Striped Ebony Top

Before I altered my 2 ebony dresses, I made this top version (and it’s what gave me the idea to cut the dresses into tops) and I really like it. I like the swingy shape!

I made this top 5″ longer than the cropped version of the top (and this is the measurement I based the dresses on) because I felt that the cropped version was just a bit too cropped for my long body – and I’m naturally freezing all the time so I don’t like bare skin, or a top that when I put my arms in the air almost exposes my bra! I also made it in the size 4, but with size 6 sleeves, as I did on the second dress version because the sleeves were a bit tight.

This fabric is much more stretchy than the scuba I used for the dresses, so the sleeves don’t feel as restrictive, thankfully. I think if I made this pattern again I might size up a size on the whole thing and maybe go to a size 8 on the sleeves as I’ve got some drag lines coming from my armpits – so I think it’s a bit too snug around my arms/shoulders. But it’s fine as it is – totally wearable.

The fabric is from Crafty Sew and Sew and I bought it the day after the Dressmaker’s Ball when a bunch of us went to the shop. To be honest I’ve sewn it up much quicker than I thought – sometimes I take years to use fabric I’ve bought! And it was actually their suggestion to make an ebony top – I posted on Instagram asking what I could make from it and I had totally forgotten about this pattern! Excellent suggestion!

I did match the stripes on the side seams, and I kind of like how, because of the round shape of the front and back pieces, it kind of makes the strips go into points.

I hope that this will get at least some wear during the cold months (maybe with a thermal top underneath!) as it would be a shame to not be able to wear it for, like, 6 months!

Have you ever completely forgotten about a pattern and then been reminded of why you bought it and how much you like it?

Alter It August-ish

Back in August there was an Instagram challenge (I can’t remember who ran it, sorry!) to alter the homemade items languishing in our wardrobes so they all could get a new lease of life.

I thought I would do a little round-up of the things I altered – I didn’t realise it would take me this long to get around to it, but oh well.  I’ve also altered a couple of things since August so I’ll share them too!

The first change was a super easy one – these are my Mercury Trousers before:

You probably can’t really tell what was wrong with these, but basically the elastic in the waste band wasn’t tight enough so the trousers just didn’t feel secure, so I never wore them.

It was such a stupidly simple alteration, I should have done it ages ago, but at least it’s done now, and I did them in time to wear them during the Summer quite a bit.

Another easy alteration, and basically the same one as for the Mercury Trousers was to take in the waste of my Portobello Trousers:

You can kind of tell in the before photo, above, that the waist has a bit of ease, but this was made worse by my previous job working in an upholstery fabric shop, which involved lifting 20kg rolls of fabric all day every day, so I ended up losing an inch from my waist and hips (so most of my trousers are now too big).

Again, this took, like 10 minutes and meant that I had another great pair of trousers to wear in the warmer months.

A slightly more involved alteration was this coco top that I made a couple of years ago and basically never wore because the neckline ended up really stretched out and I think the fit looked funny in such a lightweight fabric – also I have a long torso and this top just emphasised that!

So I chopped 9cm off the bottom of the top, leaving a 1cm hem allowance. I used this offcut to make a neckband, which I made 6cm shorter than the unpicked neckline, which turned out to be a good guess! The neckband was 1.5cm wide (I wrote myself notes and I don’t know if this means it was 1.5cm once folded in half or not – I think when folded in half.)

This alteration took maybe half an hour and I ended up wearing the top loads in the warmer weather – and there are some blues in the pattern which perfectly match the portbello trousers, win win! A whole new outfit with very little effort!

And now onto the items I’ve refashioned/altered since the end of Alter It August. I was looking at my wardrobe, and realised I almost never wear any of my dresses – especially now I work in a bookshop, I would feel very overdressed compared with how most people dress. I love the 2 scuba ebony dresses I made (blue, gold) – well I loved the fabric – but I realised I would get much more wear out of them as tops, so I spent a couple of hours measuring them to the length of the top version of the ebony, cutting the skirt off and hemming them into tops.

I’ve already worn both of them twice, so I definitely made the right decision!


The last item I’ve recently refashioned/altered is my chestnut sweatshirt. I know the lovely main feature of this pattern is the tie detail in the back, but I made a bad choice of fabric for my ties – I used a cotton, and not a jersey. I also always felt a bit cold in it, even though the fabric is a really thick sweat shirting, because of the gap in the back.

So I unpicked the back facing, removing the ties and cut a semi-circle to fill the gap, stitching it in place and restitching the hem on the neckline.

The piece I cut maybe makes me look a little like I have a hump, but I much prefer the filled in back and I think I’ll get lots of wear from this sweatshirt now it’s pretty cold again in the UK.

So here is my little collection of refashioned me-mades and I’ve got several new items to add into regular rotation in my wardrobe.

Do you ever alter things once they’re finished? Or do you, like me, tend to move onto the next new pattern instead of making a tiny change to an already finished make?

#2018MakeNine and Plans for the Year

Now that it’s January 2nd (and I’ve had my first day back at work, boo!), I thought I would do a little post about my sewing plans for the year – I did the same last year but this year I’m hoping to stay a bit more focussed on my Make Nine and other plans for the year so I maybe do a bit better than I did in 2017!

After careful consideration, here is my #2018MakeNine:

There are some repeats from last year – of the patterns I still want to make! And like in 2017 there are a lot of Closet Case Patterns on my list!

From left to right in rows from the top the patterns are:
1. Carolyn Pajamas – Closet Case Patterns
2. Honetone Coat – Marilla Walker
3. Ginger Jeans – Closet Case Patterns
4. Morgan Jeans – Closet Case Patterns
5. Carnaby Dress – Nina Lee
6. Ebony Dress – Closet Case Patterns
7. Hannah Dress – Victory Patterns
8 Guise Pants – Papercut Patterns
9. Portobello Trousers – Nina Lee

I have all of these patterns already and the list reflects my need for more trousers and jeans in my wardrobe. I also really, really, want to make a proper Winter coat in the first month or two of this year as I don’t have a really good coat that’s warm. The Carolyn Pajamas are also on my list as I want o level up by using piping for the first time – I already have 2 fabrics in my stash to make them so I have no excuses!

I am also again sort-of-joining in with #SewMyStyle this year – I made one pattern from the 12 last year and this year I’m planning to join in with 3 months, though I’m substituting one of the patterns.

In March it’s the Closet Case Patterns’ Kalle Shirt and Shirtdress – this would probably have made it into my Make Nine but I’ve snuck it into my plans here instead. November is lingerie month and I bought a bra kit at the New Craft House Winter Party which goes with the Harriet Bra pattern by Cloth Habit so this will be good motivation to actually use the kit and make a bra. This is part of my plans to level up my sewing this year. October has a couple of tote bag patterns as the prompts and I still want to make the Colette Cooper bag so, again, I’ve taken it off my Make Nine and added it to the Sew My Style list instead.

In theory this gives me one thing per month to make, so as long as I keep focussed I’m hoping I can get all of this done. Listening to this week’s Love To Sew Podcast definitely helped me to think about what I want to achieve this year – mostly taking on more involved, advanced projects with a few easier sews thrown in. I would definitely recommend it if you’re struggling to narrow down your choices for Make Nine, if you’re taking part.

I have a couple of other things I would like to do this year – like take up knitting again, and make some clothes for The Boyfriend – but I am also going to try to be a bit easy on myself if I don’t get all of this done. I’m sure I would have time to do everything I wanted if I didn’t have to have a job, but then I wouldn’t be able to afford fabric or patterns!

What are your plans for the year? Are you hoping to grow your skills or your wardrobe?

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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Fabric shopping in Birmingham

Last Saturday I went with some of the ladies I met at Sew Brizzle to go fabric shopping in Birmingham. I was sad to have missed the bigger meet up the previous week but in a way it was nice to go in a small group as it gave me the chance to chat with everyone (which I didn’t manage to do the time I went to a big London meet-up).

Here we are outside Guthrie and Ghani. Thanks to Sarah from Like Sew Amazing for the photo – she remembered to take pictures when I didn’t! A very kind man took this picture for us 🙂

From left to right: Karen, Amy, Me, Sarah, Ruth and Jen.

Our first stop was Fancy Silk Store. I felt a little overwhelmed when we first went in as it’s deceptively big – and has an upstairs – and I couldn’t take everything in! I did spot that they had reasonably priced denim and after we’d been around some other shops, we circled back and I bought some stretch and non-stretch denim for Ginger and Morgan wearable toiles.

This is the stretch one – it has a nice flecked weave and looks a little like linen, but is thicker. It was £6.99 per metre and I got 1.4m.

And this is the non-stretch. I did want something a bit lighter for my Morgans, but this will do for a practice. It is a little lighter than the stretch one. It was £7.99 per metre and I got 1.6m.

After this first shop we headed into the rag market, where there are loads of fabric stalls, inside and out. I had made the mistake of not taking out any cash as I thought if I did I wouldn’t buy anything! But I did have enough to get some black and some white cotton twill (I think it was twill and not drill, anyone know the difference?!).

I’m planning a 60s style colour blocked Tilly and the Buttons Megan Dress. I bought 2 metres of the black and one of the white, and it came to £12 in total (so £4 per metre). I bought this fairly early on and for some reason it weighs loads, so I got pretty sick of carrying it around by the end of the day – I was glad I waited until the end to get the denim!

After the rag market, we all got on a bus and went to Moseley to visit Guthrie and Ghani. I was not-so-secretly hoping we would go there, and I’m so glad I was with people who knew how to get there! I just followed 🙂 I could easily have spent a small fortune in Guthrie and Ghani – you can tell everything is really good quality. And the shop is so pretty!

I decided to treat myself to a couple of patterns which I wanted – the Ebony Tee and Dress by Closet Case Patterns and the Guise Pants by Papercut Patterns.

They have a really great selection of remnants and I couldn’t help picking up a couple of them. I just loved the pattern on this Robert Kaufman cotton. It’s navy blue, though it looks kind of black in the photo. It seems to be called Storm Drown, and I can’t find it anywhere online so I guess it’s not available. This bolt end was 275cm x 90cm and was £15.50. I’m hoping there will be enough for a Colette Aster blouse.

I also couldn’t resist this gorgeous mustard loopback jersey. The photo doesn’t do the colour justice, nor how soft it is. It’s honestly one of the softest fabrics I’ve ever touched. It was £6.50 and there’s only 155cm x 40cm so I’m not sure what I’ll be able to make, but I had to have it.

The final thing I bought from Guthrie and Ghani was this coral crepe fabric. It has a lovely drape and a slightly mottled texture and I got 1.7m of it at £10.50 per metre. This is one of the more expensive fabrics I’ve bought, but the Anderson Blouse I’m planning to make will still only cost £17.85 which is pretty good for a blouse made of such nice fabric!

The last fabric shop we went to was Barry’s. I would have no idea how to find it on my own, but it’s definitely a hidden treasure!

This is another shop that is very, very full of fabrics and I think you could easily spend 4 hours in there and still not see everything!

I did manage to find one treasure, thanks to Jen (Gingerella). It’s this nice blueish-greyish cotton and I bought 2 metres – I can’t remember how much I paid, though. I think I’ll make a short-sleeved Melilot Shirt for when the weather finally gets warm!

So there we go, that’s my haul for a day’s shopping. Not too bad I think. Have you been fabric shopping in Birmingham? Did we miss anywhere good?

 

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