February Makes and March Plans

I literally can’t believe we’re already in March. (I’ve been watching a lot of Parks and Recreation recently, so this sentence is my homage to Chris Traeger!) I was moderately successful in completing my makes for February – I made only one thing I planned, but I made 2 extra things I hadn’t planned. I also had a mammoth cutting out session so I still have a few projects ready to go!

In a rare moment of blogging, I’ve actually blogged everything I made in February already (this may come back a bite me on the arse when I run out of things to blog!). First up I made this Colette Mabel skirt, to match the one I made for my sister for Christmas.

my-grey-quilty-mabel-1I also made what I thought would be my entry into the #MonetaParty, which was in the end my first version of the pattern, from the navy-with-white-flecks jersey:

moneta-party-dress-1Then I made my second, way more successful version of the Moneta, which rescued the pattern in my eyes – I felt it was a bit frumpy and not really my style in my first version. It goes to show the importance of fabric choice!

jazzy-moneta-party-dress-6

So my plans for March are pretty much the things I didn’t get around to making in February……including these effing trousers which have been on my to-make list since I started doing these posts back in October! They are at least cut out! I’m planning to tackle them this weekend.

october-planning-simplicity-trousersI do also want to make my Toaster Sweater, which is also already cut out. I think it will be a good top for the still-quite-cold-weather we’re having in Gloucestershire! And I love the silver jersey I’ve got for it. Now if I could only get my overlocker working……

toaster-sweater-fabric

If I have time – which is unlikely to be honest as I’m away for 2 whole weekends in March – I’ll try to make my denim Moss Skirt, which is basically a copy of the one I made for my sister.

I want to try to get some fabric this month to try to make a start on my #2017MakeNine. The Moneta Dress was one of them, so I’ve at least made one. I also have Christine Haynes’s Marianne Dress on there and I do have fabric for that so hopefully that will be made in April.

I also want to get back into refashioning – I have quite a stash of garments to refashion – as that is one of the things I consider to be under the ‘thrift’ part of my blog name! Though as I’m away for some of March, this might have to wait until April!

What are your sewing plans for March?

Wardrobe Architect Week 3: Exploring Shapes

wardrobe-architect
This week’s Wardrobe Architect exercise is about finding out which shapes of garments you like wearing – and possibly more crucially, which shapes you don’t like wearing. Some of the things that contribute to the shape of a garment include ease (tight or loose), length, neckline, waistline position, sleeve length, and fullness. There’s a really helpful worksheet you can download from Colette to help you rate the different aspects of each different garment, to help you see which shapes you like. I think we’ve probably all sewn things that we didn’t feel great in, or weren’t the most flattering, and I feel like this week will be the beginning of me working out what’s good and what’s bad!

The worksheet has you grade different elements of different garment types, where 0 is hate wearing it and 10 is love wearing it.

Here’s my overview:exploring-shapes-worksheet
Then there’s another section with more specific necklines and sleeves to mercilessly judge:

exploring-shapes-worksheet-2

Skirts

According to my scores, I mostly like skirts which are mid-thigh or knee length – I’m too short to pull off midi! And I like them to be fairly straight in style, including pencil-type skirts, though I don’t like them to be too tight. I found some photos to sum up my taste – some of the photos are things people have sewn from patterns (including one I made myself!) because it seemed like a not-terrible idea to find things I might actually be able to recreate!

exploring-shapes-skirts-1 exploring-shapes-skirts-2 exploring-shapes-skirts-5 exploring-shapes-skirts-4exploring-shapes-skirts-3  exploring-shapes-skirts-6-2(All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board)

Dresses

I definitely wasn’t surprised that what I like are shift dresses, without waist seams. Also that they are quite loose and hit me mid-thigh. I feel exposed and uncomfortable in mini-length things, especially if I have to sit down!

exploring-shapes-dresses-2 exploring-shapes-dresses-3 exploring-shapes-dresses-4 exploring-shapes-dresses-6

I also quite like the 60s-style high waisted look. I think this will be a silhouette I’ll experiment more with. I’ve been meaning to make a Tilly and the Buttons Megan Dress (from Love At First Stitch) for ages, so maybe now is the time!

exploring-shapes-dresses-7exploring-shapes-dresses-1
(All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board)

Trousers (Pants)

From my scores of trousers, it seems that I like most styles and shapes – really fitted, somewhat fitted and somewhat loose. Also I’m quite flexible when it comes to where they sit on my waist.

You can’t beat some classic black skinny jeans!

exploring-shapes-trousers-2 exploring-shapes-trousers-3

I do also like wide-legged trousers, though there is a limit! I think being short I can’t pull off giant trousers.

exploring-shapes-trousers-1-2exploring-shapes-trousers-4

I also like these more boyfriend-y shapes. The Morgan Jeans are on my #2017MakeNine list, so I’ll be making myself some this year.

exploring-shapes-trousers-5 exploring-shapes-trousers-6
(All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board)

Tops and Blouses

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I like loose, boxy tops. I hadn’t really thought explicitly about what length of top I like, so that was interesting to think about – I like tops just above hip level. I don’t mind the odd cropped top, but with high-waisted bottoms. I think the tunic length on me would just throw off my proportions because I’m short. Weird how basically all the photos I picked are monochrome!

exploring-shapes-tops-1 exploring-shapes-tops-3 exploring-shapes-tops-5 exploring-shapes-tops-6

exploring-shapes-tops-7exploring-shapes-tops-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

(All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board)

 

Jackets and Blazers

I wasn’t really surprised by how I scored the different styles of jacket/blazer – I kind of knew I like quite loose, slightly boyish shaped jackets, in a length that hits on or just below my hip bones. Jackets are definitely an area I want to move more into, given the office I work in is fairly smart, and I feel a bit more put together and grown up if I’m wearing a jacket. This first photo is the hacking jacket from the first Great British Sewing Bee book, so that’s definitely on my list to make.

exploring-shapes-jackets-1 exploring-shapes-jackets-2 exploring-shapes-jackets-4exploring-shapes-jackets-3
(All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board)

Cardigans

I found it really hard to find pictures of the kinds of cardigans I like wearing! I like round necked, plain, fairly fitted cardigans – it’s one of the few things I prefer to be more fitted and not as loose. Maybe I’ll explore with other styles in the future? Since I now live in a very cold place, I like the idea of some over-sized, snuggly knitwear!

exploring-shapes-cardigans-1 exploring-shapes-cardigans-2 exploring-shapes-cardigans-3 exploring-shapes-cardigans-4
(All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board)

Outerwear

Apparently I like grey and yellow coats! I also like them to be loose, and I love cocoon shapes (which weren’t really covered on the worksheet). I have a duffle coat which is more hip length and I like that, but I also love my Freemantle coat, which is a bit longer – you need to have some long coats, for warmth if nothing else! I may have to make another Freemantle because I really do love it. I might try making it more round necked, though, as the v is very deep so not super warm when it’s really cold unless you’re wearing a giant scarf!

exploring-shapes-coats-1 exploring-shapes-coats-2 exploring-shapes-coats-3 exploring-shapes-coats-4
(All image sources can be found on my Wardrobe Architect pinterest board)

Well there we go. I don’t think there were a huge amount of surprises for me, but it was interesting to look at the specific design elements I like and like to wear – sometimes I look at things and think ‘I really like that’ but I don’t analyse why, so sometimes I sew things I think I’ll like but then don’t, because it doesn’t fit with these scores. I’m definitely going to try to remember to come back to this post when I’m planning my makes!

p.s. Sorry this is going up a day late – I was writing it yesterday evening and was still going at past 11, so I figured there was no point forcing myself to stay up and get tired just to finish it a couple of minutes before midnight, just to have it be published on the Sunday.

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Wardrobe Architect Week 2: Defining a Core Style

wardrobe-architect

Here I am back for the second week of Colette’s Wardrobe Architect. This week it’s about trying to work out what our core style is, building on what we found out about ourselves in week 1.

There is another worksheet, with some questions, which again I’ll cover here.

When you are wearing your favorite clothing, how do you feel (e.g. confident, sexy,
poised, powerful, etc)?
Comfortable, the right temperature, unique (but not standing out too much), and correctly dressed for the occasion – I hate feeling way under- or over-dressed.
When you’re wearing something that is not quite right, how do you feel? What are the
feelings you want to avoid about the clothes you wear?
uncomfortable, not like me, feel like people are judging me for wearing the wrong thing (though, of course, they’re almost certainly not!).
Who do you consider to be your style icons? What is it about them that appeals to you?
Michelle Williams, Ginnifer Goodwin and Lupita Nyong’o. Interestingly they all have short hair! I like how Michelle Williams and Ginnifer Goodwin both have a slightly vintage vibe, but also look cool and fashion forward – and I think they can both pull off multiple kinds of look. And Lupita Nyong’o always looks chic and cool and her clothes fit perfectly. I also like all the bold colours she wears and the interesting silhouettes she pulls off.
What are some words that describe styles that you like in theory, but are not quite you?
I often feel like I want to look like a rock star, but I just don’t think I could pull of a leather jacket! I also love the masculine/ androgynous look of someone like Tilda Swinton, but I feel being only 5’3″ that I couldn’t really pull that off! I also go through phases of really liking 40s style clothes and the lindy hop style, but I think it’s the wrong era for me.
After answering these questions, you come up with some words from your answers from last week, then narrow it down to 3-5 words. Mine are:
Cool
Comfortable
Confident
Vintage
With these words in my mind, I made a new pinterest board to pin photos of outfits I like (which is the last stage of this week’s exercise).  You can find all the image sources on pinterest. It seems that the pictures I pinned fit into a few different categories.
1. Casual outfits with trousers (most pleated) and slouchy shapes on the top.
core-style-1 core-style-2 core-style-3 core-style-16 core-style-20
2. Modern and vintage outfits with interesting style lines

core-style-4
core-style-21 core-style-13 core-style-18
3. Shift dresses, tops and coats with 60s vibes, particularly with collars and stripes.
core-style-7 core-style-8 core-style-9 core-style-12
core-style-19
4. More modern-looking boxy tops, with interesting prints on the fabric.
core-style-15 core-style-17 Then I have a few photos that don’t really go together or into the categories above. They’re a mixture of vintage and modern styles, but they are all quite loose silhouettes.
core-style-5 core-style-6 core-style-10 core-style-11 core-style-14
I’ve found this really useful in working out what my core styles are – I knew there would be more than one, but by pinning lots of pictures, you can then spot the trends which then helps you realise what you’re drawn to. I think I need to make myself some pleated trousers – and get more brogues in more colours! I am also falling back in love with cute collars, so that’s good to know!

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January Makes and February Plans

I can’t believe January has disappeared already – it seems 2017 is going to zip past as quickly as 2016 seemed to! And although I had modest plans for what to make in January, I only managed one of the 2/3 things I planned (I say 2/3 because the third thing was the trousers I was going to cut out, but not sew together).

The one things I did managed to make was the Denim Moss skirt for my sister. This was the 4th one I was supposed to make for Christmas, and I don’t think I did too badly getting it to her by the end of the month. I once made socks for 3 of my make friends and they were a whole year late by the time I finished them!

denim-moss-skirtThe Moss took a bit longer to make than I thought it would, but I really enjoyed making it. Having made pretty simple skirts the last few times I’ve made skirts, it was nice to make one with a bit more to it. And there should be enough of the denim left for me to make a matching one!

The reason I didn’t get my Toaster Sweater made or my trousers cut out was that I was away the first weekend in January, then The Boyfriend was away the weekend after that and I didn’t feel in the mood to sew, so I only really had 2 weekends where I sewed. And I had a couple of other things to make, one of which is my Secret Valentines Exchange present (which I’ve got a little bit left to do on). The other things was to make a santa’s sack – but not red or Christmas-themed – for work to celebrate the CEO working at the company for 20 years! We had a party last night which was good fun, and each department bought him a silly gift and I made a sack to put them all in.

sack-for-workThere is writing and stuff on the other side, so I’ll share more photos in a full post soon.

Hopefully February will be a bit more productive than January was!

The main thing on my list for this month – which has to be finished by the weekend of the 24th – is my Moneta for the #MonetaParty. This is also one of my #2017MakeNine so it’s even better! I have 2 option for fabric – if anyone has a strong opinion one way or the other, please let me know as I’m struggling to decide! I could make 2 but I doubt I’d get them both done in time.

teal-moneta

navy-monetaThe top one is teal and the bottom one is navy blue with white smudges – for some reason I couldn’t take good photos of either of them! They’re both quite thin and drapey so hopefully whichever I choose will look good. I think I’m leaning towards the navy one, but I do feel teal is a good colour on me……argh, decisions!

My other project for this month is to make my Toaster Sweater, which I shamefully haven’t even printed out yet! I have found some fabric, though, so I’m halfway there! I bought this nice, quite thick, silver ponte from my local sewing shop. It has a small amount of dressmaking fabric (and a lot of quilting fabric!) and I thought I should support them and buy dressmaking fabric so they hopefully keep stocking it. They have some nice needlecord at the moment too.

toaster-sweater-fabricI feel like I’m pushing it at this point, but here is my navy blue trousers…….yet again………seriously. I don’t know if I’m ever actually going to get around to making these!

october-planning-simplicity-trousers

I think I need to not have to have a job to be able to make all the things I want to make! If anyone knows the secret to this, please let me know!

Wardrobe Architect Week 1: Making Style More Personal

wardrobe-architectAs I mentioned in my post detailing my plans for the year, I’m going to be going through the Wardrobe Architect project which Colette ran back in 2014. I thought it was a good idea then, but at the time I don’t think I thought I needed it to plan my sewing and cement my personal style, but I definitely feel like I need it now!

I’m going to be doing a week every 2 weeks, as I don’t think I’ll be able to fit it in quicker than that! Here is my proposed schedule (so I am accountable at least a bit!):

Week 1 – 22/01 (obvs)
Week 2 – 05/02
Week 3 – 19/02
Week 4 – 05/03
Week 5 – 19/03
Week 6 – 02/04
Week 7 – 16/04
Week 8 – 30/04
Week 9 – 14/05
Week 10 – 28/08
Week 11 – 04/06
Week 12 – 18/06
Week 14 – 02/07

(there isn’t a week 13 as that was a giveaway in the original project.)

The first week is about making your style more personal. Colette have produced a worksheet to fill in with answers to various questions to help you figure out your motivations for what you wear. I’ll answer them here – I hope this is vaguely interesting!

HISTORY

How has your personal history informed the way you dress? 

I think the main way my history has informed my style is that I never felt cool at school because I never had the latest fashions. Having been bullied a lot through school (both primary and secondary), I felt really self-conscious through my teenage years. This carried on even when I was at university as I didn’t have much money so couldn’t go out and buy loads and loads of clothes, so I probably wore a very small wardrobe of clothes until I worked full-time. I think this all explains why I feel like I want the perfect wardrobe that will make me feel cool and mean I have awesome clothes to wear every day – this is why I compulsively buy patterns!


When did your tastes crystallize? Have they changed over the years, and why?

I’m not sure, really. I guess it’s evolved with each little period of my life – at university I dressed oddly smartly I think. Then when I started work at a bookshop, I carried this on but went a little more casual. Moving to London 7 1/2 years ago probably was the thing that has made the biggest difference to my style and self-confidence. Again I worked in a bookshop, and was surrounded by lots of people with lots of different personal styles. It made me realise I didn’t have to care about what was ‘fashionable’ (if there is such a thing any more!), I could wear what I wanted and felt good in. It was also while I was in London that I started sewing!I’ve also changed in the shapes that I like to wear – moving away from tight tops, favouring a looser silhouette on the top, but with skinny trousers. I also didn’t used to be so interested in vintage styles and shapes – I think this is probably something that changed when I discovered sewing and the online sewing community.

PHILOSOPHY

How does your philosophy, spirituality, or religion affect your aesthetics and buying habits? Or, what aspects of those things would you like to see reflected?

I’m not religious so I’ve found this question quite difficult. The main thing I could think of to include in this section was my growing awareness of how I consume. I’ve talked about this a little before on my blog, but I want to become a bit more aware of where my fabric comes from. A couple of years ago I read the book Overdressed (and I did a review of it, but it seems to have disappeared when I migrated my blog to a new name) and it has stuck with me what Elizabeth Cline wrote about the crazy levels of consumption caused by the trend towards fast fashion. Also the working conditions of the people making the clothes, and the damage caused to poor communities’ homes by the dying and other chemical processes used in the garment industry. It is tricky, though, because it’s really hard to know where fabric comes from – and I still don’t have very much money so I find myself weighing up price against the quality and origin of fabric, with price often being my most important concern. I do want to try to be better about this this year, though. If anyone has any tips for places I can buy ethical fabric at a reasonable price, please do let me know.

CULTURE

How has your cultural background shaped the way you look? 

I have no idea about this one!

How did the aesthetics and values you grew up with affect your tastes as you got older? 

As I mentioned above, I grew up in a house that wasn’t very fashion conscious, which I think has now helped me to not feel embarrassed about possibly looking a bit more individual than other people – now I’ve left school that is! I also grew up in a house without much money and clothes were one of the things not prioritised. I still feel this now – I never could justify spending much money on clothes, which is why sewing is so perfect for me. I can always justify buying fabric and patterns! I also grew up with my mum making quite a lot of our clothes when we were little, so I always knew sewing my own clothes was an option.

COMMUNITY

How are you influenced by the people around you, including friends, family, and other communities you’re involved in? 

The main community that has influenced me, in terms of sewing and fashion, is the online sewing community! And especially all of the amazing independent pattern designers. When I started sewing, there was really only Colette, Sewaholic and Grainline and now we are really spoilt for choice – and it means we can find particular designers that really mesh with our styles! It was also through reading sewing blogs that I became aware of vintage fashion and realised I particularly love the 60s. I also feel inspired to have a (nearly) 100% handmade wardrobe – I’ll get there one day!

ACTIVITIES

How do your day-to-day activities influence your choices?

I think my activities influence me less than they used to – I cycled to work the last 18 months I lived in London so I pretty much always wore trousers. I also worked in jobs in London where I didn’t have to be particularly smart. Now, however, I work in an office which does require a certain level of smartness – I don’t have to wear a suit but the men do, with ties. It’s kind of harder and easier to be a woman as we have so much choice, but we have so much choice! I walk to work in 5 minutes, and do walk around at work quite a bit, so comfort is definitely high on my list of needs in clothing!

LOCATION

Does the place you live inform the way you dress? 

Cirencester (where I live now) seems to be a bit less individual than London, on the whole. I’m sure there are people everywhere who wear what they like, but it’s kind of obvious that big cities are likely to be more ‘out there’ than small Cotswold towns. I don’t feel that anyone would be judged for dressing how they like here, though.

How does climate factor in?The UK is friggin’ cold for most of the year – and Cirencester is definitely colder than London. Also I am cold-blooded, so being warm enough is probably the most important thing to me when getting dressed.

BODY

In what ways does body image affect your choices in clothing? 

I’m not sure, really. The only thing about myself that I ever wanted to change was my terrible crooked teeth. I had braces as an adult, in my early twenties, and it is easily the best thing I’ve ever done in terms of my self-confidence. It might sound like I’m really up myself, but I’ve never been particularly conscious of my body – it all works, so I don’t have any reason to complain. I could be fitter, but I know I’m too lazy!

What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?

Having said I feel confident in my body, I don’t like it to be on show particularly. I prefer to be quite covered up – I especially feel uncomfortable if my cleavage (what little of it there is!) is on show. I don’t mind showing off my figure (such as in my Lace Dress) as long as I’m not showing too much flesh (which is how I felt in my BHL Georgia Dress). I have moved away from more fitted clothes, particularly on my top half, in favour of a looser fit. I feel more comfortable in looser styles. I also hate to wear ill-fitting things (as some of my earlier makes now are) as I don’t like feeling pinched or like I have to spend the day adjusting things.

So there we go! I wrote more than I thought I was going to, which hopefully is a good thing! I’m really looking forward to the next week and to nailing my personal style once and for all – though I suspect I’ll end up with about 4 different styles!

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December makes and January Plans

I know I already wrote a post about my plans for the year, but I thought it would have ended up even longer if I included my regular recap of what I made last month and plan of what to make this month, so here is another planning post in the same week!

My main aim for December was to make 4 skirts for my sister for Christmas, but I did manage to squeeze in a sneaky dress for myself!

electric-blue-jersey-dressThis is the Jersey Dress by In The Folds with Peppermint Magazine. It’s free to download and has in seam pockets! I’ve worn it quite a few times so far, including to the Christmas Sew Brizzle meet up and on Christmas Day! It’s quite long on me but it’s like a secret blanket!

I managed to finish 3 of the 4 skirts for my sister – I stupidly thought they would be really quick, which was true to a certain extent, except I made stupid mistakes with the Mabel skirt which put my timings back a bit. I finished a red corduroy Delphine, a navy blue drill Delphine and a grey quilted fabric Mabel. I’ll post in more detail about them later this month hopefully.

red-corduroy-delphine

navy-drill-delphine
grey-quilted-mabel
I’m pretty pleased with the pattern matching of the quilted lines on the Mabel, if I do say so myself! And Phoebe liked the skirts and they fitted pretty well and were the right length, which is cool. She’s not sure about the colour of the navy drill one as she ordered the fabric online and it is quite a pale shade of navy, but hopefully when the weather gets warmer she’ll have other things to wear it with so it will grow on her. And if not, it’s not the end of the world 🙂

So my first make for January has to be the skirt I didn’t make in time for Christmas – a denim Moss Skirt. I’ve got the pattern assembled, traced and altered – she wants the long length but without the hem band, so I’ve lengthened the mini version pattern pieces. I have a zip and thread too, so I’m all ready to go!

denim-moss-skirtThere was quite a bit of fabric left from each of the skirts I made, so I also might see if I can make a Moss Skirt out of what I’ve got left from the red corduroy. Selfishly I might use the rest of the grey quilted fabric (probably for a matching Mabel!) and the navy drill, but I don’t wear red so I figure if I can make something else for Phoebe, then it doesn’t go to waste.

red-corduroy-moss-skirtAs I mentioned in my 2017 planning post, I’ve signed up for #ProjectSewMyStyle and I’m going to try to make the pattern for January which is the Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater 2. This might get bumped to February as I don’t have any fabric I’d like to use for it currently in my stash. And there was talk of a Sew Brizzle trip to Birmingham to go fabric shopping at the end of the month, so I’ll look for something then hopefully. I’m also in Aberdeen for a second Christmas with my uni friends so I might see if we can take a detour to a sewing shop at some point, then this might get made this month. I could do with some warmer clothes to be honest, as our flat is rather cold!

PrintI don’t know how many more times I can add this make to my plans……

october-planning-simplicity-trousersIt’s getting embarrassing now! I now pledge to have the pattern and fabric cut out by the end of the month, then hopefully I can make them in February. I’m hoping once I’ve popped by trouser cherry, then my jean-making plans for the year won’t feel quite so scary!

Given that I’m away this weekend I doubt I’ll get all of this done this month, but I’ll do my best!

#2017MakeNine and other plans for the year

After my review of 2016, I thought it would be nice to plan for my year of sewing yet to come. I’m sure you’ve seen Rochelle from Lucky Lucille‘s #MakeNine thing which has been all over blogs and instagram for the last week or so. I think it’s a really good idea to focus your year of sewing, so here are my #2017MakeNine in no particular order (and they’re all patterns I already have in my stash):

1. Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns

ginger-jeans-1I’ve ended up with almost no wearable jeans – I have one pair which are worn on my thigh between my legs which are just about passable but my others either don’t fit any more or have a broken zip. I’ve had this pattern for quite a while and 2017 is definitely going to be the year when I finally make them!

2. Roberts Collection by Marilla Walker.

roberts-collection-2This is another pattern I’ve had for a little while and after we moved, before I set up my sewing space, I spent some time printing and assembling PDF patterns I’d bought and this was one of them. So it is now all ready to go. I think I’m going to make the dungarees and the dungaree dress (so this is a twofer!) so I have some casual weekend clothes that aren’t just jeans (though I do love jeans).

3. Moneta Dress by Colette

moneta-dressI bought this pattern, along with the Mabel skirt, not long after they were released. I have a similar style RTW dress from H & M which I bought ages ago which I really like when I wear it, so I’m hoping to recreate it/ create more versions of it to have comfortable but hopefully smart-looking dresses for work.

4. Morgan Jeans by Closet Case Patterns

morgan-jeansI like a classic skinny jean, but more and more I feel I’m being drawn to boyfriend jeans too. I might start with this pattern as I assume there will be less careful fitting needed, and then move onto the Gingers.

5. Cooper Bag by Colette

cooper-bagI’ve had this pattern for years and I bought all the hardware I need to make it, I just haven’t yet actually made the bag. I currently use a crappy sporty rucksack and I’ve wanted a nice bag for aaages. Part of my problem is I can’t decide on what colours and fabrics to use so if anyone has any suggestions, I’m open!

6. Inari Tee Dress by Named

inari-tee-dressI meant to make one or two of these last Summer as I’ve seen so many great versions online but I didn’t get around to it – always the way, huh?! So this year is the year….

7. Marianne Dress by Christine Haynes

marianne-dressI think this could be another option for smart but comfortable work dresses – and they could also work for weekends depending on the fabric choice. I don’t know why I haven’t got around to making this yet, I’ve had the pattern for quite a while.

8. Carolyn Pyjamas by Closet Case Patterns

carolyn-pajamasHaving made Summer pyjamas in the form of the Grainline Lakeside Pyjamas, I am now in need of nice Winter and Spring/ Autumn Pyjamas so the Carolyns are on my to make list this year. All my current bought pyjamas are a bit past their best so I really need to get onto making some nice new ones. I’ve also never sewn with piping so that will be a fun skill to learn hopefully.

9. Albion Coat by Colette

albion-coatAlthough this pattern is sort of a men’s pattern, it is technically unisex. I bought it before Grainline brought out their Cascade Duffel Coat as it was the only one on the market. This is yet another pattern I’ve had – and been meaning to make – for years. I want to make basically a copy of the lovely bright coats they sell in Sea Salt. I’ll be on the hunt probably for yellow waterproof fabric and a navy and white striped lining.

As I’m sure you’ve picked up on, I’ve had most of these patterns for quite a while! I want to try as much as possible to sew from patterns I already have in my stash as I’ve only sewn about half the patterns I have – and that doesn’t include patterns from books! There are, I’m sure, one or two I will buy but I feel like I pretty much have every kind of pattern I could possibly need. I’m also going to try to be mindful about my fabric buying, so I buy with specific projects in mind.

This year I have also signed up for #ProjectSewMyStyle. Run by Bluebird Fabrics, the idea is to make 12 garments in 12 months and end up with a brilliant capsule wardrobe. Having looked at the schedule of the patterns, there are some months when I’m not going to join in as the patterns are not really my style – and it seems against the ethos of the project being about slow fashion to sew things for the sake of joining in with a project. I am going to try to make the Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater 2 in January, though.

PrintThey’re a new-to-me pattern company, and I like the simple lines of this pattern, but it looks like a flattering shape too.

The only other pattern I think I’ll definitely try to make is the Named Yona Wrap Coat which is scheduled for September. There are some Megan Nielsen patterns throughout the year, too, so I might have a go at them, though I don’t want to buy tooooo many new patterns.

yona-wrap-coatMy other main project for the first half of this year is going to be to do Colette’s Wardrobe Architect series to try even more to focus my sewing, so this whole post may be thrown completely out of the window! I’m hoping it will help me be focused in my fabric shopping and how I pick fabrics for specific patterns so I don’t end up with things that don’t fit with other things I’ve made. I want to try to create more of a capsule wardrobe and try to be less of an unfocused magpie!

wardrobe-architectI think I’ll manage to post about this every 2 weeks, so it will take me a few months instead of the 14 (I think) weeks planned. I’m also going to carry on planning my sewing month by month as I’ve found this really helpful since I’ve been doing it the last few months – it means when I do have time to sew, I know what I’m sewing. And I have been sometimes cutting out things during evenings after work so I’m ready to sew when I have a chunk of time at the weekend, instead of spending one weekend day cutting out.

This seems like quite a lot to fit into one year, but I also want to try to make a quilt for the first time this year. I want to do some work on our bedroom, so maybe a quilt for the bed? I need to decide on a colour scheme for the room first though…. The other option is to make a throw for our sofa which currently has one of my pieces of fabric on it because it’s uglier than it looked online when we ordered it! I also want to have a go at weaving a wall-hanging to go above our bed as the walls in our bedroom are quite empty. I’ve also got a chair I want to recover. And I started making a tank top for The Boyfriend over a year ago so I really should finish that!

Phew! I’m glad I’ve got a whole year to do all of this! What are your plans for 2017?

A Review of 2016

As it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d have a look back at the sewing I’ve managed to complete this year. Some of it hasn’t made it to the blog yet, but this year I have made:

(non-clothes)
2 Quiet Books
1 Appliqued Cushion
1 Internet Meme Cushion (which was my favourite non-garment I’ve made this year)

Internet Meme cushion

(clothes)
3 Shirts (2 Archers [1,2] and a Melilot)
6 Tops (3 Cocos [1,2,3], a Plantain, an Astoria and a Hemlock)
2 Jackets (both made with dresses, for a Christening and a Wedding)
1 Skirt
2 Pairs of Pyjamas
6 Dresses (1 from a Vintage Pattern, a Rushcutter, a Drapey Knit Dress, a Lace Emery/Elisalex mash-up, an Alix Dress and a not-yet-blogged Jersey Dress)
I’ve also made 3 skirts for my sister and am making a 4th and possibly 5th in the next week or so, so I make that 23 garments in total! That’s definitely the most things I’ve made in any year since I started sewing clothes in 2013! To compare I made 14 things in 2013, 13 in 2014 and 11 in 2015. It definitely helped to take a couple of months off work this year!

I’m going to round-up my favourite and most-worn makes of the year in a bit more detail.

My Rushcutter by In The Folds was one of my most worn garments this year – and definitely my most-worn dress. I love the loose fit, but it feels flattering at the same time. And I’ve discovered it’s perfect for layering with a long-sleeved top underneath when it’s cold. I think I need to make this pattern again in the new year!

Navy Spotty Rushcutter DressMy other most-worn dress was my #SewDots Drapey Knit Dress (from the 3rd GBSB book). This could have beaten out my Rushcutter if I’d made it earlier in the year! Again, I think I need one or two more of these in my wardrobe – but probably made from a more stretchy jersey as the sleeves on this one are a bit snug. It’s another good one for layering, too.

#SewDots GBSB Drapey Knit DressMy 2 Cocos (1,2) with funnel necks were pretty successful makes from this year, though I haven’t worn them since the weather has really got cold. They are probably the things I get the most compliments on too, which is nice!

Turquoise Coco Top with Funnel neckI’ve definitely got quite a lot of wear out of the 3 shirts I’ve made this year. For some reason I feel like my blue spotty Archer isn’t smart enough for work, so I tend to wear that more at weekends, but the other Archer and my Melilot are perfect for work, so I think it would be good to make some more shirts in 2017.

Blue Spotty Archer Button UpMy 2 probably favourite makes are the 2 party dresses I made, though of course, I haven’t worn them very much – but we all need a couple of occasion dresses, don’t we? The lace frankenpattern dress I made for a wedding in May was my most liked make on Instagram and I do love it so! I need more parties to go to so I can wear this again……

Wedding-Outfit-11And my most recently blogged make, my By Hand London Alix Dress, is my other favourite. It’s a bit of a different style for me – more 70s than 60s as I’m normally drawn to – but I do love it! Again, it’s not really the kind of thing I can wear down to Tescos…….

Bright Pink Viscose Alix Maxi Dress - By Hand LondonAnd now onto my couple of unsuccessful makes…..(quite proud there are only a couple!)

By the time I’d finished my 2 sets of Lakeside pyjamas, and we’d moved into a very cold flat, the weather was definitely NOT warm enough to wear these. Boo! Hopefully we’ll have a warm Summer in 2017 so I can break these babies out!

Teal Lakeside PajamasMustard Lakeside Pajamas

The other thing(s) I made which have only got one wear is my Vintage Pledge outfit I made for a Christening in April. I didn’t really feel comfortable in it on the day beacuse the fit of the dress is pretty off. I made it with no fitting changes, knowing the pattern was probably a size too big for me. Also I made it in a probably too stiff fabric, so it looks even worse fitting – if it had been a more drapey fabric, perhaps it would have been more forgiving?

Vintage Pledge Christening Outfit - 1960s Vintage Dress and Coat

I thought I might have got some wear out of the coat in the spring, but it didn’t happen. Maybe Spring 2017? Now I work in a fairly smart office, maybe I wouldn’t look so overdressed in a long jacket?

Vintage Pledge Christening Outfit - 1960s Vintage Dress and CoatOn a side-note, I failed in my Vintage Pledge to make 3 garments/outfits from my vintage patterns. I made these 2 and then I think I lost heart because they didn’t fit well. Next year I will have another go, but I’ll treat them like any other pattern, I’ll trace it and make a toile and make sure I end up with something wearable.

On a personal note 2016 has been ………interesting.

It was definitely a year of change:

  • The Boyfriend and I quit our jobs in London in January and packed up our flat to move across the country to Cirencester to live with his parents – thank god they let us stay with them! I have no idea how people move to different areas of the country if they don’t have someone they can stay with.
  • I spent a couple of months (from March to June) not working, which was nice in one way – I got lots of sewing done – but the stress of not being able to find work slightly ruined this period. Also I pretty much spent all the money I’d saved to move with.
  • I got a permanent job and started on August 1st – I’d forgotten what it’s like to be the new person at work and it took a couple of months to settle in. It’s also weird when you don’t have other friends as work friends seem more important and then when you don’t know them yet it feels a bit crap!
  • The Boyfriend and I got our own little flat (though it’s bigger than our one in London was!) and we moved in a week after I started my job! It’s definitely feeling like home, though I have a couple of things I’d like to sort out. I might post some photos on here one day, once I like everything……so probably never!

This year is the first year I’ve made some IRL sewing friends! Yay! I went to the #SewBrizzle meet up back in the Summer and there were a couple of us from more my neck of the woods, so we have met up for dinner twice so far. It’s sooooo nice to talk to people about sewing who know what you’re talking about! It’s lovely to get compliments on things I’ve made from non-sewers, but there aren’t many people with whom I can have an in-depth conversation, or even say the name of the pattern and have them know what I’m talking about!

I feel like the elephant in the room of my run-down of my 2016 is what has happened to my sister. For those of you that didn’t read my post about it, in August my sister got a DVT in her leg, which was very very swolen and purple. She went to the local hospital, who sent her away with blood thinners. 3 days later when she went back for her check up, they rushed her by ambulance to Addenbrookes hospital because it was clear the circulation had been cut off in her leg. The doctors spent 2 days trying to get the circulation going again – it turns out they were really trying to save her knee as when circulation has been cut off for more than about 4 hours, they’re fighting a losing battle. So on 25th August she had her left leg amputated above her knee. They spent the next couple of weeks while she was in hospital trying to work out why she had all these clots and it turned out it was lung cancer, which is the most common kind of cancer. It had spread to 3 of her lymph nodes which means it can’t be removed surgically, but she is having chemotherapy – via tablets! Who knew what was a thing!? She had a scan check-up thingy in November and the tumour had shrunk, which is brilliant news obviously.

She now has a prosthetic leg, which is the swishiest one you get if you’re not a paralympian (that’s the only kind better than the one she has) and she’s already (after only just over a month) walking with only one crutch. And she was practicing walking with no crutches over Christmas so she should be able to walk and get about so no-one can tell that she has only one leg. This is her the day she got it:

phoebes-leg
And this is her favourite Christmas jumper:

phoebes-jumper

A morbid sense of humour is definitely a must when faced with this kind of crap!

And to add crapness to crapness, my sister is not the only member of my family currently with lung cancer 😦 A couple of years ago my Dad had one of his kidneys removed (4 days before Christmas!) because he had a tumour in it. For 2 years he went for his scans and got the all clear. But he had another scan – and got his results on the same day as my sister got her good news – and it turns out the cancer he had in his kidney has reappeared, but this time in his lung. He has been living with a rare degenerative brain disease called Corticobasal Degeneration (or CBD) for a number of years (I’ve lost track of exactly when he was diagnosed as he had clearly been suffering with it for a long time before they worked out what it was) and is now in a home as my mum is no longer able to look after him at home as his mobility is so reduced now. (If you want to read about CBD and the related condition Progressive Supranuclear Palsy or PSP, you can visit the PSP Association.) It might sound harsh, but I think it’s almost kinder that he might die quicker of cancer instead of the slow death from his brain disease, which will cause him to eventually be unable to swallow or communicate. He probably only had 2-5 years left anyway, so the cancer diagnosis may not make too much of a difference. He’s not strong enough for agressive treatment, so it remains to be seen what treatment he does have.

So, yeah, that’s my 2016. The first half of the year was okay, then everything seemed to go a little wrong, starting with Brexit. I won’t go into politics on here, but it feels like the world is shifting and we need to pay attention to the people who feel left behind or forgotten or ignored. My answer is to do what I enjoy doing and be nice to people. I think that’s all we can do in our little lives, really. Try to spread love and joy and happiness and hope that if enough of us do this, 2017 will be a better year.

Thank you to everyone who reads my blog and comments on it, I hope you get a bit of joy from my makes and posts. I hope to get more into a regular schedule of posting next year as I really like connecting with like-minded people online, and IRL.

 

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