This skirt really strikes a cord with me…

Simplicity 1321 FrontI love red and I love corduroy, so it was no surprise that this bright red needlecord, 10 euros for three metres from Les Coupons de Saint Pierre in Paris, came home with me. I knew that I needed more separates in my wardrobe, so this was always destined to become a skirt of some kind.

These pictures do not do this skirt justice – it was difficult to get the colour to come through nicely in the photos, and the ones where you can see the detail also show up all the wrinkles. The seams are also a lot less bubbly in real life. This is what happens when you decide iPhone pictures will do because you can’t be bothered to find your camera.

I came home and browsed the pattern stash before finding Simplicity 1321, purchased in a sale about a year ago. I really liked the look of view A as it looked like a slightly more professional version of a short tweed kilt with combat pockets that I used to own. I obviously didn’t go down the originally planned route with my bright red skirt, but it’s important to know that there is always some sort of warped logic behind the sewing patterns I buy.

Simplicity 1321 BackAs I had three metres of the fabric, I decided to just try and pin fit it as I went, but after the initial pinning, it seemed to fit almost perfectly, so I didn’t bother making any adjustments. I was actually surprised that it fit so nicely without modifications as you use the same pieces for the front and back. I think I could stand to take about 1cm out of the seams across the back above my bum, but I think this is the level of detail that only I could care about or notice.

I’d imagined that it would sit a bit higher on my waist, and find myself tugging it up quite a bit, but I don’t think mine actually sits any lower than the models (I have an incredibly long body), and the shaping around the hips is nice as it sits now, so I just need to get used to it. Maybe I would take future versions in a bit.

Simplicity 1321 PatternYou may have noticed that view A of the pattern has some interesting tabs on each side. I made these, and then realised that I’d sewn them both for one side. I wasn’t really feeling the unpicking, or the thought of cutting another one out, so I’ve left them off this version. If I make the pattern again, I would include them, as they are utilitarian looking enough for me to not hate them, as I hate almost every decorative feature known to (hu)man.

Talking of making it again, I don’t think I would ever make any of the other variations of this pattern, because they are just far to fussy for my tastes (decorative features – *shudder*). However, I think this version is versatile enough that it could be made again with a few variations each time.

Hey Babe, Take a Walk on the Wild Side

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I got a new sewing machine for my birthday and I loves it. Despite asking for it, I hadn’t expected to actually get it, so it was a lovely surprise. My birthday was last month, but it didn’t work when I first received it, so it went back to the shop for repairs, and then I was on holiday, and then I got it back and was excited all over again. Aside from the disappointment of receiving a broken machine, GUR were really helpful about getting it fixed, and were happy to hold onto it while I was away.

I wanted to test out my new machine with something new, rather than just finish off something which I was already working on, it seemed more exciting. I’d bought this Cynthia Rowley pattern because I was after a sleeveless blouse pattern, and I thought the other two designs looked interesting too. This pattern has the added design option of adding a whole bunch of fringing to everything. Yeah, I’m going to give that a miss.

For a first bash at the pattern, I decided to make the skirt. It has pockets and asymmetric pleats. When Andrea made her dress from this pattern, she changed the pleats so they were symmetrical, and I really like the look of that with the fabric she used. As my fabric is quite a bold print, and as this was my first time using the pattern, I decided to follow the instructions and stick with the chaos which Cynthia and pals had so carefully marked out.

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Sewing this up with my new machine was a joy. Everything worked, and nothing made any terrible noises. I got a bit confused with the instructions when it came to attaching the pockets, since one of them is next to the zip, but I worked it out in the end. I haven’t made this type of skirt before, so it was a bit of a mystery to me. Basically, on one side you attach the pocket front to the front and the pocket back to the back, then sew the side seam around the edge of the skirt and pocket. For the side with the zip, you attach the pocket front to the skirt front, then attach the pocket back to the pocket front, before basting it shut. Then you pop an invisible (or fairly visible in my case – must buy an invisible zip foot) zip into the side seam. It’s logical once you get going. Due to my uncertainty, one of my pockets is big enough for my massive hands, but the other one is a squeeze – I’m less likely to lose things out of the little one, though.

I cut a 14, because that matched up with my current measurements and I figured it would be pretty easy to take in if needed. After attaching the zip, I tried it on and found that it was about an inch too big at the waist. Thank God for asymmetric pleating – I just took a random chunk out of it somewhere, and never looked back. I decided to leave the waistband as a size 14, figuring I could just add an extra closure to it to stop it poking out. In the end, it wasn’t that much longer than it needed to be, and I decided to close it with a button, rather than just a hook and eye.

The fabric I used is actually a duvet from Primark which cost me £12 (and yes, I was upset that a sheet wasn’t included for that price). I know shopping in Primark is a bad thing, but I needed jeans and I have no money. I didn’t find the jeans, so ended up spending my money on two duvet covers (even I’m intrigued to see what I create with grey and white fabric covered in bikes with little birds sitting on them). I’d been wanting to make something in leopard print for a while, and this seemed like as good a time as any. As you’d expect from a £12 duvet cover, it’s quite a crunchy fabric. This works quite well with the skirt, as it helps to add body. It actually sticks out quite nicely to the front and the back, but I was rushing to take pictures so didn’t think to take a side view. I don’t know how comfy it would be for the top half – I guess we’ll find out when I make a matching blouse! I had some concerns that it may be a little see through, but actually I think it’s fine.

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What strange coloured legs I have…

When I was sewing with my old machine, I’d always dread trying new stitches or doing anything new, because it would invariably be a total nightmare. With my new machine, I’m actually keen to try new things – I just made my first buttonhole! I did a blind hem! A whole new world of sewing options is opening up to me!

Part of the reason I made this skirt in this fabric was to spite my mum, who doesn’t like animal prints, and who bet me that I wouldn’t make it. I’m pleased I did, because I think it’s something I’ll get a lot of wear out of in the summer. It’s nice to try fabrics that are outside of your comfort zone sometimes, and in this case it’s resulted in something I can’t wait to wear again! My mum has since deemed it “surprisingly alright”. I think Ben could be classed as “warming to it”. My step dad seemed to actually like it, and said that the zip wasn’t that noticeable because of the folds.

Another part of the reason I made this skirt now is that the first time I met Zoe, she was wearing at least 75% leopard print, so I thought this would be a very appropriate Me Made May make.

A Tribe Called Best!

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As you may recall, I loved my first Simplicity 1609 so much that I considered marrying it (I might not have mentioned it specifically, but I did). Thankfully, it turns out that you can’t marry a dress, because if you could, then I don’t think it would be too happy with the love affair I’m having with it’s brother, Jiffy II.

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I finished this up just in time for our weekend in Brussels, and it was the dress I wore when I smashed my face in – my biggest concern at the time was whether or not I was bleeding on my dress. Oh, and weird, I just remembered that the bloke who ran the sandwich bar opposite my office on the other side of Brussels walked past as my friends gathered round to examine the damage (current state: a bit of a scar). Maybe I was hallucinating.

Back to my boyfriend the dress. I was worried about wearing it again, just in case it was unlucky, but its three outings since then have gone without any trouble, even the time when I had a foot so blistered I couldn’t walk, so I reckon we’re alright.

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This time around, I made the simplest version – no collar or bow. There were a couple of issues with the fit on my first version, so I made some amendments to try and improve matters. Firstly, I increased the size of the neck darts at the back by 1cm each, which helped a lot with the neck gaping, although I think I should lengthen them on future versions as it can appear a little hunchbacked from certain angles. I decided against a sway back adjustment, and just used a shorter zip. The zip was about an inch shorter than I’d have liked, which makes it a bit tricky to pull on and off – I could step into the last one, but this is an over-the-head-breathe-in job. The back looks a lot better on the bum this time round, although maybe I should do a sway back adjustment in future. You can’t really tell in this shot because I turned round before Ben had taken the picture.

Regard! I also got some new sunglasses!

I left this one longer than the last one, so it hits just above the knee. I’d planned to shorten it (I took four inches off last time), but somehow the pattern looked better at this length. I got the fabric from Fabric Land in Brighton for about £3/metre. It’s a bit thicker than the charity shop sheet I used for the last one, and I think it sits more nicely because of that. This was my first ever attempt at fabric matching, and I think I did a pretty good job on the front seam – there’s some shaping in it, so it could never be perfect. I don’t know what went wrong at the back, because I spent ages matching it up – at least the horizontal lines run straight across, even if there’s a double diamond thing across the zip.

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I’m really chuffed with my new dress and have been wearing it at every opportunity. It’s currently my go-to going out for dinner dress, but once the weather warms up enough for me to shed my tights, I think it’s going to make an excellent day dress.

Animals of Farthing Wood Dress


I just need to put this out there – THIS IS THE HAPPIEST I’VE EVER BEEN WITH ANYTHING I’VE EVER MADE!!! You can probably tell that from the big old sulk on my chops, not to mention the fact that I forgot to iron the dress, and may have potentially forgotten to brush my hair as well.

Initially, things were going quite well with this dress. I bought this massive blue sheet in a charity shop for under a fiver, ordered the Jiffy 1609 pattern online after spending about four hours browsing the Simplicity site, decided to use up some scraps on the collar, and then became overwhelmed with insecurity about which scraps I should use. 

Along came Ben, who declared the red floral print I was holding up against the blue to be too obvious a choice, and asked why exactly I hadn’t already decided to use that deer print fabric I had hanging around.

Work commenced. I drove to my mum’s house every day while my sewing machine was being repaired so I could get the dress finished in time for a party, I used Gertie’s tutorial for making the collar, and everything was going swimmingly. I’m not a big fan of scalloped edges, but I decided to give them a try in order to make the dress a bit more exciting. I’m still not entirely sold on them, to be honest. 

Then I got sick, and then I christened it the Animals of Farthing Wood Dress, and then I remembered how sad that book and TV show were, and how much eight year old Laura cried over every death. Oh, yeah, and then I tried it on without the back seam sewn up and it looked like a tent (surprise!!). A tent of death!

So it sat on Alan, my dressmaker’s dummy, for a few weeks. An important fact to note about Alan is his ability to make any garment look disappointing. For someone set up to my measurements, he sure manages to take the form of nothing human.

Eventually, I decided to just get on with it. Anything was better than looking at it every day! I sewed up the back and put a zip in with relative success (for me). At least it isn’t so dreadful that I felt the need to redo it. Then I held it up against myself and it looked tiny. I wasn’t sure it was going to fit. I didn’t want to try my new dress on if it wasn’t going to fit.

Yeah, fits almost perfectly. As this handy picture shows, there’s a bit of gaping around the back of the neck, which I reckon could be resolved by increasing the size of the neck darts, and I think future versions could benefit from a sway back adjustment, or possibly I could just use a shorter zip which would get rid of the bum bump weirdness (it just gets a bit tucked under whenever I move). I’m kind of working with the ‘give my improvements a try and see what happens’ process at the moment.  What a good job Ben didn’t take the nice picture of the back looking all nice that I’d asked for! 

The only other slight disappointment is that, despite my best efforts, the deer are not quite symmetrical on the collar. However, nobody else seems to notice, even after it’s pointed out to them, so I guess I can live with that. My step dad has even commented on how much he likes the deer collar (well, that’s his Christmas present sorted). 

The shape of this dress is absolutely my style. Look in my wardrobe and you’ll find a line of shop bought dresses in the same shape. This is already a firm favourite in my wardrobe, and considering that it is really not season appropriate, it’s already been worn out of the house twice! Just think how much use this bad boy’s going to get come summer.

We took these pictures in the grounds of Hove Museum & Art Gallery. I’ve yet to go inside, but the small garden is lovely and peaceful. Apparently, the inside contains toys, pioneering film ephemera, local history and fine art displays.

The thing I’m leaning against is the Jaipur Gate, which was at the entrance to the Rajasthan section of the Colonial and Indian Exhibition, held in London in 1886. It was donated to the museum in 1926, although I don’t exactly understand why, or what it has to do with the rest of the exhibits. Maybe I should go inside and see if I can find out?

As photoshoots go, taking pictures by a local landmark on a busy road is probably a good way to crush any shyness out of your system. PEOPLE STARED!! A VAN DRIVER STOPPED TO WATCH!! I think I will continue this trend, working my way around Brighton’s highlights. Maybe we’ll have another nice day for dressing up and taking photos before the West Pier falls completely into the sea??!?

The Olive Skirt – Simplicity 4236

Hooray! One of the abandoned projects is finished! 
 
As I’d planned to make this as a full circle skirt, I was pleased that the half circle was suitably flippy, and presumably less likely to get caught in the wind. 
 
I was a little concerned that the fabric wasn’t really to my taste anymore, but as my boyfriend pointed out, I’d probably buy this in a shop. I wore it to work today and it received a positive response, which is always nice. 
 
The pattern was fairly straightforward, although the zip was quite poorly explained (maybe because I had no idea what I was doing). As I couldn’t work out how to attach the zipper foot to my machine, I sewed half of it in with a normal foot, and hand sewed the other half. Despite some paranoia, it is holding together well. 
 
The pattern sizing is GIGANTIC. I took it down a size from my measurements anyway, because it just seemed a bit much, and I could easily have gone down another size. In order to make it fit my waist (instead of dangling off my hips), I made a pleat to one side, and covered it with a button – actually quite a nice effect. 
 
I think I’d use this pattern again in future. It’s very straightforward and the twill tape waistband is a piece of genius. Not only does it look quite professional, but it’s also dead easy to fit. I’d use a thicker fabric next time – this one is ok when on, but a little worrying when held up to the light. I wonder how the draping would work with a thicker, more wintery fabric – maybe a light weight corduroy, or wool. If I didn’t make this exact skirt, there are five other options on this pattern to choose from. 
 
For the next project:
– I will learn how to insert a zip
– I will take more time to achieve a nice finish