Saturday, 21 November 2015

Secret pyjamas

Part of my sewing plans for winter included several Jersey dresses. Last year, after finally learning how to sew with knit fabrics, I made the 'Lady Skater Dress'. I was really pleased with this dress and wore it a heck of a lot, but it had its problems. The fabric I used shrunk after several washes, which meant the bodice was quite short and the waist sat too high. But I couldn't quite get the hang of the way the skirt hung, I wasn't convinced it was very flattering on me. So after so many people sang the praise of the Moneta pattern from Colette I thought I'd give it a try as an alternative.

The pattern comes with three sleeve options and two collar options.... But you can download a pack with about a million other collar variations for free, so there is oodles of choice. I launched straight into making a wearable muslin by cutting a medium and the only alteration being to take an inch off the bodice length.

In my opinion this dress has a much better shape than the Skater dress does, there is a much more defined waist which I really like. And when I say it's an easy make I mean super lemon squeezy kind of easy! The only problem I encountered was that the back bodice piece wouldn't fit on the fold of my fabric length so I have a seam where a seam should not be.

But check it out, you can barely see it (on my rather fuzzy photos, my camera only focuses when it pleases). The fabric I used is a ponte Roma jersey in 'fawn', though I'd call it a caramel brown. It's a really beautiful fabric which has drape, but also manages to hold shape nicely. It was a bit risky using this as my wearable muslin, but I was far too impatient to do a practice run.
The pattern itself is great. It has details on the best way to work with knits and detailed descriptions of how to do the shirring for the waist. I've never done this before and I'll admit mine was rather messy. It's done using clear elastic, stretching the elastic over the skirt waist and stitching straight, when the elastic is released, it's gathered like magic while still being nice and stretchy!

I do love this detail, and hopefully the more I use this skill the neater it will become. 

Well after harping on about the things I like about this pattern, it's only fair to disclose the parts that I don't like. The mid length sleeves I really feel could be a bit longer, I really do like them just past the elbow. Also, if you choose not to add a collar, the neckline is finished by simply turning over the edge and stitching. In my opinion this doesn't feel very professional, although I will admit that finished with a twin needle it still looks smart, but with a zig zag stitch I think it would be much less so.

I also think the medium is a tad too big for me, see underarm bagginess above. So to counter these little gripes next time I will be cutting the small, and adding a pretty collar from the bonus pack! Yay!

The absolute best thing about this dress though, is just how comfortable it is. I've seen it described on other blogs as secret pyjamas, and this is the most accurate description of this dress that I can think of! I'm currently wearing it curled up on the sofa, and I swear I have less comfortable tracksuit bottoms! For this reason, combined with how smart it is (it's totally a work appropriate dress!) I must have several of these dresses!

And maybe another half inch off the waistband would probably be good!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Work in progress

November seems to be turning out to be a busy month. This year (after the great mitten fiasco of 2014 - they were huuuuge) I had decided to do my Christmas gift knitting much earlier than last time, when I gave myself approximately 3 weeks to make four gifts... I know. 

Well I have my patterns picked, I have needles at the ready, I have a GIANT ball of wool to use, and upon my word am I flying though those mini projects! I mean I am seriously impressed with myself here (engage smug mode). Trouble is, with them being Christmas presents, I can't show you them.... Boooo!!
Oh ok, but just a peek!

Because I've ploughed full speed into gift knitting my other projects are suffering a little. I had hoped to have my Pomme de Pin finished by now and my owls heading rapidly for the needles, but alas, nope. It is still progressing though, if a little slower than before, mostly because it is portable. The GIANT ball of wool I mentioned earlier means the gifts must stay in the house. Mind you, I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel with this cardigan, there is hope yet. I have the body complete, and have just finished sleeve 1, only sleeve 2 and a ribbed edge to go people!

So nothing finished that I can actually report, but it's exciting times people!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Becoming a wardrobe architect

In 2014 the Coletterie blog began a series called Wardrobe Architect. The idea behind this was to encourage a more mindful approach to sewing clothes, to help us to think about what we need in our wardrobe rather than just sewing pretty dresses and things we would wear maybe once but would never make it into general rotation.
Wardrobe architect icon from Coletterie 

only stumbled on this when they began the second series in 2015, but very quickly read back over all of the previous entries which talked about minimizing 'stuff' in our wardrobes and working around a 'signature look'. I think I was very guilty of having all sorts of clothes, some of which I bought to match pretty much everything, but others I struggled to put together. I remember thinking about what I would wear for work the next day and thinking "I want to wear that top, but that doesn't go with those trousers, but the only trousers it does go with are in the wash" and ending up wearing something I felt a bit rubbish in.

So over the summer I thought I would give the Wardrobe Architect approach a go. So I figured, with that feeling like a fresh start I could talk about my experiences of following this approach and how easy it has been, and how easy it is to follow the 'useful items' sewing. My aim is to have a wardrobe full of things I feel happy and confident wearing, things I feel excited about making and things I feel are really beautiful and really 'me'

The WA series has been broken down by Coletterie into different stages, the idea being that you do a different task each month. Of course as I read it all in one afternoon I've not so much worked in order as seen a task and thought 'ooh that's a good idea, I'll do that now' so I'm a bit all over the place.

I won't reiterate all of the stages here, they can all be found at Coletterie, but I will talk about the stages that I did spend time thinking about, how easy they were to do, and how they've changed the way I think about my clothes and what I make.

The 2014 series focussed mostly on being mindful of how you would like to present yourself. The first few tasks I found really helpful in planning my wardrobe/sewing projects, making me much more organised, and surprisingly more confident.

Photos from Pinterest 

This task asked you to think about what you feel happy wearing, whether you prefer smart tailored clothing, pretty girly dresses, or casual jeans. Because there's so much choice in the shops it's so easy to have a bit of everything, but this doesn't mean that we feel each look is 'us'. I found that by actually sitting and thinking about what I like to wear I realised that I'm actually very comfortable in blouses, really feel confident in dresses and skirts, and am rarely out of a cardigan. So ok, that's somewhere to start.

Once again... Pinterest 

This task I really loved! It's all about thinking about the shape of your outfit, what shapes you feel good in. It also goes quite in depth to think about details like do you prefer long or short sleeves? Do you like a low waist or a high waist? Do you like loose clothes or skintight clothes?
This is fantastic to take into consideration when choosing patterns, what's the point of buying a pattern with a drop waist and mini skirt. It might look great on the model or the hundreds of other bloggers, but I'm never going to feel comfortable wearing that. Give me a knee length dress with a big skirt and I'm happy.

Guess what... Pinterest 

I loved this task, it was all around thinking about putting outfits together when planning what you want/need to sew. This is something I am very guilty of not doing, I see an item of clothing I like and I go for it worrying about what to wear it with later on. The result, something I can only wear with one pair of jeans or no cardigan to match or just a really unusual colour/pattern that I never reach for.
I managed to identify three distinct silhouettes which I love to wear and know I feel good in. Skinny jeans with a floaty loose blouse, skirt/dress about knee length with a cardigan, and loose tailored trousers with a shirt and yet another cardigan (can you sense a theme here?).
Using these three silhouettes (one being for work) I can plan which sewing patterns to work on for the coming season. It might be that my chosen silhouettes change next season, and that's fine, I can pick new ones and new sewing projects to meet those needs

The focus of this task on the Coletterie blog was to look at your colouring (hair, skin) to see whether you suit warm or cold colours, which of these you're likely to wear, and selecting from these a neutral (beige), a mid neutral (chocolate/plum/blue) and a bright (something that would stand out). I would really encourage reading over this particular task, It is quite a useful one to use alongside tasks 2 and 3 to Actually construct a functioning comprehensive wardrobe rather than a jumble sale of stuff (unless that's the look you're going for!).
While I didn't go all out with colour charts and picking mid neutrals to match my neutrals (a bit in depth for me), I did find it a good prompt when I've bought fabric since. Now I don't just look at the pretty pattern or colours, I actually think about how it will fit in my wardrobe and which items I can make with it. It has also given me inspiration to follow a general colour 'scheme' of colours I really like to wear and which colours compliment these. I also realised how much I like navy grey and red.

So I know this has been a very long, very talky post. But I hope it's been helpful and given you an excuse to spend all afternoon reading the Wardrobe Architect post on Coletterie and see which parts you find really useful. The 2015 series went much more into developing a capsule wardrobe... But I'll come back to that later