Hello peeps! I’m back with a make I completed back in January, a lovely version of the Seamwork Margo skirt using John Kaldor scuba crepe gifted to me by Minerva in return for a 500+ review with pictures over on their blog, which you can find here: https://www.minerva.com/posts/1005864
Yeah, I made this in January! However, sometimes those Minerva Fabric Focus blogs can take a long time to make their way onto the blog. Even longer if you’ve been a bad blogger and taken ages to write the post up. In my defense, Daisy had heart surgery just after Christmas so my mind was somewhat preoccupied in the months after.
Hi everyone, hope you’re all enjoying Me Made May! This is my fourth year participating and I’m loving it. Tell you what, though, I’m kind of wishing I’d chosen a different challenge as all I want to wear every day is my latest make: these cute and comfy pedal pusher “jeans”. They’re the Jalie Éléonore Pull-On Jeans and I love them to bits! More details on sewing them up over on the Minerva Blogger Network. For rambling thoughts about jeggings, personal style and the like, read on here 🙂
I always used to consider “jeggings” a bit of a dirty word. They were the comical pretend jeans that were a sure sign you were letting yourself go. Then along came child #2, and the delights of maternity jeans. No, seriously, I was a convert. With my first I’d only ever had those weird over-the-bump maternity jeans but second time around I bought a pair of Red Herring jeans that had a soft elasticated waistband, but looked just like regular jeans from there on down. I was smitten. Comfiest jeans EVAH. Continue reading “The Skinny Pedal Pushers – Jalie Éléonore Pull-On Jeans”
This was my third year of taking part in Me Made May, and probably the most challenging yet, what with having a baby part way through! Yes, I’ve had to deal with going from a pregnant belly to a post-baby body, and was already struggling with a very limited selection of clothing that fit me, let alone me-made clothing that fit.
‘I, Anna of annajosews.com (@anna_jo_sews), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’18. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item (garment or accessory) each day during May 2018. I also want to spend the month assessing which of my clothes will work for life with a newborn, and to plan a breastfeeding-friendly capsule wardrobe to sew for the summer.’
In the end I did fulfil the pledge, with the exception of the day I gave birth when I didn’t wear any me-mades at all (but I’d made a baby!). I didn’t get all that many photographs, though, for various reasons I’ll go into. First, though, I’m going to share the ones I did take.
Day 1: the only me-mades here were my striped Erin skirt and a polka dot headband, but I really liked the overall outfit.
Day 4: My floral Agnes top got its final outing over the bump! This picture was taken about half an hour before we left for hospital, so please excuse the ropiness.
Day 5: I got one last pic of the bump in the hospital garden, while being induced. The weather had turned absolutely roasting! Wearing a self-drafted jersey maxi skirt I’ve never blogged, which I normally only wear around the house as it’s gone quite bobbly. Super comfy, though!
Day 6 – no me-mades–just little baby Lauren! This was my most popular post of the month over on Instagram 🙂
Day 7- back home, and trialling my Colette Wren dress over my deflating tummy. Really comfy and lovely in the heat, but didn’t cover my bust adequately. Would need an FBA to wear this pattern at the moment!
Day 8 = a bit cooler, so I wore that Drop Pocket Cardigan again, with a me-made jersey scarf.
So, that was the outfits I documented. The other days I wore pretty much the same mix of garments, which was why I didn’t feel particularly inspired to get photos. But there were other reasons the photos didn’t get taken too. I lost my favourite photo locations, because Andy has been digging up the patio to join in the ensuite in our new bedroom (garage conversion) to the existing waste system. There are slabs up everywhere and quite frankly my entire courtyard is a mess and doesn’t make an attractive backdrop. I could have taken indoor pics by the door and window I usually use (see the first four days above!), but that would have meant tidying the floor and vacuuming. I just didn’t feel much like that with a newborn to look after.
But documenting isn’t what Me Made May is really about. It’s about your relationship with your handmade wardrobe, and for me, sorting my clothes and planning my summer sewing was the most important part of the challenge. I did this bit, and have put all this lot into storage:
Admittedly, the box of winter clothes also contains gloves, hats and scarves belonging to the rest of the family, but I was still amazed at how many of my clothes I can’t currently wear (there’s another under-bed box of too-small clothes, but ones I reckon I’ll fit into first as they’re probably a size UK 12/14 rather than the size 10 that went into the loft). I don’t remember it being this bad after having Gabriel, but I suppose it was winter then, some of the clothes I wore then have worn out and are no longer with me, and much of what I’ve sewn since then is small and close fitting.
This is now the current state of my wardrobe:
The clothes on the right are the ones I can fit into. Those to the left are ones I didn’t want to squash into a box, plus a couple of party dresses that should fit now. Oh, and an unfinished coat project I really should work on this autumn…
That’s not all my clothing. I have scarves and bulky cardigans on the top shelf there, and I keep camis, tees and lightweight cardigans in my bedside drawers, along with undies, lounging clothes and workout gear. Still, I think it’s fair to say that my current selection of clothing I can wear is extremely limited and I’m bored to tears with it all. There’s lots of plain black and very little variety in styles. I’m stuck with a small selection of RTW jersey breastfeeding dresses or camis and maternity skirts. Yay.
Out of interest, I decided to check my current measurements against my pre-pregnancy size, and here they are:
Pre-pregnancy: Full bust 36″, High bust 34″, Waist 29″, Hips 40″, Bra size 34 B/C
Current measurements: Full bust 40″ (+4″), High bust 37″ (+3″), Waist 33″ (+4″), Hips 43″ (+3″), Bra size 36 DD
It’s no wonder not much fits, especially as I tend to favour close-fitting clothing 🙂
I know that this state of affairs won’t last forever. I will get back to my old size (I’ve managed it twice before!) but it’s going to take time and exercise, along with sticking to healthy food and not overdoing the carbs. I’ve just started week one of the Couch to 5k to get me back into running gently, so I reckon I’ll be in the size 12/14 clothes in a month or so, and hopefully back to my old size by the end of the year. Any clothes I make now will need to work for a variety of sizes, or be easily adjusted when I lose weight.
FWIW, I feel I should point out here that there’s nothing wrong with having a “mum tum”, and I know many women never get back to the size they were before having a baby (took me 7 years after Daisy!). However, I would prefer to get back to the size I feel happiest and healthiest at, and I know it’s achievable as I’ve done it before.
Now for the planning part. I’ll admit, I haven’t found time to design the perfect capsule wardrobe for summer, but I have identified a few key items I’ve found myself wishing for when getting dressed:
Maxi skirt – I definitely want one in black, in a lightweight swishy woven viscose. I’m thinking a simple elasticated waist would be best. You can get waistband elastic that’s designed to be exposed, and I might go for that. Should be a super fast sew that way! If that goes well, more maxi skirts in patterned fabrics would be great.
Dungaree dress – Something lightweight again. Possibly in dark chambray or a deep plum colour. I like the look of the new pattern from Helen’s Closet, but might draft something myself as money is tight and I hate assembling pdfs.
Looser fitting tees – until I lose the baby tum these are what I want to wear! Perhaps just a couple: one plain (plum?) and one striped or polka dotted. I could use the Deer and Doe Plantain tee as that’s close fitted at the top, but looser over the waist and hips.
Tropical print kimono – Something lightweight with a colourful but dark background print. For a bit of fun, and an easy way to add some colour to my current all-black outfits. I could draft this myself.
Another Amber dress or two – prints, this time! Polka dots, tropical florals, bright colours. Something to cheer me up.
Not sure I’ll get around to sewing all these as time and money are in short supply, but we’ll see. It’s a good exercise in planning, at any rate 🙂
So, that was my Me Made May, and it was fairly challenging! Did you take part? If so, what did you learn about your handmade wardrobe?
Okay, I actually wrote this post about taking part in the 10×10 wardrobe challenge last month and thought I’d scheduled it to post automatically, but clearly I didn’t! Then I forgot all about it what with the excitement of Lauren being born, so here it is feeling a bit out of date, but hey, I’m posting it anyway. At the very least, it gives you a few more looks at some of my maternity makes and how I styled them in the final trimester.
I’ve been thinking about taking part in a 10×10 Wardrobe Challenge ever since I first heard about them. Basically, you take ten items of clothing (not including bags, accessories and outerwear) and try to find new outfits to make out them for a whole ten days. Documenting on Instagram with the hashtag #spring10x10 was I suppose optional, but I imagine most participants did so. This particular challenge ran in early April.
The Challenge was thought up by a couple of fashion bloggers and wasn’t originally aimed at sewists, but a few have started to take part using the extra hashtag #sewist10x10. The original idea was something to do with taking a minimalist approach to creating a capsule wardrobe and focusing on finding new ways to wear your favourite clothes, but I think you can make this challenge your own and use it however you want. You can find an excellent guide post over on the Unfancy blog here, by one of the two creators of the challenge: http://www.un-fancy.com/10×10-wardrobe-challenge/spring-remix-10-items-10-days-10-outfits/
I wanted to use the challenge to get out of a wardrobe rut, as I’d spent most of the winter wearing the same four maternity dresses in rotation. They were all long sleeved with high necklines, and I was getting really sick of them. Also, as the weather was hopefully warming up I wanted to experiment with some of the maternity separates I’d been sewing and find new ways to wear them.
My maternity wardrobe has been kept small by design as I really didn’t want to spend too much time and money on clothing that would only get a few month’s use (this child is definitely my last!). As a consequence I have a fairly boring selection of basics (mostly RTW from the last pregnancy), and I was hoping to find ways to jazz them up and make them feel fresh again.
My 10×10 items
My items were the following, with the number of times I wore each item afterwards:
Lace cami (maternity) from Red Herring by Debenhams – 2
Denim skirt (maternity) from Next – 2
Black tie-front bolero cardigan from Wool Overs – 4
Black long sleeved top (maternity) from Mamas and Papas – 3
Initially I had chosen two pairs of shoes, but I swapped out the zebra Converse shoes for the lace cami after a few days when I realised it was going to be cold and rainy for the duration. I know it’s not great to wear the same pair of boots day after day as they need an airing, but since I’m in the house in my slippers most of the time I figured it wouldn’t matter too much. Plus they’re the easiest pair of footwear for me to put on at the moment, what with this huge belly getting in the way!
What I learnt from this 10×10 Wardrobe Challenge
I need more footwear to suit autumn and spring weather–namely ankle boots or shoes that are okay to wear with socks/tights. I’m thinking a pair of black ankle boots and perhaps a pair of two tone brogues in black and white.
This challenge is tricky to do with our typically unpredictable British weather! I normally layer up as much as I can so I can add or remove layers when the temperature changes, but with only ten items to play with it was tricky getting warm enough. I got around this by not including leggings and thermal tops/camis worn underneath others, but I wished I’d included a thick jumper as one of the ten!
The tops and skirts I chose were too similar in silhouette to get dramatically different looks with them. That’s partly because I’m not really into the boxy look so most of my tops are close-fitting, and partly because my maternity wardrobe is limited to classics I know I’ll wear lots.
I did end up nearly running out of ideas and then tried wearing the Erin skirt over my tops (and even over the dress on the last day). I’m not convinced it’s the best look on me, but it was certainly different.
I really appreciated the pops of colour from my purple cardie, the floral top and the scarves I accessorised with. I think you need this when dressing in “boring” basics (ie, mostly black and denim)
Thoughts for next time
Three tops with different sleeve lengths and necklines would really help to achieve a variety of looks.
A button-up shirt would be a really useful thing to have as one of the ten items, as there are so many ways you can wear them. Buttoned up as a top, open as a shacket, tied at the waist, sleeves rolled up… I’m sure there are more, too! Good thing I plan to get into shirtmaking this year.
A sleeveless knit vest would also be really useful for layering. I’m thinking I might need to knit or crochet one.
I think those of us with kids probably need to take at least one “laundry day” break, as I find I often can’t wear clothes more than one day in a row as they get child gak all over them. Washing these clothes so I could wear them again was a bit of an extra challenge for me!
I could do with getting hold of some more colourful and/or patterned lightweight scarves and warm cardigans–not just for this challenge but for everyday outfit creation. I’ll have to consider whether I’d be better off buying or making these.
I’m definitely interested in taking part in a 10×10 Wardrobe Challenge again, and they seem to run twice a year (spring and autumn). However, it’s the kind of thing you could do just for your own interest at any point. It’s like a mini Me Made May, with a really sharp focus on creating a capsule wardrobe.
I’ll leave you with a pic of my fave outfit from the ten days, and I think it’s no coincidence it’s one of the most colourful!:
Would you take part in this challenge with your me-mades?
This week I’m finally able to share a make from January with you–the popular Kinder Cardigan–as my post for the new Wendy Ward book (A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics – affiliate link) has gone live over on the Minerva site. Go and check it out if you want to find out more about both the cardie and the book as a whole 🙂
I did try to wear my cardie today but the weather got too hot, too quickly. We seem to have gone straight from winter to summer–just last week everyone was wearing coats and scarves and today it was all shorts and flip flops! I’m sure the cardie will get some wear over the spring and summer, though, even if only in the evenings.
I’ll be blogging another Minerva make next week–a gorgeous summer dressing gown (Vogue V888) in polka dot viscose challis. Just got to finish off making it and work out how to insert inseam pockets in a French seam!
I made this Megan Nielsen Erin Maternity Skirt back in December, took the pics in January, but am only now blogging it as it’s hardly had any wear so far. That’s by no means a reflection on how much I like the skirt (spoiler: I love it!) but more on our exceptionally cold winter this year, and the weight of the fabric I used.
Megan Nielsen is one of the few pattern designers out there with a range of maternity sewing patterns to choose from, and so far I’ve made this and the Amber Dress, both of which I love. They are all classic, knit garments that make excellent basics, and each have a range of options to give different looks. The Erin skirt has two length options (knee and midi length) plus an optional hem ruffle if you like that kind of thing. Ruffles aren’t my thang, but hey, maybe I’ll change my mind at some point. Probably once they’ve gone out of fashion, knowing me… Continue reading “The Erin Maternity Skirt – or the Barcode Skirt #2”
Hey everyone! I’ve got another Minerva make to share today, and it’s another maternity dress. Not the Agnes this time, but the old Simplicity version of the Megan Nielsen Amber Dress. I’ve actually made it twice before (here and here) so this is truly a TNT pattern for me.
I do still have a couple of maternity makes to blog, and I’ve got pics taken so hopefully they’ll go up in the next couple of weeks. After that… I’m going to have to think hard about what will be worth making. Fitting a rapidly changing body is a challenge!
The full write up of making this dress is on the Minerva site, but something I forgot to add to the post was the time taken to sew, which was 2 hours. That’s not bad considering there were 13 pattern pieces to deal with, and the fabric was challenging at times (although seriously gorgeous to wear!)
Right, that’s it for now. I’ve been dealing with an ill toddler the last couple of days (conjunctivitis) so I’m tired and haven’t got much done. At least I’m making some headway on the crochet blanket, though 🙂
Back soon with another Megan Nielsen pattern: the Erin skirt! Sneak peek:
Hi everyone! I’m here to provide a little distraction from post-Christmas mayhem (or whatever it is you choose to celebrate at this time of year) with my first proper bit of maternity sewing on the blog: a party dress made with the new maternity version of the very popular Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top/dress.
Believe it or not, this is my very first maternity dress make. I was into dressmaking when I fell pregnant with Gabriel, but because of my inexperience with and general fear of sewing knit fabrics, I thought most maternity sewing patterns looked too much like hard work. Since having Gabriel, however (3 years ago this week–doesn’t time fly?!) I’ve truly embraced sewing with knits and now prefer sewing them to wovens. Continue reading “The Party Animal Dress – a maternity Agnes dress pattern review”
I’ve mentioned in the last couple of posts that I’ve started working through the exercises in Anushka Rees’ The Curated Closet as part of an ongoing mission to figure out what my style really is. It’s something that’s become more and more important to me since I started making my own clothing. When putting that kind of time investment (and a financial one too, sometimes) into making something, it’s really disappointing if it doesn’t feel “me” once I’ve finished. My hit rate has been getting better, but I’m still only at about 50% so I have a fair way to go.
When I was younger getting dressed was easy. I chose a subculture and bought the clothes that fit. First I was an indie kid, then a hippie, then a crusty (yeah, not the best look), then I got more into dance culture and dressed accordingly. When I started teaching I bought clothes that typified librarian chic: A-line tweedy skirts with tight but covered-up tops and cardigans.
Then I had a kid and everything changed. My body size changed, and for a few years I dressed mainly in hand-me-downs from my mum and sister who had both lost weight. I wasn’t all that fussed at the time as I had enough on my plate bringing up a kid with Downs, but eventually I started to look around me and wonder why I looked such a dog’s dinner compared to other women. Why were some stylish and others not? Was it simply something they were born with?
So I started thinking more about clothing, and learnt how to make my own. I was initially drawn to retro style party dresses, but of course I couldn’t really work that 50s pin-up vibe into my everyday wardrobe. It was a high maintenance look that was just for occasional dressing up, and I was okay with that. What I needed was a wardrobe suitable for being a mum and working from home. Comfy, practical clothing, but that suited me perfectly. The search was on…
Over the years I’ve tried many ways of figuring out my style. I read numerous books (Trinny and Susanna and Gok Wan were prime offenders) that gave me lists of clothes I had to own, or styles that would suit my body shape (somewhere between hourglass and pear, apparently) I had a Colour Me Beautiful colour consultation, where I found out I suited soft, cool and deep colours, and I even paid for the Dressing Your Truth online consultation where I found out I was a Type 4 (bold).
However, none of this really helped. Sure, there were some good bits of advice in amongst all of it, but I still wasn’t one hundred percent convinced I was dressing my best. Perhaps that’s because the one place I hadn’t really looked was my own preferences…
More recently I’ve been drawn to the idea of capsule wardrobes and have been trying to let go of any clothes that don’t bring me joy (yep, thanks, KonMari!), but although my pared down wardrobe made me feel much happier, I still struggled to put good outfits together with what I had. I needed to build my wardrobe up again, but where to start?
Finally, I took the plunge and bought a copy of The Curated Closet. Weird it took me so long as I’ve been reading Anushka’s blog, Into Mind, for years and always had the idea I would buy a copy someday. Well, that day came. I read it through, felt excited, then started to do the exercises. Documenting my outfits for two weeks revealed I was in a bit of a rut and wearing the same few items in pretty constant rotation.
Then came the exercise I was most looking forward to: gathering inspirational images. Rees encourages you to devote a solid few hours to this, allowing yourself to go down rabbit holes to find things that really speak to you. I was expecting to come up with some variation on current trends with lots of neutral and muted colours along with flowing silhouettes. And there’s a bit of that, but what I kept coming back to were two of my old faves: librarian chic and rockabilly/pin-up. Two looks I’d thought were too tricky to pull off as a busy mum. But then I realised there were more accessible ways of making it work, and blending the two styles (three if you count the whole maxi skirt thing I have going on) could create something new. Something I’ve decided to call… wait for it:
Off-Duty Rockabilly Librarian
Yep, that about sums it up. It’s a low maintenance version of 50s glam mixed with more contemporary geek chic, and it’s geared towards everyday outfits I’ll find easy to wear. The colours are strong, with plenty of black, navy, cherry red and purple. And the patterns are bold stripes, polka dots, plaid and leopard print. Silhouettes are fitted, waistlines are high, skirts are long, trousers are cropped. Here’s the mood board:
I’m so pleased I’ve taken the time to really think about what I genuinely like and feel good in. It’s already helping me with planning sewing projects. I realised I have a whole book full of suitable patterns: Gertie Sews Vintage Casual, and I’ve now made two of them. I’ve also realised that I have a fair few items already that will work with this style. And I’m now working through the exercises to help plan what I need to fill in the gaps.
This is even going to help me clear out some of the clutter in my loft. I can see now why certain items of clothing and stash fabrics just aren’t inspiring me, and it’s time to let them find new owners.
Yep, I can see the way forward. I’m already putting together outfits that feel more “me” and people are noticing. I feel confident and a bit sassy, channelling my inner Rizzo (been watching a lot of Grease lately as I’m going to see a local production next month).
Now, excuse me. I’m off to watch Grease again while tracking down some leopard print jersey and sewing myself a red, polka dot headscarf!
The Wembley Cardigan by Seamwork. It’s a relaxed fit, cropped cardigan without any fastenings to worry about, so a really quick and simple sew as all Seamwork patterns are intended to be. I cut a straight size small based on my bust measurement, reasoning there was really no need to grade this out to a medium at the hips as it’s such a relaxed style. Continue reading “Rainy Day Cardie”
I’ve been following Rochelle’s blog for ages now, and I really like her approach to creating a wardrobe of handmade items that really fit with her lifestyle. So this year I thought I’d give her #2017MakeNine sewing challenge a go. Nine items shouldn’t be too many to make in one year, and the idea is to keep the list fluid, changing things as and when I see fit. I’ve been thinking hard about capsule wardrobes and the garments I feel a need for when rooting around for something to wear. Rather than picking just nine patterns I’ve instead picked nine types of garment, with several pattern options for most of them. The idea is that I will hopefully find a pattern in each category that I like enough to want to make several versions of it in different fabrics and colours.
There’s only one contender here and that’s the Tilly and Buttons Cleo Dress. I’ve wanted a dungaree dress for ages–I last had one when I was pregnant with Daisy (who’s now 11!) and I wore it to death. I have been seriously inspired by alisesaye‘s gorgeous version pictured, and I have some aubergine needlecord in my stash which would be perfect for this pattern. It that works well then I’ll want to make a denim version too. Continue reading “2017 sewing plans (#2017MakeNine)”
This is the last of my 2016 makes to blog (completed early November), which means I’m not doing too badly this year! Blogging more promptly should definitely be a New Year’s resolution, though…
In a Nutshell:
A simple, neutral knit dress that’s already become a firm wardrobe favourite!
This is the Surplice Dress from the Craftsy Sewing With Knits class. It’s a simple knit dress with an empire line waist, a wrap bodice and an A-line skirt. The sleeves are meant to be elbow length but ended up being slightly shorter because of an alteration I made (more on that later). Based on my measurements I cut a size M.
Grey ponte from Sewn Bristol (I can’t see it in the online store and I bought it back in the summer so perhaps it’s all gone now). I am seriously amazed by the quality of this fabric. At £5.50 a metre I assumed it might not wear all that well–after all, every single ponte I’ve bought in the past has bobbled after a couple of washes, despite me treating it like royalty with the finest delicates detergents, washing cycles and line drying. Continue reading “Totally not boring Grey Surplice Dress”
I’ve now got all the rest of my family sick with a tummy bug. Well, that’s not strictly true as Gabriel is pretty much better now, but he still needs to stay indoors and away from other children for another 24 hours.
Anyway, I’ve had a fair bit of thinking time over the last few days and one of the things I’ve been thinking about is clothes. Specifically, what I need to stay cosy and reasonably stylish for the winter, as after clearing out the stuff that’s now too big for me my wardrobe is sorely lacking in appropriate clothing. Back in 2015 I spent some time trying to wrap my head around what a capsule wardrobe would mean for me–I devoured the Colette Wardrobe Architect posts and was a regular visitor to the blog Into Mind–but for some reason I never quite figured out how to whittle my clothing into any kind of coherent capsule. I’ve never been a particularly minimalist person, and while I’m increasingly drawn to the idea it’s tough to figure out how to downsize my possessions. I also have a fair few items of clothing that I’m attached to, but that only go with one or two other things. I KonMaried my wardrobe a couple of years ago, but it was in need of another overhaul.