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?

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Uses for Fabric Scraps 1: Tailor’s Ham and Sausage

Recently I’ve been thinking about the waste I create through my sewing – I think I’ve mentioned it on here before. One way I’ve decided I can reduce the environmental impact of my sewing is to use up all the scraps I collect. I keep all scraps of fabric from basically everything I’ve made. I took some of the larger pieces of fabric I knew I wasn’t going to use to the fabric and pattern swap at the Great British Sewing Bee Live but I still had a small bin bag (swing bin liner I think it’s called) full of all kinds of scraps. I’m hopefully going to share some ways on here that I am endeavouring to use up said scraps – though I suspect I’ll produce more at a greater rate than I’ll use them up.

My first scrap buster is a tailor’s ham and sausage. I’ve been meaning to make these for ages, and it definitely good timing that I finally got around to it since I’m planning to refashion a suit this month!

The patterns I used are free from Victory patterns – you can download the ham here and the sausage here. There is also a great tutorial on Tilly’s blog, if mine isn’t clear enough to follow!

I used some left over cotton twill from an Elisalex dress I made a couple of years ago (which I also made a 1960s coat from) for the top and calico for the bottom. I also did a layer of calico underneath the green stripes. I think to be a proper ham and sausage one side should be wool and the other side cotton.

You can see on the above couple of photos and the below one that there are darts in each corner of each piece.

So the first step is to sew all the darts, with the right sides of the fabric facing each other.

You can just about see the stitching here.

Here are the ham pieces with the darts all sewn.

This is what they look like from the right side, with the darts all pressed.

So then you put the 2 halves of the ham (and repeat for the sausage) with right sides together, with one half inside the other half, as below.

Pin most of the way around, making sure to leave a gap to stuff it/them.

This is what it looks like once it’s sewn most of the way around – with the gap for the stuffing to go in.

The main way this is a way to use up fabric scraps is that I used scraps as stuffing. I used mostly woven scraps, which were mostly cotton – I figured it shouldn’t be really synthetic fabrics in the stuffing as I thought they might melt if the iron was on a really hot setting. I cut all the scraps into smaller pieces – they ended up as mostly triangles. It took A LOT of fabric to stuff the ham and sausage as they have to be pretty hard once they’re done.

This is what they look like all full and round.

You then need to stitch up the gap, by hand. I made sure to double the thread to make sure it was strong enough to hold all the filling in, without bursting when it’s pressed with an iron.

Ta da! Here they are, all finished and fat and ready for my suit refashion – and for a coat or two when I finally get around to it!

Do you think you’ll use some of your scraps to make a tailor’s ham and sausage? Do you have other ways of using up fabric scraps, which are an inevitable part of sewing clothes?

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Me Made May 2017 recap

My pledge for Me Made May this year was to wear at least one item of me made (or refashioned) clothing each day in May. And I managed it! Yay! I remember when I first started sewing it was a couple of years before I felt like I had enough clothes to be able to take part, so to have enough to wear something every day is pretty cool.

Week One:

Day 1: black simplicity 2451 with my newest charity shop jumper; Day 2: navy spotty rushcutter dress; Day 3: navy blue simplicity trousers and red and blue checked violet blouse; Day 4: spotty drapey knit dress; Day 5: bright blue jersey dress; Days 6 & 7 blue spotty archer with rtw jeans.

Week Two:

Day 8: navy blue simplicity trousers and turquoise coco top; Day 9: black simplicity 2451 skirt and pink stripey banksia top; Day 10: silver toaster sweater; Day 11: flowery archer with rtw jumper and trousers; Day 12: my dressmaker’s ball dress; Days 12 & 13: refashioned coral mustard and navy dress into a shirt; Day 14: blue spotty archer.

 

Week Three:

Day 15: refashioners shirt refashion; Day 16: semi-successful moneta dress with mustard astoria; Day 17: black simplicity 2451 with my favourite charity shop jumper; Day 18: refashioned dress with peter pan collar; Day 19: navy simplicity trousers and electric blue coco top; Day 20: refashioned teapot dress; Day 21: simplicity trousers and my favourite charity shop jumper.

Week Four (and a bit)

Day 22: navy simplicity 2451 skirt and melilot shirt; Day 23: silver delphine skirt and rtw jumper; Day 24: navy scribble striped marianne dress; Day 25: wide-legged trousers I took in at the waist with breton striped plantain tee; Day 26: denim moss skirt with my merchant and mills sewing t shirt; Day 27: Gertie cigarette trousers (as part of my dressmaker’s ball outfit) with a rtw jumper and the coat I made from my Grandma’s vintage pattern; Days 28 & 29: Coco t shirt and rtw jeans; Day 30: navy simplicity trousers and silver toaster sweater; Day 31: electric blue jersey dress.
Things I’ve learned from Me Made May:

  • I hate taking daily photos. Thankfully The Boyfriend was a good instagram husband and took most of them for me, but quite often I’d realise we hadn’t taken a photo when I went to bed!
  • My simplicity trousers got a lot of wear. I definitely need more trousers I can wear at work – though I also wear them on days off too.
  • Quite often (unless I was wearing a dress) I would either have a top or a bottom but not a full outfit, so I need to make more pieces that go together. Hopefully by the time I’ve finished the Wardrobe Architect I’ll have ideas for more of a capsule wardrobe.
  • I failed to refashion anything in May, which was another part of my pledge. I have a bunch of clothes ready for alteration, so hopefully this month I’ll get back into refashioning.
  • There were a whole bunch of things I’ve made – mostly when I first started sewing which I haven’t worn this year and didn’t wear last year, so I’m going to have a wardrobe clear out to get rid of things I know I’m not going to wear.
  • I definitely need to make jeans, and more casual things to wear on my days off.
  • I found wearing dresses easier than putting together separates, so I’m planning to make a few more dresses. They’re also good for hot weather – if we get more hot weather than the one week we had in the middle of May!
  • It was nice to rediscover some of the clothes I’ve made or refashioned which I haven’t worn for a while.
  • There weren’t that many things I wore more than once (apart from my trousers and simplicity skirts), so I think I don’t need loads and loads more clothes, so I’ll try to be more thoughtful about what I make from now on.

What did you learn if you took part in Me Made May? Did you succeed in your pledge?

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