Posted in Lifestyle, Plans, Sewing

Wendy takes Manhattan

Hello,

It seems like forever since I last wrote a blog post. Not quite forever, but 20 days really is a long time in the blogosphere.

I would love to tell you that I have sewn up a whole new wardrobe in that time but I have not made much at all since I was last here. I have a few projects that are cut out and ready to be sewn up  (a bra, skirt, two cardigans, two tee shirts) and a few projects on my knitting needles (scarf, jumper, baby cardigan) but hardly anything finished to completion. Except for a top (for me) and dress (for my mum). The top is a lovely striped French Terry number, that started off as a Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress and later became a top when I realised I’d probably get more wear out of it that way. One of my best ever decisions.

This was taken before I changed the length to turn it into a top. You get the idea.

The dress for my mum is a simple summer dress, made from old lady fabric, that just needs hemming. I’ll do a proper post all about this one later. While it is a simple enough summer dress, sewing for someone who is elderly, disabled and has limited mobility, presented me with a load of new challenges that I had never really considered before.

I actually thought I would get a load of sewing done during the last few weeks. The boyfriend has been working in NYC for the past month and, strong independent woman that Beyonce told me to be I am,  I really embraced this as a time to get stuff done and learn some new skills. In reality, I ended up missing him terribly and feeling too weary to sew or do much other than eat my feelings. Also the baby cats were pining for him and became very demanding – they barely left my knee while he was away.

I eventually flew out to join him in NYC this week and, as always when I visit this city, I had an amazing time. I met some lovely people; attempted to drink all the local beers and visited the greatest sites of NYC – Purl Soho yarn shop and Mood fabric store.

Wearing my Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dress in Brooklyn, NYC

While it was wonderful to be there and to touch all the pretties, I didn’t actually buy anything in Purl Soho. To be honest I didn’t really see anything that I can’t get in my local yarn store. Also, because of the state the pound is in at the moment, it was all super expensive. I’m still really glad that I got to visit though.

Purl Soho – I came for the selfie

As for Mood Fabrics… this is hands down the greatest fabric store I have ever visited. Friendly staff, who really know their stuff and were a delight to talk to, and oh my god the fabric. There is so much fabric in Mood that I got completely overwhelmed and had to sit down for bit and compose myself (seriously). I could have bought so much more but I managed to show a bit of restraint and bought three lengths (2.5 yards each) of printed silks. All polka dots. This wasn’t an intentional plan, I  just have a thing for polka dots (and stripes and gingham, but that’s another blog post).

Mood Fabrics – I have this thing for polka dots

I haven’t really decided yet what I am going to make with the silk but I suspect lovely light weight summer dresses. I welcome any ideas you might have for it.

I think maybe a Sew Over It 1940s Tea Dress for the pale peach and pink dots.

Sew Over It 1940s Tea Dress
Sew Over It, 1940s Tea Dress

Possibly a Tilly & the Buttons Bettine for the pink with white dots. I don’t know though. Is a Bettine special enough for this lovely fabric? I think I will need to do a toile first and see if I like the fit of this dress on me.

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Tilly & the Buttons, Bettine Dress

And I am really not sure about the navy and white polka dot. Maybe another BHL Anna Dress. A short version this time, with a V-neck.

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By Hand London, Anna Dress

This could all change, and there are a gazillion other things in the queue to be made ahead of these, but it is good to have plans!

Posted in Lifestyle, Sewing

The Wendy Project – Finding My Style

Hello again!

Firstly I want to say a huge thanks to everyone who gave me such lovely comments  – both here and on Instagram  –  for the princess seam bodice tutorial I did for the Minerva Crafts Blog. Even though I am a sewing teacher, it was the first time I have done a blog tutorial. I really loved writing it and I’m definitely going to start doing more of them on this blog,  as well as more collaborations with Minerva.

This week I have been thinking a bit more about my style and how I can direct that towards my handmade wardrobe plans.  After all my musings about not knowing my style in this post, I was teaching a lesson in school this week and one of my lovely 6th formers was talking to me about my current sewing projects  (currently got the Anise jacket and a Gertie princess seam bodice dress on the sewing table FYI). Out of the blue she told me: “I love that you have such a strong sense of your own style. Everything that you wear fits your style. It’s so great.”

Such adorable words from a 17 year old!

So perhaps I am not as lost with my style as I maybe thought I was, it just needs a little bit of tweaking and refining!

For my personal style audit,  aka the Wendy Project, this week I have been looking closely at my RTW wardrobe and picking out five things that I love to wear and asking myself why.

In no particular order then, here are five of my favourite pieces from my wardrobe (not modelled by me, obviously).

1. Box pleat black textured skirt by Gok Wan for Sainsburys.

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I love this skirt and I especially love that it came from a supermarket! I really like the box pleats and the dramatic volume that the skirt has. I feel like a dancer when I wear it. That can only be a good thing, right?! This skirt rarely needs ironing. This could be a reason I wear it so often. I really,  really don’t like ironing. It is also a great winter skirt and looks fab with thick black tights. It’s fully lined and feels like a good quality skirt even though it came from a supermarket. I once had to visit Vivienne Westwood HQ for a meeting and I wore this skirt. I was really hoping someone would ask me where I got it from. Sadly Viv was not in that day and no one asked about my skirt!

2. Black cashmere cardigan from French Connection

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I like close fitting, good quality knitwear and this cardigan is a perfect example. Soft cashmere makes me feel like I am being hugged.

3. Vintage reproduction sea-shell print summer dress from Collectif

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I’m not crazy about the sea-shell print to be honest but I absolutely love the fit of this RTW dress. It seriously could have been made for me. A lovely fit and flare vintage shape which is insanely flattering. Nips me in at the waist and flares out perfectly at the hips. The fit of the bust is so good that I can get away without wearing a bra ( I am 40 years-old – scaffolding is usually needed!).

4. Blue and ivory v-neck t-shirt by French Connection

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I rarely wear t-shirts but I really like this one. I love the low neckline and the ivory panel on the front is so flattering. It is just a t-shirt but the softness of the fabric (a lovely lightweight viscose), the slim cut and the panel detail make it seem a bit more luxurious.

5. Vintage reproduction jumpsuit from Collectif

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This is a crazy print, and it is louder than I normally wear, but I love this vintage repro jumpsuit. It makes me feel like Agent Peggy Carter going on holiday!

Insights

So what have I learned and what can I take to my homemade wardrobe plans? Hmmm. Well I don’t like ironing and I don’t like wearing bras! Haha!  Also, I like good quality knitwear and fabrics. I like well fitting, structured clothes rather than loose fitting garments. I like vintage styles. If I am going to wear basics and wardrobe staples, like t-shirts, then they need to have something a bit luxurious or different about them. I like clothing that is a bit quirky and maybe a bit dramatic.

So maybe this is my style and what I should focus on. I’m making notes here for my sewing plans!

Join me next time, where I will share some celebrities whose style I admire and relate to.

Posted in Lifestyle, Sewing

Introducing The Wendy Project

Hello sewists!

I have been thinking about my wardrobe and my style a lot this week. It has struck me that I don’t really know if I have a style anymore and, if I do, I don’t really know what my style is. I’m 40 years-old now and, while I knew exactly what I wanted to wear in my 20s, these days I really don’t know what I am doing.

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I am a terrible shopper – I buy things that I think I like but I don’t put any thought into how they might make me feel, if they go with anything else, how often I might wear them. As a result,  I have things in my wardrobe that I have worn once or twice. Things that are OK but nothing much that really suits me and makes me feel great. I’m hoping that my newly reignited sewing mojo will eventually result in a fully handmade wardrobe but I fear that, unless I take action, I am going to end up in the same situation I am with my ready-to-wear clothes – stuck with a bunch of ill thought out me-made items that I don’t want to wear.

So taking is action is exactly what I am going to do. I am starting my own personal challenge on here,  The Wendy Project,  to rediscover my personal style and learn how to plan better for a me-made wardrobe that suits me and my lifestyle.

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Things I already know about my style:

  • I have always loved vintage clothes. My handmade wardrobe must include elements of vintage style.
  • In the past I would have said my style was cute and quirky. While I don’t think age should be a barrier to what we choose to wear, I don’t feel that the cute and quirky outfits of my twenties are going to look that great in my forties. I need to find an age appropriate way to do cute and quirky or re-evaluate if this is really me anymore.
  • I am pretty good at picking out lovely skirts and dresses to wear for work but my off duty clothing is pretty much limited to jeans/jeggings and t-shirts/jumpers. Lazy dressing that has got stuck in a rut and really doesn’t feel like me. I want to have stylish and comfy off duty clothes.
  • I am fairly slim with an hourglass shape and big boobs. I like quite fitted clothing and fit and flare silhouettes.  I have a bit of a tummy and I don’t much like my legs. Generally I am quite body-positive but I consider these to be my ‘problem’ areas
  • I have never been very good at accessorising. I have a feeling that some good accessories would really  help me when pulling a look together.

The next thing I am going to do is have a look in my wardrobe and pick up to five things that I love and that I feel good wearing, to see if that gives me any help in discovering my style. I’ll be back with a blog on this later in the week, so make sure you come back if this is something that interests you.

Back to the sewing…

In other news,  my Anise jacket is now all cut out and underlined. Hoping to get a good amount of it sewed up this week, including my first ever attempt at bound button holes.

Also, I am looking to upgrade my sewing machine soon and thinking about getting a Brother Innov-is 100 but still undecided. If you have any sewing machine recommendations I would love to hear them!

Wendy x

Posted in Blog, Knitting, Lifestyle, Sewing

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

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I love the start of a new year – empty diaries, endless self improvement lists and so much hope for the coming year.  I wasn’t actually planning on setting any resolutions this year, but who am I trying to kid?! I can’t resist a bit of goal setting.

So, in no particular order, here are a few of my goals for 2017:-

1. Be a happy blogger.

When I started this blog just a few months ago,  I had no real plans or hopes for it. It was just meant to be an extension of my Instagram account really. A place where I could share photos and a few details of what I have been making. I pretty much told myself that there are enough sewing bloggers already and what could I possibly have to say that is not already being said plenty of times over. But now I realise that this doesn’t matter. I am doing this for me and if anyone else is inspired by it then even better. I really like writing this blog and I am having so much fun documenting all of my makes and interacting with other bloggers.  Also, and this is the big goal for me, I am particularly keen on using this blog to showcase handmade fashion forward clothing for the slightly older woman. I am 40 years-old and I hate it whenever anyone says ‘it’s a bit too young for you.’ I firmly believe that we can all wear what we damn well like at any age. I want to show my readers how to do that with a handmade wardrobe. If I happen to inspire anyone while I am at it then I will consider it a job well done. 

2. Commit to #2017makenine

If you follow me on Instagram you may have already seen that I have pledged to take part in Lucy Lucille‘s 2017 make nine. This is an initiative to make nine garments over the course of the year, with the focus on slow fashion.

In all honesty I hope to make a lot more than nine garments this year but these are the ones at the top of my list – either because I have had the pattern in my collection for ages or because it is a new skill and challenge for me.

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  • Top row, l-r  – Gertie’s Princess Seam Bodice Dress; Sew Over it Ultimate Trousers; Sew Over it Ultimate Shift Dress.
  • Middle row, l-r – Hermione Everyday socks; M Madalynne Bra (Simplicity 8229); Colette Patterns Anise Jacket
  • Bottom row, l-r – Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress; Slopes Pullover; I Knit London Brioche Kit Scarf

3.  Take part in #sewmystyle

Have you heard of this? It is basically a year-long sew-along starting this month. It has been organised by Alex from Bluebird Fabrics and aims to raise awareness about the pitfalls of fast fashion. They have selected 12 patterns, one for every month of the year and the goal is that by the end of the you will have your own little capsule wardrobe.

Starting with this piece for January – the Toaster Sweater (v2) by Sew House Seven.

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Such a lovely idea and, while I don’t think I am going to take part every month, I am pleased to be joining in for January at least. 

I will finish with a couple of resolutions that are not sewing related…

4. Get fit

2016 was the year in which I lost a lot of weight through Weight Watchers. Give or take the few pounds I have put back on over the holidays, I have lost around 20lbs in the last year. I am now a UK size 10 and, even though it is far from perfect, I  have a body that I no longer want to disguise under baggy ill fitting clothes. But I haven’t done any exercise while I was losing the weight and it’s all a bit flabby and out of shape. This year I want to get fitter, stronger and make the best of the body I have. Hmmm, maybe I could make some new gym clothes as an incentive!

5. Save

I have been a bit too spendy this past year. I really want to put an end to this and start saving more regularly. This means a halt on fabric and yarn shopping until I have used up some of my stash.  I have put it in writing so I have to do it now!

I could write a load more goals for the year but I think that is probably enough for now.