Posted in Sewing

Me Made May Round Up: Part 2

Hello! 

Can you believe we are now two thirds of the way through Me Made May?! Hope it is going well if you are participating. 

I’ve been wearing hand made every day  – with varying success – and posting my outfits over on Instagram Here is my round up of  days 11-20.

May 11: Ogden Cami

Day 11 and I wore my new pineapple print Ogden Cami by True Bias Patterns. I love this fabric. It’s quite a sturdy cotton/linen blend from Fabric Godmother. This particular pattern would probably look better with a more drapey fabric but I love it anyway.  It took a lot of tweaking and FBA wizardry to get the fit right on this top. Now that I have got it fitting exactly how I want it, I intend to make lots of them. In fact I have 4 more cut out and waiting to get sewn up. I’ll do a full blog post on the Ogden Cami soon, including a tutorial on how to do an FBA without darts.

May 12: Bronte Top

Day 12 and also the cats’ first birthday. I celebrated their day in my Jennifer Lauren Bronte Top. This top is three years old now and still in regular rotation. I really like the variation of stripes – very flattering on my larger than average bust, I think.

May 13: Margot Pyjamas

Day 13 and I wore my Tilly and the Buttons Margot Pyjamas. It was the first Saturday I’d had off work in a while and I spent the whole morning just lounging in this outfit. The fabric is a wonderfully soft jersey from Girl Charlee UK.
May 14: Rose Jumper

Day 14 and I wore my first hand knit of the month. This is the Rose Jumper from A Stitch in Time vol 1 by Susan Crawford. This is a reworked 1940s knitting pattern and has crocheted roses on the neckline. It’s starting to look a bit raggedy now but it was the first jumper I made and it is one of my favourite things.

May 15: Ultimate Shift Dress

Day 15 and I wore my Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress with a black cardigan from French Connection. I really like this dress but I think it might be a bit short for me. Also, it only looks good when I belt it up like this. Otherwise it is far too shapeless for my body shape. The fabric is a cheap quilting cotton from Minerva Crafts. A lovely print but it rides up a lot when I walk. 

May 16: New Look 6341

Day 16 and I wore my rose print New Look 6341 dress. I ended up wearing it with tights and a cardigan, as the weather took a turn for the worst, and I felt wrong all day. This dress fits me really well but it just didn’t feel right on – possibly because of the tights/cardigan combo. It’s a very bright print in real life too and not really me. I felt a bit like I was in someone else’s clothes. But all is not lost, I’m saving this dress for hot sunny days and holidays.

May 17: Bronte Top

Day 17 and I wore another Jennifer Lauren Bronte Top. This top is not very exciting – made from a black wool jersey from Fabric Godmother – but it is so wearable and I really like it. I wore it with a stripey skirt from Joy and got positive comments all day about this outfit.

May 18: Coronis jumper

Day 18 and I wore another hand knit jumper – the Coronis Jumper made from a pattern in Pom Pom Magazine a couple of years ago.  Much as I really like this jumper, I can’t believe I was wearing it in May. This is not what I thought Me Made May would look like!

May 19: Cleo Dungaree Dress

Day 19 and I wore my second Tilly and the Buttons Cleo Dress. This one is made from a soft needlecord in a lovely aubergine colour. This one is slightly longer than my denim version and I can get away with wearing it for work. Result!

May 20: Hudson Pants

Day 20 and I had my yoga class today so I wore my Hudson Pants by True Bias Patterns together with a T shirt from H&M. This outfit wins no prizes for style but it is super comfy and perfect for yoga. 

Hope you enjoyed my round up of Me Made May. I’m super busy with exams and revision classes this month but I have lots of new makes to share with you soon and will be back next week with my third and final Me Made May round up.

Posted in Sewing

Me Made May Round Up: Part 1

Hello!

Are you taking part in Me Made May this year? How’s it going? 

We are a good couple of weeks into Me Made May now and I have been posting daily photos of my outfits over on Instagram. I’m enjoying it. Getting a bit freaked out by all these selfies that I am taking but enjoying participating none the less. I thought I would share my progress so far with you.

May 1: Coco top

The month started with a Bank Holiday and my stripey Tilly and the Buttons Coco top worn with RTW jeans and cardigan. I kind of regret the lack of effort I made here. I rarely wear this top because it is so shapeless and ugly. I barely left the house this day but still… no excuse for ugly clothes.

May 2: Anna Dress

Back to work on day 2 and I wore my By Hand London Anna dress with a cropped black RTW cardigan. I tend to make more of an effort for work than I do when I am just at home. I wear a lot of dresses and have adopted this ‘fitted dress and cardigan’ as a sort of self-imposed work uniform. I feel comfortable with this look.

May 3: Annabelle Dress

Day 3 and I wore my plum coloured Annabelle Dress by Simple Sew Patterns and paired it with a stripey cardigan from Collectif. I love the colour combinations of this outfit.

May 4: Vintage Shirt Dress

Day 4 and I wore my newly completed Vintage Shirt Dress by Sew Over It. I love this dress so much. I’m hoping to get some more photos of it and do a full blog post later this week. 

Day 5: Rusholme Skirt

Day 5 and I went for separates, with my denim Rusholme Skirt (from Wendy Ward’s book ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts’) paired with a vintage reproduction jumper from Collectif. This is such a great skirt. So flattering and goes with pretty much everything. I love the jumper too, even if I didn’t make it! Collectif is probably my favourite RTW brand. You will see a few things from there throughout this month.

Day 6: Ultimate Shift Top

Day 6 was a Saturday but I was in work for a sixth form revision session. I kept it casual in RTW jeans and a Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Top. The top is made from the softest French Terry from Girl Charlee UK and it is a dream to wear. It is so soft  it makes me feel like I am being hugged.

Day 7: Cleo Dungaree Dress

Day 7 and I wore my Tilly and the Buttons. Cleo Dress with a stripey t-shirt. This is a great weekend dress. Casual but not so casual that I feel like a slob.

Day 8 – Gertie Princess Seam Bodice Dress

Day 8 and I wore my Gertie Dress – princesss seam bodice and a-line skirt- together with a red bolero from Woolovers. This dress is made from a lovely ponte and so it is super comfy to wear. Secret Pyjmas.

May 9: Ultimate Pencil Skirt

Day 9 and a different kind of silhouette for me, but one that I love. This is my Sew Over It Ultimate Pencil Skirt worn with a vintage style polo shirt from Collectif.

Day 10: Afternoon Blouse

Day 10 and I wore my Jennifer Lauren Afternoon Blouse with a black box pleated RTW skirt. I really like this look, but now I am properly looking at this photo I am thinking maybe it was a bit too drab. What do you think? 

Anyway… that’s it for part one. I hope you have enjoyed this little insight into my Me Made wardrobe, I know I have!

Posted in Sewing

Finding the time to sew

I occasionally get asked how I find the time to sew and if I am on my sewing machine every single day.

Well, no, I don’t sew every day. But I sew most days and always have at least two projects that I am working on at any given time.

One of the many projects I am currently working on

But I also have a boyfriend and friends that I spend time with and a life beyond sitting at my sewing machine.

It is still a question I get asked though, so I thought I would dedicate this blog post to sharing how I find the time to sew. 

1. I have a sewing related job

As regular readers will know, I am a textiles teacher in a secondary school. This means I spend my days in a classroom full of sewing  machines, a huge cutting table and sewing equipment. Obviously I can’t ignore my class to work on a private project when I am teaching but I do utilise my breaks and time after school to get on with my hobby. I like to get all my PDF patterns stuck together and my fabric cut out while at school – the big cutting table just makes it so much easier and quicker (as well as being a lot less painful on my back). I get a little sewing done in lesson time too. For example I might make something in my GCSE class as part of a demo. Or I will sometimes work on a project alongside my A level class. They love this and seem to find it inspiring, so I do it whenever the circumstances allow me to.

Sewing a Fifi set at school on an old Bernina

2. I don’t have children or family members to take care of

It’s just me and my partner at home and I am lucky that he is not at all needy. In an average evening when we are both at home, we’ll spend some time together and also some time doing our own thing. So if I want to do some sewing, I can, without anyone feeling neglected. (The cats sometimes feel a bit neglected but I am fast become a pro at sewing with a needy cat on my lap).

Sewing with Daphne on my lap
 

3. My sewing machine is always out 
This makes such a difference in terms of how much I can get done.  I would love to have my own sewing room but we live in a small(ish)  flat in central(ish) London so there is not that much space.  I don’t have the luxury of a sewing room but I do have a table in the corner of the living room that is just for my sewing machines. I keep my current projects in a box under the table so I can quickly get on whenever I want to. Sometimes for a few minutes and sometimes for a few hours. Which brings me nicely to point 4…

4. I make the most of short sewing sessions

Five minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes. It’s amazing what you can get done in short sewing bursts. I literally set an alarm on my phone for however much time I have. For example, yesterday I was cooking and had 8 minutes to go before I had to get a pizza out of the oven.  That became 8 minutes in which I got all of the stay stitching completed on my new Ogden Cami. Again, this is helped by the fact that my machine is always out and I have no dependants – I know not everyone is in this position. But if you can sew in short bursts you get an awful lot done.

A production line of Juniper Cardigans
5. I really love my machine
I love sewing and making things no matter what sewing machine I am using, but I really love my new sewing machine. I got a Brother Innov-is 350 Special Edition earlier this year and it is just amazing. I get so much pleasure from using it that I just always want to be on it. This has definitely made me more productive than I ever have been before. 

So much joy from one little machine

I appreciate that my life and circumstances are probably very different from yours but this is how I find the time to sew. I would love to hear how you do it.

Posted in Sewing

Completed – Rusholme Skirt #2

Remember when I made this skirt from Wendy Wards book, ‘The Beginner’s Guide to Making Skirts”? At the time I said that it would not be long before I made a second one.

Well that time is now. Here’s my second version of the Rusholme Skirt.

IMG_5862.JPGAs I said in my original post, I am a big fan of this pattern. It’s very straight forward to make and I think it is such a flattering and versatile shape. Much as I hate the term, it is a real ‘wardrobe staple’.

I never actually set out to make this skirt. I was just sorting through my stash one Saturday morning and noticed that I had a bit (maybe a meter at the most) of denim left over from my first Cleo dress. With a bit of unorthodox pattern piece arrangement (let’s not worry too much about grain lines on this one) I just managed to cut out the skirt. The fab floral fabric I used for the facing was a tiny scrap left over from when I used to make and sell cushions several years ago. I loved this fabric too much to throw the scraps away.

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The skirt was quick and easy to sew up, and I followed the exact same construction method as I did in my first version. I decided to do the top stitching (ahhh lovely top stitching) in red and also used a red centred zip. I really like the contrast of the red on the dark blue denim.

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Yet again, I am really pleased with this skirt. Wendy Ward is releasing a new book on sewing with knits later this year, I can’t wait to see what she does next.

In other sewing related news, Me Made May 2017 is now in full swing. I am really enjoying seeing the photos of everyone’s outfits over on Instagram. If you would like to follow my own Me Made May journey, you can do so here. I’ll also do a round up on here at the end of the month.

Good luck to everyone taking part.

Posted in Sewing

Completed: Sewaholic Patterns Pendrell Blouse

For someone who spends part of their day teaching about fashion, I am really not very fashionable. I don’t own any designer clothes and have very little interest in labels.

My students would say this is because I am old (they are kind like that) but it really has always been the case. As soon as I was interested in clothes I was either making them (badly) or buying vintage pieces from charity shops and jumble sales. I used to go to a jumble sale in Lancaster, where I grew up, and you could fill up a bin bag of clothes for £1. (OK, maybe I am starting to sound old now.) But the fact is that for as long as I have been old enough to dress myself, I have worn what I like rather than what is in fashion.

That said, I do like to keep an eye on the latest trends. A cursory glance at what is happening in the world of couture, for work purposes, and an active look at fashion magazines and high street shops because, frankly, I love clothes and can’t help myself.

It was while browsing the internet, looking at the latest RTW clothes and this season’s trends, that I came across the trend for ruffles and frills. I don’t know about you but I love a good ruffle!

Take this as an example. This, now sold out, top from French Connection is oh so lovely.

frill top

It got me thinking about a top I made two years ago (you see, I was into this style long before ruffles were fashionable)  – the Pendrell Blouse by Sewaholic Patterns.


The Pendrell Blouse is a top for woven fabrics, which has princess seams and three variations of sleeve.

I made view B, the frill sleeve version, when I made this top the first time round. I made such a mess of it though. The top has gathered cap sleeves and then another gathered frill which is set into the princess seam. So far so straight forward. The problem I had was that I didn’t line my frills up properly at the back and it just ended up looking awful. Also, for some reason, I still really struggle to get nice gathers. They looked so lumpy and uneven on this top.

I wore the top a couple of times before sadly chucking it in the recycling bin. I have this one grainy photo, taken on my phone, where you can just about see it.


Inspired by all the frills on the high street, I decided to have another go. Again, I went with view B and this time used some soft red cotton I have been hoarding for a while.


My measurements for this pattern have me at a size 12 bust and size 8 waist/hips. There is quite a lot of ease in this pattern though so I just went off the finished measurements and cut a straight size 8.


Knowing that I messed up the gathers and the positioning of the frill last time I made it, I was really careful this time to make sure everything was measured and pinned correctly. I also made the effort to stitch in those gathers on the slowest speed setting that my sewing machine could muster, checking each gather as I went along. It was laborious and possibly a bit unnecessary but it meant that, finally, I have sewn up some gathers that I am proud of!


Overall I am really happy with the fit of this top. It is probably meant to be a bit looser on the bust than mine is but I think I prefer it this way. I have more of an hourglass figure than the pear-shaped figure Sewaholic Patterns are designed for, so I generally prefer things to be a bit more fitted. Loose tops can hang unflatteringly off my bust and make me look a lot bigger than I am. The only adjustment I would probably make if I were to make it again it is to shorten the length. I will wear it tucked in, so it’s not a huge problem, but it is a little too long on me to wear untucked.


I’m pretty happy with my second attempt at this cute little top though and, hey, Iam wearing something fashionable for a change!

Posted in Sewing

The Seamstress Tag

Have you seen the thing that is doing the rounds on Instagram at the moment, where you have to write 20 things about yourself and tag others to do the same? I love reading these and finding out funny random facts about people – especially fellow sewists.

I’m not taking part in it myself because I prefer to keep my Instagram just for photos but I do love reading them.  It got me thinking about the Seamstress Tag, a similar idea to the Instagram one, which was popular on sewing blogs a year or two ago.

I know the Seamstress Tag is kind of old now but I wasn’t blogging when it was doing its thing and I love stuff like this, so I am doing it anyway. I’m not going to tag anyone else but if you have never done this before and you want to give it a go then I would love to read your responses.

OK, here goes.

THE SEAMSTRESS TAG QUESTIONS:

1) Who are you?

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Hi, I am Wendy and I am a 40 year old sewing teacher and an avid home seamstress. I’m originally a northerner, from Lancashire, but I’ve been living in London for 15 years so the accent has pretty much gone. This fact irks me.  I share my home with my partner, Mike, and our two cats.

2) When & why did you start sewing?

I don’t actually remember a time when I didn’t sew. I come from a long line of ladies who sew. My mum was a seamstress and as a child I just wanted to be like her. I must have been around three years old when I first used a sewing machine and I can clearly remember making clothes for my dolls when I was very small. As a teenager I used to watch the Clothes Show on television and try to recreate what I saw. Sewing has always been my main hobby and ten years ago I decided to make sewing my career. Possibly the best decision I have ever made.

3) What is your favourite or proudest make?

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I have made a lot of dresses that I am proud of  but I would have to say my Colette Anise Jacket. So much work went into that one. I still can’t believe I made a jacket!

4) What is your most disastrous make?

There have been so many! I never used to pay much attention to the fit of a garment. I would just sew my size on the envelope (or sometimes the size I wanted to be) and cross my fingers. The result was a lot of badly fitting clothes that were never worn. I am ashamed to say I have wasted a lot of fabric in this way over the years.

5) Where is your favourite place to go fabric shopping?

My absolute favourite place to go fabric shopping is Mood Fabrics, NYC.

London has its share of good fabric shops too but to be honest I usually buy my fabric online. My go to places are Ditto Fabrics, Sew Over It, Fabric Godmother, Guthrie and Ghani and Minerva Crafts.

I am lucky enough to live 10 minutes walk away from Ray-Stitch so I go there quite a lot. Other favourites are the bargain stores of Walthamstow and good old John Lewis.

6) What is your most used pattern?

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I have made Jennifer Lauren’s Bronte Top three times, so probably that one. I love her patterns. Always such a great fit.

7) Your most dreaded sewing task is…

I have to really be in the mood for hand sewing, otherwise I just find it such a chore. A hand sewn hem can bore me to tears.

8) And your favourite sewing task?

It sounds weird but I love fiddly sewing. If it is something that I have to concentrate on then I love it even more. In that moment I am in the zone and it is like nothing else exists except me and my sewing machine. Top stitching and free motion embroidery come to mind when I think of my favourites. I’ve been practising bra making recently and really enjoying how fiddly that is too.

9) What is your favourite ‘sewing entertainment’?

Depending on my mood I will either put on a record or the radio or I will have complete silence. There are times when I really love silence. I don’t usually need to be entertained while sewing.

10) Printed or PDF?

Both

11) What sewing machine do you use?

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I have a Brother Innov-is 350 Special Edition. It is an absolute joy of a machine. I also have a Janome overlocker which I would not be without.

12) Do you have any other hobbies?

Aside from sewing and knitting, my main hobby is music. I go to a lot of gigs and music festivals all over the UK and Europe. Mostly free jazz, experimental, indie and alternative music but I’m no music snob and can appreciate most genres. I like going to art galleries and exhibitions and going to the theatre and cinema. I like eating. I really like eating. I run regularly but I would not say it was a hobby, it is just a thing I do to counter effect all of the eating. I also love yoga and practice regularly, despite not being very good at it.

Posted in Sewing

Me Made May

So Me Made May 2017 is coming up and this year I have decided that I am definitely taking part.

I’m sure you know already, but if not, Me Made May is an annual sewing challenge run by Zoe.

Throughout the month of May, you are encouraged to make a personal sewing pledge to get more out of your handmade wardrobe.

For many, the pledge is to wear handmade clothing for the whole of the month and to document it each day. This is what I have always understood it to be. Turns out I was kind of on the right tracks but a bit misinformed.

The challenge is actually for you to make a pledge that is entirely appropriate to you. So it might be that you pledge to wear handmade garments every day or it could also be that you pledge to finish off your unfinished projects; you take on a pattern you have always been a bit nervous about; or you pledge to wear something me made once or twice a week. Whatever you want it to be.

It is a challenge for you, and if you want to share it with the sewing world via your blog or Instagram then great (I love looking at the photos so much) but you don’t have to.

So, what is my pledge this year?

I would love to reach a stage one day when I have an entirely me made wardrobe and I can mix and match things to create perfect outfits every day. I’m a long way from there at the moment though.

Instead I plan to use Me Made May as an opportunity to assess my handmade wardrobe, to find new ways of wearing what is already there (mixing me made with ready to wear) and to see where the gaps are and where I need to focus my sewing.

I’m hopefully going to document it with daily outfit photos on Instagram and a round up on here but if I miss some days, I’m not going to beat myself up over it.

My pledge then:

I, Wendy, of  www.wendystitch.com (@wendy_stitch) pledge to wear at least one handmade garment per day throughout May. 

Not too scary but it will still be quite a challenge for me.

How about you? Are you taking part in Me Made May 2017? If you are tempted to give it a go, sign up and add your pledge at Zoe’s blog.