Sewing and Slapdashery
Monday, 13 March 2023
sewing plan: spring 2023
Monday, 13 February 2023
the fabric found its pattern: a circee maxi skirt
So, we have entered Busy Times. It's usually Busy Times at this time of year anyway - it's my birthday this week, and and once we get through the various things we have planned we start doing things for Patrick's birthday - but now I'm currently on two evening classes per week plus my singing lessons, we've booked a couple of city breaks, and also a bunch of one-off events happened to get scheduled between now and the end of March. And I really need to find time to sew because it turns out you can't safely do improv classes in skirts, which I hadn't anticipated so all the things I made this winter were absolutely not geared to my current needs.
Case in point:
This is the Deer&Doe Circee, maxi skirt version. My original intention was to make the dress version as well before posting about it, but I ran into a slight mishap where I cut out my trial version and then promptly lost half the pieces. I don't seem to be able to get that fabric again, either. I will still have a go at it at some point, but it's going to take me a bit longer. In the meantime: extremely dramatic maxi skirt.
I've had this fabric for a while (you may remember it) and could never work out what to do with it. It's a super-large border print, each panel is two feet long, and there's barely a sliver of a gap between each one. I really didn't want to chop up the print too much, and my original thought was a wrap dress where the bodice is made of the plain black section and the skirt has the border print. In retrospect I'm glad I didn't - I would only have had enough fabric to make a knee-length dress and the print is so large-scale that I would have had to cut it down to get a length I was happy to wear. A maxi length wrap skirt with no back seam is the perfect thing.
Tuesday, 31 January 2023
orage and chataigne
Monday, 23 January 2023
very complicated random sewing: style arc ormond designer coat
Over the past month or two, I've been doing quite a lot of sewing. I've not been especially good at sticking to my plans, but I have made a bunch of things from fabric I already had in my stash, and the majority of them turned out surprisingly well. Then they all sat around in my wardrobe because I couldn't be bothered to photograph them. Last week, on the day I finished the project you're about to see, I was suddenly hit with a bolt of motivation and photographed half a dozen things. It was below freezing outside at the time, which was fine for this specific garment but not so much for everything else. But the upshot is, I now have several posts scheduled and will be a slightly more reliable blogging presence for at least the next couple of months.
With that said, here's a surprisingly complicated project to have made at random:
Monday, 14 November 2022
unnecessary versions of necessary things: Audrey cigarette pants
So once again, my health has not been great, and I need to stop coming here and making pronouncements that I'm totally fine now, guys. I am not totally fine, I still don't know exactly what's wrong, and I can't really commit to regular posting at the moment. But I did take some photos the other week, so I'm going to jump on the okay day I'm having to share something.
I've said on my last couple of planning posts that I need more trousers, and that becomes truer with every passing day. My waist is now eight inches smaller than it was this time last year and there comes a point where you can't feasibly take a pair of trousers in any more and have them still look okay. The trousers in this post are none of the things I suggested I might make and I'm honestly not sure how much wear they'll get, but they are trousers nevertheless, so let's review.
(Also I dyed my hair black, which so far almost nobody has noticed. I'm thinking I might keep it for a while, though.)
This is another pattern I got from Gertie's Patreon, the Audrey cigarette pants. I hadn't had any immediate plans to make these, but then I was in a fabric shop after having a really shitty day, saw some fuchsia ponte, message Patrick asking if I wanted a pair of stretchy fuchsia trousers. And if the answer you want to that question is "no" then Patrick is not your man to go to for advice. So I bought it.
This was a quick enough sew that I managed it on a day of 32 degree heat (with a break in the middle to stand by a fan). Elastic waistband, pockets, pocket stay made of power mesh. I like all these details, though I will say that anything put into these pockets is extremely and immediately visible so I would probably only use them for holding my phone as I wander round the house. This particular waistband is one of those where the elastic is the same length as the fabric so there's no gathering, and I strongly prefer that.
(Also, check me out having visible muscles! This photo is the first time I've really seen it.)
The main problem I have with these trousers is the fit. I have the problem I always have with more fitted trouser legs, which is that they look too big and wrinkly when I make them in my usual size, but taking any fabric out makes them too skintight for me to want to wear in public. I also clearly need some sort of alteration in the front crotch but I'm not exactly sure what. Any advice on what I might need to do there would be very welcome!
I'm interested to see whether I'll feel able to wear these. So far I've only found this one way to style them that I like, and given that this is just a literal bra there aren't going to be many occasions for dressing like this. Which is a shame, really, because this is some amazing 80s trash right here. I can't really tuck things into them because you can see the lines, though I might get away with a bodysuit, and I just can't see myself becoming a tunics person. I'm definitely down to try things out (as long as they're not tunics, or really anything where the goal is to cover up most of the trousers).
Monday, 19 September 2022
sewing plan: autumn 2022
Hi! It's been kind of a rough month. We've been incredibly busy, my health crashed again because of course it did, and I also got the worst haircut of my entire life so I really didn't want to take any photos. (It's been fixed now.) We're off on holiday in two days so I won't have the time to try and back into the groove until October. I'd wanted to have this plan properly thought out, all fabrics acquired and photographed, but I haven't got round to it and if I don't post it now I will probably end up not doing it at all, so here, have some half-formed ideas!
This is another super-short plan, and it's actually even shorter than it looks since I'm only planning to do one of my two challenges, but hopefully that will enable me to get everything done in the time I have. In addition to this stuff I want to make a couple of basic tops - we went back to North Wales for a bit earlier this month and I was able to raid the Abakhan remnant bins again - but I don't think it's worth making them an item on the plan when I won't have a single useful word to say about them beyond "they exist now".
Here's the abridged project list:
I had decided originally to set myself two challenges for autumn, but given how September has gone so far I think it's not too likely I'll manage both. I'm going to put them both here anyway, with the expectation that I'll do one out of two. If both happen, that's a nice bonus.
I started this literally a year ago and it stalled, first because of my mental health and then because I was changing size too rapidly, but things seem to be sufficiently stable now that I could get on with it. I have a semi-completed mock-up that I'm going to continue with, though I'm expecting to need to do a second one given size changes.
A pair of jeans
I mentioned this as a possibility in my summer plan, and I do think I'd like to try it. I'm still thinking of the Charm Patterns Marilyn jeans - I'm just not a jeans-and-a-T-shirt kind of woman and if I'm going to have jeans they need to be a bit more... something. So vintage style jeans might be the way to go. Mostly this will be a skill and confidence building exercise rather than a means to an end of owning a pair of jeans. I'm quite certain I can make a pair of jeans but because it's something I've never done it's been filed under "Scary Thing" in my brain. I'm sure it doesn't belong there, so I'm going to make some jeans.
Easy wardrobe fillers
The rest of the plan is intentionally fairly straightforward. I don't want to have to think too hard about these projects, I don't want to have to learn any other new skills, and I want to be able to use these projects as palate cleansers for the more difficult stuff, or as a way to get my motivation back if (when?) the more complicated things prove too frustrating. Two of them are things I need, and the other is joyful nonsense that I'm very much looking forward to.
A trans-seasonal jumpsuit
I love wearing jumpsuits, and I have more than half a dozen I love, but they're all either strictly for summer or evening wear. I would love to have one or two that would work for cooler weather. Honestly I'm still chasing the high of the blue M7626 in this post - I loved it so much but I never got it to fit me properly. I also ran into problems with the more wearable olive version, ie. the layers of corduroy made everything super bulky and there wasn't really enough room in the crotch area for me to sit down comfortably in it. Nevertheless, option one is still to just try that exact same thing again. Option two is a Deer&Doe Sirocco in something a little more casual than black velvet. I may do both.
A pair of trousers
I'm at the point now where very few of my old faithful pairs of trousers fit, and as we go into autumn (and I get more interested in trying to pair separates together) I'm going to need to start replacing them. Having already given myself one difficult trouser project, I don't want to reinvent the wheel here. I want something pretty simple, wide leg but not too wide leg, hits my natural waist, has decent pockets. What I do not have right now is a go-to pattern for this, so this is probably my most complicated "easy" project because it will involve me trying some stuff out. I'm going to see if I can size down my block before I go buying any new patterns or anything.
The Murder Dress
I'm going to do it. Raspberry leopard print velvet off-the-shoulder wiggle dress. I am not going to make it floor length (though I'm not promising I won't make a floor length one the next time I see some exciting-looking velvet), I may or may not make the skirt a little more fitted, and in order to actually wear it I will probably have to find some sort of performance opportunity. It is going to be one of the least wearable things I've ever made, but I have concluded that anything else would be kind of a disappointment next to the vision of the Murder Dress.
That's as much as I'm prepared to commit to for now. We're away for a week so I won't be posting next Monday, but I hope to be in a better place for photography when we come back so that I can get on with posting the rest of my summer projects!
Monday, 15 August 2022
a deeply unseasonal sweater knit dress (and bonus top)
In surprising New Silhouette news, I'm considering becoming a shoulders person.
I've been in and out of Gertie's Patreon a few times now. I don't love all the patterns she puts out there - I'm not particularly into vintage cosplay these days and I was never into the cutesy stuff - but they usually have interesting details, and a good chunk of it is stuff that I can make up in a not-so-vintage style. This one is the Joan wiggle dress, and this version is a trial I made to see if I a) liked the style in general and b) wanted to use my raspberry leopard print velvet on this pattern. (answers: a) yes and b) jury's still out.) I always loved the idea of this kind of dress but shied away because of potential stomach clinginess. And, as you may be getting bored of hearing me say, my concern about that sort of shit has been rapidly on the decrease. It was time.
The fabric is a purple and black marl sweater knit from Fabric Land, which I bought three metres of initially and then found myself with more than half of it left after deciding to make another version of my Named Ruska hoodie hack with it. I never bothered posting it, I don't think, but I made it in January and it gets a decent amount of wear when it's colder. I'd assumed that the leftover fabric would have to be a top or jumper of some kind and was originally only going to make the top version of the Joan rather than the dress, but this is not a fabric-hungry pattern and I thought, fuck it, sexy sweater dress in the middle of summer, why not.
Construction-wise this is pretty straightforward; the biggest problem I had was that the fabric kept breaking my overlocker (inexplicably, it instantly unthreaded one of the loopers every time I tried to put this fabric under it) so I had to sew it all on the regular machine. I used a scrap of black viscose jersey to line the bodice and sleeves and get a nice finish. It's meant to be longer than this, but I didn't quite have enough fabric for the full thing. And, if we're honest, I would have ended up cutting it above the knee anyway.
Visually, I'm super into this. I think it looks great. Both the silhouette and the neckline are pretty new to me, so it's cool to see myself in something so different. Obviously it's extremely off-the-shoulder and there's no way to cheat wearing a regular bra with it (I mean, in these photos I am wearing a regular bra with the straps pulled down, but I wouldn't want to spend an entire evening like that). So the amount of wear this gets depends on whether I can find a longline strapless bra that comes in a G cup, which I honestly didn't think would be that difficult. I was wrong. I am actively on the hunt as we speak. I think it says a lot about how much I like this exposed-shoulders thing that I'm willing to entirely throw out my longstanding rule about clothes you have to wear special bras for.
I also don't really have shoes that go with this. I picked these because I'm six foot one in them and I feel like this is a dress that one takes up more space in, but for real life I probably need something else.
(I took all these photos while listening to burlesque music. This may or may not be apparent.)
I also had about 50% of the tiger print fabric left over from my Nettie (which is done and photographed and I will post at some point, but I have zero things to say about it so I'm waiting until I have a post I can tack it on the end of), so I decided to use it to make a top:
Which I'm also kind of into. Is it a bit much for everyday? Sure. Do I often enjoy being a bit much? I mean... you've all seen the stuff I make. It's going to have to be a really comfortable strapless bra, though. For the dress version I lined the bodice, but I decided that was an extra layer I didn't need in a top, so I just cut an extra strip of jersey to use as a facing and topstitched it down. It could probably do with some elastic in the neckline, so I will probably go back and put that in before it stretches out much more.
(The trousers are Victory Patterns Esther. I made them in 2020, they didn't fit me at all until a few months ago. I'm glad I was pleased enough with the construction to stubbornly hold onto them because they're currently my best-fitting pair of trousers.)
I would absolutely make this again, after I have acquired this mythical strapless bra. I've rarely done exposed shoulders at any point in my life and I'm extremely here for the way it looks on me. I'm still undecided about the raspberry velvet, though. I really wanted to make something that I might be able to wear semi-regularly, which this absolutely wouldn't be, but maybe there's something to be said for making a very occasional dress to just straight up murder people with. Technically this pattern would only use about half the amount of velvet I have, so I would have the option to also make something a little less... specific, shall we say, with the rest of it. But I don't know what that something would be, and the temptation to just make this dress but floor length might be too great to resist. I'm really not sure.
Cost: approx. £7.50
Pattern details: Close-fitting knit dress (and top) with either a high slash neck or off-the-shoulder sweetheart neckline
Size: 10 H cup
Alterations: Skirt shortened by several inches
Would make again/would recommend: Yes/Yes