New Craft House Summer Party Outfit

Last Saturday I went down to London for the New Craft House Summer Party and it was ace!  I knew it was going to be good when I spotted this on my way to the venue:

And of course I basically forgot to take any photos all evening – I think that’s the mark of a good party, though! I saw some people I’ve met before and lots of new people too, and it was so lovely to hang out with fellow sewing people. Sewing people really are the best.

It was great to catch up with Nina of Nina Lee Patterns – and her patterns are now in paper form! I don’t mind a PDF, but I would much rather have a printed pattern – I like having a nice object that I can handle, especially when they’re this beautiful. I’d had my eye on the Portobello Trousers and Carnaby Dress for a while so I’m really pleased to have them now in my collection. Now I just need some fabric……

You should definitely check out the hashtag on Instagram – some people did remember to take some photos! And speaking of Instagram, if you follow me there you will already know this, but I won best handmade outfit! Here I am flanked by the 2 honourable mentions – Girlswear and ZoeSews. They both looked brilliant!

I have literally never won anything in my life before, so I was pretty chuffed! I think part of what swung it was the number of items I made! I decided to go for separates instead of a dress as – though I like a good party dress – I’ve made a few in the last year or so for specific parties and then I don’t really wear them again. Though I’m not sure how much wear I’ll get out of a shiny silver top! With black skinny jeans, though, it could look cool.

Although it was August, it was pretty cold last weekend so I wore my trusty Victoria Blazer, made a few years ago from some mystery black fabric. One of the really nice things about the party was that I had a quite long chats with Elisalex and Charlotte from By Hand London, as well as Zeena, after whom the Zeena Dress is named.

I think the main ‘party’ elements to my outfit were the shiny, shiny Inari Tee I made from some (I think) viscose foil from Ray Stitch. I’m pretty sure this is the fabric as I know it was from Ray Stitch and the photos on their website look about right.  I was given it for Christmas and immediately thought of making a boxy tee out of it. After mentioning I might make some changes to the Inari after making my first sort-of-practice one, in the end the only thing I did was to use only a tiny hem instead of the 2cm one the pattern suggests – I overlocked the lining and the shell together then turned both layers up together by 0.5cm. Oh yeah, I lined it with some white polycotton in my stash as I thought this fabric may not be that nice right next to the skin! This also gave it a bit more structure as it really is drapey – it almost looks liquid. BE WARNED if you buy this fabric, though, that you cannot put pins in it or unpick stitching without leaving marks. It’s like leather, once it’s marked, that’s it. I used paperclips instead of pins to hold the seams together while I sewed each bit.

Oh and I also used the fabric to make shoes! I’ve seen these espadrille kits popping up online and I thought what could be better than a crazy shiny silver pair of shoes!? I’m hoping to do a separate post on the shoes, so I won’t go into too much detail here. Suffice it to say I think the shoes swung the win for me!

The culottes are Butterick B6178 that came free with Love Sewing magazine a month or two ago. It seemed there was definitely a time when everyone was making them on Instagram and I liked the pattern more and more, the more versions I saw. I feel like I’m often a bit behind with trends and like them a year after everyone else, but I think culottes are still on trend! Yay! I made the size 12 and although they are a tiny bit big on my waist, I’m impressed that for a big 4 there wasn’t inches and inches of ease built in! I chose the size based on my waist measurement, so that would be my tip if you’re going to make these.

The fabric is this gorgeous viscose challis (called Dillie) from Fabric Godmother. It took me ages to find a fabric I thought would sort of go with the silver and this was the best I came across. I was definitely inspired by Sarah from Like Sew Amazing’s gorgeous jumpsuit which she made from the same fabric. The only change I made to the culottes was to use an invisible zip instead of the dress one the pattern suggested. It made more sense to me to use an invisible one so it would be….well……invisible! I also found a hook and eye from the stash I found inside the vintage sewing box I bought a while ago.

The final thing I made was this necklace. (If you’re counting, I made 5 things if you count the shoes as one – crazy? Probably). I used the tutorial Helen from Stitch My Style did a little while ago, though the fabric I used was probably too thick as it doesn’t look as chic as hers does. The fabric is some seriously old stuff I had left in my stash from one of my earliest makes – a bright yellow skirt which I never wore. I thought about making it in the viscose, but I thought that would be just too matchy-matchy, though I ended up with a pretty matchy-matchy outfit anyway! I used marbles in the necklace as I didn’t have any beads and there aren’t any local shops that sell beads. I used the large marble that came in my bag in the middle, then smaller ones up the sides. I also had to piece the fabric as I didn’t have enough, but the seams are covered by the knots. I really like this method of making necklaces from leftover fabric, so I might try it again – but with thinner fabric I think!

(Wow, you can really see my grey hairs here!)

I’m quite pleased with this as an outfit, if I do say so myself! The culottes also look good with a normal grey t-shirt, which feels a bit more every day than the shiny one! I’m hoping it will be warm this bank holiday weekend so they will get some wear!

There has, however, been a slight tragedy with the silver top since I wore it to the party. I had a sticker on my top, and sort of at the time thought ‘should I stick this on my top?’ and then I thought it would be fine. I then forgot the sticker was on there for a couple of days, when I noticed when I put the top on to take photos. I took the sticker off and it took some of the silver with it. I’ve circled it below so you can see – it’s a bit more obvious in real life than in the photo 😦 I have an idea, though. I bought some silver shiny embroidery thread to do the hems, so they would match the fabric, so I’m going to maybe try a yoke of embroidery to see if I can cover the mark. I don’t want to not be able to wear it again – that was the whole point of making separates! If anyone has any other ideas/any embroidery design ides, I’m all ears! Maybe I’ll end up wearing it to the New Craft House Christmas Party (as they’re mentioned they might organise) in its new form!?

I’ll leave you with this, to make you laugh hopefully! I think this is my favourite outtake so far – lol! I have literally no idea what is going on here, I mean wtf?!

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Wardrobe Architect Week 11: Planning Your Pieces

This week’s Wardrobe Architect is all about planning what to make to achieve the capsule (ish) wardrobe of our dreams. I think I might slightly struggle with this because although I’ve been planning my sewing since October, I still feel I am a little bit all over the place and I definitely get seduced by shiny new patterns all the time!

The original post says: “In the last couple installments, we talked about choosing silhouettes for our new mini wardrobes and defining a color palette.

With those two things in mind, along with all the work we’ve done before on defining our style and prints that we like, it’s time to decide what pieces we need to create a coherent little wardrobe.”

In the original post she suggests you shop your closet to see what you already have that fits with your chosen silhouettes and palettes. I’ve put together a couple of collages of vaguely what I’m aiming for.

 I already have (I know it’s boring but I’m just going to list these because I don’t know how best to create collages from things I’ve made):

Dresses (I have others but don’t really wear them!)
Electric blue jersey dress
Navy blue Rushcutter dress
Spotty drapey knit dress (GBSB)
2 Summer Elisalex dresses
Mustard and navy flowers Sallie maxi dress
Jazzy Moneta dress
Navy and white striped Marianne dress

Skirts
Navy blue Simplicity skirt
Black Simplicity skirt
Denim Moss skirt
Silver Delphine skirt
Grey quilted Mabel skirt

Tops
2 blue (turquoise and electric blue) Cocos
2 Archer shirts (blue spotty and flowery)
Blue patterned Melilot shirt
2 Plantain tees (Breton-style and yellow and navy flowers)
A RTW cream tee with kimono sleeves, slightly oversized
A RTW (charity shop find) mustard yellow flowy blouse with a peter pan collar
(These last 2 tops are some of my favourites to wear to I intend to rub them off and copy them at some point so I can have more of the same style in my wardrobe)

Trousers and Jeans
Simplicity trousers
RTW wide legged navy trousers (which I took in last year)
RTW primark grey patterned pleated trousers (which I’ve had for years).
One pair of grey jeans given to me by a friend.
Black and navy skinny trousers which I’ve had for years and are getting a bit worn out

Coats and Jackets
Black Victoria blazer
Refashioned blue Victoria blazer
Freemantle coat
A now quite old duffel coat which has seen better days

Wow, now I’ve written all this down it seems like a lot! It’s hard to believe I still have holes in my wardrobe! I have a lot of basic long-sleeved jersey tops (all from primark shamefully, though I have worn them for probably 10 years now!) which I plan to replace over the course of next Winter, so I won’t include these in my plans below.

  1. White Archer shirt – I don’t actually own a white shirt!
  2. Dark blue Ginger jeans
  3. Black Ginger jeans
  4. Dark blue Morgan jeans
  5. Light blue (and thin denim) Morgan jeans
  6. Yellow Albion duffel coat
  7. Mustard yellow or powder blue 60s-style coat from the GBSB book
  8. Navy and white or black and white culottes from Butterick B6178
  9. Black wide-legged trousers (probably from McCalls M6515
  10. Papercut Guise pants from a patterned fabric with either black or navy in

I think 10 things should be enough to be getting on with! Especially on top of my #2017MakeNine. I’m not going to set myself a deadline for sewing all of these pieces, because that will remove all the fun I think – I’m not a quick sewist I have realised – but hopefully once I’ve ticked these and my Make Nine off (and, of course, there is some overlap like the 2 jeans patterns), I should be pretty close to having a working capsule-ish wardrobe! I’m already finding I have more outfits since starting the Wardrobe Architect because of focussing on my colour palette, and once I’ve got the above pieces, I should have loads of ways of putting things together. Yay!

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Wardrobe Architect Week 9: The Capsule Wardrobe

After covering all the things that have been covered in the previous few weeks of the Wardrobe Architect, Colette say now is the time to put it into practical terms by coming up with a capsule wardrobe.

“A capsule wardrobe is a small, manageable subset of your wardrobe, and it usually is something you can plan seasonally (twice a year, or perhaps 4 times a year).

A typical capsule wardrobe consists of between 20 and 33 items, depending on who you ask and what kinds of items you’re including. It doesn’t have to include every single thing you might wear for the season, but it is the foundation for the rest of your wardrobe. The idea is that once you have the capsule wardrobe figured out, the rest is gravy.”

I feel like I’m getting slightly better at knowing what I wear and making accordingly, but I do have some gaps in my me mades and some alternative silhouettes I think I could explore.

The original post gives these handy prompts:

  1. Choose one to six silhouettes for the season.
  2. Create a color palette.
  3. Break down your silhouettes and colors into a list of pieces.
  4. Organize what to make, what to buy, and what you already own.

1. Choose one to six silhouettes for the season

Since Summer is so short in the UK I tend not to focus so much on warm weather clothing, so I think my silhouettes will be for all year around – just maybe in different fabrics or without tights and cardigans in the Summer. Also I’ve covered a lot of this before in the week about exploring shapes, but it helps me to see things visually.

a. Skinny jeans/trousers with looser tops and shirts – I’m particularly drawn to button ups at the moment

b. Looser trousers with loose tops

I’m liking the coulotte trend at the moment, and I think they would be comfortable when it does get hot. Again I like them with loosers style tops.

c. Shift/swing dresses

d. Mini skirts with loose and/or cropped tops.

e. Cardigans, jackets and coats have pretty much been summed up in the above photos (which can all be found on my Wardrobe Architect Pinterest board).

2. Choose a colour palette.

I’ve covered my colour palette in the week about my colour story and the one about choosing a palette, but I’ll recap here.

3 & 4. Break down your silhouettes and colors into a list of pieces.Organize what to make, what to buy, and what you already own.

I’m going to cover these 2 together in terms of planning what to make, and looking at what I’ve already got. I’ve got more tops I think that anything else.

My blue patterned Melilot shirt (left) and my blue spotty archer see quite a lot of wear and they fit my palette and silhouettes.

Blue Patterned Melilot ShirtBlue Spotty Archer Button Up

I’ve got some short of cropped, and boxy-ish tops too, which I wear quite often, such as my silver toaster sweater and my mustard astoria top.

Mustard Ponte Seamwork Astoria

I have some nice shift/cocoony dresses, like my new Marianne dress, my electric blue peppermint magazine jersey dress, my drapey knit dress and my rushcutter.

#SewDots GBSB Drapey Knit DressNavy Spotty Rushcutter Dress

So then in terms of what to make, here are my plans (which will probably take a year to complete!)

Ginger Jeans in black and dark blue (and possibly mustard if I’m feeling bold in the future) and Morgan Jeans in dark blue and a lighter shade of denim.

I’ve got both the Papercut Guise Trousers and the Butterick B6178 (which came free with one of the magazines I’ve bought recently) and I think this has me pretty much covered to recreate the silhouettes above. I don’t have any specific fabric or colours in mind, but I think with the coulottes I want some more summery colours/prints. I might copy the stripey ones above too. And I like the spotty trousers above which I could copy with the guise pattern. I like the idea of patterned bottoms – I tend to wear plain bottoms and patterned tops.

I recently treated myself to both the Sew Over It Nancy Dress and the Pauline Alice Xerea Dress, so I should be able to make dresses in my dream silhouettes. I have some nice navy, grey and white patterned viscose which I’m planning for the Nancy and I’m thinking some colour blocking for the Xerea.

I’ve got the Closet Case Patterns Ebony Tee and Dress and the Named Patterns Inari Tee and Dress so between them they should cover most eventualities of tops (and dresses as alternatives to the ones above).

I also want to make 2 coats – one proper winter coat, maybe in a 60s style like the one from the 2nd Great British Sewing Bee book, and one a rip-off of Seasalt’s lovely duffle coats using the Colette Albion pattern.

Sea Salt Yellow Duffel Coat

Well I think that’s probably enough things to be getting on with for now! Maybe eventually I’ll reach peak capsule wardrobe. I’ll probably also still always make random things that don’t fit into the capsule!

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Designer Inspiration: Mary Quant

My latest designer inspiration is Mary Quant – I thought I’d continue the 60s theme from my last fashion history post as I love it so! I also love her famous Vidal Sassoon haircut. Should I copy it do you think?

Mary Quant Hairstyle - Vidal Sassoon

Born in London in 1934, Mary Quant opened her first boutique (they always seems to be called boutiques and not shops!), Bazaar, in 1955 on the King’s Road in Chelsea. It was from the very beginning that the mini skirt idea started to take off – this is something new to me, I always thought this was definitively a 60s phenomenon! The jury is out about who actually invented the mini skirt (which includes very short dresses) – it could have been Quant, it could have been Andres Courreges, or John Bates. She herself said “It was the girls on the King’s Road who invented the mini. I was making easy, youthful, simple clothes, in which you could move, in which you could run and jump and we would make them the length the customer wanted. I wore them very short and the customers would say, ‘Shorter, shorter.'”1 What is true is that Mary Quant named it, after her favourite car – The Mini (obvs).

 

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Quant is also credited (by some) with inventing the coloured and patterned tights that were so often worn with the new shorter skirts and dresses. It could have been Balenciaga who showed harlequin tights in 1962. It basically seems like several people were having similar ideas in fashion at the same time – but Mary Quant seems to have been the one associated with inventing/ popularising the most innovations.

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Another of these innovations was hot pants. Here is Quant and Grace Coddington (of Creative Director of US Vogue and giant red hair fame – she used to be a model, and she features quite a bit in The September Issue, which I would recommend) modelling hot pants underneath dresses – I assume this was a thing?!

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“Ernestine Carter, an authoritative and influential fashion journalist of the 1950s/60s, wrote: “It is given to a fortunate few to be born at the right time, in the right place, with the right talents. In recent fashion there are three: Chanel, Dior, and Mary Quant.””2

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After opening a second Bazaar store in 1957, Quant started to design more and more of the items she was selling, instead of merely ordering them in. “For a while in the late 1950s and very early 1960s, Quant was one of only two London-based high-end designers consistently offering youthful clothes for young people. The other was Kiki Byrne, who opened her boutique on the King’s Road in direct competition with Quant.”3

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From the 70s onwards, she moved away from designing clothes and concentrated on homeware and cosmetics – which she says are a part of fashion. According to her Wikipedia article, she claims to have invented the duvet – though a quick google tells me that Terence Conran was the first person to sell the modern duvet, or continental quilt, in Britain, having got the idea from Sweden.

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She was particularly known for monochrome colour-blocking.

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She also seemed to have embraced bright colours, like these dresses, in orange, mustard and red. I particularly like the mustard one, and I like the contrast collar, cuffs, hem and pocket on this one.

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Like so many designers from the 50s, 60s and 70s, Mary  Quant produced sewing patterns – I think it’s so cool how they all accepted people wanted to copy their styles so made patterns. I guess it probably wasn’t the same people who would buy the clothes and would make the clothes.

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I like the pose in the photos of this one!

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Not sure about this one to be honest!

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I like this one with the high collar and the pleated skirt. Not sure how flattering it would be on me – the drawing looks better than the photo.

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In 1966 she was made an OBE and in 2015 she was made a Dame. Not bad for someone who never studied fashion! Although she moved away from fashion design, for me – and I’m sure for many other people – the thing I will most associate her with is her mod designs of the 60s. I’m definitely going to look out for any of her patterns so I can recreate some of her looks!

 

 

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Bright Yellow Butterick Skirt

So I finished this skirt about a month ago but it took until today to take more photos (after the original set The Boyfriend took weren’t great). I bought Butterick 5285 because after watching Mad Men, I really liked the look of Peggy’s pleated skirt and blouse combos, especially this one:

Mad Men - Season 5, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Ron Jaffe/AMCAnd after trawling all the pattern makes, Butterick 5285 seemed the best fit of the ones still available. I made view B, which has pleats but not stitched ones (because I was too scared to make stitched pleats). I tried to buy some mustard yellow fabric to totally rip off this look, but my local shop didn’t have anything mustard so I went for bright yellow. I’m not kidding, it’s really bright!

butterick-5285-2

The pattern came together really easily, and I really like that it has pockets. I’m totally going to use those pockets in other patterns which don’t have any as I find it really annoying not to have pockets. The only hiccup I had was (somehow) sewing the side seams on the outside. I’m going to blame getting a little confused about the pockets (this is the first time I’m made something with pockets in), the fabric not having an obvious back and front, and me being really stupid. The annoying this was that I had zig-zagged all the seams and around the pockets – luckily I’d zig-zagged the seams apart otherwise that would have been a real ball-ache to unpick.

I had one other slight issue – somehow I puckered one of the side seams, probably from having to re-do the whole thing!

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Excuse the selfie-style photos. Also, the colour looks really washed out here, weird. I fixed this by unpicking (again!) the side seam underneath the pocket, and a little of the hem, then re-sewing it so it looked straight, which left me with an uneven hem. So I just re-hemmed that bit to make it look straight by taking up more on the side where it was now lower….if that makes any sense?

I made a straight size 10 as that was the size closest to my waist size, and I figured that was the only bit it was important to fit to. I cut off 7 cm from the length and added a button to the back instead of a hook and eye (as I had buttons but no hooks and eyes). I used a bit I’d but off the waistband as the button loop. I’ m not totally sold on the length – I wonder if going a bit shorter still might make it look less frumpy?

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This is a pretty good representation of how bright the yellow is! Also, check out my (relatively) neat slip stitching!

I think basically, this is a really easy pattern but I made several stupid mistakes. I’m already planning to make another one in bright turquoise, but I can’t decide whether to make the gathered version or the fixed pleat version. Any suggestions?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(I don’t know why I’m standing with my feet so far apart – odd!)

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And here it is with my Gertie Blouse:

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