Monday, 1 June 2020

spring sewing: Fiore skirt

While I do have a project to share today, and will continue to talk about sewing here, it would be unconscionable of me not to talk first about the fact that the American police have declared war on black people because they weren't allowed to keep murdering them in peace. I'm trying to walk a fine line here because it's black voices that should be front and centre here, not mine, but I know that my silence does more harm than good. I'm not gonna tell black people what to do or how to feel, but to my fellow white people I say: we have to acknowledge that until we speak on this we are Schrodinger's White Supremacist and we sacrifice the safety of black people for the comfort of bigots. I see you, white person rolling your eyes, and I invite you to get permanently lost. It's one thing to have a temporary refuge from the world when what's outside is a pandemic; this is not that. We are responsible, every last one of us.

If you are white and grew up being told to look for the nice policeman when you get lost, the nice policeman will help you, you may well find it jarring to hear Defund the Police and All Cops Are Bastards, but if you think it's "too much" then I urge you to do some reading. While you were being shown pictures of a nice smiling policeman, black people were telling their babies to stay as far away from the police as possible, you are always in danger from them even if you've done every single thing right. And they were correct to do so. If you go looking you will find thousands of stories - some more well-reported than others - that will horrify the shit out of you. Law enforcement in America is so fundamentally corrupted by racism both overt and institutional that it is broken beyond repair. Currently they are using their state funding to escalate peaceful protests, mace literal children, mow protesters down with their squad cars and blind people with rubber bullets. They managed not to do any of this when white people, armed to the back teeth, gathered en masse and screamed in their faces because they wanted to get a haircut. Think about that.

In the UK we can't call representatives to demand defunding of police or release of arrested protesters, but we can donate, we can educate the white people around us as to what's going on and why they, too, need to step up, we can read as much as possible, we can fight the racism inherent in our own system (we have a LOT of work to do). If things continue to get worse, and if we end up at the point where the US government is calling on other countries to provide aid and resources in their fight to subjugate black people, we will be their surest bet. We will need to be prepared to do everything in our power to prevent it.

My monthly fabric budget is going to bail funds. If you're also looking to donate you can find a list here: https://www.autostraddle.com/43-bail-funds-you-can-absolutely-support-right-now/

I'm going to draw a line under this here, and talk about sewing. I will continue to share resources and ways to help, as I find them, in future posts. I will be keeping a close eye on my comment section.

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And now, we have a skirt.


This skirt. It took me over a year to conclusively match it to a pattern and then several months more to get over my fear of actually sewing it. There have been too many times where I've sat on a fabric for ages and then the things I've finally made from it has been disappointing, and that's much worse than making something disappointing immediately. But last week I fixed determination onto my face and raced into the pile of fabric going "aaaaagggghhhh" until it was done.


Before I go any further, I will say that I don't think this photographs especially well. It looks a bit stiff and tubular. In person it looks lovely, especially when it's moving, and will be really useful to me this summer. I'm just not wild about these photos of it. I definitely want to go back in and reposition the press studs (the pattern calls for buttons, but I will never use a button when there's any other option available to me) because the waist is not where the waist should be. I was worried about making it too tight and overcompensated.



(You can kind of see in the back shot where the wind was picking it up a bit that it's actually quite flowy and pretty-looking. Maybe I should have waited for a more blustery day to take the photos.)

After seeing how the test skirt looked, I decided I wanted to try and make this version as long as possible. I wasn't confident about my chances as I only had 2.5m of fabric, but I gave it my best shot thinking I could always shorten it again. In the end I could only get enough length for a strange lower-calf hem, which I didn't like, but I had enough scraps left over to piece together a band to extend it down to my ankles. Not the most elegant solution, but now I have a skirt I'll actually wear. And almost no leftovers!


I really like the pocket on this skirt. There's only one, on the left side, and it's big and deep and secure. I'm sure I've said before that a well-designed functional pocket is a huge plus for me and I will always go for a pattern that includes them over one that doesn't, but little afterthought pockets that don't really hold anything and don't work with the design or fabric of the garment are useless at best and offputting at worst. I truly do get the IT HAS POCKETS thing but demand more from your long-awaited pockets, people.


I think I might well make this skirt again, though I would want to make some changes in the way I went about altering it. Something I would want to do for next time is change the angle of the front wrap - it's supposed to be a very clear diagonal but I couldn't have kept going on that line for this length of skirt, so I have some strange in-between thing which I think is contributing to the weird look in the photos. When I do this again I'll redraw the front wrap line. I think I would also want to change the side seam lines, either to be much more or much less flared. I wouldn't want to get rid of the flare altogether (when I've tried to make a wrap skirt with straight side seams it makes the coverage of the wrap somewhat precarious) but I think either a narrower silhouette or a ridiculous exaggerated thing would look better than this.


I have another maxi dress cut out and I'm hoping to get that done this week. My partner is having a truly awful week so most of my free time will be going to him rather than to sewing, but there's still a chance of me being able to run up a quick knit dress. If not, I will write something. Sending strength to the people who need it most right now. 

Closet Case Patterns Fiore Skirt

Fabric: Viscose twill from Walthamstow market
Cost: £7.50
Pattern details: Flared skirt in two lengths with three views: simple skirt with back zip; wrap skirt with single pocket; button front skirt with large patch pockets
Size: 16
Alterations: Extended to ankle length, buttons replaced with press studs
Would make again/would recommend: Yes/Yes

Monday, 25 May 2020

sewing plan: summer 2020

It's a time of Extreme Planning in Casa Slapdash. I am planning the shit out of absolutely everything. We finally have some hope that we'll be able to buy our own place next year, and I am making plans to make moving out of here as easy as possible when the time comes. But with equal vigour I'm also planning all of my daily and weekly activities, my meals (this is WAY less organised than it sounds, I'm very bad at food), the setups of my mood and habit trackers, my prospective new hobbies, and my new burlesque routine where I strip out of a leopard-print onesie to Taylor Swift's version of Macavity. I literally have no idea if I'm kidding. And also, of course, I'm planning my sewing.


(This was the worst film I've ever seen and I will see it many more times. On purpose.)

So... is a sewing plan a good idea right now? Is trying to plan anything a fool's errand? Maybe. But there have been multiple times in the past where I've tried to "give myself a break" by not planning, and it never works. I know this all sounds like I'm doing way too much but it is honestly the kindest thing I can do for my rambling anxious brain, even if the plans have to change frequently. I'm feeling better and more in control than I have for ages. So we're going to carry on and do this, and see what happens. I am going to judge myself not one bit if this goes wildly off-track.

This is going to be a slightly weird plan because my ability to buy fabric is very limited right now. Things are much more expensive online than they are at Walthamstow Market so my usual budget isn't going to go nearly as far. I'm definitely not going to get three months' worth of summer sewing out of it. I've tried a few ways of breaking it all down, and I think I'm going with: seasonal stuff that I can wear right away but might have to buy fabric for; unseasonal stuff that will help me work through my stash; and toiles for things I may as well try out now. And also a bonus "probably not" category because it seemed wrong to leave it off entirely.

Here we go!

Seasonal

Remakes of my two dying Kielo dresses

This obviously depends on my being able to find the correct fabric, but this is going to be a priority as far as directing money goes. As I mentioned in my last post, my green and stripy Kielo dresses are perilously close to the end of their lifespans and I'm not prepared to have a wardrobe without those two dresses in it. I'm especially concerned about the green one - relying on website photos for accurate representations is dicey at the best of the times and somehow always worse with green, so I'm not sure how easy it's going to be to get what I want.

Something chambray

So I ordered what claimed to be a piece of indigo chambray to make a Zadie jumpsuit, and what has arrived is... not indigo. It's not so far removed from indigo that I could have a feasible claim of misrepresentation, but it's far enough away that I don't want to wear it as a jumpsuit. I don't think I want to wear it as wide-leg trousers or a maxi skirt either (it's just a bit too 70s), which has left me a bit stumped. But as it's one of the few pieces of seasonally appropriate fabric I do have, I would like to use it. I'll see what the summer pattern releases are like.

A black summer dress

There were three patterns I really liked from the new McCalls collection (best hit rate in some time), including a strappy dress with a leg slit. I'd need to modify it a bit to get rid of the cross-back straps and I'm not entirely sure it'll suit me, but it's been a while since I've been excited about a woven dress pattern so I'm going to jump on it (when the print pattern is released here, anyway). I don't have fabric for this but I'd like black or black background.

Not seasonal

An unnecessarily fancy dressing gown

I've decided to use my five metres of blue silky viscose on an extravagant robe, and if I can fit it on the fabric it's going to be a floor-length version of the Victory Patterns Trina dress. (The first time I made it I had mere scraps left from 4.5m and the second time I had a decent chunk left over, so we'll see if I can Tetris something together.) I've put this in the unseasonal category because it's not exactly summer sewing, but I think we can all agree there is no wrong time for this sort of thing.

A cowl neck dress

I have this piece of black sweater knit that can only be a cowl neck dress. I've asked four people and they've all said that without being prompted. The problem is, I can't find a cowl neck dress pattern I like. There are surprisingly few of them out there at all, and the only one I've tried is the Sew Over It pattern which made me look like a pillowcase. My current thought is that since there seem to be a few tutorials for cowl necks out there, I'll just go back to the thing where I treat the Named Ruska dress like a knit block and try and modify it to have a cowl. I'm not going to be too upset if this doesn't work, but I will be effing delighted if it does.

A cross-front top

I'm not really sure what you call this - it's two pieces of fabric going across each other but it's not a wrap or a surplice. I saw one years ago that I really liked the look of, and one of the new McCalls patterns appears to be the exact thing I'm after (and also truly impressively WTF in the other views, I'm totally going to have a go). I'm going to make a test version in black jersey, and if it works I'm going to make a second version in the teal sweater knit Patrick's mum gave me for Christmas.

Toiles

Yet another goddamn leather jacket test

The third pattern I liked from the McCalls collection was... a moto jacket that looks very much like the kind of thing I've been after, and even though I've been burned so. many. times I'm still tempted to give it a go. This time I won't use faux leather to start with, I'll dig something out of my stash to mock it up. Possibly something incredibly ugly so that I already know in advance it won't work and my hopes won't be dashed a fifth time.

An Alice top

I harvested the Sew Over It Alice top when I had that month of Stitch School membership, and I really want to try it out. I'm not even sure why. I'm convinced that either it will be unwearable or it'll be a work top that's too low cut to be worn at work. But for some reason, I want to know for sure. It comes with multiple cup sizes and I'm definitely curious to know whether that's been done effectively. I'm going to make it in a cheap purple jersey I bought for this purpose ages ago.

Probably not

A swimsuit

This was explicitly on my resolutions for this year, and part of me still wants to do it, but it's vanishingly unlikely I'll have an opportunity to wear it this year and I just... don't know if I'm going to motivate myself to make something so complicated and difficult in order for it to sit in a drawer for a year. I'm putting it on here, because I still might, but I'm absolutely not going to mark it as a failure if I don't.


Something else I want to try this summer is writing a couple of sewing-related posts that aren't "here's something I just finished" or "here's a properly thought out sewing plan". I used to do this back when I was literally getting zero pageviews per post and this blog was for nobody but me, and I think it's still something that would be useful to me once in a while. I stopped because I became convinced that non-garment posts would be wasting the time of people who read here regularly, that they would be annoyed to see that a given new post was not a pattern review and I should do whatever I possibly could to not be annoying to these hypothetical people. It's a weird thing that I've been trying to deal with for a long time (there are online communities that I've read every single post in for years and never made a single comment myself because I'm too worried about the response), and I'd quite like to get over it. This seems like a small but important place to start.

I'm hoping to get some sewing done this week and have a post ready for next Monday. I've cut out another Wanted maxi dress in black, which would be extremely helpful to have right now if I can get my head round it, and I still have a couple of things from the last plan to finish. I've also managed to almost completely overhaul my sewing area so that it's a much nicer place to be. I am still putting off sorting through That One Drawer. You know the Drawer. I don't want to do it. I think a goblin may have manifested itself in there.

Monday, 18 May 2020

quarantine projects: Kielo dress

Hey, I'm here! And I made something!


Until this past weekend I hadn't touched my sewing machine in weeks. I had several things cut out and ready to go, but the concept of sewing was stressing me out so. hard. Do you ever have that thing where you stall on a project because you have to change the bobbin thread and you just don't want to? I had that, but with every possible next step I could conceivably take. I spent three full hours arguing with myself yesterday about getting the ironing board out to interface the ties. 


This fabric was a mood booster purchased at the behest of my mother. I spent some time scrolling around different sites trying to find something that felt right (and wasn't also £23 per metre, damn you beautiful Art Gallery jerseys), and eventually came across this at 1st For Fabrics, a company I've never used before. Why this was the one I couldn't tell you. Floral prints on a white background are just not me. I've only bought one once before, and that was entirely because it reminded me of my recently deceased grandmother. That definitely isn't the case here. But I kept looking at it, and I knew it was the right one even though I was deeply confused as to why. 



This is a completely standard Kielo with the short sleeve add-on and a slightly scooped out neckline. I always scoop out the neckline a little when I make the dress with sleeves; for some reason my shoulders look weird if I don't. It's the first one I've made on the overlocker and it took about a third of the usual time. Maxi-length seams sewn with a stretch stitch take FOREVER and I'm not a bit sorry to have left that behind me. I still haven't got my overlocker skills down completely so I basted the neckband in first, which made the whole process of overlocking a curve much less annoying. 


I'm delighted with how this dress turned out. The fact that the fabric is so not what I would usually go for makes the dress feel fresh and interesting to me, despite the fact that I've made this pattern so many times I could do it in my sleep. It's a completely different summer vibe for me and I'm really enjoying it. Also this fabric is perfect for the job - it's still thin and drapey but noticeably more substantial than most viscose jerseys, and miraculously it's still opaque even when stretched over my boobs. I'm wearing a bright red longline bra in these photos and you'd have no idea. 


The one sad thing about this dress is that it's made me confront the reality of my earliest (and still favourite) two iterations of the Kielo. It's so much more obvious now that they're dying. My green version was made from 50p per metre fabric because I fully expected it to be an unsuccessful toile, and I used a finishing method on my stripy one which was nowhere near as successful as I apparently thought at the time. I'm not convinced I knew what the words "bias facing" actually meant. I was all ready to put this pattern away until next year, but now I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to track down similar but better quality fabric and just remake the exact same two dresses again. I'm not prepared to live a life without an emerald green Kielo, dammit!


At the moment I'm not going to make any promises about the next post. When I originally said I'd go back to posting twice a week I had a backlog of things to post and was sewing away enthusiastically, but now I have nothing in reserve and sewing is tough. Hopefully completing this one will get things moving again, but I have no way of knowing right now. So I'll just say that I'll do what I can when I can, and I'll be back as soon as possible. 


How is everybody doing? This is week ten of lockdown for us, which... nyaaargh. We've slowly started reintroducing Zoom socialising into our lives, and thanks to the slightly relaxed lockdown rules I got to stand two metres away from my little brother in a halfway park and chuck a homemade face mask at him. I'm incredibly angry about the way our government is approaching this whole thing and it's absolutely a preamble to a "you all did it wrong, peasants, it's your fault" in a few weeks' time when everything gets worse again, but those two hours of seeing another human face did me a power of good. 

Thursday, 30 April 2020

quarantine projects: Anna tops

So I still haven't finished the Fiore skirt. My anxiety has gone full steam ahead and I'm doing this thing where I'm convinced I won't like it when it's finished, so if I don't finish it I never have to confront the failure. I don't know why I do this. I have legitimately stopped watching TV shows in the past because I heard that my favourite character dies and if I stop watching the show I can preserve them alive forever, or some such nonsense. I'm doing my best to work past it, but in the meantime, here's some scraps projects I made a few weeks ago.


I made a top using the By Hand London Anna bodice and a small fabric offcut several years ago, and at the time I said I wouldn't do it again because it was a bit weird. But that top is still in my wardrobe, and I wear it all the time in the spring and summer. It does require super high-waisted trousers, but that's basically all I own these days. So when I went through my stash and found three extremely small pieces of jersey I knew I'd never be able to make into an actual T-shirt, I decided to knock up a few more weird Anna tops. They're all the same - lengthened by about eight inches, neck finished with a bias strip topstitched to the inside, wide hem turned up and stitched. 


I found this one in the Abakhan bins and was planning to make an exercise T-shirt out of it. As you may know, I get a bit overexcited when I go to Abakhan and don't always check things properly, and this was one of those times. In order to have enough length for a proper T-shirt, the stripes would have to be vertical. I'm sure that can work, but it's not what I wanted. So it's been sitting here waiting for me to think of something else or get rid of it. I have actually worn this for exercise a couple of times, doing dance classes on Instagram Live in high-waisted leggings. 


This is a piece of light ponte I picked up at Walthamstow. Annoyingly, I had my fabric records mixed up - I thought this was a scrap I'd picked up at a fabric swap, and I only realised it wasn't after I'd cut this out and had enough left over to cut the same thing again. This could have been a proper T-shirt. Gah. But I cut the same again anyway, and I'm going to try and make the second one into a dress with some black fabric of indeterminate composition as the skirt.

Whatever happened to that scrap from the fabric swap remains a mystery.


For some reason this one came out slightly shorter than the other two, so even with high waisted trousers it shows a little more skin than I'd like. All my Anna tops ride up a bit during general wear, but all you get is a very tiny sliver of skin showing which I quite like. If there's skin showing as soon as I put it on, however, I end up in a much less comfortable place after twenty minutes or so. I've been wearing it with a cami underneath, as you see here, and that's fine but does mean I have to put slightly more thought into getting dressed than I'm really prepared to do right now. 


And finally, we have my favourite! This was another Abakhan bins purchase, except this time I was well aware that it was super tiny and I probably wouldn't be able to do much with it. But I couldn't leave without it. The print looked similar to the second dress in this post (also an Abakhan purchase) and when I saw it I thought it was the same stuff in a different colourway, but it's not at all. This looks and handles like a lightweight viscose jersey, except it's sweater knit. It's the weirdest thing. 




This is the one that I'm really getting wear out of. I keep talking about needing to look like I've put more effort into my clothes than I have for the sake of my sanity, and this is exactly that kind of top. It's super comfortable and once I've put it on I don't really need to think much about the rest of my outfit. Especially good for pretending you've dressed up for a Zoom call. 


I'm hopeful that I will be able to finish something this weekend. Even if I have to put the skirt to one side for the moment and cut out something else. I really don't like not being able to sew, it makes everything that much worse. The chambray I ordered has turned up but it's not quite the colour it appeared in the listing. I don't really want a jumpsuit in the strange mid-blue that it actually is, so I might have a look through my pattern stash and see if there's an experiment I can try with it! 

Monday, 27 April 2020

quarantine projects: a black and white Zadie jumpsuit

I am making my way slowly but surely through the things that were already in my stash. This whole confined-to-the-house thing has changed the way I'm approaching my resolution to get through all the fabric I'd bought prior to this year; I'd divided things into seasonal categories so that I would use each fabric during the time I'd be most likely to wear a garment made from it, but now my rule is simply that if I already know what pattern I'm going to use, it goes into the queue to make now.


(I tried multiple times to get these pictures over the weekend, but it was so bright that I couldn't get anything usable. I had to run out and take them this morning. It's cloudy today so there's really no need to wear sunglasses, but I didn't sleep at all last night and have some truly prodigious eyebags that nobody needs to see.)

This Zadie jumpsuit really isn't that unseasonal, as it happens. It's been a remarkably warm and blue April and my jumpsuits have been getting plenty of wear already. When I made my red one I said I didn't have room for more than three, and that is... not true. I had made three incredibly summery jumpsuits, ones I didn't feel especially comfortable wearing when the sun wasn't blazing down in July (is it just me that gets strangers going "ooh, very summery, aren't we?" if I'm in a sleeveless maxi dress when it's less than 27 degrees outside?), and I don't have room for any more of those. But this, I think, isn't quite as specific and I can happily wear it on warmer spring days.


This fabric is a reversible double layer cotton that I got from Walthamstow last summer. He said it was an ex-Karen Millen. I'm a total sucker for reversible fabric but I didn't have a solid idea of what I was going to do with it. As I recall my immediate thought was a hot-weather dress, but because it's two layers of cotton it's a bit too bulky for a truly hot day and it's not drapey enough for a loose-fitting pattern. It only occurred to me to make a Zadie after summer was truly gone, because that's how it works sometimes. But here it is now! I think pattern and fabric go very well together.



The most important thing to me was to take advantage of the reversible nature of the fabric. It's not that easy to find and I'm loath to waste it when I do. I knew I wanted to make one front panel in a different colour (I was intending it to be the over wrap rather than the under wrap, but I cut it the wrong way to do that and I'm quite glad because I think I like this better) and considered cutting various other pieces white side up, but eventually settled on just one half of the bias binding, meaning that both wraps could have a contrast edge. It's quite a subtle contrast because there are large streaks of both colours in the bias strips, but it does finish everything off nicely.


As always the pattern was fairly simple to make up, and as always I lengthened the legs by several inches because I don't like cropped trousers. I did forget to do my usual shortening of the bodice, and as a result the proportions are a tiny bit off. The bias binding was a bit more annoying than usual because the fabric is double layered, and at certain points (i.e. the points where it's not pick-stitched together) the layers would come apart and it was a bit of a pain to get everything into its nice little folds.


I really like this jumpsuit. The fabric is actually amazing for this time of year - it's that little bit thicker so you don't freeze in the shade, but also it's breathable so you don't sweat too much in the sun. From a certain angle it also reads quite fancy; it's the exact kind of thing I'd want to wear out to dinner while on holiday, but obviously that's a clothing category I'm not going to need for some time, sigh. For now I'm taking comfort in how easy it is to doss around in.

I have one more of these planned, as I think I've said before, in an indigo chambray. I ordered the fabric last week from a place I've never tried before, so I'm a bit apprehensive about what turns up.


Up next will hopefully be the wrap skirt, though I'm still not doing wonderfully and motivation is scarce. If not, I'll find something else to post!

Thursday, 23 April 2020

quarantine projects: the most ridiculous leopard print lounge set

Hello and welcome to... whatever this is.


Did I make a matching leopard print loungewear set? I sure did. Do I look ridiculous? Clearly. Do I giggle at the sight of myself every time I pass a mirror? Of course! Do I love it to death regardless? Hell yeah. 


I bought this sweater knit from Abakhan last Christmas. I'm always drawn to leopard print and almost always back away because I struggle to style it in a way I'm happy with. I would have backed away from this too were it not for three factors: it's very soft, there was a huge length of it (rare to find 3.5 continuous metres in the Abakhan bins) and we were on our way back from a funeral so comfort was needed. Once I got it home I had no idea what to do with it - I always feel like 3+ metres of jersey should become a maxi dress, but that would have been deeply ill-advised with this print. It's a little faded, and the black has flecks of white in it, so when it came down to it, loungewear was the only option. 



(This is not very elegant, but it was the only way I could reasonably show you the back and the shape of the top while still remaining in frame and not removing all the furniture from our living room. For a one-bed in London we've got a decent amount of space here, but you still slam into limitations very quickly the minute you try to do anything that requires distance.)

I went with the lowest difficulty setting and used hacks I've tried successfully before: the Closet Case Patterns Sallie jumpsuit made up as trousers, and a mash-up of Jalie and Burda hoodie patterns (Jalie body cropped by several inches with altered neckline, Burda men's hood, no ribbing at cuffs or waist and no kangaroo pocket). It was a bit of a squeeze to get both out of the fabric I had, and in fact the waistband of the trousers is just the extra length I cut off the bottom of the hoodie when I tried it on and realised the weight and drape of the fabric was making it hang lower than I wanted. There's also a slightly awkward white selvedge stripe running down the side of one leg. The selvedge was about two inches wide, and that was two inches I needed, dammit. 


The Sallie trousers are my number one TNT pyjama pattern. I've always preferred jersey pyjamas to cotton ones, mostly because of my thigh spread, and since these are intended to be the bottom part of a jumpsuit they're super high waisted (which I also prefer). They have large, well-constructed pockets, I don't have to mess with the length, and all I have to do is cut an extra strip of fabric and run a piece of elastic through it as a waistband. I've done this four times now and I love them all. 


I know how ridiculous I look in this. I wasn't prepared for quite how daft some of the photos look. This one gets me particularly: a slightly awkward position and the onesie effect make me look half my height and twice my width, like a photoshopped toddler, but also somehow the afternoon light was amazing so it gives the illusion of this glowing porcelain skin which I can assure you I did not actually have. It's so bizarre. 


I've been wearing this at home all the time. Because the top is a hoodie I don't want to actually sleep in it, which puts it one step (or half-step) above actual pyjamas, so even though I clearly don't intend to leave the house it doesn't feel like I've already given up on the day. Also I find it very amusing to answer the door in this. 

Also in these photos you can see my scraps pouf, a free pattern from Closet Case Patterns. I really like the idea of this and was hoping to make a second (I have enough scraps for it), but London living strikes again and there isn't really room for it in our squished little living room. We're going to keep it here for now and work around it, in the hope that when we move we'll have a bit more space for things like this. It's nice to have my several bags of scraps in here rather than in a pile in the corner, at least. 


It's been another uninspired week in Casa Slapdash, so I'm not sure what will be up next. I have a bunch of things cut out and since most of them are fairly uncomplicated I'm hopeful that I'll be able to get one of them sewn up over the next couple of days. I've also ordered myself another couple of pieces of fabric, and when that arrives I'm going to have a Maxidresspalooza. Whatever it is, I guarantee it'll look more sensible than this.

How is everybody doing? Week six seems to be rough for most of the people I know - we've now reached an undefined middle where nobody can really remember pre-lockdown and it's way too soon to start thinking about post-lockdown. I've downloaded a mood tracker app which is showing me swinging about wildly from day to day, getting shit done and totally on top of my emotions one day and going ARGH and spending three hours asleep on the sofa the next. It's exhausting. We've taken the week off Zoom calls and other such because so many of our friends just want to talk about Covid and we just... can't. Anyone have any fun facts? I could really go for some fun facts right about now. 

Monday, 20 April 2020

quarantine projects: maxidress mash-up

We've now been isolating for over a month. It's not getting easier (one or the other of us has a slight breakdown every few days or so) and the desperation to be out in the world again versus the terror that we'll be let out again too soon and loads more people will die is, frankly, stressing me out. If we're trying to find whatever positives we can, then I've got: a) I can really tell that my therapy is working; b) I've remembered that I actually really enjoy baking, something I haven't done for years after being repeatedly belittled by a previous partner; c) our flat has some visible floor space for the first time in ages and d) I was able to bounce back from the jacket fiasco with reasonable speed and make a simple, happy, confidence-boosting dress.


Maxi dresses! I love maxi dresses SO MUCH, man. I show up in one, everybody goes, "oh, you dressed up!" and the fact that I just couldn't be bothered to co-ordinate shoes or worry about the state of my legs remains my own personal secret. They're the best possible effort to appearance of effort ratio you can get. Over the past few weeks I've discovered it even still works on me - I'll chuck on a maxi because it's the easiest possible thing, catch sight of myself in a mirror and think "hey, I'm fancy today". 


This is the only piece of fabric I've bought so far in quarantine; I was only intending to get a couple of spools of thread etc to tide me over for what I wrongly assumed to be the next couple of weeks, but faced with the prospect of cancelling some events we'd been planning for a long time I felt in need of a boost. I went with this sky blue viscose jersey which seemed not an overly risky purchase, suitably bright, and one of the more affordable options on the Minerva website. 



You probably recognise that this is the Vanessa Pouzet Wanted top. I've used this a few times to make maxi dresses, but it wasn't actually my intention for this dress. I'd only got as far as "use the skirt from Butterick 6051 with something else" and this was basically the first suitable pattern that came into my hand when searching through my pattern stash. My purple Butterick dress is still one of my absolute favourites for summer wear, but I do not want to make that top again, no sir. It was a complete accident that it came out as well as it did, and I have zero interest in basically redrafting the whole thing to make it more reliable. The skirt is just perfect though, and I've often wished I had more dresses like it. 


To make the top and bottom work together, I cropped the top severely (so much so that as a flat piece it looked like it wouldn't fit over my boobs) and cut a matching back waist inset as the pattern only includes the front. The skirt was definitely a couple of sizes larger than the top, but I didn't want to size down as one of my favourite things about the other dress is that it's not especially fitted and most of the shaping is made by cinching the back ties. I'm not willing to bet this was an intentional drafting decision, mind. I gathered it very slightly at the waist to get the two pieces to fit together and it works well. It's not quite as loose as the purple one but it doesn't cling to my stomach either, so we're all good. 


I'm so pleased with this. It works so much better than my previous Wanted mash-ups where I cut the front piece of the BHL Anna and then some random gathered panels to make up the rest of the skirt (not that I won't still wear those until they fall apart), it's comfortable enough for me to doss around at home in, and I actually feel like me when I'm wearing it. I have a lot of what I previously considered to be very comfortable clothes, but the comfort bar has been raised substantially by this much enforced sofa time and only the very easiest clothes to exist in will do. I don't intend to compromise on that, and it's nice to still be able to look fancy sometimes. If we're allowed out by the time summer comes, this will be the first thing a lot of people see me in.


I've budgeted for another two pieces of fabric over the next month or so. One is earmarked for an indigo denim or chambray jumpsuit, but the other may well end up being another one of these. I don't want to set myself any more super-challenging projects for quarantine (I initially thought that's exactly what I'd want, but nope, I want to zone out for two hours and have a finished item at the end of it, that's what helps me right now) and I especially don't want anything that I have to hang up in the wardrobe for an indefinite "when this is all over". I want nice, cheerful projects I can make use of immediately. Hopefully some suitable fabric will present itself! 

Up next will be my second jersey make of last week, a leopard print lounge set which is maybe the most ridiculous thing I've ever made. I love it.