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.
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 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.
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 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!
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.
After a stressful few months, I decided that I would finally treat myself to a sewing machine. I’ve been getting more and more into sewing over the past couple of years, so it just makes sense. For anyone considering buying a machine, I really recommend getting advice from John Lewis. I found it much more helpful then trying to get my head around online reviews.
Anyway, here is my first make.
Overall, I’m somewhat happy with it. The fit is quite good, but there are armhole issues- you can see my bra. I had heard that double gauze is more drapey than ordinary cotton, which is true, but it’s probably still a bit too structured for this style of top.
I think the fit is okay. I prefer my clothing a little more fitted than this, but I think the fit is fine for this style of top. It might be the sort of top that is useful for travelling. I also think it would be cute tucked into something.
I shortened the front piece by over two inches after trying on. I have a short body. I also shortened the back over an inch- thought it would be nice to have an asymmetrical hemline. I botched the hem a bit by (I think) stretching the fabric while I was sewing. Curved hems are hard, and I don’t really know what I’m doing. I can’t be bothered to fix it now, but I might one day. I had hoped that ironing would sort it out, but it didn’t.
Going to test drive this a bit more, but I have a feeling it will be my last Silk Cami. I have a bit of a gap in my wardrobe for vests, but I think I will be looking for a different pattern to plug that gap.
Pattern: Silk Cami by Sew Over It
Fabric: 1.25m of double gauze
On a bit of a whim, my friend Cayleigh and I applied for the daytime game show Pointless, auditioned, and actually got offered a filming date! One of my first thoughts was that this would provide a fun opportunity for me to showcase some of my favourite handmade items, and add to my series on styling self-made clothing.
Here are my outfits, in my order of preference for wearing them. They asked us to provide five sets of clothing in addition to what we wore.
My first outfit shows off the handmade item of which I am most proud- my Paper Tototos sweater. I absolutely love this jumper, and I’ll be pairing it with a simple black mini skirt that lets my top half speak for itself.
This is the outfit I wore so I’ll update the post with a screenshot when the show is aired when I’m about 40.
My second outfit is the sewn item of which I am most proud. My denim day dress is far from perfect, but I am still very proud of it as the first dress I made without any help, and I think it looks nice. I’m planning to wear it with my me-made Little Wave cardigan.
My third outfit will be this lovely knitted top. I’m not decided yet on whether I’ll wear anything underneath- a cardigan is ruled out as it would hide the lovely lace on the sleeves.
My fourth outfit will be this version of a Sew Over It Betty dress in octopus print cotton. I think I’ll wear it with a long-sleeved top underneath.
My final outfit will be my Cateralls. I think the BBC looks for quite conservative outfits, so I doubt they will want me in these, but I’ll take them along anyway. I’ll probably wear them with a striped top underneath.
I realised that I haven’t posted a satisfactory knitting update in some time, so here is my attempt to redress the balance. My knitting libido (knitbido?) is still quite low this year. I wonder if that’s due in part to taking a sabbatical from the HPKCHC. I’m still working on most of the projects I mentioned in my will-it-ever-end Wednesday post.
I’m still making slow but steady progress on my League sweater. I have finished the back, and I just did the second set of decreases on the front, which means I’m over halfway towards starting the armhole shaping, which is a little more interesting.
I’ve still got both sleeves to do next, so this jumper isn’t going to be finished any time soon. That’s okay, because it’s not woolly jumper weather right now, but if I continue at this pace, maybe I can have it finished for the autumn.
I’ve also made a small amount of progress on this cardigan. I’ve finished the waist increases. I’m going to add some shaping at the back hem for interest.
The most exciting knitting on my needles is the swatch I’m making for a possible Humboldt sweater. This pattern, in particular the use of marl, has really grown on me as the designer occasionally posts about in on Instagram. I’m thinking this would be a lovely cropped jumper to wear over dresses- less boring and warmer than a cardigan. I would probably knit this in Lemonade Shop speckled yarns, like the purple used in the swatch, so this sweater would be a pretty big financial investment. However, I also think that a sweater like this in worsted weight yarn would spark my interest more than the two small gauge projects I’ve got on the go at the moment. Plus, it would plug a gap in my wardrobe.