March Makes and April Plans

March turned out to not be that productive a month for me sewing-wise, but I knew that would probably be the case as I was away 3 out of the last 4 weekends, and I do most of my sewing at the weekend. This also meant I didn’t really have anything finished to blog, hence the little break from blogging.

I did manage to make my toaster sweater, which has already got a lot of wear, so I think there are more of these in my future!

I mostly made the Simplicity 1696 trousers I’ve been planning since October……which is 6 months ago! I’ll hopefully finish them this weekend, then I’ll do a full post about all the fit adjustments I’ve done/will have to do. I’ve got to properly sew the leg seams (they’re just basted), add the waistband lining and hem them. Hopefully!

I also make a present for my niece’s second birthday, but I’ll save that for my full post at some point in the future.

I don’t think that’s too bad considering I was so busy and therefore tired! I’m definitely finding that I am happy to not have evening or weekend plans 95% of the time, and if I have to do stuff more often than that I get knackered!

So now onto my plans for April (which we’re almost a week into!). I’m hopeful of making a few things because I have next week off work and although I will go out and about a bit, I’m hoping to sew at least a bit on most of the days.

The first thing I’m hoping to make is some Carolyn Pyjamas out of this amazing boaty liberty fabric which one of my friends gave me a couple of weeks ago when I was in London. I love it! And the pattern is one of my #2017MakeNine. I’m thinking to add some red piping – although someone on instagram suggested I do white piping, which I think will also look good. Which do you think I should do? There are 3 metres, so I think it will be enough for a pair of pjs, though I may do short sleeves with long trousers if there isn’t enough for long sleeves.

My next must-make is what I hope will be a good Spring garment; a stripey Marianne Dress. This is a pattern I’ve had in my stash for ages, and I don’t know why I’ve not yet gotten around to making it! This is partly why I added it to my #2017MakeNine. I bought this navy scribble striped fabric after seeing it on Rosabella’s youtube channel. I’m sometimes wary of ordering fabric online but because she said it was good quality, I thought it safe to give it a go and it does feel nice. I hope it sews up well! I’m thinking I’ll make the shirt-sleeved version but without the collar and without colour-blocking, though I may change my mind! Any thoughts?

My third hopefully definite make is my denim Moss Skirt. I cut it out a while ago, and having made one already for my sister, I feel sort of confident that I can make it without too many places where I get stuck!

Of course, this is already a pretty ambitious bunch of projects, but I’m hoping to make a start on some jeans finally. Both of Closet Case Patterns’ jeans patterns are also on my #2017MakeNine so I want to tick off one or two this month! I’m going fabric shopping in Birmingham on Saturday this week and one of my main aims is to get some denim for one or both pairs.

If I get time after all of this (which seems really unlikely!) I want to have a go at the Bellatrix Blazer from Papercut Patterns. I bought this last month as I wanted a slightly more fitted jacket pattern than the By Hand London Victoria Blazer which I’ve made 3 times (1,2,3), as I feel more put-together at work in a blazer.

I’m also considering going to the Dressmakers’ Ball, which is on 12th May, so it might be that half of these plans go out of the window in favour of making a gown of some kind! I’m tempted to go just because when do you get the chance to make and wear a gown!? Are you going to the ball? Have you already started your dress?

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5 Things I Learned from Me Made May 2016

mmmay16Did you take part in Me Made May this year? How did you find it? I think this was the year I enjoyed least – the first 2 years I took part I was so excited to have enough me made clothes to be able to take part that I really enjoyed making an effort to wear my me mades and find ways to make them work in my wardrobe. I wonder if it was because for the first 3/4 of May I wasn’t working so it felt odd to get slightly dressed up – I feel like most of my me mades are smart/casual. But then conversely when I did get some temping work I found it hard to dress for a smarter office than I’ve worked in before.

My pledge was “I, Amelia of www.sewingmachinations.wordpress.com, pledge to wear at least one me-made garment 5 days per week. I will also try to finish off 3 garments I have cut out and make a completely me-made outfit for a wedding I’m going to at the end of May.”

I definitely completed the days of the week part – there were only 4 days when I didn’t make something me-made (sometimes I wore the same outfit 2 days in a row, in case you think there aren’t enough photos below :)). I did finish the outfit for the wedding – you can see the full post on it here. And I did technically finish 3 garments I already had cut out, though only 2 of them made it to the blog and only those 2 got worn, so I would call that a partial success.

Here are 5 things I realised while taking part in #mmmay16.

1  I freakin’ suck at taking selfies/ photos of myself in my clothes – like really really suck. In my defense I don’t currently have a full-length mirror and I felt bad asking The Boyfriend to take a picture every day. Also I kept forgetting until I’d got ready for bed!

Day 1 insta Day 2 insta Day 3 insta
Day-4-insta-square Day-5-&-6-insta-square Day 8 insta

(clockwise from top left: royal blue coco top, navy blue rushcutter, flowery plantain +
mustard yellow victoria blazer + taken in trousers, blue spotty archer,
breton plantain + refashioned victoria blazer, francoise dress)

2  It was much harder to dress for office work. I’ve been doing some temping since moving and it’s the first time I’ve had to wear office-type clothes – I’ve always been in quite casual jobs where I could wear jeans and trainers.

Day 9 insta Day 10 insta Day 11 insta
Day 12 insta Day 13 insta Day 14 insta

(clockwise from top left: flowery banksia, refashioned parrot shirt,
refashioned shirt dress, pink stripey banksia + black simplicity 2451 skirt,
refashioners refashioned shirt, turquoise coco top)

3  Conversely I don’t have much casual me-made things – for weekends and the weeks before I started temping.

Day 16 Day 17 insta Day 18 insta
Day 19 insta Day 20 insta Day 22 insta

(clockwise from top left: navy blue rushcutter, aztec print linden,
gingham violet blouse,
flowery plantain + mustard yellow victoria blazer +
taken in trousers, 
blue spotty archer, blue stripey laurel

4  I don’t have much warm me-made clothing and this year was unseasonably bloody cold through most of the month.

Day-21-square Day-21-b-square Day 24 insta
Day 25 insta Day 27 insta Day 28 & 29 insta
Day 30 insta Day 31 insta

(clockwise from top left – ending in the middle: lace dress for wedding,
mustard yellow victoria blazer, coco dress, green tartan gbsb
boyfriend shirt
, orla kiely-esque laurel + black victoria blazer,
breton plantain, black victoria blazer + refashioned freemantle
coat
, blue flowery scout tee)

5 I need to make some bottoms, especially trousers. All my photos are of tops or dresses – and mostly where there aren’t bottoms shown, it was a pair of rtw jeans from Primark about 10 years ago or a part of rtw skinny trousers from New Look about 8 years ago!

melilot-shirt-patternSo my plans are to sew some more smarter things for office working, including the Deer and Doe Melilot shirt which I just ordered – I have some perfect floaty fabric already in my stash. I also am going to order the Guise Pants pattern I think and maybe (once I’ve finally made some Ginger Jeans) use the Ginger pattern to make some smarter looking skinny trousers, by not doing the top stitching or adding the hardware – I think this will work, watch this space! I also bought some stuff in the sale Colette had recently – the Aster, Astoria and Zinnia which I think will all work well for office wear.

Roberts Collection 2

I think the 3 Colette patterns could, depending on fabric choice, also fill the other gap I have – relaxing weekend clothes. Apart from jeans I don’t have many items that I would wear just for slobbing around the house – and certainly not any I’ve made. And sometimes I don’t want to wear jeans, especially if I’m feeling bloated and am sitting down a lot – say at my sewing machine – I usually end up undoing the buttons just to feel comfortable. I have Marilla Walker’s Roberts Collection and I think this could really help me out with this hole. If you have any suggestions of patterns to sew (I’m too slow at knitting to knit any) warm clothes, I would be thrilled to take them off your hands. Also what fabrics are warm? I feel like I usually don’t take that into account and then end up too cold or too hot a lot of the time – usually too cold as a) I like in Britain and b) I’m cold-blooded I think.

I’m wondering if I should make a pledge for what I will have achieved by next Me Made May, to keep myself accountable!? Nah. I don’t want a whole year’s worth of sewing mapped out for me – what about all the pretty new patterns yet to come out!

 
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Lace Wedding Outfit

I’ve finally sewn up some of the lace I wrote about in my post about lace. Hurrah! (I was meant to take pictures at the wedding, but totally forgot, sorry! I blame the prosecco….)

Wedding-Outfit-11I made this dress for a wedding I went to last weekend – which was awesome, by the way. I haven’t been to loads of weddings – I’m not someone who has multiple ones every Summer for 5 years in a row (maybe I don’t have many friends!?) – so it was fun to have one to dress up for. There wasn’t an official dress code – which is awesome – but I still wanted the excuse to dress up and make myself something fancy.

You may remember in my lace post I mentioned making a dress for the wedding and I found some photos as inspiration. There was one that stayed with me and became my main inspiration for this dress. I liked the simple top, pleated skirt and sort-of-matching-but-not-really underlining and lace.

Style Inspiration: Navy Lace DressI was planning to also copy the high-low hem, but after a google of what they look like on actual people and after scratching my head about how to do it with the scallop edge of the lace being all around the bottom, I decided to forgo it.

I decided to underline the dress instead of lining it so all the seams would be hidden on the inside and I wouldn’t have to fiddle around with teeny french seams or double stitching or anything like that – I would like to have a go at this, though, and since I have plenty of lace left I can easily make something else that’s lined instead of underlined. I used the left-over fabric from my BHL Georgia dress (this is a bit of a BHL outfit btw) as the underlining. There was exactly enough left – and I had to cut the back bodice sideways to the grain. The 2 skirt pieces are on the selvedge (which cunningly meant I didn’t have to hem them!) and the front bodice is on a scrap folded in towards the middle – I had to cut out the skirt pieces before I could cut it out!

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I agonised for ages about what colour to put underneath my lace. You may remember it looked dull when put over bright colours. I had pretty much decided on cream but then changed my mind and went with navy and I’m soooo glad I did! I cut out the pieces in lace and the cotton sateen (as I think my Georgia was made from) and zig-zagged them together with bright orange thread – so it would be easy to unpick. This was the theory anyway – a lot of the time it got caught in my seams and was a pain to get out, especially in the pleats on the skirt! Definitely use either a tiny or massive seam allowance if you do this!

IMG_0139The bodice is the Emery bodice as I’ve already made it twice (1, 2) and done all the fitting work before and I’m inherently lazy when it comes to fitting! I sewed the side seams with a 1cm instead of 1.5cm seam allowance as I’d done last time when the bodice ended up a bit tight!

I didn’t really think about the pattern placement when I was cutting out the lace – apart from the scallops on the bottom. I probably should have centred the lace pattern on the bodice, I wouldn’t do well on the Great British Sewing Bee! I did manage to remember to sew in one of my labels, though.

Wedding-Outfit-8As well as the bodice, I used the pockets from the Emery. I LOVE pockets!!! It was really useful on the day of the wedding too, as they were big enough to hold my phone so I was always ready to take photos.

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The skirt of this dress was the real challenge. I used the BHL Elisalex skirt as a basis – in terms of length and width at the top of the skirt. I probably could have started from scratch given how much I changed, but it felt too scary! Since the Elisalex already has pleats in, I thought it would be a good starting point. It has box pleats, though, and I wanted knife pleats (I think they’re called knife pleats!). Each box pleat was 8cm on each side, so I could change it easily to be 2 knife pleats also of 8cm each. I initially wanted 3 pleats, though, but couldn’t fit them in nicely – the 3rd one ended up on my hip, which wasn’t the most flattering. I had already added another 8cm into the width of the skirt pieces, though, so I made 2 12cm pleats instead. I’m talking about in each ‘quarter’ so 2 pleats on each side of the front and 2 on each side of the back. I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out! They maybe could have been a little closer to the centre, but they seemed pretty close as it was on the pattern.

Wedding-Outfit-18The other bit of measuring was to make sure the width of the top of the skirt minus the pleats matched the bottom of the bodice pieces – I included the seam allowances in my measurements as it was the same on the bodice and skirt. The Emery and Elisalex were pretty close and I only had to alter it by a cm or two. It was particularly important for me to make sure these matched as I was adding the inseam pockets from the Emery, so I couldn’t alter the side seams of the skirt – and I couldn’t alter them on the bodice either, or I wouldn’t have got it on/ it wouldn’t have held together.

Wedding-Outfit-1You may also have noticed the fact that the skirt is not tulip shaped as in the Elisalex, but more a-line. I made the bottom hem of the skirt 10cm wider than the top of the skirt (which was 24cm wider than the original pattern) and drew a straight line for the side seams, for the back and front pieces. Once I’d taken out the pleats, the difference between the top and bottom became more pronounced. I’m really pleased with how it turned out – I didn’t want it to look like a circle skirt but I wanted it to balance out my shoulders.

Wedding-Outfit-16Although I said I didn’t think about the pattern placement – particularly obviously on the bodice! – the one place I did think about it was on the skirt side seams. I made sure the scallops looked uninterrupted so the seam wouldn’t be quite so obvious on the hem. Also, as you can see, the underlining skirt was 1.5 cm shorter than the lace over skirt, so the scallop looked its best. One of the things I loved about making this dress was than I didn’t have to do any hems! Does anyone else hate doing hems?

Wedding-Outfit-13I took a further 2.5cm off the length, on top of the 2ocm I’d removed previously! I wanted it to sit just on my knees – and because of the scallops I knew it would be a massive pain to take it up, so I measured my ideal length and hoped for the best! It could maybe have been a cm or two shorter, but I think it looks fine.

Wedding-Outfit-15

When I had the idea for this dress I didn’t really think about the weather. Here in the UK we’ve had a rather cold May and it was really really cold the weeks before the wedding, so I decided to make myself a jacket. Since I already had the BHL Victoria and had made it twice (1, 2), I thought it would be a good option and – hopefully – look nice with the dress. I decided to make the cropped version as I measured the hem would hit the waist of the dress.

Wedding-Outfit-3Mustard yellow and navy is one of my fav colour combos, so I ordered 2m of mustard yellow ponte roma from ebay and hoped there would be enough fabric to self-line it. Spoiler alert! There was.

Wedding-Outfit-2I had originally wanted to make the jacket in coral – and have matching coral shoes –  but I really struggled to find any coral fabric. If you know of anywhere that sells coral, do let me know! The other problem is no-one really agrees on what colour coral is! Sometimes it’s pretty much pink and sometimes it’s orange. I couldn’t find any coral shoes either, so I decided to go for mustard. Couldn’t find any mustard shoes either, though – hence the boring navy, though I’ll probably get more wear from navy court shoes. One other thing I learned – love wearing yellow/ mustard. It looks disgusting as nail varnish!

Wedding-Outfit-6The Victoria Blazer really is quick to sew up! It’s not too tailored, which I like – it gives it a more relaxed feeling. I think if I was in a really tailored blazer with this dress I would have felt my outfit was less young, if that makes sense? I love a tailored jacket, but with like skinny jeans. I thought about leaving off the cuffs and collar, but decided against it as I was worried it would look really weird! It was fun to sew this up in a knit – albeit a knit without a huge amount of stretch. I made sure the stretch went across the body and not up and down – I didn’t want it sagging! Because this is a pattern for wovens, though, I used a straight stitch and sewed it up as though it was a woven. Luckily I have a little left of the fabric, so I’m thinking a Colette Astoria, which I just bought in their sale this weekend!

Wedding-Outfit-17All in all I think this was a successful wedding outfit! And I mastered sewing with lace for the first time! Hurrah! Also, I’ll definitely get lots more wears out of the jacket, so it’s not an entirely ‘special occasion’ outfit.

I’ll leave you with a photo of me and The Boyfriend tearing up the dance floor! Sorry-not-sorry for my slightly manic face.

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Coat into BHL Blazer Fabric Inspiration - Lace Emery-2-Thumb 2

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Best Makes of 2015

So since it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d do the obvious thing of looking back over the last year and seeing what I’ve made and done. This was inspired in part by the Instragram #2015BestNine hashtag.

Instagram Best 9

I’ve made myself 14 garments, which isn’t really that many – I have felt like I haven’t had as much time for sewing as I would have liked.

I particularly like my BHL Victoria Blazer, and definitely feel smarter when I wear it instead of a cardigan.  I like my Merchant and Mills denim Dress Shirt, too.

Black-Victoria-Blazer-1
Demin-Dress-Shirt-6

I made a few things with knits, for the first time this year: a Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi Dress; a Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress; and a Breton-style Deer and Doe Plantain Tee.

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Coco-Dress-6a

Breton-Plaintain-Tee-5

I have also refashioned 7 things, so I’ve been a bit more productive than a first glance might imply!

My 3 favourite refashions were my ugly skirt to Grainline Scout tee (which I unfortunately shrank in the wash, boo!), my Refashioners Dear Creatures rip-off and, probably the one I’m most proud of, my ugly coat which I remade into a Freemantle Coat.

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Beige-Refashioners-Shirt-9
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I’ve made 6 non-clothes things, including my first (pusheen) and second amigurumi (a Minion), and my first scrapbook, for my Dad’s 65th Birthday.

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Minion-2

Scrapbook-3

But my very favourite non-clothes thing (and probably favourite out of everything I’ve made) was the felt allotment I made for my friend’s daughter for Christmas 2 (which happens in January so this was made this year). This was one of those things that I saw on A Beautiful Mess and knew I had to make it, and then was super excited to see my friend’s daughter open it! I was almost too excited to wait until the present exchange, and wanted to open it as soon as I arrived for Christmas 2!

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This is the anniversary of this blog, too – I had an old one but transferred the content over and focused just on sewing and crafty things (I had previously written about food and books too), and I’ve introduced a couple of new regular posts – style inspiration and fashion history. I’ll continue with these I think, as they help me to cement my personal style and guide me what to make next! I’ve also reviewed some books, events and shops. You can see the archive of all these posts here.

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog this year and I hope you’ll come back in 2016. xx

A Belated Me Made May Round Up

How did you find Me Made May this year, if you took part?

This was my second time taking part and I definitely felt the difference in the amount of garments I had to choose from! I didn’t even get a chance to wear everything I have made. I decided to wear me-mades on 5 days of each week, basically at work as I am still working towards having a good casual wardrobe for weekends and I am still yet to try sewing with jersey! Maybe I should sign up to Tilly’s new online class?

Sorry if you follow me on instagram – you’ll have seen these all before, but in case you haven’t…..(sorry for the crappy, blurry selfies – I hate taking selfies!)

Day 1: Tilly and the Buttons Mimi Blouse + Black By Hand London Victoria Blazer.

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Day 4: Refashioned High-Necked top and Refashioned Coat to BHL Victoria Blazer

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Day 5: Grainline Scout Tee with self-drafted collar.

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Day 6: Blue and White Striped Colette Laurel Dress.

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Day 7: Colette Violet Blouse.

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Day 8: Pink Stripey Banksia + Blue Simplicity 2451 Skirt.

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Day 11: Refashioned Shirt Dress.

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Day 12: Refashioned Peter Pan Collar Dress.

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Day 13: Refashioned High-Necked top + Black Simplicity 2451 Skirt.

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Day 14: Refashioned Parrot Shirt.

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Day 15: Flowery Grainline Scout Tee.                             MMM15-Day-15
Day 16: Refashioned Ugly Skirt into Grainline Scout Tee.

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Day 19: GBSB Boyfriend Shirt.

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Day 20: Tilly and the Buttons Francoise Dress.

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Day 22: Pink Spotty Grainline Scout Tee + Black Victoria Blazer

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Day 26: Emery Dress by Christine Haynes.

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Day 27: Refashioned Mustard Corduroy Shorts.

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Day 29: Refashioned Ugly Skirt into Grainline Scout Tee + Bright Yellow Butterick Skirt (worn to a ceilidh!)

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I think I must have forgotten to take pictures on some days because I’m sure I wore my other Banksia top and there don’t seem to be enough pictures, but I definitely wore me-mades on 5 days of each week! I definitely forgot to take a picture on the last day, when I wore my Orla Kiely-esque Laurel and my black Victoria Blazer (again).

The things I learnt from Me Made May were:

1. I hate taking selfies – I took about 20 each time, just to get one I liked! Documenting the month is definitely the least fun part for me!

2. There are still some me-mades that I have never worn/ don’t like wearing, but wear because I made them (my 2 Elisalex Dresses [1 + 2], my Miette cardigan, Gertie Bow Tied Blouse and my first dress, New Look 6000). These tend to be the things I made earlier on in my sewing, so hopefully this means I’m getting more of a handle on my style and what I like wearing and not being seduced by patterns which look great on other people but aren’t really me.

3. I definitely need to make some skinny jeans/ trousers, probably from the Ginger Jeans pattern.

4. I definitely need to conquer knits, so I have more comfortable, casual clothes for weekends and days when I don’t fancy dressing up.

5. It felt like a lot of effort to wear a dress as I cycle to work now. But when I actually put on the dresses, it was fine, so I think I can afford to wear them more often, especially as the weather warms up!

I did enjoy taking part in Me Made May as it does force me to look at what I have in my wardrobe and to not just put on shop-bought skinny trousers and tee shirts. Did you enjoy taking part? What did you learn?