Me Made May 2014

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I really want to join in with Me Made May this year, but my limited selection of me-mades make it a little tricky to go the whole hog and wear something made by myself every day.

Current Tally
3 skirts
3 dresses
1 pair of shorts
1 bag
1 apron
1 snood
0 tops (my Sorbetto did not enjoy it’s accidental trip through the washing machine)

Assuming the weather doesn’t accommodate me wearing either the shorts or the snood, that leaves me with few options. I’m not sure how I could incorporate the apron into an outfit I could leave the house in! However, I do hate almost all of my shop bought clothes at the moment, and I am determined to participate in some way, so I’ve come up with this pledge:

‘I, Laurasaurus, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. In May 2014 I shall wear each weather appropriate piece of my me made wardrobe at least once, and work out the gaps in my wardrobe which need to be sewn up.

So my plan is to wear my me made items as much as possible, but also to keep track of the shop bought items to see which I wear, and which I don’t. I’m trying to clear my wardrobe at the moment, so I’d like to see what clothes I don’t wear, what gaps there are in my wardrobe, and therefore what I need to sew to fill those gaps or replace items which are past their best.

I’m going to try and avoid repeating any shop bought outfits during the month, as I want to make sure that everything I have bought has multiple uses. I’ll also try not to wear jeans and a t-shirt every day.

I’ll probably do a weekly round up of all of my outfits, including the shop bought ones and my feelings about them and how I could improve upon them.

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Salme Buttonless Shirt Dress

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Back in February, while my sewing machine was away for its annual service, I discovered Salme patterns. Figuring I’d have enough time to print and cut out a pattern before the machine was returned to me (slightly less disappointing than before), I bought myself the Buttonless Shirt Dress pattern.

The instructions, for the most part, were great, and this is a simple design to put together with no zips or buttonholes to cause problems. I didn’t really understand how I was supposed to add interfacing to the little split in the front, so I didn’t bother – its a bit floppy without it, but not terrible. I also managed to get really confused with the belt instructions and ended up with something twice as long and half as wide as it should have been. I think these were schoolboy errors on my part, and that anyone with an ounce of common sense could have worked them out.

I think it’s my hair that’s crooked, not the dress or my shoulders…

I struggled to sew the bias facing onto the armholes by machine, so I ended up doing it by hand. It was a bit of a chore, but it doesn’t look too messy. I’m not really sure why I was struggling with it, but I suppose I can always use more hand sewing practise, so I mustn’t grumble.

I chose the correct size for my measurements, but after wearing it a couple of times, I decided it felt a bit matronly over the bust, and that the armholes were gaping. Today I finally got around to taking it in about 1cm each side at the armholes and bust, tapering to an inch each side from the waist to the hem*. It’s still pretty loose over the waist – all the better to hide food babies!

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Regard! I have new specs!

During the taking in process, the belt loops which I’d sewn into the side seams were lost. I’m not too fussed about that, as I decided a belt in the dress fabric was a bit too much, so I’ll always be swapping belts of different widths in and out. I suppose the saddest thing about the loss was that Ben had been strangely impressed by the loops.

I’m not in love with this dress on me (yet), but I think most of the blame lies with my fabric choice, which is too chintzy and a bit crunchy. I’d normally have sleeves on a loose fitting shirt or shirt dress, so maybe I’m also just not used to seeing my arms in this type of dress. I certainly don’t hate it, and I can see myself wearing it a lot in warm weather, so I should have some opportunity to get used to the look!

Workwear

Workwear

I haven’t seen any other versions of this dress online, so I feel pretty special at the moment! I’d like to try some more Salme patterns as I really like the quite simple Scandinavian aesthetic. I think this dress would be great for the office, and I can imagine a lot of the other patterns as workwear, too.

Have you tried Salme patterns yet?

Important note: please ignore my red legs and feet, I’d just had a bath. It’s important to look clean in photos, is it not?

*Yes, I do switch between metric and imperial measurements with alarming regularity, sometimes mid-seam. #britishproblems

Discovering New Blogs – Liebster Award

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Yeah! The lovely Echo at French Seams and Pipe Dreams has nominated me for a Liebster award, which is very exciting! Thanks, Echo!

The Liebster award was created to draw a bit of awareness to bloggers with a following of less than 500. There are some rules, because without rules there would be chaos, and nobody wants that:

1. Answer the questions given to you
2. Nominate other bloggers with less than 500 followers
3. Post questions for your nominees to answer

Questions for me

Why did you set up your blog?
I’d been feeling a bit stuck in a rut with my life, and I realised that excitement wasn’t just going to turn up at my front door and bite me on the hand – I’d have to go out and look for it. I hoped that writing this blog would force me to go out and find interesting stuff to do, and eventually I rediscovered sewing and didn’t have to leave the house anymore. Win.

What is your best sewing tip?
Measure twice, cut once. Also, if you’re not sure about what size to use, go with the bigger one – it’s a lot easier to make something smaller than it is to sit and cry over your ruined fabric that now won’t be any good for anything because there’s no way, even with a 1mm seam allowance, that your skirt is going to fit around your waist. Ask me how I know these things…

What aspect of sewing gets on your nerves? (I wonder how many people will say cutting out!)
Stay stitching. I don’t know why it makes me so angry. I suppose because it doesn’t feel like progress… I actually quite enjoy the logistical challenge of cutting out (weird, I know).

What’s the worst sewing mistake you have made?
Not stay stitching. Yup, turns out that really makes a difference to whether your facings fit nicely or not…

What is your all time favourite pattern and why?
A Tribe Called BestProbably Simplicity 1609. Jiffy. The Jiffster. The Jiffmeister General. I’ve made a couple of them now, one yet to be blogged, and I always receive compliments when I wear them. It’s an easy pattern to make, and I didn’t have to make many changes to perfect the fit. I love 1950s silhouettes, but I don’t see that much opportunity to wear them currently, whereas A-line works for my figure and my lifestyle. I’m working on a new A-line dress at the moment, which features pockets and could eclipse this one, but we’ll have to wait and see the finished article to decide that!

Side note: I’ve just noticed the little picture next to Jiffy on the pattern is not, as I’d sort of thought and been a little confused by, an incorrectly coloured British motorway sign, but some dress-parts.

If you had to, what would you give up your mobile phone or your sewing machine?
Hmm… Not fair! My boyfriend works away from home for three days each week and I think he’d miss receiving 5-10 pictures of our cat everyday. Having a mobile phone, and FaceTime in particular, really makes it easier for us to still feel connected when he’s away. Therefore, I’d give up my sewing machine, but drive to my mums and use hers every day instead.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Just get on with it!

I can spend a lot of time procrastinating and worrying about starting new things because I might not be good at them. It’s a bit ridiculous – how can you know you won’t be good at something if you don’t try? And how can you get better unless you practice?

What did you want to be when you were a child, and are you doing that job now?
When I was a child I wanted to be either a journalist or a fashion designer. I’m an accountant, so no…

However, I get to write and make clothes in my spare time, so I’m pretty happy. I’ve contemplated trying to do both of those things full time, but I think I actually quite enjoy the routine and the logical aspects of my job. Oh, and Excel. I really like Excel.

Tea or Coffee?
Tea. Milk, no sugar. When we lived in Belgium it could be tricky to find fresh milk, so I ended up drinking a lot of black coffee, but tea is still my first love.

If I’m out and about, I might stop off at a branch of Small Batch (a small Brighton coffee chain) for a mocha. Theirs are consistently excellent and the staff are really nice and friendly, too – you can easily get caught up in a random chat with them and the regulars while you’re waiting for your drink.

Out of all the things you have ever made, what is the thing you are most proud of?
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A circus themed waistcoat I made for a school project when I was about 12. It was heavily appliquéd and embellished with a clown on one side and a lion on the other. I went absolutely mental on it, spending a whole weekend stitching circles of beads around the main sources of craziness. It was made entirely from the school supply of scraps because I was a frugal child big on refashioning from an early age.

I don’t have it any more, so I’ve knocked up a quick picture of it for you. It doesn’t really do it justice, to be honest. And yes, I am 30 years old, don’t have children and do own felt tips.

I like some of my recent makes a lot, but the detail and effort I put into this one have to make it the winner.

My nominees

Belgian Seams
Bernie and I
L’Attaque du Découd-Vite
Lady Stitcher

Lauren Sews
Mini Pip
Wild Child Sophie

Questions for you

1. When and why did you take up sewing?
2. Do you follow trends, or do you just sew things that you like?
3. What’s the thing that annoys you the most about the sewing process?
4. What are you working on right now?
5.  Out of all the things you’ve ever made, what is your favourite?
6. How many pieces of fabric do you have in your stash? Is it tidy? Feel free to include pictures!
7. When planning a new project, do you start with a pattern you want to make, or a fabric you’d like to wear?
8. If you could only dress in the style of one famous person, living or dead, till the end of time, who would you choose?
9. What is the best piece of advice (sewing or otherwise) you’ve been given?
10. Do you have any other hobbies, apart from sewing and blogging?
11. What (or who) is your spirit animal and why?

A 70s Miette

"The Penguin"

“The Penguin”

Firstly, I’d like to say that every time I try and type Miette, I write mouette. A mouette is a French seagull. Fairly appropriate, since Brighton is overrun with the bloody things – the old lady next door feeds them scraps (today, as well as breadcrumbs, they received a raw new potato and a satsuma), and I’m fairly sure someone from our building once threw a birds-eye potato waffle out the window at them – I don’t know whether it was to feed them or a form of attack. I also don’t know if the box of matches which someone has flung into the garden were also seagull related. Neighbours are the best.

"Middle distance"

“Middle distance”

Now, onto the topic of the day: I have made a new Miette. I’m much more pleased with this one – it seemed to go together a lot more smoothly. I don’t know if that was because I’d made the pattern before, or because I’ve just got better at sewing. It’s about three months since I made the last one, so a bit of both I suppose. This time I added some pockets, and I think it’s a bit shorter as well. I also went a bit mad with the boost when I was editing the pictures – just for a nice 70s feel.

"No neck" The back bit doesn't look this weird normally - I'm just standing awkwardly

“No neck” The back bit doesn’t look this weird normally – I’m just standing awkwardly

This one is made of some lovely teal wool-mix stuff which I found on the remnants table in C and H a few weeks ago. Realistically, it was probably a little thick for this pattern. It’s a bit tricky to get the waistband through the loop, although not impossible, and the seams don’t exactly lie flat, I think due to pocket bulk. If I were to make this pattern again in this fabric, I’d probably use something lighter for the pocket linings and one side of the waistband – that would be quite an interesting look, actually.

"Quizzical"

“Quizzical”

When I found the fabric, I considered making a Deer & Doe Anémone skirt or a Burdastyle Jenny (with braces). In the end, I decided on a miette because it’s a bit more casual, and the fabric could make the other two look a little bit too formal for my current wardrobe needs. If I’m being completely honest, I also briefly considered making the shorter version of the Pierre Balmain pattern which is silently mocking me at the moment. Thankfully I changed my mind, as just sewing this fabric made me feel a bit itchy so I want to keep it well away from my face and neck.

This has turned out to be a really versatile addition to my wardrobe as it seems to go with most colours and I especially like it paired with these boots. Look at me, unintentionally sewing a thoughtful wardrobe!!!

Does anything in your wardrobe go with anything else, or do you just throw things on and hope for the best?