Jungle Print Laurel Dress

I’ve made another Laurel Dress and I love, love, love it! This is also my second completed make from my Summer plans! I made this pattern twice before (1, 2), not long after I started sewing my own clothes but I made them too small.  I still wore them around the time I made them because I’d made them and I was proud, but once I discovered more comfortable patterns they soon got neglected and I gave them to a charity shop a few months ago. I made the mistake (I think) of choosing the size closest to my bust measurement, when I know my chest is small so I should choose based on my waist/hip measurement if I want a thing to actually fit, and do an sba if necessary. I previously made the size zero (bust 33, waist 25, hip 35) and this time I made the size 4 (bust 35, waist 27, hips 37) and it’s so comfortable, but still looks like it’s the right size across my shoulders – it was the sleeves and armholes that were particularly snug the last time. For reference my measurements are: bust 32, waist 27, hips 37.

The fabric is some gorgeous cotton lawn from Fabric Godmother, which is sadly now out of stock. I didn’t really realise that cotton lawns are thinner than cottons so this dress is quite thin, but I think layered with tights, a vest and a cardigan, it will work for the colder weather. But it’s also a good dress for this warm weather we’ve been having!

I added in-seam pockets because I was going to add the patch pockets but I couldn’t really face pattern matching the fabric, so I went for the hidden option! I also made no attempt to pattern match across the back – I figured it’s a large enough design to get away with no matching.

I made version 3, which has the ruffles on the sleeves. This pattern is pretty old so I’m amazed it has this option included, since ruffled sleeves have been a trend for a couple of years now! The ruffles are really easy to add, in case anyone is wanting to try it. You could also easily add ruffles to another pattern – it’s just a rectangle gathered into the end of the sleeve. For this pattern there are 2 rectangles for each ruffle which are stitched together to hide the wrong side of the fabric on the inside of the sleeve.

I will say this dress does come out quite short – though it doesn’t look like it in these photos because the camera is looking a little down on me. I’m 5’3″ and it’s above the knee on me so if you’re tall you might need to lengthen it a bit so you don’t end up with a tunic instead of a dress!

I think, as with the Inari becoming my go-to tee/tee dress pattern, I think the Laurel could become my go-to shift dress pattern now I’ve made it in a size that fits and is comfortable. Though I do have the Carnaby Dress cut out and ready to make, so maybe I’ll have 2 shift dress patterns!


I think I was running out of enthusiasm for posing at this point?!

Have you made the Laurel Dress? Or rediscovered a pattern that didn’t work when you made it before but now it’s a favourite? I feel like I might revisit some other patterns I’d written off because they were uncomfortable and see if I made the same mistake with the sizing as I did with the Laurel!

 

 

Robert Kaufman Aster Blouse

I feel like it’s been a while since I made something I didn’t totally like, so I guess I was due a ‘meh’ make and unfortunately it’s made from some beautiful Robert Kaufman fabric (called Storm Drown I think) which I got from Guthrie and Ghani when I went shopping in Birmingham a couple of months ago.

I definitely think part of the problem was my fabric choice – it’s quite a stiff cotton, and I think the Colette Aster would do better in a fabric with a bit more drape – even a slightly more drapey cotton would probably improve things.

But there is also the problem that I obviously did something rather wrong when sewing the button bands as the blouse ended up really quite big on me – hence the sad/perplexed photo below! You can also just about see in this photo that the neckline does not go to a point, but is flat where the button bands meet. It is not meant to look like this.

Of course, since it’s not a super fitted make, I didn’t try it on until I’d totally finished it – lesson definitely learned for next time! I made the size 6.

I did realise, though, that it fit much better – like the darts were vaguely near my boobs which they hadn’t been before – if I folded the button bands back by each band’s width (if that makes sense?!). I think my mistake was to not turn them back on themselves enough times, so the shirt ended up too wide.

So after finishing the whole blouse, I took off the buttons and turned the bands on both sides back on themselves and top-stitched them again! I then re-did the button holes – which was super fun given how much my machine enjoys sewing them, not! Then I stitched the buttons back on and there was definitely an improvement.

I don’t think the neckline sits very nicely on me, though. Again, this could be because of my fabric choice, I don’t know. I don’t generally wear or make things with v-necks so I probably could have guessed this might not be the best shape on me,  but I was seduced by the versions in the pattern photos, particularly the long-sleeved (I think) chambray one – it looks really chic on the model.

I dislike the back neckline less than the front, though it does look a bit weird to have all the shirt shapes like a yoke and pleat, but no collar!

I did learn a new skill making this blouse, though, and that was to make my own bias binding using a great tutorial by one of my sewing crushes, Helen from Stitch My Style. It meant I had loads of bias binding, so I’ve still got some to use next time I’m making something and don’t realise I don’t have any shop bought stuff and can’t be as lazy as usual! I don’t have one of those gadget things for making bias binding, so that is definitely now on my to-buy list!

Aside from the neckline sitting a bit funny, one of the other things I’m not super keen on with this pattern is the sleeve length. For some reason they feel a bit frumpy – they’re not proper short sleeves or 3/4 length sleeves, they finish literally at my elbow and I don’t know why, but I don’t really love it 😦

I’ve been wearing it (yes, even though I don’t love it, I’ve still worn it a couple of times for work) with the little cuffs folded up and I feel like even that little change makes a bit of a difference – it’s probably all in my head, but never mind!

So all in all this was a semi successful make, which I don’t think is helped any by my looking quite washed out and tired in these photos! Luckily I have some of the fabric left so hopefully I can make something a bit more successful from the leftovers – it’s a shame to waste such lovely fabric on something I don’t totally love. And to think I was moaning that I didn’t have much to say about some of my recent makes, because they’ve been relatively simple and successful. I guess the lesson is be careful what you wish for!

 

Outtake! Mid-blink. And what is my hand doing!?

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Wardrobe Architect Week 14: Overcoming Editing Hurdles

Well I made it to the final week of The Wardrobe Architect! Hurray! I was supposed to reach the end on 2nd July, but I didn’t end up sticking 100% to the schedule I’d set myself in the first week. (By the way there was a week 13 but it was a giveaway in the original series, so I haven’t missed one out!)

This week Sarai asks:

Why is it so difficult to let go of things?

Slowly, we collect things into our lives and homes. We buy things we need, and things we don’t need, things we want, and things we don’t really want. They pile up in our closets, our garages, and our living rooms.

All of this clutter begins to drown out the things you really love, the objects you’re attached to and find value and beauty in.

And yet, they are so hard to give up. Why? Let’s dig a little deeper into our psyches to find out.”

I would definitely recommend going to the original post to read her thoughts in more detail, but she sums up our inability to get rid of things in 2 ways: Loss Aversion and Cognitive Dissonance. The first means we fear we will be missing out on something if we get rid of something, and losing something feels much worse than gaining something feels good; and the second means if we spent hours and hours making something, only to find it doesn’t suit us or doesn’t fit or we never have the occasion to wear it, it’s hard to admit that making it might have been a mistake so we convince ourselves we will wear it one day.

Overcoming these mental hurdles

  1. Be self-aware. The first step in overcoming these blocks is to recognize them for what they are. They are psychological biases. They don’t necessarily make sense.
  2. Name the risk. When I find myself wringing my hands over throwing out something I never use, I stop and think about what the chances are that I will need to replace it. I think about whether it’s really something I will be worse off without, in any way.
  3. Name the reward. What is the reward for cleaning out your closet? A fresh perspective, feeling good in what you wear, less guilt about things you don’t wear, better buying habits, cleaner space. Some or all of these might help you.
  4. Appreciate what you don’t miss. This has been extremely helpful to me. Every time I do a clean out, I realize that no matter how hesitant I was to give something up, I completely forget about it once it’s gone. I can’t think of one thing I’ve given away that I truly miss.”

Exercise

This week, it’s time to edit our closets and rid of ourselves of what we no longer need or want.

Gather your capsule wardrobe items together.

This one is a bit tricky for me as I don’t really have space to have some items together, away from other items. Also I’m trying to work towards all my clothes being like a big capsule wardrobe, where lots of things go with each other and I never feel like I have nothing to wear or I’m wearing clothes that don’t make me feel as good as other clothes.

Pack away out of season clothing.

I actually did this when we moved into our flat as our closet space is really quite limited. I had all my Summer things packed away under the bed in my massive suitcase which I rarely use. I also have a couple of blankets and bridesmaids dresses in there. When I got everything out for Summer this year, I had a mini clear out as I knew I wasn’t going to wear some of the things – mostly I knew because of the colours, which I have focussed on thanks to previous weeks of The Wardrobe Architect!

Purge.

I’ve done this about 4 times in the last 18 months or so! I did it twice before we relocated from London 18 months ago, then I’m pretty sure I cleared out some other stuff when we moved into our flat a year ago and I fully unpacked everything. I also did it, as I mentioned above, when I got my Summer clothes out. I think I’m getting better at clearing things out – and I like taking things to charity shops as I know they will get another life, whether in someone else’s wardrobe, or being recycled into chair stuffing or whatever they do with clothes that can’t be worn any more. I even got rid of some of my me-mades last time! I have kept the first dress I made, even though I only wore it about twice, because some things have a bit of sentimental value!

I even cleared out my fabric stash a bit a couple of weeks ago, clearing out all my tiny scraps and some larger pieces of fabric which I know I’m not going to use. I keep meaning to find out if any local charity shops or groups would have use of fabric scraps, but the 2 massive bags are still floating around our dining room! I keep having these thoughts that I should be able to think of something to do with all my scraps, but I keep coming up blank. If you have any ideas, please do let me know!

 

And there we have it, it’s over. I definitely feel like doing the Wardrobe Architect has helped me to focus on what I like to wear and what I feel good in – from shapes to colours to outfits. It should help me reduce the instances of spending ages making something I’m then not going to wear! I just need to keep all of it in mind when planning my makes – and especially when buying fabric and particularly patterns. It’s so easy to be seduced by the latest releases by all the amazing indie pattern designers, but I try not to jump on a bandwagon if I know something isn’t really my style……that doesn’t mean that I don’t have a massive stash of patterns I have yet to make though 😉

 

 

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July Makes and August Plans

I had a week off work in July, so I’ve had quite a productive month – though some of the makes haven’t made it to the blog yet. But my main project for my week off was to rebrand my blog (and all social media), which took longer than I thought! But it was good I had a week off so I could spend a few days blitzing it – I probably wouldn’t have got around to it if I’d been trying to do it during weekday evenings!

I seem to have recently mostly made tops! First I made this pink striped In The Folds Collins Top, and I love it! I’ll go into more detail in my post about it, but I’ve already got fabric in mind to make another version!

I also made this cropped Named Inari Tee out of leftover fabric from my Marianne Dress. This was sort of a wearable muslin, but I think it turned out okay!

My last make for my week off (I seem to have not made much outside of my holiday from work!) was this Colette Aster blouse. Again I’ll go into more detail when I write it up into its own post, but I’m not totally in love with this and I’m not sure why!

Now onto my plans for August – I don’t think I’ll get much made this month because I’m home visiting family next weekend and in the middle of the month I’m going to the New Craft House Summer Party so I won’t have a huge amount of sewing time this month.

My first job for the month is to make something to wear to the New Craft House party, which will almost certainly include this shiny silver fabric I was given for Christmas:

I’m thinking another Inari Tee, though probably lengthened by an inch or two so there isn’t so much of a risk of exposing my midriff, which I don’t really like. I’ll need to also make something to wear with the top, or I may cause a sensation! I’m thinking some culottes from the Butterick pattern which was free with (I think) Love Sewing magazine. Any other ideas?

If I have any spare time in the rest of the month, I really do need to make a start on  jeans. It’s been sooooo many month of me planning to make them that it’s getting a bit ridiculous now!

I know it may not seem seasonally appropriate to make jeans in August, but with the British Summer, it will probably be the perfect time!

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Wardrobe Architect Week 12: Adding Accessories

This week for Wardrobe Architect we’re talking about accessories. I’ve put this post off for a week because I think I’ going to get a bit stuck because I don’t know how much I use accessories. In the original post they talk about functional accessories and decorative accessories.

“Functional accessories can be decorative too of course, but there is some element of usefulness to them. They might include shoes, bags, hats, belts, warm scarves, gloves, sunglasses, and legwear. These are all things you need to work for you in one way or another. You might not need all of these things, depending on your climate, and some might become purely decorative for you.” Functional accessories might be shoes, bags, hats, scarves and gloves.

“Decorative accessories, like jewelry or pretty scarves, don’t really need to have all of these functional requirements. You can also include some things from the functional list that you wear purely for the sake of style. For example, if you don’t really need to wear a hat in the summer but like the way hats look on you, you can add them to this list.” Decorative accessories might be jewelery and more floaty (less warmth-focussed) scarves.

There is an exercise for this week:

1 Make a list of requirements for your accessories. List what you consider to be functional accessories and decorative accessories, and what your requirements are for each.

Shoes are probably the kind of accessory I have the most of. I have 2 pairs of trainers (one of vans and one rocket dogs), one pair of brogues, 2 pairs of ankle boots, 2 pairs of work flats and a new pair of Clarks lace ups. I wear a lot of pashminas in the Winter because I get cold really easily. I have one pair of sunglasses and a sun hat. When it’s cold I wear earmuffs or wooly hats, gloves and my favourite warm scarf. To be honest I think I’m pretty set for necessary accessories. I could probably always do with more shoes, but couldn’t we all?!

In terms of decorative accessories, I think the only ones I really wear are earrings and I only wear those a couple of days a week maximum. I never wear rings and very occasionally I remember to wear a necklace. I almost certainly have too many decorative accessories compared with how often I wear them, so I definitely don’t need to have any more on a to buy list.

2 Decide how many of each to include for the coming season. How many of each do you need for your current capsule wardrobe?

I haven’t been really working towards a specific season with my foray into the Wardrobe Architect so I don’t know how relevant this is. I could probably do with another pair of sandals, but given in the UK this year so far we’ve had probably 2 warm weeks, it doesn’t seem especially urgent at the moment!

3 Add accessories to your capsule wardrobe. Be sure to look towards what you already own before window shopping!

I think going forwards (urgh, sorry for the management speak!) I will try to be more mindful of the kinds of accessories I feel would nicely finish off an outfit of handmades and work towards a more curated selection. Especially of decorative accessories, so that I have a small stash of ones I actually wear!

Phew, that wasn’t so hard! It’s a brief one this week.