2018 in Review

Another year is over so I’m recapping what I’ve made in the last 12 months. I thought I hadn’t made as much in previous years, but I made 5 dresses, 4 sweatshirts (2 for my friend’s daughter), 2 Cleos, 4 Pairs of trousers, one of which was part of my Socialite Soiree suit, 4 shirts, and a coat. Plus I made a Freddie Mercury outfit and refashioned a bunch of things into a Miss Fisher outfit. Phew!

Here is my final Make Nine 2018 progress – I made 5 of them, which I think is the most of any Make Nine I’ve come up with. I still didn’t yet make jeans. 2019 will definitely be the year I finally tackle jeans! I made my Honetone Coat, Carnaby Dress, Ebony Dress (twice), Blaire Shirt and Portobello Trousers.

The thing I’m proudest of making this year (as I mentioned via the #myproudestmake hashtag) is my Honetone coat. I really took my time over it in February and I’m really glad I did. Apparently there is some really cold weather coming in January so this will still get lots more wear this Winter. I kind of want to make another coat, but I probably don’t need one.

My second favourite make from this year was the suit I made to wear to the Sewcialite Soiree. I made it in record time, (unlike my coat) because I left myself, like 3 full days and 3 evenings to make it in. The Joe Jacket came together really easily and I definitely want to make another one, in black and white houndstooth – if anyone has any ideas where to buy some suiting in houndstooth, let me know!

One of my favourite makes was my cropped Kalle shirt. I definitely want to make more Kalles. I did wear it quite a bit this year as we had an unusually long Summer.

2 things that I wore way more than I anticipated were my 2 Cleos. Though sadly I wore the mustard one to work a lot and when unloading a delivery from a van I got a big black mark on it, which hasn’t come out yet. Happily I have loads of mustard corduroy left over from my suit so I’m going to replace it – I think that will be one of my first makes of 2019.

Pretty much my only refashion project (except adding a hem band to a cropped Inari tee) was to make my Miss Fisher outfit for The Rafashioners. The coat will definitely get lots of wear in Spring and Autumn when it’s not too cold.

My love affair with shirts continued – I made 4, 3 of which were from patterns I hadn’t used before. (Clockwise from top left: Blaire, Honeycomb, Melilot, Kalle)

I also made 4 pairs of trousers – and I have lots more plans for more trousers in 2019. (Clockwise from top left: Persephone Pants, Simplicity 1696, Portobello Trousers, Mercury Trousers). I really want to make more Persephone Pants next year so I’m on the lookout for good fabric.

I also made 5 dresses last year, which is a lot considering I don’t wear them super often now I work hulking fabric around all day. Dresses aren’t the most practical of garments. I love the Laurel I made – definitely a good rediscovery of a forgotten pattern in my stash. (Clockwise from top right: Inari Tee Dress, Carnaby Dress, Ebony Dress (blue and gold))

Also this year I ‘launched’ my Hundred Years Wardrobe project – to sew something from each decade of the 20th century. I also completed the first project – this 70s Freddie Mercury Zandra Rhodes outfit. Sadly I didn’t dare wear it to the cinema when I saw Bohemian Rhapsody, which was amazing!

This year I joined my local brass band, and a swing band, playing the cornet/trumpet which I played for 10 years while at school. I went to their big Christmas concert last year and the year before and last year I finally plucked up the courage to talk to the band leader and then I played at the Christmas concert this year! I also spent rather a lot of money on a set of mutes so I made some storage bags to keep them from getting bashed and scratched.

The other thing I wanted to do in 2018 was to do some knitting and to make my partner some clothes. I basically didn’t do either of these for 51 weeks of the year – I have actually done some knitting over the Christmas break. I’ve been finishing a jumper I cast on probably 3 or 4 years ago!

All in all this was a pretty good year for me – I did plenty of sewing, played lots of music and got a new job which I don’t hate. My partner turned 40 and we went away for a weekend. And I’ve tweaked some stuff in our flat so it looks nicer and works better – and I’ve been clearing out cupboards this holiday season, which has been really satisfying! I finally renewed my passport and went to visit one of my best friends, with my other best friend, in Germany finally, which was really brilliant. I always feel stupidly pleased with myself when I manage to fly somewhere on my own!

I’ve also had quite a few periods of feeling low and uninspired this year but I tried to be kind to myself and not get annoyed at myself if I didn’t sew for a couple of weeks or blog as regularly as I might have liked. Sewing and blogging should be fun hobbies so if I didn’t fancy doing them, then I didn’t and I feel good about that.

My Sewcialite Soiree Outfit

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Sewcialite Soiree, hosted by Sarah from Like Sew Amazing, Jen from Gingerella and the Stitch Sisters Rachel and Nikki and it was a brilliant night. 

And of course it was an excuse to make a new outfit. But I thought about the fact that I have a few party dresses which I’ve only worn once or twice, and decided to make a suit instead of another dress, since I would then wear the trousers and jacket separately and then I’d have a suit too! I do have the suit I refashioned from one of my dad’s suits, but I’ve not worn the jacket since I took the photos to be honest – I have higher hopes for this jacket though as it’s a bit less formal because of the fabric I think.

My initial plan was to make a tuxedo but I didn’t really need another black jacket or black pair of trousers in my wardrobe, so I went for corduroy instead. I have a pinterest board of inspirational bright coloured suits. The fabric was this mustard corduroy from Fabricland (and I have loads left so expect a whole corduroy wardrobe in the future). I ordered a few samples from Fabricland and some crepe ones from Sew Over It – it’s really amazing how many different colours are called mustard! 

And the lining is this adorable bird print cotton lawn from Sewisfaction – she posted it on her stories and I immediately fell in love with it. 

 
The patterns I used were the very popular Persephone Pants, which I feel like I’m the last person to make! and the Joe Jacket by Ready to Sew. I searched for quite a while for a jacket pattern I liked and this was the closest to the boyfriend fit I was looking for. Plus it has 2 lapel variations and I went for these super wide ones! And I love them. 

This was the first Ready to Sew pattern I’ve made and I have to say the instructions were excellent – this is the most tailored item I’ve made I think, maybe apart from my Honetone Coat

There are 2 welt pockets with pocket flaps over the top, and this was the only place I got a bit confused by the instructions – which is surprising because I’ve done welt pockets before. There was a great youtube video I found, which really helped as the pocket in the video is the same as the ones in this jacket. 

They were meant to be double welt pockets but since the corduroy was so thick and tricky to iron, I did single welts instead. 

I love the flash of lining fabric behind the flaps. 

I bought these lovely wooden buttons from John Lewis – they were a pack of 3, so there were 2 for the jacket and one for the trousers. 

When I’d finished the jacket, I was worried it was a bit too long, but actually I think it’s fine – because it’s a loose fit, I think it’s fine. And I looked at other suits and just below the bum seems to be a common jacket length. 

Yay lining!

I made the size 36 in the jacket and made no fitting changes. I did, however, have to redo the sleeves as I was in a hurry when I was cutting it out and didn’t put any of the notches and markings on the fabric and sewed them in really twisted. So my advice for this  pattern (and obviously all patterns) is to transfer all the markings!

I made the size 4 of the Persephone Pants as they exactly matched my waist and hip measurements and, again, the instructions were great. I didn’t make any adjustments, but the next time I make them I will take them in a little on the back seam and the waist, adjusting the waistband too so it still fits. 

I love the hidden pockets, and I used the same lining as the jacket. 

I took 7cm off the hem (4cm cut off and 1.5cm twice as the hem) as I wanted the trousers a little cropped – as I think they’re supposed to be. I then, however, had to take another 3cm off as they were still a little longer than I wanted. 



I wore the suit exactly like this to the party, with my white Archer shirt and with these light coloured trainers. I like the look of heels, but I end up wanting to take them off about 10 minutes into any party, so I decided to be comfortable instead. 

I learned a bit about dealing with corduroy in the making of this suit – namely that you have to iron it on a towel and on the back – or sandwiched between 2 towels if you have to iron something 2-sided, like the lapels. 

I definitely want to make both of these patterns again – there’s a photo of Claire Foy in a pink suit, which inspired this one, and in a houndstooth blazer with jeans and I want to fully copy that. I also love the trousers and with the little tweak to the fit, this could become my go-to pattern for work trousers.

I also had a slight epiphany while making this suit- namely that if I don’t watch Netflix which I sew, I can sew really quickly and needed to unpick a lot, lot less than normal – on average I probably unpick every third seam I sew, but with this whole suit I only unpicked the sleeves on the jacket (because I sewed them on wrong) and a couple of other tiny things! 

Have you every made a suit or just a jacket? Do you like tailoring as much as I do?

   

The Refashioners 2018: Miss Fisher Costume

If you’ve read my blog before you may know how much I love the show Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries in part at least because of the costumes. So when Portia announced this year’s Refashioners theme was ‘inspired by’, I couldn’t resist making a costume from Miss Fisher. I really wanted to make her amazing silk robe, but I didn’t think my embroidery skills would be up to it (I’ve done embroidery twice and both times it’s been a little rudimentary).

(image source)

So having ruled out the robe, I then decided to make her signature trench coat and matching hat. I also made trousers, a blouse and a camisole to go under the coat! Fair warning this is a long post with lots of photos! Feel free to skip to the end to look at the finished look!

Here are the garments I started with (and how much I paid for each one):

Large trench coat



Jersey maxi dress


Polyester petticoat skirt


Polyester blouse – I wanted to get a dress to make the blouse, but couldn’t find anything suitable so I had to settle for this blouse.

TROUSERS

First I dyed the dress navy blue – it was mostly viscose so the normal Dylon hand dye took quite well and it didn’t matter that it was beige.


I then sewed 2 parallel lines from the hem upwards, with the right sides together, to roughly where my crotch was when I held the dress up with the hem on the ground. I then cut between the 2 lines and voila, I had trouser legs! I then tried them on, sewed a better bum curve. I then sewed a large hem channel at the top and threaded some elastic through  – I know elasticated waisted trousers are not super accurate for Miss Fisher, but these will become my ‘lounging around the house’ trousers, so at least they’ll get some more wear!

CAMISOLE

Again, I started by dying the skirt – I put it (and the blouse) in the same dye as the dress, knowing that because they were both synthetic that the dye might not take as well, but it didn’t take at all! Luckily Instagram came to my rescue and a couple of people told me about Rit Dyemore Synthetic dye. I ordered this in navy blue (to match the trousers) but this was as dark as it went.

First I cut off the elastic, and saved it in my stash to use on another project in the future. I turned the skirt upside down, so the lace on the hem was at the top. I then pinned and sewed new side seams and trimmed off the extra fabric, to use as the straps. I cut 2 strips 5cm wide, then sewed them with a 1.5cm seam allowance so they ended up 1cm wide.

I then stitched the straps on the back, put the top on and pinned the straps where they needed to sit on the front and stitched them in place.

I made the camisole because often in Miss Fisher you can see through her very thin blouses that she is wearing one underneath – I guess it was also underwear in the 20s – but my blouse was too thick to see it so I didn’t really need it, but you live and learn!

BLOUSE

After dying the blouse and petticoat supposedly navy blue they looked like this:

Then after the synthetic dye – which involved cooking the whole lot for over an hour – it looked like this, which was an improvement, but sadly not the colour I was after. The outfit I was basing it on was black, but I was going for navy but then it was this light grey-ish blue.

I unpicked most of the blouse – which took a while because it was all overlocked! I unpicked the collar and placket, and then sewed a new centre front seam to get rid of the extra fabric from the placket. I then used the scout tee as the basis for the new shape of the back and front, but I made the front a v-neck. I then sewed the sleeves back in, and used the yoke which I’d removed from the back to make a facing, understitching it to try to make it lie on the inside.

This is the blouse I was basing mine on so I decided to make the pattern on the fabric myself, since I didn’t find a garment with the right kind of geometric pattern on.  I remembered seeing this blog post on Tilly’s blog by the lovely Zeena Shah so I bought some dylon fabric paint. And I thought an empty spool of thread would be the perfect thing to approximate the circles on the original blouse.

Again, because the fabric was so synthetic, the paint didn’t take as brightly white as it would have if it was a natural fibre, but I think the effect was okay.


I used the 2 halves of the collar as the scarves down the sides of the blouse, and although it’s the wrong colour, I think it looks okay as a copy.


I’m pretty proud of the fact that this tiny pile of scraps is all I had left from the above 3 garments!

HAT

I initially thought I was going to be able to make up a hat by myself, but after doing a bit of research, I discovered someone else had also made the Miss Fisher hat and coat and she used the Sybil pattern by Elsewhen Millinery so I downloaded it and am so glad I did!


(image source)

There is a lot of topstitching on her hat – and that was definitely the part that took the longest! That and working out if I had enough fabric to squeeze the hat pieces onto. I used every scrap I had – the fabric I cut off the hem of the coat, both lining and main fabric, and the big flap from the back of the original coat. Apart from the buttons on the coat, and the elastic in the trousers, the only other new thing I used was interfacing for the hat. All of the main pieces are interfaced and one side of the brim is.

I found my tailor’s ham had an additional use by allowing me to pin the lining to the outer of the hat. The lining overhangs a little, which it’s supposed to.

To stiffen the brim a little – I thought it would be too floppy with nothing, but I didn’t want it to be really stiff – I remembered I had this wire stuff from when I made my Doc Brown costume. It was perfect!

I put 2 rows in and sewed another couple of lines of topstitching, each with a 1cm seam allowance. I can definitely recommend this pattern if you want to make a 20s style hat. I did make a change to the shape of the brim and made it a bit wider at the back, though it was still a little narrower at the back than the front.

COAT

The coat was, obviously, the main task for my refashioners project. First I unpicked everything!

I even unpicked the welts from the pockets.

I also unpicked the collar, which it turned out was unneccessary – Miss Fisher’s coat doesn’t have a collar stand, but I thought I would have to resize the original collar since I had resized the rest of the coat so much, but weirdly the collar fitted in its original size!

Miss Fisher’s coat has big patch pockets, so I placed some fabric behind the holes from the welt pockets to try to repair the holes – knowing the holes themselves would be covered with the patch pockets.

This is what it looked like from the front when I’d finished the repair.

I then made new pockets from a piece of the coat which I no longer needed – I can’t remember what it originally was, though.

I used the original welt from the pockets as the flap on the top of the new pockets – handy!

The adjustments I made to the body of the coat were:

  • resewed the back seam, removing the excess fabric from the original vent, with an extra 2cm taken out.
  • Stitched the raglan sleeves back in, with an extra 2cm seam allowance at the front and the back.
  • Stitched the underarm and side seam, as one, with an extra 2cm seam allowance, then stitched again with another extra 2.5cm.
  • I did all of this with the lining too, though it had set-in sleeves instead of raglan sleeves.
  • I cut 7cm off each of the coat fronts and off the facings, and then stitched the facings back on. I ended up cutting off all the original button holes, which was handy!
  • I then reattached the collar.
  • I then sewed the lining back in, fudging it where it didn’t quite fit any more – It miraculously did fit quite well, it was just at the front where I had changed it from double breasted to single breasted, where it needed some tweaking.
  • I cut 23cm off the length of the coat, off the shell and the lining, then bagged it out.
  • I cut 8cm off the sleeves and used the great Grainline method for attaching sleeve linings and shells.
  • I also used the original shoulder tabs as the tabs on the cuffs of the sleeves.

The final things was to make new button holes and sew on the new buttons, which I got from my local sewing shop.

This is all I had left from the coat and hat refashion. There is a bit more than I thought, but it’s mostly thin strips which I shaved off each seam, and some bits left over from the larger pieces after cutting out the hat. Not bad, though, I don’t think!

Phew! If you’ve read all of that, you deserve a medal. If you’ve skipped ahead to just look at the photos, I don’t blame you!

I took the blouse off so you could see the camisole underneath, but it looks so, so wrinkled – sorry! It was actually sticking to me, it’s so synthetic, so it may not be a top that gets much wear when it’s hot, but it would be good for layering when it’s a bit chilly.

I especially like the back view – it’s a distinctive silhouette and I think I look quite like her! (Obviously when you can see my face, the illusion is less complete!)

I couldn’t not have an outtake from all the ‘walking towards the camera’ shots. You. Are. Welcome!

I really didn’t mean to be posting this so close to the deadline, but I’m not surprised! Everything always takes me longer than I think it will.

Did you do a refashioners project?

 

 

Crepe Mercury Trousers

As I mentioned in my Summer sewing plans post, one of the garments I wanted to make was some Marilla Walker MercuryTrousers made from this lovely Crepe from Sew Over It. Although I’m blogging only blogging them now, I did make them in early September when the weather was still sort of warm, but I maybe won’t get much wear out of them until next Spring.

But I do love them! And the pattern was really easy to assemble, especially because there’s no fly or buttons – they’ve got an elasticated waist so they’re easy to fit too. I made the size 2, based mainly on my waist measurement because there’s a lot of ease at the hips.

These trousers have excellent deep pockets – now I make my own clothes, I’ve realised my ready to wear trousers (the few I still have left) generally have pockets so small I can’t get even my hand in them, let alone anything else I might want to carry round.

Having said that this pattern was  easy to make, that was definitely true but I made a really stupid mistake. I had been ironing cotton immediately before ironing the centre front seam and I didn’t adjust the heat setting and melted a hole in the top of the trousers, right in the middle. I’m not going to lie, I threw a little tantrum over it and stopped sewing for a while until I’d calmed down, thinking I’d ruined some not-very-cheap-fabric.

But when I’d calmed down and had a think, I realised I could just essentially chop the top off by sewing the waistband on further down the trousers than the pattern called for. In the end I only lost 2cm and I think the trousers turned out fine – the rise was high enough on me that the adjustment didn’t give me a wedgie!

I made the view with the pleats and the cuffs on the bottom, but in these photos I’ve folded the calf up because the trousers are a little long on my, but I really like them and I definitely think I’ll make them again. I really like the wide-legged view too, and I think a pair in some lovely linen for next Summer would be perfect! I also really like the top that comes in the Mercury Collection, so I might give that a go when it warms up a bit too.

I think this might be my favourite ever outtake by the way. You. Are. Welcome.


Have you made the Mercury Trousers? Or do you have a favourite relaxed fit trouser pattern?

 

 

Black Simplicity Trousers

After making my first pair of Simplicity 1696 trousers last April, I finally got around to making my second pair – or third if you count the pair I refashioned from my dad’s suit. I’ve worn these loads already, since making them back in May.

I made them in the same size as last time and made some of the same adjustments I made last time, namely to take in the legs on the outside seam. Last time I took them in on the inside leg seam too, but this time I didn’t. I’m happy to have a quite loose pair of trousers in this heat wave we’re having in the UK!

They do look a bit loose around the crotch area, but I’m not particularly bothered. I did actually completely finish these and then I unpicked the waistband and took them in a little more than I had before that. They were sitting too low on my hips, so the crotch was even lower and it bothered me too much. Usually once I’ve finished something, I can’t be bothered to fix things, but I did this time and I’m so pleased I did!

I left off the fake welt pockets on the back of this pair because they don’t serve any purpose and they don’t look great because I didn’t do them very well!

The fabric is some black twill I bought in Birmingham a year ago when I went for a meet-up with some Bristol-based sewing buddies. I initially bought it with a 60’s style dress in mind but I figured trousers would get more wear so I took the plunge and cut it up. And it’s not like black twill is difficult to find if I ever get around to making the dress!

This is my kind of outtake from this photoshoot – which is the result of me not quite getting into the shot after setting off my timer!

I don’t really have too much to say about these trousers except that I love them and have worn them multiple times per week since finishing them! I could do with another pair or two of good trousers to give myself more choice than just ‘navy or black’, though that’s pretty much always been the case for me!

Next time I share some trousers, I’m sure I’ll make them from a different pattern so I might have more to say!