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I managed to think about my knitting plans for 2018 already and my sewing needs a similar level of thought. I’m going to take part in the Make Nine challenge again this year. I think nine garments is a manageable number, both in terms of time taken to make items and ensuring that I sew responsibly.

Project ideas

  • Cloud Lark
  • Stripy Lark
  • Ultimate shirt in Liberty fabric
  • Third day dress in viscose
  • Wearable toile- copy of the perfect pencil skirt I have
  • Threadcount 1617– I think I will start out with a toile using a viscose remnant I have.
  • I also have my eye on some beautiful viscose with a monstera (my favourite leaf) print for a second version. I won a £20 voucher from Sew Over It’s #SOIshowoff competition, which would buy 1.5m
  • Teal anorak
  • Dotty Linden

Specific things I’d like to do

I’m very excited about these projects, especially the ideas I’ve carried over from last year. I still have a lot on my plate, so I find it difficult to find a lot of sewing time. This just motivates me to make the most of the time I do have and create useful and long-lasting garments. I’m looking forward to Me Made May already and one or two more items would be very handy.

I’m also going to start being totally transparent about the costs for each of my projects. While I’m happy to spend money on my passions (why else do I work hard?) I have got into a bad habit of spending thoughtlessly. I know that I spent well over £600 on craft stuff last year. That’s a lot. While I don’t make things with the explicit intention of saving money, it would be good to track how much I do spend.

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Within 24 hours of returning to London, I had sewn my first piece of clothing. I was very naughty and ordered some fabric just before I went away, and I got back just in time to collect it from the sorting office before it was returned to its sender.

Bit of sky camouflage

 

I have a mild obsession with all things related to the sky, so I couldn’t resist this adorable cloud print jersey. One metre was plenty to make a second Lark tee.

Following what I learnt from my first Lark, I removed 4 inches of length from the body. People don’t believe me when I say I have long legs and a short body!

Here’s a pic where you can see the whole shirt. Overall this was another pleasingly simple make.

Pattern: Lark by the Grainline Studio

Fabric: 1m of cotton jersey

Cost: £15.50 (fabric + postage)

(Got pattern for free and re-used it)


As I often seem to, I made the rash decision to sew a garment for holiday about three days before going, when I really didn’t have sufficient time. As a result, I only got two hours of sleep the night before my flight and ended up cutting my airport arrival uncomfortably fine. However, I am pretty happy with these trousers so I will forgive myself.

Aside from the mishap with the missing pattern piece (I must have left it behind after the workshop), this was a lovely and straightforward make. Really the perfect counterpoint to the coat.

I made the elastic on my first Carries too tight. I think I had some kooky idea about wearing them high-waisted. These are a lot more comfy.

It’s been surprisingly chilly in India so very happy I took the time to complete this make.

Pattern: Carrie trousers by Sew Over It. Size 10 with extra length

Fabric: 1.5m Liberty tana lawn


I’ve had plans to make a second pair of Sew Over It Carrie trousers with the Liberty fabric I bought in their sale since… well, since I bought it at the beginning of the year. I was a bit concerned that they’d be too similar to my original Carries, but I thought that these would be super useful on my trip to India, so I decided to forge ahead.

These trousers used around 1.5m of fabric. I felt that the ladder print looked pretty similar either way up- I would have needed close to the 2m I had if I’d cut all of the pieces going the same way. I paid £22.50 for the fabric, which isn’t bad for Liberty tana lawn (in fact it’s half price). The print is called Howells Ladders B. I had in my mind that it was Jacob’s ladders, which is rather different.

Just when I thought everything was going swimmingly, I realised that I was missing a pattern piece- the back waistband. Fortunately I was able to use my previous Carries and the pattern pieces to calculate how big it should be.

Put the waistband together and it seemed a bit snug when I tried it on. Quickly realised that I hadn’t added a seam allowance to my pattern piece. D’oh! I initially planned to fudge the trousers and waistband together, and try to ease out the 3cm discrepancy. I’m glad I decided to be sensible and instead cut out a 6cm rectangle to add into my waistband. Fudging it would probably have ended up taking more time and looked crap.

I made few changes to the pattern. Used French seams on the legs. Used 4cm elastic because the thicker elastic in my original pair has a tendency to fold in half, which annoys me.

Pattern: Sew Over It Carrie Trousers. Size 10 with additional length.

Fabric: 1.5m Liberty tana lawn


I just about managed to complete my challenge to sew nine garments in 2017. I’ve been updating my original post, but I wanted to reflect a little bit more on the clothes I’ve made this year.

The nine garments I’ve made are very different from the nine I had in mind a few months ago when I decided to take part. This fact underlines to me that I am a very flighty maker- I should avoid stashing fabric and cutting out patterns unless I plan to start straight away.

I’m sad that the Liberty print shirt I’m planning isn’t included here, but I’m going to try not to let that stop me from making it. On the flip side, I’m proud of finally finishing my Macaron, which is made of fabric I bought when I was travelling in Indonesia. I cut out before I had a sewing machine and I’m glad that I finally sat down and sewed them up. It’s quite demoralising to have loads of half-finished stuff lying around.

Mushroom print Cleo

Raindrop print Bettine

Turquoise striped Bettine

Pink Macaron

Pineapple tulip skirt

Hidden panda Lark t-shirt

Liberty print Southport

Rocket print Southport

1960s coat

It’s so funny how craft life goes at times. I was really close to finishing the challenge in August, when I got some good momentum on my second Day Dress. After that point, life threw a lot at me that ate up all of my spare time. Just after booking onto the classes to make the 1960s coat, I was asked to appear on Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas. The coat class then became all-consuming, but I was unable to finish it due to my thumb injury. It started to feel like I had so many projects on the go, but very little to show for my efforts.

Not long ago, I spotted that Julia from the class at Sew Over It had posted a picture of her finished coat on Instagram. I was instantly inspired. Maybe if she could finish her coat, I could. One day when I was too full of a cold to do anything else, I sat down to the enormous amount of hand-sewing required to finish the coat. And, in less than a week, it was done!

I really think I’ve grown as a sewist this year. I’ve gone from only ever working with woven material to makes using some tricky fabrics like jersey, wool and viscose.

I was going to make a separate post about my knitting in 2017 until I realised that I have only finished four things! (That I can talk about).

A real positive is that making my jumper for Kirstie weirdly seems to have reawakened my love of knitting. When I was furiously knitting away on Silver Island, I felt that it was going to have the opposite effect. Thinking about it, I feel like the coat class gave me a bit of sewing burnout whereas the sweater made me remember what I enjoy about knitting.

Now to decide what I want to make in 2018!


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!

Week 2


I really struggled when it came to what I wanted to wear to this wedding. I have a couple of beautiful silk dresses that I have worn to other friends’ weddings, but this is a younger wedding and I wanted to wear something a bit more fun. I was also keen to make something. I had planned to make my Liberty Macaron, but I went off that idea quite quickly after finishing the toile. Even though most of my clothes are quite quirky, when it comes to lines, I like classic simplicity. Somehow a sweetheart neckline didn’t feel right.

I spotted some beautiful viscose on Fabric Godmother, featuring a cute cocktail print, and thought it would make a great maxi Southport. I vacillated about whether and how much to get, and in the end it sold out before I could buy any. I was sad about that, but the fabric was cream and I was definitely uncertain about wearing a full-length white dress to someone else’s wedding. After some more looking around, I came across this rocket-print fabric that I had spotted on Fabric Godmother before. Soon, two metres were winging their way to me.

I am slightly worried that I am insane. My previous attempt at working with silk was an absolute disaster. I have also never worked with a sheer fabric. I have less than two weeks to learn a lot of new skills, and any mistakes will mean ruining the costly fabric.

I’m also worried the dress won’t turn out the way it looks in my head. The fabric is darkest navy and I’m just not sure the whole thing will work.

Planned changes

  • Eliminate button band again
  • Cut back bodice neckline to match front bodice neckline (perhaps even an inch deeper) to give a dressier effect
  • Fully line bodice. I still haven’t fully decided whether I will be underlining or lining. At the moment, I’m thinking underlining because I don’t want the seams to be visible through the sheer fabric. But then how will I finish the neckline and armholes? Will the bias binding finish work through two layers? This is so complicated! I need to keep reading up on this. Current plan is to underline and use bias binding to finish.
  • Add modesty lining to the upper part of the skirt
  • Eliminate pockets. These are two words I thought I would never type, but I don’t think they are a good idea in such a light fabric. Also, because the dress is sheer, you would be able to see the contents. Also also, the Southport directions don’t seem indicate to finish the side seams, and I need French seams to finish the silk voile. Update: I just didn’t see the instruction to finish the side seams when I made my my previous Southport. Comment about French seams still stands.
  • Remove 2cm length in a curve on the back bodice. Add scant 1cm length in a curve on the front bodice. Really, I probably need to do an FBA, but that’s for another time.

So far the cutting has gone okay. 2m was only just enough to squeak out this dress. If you are using a directional print or making a size bigger than about a 4, you will definitely need more. I also cut the selvedges as part of the pieces for the skirt front as I had practiced a seam finish that incorporates them.

The underlining was pretty fiddly. The silk is actually okay to work with as it is textured. The viscose is more tricky, being drapey. It just takes lots of time to smooth etc. I hand-basted the front and back pieces.


I found the bias binding finish even more annoying the second time! It’s just really fiddly. Not helped by using satin binding, but I thought that would be better suited to my fabric. Even more infuriatingly, the neckline doesn’t really sit flat. Pressing helped a bit. Maybe it’s because I didn’t clip the seam allowances.

Fortunately I took a break after writing the above paragraph. Things seemed less negative when I came back to the bodice, and the bias binding one the armholes went much better.

I’ve got to say I’ve enjoyed learning and trying out some tailoring techniques on this dress. I’m cautiously optimistic about the result.

Notes:

  • Adding length to the bodice in a curve also adds width to the pattern piece! I nearly got in trouble because the waist sections of my bodice and skirt weren’t the same length when I came to join them

Fabric: 2m silk voile, 1.5m viscose for lining

Pattern: Southport dress (maxi version)