Wedding Outfit in Action

Yesterday hubby and I had the pleasure of attending the wedding that I've recently made the Mother of the Groom outfit for and I thought you might like to see a photo of the outfit "in action" as it were!

It was an absolutely gorgeous day, warm and sunny, but not too hot.  You couldn't have asked for better.

Jenny's outfit was much admired and I received quite a few compliments for it, which made me very proud.

As you can see, Jenny managed to get a hat which perfectly matched the embroidery on the coat fabric.

It was really lovely to get dressed up for the day.  I had been planning on making my outfit, but couldn't really decide what I wanted.  In the end I wore this dress that I bought for my 40th birthday party a few years ago and have only worn twice.  I am wearing a slip underneath that I made, but luckily no one saw that.

Here's hubby and I all dressed up, as you can see we were quite well co-ordinated outfit wise!

Here's a funny one of me and the bride, Susie.  Funny because it looks like we're the best of friends in this photo, when in reality yesterday was only the second or third time I've met her.  Having said that, she is a completely lovely person. 

And finally to round off the random photos of people you don't know, here's one of the back of my head!  I went and had my hair professionally put up yesterday morning and I was so pleased with it I made my hubby take a photo of it. 

Removing 35 hairpins and brushing all the hairspray and back combing out last night wasn't fun!

Made by Me: Simplicity 1652 dress

After my recent post about how everything I'd been working on seemed to be harder than it should have been, I seem to be back on track with my latest project.   Although it wasn't without it's frustrations - I had to do a LOT of fiddling and fitting with this one.

Anyway, here is my completed Simplicity 1652:

I'd already attempted this a couple of weeks ago with very unsuccessful results regarding getting a good fit on the bodice, so I started off by making a new muslin of the bodice and had to make quite a few changes.

I cut a size 12 throughout, with the exception of the back yoke, for which I used a size 8.  This was on the advice of So I Sewed This... . It was her gorgeous version of this dress that made me want to make it so badly.

Even after cutting a much smaller size on the back yoke I still had it gaping on the diagonal sides of the back opening.  In the end I solved this by making a small dart on this edge, tapering away to the centre of the pattern piece.  I probably took about 1cm out of the edge, and this appears to have worked perfectly.

I also had to take the back bodice section in quite a bit.  I'm much narrower in the back than I am at the front, so I started by taking 1.5cm of the top of the centre back seam, tapering to nothing at the waist.  This seemed sufficient on the muslin, but once I'd sewn the bodice up in my proper fabric I realised it was still too loose, so I extended the back dart from the waist up to the top edge, taking out about 1cm at the top.  Next time I would cut a smaller sized back piece, it would probably be easier!

There were 2 modifications made to the skirt, the first being that I omitted the pockets.  I had made pockets in my first version, but they were really small, and not really placed in a good position for me.  I debated redrafting the side skirt panels to create pockets in those, but didn't really have enough fabric, so I just omitted them completely.

I also pleated the front and back skirt sections onto the bodice rather than gathering them as I find this more flattering on me.  

I really love the back of this dress:

My invisible zip really is invisible in this dress!   I'm VERY pleased with myself for managing that.

For the sleeves I used the pleated cap sleeve from New Look 6000, as I loved the way these looked on my butterfly top.    The slightly stiff fabric gives them a really nice shape.

Now for a few shots of the inside.  I really feel that my finishing is improving.  On this dress I used bias tape to finish the waist seam, front and back facings, sleeve hem and skirt hem.  I ran out of black tape, but had just enough red to use on the sleeves.

 The rest of the seams are finished with a fake "overlock" stitch I found when I was playing about with my machine the other day.  Can you believe I've had this machine over 20 years and I still don't know what everything does!

Anyway, this stitch has finished the seams off pretty well.

I'm really glad I persevered with this pattern.  I did wonder if I was ever going to get the back to fit at one stage, but working at it calmly and slowly paid off. 

I think I'd make this again at some stage.  I'd love to redraft it so that it had a straight skirt, I think that would look pretty good.

1st Blogiversary and a Giveaway

Wow, I can hardly believe it, but it's one year ago today that I started this blog!

When I started blogging I really didn't have any idea what I was doing (and still don't mostly) or why I was doing it!  It's been an interesting and sometimes frustrating journey so far, but overall very enjoyable. 

I've met some lovely people, both virtually and in real life, taken part in several sew-a-longs and joined in some interesting discussions.

I can definitely say the quality of my sewing has improved this last year, I'm far more likely to spend time on the preparation and finishing than I was previously and I think that this shows in the quality of my finished items.

I've learnt new techniques ~ bound buttonholes for example ~ and also the "proper" way of doing things ~ this week I put in my first truly invisible zip. 

Here's a selection of things I've made this year that I'm particularly proud of.

Laurel dress, Vogue 8548 coat, Mother of the Groom outfit,
Simplicity 1652 dress, Cat sewn image, Ramona sweater

In order to celebrate my first blogiversary I've decided to have a little giveaway.   You've almost certainly seen my appliqued and embroidered pictures featured here over the last year, and I'd like to give one away to one of my lovely readers.

The sewn image I give away will be unframed, but mounted and ready to frame.  The reason I've decided to give an unframed picture is that I know I can safely post it anywhere in the world without a frame getting broken.  The picture itself will be up to 8 inches by 10 inches in size. 

All you have to do is comment below by Monday 1st July and tell me what you'd like a picture of. 

Giveaway is now closed, thanks to all who entered.

I'll then randomly pick one commenter and contact them for a bit more information.   Please leave your email address if it's going to be difficult for me to find your contact details easily.

Here are some examples of what I've done so far to give you some ideas, but you can choose what you like.

This giveaway is open to anyone, no matter where in the world you are located. 

All that remains for me to do is to say thank you to everyone who has read, commented, supported and suggested over the last year.  Your comments really do mean a lot to me.

Goodbye Google Reader

I've never used Google Reader myself, but I do know that it is being retired on 1st July.

If you currently follow me on Google Reader I'd love you to switch to an alternative method and continue to stay in touch. 

You can follow me on Bloglovin' by clicking the button on my sidebar, and instructions for importing your blogs from Google Reader to Bloglovin' can be found here.  I use Bloglovin' myself and find it pretty good.

Alternatively you can use Feedly. and can import your blogs to this platform by going here.  I've never used Feedly myself so can't say how good/easy to use it is.

Thank you to all that have followed me up to now, and I hope you continue to do so once Google Reader is turned off, whichever method you choose.

Musings on Me Made May

I fully intended to write this post much more quickly following the end of Me Made May, but I forgot all about it until Jacq wrote a similar post at A Good Talking To... yesterday.   Now it looks like I've copied her... which I suppose I have really!

Anyway, I'm a bit of a spread sheet nerd, so I did some charts for you!   Here's the first one, showing the different Me Made items I wore and the number of times I wore them.

I wore 28 different garments over the course of the month.   7 of them only got one wear each, but my (then) newly completed Afternoon Cardigan got a massive 5 wears.  It might have been more, several days it was so cold I added a cardigan or other extra layer part way through the day.

The next chart shows the number of each type of garment included during the month.  I wore 6 different tops, 5 different items of knitwear, 3 different dresses and only one pair of trousers.  That's because I only have one pair of Me Made trousers! 

You can see from this chart that the most worn type of garment was tops.  I would normally wear a much higher percentage of dresses than I did in May, but the weather was so awful I spent a lot of time in jeans or leggings with a Me Made top and/or cardigan (usually both).

Trousers formed the smallest percentage, which is not surprising because as mentioned above I only have one Me Made pair of trousers.

So, what have I learned from participating in Me Made May for the first time?

  1. Wearing a Me Made wardrobe takes planning.   To a certain extent any wardrobe takes planning, but when I sew I tend to just make things that take my fancy, rather than considering whether they go with anything else I've already got.  Consequently I need to plan outfits a bit more carefully, particularly as my Me Made wardrobe isn't that large.
  2. This May was unseasonably (and unreasonably!) cold and wet in the UK, so I was less inclined to wear my nice dresses and ended up in the same jersey tops over and over again.  I need a better variety of items that can be layered against inclement weather.  This may be in the form of knitted cardigans that go with more things I already own. 
  3. I need to appreciate that my lifestyle doesn't warrant lots and lots of dresses.  Although I love to wear them and love to make them, dresses aren't always the most appropriate garment.
  4. I definitely need more Me Made skirts and trousers.  I didn't wear ANY skirts, as I only have a couple of Me Made ones and neither were appropriate for the weather or what I fancied wearing.  I also missed having a pair of narrow legged trousers to wear.
  5. With the exception of the spotty top I knocked up the day before we went on holiday, the items I enjoyed wearing the most were the ones I'd taken my time with and fitted and finished properly.   Thinking "that will do" when I'm making something equates to it not being worn much once it's finished.
All in all I enjoyed Me Made May.  I got bored with wearing the same things over and over, but that was partly because of the dreadful weather.

I think it was an excellent way of getting to know my Me Made wardrobe a bit better and identifying gaps. 

I'll never be the sort of person who makes ALL their clothes (for example I have absolutely no desire to make underwear, leggings or jeans) but I do enjoy wearing my Me Mades.

What have you learnt from wearing your handmade items?  I'd love to know!

Harder than it should be

Hello there, happy Friday!

You might have noticed that I haven't shown you anything I've sewn for myself in my last few posts.  That's because I haven't had much success there recently!

In between sewing the Mother of the Groom outfit I finished last week I've been working on several things for myself, but none of them have gone as expected.  The jacket I'd planned on making to wear to a wedding in a couple of weeks is looking good, but doesn't go with the dress I'm wearing - and as it doesn't go with anything else in my wardrobe I've kind of lost interest in it.  I will finish it and show it off one day, but not right now.

Disheartened by this, I then decided to make Simplicity 1652, which is another of their Amazing Fit patterns. 

After the success I'd had with one of those for my trousers, I thought it would be plain sailing, but no.  I made a muslin of the bodice (I wanted the one with the cutout back) and it was way too long, giving me a big empty lump on the top of my back.  I had that same problem with my Style Arc jacket that got abandoned, so I need to learn from that. 

I made some alterations, decided they were OK, cut out my fabric and started sewing.  Ugh, it looked awful!   I had just enough fabric to cut a new bodice using the petite fitting and the non-cutout back.  But the dress needs lining (the fabric is VERY thin), and the lining I have right now is horrible.  The dress fabric is a silk/cotton blend and it's lovely, whereas my lining is polyester and not lovely.  I need to shell out for some decent lining, but again I've lost interest. 

Earlier this week I was DESPERATE to make something for myself, so I went back to a tried and trusted pattern - New Look 6000.  I've used this 3 times already, once for a dress and twice shortened to make tops.  I decided to use the shortened "top" version and a very small piece of butterfly print georgette I picked up recently.

All was going swimmingly until I came to the neckline.  I hate facings, so decided to use bias tape to finish the neckline, but could I get it to lie flat?  No, I couldn't.  Not one of the three attempts I had at it was anywhere near flat!

My final solution was to fully line the body, which it probably needed anyway as the fabric is very sheer.  I had just enough ivory lining fabric in my stash to cut the front and back pieces, using very narrow seam allowances.

Here's the result.


I'm actually pleased with it, but feel it's been a hard slog to get there.  And it shouldn't have been!  I don't know why things haven't been going right in my sewing for myself recently, but I hope that changes.

Next up is another stab at Simplicity 1652, using some black and white brushstroke printed linen blend fabric from my stash.  Fingers crossed it works this time!

Style the Stash Sew-a-long

I'm very excited to be joining in Sarah Liz's 2013 Style The Stash Sew-a-Long.  Sarah Liz blogs at SarahLizSewStyle.  I've just written my first post on the joint blog she has set up for the purposes of the sew-a-long, which lasts from now until the end of the year, and thought I'd share the details of my fabric stash here as well.

I've spent this afternoon sorting, photographing and cataloguing my stash and here are the results.

Firstly, shorter lengths of fabric:

These are all 1 metre or less in length, some are remnants or short pieces I purchased, others are left over from projects I've completed.

On the left are summer weight pieces and on the right winter weight.

I have plans for the coral jersey piece and the butterfly print and will likely use them together.

Now on to the longer lengths. These are all over 1 metre in length, and nothing is longer than 2.5 metres.

I have plans for the cream floral print and the black and white brush strokes print. These are both linen mixes. I also have plans for the navy/tan splodgy print, which is what I'm planning on using first.

Finally a few more longer lengths.

The coral fabric on the left is a shiny, heavy-ish jersey. I'm planning on using it for a (hopefully) wearable muslin of a casual jacket. The other 2 pieces I bought to make an outfit for a wedding I'm going to, then changed my mind about it.

This is how my fabric is stored.

I'm hoping I can keep it to these 2 boxes, I'm sure this Sew A Long will help me here.

I've also catalogued my fabric in a spreadsheet with copies of these photos attached for easy reference. I've actually got 31.3 metres of fabric, which I was quite surprised by. I thought it would be more than that, but quite a few of the pieces are short lengths, and as I mentioned earlier, nothing is over 2.5m.

I'm really excited to be joining this Sew A Long and can't wait to get started on my first project.   Thank you so much to Sarah Liz for coming up with this wonderful idea.