Monday, 22 May 2017

Happy #MMMay17! Sewbox Giveaway



Here's the second and final #MMMay17 celebration giveaway, and it's a really good one!!! Susan from Sewbox.co.uk has been insanely generous in offering up a £50 voucher to be spent on her site, with free postage included worldwide! £50?! You know what £50 will get you? LOADS. Sooooo annoyed I can't enter....


Well, if it wasn't unethical to enter my own giveaway and I won, do you want to know what I would pick? Probably some of this Liberty Tana Lawn pictured above. Because I recently discovered this French sewing blog and she makes lots of beautiful stuff from the Liberty Betsy print. 


And I'd further my trouser-making investigations with this lovely-looking Hot Patterns slim cut pants pattern. Plus, I'd probably get some other bits I'd need for the project, like the zip and thread. Job done.

If you are a Me-Made-May'17 participant and would like to enter this awesome giveaway, please let us know in the comments for this post what YOU would choose from the Sewbox.co.uk site. Don't worry, if you win you will be allowed to change your mind if you wish! Make sure that you've entered by midnight GMT on 28th May, and please include your email address in your comment if it can't easily be found within two clicks of my mouse. Good luck! 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Great Dribble Bib Swap!!! Are You In?



So, right now many of us are currently knee-deep in our Me-Made-May challenges. If you are, I hope you're having a fun and illuminating time. I'm not wishing the month away, but I must admit that each year, when May comes to an end and the challenge is over, I always feel some loss, mostly for the connections and community that are created during May. Well, this year I've decided to try something new-to-me, something that also might fill that Me-Made void when June rolls around: I'm hosting a sewing swap!

This swap is aimed at new or expecting parents, or the friends, siblings, colleagues etc. of new or expecting parents, who are up for sewing and then posting a baby's dribble bib, and to receive one made by someone else in return.

Why dribble bibs? Well, it seems like there are a lot of sewing bloggers and Instagramers around the world who have either recently had a baby (mine is seven months old now but I view anything up to a year as 'recent'!), or have one on the way. I thought this might be a nice way to connect with each other, reaching out in sleepless solidarity by sending each other a low-energy little project. Obviously, new parents or about-to-be-new parents don't have heaps of time to sew, but finding a scrap of time to do so can be really beneficial to mental health (I've found), so this might be a great motivation to find that spec of time! But this sewing swap really is open to anyone, not just parents, who has a baby in their life, or is about to.

If you would like to take part, then please email me (sozoblog at g mail dot com) with your name, address (this is a global swap) and whether you require a bib for a boy, girl or unisex (if your expecting and don't know the gender) by 30th May. I'll then email you the details of who you'll be making a bib for by 1st June. You will have the entire month to create a dribble bib (as opposed to a bib for protecting clothes when eating) and pop it in the post by the end of the month. I'll use a random number generator to assign who will send a bib to whom, so it'll be nice if you include your name when you send the bib so the recipient will know who made it.

Aside from being assigned a gender/gender-neutral, the style or design is totally up to you, but please make it big enough to fit a baby up to year old or thereabouts. If you are stuck for inspiration, then I've collated some ideas on this Pinterest board, which also includes links to some free bib patterns and tutorials (and you can find my dribble bib tutorial here).

Frankie has recently pushed out all four front teeth AT THE SAME TIME, so it's dribble aplenty round these parts. I really hope that some lovely sewers/sewists take me up on this so we can send each other some awesome dribble catchers! Oh, and I'm totally new to hosting a swap like this, so if there's something you think I've missed then please let me know.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Happy #MMMay17! Miss Maude Giveaway


This Me-Made-May, we've got two awesome giveaways for participants to enter by way of celebration. This first is being hosted by Jennifer Lauren Handmade, and the prize has kindly been donated by the incredibly well-curated, NZ based online sewing emporium, Miss Maude. Emma, Miss Maude's owner, has generously offered the winner their choice of one sewing pattern and two metres of fabric, PLUS a surprise piece of haberdashery thrown in for good measure, AND includes shipping worldwide.


If you're asking me what I'd choose (and I know you were just about to!), I'd probably go for some of this delicious looking organic cotton gingham woven in India (pictured above). How chic and grown-up would it look made up as an I am Patterns Pan Tee?! But that's just me. 

Head over to Jennifer's blog post to find out the full details on how to enter, but do so quick because the giveaway closes this Sunday (14th May). 

Friday, 5 May 2017

Refashion Friday: Primark Maxi Dress to Striped Scout Tee


When you find a well-fitting, quick-to-make sewing pattern, like Grainline's Scout tee, you'd be crazy not to make another, amirite? I'm so pleased that I held back from cutting into this charity shop score maxi dress until after I had the chance to try out that pattern for myself. 


'Before' garment:

Whenever I pop into a charity shop, I check out the dress section for both larger sizes and maxi styles, as you can sometimes get a good amount of fabric for your money in those items. I was particularly elated when I found this treasure because: A) it was in one of the cheaper charity shops in Hastings so, for once, the fabric I wanted to reuse didn't cost me more than if I'd bought something similar on the roll in a fabric shop, B) it's a Primark garment, and as one of the biggest 'disposable fashion' offenders here in the UK, I take extra pleasure in giving new life to something that started its life on their racks, and C) navy and cream stripes. 

Initially, I considered leaving fairly well alone and simply hacking off the bottom. My thoughts being that it's existing shape is similar to the April Rhodes Staple dress pattern, and I have worn the living hell out of my version. But where's the fun in that?! Also, I'm not a massive dress wearer, even when I'm not breastfeeding, so I decided to go with a remake that would see LOTS of use. 


Pattern:

Having toiled and made up this pattern before, I knew which size to start with (i.e. a size smaller than my measurements would have suggested I cut), and also what issues to look out for. I found that the sleeve head/shoulder seam on my safety pin version sat a touch too far off my shoulders. But I feared that grading to a smaller size for the top part would make this top too tight across my shoulder blades to get on and off or feel comfortable. What I ended up doing was to slightly redraw the armhole shape to simply scoop away a little from the shoulder line so the sleeve heads sat where I wanted them to. That seems to have corrected the issue nicely without reducing the width across the back at all. Boom. 

The only other change I made was to create little side splits, mainly because I like the way they look, but also because I found with my safety pin version that it's a bit of a stress point with all the yanking up for 'access' that all my tops currently receive. The side splits meant that I couldn't do French seams on this version but I was happy with that as I think it made the side-seam pattern matching a bit easier.  


Thoughts:

So I'd say that I've now completely nailed the fit of this pattern on me, until I go and change size/shape, of course. If I were being the pickiest pernickerty of all time, I would, however, point out that I should have used cream bias to finish the neckline rather than making self-bias from the dress fabric. You can see a tiny bit of shadow where a navy bit of the bias can be seen through the cream bit of the neckline at the front. But I'm going to chalk that up as a lesson learnt and move the hell on.

Whilst I was figuring out how to position the Scout tee pattern pieces on this dress, I discovered some nail varnish along the hem. Perhaps the former owner was painting her toe nails on holiday before a night on the razzle. I think there's a bit of it still inside the turn up on the hem of my top! I think that's as close to going out on the razzle as this top is going to see, but you never know...


Cost: 

Pattern: $12 in PDF form (approx. £9.86)
Dress: £3.50 from Oxfam in Hastings 
Total: £8.43, as per my own rules, if I use a pattern more than once I calculate the total with the pattern's cost-per-use (in this case, by dividing it by two) rather than the original pattern price 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

My #MMMay17 Pledge




'I, Zoe of 'So, Zo...' blog and @sozoblog, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I endeavour to wear all me-made clothing (excluding bras, socks, tights and footwear) each day for the duration of May 2017'


It's that time again my friends: for all of us who want to take part in the the Me-Made-May challenge to take stock of what's going on in our lives, and think about how we hope to improve our relationships with our handmade wardrobes. Or something like that.

For me personally, this Me-Made-May will be my first as a full-time mum of two little people, and probably my last with a baby hanging around the place. That means needing to wear intensely comfortable and practical things in outfit combos that take NO TIME to put together, with regular breastfeeding access a necessity. That all may sound a bit constraining, but I'm actually feeling really good with what I have, and have to, wear these days. Plus, I'm feeling a real freedom, both practically-speaking in the comfortable clothes I'm wearing, and conceptually by not needing to 'dress to impress' anyone at the moment.

I've accepted pretty fully where I am currently at with my lifestyle/wardrobe needs, so much so that I had a major clear out a few weeks ago. I bagged up and donated at least a third of my wardrobe. I guess, there's nothing like an expanding family to shift and refocus your priorities. That said, I've also been feeling for a year or so that my personal style and influences were shifting somewhat, but being pregnant for most of last year meant that exploring that was put on hold. Now I'm not pregnant, and I have a fairly clean slate in the form of my dramatically thinned out clothing selection, I'm free to add to my wardrobe slowly and mindfully, which I'm really excited about.

But back to Me-Made-May. Although my pledge this year is the same as it has been for previous years (including the first in 2010!), this year will be different for me in that I've decided not to attempt daily documentation photos. Taking photos is, of course, NOT the point of the challenge, but it has always been something I've liked to do (however much of a struggle it can sometimes be) as I've found it really informative and useful. But I just can't see how I'll be able to keep up with that this year, whilst dealing with two tiny scamps with their various and different needs. Plus, Mr So Zo is studying hard at the moment on top of his full time job and childcare duties, so it doesn't seem fair to rope him into daily mini-photoshoots as well. Also, with my current limited clothing selection, I'm expecting lots of outfit repetition, so there's not much point in taking pics of the same thing over and over again.

Instead, I plan to write down what I wear each day, so I can analyse at the end which items get worn the most, and therefore which types of things I should focus my future sewing activities on making. I will take some outfit shots here and there, perhaps when I'm feeling particularly pleased with an outfit, or more likely, when I randomly get the chance!

If you plan to challenge yourself during Me-Made-May, I hope that coming up with a useful pledge wasn't too tricky. I wish everyone heaps of fun throughout the month, and hope that you learn lots of useful lessons along the way.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Rainbow Bright Pyjamas


Whilst I deliberate both my current trouser fitting issues and the specifics of my own #MMMay17 challenge, I'm going to share with you a cute little project I completed for Dolores a few weeks back. 

Fabric:

This project came about by acquiring the fabric first and then figuring out what to do with it, rather than finding a pattern I wanted to make and sourcing suitable fabric for it. I saw this crazy rainbow-stars-and-spots knit on one of Girl Charlee's new-stock announcements and my internal WANT alarm sounded loud and clear. It looked so fun and cartoony, and I knew Dolores would love it (in no small part due to it being predominantly pink). 


Mark at Girl Charlee was generous enough to send me 1.2m for free (thanks Mark!), and when it arrived I found it most intriguing. Firstly, because I rarely pay attention to such things even though it is clearly displayed on their site, I didn't realise that the print was on such a large scale. I love how that makes this fabric even bolder. And secondly, it was much thinner than I anticipated, slightly see-through in fact, so my considerations for another Corfou dress went out the window. This fine, light weight knit fabric with an unusual waffle texture was, in my opinion, therefore destined to be summer pyjamas (although I'd love to hear what else you'd make from it). 


Pattern:

My decision to make summer pyjamas gave me the perfect opportunity to test out Brindille & Twig's recently released free Ringer tee pattern (as previously mentioned in this post about my favourite free children's sewing patterns). I actually ended up making two of them. Initially I used the size 3-4 (Dolores is three and a half now) but it came out massive, so I tried again using the size 2-3 and removed an extra 5cm of length from the front and back pieces and the fit was much better for this forthcoming summer. What I really like about this pattern (aside from the price! Thanks Melissa, creator of Brindille & Twig, for your generosity), is that the neckline, sleeves and bottom edge are all finished with bands of fabric so you don't need to do any fiddly hemming. Trying to hem a thin, textured fabric like this would have been quite a headache I reckon. The pants pattern was from Ottobre magazine, which I used last year for the monsters-and-snacks pair. That pattern also deploys bands of fabric to finish the edges, removing the need for hemming. 


Thoughts:

Even though the temperature at night hasn't really been warm enough yet, Dolores has insisted on wearing these several times. She would not be persuaded to keep them until summertime; I wish I had that problem with all the things I sew for her (check out the grey bubble shorts on my Instagram feed (@sozoblog) for example)! The only issue with this pyjama set is that I have to go back and insert some elastic around the top of the pyjama pants as this fabric is 100% cotton and therefore doesn't have sufficient stretch and recovery to act as a waistband. Once again, the information was clearly there if I'd looked for it... If I'd seen this fabric last summer, I would have made myself a Cordelia maternity camisole out of it, which would have both cheered me up and cooled me down during the uncomfortable last part of my pregnancy. BTW, this rainbow fabric is currently on sale, so if you or your scamps need some summer jammies, or another type of garment I failed to consider for this fabric, you can bag some for just £3.98 a metre. 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Trousers Fitting Quest: Update and Please Help!


Please, for the love of god, help me. A combination of being woken up at least four times every night and my quest for nice fitting trousers is driving me insane. I'm hoping that some lovely blog readers could help me with the latter? (Or the former, if you're lactating and fancy looking after Frankie for the night?!) So, the story so far....


If you've read this blog for a while then you probably know that I've been going on and on about wanting to finally nail trouser fitting since 2015. So now that I'm no longer pregnant (YAY) and the shape and size of my body seemed to have more or less stabilised, I decided to pick up where I left off. 


I went back to Sew Over It's Ultimate Trousers pattern as it looks like a good, basic, no frills style with the slim legged look that I'm after. I traced off the pattern, blending between sizes as my measurements suggested I would need to, and made a toile (muslin). Generally, the fit looked pretty good, particularly from the front, but the back definitely needed some tweaking as there seemed to be too much fabric from the bum downwards. I tried bringing in the back inside leg seam at the top, which took away some of the excess fabric, but not all. I then tried taking in the same amount from the back inside leg seam the whole way down, not just at the top, and this seemed to work well. There were more waistline tweaks but I can't remember what they were and I don't think the are relevant to my main dramas. 


With these tweaks made to the pattern, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself so I made them up in some awesome blue stretch denim from Fabric Godmother. The resulting pair of trousers looked pretty good (IMO) and felt really comfy. So, although I know they weren't perfect, I was pleased that I'd made a wearable pair of trousers. But after some wears and washes, I realised that I was only happy with the fit when I wore them when they were tightest, straight out of the wash, rather than a wear or two later. 


So I went back to my pattern and skimmed 0.5cm off both side seams (removing 2cm in total) and tried making them again in some beyond-perfect black stretch denim, also from Fabric Godmother (sadly no longer available, *crying face*). I also shortened the length of the back darts because they looked crazy-long on the blue pair. 


The result of the black ones seemed pretty good: the slim fit I was hoping for in the nicest denim I have ever seen. And then Pat (Mr So Zo) took these pictures. WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME THEY LOOK SO SHITE FROM THE BACK?!?! The front view doesn't look great in these photos but I promise IRL they look ok. But the back? After some interrogation Pat confirmed that they really do look like this at the back. UGH! And now that I've got him to take pics of the blue ones too, I can see that they aren't all that either...


Correct me if I'm wrong (please please do!), but what I'm seeing here is a too-tight bum and a whole world of wrinkles under said bum. My mum, who is great help to talk with about fitting issues, came to visit and we tried to work out what to do about it whilst armed with Pants for Real People. However, that book didn't appear to address the issues my trousers seemed to be throwing up. And having thought about it since then, the style of trousers in that book aren't what I'm aiming for anyhow: slim legged styles don't seem to really be addressed at all, and I'm not sure if fitting/pattern tweaks for classic trousers would be the same as fitting/pattern tweaks for slim legged fits anyhow. 


Anyways, my mum suggested pinching out the under-bum wrinkles (kind of like this), but after some deliberation I'm not sure that that's the way forward. My hunch is that those under-bum wrinkles are the symptom of the problem, rather than the problem itself, if you know what I mean; that perhaps those wrinkles are a pooling of fabric caused by some other issue. Perhaps the shape and/or length of the rise on this pattern is wrong for my body? Memories of stuff I'd seen online and in Winifred Aldrich's Metric Pattern Cutting book lead me to develop...


Theory 1:

If I'm aiming for a slim, more jeans-like fit, then perhaps I need a more diagonal, straighter, jeans-like rise? Some participants in this extensive and rabbit-whole like thread would suggest so. Also, this blog post by Sew Chic Patterns says that this increasing of the angle of the back rise is advised for owners of a full butt. I'm wondering if that's my issue? It's a label that was applicable to me a number of years ago, but I thought that many many hours sat underneath feeding and sleeping infants had alleviated me of that 'problem', although maybe that extra junk just got redistributed a bit rather than disappearing. If this is my issue, then I'm assuming I can address it using this method

(image source: Sew Chic Pattern)


HOWEVER.... That Sew Chic Patterns post also suggests that a full bum requires some 'scooping out' of the rise (ouch) as pictured above. Surely scooping out means to remove fabric, so why would you remove fabric if you are trying to accommodate a full bum? And how are you meant to know how much slash-and-flaring to extend the back rise angle and/or 'scooping' out one needs to do? Or is it just trial and error?

(image source: Cation Design)

Theory 2: 

Further internet research lead me to reconsider the under-bum wrinkles issue. What if they are the problem, and their solution (the weird fish-eye dart extraction as generously and cleverly outlined in this Cation Design blog post) also results in the benefit of some 'scooping' out of the back rise/crotch curve (see below), as we discussed in Theory 1? Does this also extend the rise somewhat?

(image source: Cation Design)

In short: what the hell?! If any one can shed any light on these trouser fitting issues PUH-LEASE leave a comment below. I will of course need to do some more toiling and experimentation, but I really feel I need some more knowledge and advise before I know which path to go down. Many many thanks in advance...

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Me-Made-May '17: Sign-Up Here!




Welcome to the sign-up for Me-Made-May'17! Can you believe that Me-Made-May is in its EIGHTH YEAR?! This challenge is all about improving your relationship with your handmade wardrobe, and perhaps also learning about yourself and your creativity.


What is Me-Made-May'17 and how it works...

Me-Made-May'17 (#MMMay17 for social media interaction) is a challenge designed to encourage people who sew/knit/crochet/refashion/upcycle garments for themselves to wear and love them more. The me-made and self-stitched challenges have been taking place for eight years now and they work on both a personal and community level. The participants decide the specifics of their own challenge, so that the month is appropriate and challenging for them (more on this below). For example, a very common pledge is for a participant to aim to wear one self-stitched or refashioned garment each day for the duration of May 2017. Some participants choose to document their challenge photographically (though this is in no way compulsory for taking part) and share them with other participants.

Taking part can...
  • To start integrating your self-made items into your regular wardrobe rotation.
  • Help you get out of a wardrobe rut by focusing on your lesser-worn items and creating new outfits that include those.  
  • Find out what the 'holes' in your wardrobe are so that you are able to use your garment-creating time more usefully in the future. 
  • Begin wearing the clothes that you really want to be seen in, rather than the same old things you usually reach for most mornings.  
  • Enjoy the excuse to finish off any lingering UFOs (unfinished objects), or to finally start a project that has been on your mind for ages. 
  • Discover what the rest of this large community of makers has created and is wearing in their day-to-day lives, and enjoy the support, advice and inspiration that they will provide. 


What isn't Me-Made-May'17? 
  • A photo challenge. You might have seen heaps of Me-Made-May related pictures posted on blogs, Instagram etc. during previous challenges showing participants in their awesome handmade creations. Many like to document and share their challenges in this way, which is obviously amazing, but COMPLETING YOUR PLEDGE is the actual challenge; taking and sharing photos of what you wear during it is ENTIRELY OPTIONAL. I cannot emphasise this enough: you do not need to take any photos. At all. But please do if you want to. 
  • A reason to make lots of new clothes (unless you want to). This challenge is about wearing the items that you have already created more often, not about stock-piling more makes. However, if you want to use taking part in the challenge as the kick in the butt you need to finally hem that half-finished skirt, or rework an ill-fitting garment, then great. Remember, this challenge is meant to be fun, and panic-making isn't fun! 
  • A competition. It doesn't matter how many self-stitched items you already have or haven't. You can take part even if you just have one solitary self-made item! You just need to set your pledge to make it challenging for YOU, no matter what criteria other participants have set themselves. 

How do I sign up?

All you have to do is copy the pledge below and paste it into the comments section of this post adapted to include your details and the personal specification of your challenge before 1st May:

 'I, (insert name here and blog address/instagram handle if you have one), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I endeavour to wear......................................................... each day for the duration of May 2017'


Ideas for your pledge...

Remember, this is meant to be challenging (i.e. not what you usually do), so take some time to think about how to get the most from the challenge before writing your pledge. 

If the standard 'wear one self-stitched garment per day' pledge won't help or stretch you, for example, if you have to wear a uniform during the week or you already wear quite a lot of me-mades, then come up with something else. How about pledging to wear two or more self-made garments each day? Or pledge to try making a new type of garment by the end of the month to wear on the final day? Or pledge to finish all your UFO's by 31st May? Pledge to focus on wearing your 'meh' garments to see if you can fall back in love with some of them? Pledge to only wear separates to force yourself to get creative with your mix-and-matching? Pledge to only wear each garment or garment-combo once? Pledge to wear an outfit including one sewn or knitted garment AND one refashion each day? There are near-infinite ways to tailor the pledge to your own requirements. 


If you have a blog or social media accounts, why not re-post your pledge there so your readers and followers can see what you are up to and be inspired by your endeavour? If possible, please include a link to this post so others can also sign-up if they are interested. If there's one thing I've learnt from these challenges, the more people involved, the better the party!

If you would like to advertise your participation on your blog if you have one, why not treat yourself to the addition of the #MMMay17 widget/gadget/button? The code can be found at the top of the right hand column of this blog. The widget/gadget/button not only looks cute, but it shows other participants/potential-participants at a glance that you are taking part this year. Plus when clicked on, it will ping you to this sign-up post so others can read what this whole damn thing is about without you needing to go into too much of an explanation yourself. If you aren't sure how to apply/insert a widget/gadget/button code, check this post for explanations for Blogspot/Blogger and Wordpress blogs.


What's different about this year's challenge? 

Participants of previous years' challenges may notice a couple of minor differences this year. Mainly, that there's no official Me-Made-May'17 Flickr group or Pinterest board. Whilst Instagram activity has rocketed, these other platforms have seen less action over the last couple of years, so seeing as I'm pretty time-poor these days I've decided to do away with those this year. Also, for the same reason, I'm going to host one larger celebration giveaway for participants towards the end of the month, rather than smaller weekly ones.


I've signed up, what do I do now then?

Nothing in particular until 1st May 2017, except let an underlying sense of excitement brew! You may decide to finish up that UFO, but please people, NO PANIC-SEWING/MAKING NECESSARY OR CONDONED!!


If you are concerned or confused about any aspect of this challenge, please email me at sozoblog (at) g mail (dot) com.

Let the signing up commence!!!!!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Corfou Fawn Dress


Check out this nonchalant cutie busting out her best fashion pose! I'm feeling really pleased with this make. I think Dolores looks awesome in it, plus it's the product of some freebies that imma gonna tell you about... 


Pattern:

A few months ago I was contacted by French children's sewing pattern brand Ikatee and asked if I'd like to pick a pattern to try for free, in exchange for a review. Who doesn't love a free thing?! I know I do, especially when those 'things' are gorgeous children's sewing patterns. I hadn't heard of the brand before and it was a lot of fun, if mildly stressful, choosing which to go for. 


If I'd been given free rein, I would have gone for the Hibiscus ruffle blouse, which is similar to many of the garments I've pinned here. In fact, I'm pretty obsessed with ruffles for both girl's and women's wear at the moment. Anyways, I asked Dolores her opinion and she chose the Corfou dress pattern, which really surprised me as there were plenty more 'dressy' dress patterns to choose from. I was doubly surprised in fact because the website shows the pattern made up in a blue and white striped fabric, and as Dolores is very quick to tell me, she doesn't like blue (she has yet to work out that a garment could be made in different colours than is shown in the photo and isn't interested in me trying to explain that to her). However, I was very pleased because the Corfou dress pattern (which includes sizes 3 to 8) looked like a great canvas for lots of different fabrics, and being a pattern designed for knit, I hoped it would be comfy and offer lots of freedom of movement. 


Using the pattern was really interesting. Despite specifying that it be made in knit fabric (like this printed jersey), the construction steps feel more like working with a woven. For example, there is a neck facing and a button back fastening. Plus, you are required to topstitch round the neckline and keyhole. The only part that really made it feel like a knit pattern to me was the small seam allowance and using my overlocker to stitch the shoulder and side seams. But I found the English translation of French instructions really charming, and the step-by-step photos were clear and helpful. 


Something else that I found unusual with this pattern was that each size is a separate PDF document, rather than having all the sizes grouped together in one. This isn't a problem as such, and in fact many may prefer it as you don't have have all those confusing lines overlapping each other. But I think if they'd all been grouped together then my tired brain might have remembered to cut the size larger for the length! 


Fabric:

The second freebie element of this project was the fabric. I'd been eyeing this fawn print jersey on the Girl Charlee UK website for ages. Then at Christmas I saw that Just Sew Jenna had made some fabulous pyjamas for her daughter in this different pink and red colour way and my WANT alarm went off. Dolores loves pink, I love red; finally a fabric we can both stand. One cheeky email later, and Girl Charlee agreed to send me a metre or so for free. Thanks Mark!

This jersey is a cotton and polyester blend, with a light to medium weight and decent stretch. However, I'd also describe this fabric as having a bit of body to it, which lends it perfectly to this pattern as it helps keep the shape of the little kimono sleeves and A-line skirt. I also love how the deer get a bit distorted where the elastic brings the waist in. I could have pattern-matched when cutting the pocket, but I wanted to make the pocket slightly more visible by selecting one central deer that would be offset from the background instead. 


Thoughts:

This has got to be one of my very favourite makes for Dolores to date! It's so cute and casual and sassy. The size 3 of the pattern ended up being a touch short, so it's unlikely that she'll wear it without these hand-me-down red leggings underneath, but she's fairly tall for her age. I think that the pairing of pattern and fabric is one of my best, if I may toot my own horn. However, I'm tempted to add a larger seam allowance and try the pattern in a woven fabric next time, a cotton lawn perhaps, to see how that turns out. Perhaps a solid colour with a contrasting printed pocket? This pattern requires very little fabric, so I'm also thinking up some plans to use the rest of this lovely fawn jersey too.

Cost:

Pattern: £0, however it can be bought here for $7.99 (approx. £6.40)
Fabric: £0, however it can be bought here for £11.45, you'd need 60cm for size 3
Button: £0, from stash
Total: £0

Friday, 24 March 2017

Refashion Friday: Quintet of Quick'uns


My theory is this: sometimes you sew something predominantly because you've had a great idea for a project, and other times you sew something predominantly because you actually really need the item. Like, you need it now. And the need for a specific item always seems to come when you're short on time, doesn't it? I usually find that refashioning and remaking existing garments is a good way to get what you need quicker than starting with a piece of pure, unadulterated fabric. I also get a massive buzz from creating something that will see heaps of wear from a garment that already had a previous life. Here are five things I've made over the last few months that begun life as a different garment. 


The photo at the top of this post is proof that the jumper remake pictured above has gone into immediate wardrobe rotation. At the start of each winter I am swiftly reminded that, for someone who lives in the UK, I really should own more warm tops. I am committed to and passionate about making as many of my own clothes as possible, but I'm not a knitter so it can be hard to fill this particular gap. So when I saw this rather shapeless leopard print Topshop jumper in a charity shop, I thought BINGO! Using a self-drafted sweatshirt pattern as a starting point, I recut and reconstructed this jumper using my overlocker into something much closer to the fit that I prefer. As the knit is looser than sweatshirt fabric, I ended up 'carving away' at the side and sleeve seams until I got the fit I was looking for. Obviously, drafting the sweatshirt pattern took me some time a few years ago (thanks past-Zoe), but aside from that, this project took about an hour.


It's hard to tell in the above photo but this fine knit navy and white polka dot jumper was a maternity item. I didn't get to wear it in my last pregnancy because it was summer when I was at my largest. Like the leopard jumper, I was able to retain the original neckline. However, unlike the leopard jumper, the shoulders and sleeves of this one already fit me well. Therefore it was a quicker remake, taking perhaps 20mins in total to get the length and shape I was after. 


I made this Peter Pan batwing top during my first pregnancy and wore it heaps during both. I could have nipped it in at the side seams for post-pregnancy use, but that statement oversized collar isn't really my bag any more. Plus, I was getting pretty desperate for some vests to keep my belly covered when I yank up my tops to breastfeed, so I decided to rework the batwing top using my free vest pattern instead. Reusing a well-worn top for an under vest had the added benefit that the fabric is already really soft from lots of wear and laundering. I added a twist to the basic vest pattern by pinching and then stitching over a section at the centre. It's created a pleasing sweetheart neckline and a cool graphic effect thanks to the bold stripes. 


Dolores has outgrown the smaller and less stretchy of the clutch of vests I made for her this time last year. What is up with that?! You think you've nailed your kid's particular lack of clothing or shoes crisis and then they go and get bigger all over again! Well I found this horrendously Barbie-pink T-shirt in my stash of refashionable garments, with absolutely no idea where I came from, and I knew it would be just the shade to appeal to my little girl. When recutting I had to choose to include the existing hem or the button detail. I went with the latter but didn't do it very effectively, so sadly only one of the original buttons got saved. The turquoise FOE and iron-on diamante heart kind of steal your attention away anyway. 


Since deciding that the only skirts I'm interested in wearing are a basic knit pencil style, I made a black and white striped onea solid navy one, a faux denim one, a solid black one and a spotty one. The only thing missing, as far as I could tell, would be a leopard print one (I'm pretty convinced that leopard print can be classed as a neutral!). After making all these knit skirts, I've tweaked the pattern so that I'm really happy with the fit, so I've been scouring the charity shops for a leopard print skirt or dress suitable to make it in. On a recent trip back to Hastings I finally scored this dress in the Oxfam shop for £3.50. It's a light-weight jersey, so this skirt will be more for summer use. As suggested in Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, where the basis for this pattern from, I tacked the skirt together first to check the fit before I stitched the side seams, which is something I almost never do. It's amazing how different knits can produce such different fits, and this light jersey needed to be taken in a lot to achieve a fit similar to that of my ponte de roma versions. 

What about you? Have you done any refashioning or remaking recently? What do you like and dislike about it, as opposed to starting a project with a piece of fabric?

Friday, 17 March 2017

Singin' in the Rain Hat


Well no one could accuse me of not trying to get my money's worth from the free Oliver + S children's bucket hat pattern! Rather than simply keeping the sun off, I figured it could also be used to keep the rain (or shower water!) off too. 


Pattern:

I used the size medium (approx. age 3-5) and made no alterations to the pattern. You can read more of my experience of and thoughts on this pattern here when I made using cotton, and also over here where I used it to refashion some unwanted jeans. I fully intend to use this pattern many more times; not only is it a satisfyingly quick make and a great scrap buster, it also produces a genuinely useful item. I can vouch for that, Dolores used her denim one almost every day for several months last summer.   


Fabric:

I'm a big fan of Rae Hoekstra of Made by Rae and all her designing output. Her fabric print designs for Cloud9 fabrics are amazing, especially for kid's wear IMO. I was lucky enough to be given a piece of needle cord from her Small World Cloud9 range which I used to make Dolores this dress. about 18 months ago. It remains one of my very favourite makes and never fails to elicit some compliments when she wears it. But as you may know by now, I try to use my stashed fabric and secondhand textiles in most of my sewing projects, however I love that all Cloud9 fabrics certified organic, and ensure ethical and ecological practices have been reached at every step of the fabric production, not just during the growth of the cotton plant, so didn't feel particularly guilty for buying this piece of Cloud9 laminate called 'Signin' in the Rain'. 


Although this fabric is laminated, it doesn't feel any thicker than a heavier-weight quilting cotton. Whilst using it I didn't treat it particularly differently than regular cotton, except for making sure all pins went through the seam allowance to avoid any pin pricks in the finished item, and using a pressing cloths and wool heat setting when pressing the seams. I didn't even bother getting out the walking foot for my sewing machine, but I did lower the foot pressure to help it go through evenly. 


Thoughts:

Such a fun project, both to make and to see in action as a finished item. My only gripe is that I didn't take a very holistic approach in regards to what bits of the print I used for what pattern pieces when I was cutting it out. Therefore the same bits of print are repeated a bit too closely than I would have preferred, but that's something to learn from for future projects I guess. It's great to have on hand, as I often find that the hoods on children's coats are designed more for appearance than practicality, and tend to blow off her head in any kind of wind. 

Cost:

Pattern: £0
Outer fabric: £5.50 for 0.25m from the Brighton Sewing Centre, enough for two hats
Lining: £0 a gift from a friend's de-stash
Total: £5.50, which will be halved when I use the rest to make Frankie one in a smaller size the autumn 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Safety Pin Scout Tee


Finally!!!! I got to make a garment for myself that isn't directly linked to being pregnant or breastfeeding. It feels like it's been a long time coming and I'm super excited.

Pattern:

You couldn't accuse me of being an early adopter when it comes to trying out new sewing patterns! This is the Scout tee pattern by Grainline Studio, and it took seeing a lot of other versions (as well as teaching a sewing class with this pattern twice at Fabric Godmother!) to decide that it might be for me. 

It's a relatively quick project, which suits the fact that my opportunities to sew are currently greatly limited. Even though it's a quick project, I wanted to make sure that my sewing time wouldn't be wasted so I made a toile (muslin) first to check I would be happy with the fit. I'd heard that this pattern comes up a bit big so I picked a whole size down (size 6) than my measurements would have indicated I make, and the sizing ended up spot on.   


Fabric:

This is quite a boxy style, so I wanted to use a lightweight fabric so that the result wouldn't end up looking too stiff and weird. This African wax fabric is very fine with a loose weave, and was a gift from a friend of mine around the time I had my daughter. My mate was intending to make something for me from it, but her project didn't work out so she just gave me the fabric instead! 

Because the fabric is so fine, and because it feels pretty fancy, I used French seams for the shoulder and side seams. After a few wears the fabric is being pulled apart a bit at the side seams, probably because I yank it up fairly regularly for 'access' to feed my son, so I don't think this top'll last forever. 


Thoughts:

If I were being picky, I'd say that the sleeve heads sit slightly too far off my shoulders. But my concern is that if I were adjust that in this or future versions, I would struggle to get this top on and off as it doesn't have any fastenings. Aside from that, I think the fit is great and it marks a step towards some new style influences that have been occupying my brain (and Pinterest boards!) recently. I think the fabric and pattern pairing is a good one, as it feels so light and breezy on. I wish I'd had some of these when I lived in Spain, but then my preferred silhouette was more fitted back then. 

Cost: 

Pattern: $12 in PDF form (approx. £9.86)
Fabric: free
Total: £9.86, but I already have another cut out so that'll make this project cheaper once I've used the pattern again
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