My Sewcialite Soiree Outfit

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Sewcialite Soiree, hosted by Sarah from Like Sew Amazing, Jen from Gingerella and the Stitch Sisters Rachel and Nikki and it was a brilliant night. 

And of course it was an excuse to make a new outfit. But I thought about the fact that I have a few party dresses which I’ve only worn once or twice, and decided to make a suit instead of another dress, since I would then wear the trousers and jacket separately and then I’d have a suit too! I do have the suit I refashioned from one of my dad’s suits, but I’ve not worn the jacket since I took the photos to be honest – I have higher hopes for this jacket though as it’s a bit less formal because of the fabric I think.

My initial plan was to make a tuxedo but I didn’t really need another black jacket or black pair of trousers in my wardrobe, so I went for corduroy instead. I have a pinterest board of inspirational bright coloured suits. The fabric was this mustard corduroy from Fabricland (and I have loads left so expect a whole corduroy wardrobe in the future). I ordered a few samples from Fabricland and some crepe ones from Sew Over It – it’s really amazing how many different colours are called mustard! 

And the lining is this adorable bird print cotton lawn from Sewisfaction – she posted it on her stories and I immediately fell in love with it. 

 
The patterns I used were the very popular Persephone Pants, which I feel like I’m the last person to make! and the Joe Jacket by Ready to Sew. I searched for quite a while for a jacket pattern I liked and this was the closest to the boyfriend fit I was looking for. Plus it has 2 lapel variations and I went for these super wide ones! And I love them. 

This was the first Ready to Sew pattern I’ve made and I have to say the instructions were excellent – this is the most tailored item I’ve made I think, maybe apart from my Honetone Coat

There are 2 welt pockets with pocket flaps over the top, and this was the only place I got a bit confused by the instructions – which is surprising because I’ve done welt pockets before. There was a great youtube video I found, which really helped as the pocket in the video is the same as the ones in this jacket. 

They were meant to be double welt pockets but since the corduroy was so thick and tricky to iron, I did single welts instead. 

I love the flash of lining fabric behind the flaps. 

I bought these lovely wooden buttons from John Lewis – they were a pack of 3, so there were 2 for the jacket and one for the trousers. 

When I’d finished the jacket, I was worried it was a bit too long, but actually I think it’s fine – because it’s a loose fit, I think it’s fine. And I looked at other suits and just below the bum seems to be a common jacket length. 

Yay lining!

I made the size 36 in the jacket and made no fitting changes. I did, however, have to redo the sleeves as I was in a hurry when I was cutting it out and didn’t put any of the notches and markings on the fabric and sewed them in really twisted. So my advice for this  pattern (and obviously all patterns) is to transfer all the markings!

I made the size 4 of the Persephone Pants as they exactly matched my waist and hip measurements and, again, the instructions were great. I didn’t make any adjustments, but the next time I make them I will take them in a little on the back seam and the waist, adjusting the waistband too so it still fits. 

I love the hidden pockets, and I used the same lining as the jacket. 

I took 7cm off the hem (4cm cut off and 1.5cm twice as the hem) as I wanted the trousers a little cropped – as I think they’re supposed to be. I then, however, had to take another 3cm off as they were still a little longer than I wanted. 



I wore the suit exactly like this to the party, with my white Archer shirt and with these light coloured trainers. I like the look of heels, but I end up wanting to take them off about 10 minutes into any party, so I decided to be comfortable instead. 

I learned a bit about dealing with corduroy in the making of this suit – namely that you have to iron it on a towel and on the back – or sandwiched between 2 towels if you have to iron something 2-sided, like the lapels. 

I definitely want to make both of these patterns again – there’s a photo of Claire Foy in a pink suit, which inspired this one, and in a houndstooth blazer with jeans and I want to fully copy that. I also love the trousers and with the little tweak to the fit, this could become my go-to pattern for work trousers.

I also had a slight epiphany while making this suit- namely that if I don’t watch Netflix which I sew, I can sew really quickly and needed to unpick a lot, lot less than normal – on average I probably unpick every third seam I sew, but with this whole suit I only unpicked the sleeves on the jacket (because I sewed them on wrong) and a couple of other tiny things! 

Have you every made a suit or just a jacket? Do you like tailoring as much as I do?

   

Peachskin Blaire Shirt

I made another shirt – something new and different for me (read in a sarcastic voice!)


It is, however, a new to me pattern – the Style Arc Blaire Shirt. I had admired this pattern for quite a while and bought it last year and I finally made plans to make it during the Summer and ended up making it in September, when it was still relatively warm here.

I like the shape of the side seams and the under layer, though I did get a little confused by the instructions and was paranoid that I had done it wrong until it was basically finished. This was my first Style Arc pattern and I have to say the instructions are sparse to say the least – I think it fitted on one side of A4 in 2 columns. Luckily I’ve made a lot of shirts and this pattern doesn’t have some of the trickier parts of shirt-making, like cuffs and plackets and the collar seemed pretty simple to put in. I think this would be doable as a first shirt, though.

The fabric was this mustard with a geometric blue and white pattern peach skin from Fabric Godmother but she doesn’t seem to have it any more, sadly. This was my first time working with peachskin and I kind of like it – I don’t know about the fibre content, but I assume it’s synthetic as it does make me slightly sweaty without necessarily making me warm, but I like the drape and the slinky-ness. It was a little slippery to cut and sew, but it wasn’t as slippery as the crepe I used for my Mercury Trousers, so it seemed okay coming off the back of making those!

Another way the Blaire is a little simpler than, say, the Archer or the Melilot, is that there is no yoke or pleat on the back, so you don’t have to worry about any burritos!

I made the straight size 8, without making any changes and I’m happy with the fit – as you know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I like looser-fitting tops and particularly shirts. You can’t really see that there is a seam across the middle – I think when (probably when, not if) I make it again I might pay with the directions of stripes or with some colour-blocking.

I sadly didn’t have any outtakes from this photo shoot, which is a shame because it’s my favourite part of my blog posts. 😦

I think I’ll definitely keep my eye out for a fabric to make another shirt next year when the weather warms up again. And I do kind of want to make the shirt dress version – I don’t actually own any shirt dresses, which is weird considering I like shirts so much!

 

 

Hundred Years Wardrobe: 1970s

Over the Summer I was invited to a 70s party with the brass band that I play in – and it was the perfect opportunity to make my first Hundred Years Wardrobe make. I had the idea for this project at the beginning of the year, but thought I wouldn’t have time to make anything so shelved it until I had the chance to make a 70s outfit. I wrote a post about 70s fashion quite a while ago so I knew there were loads of trends to choose from – hippy, disco, punk, flares being obligatory. I did what I usually do when faced with something like this – went to Pinterest and searched for some iconic 70s figures to get some inspiration. I was pretty close to doing a Bowie look (but which one?!) but then I happened upon this amazing Zandra Rhodes outfit worn by Freddie Mercury and my mind was made up – I’ve always loved queen and thought what better outfit than this!

This was made by Zandra Rhodes and I thought it looked relatively simple to make – I would just have to master pleats!

I started with this really big, thick piece of cardboard I got from work and thought it would work as a pleating board, but in fact it was too thick.

Waaaay too thick!

Instead, I used a piece of thick paper/thin card I already had and it worked much better. For a pleating board, you need something thin enough that the pleats will be sharp. I used this tutorial on YouTube, but I didn’t back it with fabric – which I would definitely recommend if you’re going to try pleating a lot of fabric as my board kept expanding when I put the fabric in. But I just about managed it.

Once I’d made the board, I tested it and it seemed to work – and the fabric seemed to hold the pleats once ironed. The fabric, which was actually much thicker than would have been ideal, was a viscose-something mix (I can’t actually remember) which I bought in my local fabric shop. It was super wide and the ladies assured me that it would hold pleats, which was the main characteristic I was interested in.

I bought 4 metres of the fabric and used about 1m for the trousers, which I didn’t really photograph, either while making them or while taking the final photos. I used the Gertie Cigarette Pants pattern from her book Gertie Sews Vintage Casual as a basis, adding triangles to each side of the leg to make the flares. This was the same pattern I used for my Dressmaker’s Ball dress and I made some tweaks here and there, but it was a good job the fabric has quite a bit of stretch as it made them a bit more forgiving fit-wise and more comfortable to wear!

With the rest of the fabric, which was luckily really wide, I cut it in half parallel to the selvage to make about 5.5m of fabric which needed to be pleated! I got into a rhythm after a while and managed to pleat it all over the course of 2 evenings – of course I left making this outfit until really late so I was in a hurry and working on it every spare hour I could find.

I used some paperclips to try to hold some of the pleats in place as I moved on further down the fabric as I was worried the weight of the fabric would mean the pleats would drop out.

With the majority of the fabric pleated, I used every other little scrap of fabric to make the yoke pieces. But first i cut them out of calico, to be the under-layer which would hold most of the weight of the pleated fabric – and it was heavy! If I made this again I would definitely use something lighter!

Here are the front york and 2 back york pieces sewn together at the shoulders – a lot of this was guess-work, and holding pieces of paper up to myself to figure out how big to make them, but I did use the facing from the Inari tee and dress as a basis for the length and shape of the neckline.

I’m pretty sure the original Zandra Rhodes outfit only had one seam in the pleated fabric, probably at the back, but I had to have 2 so I had one at the front and one at the back, so I stitched the front seam together before I started pinning it to the calico support structure.

I then pinned all of the pleated fabric onto the calico under yoke. In the original outfit, I think it looks like there was more fabric in the middle of the front and then it’s a tiny bit more spread out as you move up Freddie’s body and over the shoulders, but I didn’t have anywhere near enough fabric to make it look exactly like the original – I would love to know how much fabric is in the original, I think it could easily be twice as much as I had.

After sewing on the pleat to the calico, I then cut the front parts for the yoke to cover all the stitching and everything, from the main fabric. I added a seam allowance so I would be able to fold the edges in, like a patch pocket. I also overlocked the edges as the fabric frayed like crazy!

After lots and lots of thinking about how to construct the top – mostly when lying in bed trying to sleep –  this was the only way I could come up with to make it. I figured it didn’t matter what it looked like on the inside as the outfit was for one party, but I would love to have a look at the original and see how it was constructed.

When pinning the front part on, I pinned the necklines together (which were the same size as I didn’t add seam allowance there), then worked from the middle out towards the shoulders, to try to make sure it was straight compared to the layer underneath.

At this point, I was pretty excited with how it was looking – and to be honest pretty pleased with how it was looking.

It seems that it was at this point that I stopped taking photos – I was stitching the top yokes on in the afternoon of the day of the party so I assume I was so rushing to finish that I didn’t document the rest of the process, but the back was pretty much the same as the front, which looked like this when it was all finished.

I then added a facing around the whole neckline, again using the Inari pattern as the basis. Then I added some eyelets to the back, to be able to lace it up (which facilitates being able to get in and out of it.

And now after all that writing and the in progress photos, I couldn’t resist trying to recreate the Freddie photos at the top of the post.

You can see in this photo, below, how there wasn’t anywhere near as much fabric in my version as in the original, but you get the idea and it was good enough for a one-off party.

Hopefully with my next Hundred Years Wardrobe make I won’t be in so much of a hurry (though who am I kidding, I love working last-minute to a crazy deadline!) so I’ll maybe have more than one post to write, about some new techniques I’ve discovered or some more inspiration images. But at least I’ve got the ball rolling!

Also I’m going to see Bohemian Rhapsody, the Freddie Mercury biopic, for my birthday in a couple of weeks. Would it be too much to wear this outfit to the cinema?! 😉

 

 

Cotton Lawn Kimono

Since the weather is now getting cold, I’ve made a kimono out of some beautiful light-weight cotton lawn from Sew Me Sunshine (she only has a remnant left of it alas). #sewingappropriategarmentsfortheweather

I used the Simplicity K1108 pattern which came free with Sew Magazine, which I only buy when there is a pattern I want to make. I can’t remember when it came out, but I knew I wanted to make it and I waited for the perfect fabric. I actually found this cotton lawn on a couple of websites last year when I was looking for fabric for the culottes I made for the New Craft House Summer Party (though I realise now it wouldn’t have worked) but it was sold out everywhere, so when I saw that Harriet had it in stock I bought it IMMEDIATELY!

I made the size medium and cut it at a length in between view D and C – they’re the versions without the more bat-wingy sleeves as they’re not so much my style.

Here is a close up of the gorgeous fabric! It fits perfectly into my colour palette.

The pattern is really simple to make – definitely a good make for a beginner. The only tricky bit was the bias binding around the whole neckline – and that was only tricky because I made my own bias binding using this brilliant tutorial from Helen from Stitch My Style and didn’t do the most accurate of measuring, so my binding was a bit too narrow in places so it was impossible to enclose all of the raw edges in places. I cut a couple of wider bits from the leftovers and just put them over the top of the narrow bits, it’s a bit shoddy but it worked. Sometimes you just have to bodge it!

I did manage to wear this once before the weather got a bit chilly! And I was promised that September would be warm, but so far it’s not really warm enough to wear a thin kimono as opposed to a proper cardigan. Boo.

I know that for various reasons some people really didn’t enjoy the heatwave/proper Summer we had in the UK this year, but I am lucky to live in a flat that is cool (because it’s old – the pay-off is that it is also freezing in the Winter) and I work in a place with air con so I am a bit sad that we’re heading back into Autumn and Winter again already.Also I barely got to wear my Birkenstocks! Although I like snuggling up when it’s cold, last year Winter seemed to go on forever and I get a bit sick of sitting at my sewing maching usually in 3 layers, with a hot water bottle and a blanket! Maybe I need to move to warmer climes…..

Anyway, season rant over.

Have you ever actually made a free pattern from a magazine? I think this is the first I’ve made and I deliberately don’t subscribe to any sewing magazines because I don’t want to increase my pattern stash exponentially with things I know I won’t make.

 

 

Art Deco Carnaby Dress

This is my first – and no doubt last – Nina Lee Carnaby Dress and I love it! This was one of my planned Summer makes and I did make it last month, but just as the weather started to turn a bit chiller. Hopefully I will get some wear out of it with tights and a cardigan in this Autumnal weather. I do slightly wish I’d made it without sleeves so I can wear it with a long-sleeved top underneath for extra warmth, but c’est la vie!

And it has pockets! I really like how they’re hidden in the hem seam.

The fabric is some lovely cotton from Sew Over It, which they sadly don’t have any more. In fact I got the last metre and a half/ 2 hours (I can’t remember which). When I first saw the fabric, I thought it would make great pyjamas, but they didn’t have enough left for the Carolyn Pyjamas.

I made the size 10 and the only change I made was to use an invisible zip instead of the exposed one called for in the pattern. I also spent ages trying to pattern match across the back seam and on the pocket seams but it didn’t seem to work as well as I’d hoped. I managed to just about get it to look matched across the back, if not perfectly centred.

The pocket seam is almost hidden, but again, not as well as I’d hoped. I think I just need a bit more practice at doing it – I haven’t done much pattern matching before, so I’m not the best at it!

I really do like this fabric – there will be lots of colours of tights and cardigans I can wear with it. And it was a pretty quick make. This was my first Nina Lee pattern (I have plans to make the Portobello trousers before the year is out) and I’m impressed. The drafting seems to be good – often I find sleeves and shoulder seams really tight, but this fits and is comfortable right out of the packet. The instructions were also really clear and easy to follow. Next time I might do the exposed zip she recommends as the instructions for that seemed really clear too. I would definitely recommend this if you’re relatively new to sewing, or if you want a quick make that will give you a really chic dress.

With this and my jungle print laurel, I have definitely rediscovered my love of the simple shift dress.

p.s. I might keep my eyes open for anyone selling more of this fabric as I would still like some really chic pyjamas – let me know if you see it anywhere!