Creating a Co-ordinated Wardrobe

You might remember that earlier this year I took part in a style challenge that Sylvia at 40+ Style held on her blog.  I posted about it here.
One of the things I discovered while taking part in the challenge was that although I have a lot of clothes, I don’t particularly have a lot of outfits.  I own lots of things that either go with only one other item in my wardrobe, or in fact don’t really go with anything else, and consequently never get worn.  I probably only wear about 50% of my wardrobe, maybe less than that.  One day I might even sit down and work it out, but that’s kind of scary!

How does this relate to sewing, I hear you ask?

Well, my “eclectic” wardrobe spills over into my sewing and knitting as well.  I see a pattern, I see some gorgeous fabric or yarn and think “I’ve got to have that”, without actually thinking about what else it will go with.  Very occasionally I make something to fill a gap, but not often.

However, I’m hoping to change that, or at least reduce the regularity with which I make something that ends up sitting in my wardrobe unworn, although not necessarily unloved!

My plan is to try and make co-ordinated outfits, rather than one off garments.  I also want to make more separates than dresses.  That’s going to be hard, because I love dresses, and all the nicest patterns seem to be for dresses.

My first outfit is going to use 2 pieces of fabric from my stash and 2 patterns I already own.

I’m going to make a top and trousers.  Eeeek!  My Sewultion is to sew a pair of trousers, so I’ve GOT to do it!

The top will be very simple.  Last week Colette Patterns released their latest design, Laurel, a shift dress and top. 
The top is just what I want, but when I looked in detail at the pattern, it looks surprisingly similar to the plainest version of New Look 6000 without the front darts.  So, I’m going to use my New Look 6000, shortened to make a top.  It’s a win-win, I’ve already made it, so I know the alterations I need to make on the fit, and I don’t have to spend money on a new pattern. 

I feel slightly guilty I’m not buying Laurel, but the two look so similar it seems like a waste of money.

The fabric I’ll be using for the top is the 70’s viscose crepe I bought last week.  I think the large pattern will look great made up into a simple top. 
I promise I'll iron it before I use it!

For the trousers I’ll be using a pattern I bought a couple of months ago, McCalls 6707. 
I doubt I'll be wearing heels this high!

I’ll be making the full length version, but all in one colour.  I have some navy twill type fabric in my stash that I bought for about £5.00 in a local charity shop a few months back.

I’ve never made trousers before, so I’ll definitely be making a muslin first.  I might muslin the top as well, just to make sure my idea works and I don’t end up wasting my precious fabric.  I have some drapey poly/cotton in my stash that would make quite a nice top, so hopefully it will be a wearable muslin.

Both these items should fit into my existing wardrobe.  The top will definitely go with jeans, and also black trousers I already own.  The trousers will go with existing tops, and the green sweater I just finished knitting. 

So, that’s the plan!  Hopefully I’ll be able to add more co-ordinating pieces over the coming months.  I do like to have variety in my clothes, so I doubt I'll ever get to the stage where all of my tops go with all of my bottoms, for example, but I would like to have a few more "mix and match" opportunities than I have currently.  




Green and Blue

I've got a completed knitting project to share with you today.  I finished my Ramona sweater, from the March 2013 edition of Lets Knit! magazine.   My Ravelry project page is here.

I'm so pleased with how it's turned out.  Sadly it's snowing here today and far too cold to wear a 3/4 sleeved sweater with lace panels up the front and back. 

I used some gorgeous yarn from Colourmart, a merino, silk and cashmere blend called Diamante.  It's a laceweight, so I used it doubled and it came out perfectly.  The photo gives a pretty accurate representation of the colour.  The yarn has a slight sheen to it from the silk, which is really pretty.

The only problem I had was when it came to blocking the completed sweater.  I hate blocking!  I always struggle to not stretch the completed item out too much.  It took ages to get this the correct size without distorting the lace, but I think I managed it OK.

The sweater is the "green", now for the "blue". 

I've found the perfect fabric for my dress to go with the jacket fabric I bought last weekend.   Was it really only last weekend, it seems much longer ago than that!

Anyway, here it is with the jacket fabric:

It's a polyester crepe and it's absolutely the same colour as the blue in the jacket fabric.  I found it in Fabricland in Basingstoke when I was in the area for work during the week.  Best  of all, it only cost me £10.00!

I couldn't resist ordering a piece of the orange 70's floral crepe I showed you last weekend.  That came yesterday, and its gorgeous  (or it will be once it's ironed anyway!).  I'm going to make a top from it, possibly Colette Patterns new Laurel

Made by Me: Burdastyle Pocket Skirt

Here's what I was intending to show you on Saturday, before I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show and bought all those lovely goodies.

I made a skirt!  It's not a dress!

I'd been wanting to make this skirt for ages, but it's in a Burdastyle magazine, so it necessitated tracing the pattern off one of their mad pattern sheets and I really didn't fancy doing it.  Then at the end of last week I really wanted to sew an item of clothing and this was top of my list.  In the end the tracing wasn't so bad, as there aren't many pattern pieces and they're simple shapes.

Here's the line drawing from Burdastyle:

Pocket Skirt 10/2012 #121B

I had some lovely fabric in my stash, which had always been intended for this skirt.  It's a lovely drapy dark burgundy something!  I don't know what it is, the man I bought it from at the Bluewater craft fair in September said it was originally made for Jaeger or somewhere similar.  Anyway, it's gorgeous. 

Here's a full length shot.  Sorry for the poor quality, it's been so dark and dismal lately that it's hard to get decent light for a photo (or I should say, impossible!).

Please excuse my hair.  It was raining the day I photographed this, one of those "There's no point in even trying to make my hair look nice today" days!

The pattern instructions weren't the easiest to follow.  I'm quite a visual person and without any photos sometimes it's quite hard to work out what the magazine wants you to do.  I basically looked at the pattern pieces and instructions and did what I thought was right. 

I was a bit worried about how the pockets would come together, but they worked fine.

If you look really closely you can see a tiny pucker where the top of the pocket joins the horizontal seam across the front, but it is tiny and I couldn't get rid of it.  At least there's a matching one the other side!

I really love the pockets on this, they're not the sort you'd want to put much - or anything really - in, but the curved seams make a lovely design feature.  This is what originally drew me to the pattern.

I'll definitely make this skirt again.  This one is quite "A" line, but I think it would look equally nice narrowed to a pencil skirt.

On another note, after purchasing my jacket fabric on Saturday, I've been trying to find some dress fabric to go with it.  You might remember I already had fabric for the dress, unfortunately the jacket fabric doesn't go with it. 

I've found a couple of possibilities online, and I think I'm going to get samples of them both if I can.  One website definitely offers samples, the other I'm waiting to hear back from.  Anyway, what do you think to either of these?

Left: Saxe blue medium weight crepe; Centre: the jacket fabric; Right:70's floral viscose crepe
Initial opinions greatfully received!  I will photograph both the dress fabrics individually with the jacket fabric once I get the samples.

Staking a Claim

I'm not really sure if I need to do this (or why to be honest) but just claiming my blog on Bloglovin

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Gorgeous Goodies Galore!

My original plan for todays post was to show you a skirt I've just finished making, however that will have to wait because instead I want to show you all the gorgeous goodies I've bought today!

Several weeks ago a friend and I bought tickets to go to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show, at Olympia, London.  We were both very excited, but sadly my friend's dad is very poorly so she was unable to come. 

Undaunted, I set off alone this morning and was there 20 minutes before the doors opened.  Thankfully, they let us queue inside, as it was raining and very windy. 

I always like to get to shows like this (or just shopping centres) for when they open, as I know from past experience how crowded they can get.  And I HATE crowds.

It was bliss at the beginning, not many other visitors, so lots of space to browse and ponder.  In fact it felt very strange initially, as there were so few people about. 

I hadn't been there long when I spotted a fabric stall I'd bought from at the Bluewater show last year.    They have a shop in Wanstead, Stitch Fabrics.   I was on the look out for some fabric suitable for my Style Arc jacket, and I found some, but it's not what I was planning on getting.

I was planning on a stone coloured linen or similar, to go with a navy and stone patterned fabric. Instead I got this cotton/rayon:

It's slightly darker than the photo shows, but not much.  The colours are a lightish teal/blue, a light coral and a cream.   I got 2 and a half metres for £15.00.   Sadly, I'll now have to find new fabric for the dress to go with it!

I also bought a metre and a half of this pure silk.  It's a light stone background with very dark grey splodges, spaced in "stripes" so there are more and less densely splodged bands across the fabric.  I'm going to make a simple top of some sort.

I then moved through to the second (and larger) hall, where there was more of a mixture of knitting and sewing stalls.  The first hall had been mainly patchwork and fabrics.

It was already getting a little crowded, but before long I had spotted Jennie Atkinson's stall and was attracted by a lovely display of projects from her "A Handknit Romance" book.  I ended up buying a copy (which she dedicated to me) and a kit to make a little beaded knit purse, one of the projects in the book.

My other major purchase was this delicious skein of 100% silk fingering weight yarn, by Coolree

The photo really doesn't do justice to how beautiful this yarn is, the colours are very rich and they just glow.  I can't wait to find a really special project to use it on.

I bought a few other little bits and bobs, a Liberty print ruler and a snail tapemeasure,

and a few fat quarters of quilting fabric for my machine embroideries. 

By this time it was almost 12.00, I'd spent quite enough money and it was getting extremely crowded so I decided that it was time to head for home. 

I can't wait to start playing with my new goodies!


What do you get when you have friends/aquaintances that know you can sew and a husband that is good at volunteering you for things?

I'll tell you what...

Jobs altering bridesmaids dresses for 2 weddings, and a commission making a dress and jacket Mother of the Groom outfit for another!

I'm not quite sure how I've got myself into this, but in the last few days I have agreed to shorten and take in 3 bridesmaids dresses for a wedding at the end of July, and alter some others (I don't know how many yet) for a wedding in September. 

Fine, that doesn't sound too bad. 

Then hubby came home the other day and said "J wonders if you'd make her a dress for her son's wedding" (to which we are invited).  J is a lovely lady, very stylish and with quite a simple, understated style, so I thought she'd probably want something quite simple. 

I gave her a call yesterday.

It turns out I was partly right - she does want a simple dress, either shift style, or something fitted at the top with a bit of flare to the skirt.  But, she also wants a jacket.  Collarless and simple apparently, but still a jacket. 

I somehow seem to have said yes I'll make them for her!!!!

I know I can do this.  I made myself a coat last year.  I made my sisters wedding dress, my bridesmaids dress for her wedding and my mum's Mother of the Bride outfit at well.  But, I'm still very slightly scared. 

Please reassure me that I can do it!

I had already planned on making my outfit for J's sons wedding, which I'm still going to do.  In fact I ordered the jacket pattern last night.  I've gone for the Style Arc Julia jacket that I fell in love with. 

I showed hubby and he really liked it and told me to go for it. 

I'll be making a dress from New Look 6123, probably view B, which is the one in the photograph.

 Here's an idea of what the dress and jacket might look like together. 

Pretty cute, I think! 

I have this fabric, a cotton/silk blend that I bought for very cheap on Ebay, that I'll probably use for the dress. 

It's a black, dark blue and stone ikat type print.  I'm now on the look out for some stone coloured linen blend or similar for the jacket.  Unless I find something I like much better of course......


My laptop works wirelessly again, so I can post without having to crouch on the lounge floor behind the chair!

I thought I'd share a couple of my latest projects with you - experiments really - to see what you think.

I was looking for different ways to use the machine embroidery and applique I learnt last year, and hit upon the idea of make up bags, etc. 

I made this one last week - isn't the little bird cute?

I used free hand machine embroidery to outline the bird and branch, then added a bead for his eye and 2 tiny flower buttons that I found in my stash.  I must look out for some more little flower buttons, because they were perfect for this.

This evening I've made a glasses case, which I think will be part of my mum's Mothers Day present.

This one was more fiddly, as it's smaller and I used some fleece fabric between the outer fabric and lining to give it a bit of padding.  The other one only has interfacing.

A little bit of embelishment (and advertising!) on the back:

And here they are together.

I used this tutorial from Flossy Teacakes, which was very easy to follow. 

They'll need a bit of refining first, but I'm thinking of trying to sell a few of these, what do you think?

Better Late Than Never!

I've finally managed to get a couple of modelled photos of my dotty New Look 6000 that I made for Scruffy Badger's Polka Dot Frock Fest last month! 

I gave up waiting for hubby to help me (he loves photography and has quite a bit of quite expensive equipment, but somehow is never able to assist me in photographing my finished projects!) and did it by myself.

Consequently, they are not the best photos in the world, but at least you can see what it actually looks like on.

I'm really pleased with it, although I think I could have made it a tiny bit smaller.  I tend to err on the side of "too big" because I'm petrified of things being too small. 

Anyway, enough of the chat - here I am!


Waterfall Jackets

I wanted to think of a really fun title for this post, but my brain isn't having it this morning!

Yesterday I mentioned that I was debating whether to splash out £14.00 on postage from Australia for the Style Arc Julia jacket pattern.   

I love the style and the pattern itself works out at about £12.00, but the postage cost was putting me off big time.

I hadn't been able to find a suitable alternative anywhere, but after posting and reading a couple of comments I decided to up my search. 

I managed to find 2 possibles, and have actually now chosen the one I'm going to use.

The patterns I found are shown below, either side of Julia.

On the right, McCalls 6655 and on the left Simplicity Threads 1919.  The McCalls pattern comes with 3 other jacket variations and the Simplicity has another jacket, a skirt and a pair of trousers as well.

Both patterns have their advantages and disadvantages, so I've done a little comparison.

I hope you can read the text OK, it's come up much smaller than I expected and I can't alter it without starting again in Photoshop!   I'll issue reading glasses next time I try something similar. 

Here are the notes if you're struggling.

Style Arc Julia jacket
  • 3/4 length 2 piece sleeves.
  • Curved collar.
  • Curved peplum.
  • No fastenings.

McCalls 6655
  • Full length 2 piece sleeves.  Could easily be shortened.
  • Angular collar.  "Point" could be changed to curve.
  • Straight hem with no peplum.  Could possibly be changed.
  • Button fastening.  Could be omitted.

Simplicity 1919
  • Option for full length sleeves, but one piece.  Don't look as nice.
  • Curved collar but 2 pieces.  Possibly could sew pieces together for continuous effect.
  • Curved peplum hem.
  • Single hook and eye fastening.  Could be omitted.

In addition to my notes above, I looked for reviews.  I could only find one review of the McCalls jacket, and that was hardly detailed enough to be a review, and was also of one of the other styles.  I found several reviews of the Simplicity pattern, all saying how small it came up and is also unlined. 

On balance I've decided I'm going to go with McCalls 6655.  There's more about it that I like than I dislike and I think with a few alterations I can make a close enough approximation of the Julia jacket that I'll be happy.  And the pattern will cost about 1/3 of the price of the Julia jacket.  Of course, I'll probably end up spending a fortune on fabric for muslins, and it will cost far more by the time I've finished!

What do you think?  Have I made the right choice?  I've not ordered the pattern yet, so tell me now if you can think of something better!

Made by Me: Daisy Wrap

I'm still having major problems with my internet, so this could be a short post!  I meant to take the laptop to the computer shop today, but forgot it when I went out earlier. 

However, internet problems mean less time spent online, which in turn means more stitching time!  (In theory.  In practice we've been doing up our kitchen, so everything that's normally in the kitchen has been in the dining room - aka my sewing room).  I've managed crochet and knitting, but no sewing.

I have managed to finish my Daisy Wrap, and I love it.   It's a long time since I crochetted anything big, but I enjoyed the process so much I don't think it will be long before I do something else.

Here she is:

And stretched along our hall, so you can get an idea of the length.

And a close up for detail:

She's lovely and soft.  The yarn I used is Colourmart shiny cotton, which is a cotton/cashmere/angora/merino/viscose blend.  It's quite thin and almost hard off the cone, but once washed and worn it blooms and becomes wonderfully soft and a little bit fluffy.

I wore Daisy the other day over a plain navy coat and she looked lovely. 

I've now got my eye on a couple of crochet cardigan patterns.  Which one I make depends on what weight of yarn I can find in the colour I have in mind.  One is DK and one chunky weight. 

In other news, I'm debating whether to order the Style Arc Julia jacket pattern. 

We've been invited to a wedding at the end of June and I'd love to make this and a dress to wear with it for the wedding.  The pattern isn't too expensive, at the current exchange rate it's about £12.00, but the shipping is about £14.00.  I really do love the style and I haven't seen another similar pattern elsewhere, but the shipping cost is putting me off. 

Has anyone out there made a Style Arc pattern?  What would you do, would you go for it, or keep looking for something else?