A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: handmade clothes

Me-made May has come to an end. I managed to wear something hand sewn every day with no cheating (of which I may or may not have been guilty last year).

I found taking the pictures more of a challenge this year. I’ve been trying to make my Instagram posts more colourful since seeing this infographic of the most used colours in my grid. In non-May months, I don’t take a picture every time I wear something I’ve made myself. This month, feeling under pressure to find different colourful backgrounds suitable for a photo was really difficult.

I was surprised by how overwhelmingly neutral my grid was

Another thing I noticed was that my posts got a lot less engagement than they did last year. I try not to worry too much about things like that, especially because I’m not a business, but I think it’s noteworthy. I wonder if it’s due to the changes in the Instagram algorithm since there has been little change to my content.

Some takeaways from the month:

  • Neither of my Bettine dresses (raindrop, striped) featured. Even though this was one of the patterns than inspired me to start sewing, elasticated waists are just not for me.
  • I would like to focus a little bit more on wardrobe planning rather than only making items spontaneously. However, this is a real challenge for me. What I enjoy is being inspired and then feeling highly motivated by a project. I find it harder to make the time for more planned out projects.
  • I still don’t make enough plain things or dresses

I’m glad that I looked back on my last me-made May roundup (linked above). I felt like I hadn’t learnt much last May, but actually I’ve acted on many of the outcomes. I’ve started making my second pair of Cigarette Pants, I’ve started repurposing unloved sweaters from early in my knitting career and I’m going to donate some old makes as part of my house move.

I tried to be strict with the clothes I decide to take with me. I donated several makes where I am not totally in love with them, such as my autumn leaves skirt and unicorn top.

I’ve never read anything by Marie Kondo (though perhaps I should, given how much stuff I have!) but I did listen to a podcast that talked about her philosophy that you should only keep items that bring you joy. I tried to take this approach when assessing whether to keep or donate my handmades.

My Elfe and Rolling Rock sweaters finally bit the dust.

I considered repurposing the raw materials from these items, but in the end I know I would rather spend my limited making time creating something new. Where garments are in good nick, I hope that they will bring happiness to new owners.

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Typically, I left it to the 11th hour to sign up for Me Made May 2018, though of course I knew I would be doing it after enjoying participating so much last year.

I’ve added quite a few garments to my handmade wardrobe since last May, though I’ve also got rid of a couple of items that I never wore. This is my pledge this year:

I, Monique of www.craftycrusader.wordpress.com @craftycrusader on social media, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’18. I endeavour to wear at least one item of handmade clothing for every day of May 2018. I will post daily pictures on my Instagram. One of my aims is to streamline my wardrobe before I move house in June, particularly to cull the RTW clothing I seldom wear. I would also like to identify gaps in my me-made wardrobe.

Something I continue to be terrible at is wardrobe planning. As a maker, I am very much inspired in the moment. I get an idea for something I want to make and it’s not long before I’m delving into research for that item. I was going to say that planning is the converse before realising that I actually love to plan for individual projects. It’s having an overview or overarching plan that is my downfall. To be honest, that is very much a reflection of my personality. I tend to get caught up in the nitty-gritty of things without really having much awareness of what it is all leading to.

In fact, this has been the main dilemma of my thirties so far- feeling rudderless.

Before I get too deep into self-analysis, I will simply say that I am looking forward to taking part in #mmm18 and I hope it will help me to think a little more strategically about my makes. I have two mini-breaks coming up in May, which makes it even more exciting!


I’m so pleased with how my Threadcount 1617 shirt turned out! When I look at it, I can hardly believe I was capable of making it myself. This project is a surprise win. I wouldn’t have chosen this fabric if it hadn’t been on sale, but it’s fun to experiment with a colour and pattern slightly outside my comfort zone.

There are a lot of lovely finishing details in this shirt. Plenty of slip-stitching of facings to hide seams. Overall I am very happy with the finish even though I made quite a few mistakes. I tried not to be too perfectionistic about tiny details, but rather treat the process as a learning experience for my next make.

I have mostly used indie patterns up until now. There is a lot of hand-holding and the techniques have been quite simple. It was nice to take on a more complex pattern. The sparse instructions gave me a sense of being trusted to know how to interpret them. Making the collar was the part I found the most challenging. You have to press the curved seam allowance, which is incredibly fiddly. I then managed to sew the collar on backwards!

I was glad to have done the Ultimate Shirt class at Sew Over It because I was a bit more familiar with the couture techniques that were just casually mentioned in the instructions. I had to think quite hard at times to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. I found the process very engaging and twice looked at the clock to realise I had been sewing for several hours without noticing the passage of time.

I harvested these buttons from a RTW shirt that was worn out. Something so nice about making clothes is personalising to your unique body. The old shirt had such narrow cuffs that it was impossible for me to get them over my hands with the buttons done up. This made me feel like a huge-handed freak. I tested that the cuffs fit over my hands comfortably before placing the buttonholes and buttons.

I LOVE the button tab detail. So worth the extra effort.

I can’t wait to make my summery version of this shirt, though I think that will have to wait until after I have moved house. Something I will definitely need to consider is how to finish the seams. Even though I have become quite a fan of French seams , they weren’t suitable in many places. I didn’t realise until too late due to my bad habit of not reading through all of the instructions before starting out. It will probably make most sense to keep it simple and either use an overlocker or overcasting foot.

I think I will stick with the Size 12 next time. The fit is decent in the shoulders and I like the roominess for a breezy summer shirt. It’s also SO NICE to have a blouse that is the correct length and doesn’t pool around my hips.

Firsts

  • making a two-piece sleeve. The fit is great!
  • making a curved hem that looks ok. I found this tutorial helpful. The secret seems to be just pressing it to death.

Changes not mentioned in last post

  • shortened by 6cm
  • added four press studs to fasten

Pattern: Threadcount 1617 View C size 12

Fabric: 169cm viscose remnant (140cm wide)

I think 1.5m of fabric would be sufficient for this size and view

Costs

Fabric: £10.89 (including delivery)

Pattern: £3.22

Notions: Around £5

Total: About £19


I’ve been working on sewing my first version of the Threadcount 1617 shirt. I bought the olive fabric on a whim from a Cotton Reel Studio remnant sale at least a year ago, knowing it would probably be used for a wearable toile. Once I got it, I had the idea that it would make a cute garment with a mandarin collar. When I spotted someone’s version of Threadcount 1617 on Insta, I saved it and then promptly forgot the whole thing for several months.

While going through my saved images recently, I remembered the shirt. A cursory google revealed that someone was selling it on eBay and it arrived as a birthday present to myself.

I have a gap in my wardrobe for smart-casual tops. I basically have striped long-sleeved t-shirts, denim shirts and fancy collared blouses. Nothing that would look smart-ish with jeans for work. As my body and tastes change with time, I increasingly like the way I look in tops that fit in the shoulders and bust but are relaxed around the midsection.

I love the fit of this shirt. It would have looked frumpy on me as a chubby twenty-something (which I still am in my head) but it looks chic on my more mature, slimmer frame.

My space print top measures around 41″ in the bust. I decided to cut a size 12 in the hope that any extra ease would prevent the buttons from gaping. Since this is a relaxed fit shirt in a drapey fabric, I don’t think a little extra room will matter too much.

This pattern has a really good layout for cutting (a lot less wasteful than other patterns I have used), which was a little bit of a concern since my fabric was 140cm wide rather than 150cm. However, I had plenty of fabric. The pattern has LOADS of markings to transfer, which I found extremely tiresome. However, it is worth doing.

There were also quite a few pieces to cut out of interfacing. As you can probably tell, I initially intended to trace this pattern but there were way too many fiddly pieces so I gave up.

The construction of the shirt is a little more tricky than any other written patterns I have attempted independently. Making the front opening was a head-scratcher for me! I think it looks okay overall, even though the bottom edge is a bit wonky and I think it is likely that holes will form in the corners.

Notes:

  • Carefully check tension for sewing a single layer of drapey fabric (reinforcing the neckline)
  • Be very careful when reinforcing- mark before doing. This will have a significant effect on the final look
  • Use fray check in corners
  • Because the fabric frays so much, I used French seams on the side and sleeve seams. DO NOT use a French seam on the first sleeve seam above the opening. Also be mindful of this issue on the bottom hem
  • My machine seems to handle viscose better with a regular foot than a walking foot
  • If making view C again, shorten by 4″

Overall I am pleased that I decided to make a wearable toile of this top. It has a lot of details I was doing for the first time. It would have been stressful to make using fabric I cared about more. I already have the supplies to make a second version. I quite enjoyed the trickier construction and am surprised to find myself looking forward to doing it all again.

Pattern: Threadcount 1617 View C size 12

Fabric: 169cm viscose remnant (140cm wide)

Costs

Fabric: £10.89 (including delivery)

Pattern: £3.22

Notions: Around £5

Total: About £19


I just about finished sewing my dress in time for the wedding. If I ever mention starting a garment with less than a week before the event I am due to wear it, someone please slap me. This dress jumps straight to the top of the list of most complex garments I have ever made. The difficulty was due to a combination of altering the pattern and working with tricky and costly fabrics. However, as has fortunately been the case often in my craft life, she who dares wins!

My initials are MEAD, so I was kind of tickled by this sign.

This was my first time lining a dress. I underlined the bodice and lined the skirt with lovely navy viscose. I stupidly cut the skirt lining too short, so I had to fudge lengthening it with some ribbon. I didn’t make the best choice in selecting velvet ribbon- though pretty, it’s much stiffer than the fluid viscose- but actually it looks okay under the voile.

For the first time, I added snaps to the dress to stop my bra straps peeking out. It worked pretty well! Here you can also see the guts of the dress- probably the best wrong side finish I’ve ever achieved.

This was such a fun summer wedding. So much so that I forgot to take any pictures except the few next to the sign on the way! Thankfully Glory posted this candid picture that shows the back of the dress.

I love how the scooped back turned out. I will most likely incorporate this change into any further Southports.

Further details about the alterations I made to the pattern can be found here.

Here are my two lovely Southports.


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 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.