A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: fashion

I started to feel a bit less grumpy about the coat after getting a bit more sleep following the second class. I have a ridiculous number of things on at the moment and it’s hard to stay on top of it all.

Homework 

I finished attaching the last piece of interfacing and sewed up some of the seams I was supposed to do in the first class. I managed to cut out all of my lining pieces. I had around 1m left (136cm wide). I was pretty lazy with the lining so could potentially have used less than 2m.

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Class

This week, I started to feel like I wasn’t miles behind everyone else for the first time. I attached the collar, which is very fiddly but the coat is starting to take shape.

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I have a lot of pressing to do in the next week, as well as making up the lining and doing some work on the sleeves. However, it’s half-term next week and I have the day off on Monday, so I will have some breathing space. I’m hopeful that I will be able to get everything done to be able to come out with a finished coat.

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I’ve wanted to take part in the series of sewing workshops to make the 1960s coat for ages, but the time was never right. At first, I was not an experienced enough sewist to undertake such a complex project. The workshop then became unavailable for an absolute age. So, when I saw that it was up and running again, I booked straightaway. I’ve been wearing some incarnation of a red coat for more than ten years now and my current version is really threadbare. I would have liked to replace it two seasons ago but red coats are not easy to come by. Now I’m going to try and make my own.

coat

Photo taken from the Sew Over It website.

The course notes state that 3m each of fashion fabric and lining, so the first step was to go shopping. My job semi-regularly takes me near the Goldhawk Road and I hoped that this was where I would find the perfect red wool. I didn’t have a huge amount of time, so I just headed to my best-loved shops. I was tempted by a bolt-end of red crepe in Misan West- £50 for 5m was a bargain, but wool crepe isn’t really right for a winter coat. They also had some nice red wool with a sort of herringbone pattern (£35/m) that was my only other option.

Goldbrick Fabrics is my favourite shop on Goldhawk Road. They have a great selection, good customer service, which is very important to me, and they didn’t let me down. The woman who helped me pulled out a sample of a wool and cashmere mix that was utter heaven. A stunning shade of pillarbox red that felt as beautiful as it looked. I balked a little when I saw that it was nearly £80/m, but I had to have it. Yolo. The lady was willing to negotiate, so I thought it made sense to buy my lining there too. I am a huge fan of a jazzy lining, so I had to have this patterned purple viscose.

All in, I spent £220 on the fabric for this coat. The course was just over £160, which means that by the time I get buttons and interfacing, I will have dropped more than £400 on my new coat- double what I spent on my last (red wool and cashmere mix) coat from John Lewis.

I like to be clear about prices because people often don’t realise the cost- both financial and in terms of time- associated with being a maker. On the other hand, this is a wonderful opportunity. I will spend twelve hours in the company of an expert dressmaker learning how to make something that is literally tailored to my body and my style. It makes sense to invest in fabulous fabric when I have someone so experienced to guide me through the process of creating this garment.

I had to leave the workshop early (for very exciting reasons that I hope to be able to reveal soon) so only managed to alter the pattern. 


I think my whole Sunday will be spent cutting and ironing!


I cut this dress out soon after finishing my denim day dress, but didn’t do anything else in over a year. I intended to take the pieces to a sewing cafe to overlock them, but never quite got round to it until a couple of months ago.

Weirdly, I had to re-cut a lot of my pattern pieces. No idea why, but a lot of them were too big. This also gave me a chance to take some length out of the back bodice.

The dress seems to be going together okay so far. I found the viscose more difficult to gather neatly than the denim of my previous version. I think next time, I would sew the elastic even closer to the tops of the skirt pieces.

I also found the invisible zip installation instructions a bit confusing- they state to sew using a normal zipper foot, but at no point seem to instruct you to go over it again with an invisible zip foot. I’ll just add this step in as I see fit.


I was just hitting my stride in constructing this dress when I realised that somehow I managed to cut out two left sleeves. Nightmare.

You can see the offending sleeve at the top of this pic. On a more positive note, adding a row of gathering stitches made it a lot easier to pin in the sleeve.

Fortunately re-cutting the sleeve didn’t cause me too much of a roadblock even though I couldn’t find the pattern piece and so had to trace a new one off the second left sleeve. Hope the other piece turns up. The construction goes really quickly once the sleeves are in, so now it’s just the hems and neck facing to go.


I think that the bodice is a teensy bit too long, but hard to tell how much of that is the pattern, and how much is due to the fabric I’m using. However, I’m pretty happy with the fit overall.


Pattern: Day Dress by the Avid Seamstress- size 10/12 mashup

Fabric: Around 2m of rayon purchased on holiday in Indonesia


My first Southport dress turned out to be a fairly straightforward and rewarding sewing experience. I realise the waist tie is way too long but for some reason I wasn’t ready to cut it when I wore this dress for the first time.

Here’s a side view. This dress has been great to wear in the recent heatwave in London. Only one metre of light, breezy cotton, yet it’s formal enough that I understand feel comfortable wearing it to work.

Pockets are life.


Notes about the changes I made can be found here.

Pattern: Southport dress by True Bias

Fabric: 1m Liberty tana lawn


This was the first year that I’ve had enough handmade items to participate properly in Me Made May, and I must say I absolutely loved it! I tend to vacillate between dressing very carefully, and just grabbing a well-worn item from my wardrobe and chucking it on. Me Made May encouraged me to think about my clothing each day. I even accessorised!


Pictures and breakdowns of each outfit are available on my Twitter and Insta, but here’s my masterpost.

It’s also been a lot of fun to interact more with other members of the online dressmaking community, and some of my favourite sewing brands. I think I’m going to make more of an effort to take a picture when I’m sporting one of my handmade items.

Lessons from Me Made May:

  • Trousers. Since my favourite-ever work trousers wore out a couple of years ago, I have essentially stopped wearing trousers. I have one pair of jeans that are one strenuous bend away from destruction. MMM helped me to fall in love with my Cigarette Pants. I think the biggest problem with them is that I didn’t choose the right fabric. I am planning to make a pair in corduroy for winter.
  • I don’t have enough plain tops. I’ve never been able to find the perfect plain basic top, but I should resume my search.
  • In fact, plain things are a problem for me in general. I need a few more staple garments that don’t have a crazy print on them.
  • I need to go through my older knitted items and decide whether to keep, frog or donate them. I have quite a few jumpers from the past few years that I simply never wear, and I have no real interest in hanging on to them for sentimental reasons.
  • To be honest, I need to do the same thing with my sewn garments. I wore quite a few items that I would never have worn if it wasn’t Me Made May. I need to decide whether they are really deserving of a space in my wardrobe, or whether I need to accept whatever lessons I learned from making them and get rid.
  • Weirdly, day dresses are a big gap in my wardrobe. I wear dresses to work all the time, so this is a very obvious area to get some fun projects in. I definitely need to move my Balinese rayon dress up my queue.

I finished my pineapple Tulip Skirt in plenty of time to take it on my minibreak to Hamburg. Here I am posing in front of some street art.

I posed in numerous other locations also. Here I am befriending a local fisherman.

I didn’t make many changes to the pattern. The size 10 is right for me, and I moved the pockets up as I always worry that my phone will fall out of the pockets on my original fuchsia version. I would probably make the pockets EVEN BIGGER in future. I would probably also use self-fabric rather than lining fabric if possible.

I have a feeling that this will be a great skirt to wear with sandals in the summer.


Pattern: Tulip Skirt by Sew Over It (size 10)

Fabric: 1m linen-cotton mix from SOI

More information


Me Made May this year coincided with a long weekend away in Hamburg. It was nice to be challenged to wear some of my handmade items on holiday. I tend to be a bit more careful with my handmades than my RTW clothing, so it was nice to give some of them a fun outing.

I travelled in my jersey Bettine dress. My flight was after a busy day in one of my secondary schools, and the stripey dress felt smart enough for work, but was also very comfortable for travel.


On Friday, I was keen to wear my pineapple skirt. My main post contains some more pictures,  but here she is being worn while I posed with my friend Becci on a climbing frame. We were both too scared to climb any higher!

On the second day, my raindrop Bettine matched the weather better than I would have hoped! In this picture you can see the Hold Tight clutch I knitted a couple of years ago, which was quite handy for my essentials. I am just not a clutch bag person, so I have a leather strap attached to it.

Sunday was the nicest weather of the weekend. I almost wished that I had taken one of my pairs of shorts with me. In the end, I made do with my Cleo dress, which was also well-suited to travelling home. I do think I will lengthen the hem on this dress by an inch or two when I get a chance. Although it looks fine in front of the mirror, the corduroy has a tendency to creep up.

I think that incorporating my handmade wardrobe made an already-fantastic weekend even more fun. I can be very lazy about clothing and accessories, and knowing that I would be taking pictures inspired me to think more carefully about my wardrobe.

Thanks to Isie and Becci for being wonderful photographers, as well as awesome companions.