Posted in Sewing

Completed: By Hand London Kim Dress V2

I love this dress.

I love this dress so much.

In case it still isn’t clear… this dress, me, we have a love affair going on.

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So this is the Kim dress, a pattern that I have owned pretty much since it was released a few years ago. I must have liked it at the time, or I would never have bought it, but I have kind of overlooked the Kim dress all this time because I really don’t like version 1. That faux wrap skirt is doing nothing for me.

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Little did I realise that I was also overlooking the absolute awesomeness that is version 2.

Let’s take a closer look at this pattern. It literally has all the requirements of my perfect dress:

  • princess seams
  • sweet heart neck
  • fitted waist
  • full skirt
  • pin tucks (oh my god, pin tucks!)

Just perfect.

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I decided to make this dress with some lovely green gingham cotton, that I got from the Knitting and Stitching Show a couple of months ago, to hopefully try to achieve a vintage sundress kind of vibe.

According to my measurements, I am a UK size 14 in this pattern. I made a quick toile of the bodice first though as I anticipated a few fitting problems. I know from experience that By Hand London patterns seem to be made for much smaller chested ladies than me.

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The size 14 toile gave me a good fit in the waist and bust but I had a lot of gaping  in the ‘high bust’ area, which I dealt with by taking out two triangular shaped wedges from the pattern. I also decided to raise the neck line by 2cm as it was revealing a bit too much cleavage for me. I’m not opposed to showing a bit of flesh but I’m a school teacher and I would like to be able to wear this dress for work. Low cut is just not appropriate, sadly. Finally I lengthened the bodice by 3cm so that it was finishing at my natural waist. FYI I have never had to do this before. I am 5ft 5ins tall and if anything I am short in the body, so this was a surprising adjustment to make.

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The pattern was a joy to make. Straight forward princess-seamed lined bodice, attached to a gathered skirt with an invisible centre back zip. The bottom of the skirt is finished with three lovely pin tucks. It’s this little detail that really gives that nod to vintage – it reminds me so much of some of the vintage sewing patterns from the 1950s and ’60s that my mum used to have.

This dress is just so lovely and the fit is perfect.  I will go as far as say it may well be the most perfect summer dress I have ever made.

I love this dress. You might have noticed.

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 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 –

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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 –

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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 –

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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 –

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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.