Sewing with a (very loose) plan

DIY Clothes

Oh hello! I’ve been wondering what to do about this blog for a while now. 2016 has not been the best for me (and I think a lot of people seem to feel that way), and it’s led to a lot of soul-searching about almost every area of my life. In the end, the decision about the blog was this: I miss it, and I miss forcing Ben to take 12,000,000,000 photos of me for each post. So it stays, and I am going to take advantage of Ben’s kind nature, and work through my backlog of unblogged pieces.

Overall, while it hasn’t exactly been my favourite year, I can take a lot of positives away from it. One of which is that I’ve been offered a new job, which, crucially, doesn’t start till 2017. While I’m not completely sure what the office dress code is, I’m fairly sure it will be slightly smarter than my previous company’s ‘wear what you like’ code, and certainly smarter than my working from home uniform of jeans and a hoodie.

After looking through my wardrobe, I’ve come up with a list of 12 items that I think I’d like to make this year, and which are currently in both my fabric and pattern stash. I’m not going to force myself to stick to this list, but I wanted to put something together to spur me on next time I’m feeling overwhelmed with choice. These are all fairly simple pieces that I think will fit nicely into my wardrobe and lifestyle – both for the office and at home.


Striped Skirt Refashion: Refashion may be a slightly grand term for this. I bought a size 22 skirt in a charity shop and I would like to reduce it to my size (about a UK 10/12). It should be fairly straightforward, but I’m dithering.

Colette SeleneI’m going to make this from a brown poly-wool blend which I unearthed during another charity shop rummage. Not super exciting, but perfect for looking smart in the office. I think the pocket options add a bit of interest.

Colette BeignetI made one of these in stretch denim this summer and I love it, so I will be hoping to squeeze another out of the brown poly-wool. Again, not very inspiring fabric, but I think it will work nicely with the pattern.

New Look 6346I found a pattern similar to this while exploring my auntie’s sewing room recently, but as I’d already helped her unintentionally downsize her book collection, I didn’t think I could ask to take the pattern off her hands, too. Luckily I found this in the New Look Black Friday sale. I’d like to make view A in some grey linen which I have leftover from my Miette skirt if I have enough.


Grainline ArcherThis pattern (without ruffle) is exactly my style, so I’m really keen to get stuck in with this polyester I found during the closing down sale at my local fabric shop *sniffle*. I reckon this could turn out to be work-appropriate, too.

Seamwork AddisonI may change my mind about this pattern, as it looks quite boxy, but this fabric (which I won from Dragonfly Fabrics a few years ago) is so drapey, it could work.  Worst case, it’ll look nice tucked into my new skirts.


New Look 6428: I’ve got a breton striped rtw dress in this style which I love, so when I found this purple ponte in a local charity shop I snapped it up, wanting to make a copy. I’m not especially confident about copying though, so I’m going to use this pattern as a base to work from.

Tilly and the Buttons Bettine: This is a stalled work in progress. I’ve put on a bit of weight, and it’s not going to fit as things stand. Luckily my new years resolutions involve exercise and healthy eating. I hope to finish this once I’m back to my old size.

New Look 6567I think view H of this pattern in this tulip print is as close as I’m willing to go to the 90s trend currently terrorising the high street.


Simplicity 2317 x2: This is no longer available on the Simplicity UK website, but I bought it because it had so many great options for cosy nightwear. First on my to sew list is a set of sushi-making cat pyjamas. I might actually use my go-to pyjama bottom pattern (T&TB Margot), and then take the view D shirt from this pattern. I’m also thinking that I could customise this to make a nice short sleeved shirt and shorts pattern for some summer jammies, using this fox/wolf print I bought it Tokyo.

Niizo Simple Day Casual Backpack: Lauren recently posted a review of another of the Niizo bag kits, and after checking out all of their kits, I decided to treat myself to this one as a present to celebrate my new job. I’ve gone for black canvas, and I cannot wait for it to arrive!

Do you sew your wardrobe with a plan, or just make what you feel like, when you feel like it?

Season Sew Wardrobe: Plans

DIY Clothes
Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.08.48

Crystal is running a Seasonal Sew Wardrobe over in the Sew-A-Longs and Sewing Contests Facebook group, and as we all know, I love a good bandwagon to jump on and then fall off.

The premise is fairly straightforward – we have from February to May to sew a minimum of eight pieces which fit within a theme of your choosing. My theme is ‘things I can make in time to wear for my holiday, and things that I can make after my holiday to go with the holiday things so I can wear them when it’s cold’. Catchy, innit?

There’s some debate in this house as to whether I can maintain the sewing level required to produce one item every two weeks, but I’m going to give it a try. I’m bored of all my clothes, so this will give me a chance to branch out into some interesting new ones. I’ve finished the first three pieces, and I should be able to crack on with the others once I’m back from India, although choosing a jacket and a pair of trousers may have been foolish. Fingers crossed the abandoned trousers toile works out (reason for abandonment: I didn’t want to sew a side seam).

I created the look above on Polyvore- I just picked similar looking pieces from their library, so you’re just going to have to trust me that the colours I use will go together! The good news on that front is that I’ve made Ben check the ones I already own and he is content that they go well enough.

Top row, from left:

Bottom row, from left:

To be honest, I’ve changed my mind about five times so far, so this is probably not going to be the wardrobe I end up with, but it’s nice to have a plan set down.

What do you think of my wardrobe plans? Ever participate in sewing challenges? Got any tips for actually finishing the damn list?

Using Evernote to Track my Sewing Stash

DIY Clothes

Always keen to jump on a bandwagon, I have signed up for a spot of stashbusting in 2015. I don’t have a massive stash, but I also don’t have very much space for it, so it needs close monitoring. At the start of January it was full.

Despite being the owner of all those glorious glorious fabrics and patterns, I was struggling to decide what I wanted to sew, so I decided that the first thing I should do was document what I had. I’ve experimented with doing this in Excel in the past, but using it on my Mac makes me furious because none of Windows keyboard shortcuts work.

After a bit of a browse of the stashbusting Facebook page, I settled on Evernote. Pro tip: if you want to do the same, you’re probably going to have to sign up for a pro account as there’s a limit to how much you can upload in a month – those pictures take up space. Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 20.22.53First of all, I took photos of all the fabrics in my stash, and then set up a notebook in Evernote to store this information. For each piece of fabric, I created a new note, where I entered the picture, as well as the size, and any other useful information I could think of. I also included tags with the size, colour and fabric type. You can search by tags, which makes it easy to find only pieces which are 2m for example. There is text recognition within pictures, but I think this is only available if you upgrade to pro membership. I took out a subscription for a year for £35.

Then I did the same with my patterns, which took ages, because apparently they are my hoard of choice. I took pictures of the front and back of the envelopes, and tagged them based on what type of garment they were; whether I had made them previously; whether they were for woven or knit fabrics; and whether they were paper patterns, pdfs or from a book. Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 20.27.46 One negative which I noticed about Evernote is that you can’t choose which picture from your note appears in the thumbnail. As you can see, in the picture above the chosen picture for the Simplicity patterns is the back of the envelope. I tried to find a way around it, but without success. It’s very easy to flick between notes though, so I don’t think I’m that upset.

The final notebook I created was for sewing plans. Looking through the stash had left me full of ideas, which all needed to be recorded before they escaped my brain. I copied the pictures of the fabrics and the patterns I wanted to use into more notes, posted to this notebook. Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 20.35.31 I’m really pleased with this new method of organisation, especially since it will be easy to access from my phone, too. I can update each note easily, so there will be no problem in making changes to the remaining lengths of fabric.

How do you keep your stash organised? Share your knowledge!! Organisation is power!! 

To Do…

DIY Clothes
…in no particular order. 

Beachy Tunic

My first proper vintage creation is cut out and ready to go! The fabric is the grey stuff which I got in France, but my God, I wish it was skunk print. I got the ribbon in Fabric Land (do NOT click on that link if you have epilepsy), and it’s not exactly what I wanted, but it hurts my eyes a little bit, and that can only be a good thing. 

Jiffy II
I love this dress. I love this dress so much. I got this cotton for about £3/metre in Fabric Land (surprise!). I’d planned to make a different dress with it, but I need a dynasty of Jiffys in my life. I’m going to try out my alterations from Jiffy I, leave off the collar and buttons, and I’m wondering about including the additional excitement of an exposed zip. 
Growing up in the woods, I used to live opposite a girl called Kelly. She was a few years older than me, but she’d come to my birthday parties and stuff. Her family had some ferrets and a dog called Piper. I wonder where she is now.
This skirt doesn’t have any ferrets, more’s the pity, but it does have some polyester/nylon blend corduroy (guess where that came from). I need a winter skirt and it’s time I learnt to make buttonholes.
I was planning to make this for my friend’s wedding last summer, but it never quite happened. The design is absolutely beautiful, and I love this fabric (John Lewis), so I think it’s time to do something about getting the two of them together to form a meaningful relationship. 

Lumberjack Shirt
This is, I think, literally the last piece of plaid brushed cotton available in Brighton and Hove (thank you C and H Fabrics). It is also, according to the pattern, not big enough, but if I have to live with one sleeve, I have to live with one sleeve.
The original idea was a shirt for Ben, but the lack of man-fabric caused too many problems, so I changed my plans to an Archer for myself. Then I saw this pattern in my sewing bee book, and decided it was close enough to what I wanted. Who needs cuffs, anyway?

Pierre Balmain
Oh, Pierre. How you intimidate me. I had to take my mum and auntie shopping to finally reach a decision on the fabric to use for this. I left my flat with plans for a light wool with some kind of pattern, which, somewhere between Fabric Land and C and H, turned into maybe a plain crepe in rust. But my refusal to pay more than £10/metre led me to this pink jersey with grey flecks through it.  Having never sewn anything stretchy before, I can’t help thinking I may have bitten off more than I can chew. On the plus side, it is so, so soft, so if the dress doesn’t work out very well, then at least I shall have an excellent nightie.
Here’s a close up of the loveliness: