and Stitching Show at London Olympia at the weekend – armed with notes! Notes on the patterns I am interested in making next and notes on the fabrics I wanted to buy. Seriously, I took notes. This is so unlike me!

And it is all because of this little self discovery personal challenge of mine – The Wendy Project.  For the last month now I have been looking at the things already in my wardrobe, and my style icons,  and I think that through doing this I have now got a pretty good idea of what my personal style is.

My style – a little bit quirky and with a vintage edge.

My colours – Navy, reds, greys, black, purples, mid blues, mustard, soft yellows, pale greens, peach.

The next stage is for me to plan some makes that fit my style but also which work together and, crucially, are what I want to wear.

There are a tonne of things I want to make  but I have whittled it down to these:-

Bottoms –

juniper
Colette Patterns  – Juniper Trousers
  • Jeans – I’m thinking Ginger jeans.
  • Capri pants (actually made some this weekend, will blog about them soon)
  • Wide leg trousers (Colette Juniper I am looking at you)
  • Some full skirts. Not necessarily circle skirts but with some fullness. Knee length or midi.
  • Tulip skirt – love the shape of the Sew Over It Tulip skirt.

Tops –

gertie wrap.jpg
Patterns By Gertie – Wrap Top
  • I want to knit some 1940s cardigans  – I’m having a good look through my vintage patterns. This will take some time though.
  • Sweatshirt – not quirky or vintage but I want me a Linden!
  • 1940s  blouses – may need to consult Gertie for a pattern here
  • Tie front blouse- rockabilly style rather than pussybow
  • Basic t-shirt styles – I am really low on basics. Going to start with a Renfrew
  • Cami tops – again, I’m really low on basics.
  • Some tight knit tops – possibly Gertie’s pin up sweater pattern.
  • A wrap cardigan -Gertie to the rescue again

Dresses –

Kim dress
By Hand London  – Kim Dress

I wear dresses more than I wear anything else but would still like some more day dresses in my memade wardrobe.

  • A couple of summer dresses – I am thinking light weight basic summer dresses for my holiday but with a good vintage shape – possibly the By Hand London Kim Dress.
  • Shirt dress – The Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress is one of my #makenine2017 resolutions. I really want to make this. Soon.
  • A nice simple day dress – maybe a striped Bettine
  • A wiggle dress – perhaps another Gertie Dress
  • A fitted bodice/circle skirt dress – this is more of a going out dress really but I think maybe the Sew Over It Betty Dress.
  • Tea dresses – classic, look great and easy to wear. I need more tea dresses in my life.

Other –

fifi
Tilly and the Buttons – Fifi

I really want to start making my own bras. And maybe a boudoir set like Tilly and the Buttons Fifi.

This is a lot of things to make and the list will no doubt change  over the course of the year but it feels so good to have plans. I’m confident that I would enjoy wearing every one of these things and they all fit what I have now worked out to be my style.  Yes, I would be pretty happy having this lot as my memade wardrobe! Now to get sewing.

Posted in Blog, Sewing, Teaching

Some thoughts on blogging

Whenever I talk to new people about sewing, I am more often than not asked the same question.

“Do you make things to sell? You should do.”

The answer is always no. I don’t make things to sell. I have done this in the past with an Etsy shop but I have no intention of doing it again. I found making things to order really quite stressful and it took the enjoyment out of sewing for me.

I have a full time job as a school textiles teacher. I work hard at it and I enjoy it. I also really love clothes  – both making and wearing them. I’ll make the occasional thing for someone else as a gift but mostly I am just getting on with my hobby.  And I would not have it any other way!

I also get asked why I blog and what I am hoping to get from it. This one is harder to answer because I am not really sure myself.  Starting a sewing blog was something that I had wanted to do for a long time and there were a few failed attempts at blogs that existed prior to this one. I guess I just really love writing. In my early twenties I studied journalism and then worked as a newspaper journalist. While I am happy to have left that career behind, I have always loved writing and in some ways I have missed it.

Sewing – and knitting – are my favourite things to do but they are very solitary hobbies for me.  I love that there is now a thriving online sewing community – particularly on Instagram –  but I don’t really feel that I am a part of it. I feel a bit too old for it to be honest! I don’t mean that in a negative way at all, it just is what it is.

Although I don’t feel a need to belong to any sort of sewing community, I do feel a need to document the things I make. That is why I blog. To document the things I have made and because I really love writing.  Especially writing about sewing!

It’s lovely to have readers and comments, of course, but my blog is not a business tool or a stepping stone to something else and nor will it ever be. Teaching sewing is my job,  not blogging about it.

I do have one more aim for Wendy Stitch though and that is that I hope to eventually  start adding more content that my students can access, to inspire them beyond the classroom. I’ve never been particularly impressed with textiles text books and it may be that part of my blog becomes an online textbook of sorts. We’ll see. For now I’m just happy doing this.

It comes down to one simple fact really. I just like doing it. That’s why I blog.

Posted in Sewing

Completed: Gertie’s Princess Seam Bodice Dress with A-line Skirt AND Gertie’s Easy Knit Pencil Skirt


This is my latest make from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book and is the second of my completed garments for the #makenine2017 challenge. I finished it a couple of weeks ago but have been holding back on the blog post, waiting for some good natural light to take photos in. It’s not happening… so here’s some grainy indoor photos instead. 


If you don’t have Gertie’s third book, or have never made anything from it, then you really should. I can not praise it high enough. It is sort of a mix and match style of book with various bodices and skirt shapes that are all interchangeable.  

It seems like everything I sew at the moment has princess seams. I do really love them though and they are especially flattering on a bigger bust.


For this dress I chose to make it in a knit fabric – this dreamy black and white geometric patterned ponte roma that I picked up in the sale at Guthrie & Ghani.  I cut a size 8, but added some extra room at the waist and did a sway back adjustment. This dress was really quick and straightforward for me to make, mainly because I already have an adjusted version of the pattern from a bodice fitting class I took with Gertie last Autumn.


Gertie’s instructions for the dress include the addition of a zip and a lining for the bodice but I chose to omit both of these from my version. The super soft, super lovely fabric (seriously I love this fabric so much) is stretchy enough to pull right over my head so no zip needed. And instead of a lining, I just made a simple facing to go around the neck. But despite understitching and stitching-in-the-ditch,  the facing kept poking out and misbehaving. So in the end, I decided to top stitch around the neck line. I sewed all the seams with a triple stretch stitch which seems to work well on this fabric, and  I just did a simple hand stitched hem.


What do you think? I really love it. It’s one of the comfiest dresses I own too. I am all for looking stylish but feeling like I am still in my pyjamas. I believe the term for this phenomenon is secret pyjamas. Anyway, I am in love. 

Bonus Skirt

I had a little bit of the lovely fabric left over from the dress, so I whipped up a quick elastic waist pencil skirt from Gertie’s second book, Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. Again, I cut a size 8 and followed the very clear and very straightforward instructions. It’s not my most accomplished sewing project but it was such an incredibly fast make and a great way to use up that left over bit of fabric. Seriously, it was all cut out and sewn up in about 30 minutes! I’ll be making a lot more of these.

Posted in Sewing, Wendy Project

The Wendy Project – Style Icons

Hey there,

I have had the week off work this week for half-term break and have been sewing like a demon. I actually had all kinds of activities planned for the week including a couple of fashion exhibitions and fabric shopping trips,  but in reality I have barely left the warmth of my living room. I’m not remotely sorry about that.

It has been a half term well spent  – as well as some much needed time doing nothing, I have got two of my #makenine2017 projects completed. A Colette Patterns Anise Jacket and a knit version of the princess seam bodice/A line skirt dress from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book.

I’ll do a blog post on both of them soon but here is a sneak peek of my jacket – held together with pins as it still needs buttons. You can tell from my happy face that I am quite pleased with this one.

IMG_4899.JPG

So I am still thinking about my style and how this translates into my making. At the moment my making goes like this: like a fabric – like a pattern – make the thing.  With no thought as to how much I will wear it, if it goes with anything, if it will suit me.

Case in point – I made this Colette Patterns Ceylon Dress a couple of years ago. Lovely pattern, lovely pink floral fabric. Looked absolutely awful on me and seriously, what was I thinking? Pink florals, and this style of dress, are so not me! All that work and I never even wore it. Soon after this photo was taken, the dress went into a charity collection bin.

img_0747

I am hoping that through this little self-discovery journey, that I am affectionally calling The Wendy Project, I can identify my style as well as my clothing needs. I am hoping that it will help me to make better choices with regards to what I make rather than just churning out garment after garment.

This week I have been thinking about celebrity style, and the style of fictitious characters, whose wardrobes I admire. This was actually a lot harder to do than I imagined!

Here a few of those I came up with:

Louisa Clark in the film Me Before You. She is a lot younger than me, and this style is far too young for me, but I am drawn to the quirkiness of her wardrobe. All the way through this film I was ooh and aahing at her clothing.  The red dress  in particular is so beautiful.

Peggy Carter in Agent Carter. Love love love. I want to marry her entire wardrobe. That blue and red dress. Aaah be still my heart.  I don’t know how comfortable I would feel dressing like this all the time though.

Jess in New Girl. Dresses/cardigans/a bit cutesy. This is pretty much how I dress 80% of the time (the other 20% of the time my look is just lazy and a bit meh) but I am not quite as well put together as Jess.  I don’t feel particularly well put together anyway.

new-girl-fashion

Audrey in Twin Peaks. Possibly a bit too preppy for me but she just looks cool a/f. Pencil skirts and tight knitwear are always a winning combination for me.

audrey.jpg

Paloma Faith. I am absolutely not a fan of her music but I can’t deny she has some great clothes. Well done Paloma’s stylist. These box pleats are just dreamy.

paloma

The entire female cast of Land Girls.  I love the 1940s blouses and I absolutely can not resist vintage knitwear. I really need to start tackling some vintage knitting patterns. So beautiful.

 Insights

What have I learned from this? Well, nothing really. I have always known I love 1940s/1950s vintage and that I favour a quirky and feminine ensemble with some good knitwear. I think the key thing for me is to think about how I can now start to combine these features in my handmade wardrobe, to create pieces that work together as a collection and that I would want to wear.

Well that was fun. I have a sudden urge  to watch some Twin Peaks now.