A Pair of Frankies

As soon as I got Tilly and the Buttons’ new book, Stretch, I wanted to make most of the patterns in it. I thought Freya would be my first make, but it turns out Frankie was the first one I tried out…..and I made 2!

When Tilly had her fabric shop to celebrate the release of the book, she was selling nice white jersey – I bought 2m as I knew it would be good quality and I would be able to use some small pieces of jerseys I had in my stash to colour block 2 new tees.

The mustard jersey was a remnant from Guthrie and Ghani – I think when I went there, either with the Bristol sewing ladies or at Sew Brum. It’s such a nice jersey but there was less than I realised when I bought it – I thought I might be able to squeeze out a whole tee from it, but I only just fitted the sleeve pattern piece on it and I had to cut out the neckband in 2 pieces, with 2 joins!

The pink jersey was a remnant I bought from Sarah from Like Sew Amazing when she was selling off some of her own stash. Again, I naively thought I would get a whole tee from it, but thankfully the Frankie pattern came along and saved both jerseys from languishing in my stash.

As you can probably tell from the photos, the pink jersey is thinner and drapier than either the white (though it’s pretty close) or the mustard jersey. I did have some problems sewing on the neckbands neatly, and particularly on the pink tee, it looks a bit puckered and gathered, but it looks worse in the photos than in real life and it doesn’t bother me too much.

What’s weird is I always used to have a complex that I had really broad shoulders compared to the rest of me and I thought raglan sleeves would make me look even broader. But after making a couple of Linden sweatshirts, I decided that was bollocks and I could wear raglan sleeves! Hurray! (Also I no longer think my shoulders are out of proportion – or if they are, I don’t care!).

I made both tees in the size 3 – which is my standard Tilly size. I can definitely recommend this pattern and the instructions are also good – I always fear instructions in books won’t be as comprehensive as if I bought a pattern separately.  There are also some useful tips about sewing with jerseys and how to troubleshoot common overlocker problems, so I would definitely recommend buying this book, particularly if you’re new to sewing with knits. And if you’re an old hand with knits, the patterns are great.

Have you got Stretch? What is your favourite pattern? Or are you like me and this is possibly the first time you’ve actually used a pattern from one of the many sewing books you own?

2 More Cleos

After the success of my first 2 Cleos, I couldn’t resist making a couple more!

I made them both in size 3, as before, and made no changes – it’s not like the Cleo needs much fitting!

The black version is made from some really soft needlecord from my local sewing shop. It isn’t the best for dressmaking fabrics (they have a lot of quilting stuff and novelty cottons) but they do often have needlecord in stock in the Winter/Autumn.

I bought just a metre of the black needlecord and managed to get the Cleo out of it, which makes this a very economical make for me.

As with the other 2 versions I made, I added just the front pocket and not the 2 smaller pockets.

I also made them to the shorter length, but looking at these photos I think I could do with taking up the hem a little more – I prefer things I hit me above the knee rather than on or just below the knee.

 

The mustard version is my second mustard version. You may be thinking ‘wow, she must really like mustard if she needs 2 mustard Cleos in her wardrobe!’. But the truth is I got a black mark on the front of the mustard denim one I made before and this one is to replace it.

The fabric is the left over cord from Fabricland which I bought to make my suit for the Sewcialite Soiree. I bought loads of the cord as I wasn’t totally sure how much I would need – I think I ordered 6 metres, which was obviously way too much! I’ve also managed to get some dungarees out of the rest of the leftovers (coming soon!).

Again, I think I want to shorten the hem a bit as it looks a little too long here.

The buckles are from my local sewing shop – they are good for notions and I buy a lot of thread from them! They are slightly too wide for the width of the straps, but the advantage of being able to buy them locally outweighs the slightly too wide fit.

One of my favourite things about the Cleo is the shape of the back and how the straps fit!

 

I feel like there isn’t very much left to say about the Cleo dungaree dress as I’m sure almost everyone has made one (or more) and it’s a pretty simple make. I like the top-stitching details and how quickly you can have a new item for your wardrobe – and if you’re anything like me, you’ll wonder what you wore before you made one!

How many Cleos do you have? Or are you the last bastion of not-making-one?

I’m the last person to make a Cleo and I love it!

Well, them.

As I mentioned in my round-up of Me Made May 2018, I made a couple of Cleo dresses and I have worn them both loads – I don’t know why I waited so long to make this pattern, which the entire sewing community already loved.

I made both Cleos in the size 3, based on my measurements and I squeezed each out of around a metre of fabric, so this is a great stash buster/ #sewingleftovers pattern.

This mustard denim was from Sew Me Sunshine and she only had 1.5m left when I placed my order. I’ve already used the rest to make my mute bags. But she has it back in stock, so we can be Cleo twins if you like! I’m actually wearing this one while I type this.

I really like the topstitching, which makes the design details stand out. And it’s good practice for when I finally get around to making jeans!

Despite the fact that I made the 2 Cleos exactly the same, the mustard one ended up a few inches too long so I cut some off the hem to make them the same length, which contrary to what they look like in the photos, is just above the knee.

The buckle things are a little wide for the straps, but they were the only size my local sewing shop stocks. And I like them anyway, and they make the dresses look pretty professional, if I say so myself!

The little dimple you can see on the pocket is from wearing my pink coat club pins – I love them so I don’t care if they’ve made a permanent mark.

And now onto the navy blue one! The corduroy was from my local sewing shop and I bought it quite a few months ago. It’s the only fabric I’ve bought from there because mainly they’ve got quilting cotton and novelty prints. They did have this corduroy last Winter, though.

I really like how they look from the back – I like the shape of the straps and the cocoon-y shape of the skirt part.

I think these will definitely be a staple of my Summer wardrobe – and will be great for layering with tights and jumpers in the Winter.

Here I am demonstrating the existence of the pocket and the fact that it is fully functional! Though if I put my phone in it, it’s a bit heavy and drags down the front of the dress.

And here’s another close-up of the straps, buckles, pocket and topstitching.

There were lots of outtakes from these photoshoots, so I thought I would share some of my favourites – enjoy!

I mean, wtf!?

This is the stoned version of my silly happy face!

So am I the last person to make a Cleo or is there anyone else who has yet to jump on the bandwagon? I thought it wasn’t really my style, but I’m so glad I made these. It’s particularly good because I don’t have to be as smart at my new job, so I can wear these to work as well as at weekends.

Me Made May 2018 Round-Up

Now that May is well and truly over, I thought I’d do a recap of Me Made May. You can see my pledge here.

My main take-away is that I failed to make jeans. What a surprise. I’ve been saying I’m going to make jeans for 2 months (plus about a year before that!). I have a free weekend in a couple of weeks and it is my plan to make some jeans then – I wasn’t in the mood to make them on either of the bank holiday weekends in May as it was so bloody hot! The last thing I wanted to be doing was wrestling denim through my sewing machine.

I also found it pretty hard to decide what to wear as the weather was all over the place. I know it’s very british and boring to talk about the weather, but on the first bank holiday Monday when I was playing out with the brass band, it was 28 C and then there were other days that were 14 C.

I documented my outfits daily on Instagram and after a couple of days I decided to add another dimension to my challenge and try to have my photos look different from each other. This was kind of fun for the first week and then I just got even more fed up with documenting my outfits than in previous years because I then felt I had to think of somewhere new or a new pose for the photo. It was supposed to be a fun thing to try to break me out of my rut of the same few poses, but it didn’t really work out that way. I did, however, post as many outtakes as I could. It makes me laugh to see the stupid photos that The Boyfriend (who was a very patient Instagram Husband through the month) accidentally took. This might be the last year I take daily photos as it’s the least fun part for me, so I might try a different way of documenting my outfits so I can continue to scrutinise my wardrobe and plan my makes accordingly.

Here is a recap of all my outfits:

 

Day 1: silver toaster sweater
and navy simplicity trousers

 

Day 2: refashioned suit trousers
and gifted cashmere jumper

 

Day 3: mustard corduroy skirt
and thrifted navy spotty shirt

Day 4: flowery archer shirt and
black corduroy simplicity skirt

Day 5: electric blue coco top
and navy simplicity trousers

Day 6: yellow flowery plantain
tee and refashioned trousers

Day 7 part 1: white archer shirt
and black simplicity trousers

Day 7 part 2: yellow and navy
flowery sallie maxi dress

Day 8: refashioned raglan top
and black simplicity trousers

Day 9: spotty rushcutter
and freemantle coat

Day 10: refashioned coral, navy
and mustard dress into shirt

Day 11 & 12: spotty melilot shirt
and black simplicity trousers

Day 13: silver toaster sweater
and black simplicity trousers

Day 14: greyish melilot shirt and
navy simplicity trousers

Day 15: breton plantain tee and
navy simplicity trousers

Day 17: electric blue jersey
dress

Day 18: tester honeycomb
shirt

Day 19: refashioned coral, navy
and mustard dress into shirt

Day 20: white archer shirt
and black simplicity trousers

Day 21: navy and white
marianne dress

Day 22: stripey cropped inari tee
and refashioned trousers

Day 23: greyish melilot shirt
and navy simplicity trousers

Day 24: mustard astoria top and
refashioned suit trousers

Day 25: black simplicity skirt
and thrifted jumper

Day 26 & 27: navy simplicity
trousers and gifted top

Day 28: navy simplicity trousers
and spotty thrifted shirt

Day 29: spotty meilot and
mustard denim cleo

Day 30: mustard refashioned
skirt and thrifted shirt

Day 31: mustard astoria and
navy corduroy cleo

What I’ve learned about my handmade wardrobe:

  1. I need more trousers! I wore the same 2 pairs most of the month in rotation, and the suit trousers a couple of times.
  2. All of my knitwear is still ready to wear and I’m okay with that. I don’t have time to knit myself new things and most of the cardigans are still wearable so it seems not very eco-friendly to replace them all for the sake of having a 100% handmade wardrobe. I will make replacements as and when they wear out, but it’s not desperate.
  3. One of my favourite things in my wardrobe is my navy with white spots shirt (as you can see in Day 30) and it was from a charity shop. I think this is a good way to add to my wardrobe with things I wouldn’t necessarily make or things that I just like.
  4. I re-wore a few things that I had forgotten about, like the mustard corduroy skirt refashion.
  5. I didn’t get to wear a few things I really like because it wasn’t warm enough on enough days. I’m particularly sad my 2 In The Folds Collins Tops didn’t make it, but apparently the UK is going to have a 3-month heatwave so I’m sure they’ll get some wear this year.
  6. Most of my outfits fitted into the colour palette I decided I wanted to wear when I did the Wardrobe Architect last year, which is pretty cool. It is definitely easier to put together outfits when you like all the colours and they go with each other. The 2 cleos I made are definitely going to be a great addition to my wardrobe and fit into my palette. I’ve tried to be more focussed when buying fabric, and I guess it’s working!

What did you learn from Me Made May?

Book: Stretch

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m pretty sure you will have seen that Tilly from Tilly and the Buttons released her second book in March. Stretch: Make Yourself Comfortable Sewing With Knit Fabrics is the perfect book for anyone who has mastered sewing with wovens, expertly demonstrated in her first book, Love At First Stitch. I still have some projects from the first book I want to make (mainly the Megan dress) and now I’ve got a whole bunch of great knit patterns to add to my ever-growing to-sew list!

As is her main goal, this book takes you through everything you need to know and have to be able to sew great knit garments if you’re a complete knits noob. (And the projects are great if you’ve mastered knit basics). I like how in the below list of items you need she has separated items into ‘need’ and ‘nice to have’ – sometimes it’s easy to be put off starting something new by thinking you have to have ALL THE THINGS but she shows this isn’t the case.

A book on sewing with knits wouldn’t be complete without some tips on matching stripes! Breton tops of my dreams here I come….

I love that Tilly takes you through how to sew knits on a regular sewing machine (and doesn’t say you absolutely have to have an overlocker). My first few knit garments were sewn entirely on a sewing machine and I still sew all the seams on my sewing machine before finishing the edges on my overlocker as I am too much of an unpicker (and the tension on my overlocker isn’t great) to sew things with the overlocker in the first place.

Having said all of that, there are also some tips on how to use an overlocker if you do have one.

And there are some troubleshooting tips, which I definitely need to have a look through to try to sort out my tension issues. I love that she has clear photos of what the issue might be and then an explanation of how to fix it.

Now onto the projects. As with Love At First Stitch, the projects go from simplest through to most complicated, which is a great way to structure the book as you can get used to working with knits using a more stable knit, as is required for the Bibi skirt. To be totally honest I probably won’t use this pattern as it’s pretty similar to the Colette Mabel, which I’ve already made and traced.

I love that she shows you ways to alter the patterns to make them more easy to adapt to your own style. I like the Bibi with the split and waist tabs.

It seems like this adaptation has already been pretty popular online – the season of the pinafore dress has obviously not come to an end yet. I’m pretty behind on the trend, though, and am only just now planning my first Cleo.

I think this will be one pattern I will use. I wasn’t sure about raglan sleeves on me, but then I realised two of my favourite dresses have them (1, 2) and I made another version of the Linden sweatshirt  and I don’t hate it, so I’m going to give the Frankie baseball tee a go. I have a couple of small but lovely amounts of knit fabrics, which would be perfect for colour blocking – I just need some ideally white jersey to go with them. Any ideas where to get nice white jersey?

I love this version in stripes – who doesn’t love stripes – and it’s a really great idea to add some applique. It’s a fairly simple way to make something more interesting and add some flair.

I really like this version with the v-shape in the neckline, too. And the short sleeves are super cute.

The Freya is another pattern I definitely think I’m going to make – probably the top version as I already have loads of dresses I don’t wear very often.

I can see why this mustard yellow dress version had everyone obsessed on Instagram. Zeena Shah looks adorable in the photos and the frill has made me want to try frills for the first time!

There are 3 different necklines to choose from with the Freya pattern and I like the roll neck, especially since it seems like we are never going to get Spring again in the UK – I’m still in the mood to make snuggly, warm makes!

The last pattern in the book I think I’ll try is the Stella joggers (though probably not the hoodie as they aren’t really my style). I feel as though I’m missing some comfortable-lounging-around-the-house clothes so the Stella joggers could be the perfect solution. Also I think without the ankle cuff they wouldn’t look quite so sporty so might be good casual trousers to add to my wardrobe.

The final pattern in the book is the Joni dress, which again I probably won’t make. It’s not really my style, though never say never!

And I do love this version with the sequined skirt, modelled by the gorgeous Alex from Sew Happy. The blush pink is perfect on her and I basically want her hair (though that would take years of growing it out and lots of dye!).

Now I just need to buy a bunch of great knit fabrics to make my comfy wardrobe of my dreams. What are your favourite places to buy knit fabrics? Which pattern from the book are you planning to make first?

You may also like: