Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Planning a fall wardrobe

Recently I've been thinking a lot about clothes and what it is that makes a wardrobe. Growing up, we couldn't afford much so I never really had the luxury to dwell on these things.

I've just finished reading Lee Hollahan's extremely useful How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns and am now reading Claire Shaeffer's very interesting Couture Sewing Techniques book both of which combined with the Colette Sewing handbook have changed the way I think about clothes. I have just discovered I can fit back into some of my pre- pregnancy clothes so theoretically I now have quite a large wardrobe to choose from. This sounds nice but how many of us have crammed wardrobes with nothing to wear?

Someone mentioned going back to the Italian notion of seasonal dressing and I do find the idea of rotating my wardrobe every three months appealing. Surely it would be nice to basically get a whole new set of clothes to play with every season? This sounds particularly good when considering the very limited  wardrobe space I have. 

So how does one plan a seasonal wardrobe? And how do you think about sewing warn things in this heat?!

Monday, 22 July 2013


Finished! I made some office-appropriate shorts and a blazer. The shorts are Claire from In-House Patterns and the blazer is the fabled Victoria from By Hand London (worn here with a T-shirt I made a while ago by copying an old one).

For the main fabric of both, I've used the mystery synthetic I found at Ridley Road market and I used a lovely viscose I bought in a fabric shop in Brighton for the lining, pockets, blazer cuffs and waistband facings. (Is it weird that the lining cost more than the main fabric?)

I'm sorry to say that I found the Victoria pattern instructions really difficult to follow- they just didn't specify things like where the cuffs were going exactly (how should they line up) and what the tailor tack was for (the dart, of course the dart- as I discovered once their sew-along got to that point). 

I also foolishly graded the pattern to accommodate my ridiculous bust (isn't nursing great?) but take into account my (relatively) normal hips. That does not work with this pattern. It would if there were buttons to be done up. As there's not, I just ended up with my pockets slightly too far back. Still, it's a nice casual-ish blaster. Some details here:

I have no idea how they meant for you to finish the lining inside the jacket but I decided to cover the seams with a black satin bias tape which I hand-stitched. It looks really neat.

That said, I will definitely have another go at this pattern once I figure out which fabric I'd like it in. 

The Claire pattern went together really well and was an absolute joy to use. I cut between sizes (I am so naughty!) but it works really well and the shorts are super comfortable. I had never  made a fly zipper opening before so it was a learning curve. I think it turned out really well, specially for a first time. Not that I could tell you what I actually did. 

I used some more satin binding for the crotch seam as I had that seam break in the wash on my Iris shorts (boo). I also had to join the facing material as I didn't have enough of the fabric to cut it out straight. Lucky the pattern is so busy- I don't think you can tell without looking for it. 

I definitely see many more of these shorts in my future though first I have to finish the Juniper trousers I started a while ago. Just have not been feeling it as I'm not really getting on with the pockets (long story. 

For now, it is faaaar too hot to sew... Oskar slept through last night which still has me confused as it's not really been his habit since he was born. Long may the sleeping continue. 

Friday, 5 July 2013

Three's the charm

As I've recently started a full- time contract, I've discovered that I don't really have the wardrobe to be inconspicuous in the banking environment I now find myself. To remedy that I've started creating a whole new work wardrobe. I showed you the croquis I made to play around with designs which is a huge amount of fun.

I thought I'd ease myself into the more sober wardrobe with a Ginger skirt which I've already made two of. One during the dressmaking course I did at Ray Stitch and the second one I cheekily made before finishing the first one in class after finding a lovely bit of fabric in the remnants pile. 

Love how you can see the pattern on the lining and facings just peeking out a bit when the skirt is hanging up. 

I got the fabric for the latest iteration from the friendly fabric stall at Dalston market- no idea of the fibre contents of either of the fabrics but am fairly sure the one I used for lining is a viscose (Karen's amazing post on this material is here) as the seams are already fraying like nobody's business. Will need to invest in a serger soon...

I've always been a bit precious about my patterns and would trace them off rather than cutting into them but recently I've gotten increasingly impatient with that step of the process and so have cut into several of my pattern pieces- do you ever do that? Do you trace? Or do you cut the pattern?

Monday, 1 July 2013

Lookie, lookie, I made a croquis!

Not too much sewing going on at the moment as I've started a new contract but I have been managing to draw pictures of clothes on myself.

Following advice from the Colette Sewing Handbook I have made croquis of myself and been having lots of fun playing with it:

 I used to do this when I was a teenager and it's still just as much fun though now I can also work out what suits my shape and what REALLY doesn't (the drop waist playsuit being a good example of what doesn't). It's also helped me see that my shape isn't as bad as I thought it was post-baby- it's just the clothes that I've been trying to squeeze back into that are not working for me.

I have also discovered that my work wardrobe is woefully inadequate so am currently in the process of making a Ginger skirt from this black mystery fabric that I found on a stall at Dalston market. It's magic- so soft and drapey whilst having body AND not being a nightmare to sew. Loving it.

And so, I leave you with a picture of my little one enjoying the summer this past weekend.