Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A quick fix!

Do you ever feel like you really just need a quick fix?... of sewing that is!  I was feeling that way on Sunday, up early but a bit too tired to start a new sewing project.  So instead I decided to tick a few quick re-fashion jobs off my list. 

Me Made May 2013 - Day 28, new jersey pencil skirt
MMMay - Day 28, new pencil skirt
First up was changing a t-shirt dress into a pencil skirt.  As a dress this was just too short for me and knew that converting it to a pencil skirt would make it much more of a wardrobe staple.  All I had to do was cut across under the arms (I’ve kept this top bit as I thought it might be useful for jersey bands for other makes in the future), fold over and stitch a casing for the elastic, then thread the elastic in with a safety pin and sew it closed – easy!  I’d been meaning to do it for months but seeing Miss P’s post on converting a dress intoa maxi-skirt reminded me just how quick this would be to do. As you can see I’ve already worn it – this was Day 28 of Me Made May 2013.

My second quick fix is a new one for me.  I picked up this pure cashmere cardigan for £15 in a vintage shop.  I loved the colour of it and it looked in really good condition, except a patch on one elbow which had been stitched up with various shades of blue thread.  Remembering I had a lovely scrap of brown leather at home (bought in a leather shop in Copenhagen) I bought it anyway and took it home thinking that realistically it would take me ages to get round to making said leather elbow patches.  However I completely surprised myself by making a template, cutting and hand-stitching on the leather patches on Sunday evening. 

Re-fashioned cashmere cardigan with leather elbow patches
new cashmere cardigan with leather elbow patches

I’m so pleased with how it looks, even if the patches don’t sit quite on my elbows – I think the previous owner must have had shorter arms as the repair job I had to cover up is ever so slightly above my elbow.  No matter, I still love how it looks.  In fact I have it on today, for Day 29 of Me Made May 2013.   

Sometimes these quick repair/refashion jobs can be so satisfying!  Did you see Gillian’s recent post on getting back to making some jewellery? This is another quick fix I really enjoy! Does any else have any favourite ‘quick fixes’ or re-fashions they’d like to share?

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Me Made May 2013 - week four

So, week four of Me Made May 2013. To recap, my pledge was:

'I, Kathryn of Kathryn’s Busy Town, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear one me-made or re-fashioned item of clothing or jewellery each day for the duration of May 2013'

I've actually worn me-made clothes every day so far though there have been quite a few unphotographed days so you'll just need to take my word for it! I'm surprised by how many me-mades I've got, and how much I wear them. 

Me Made May 2013 - week four

Day 20 - Blue skies skirt Vogue 1247, blogged
Day 21 - Teal dress McCalls 2401, blogged
Day 22 - White cotton Megan Nielson Banksia (a terrible photo sorry!), blogged 
Day 23 - Forgot to take a photo but I wore Beige McCalls 2401, still not blogged, Flickr
Day 24 - Again I forgot to take a photo but I wore Green Liberty Sorbetto, blogged
Day 25 - Wildwood flower Colette Meringue skirt, blogged
Day 26 - Jersey Banksia, just finished, not blogged

Asides from two re-fashioned summer dresses, that's me worn all my me-mades so it will probably be repeats from now on, although I do have a few quick refashions I might try and get done tomorrow as it's a bank holiday here.

I forgot to take photos on the 23 and 24 as I had a friend visiting and we were out and about having so much fun that I forgot to take any photos! I'm not a natural photographer so I really need to remind myself to take pictures.  The only time I remember to take a lot of photos is if I'm away on holiday. Whilst my friend was visiting we went to a J Crew pop-up shop at Kings Cross.  I wasn't tempted to buy anything - £190 for a cashmere jumper with no indication of whether they have signed any ethical agreements over the farming and production of the cashmere, no thanks! However I was really inspired by some of the fabrics they had on display, and by the mix of different prints and colours.  I'll need to start thinking about trying to work with some different fabrics and textures, and mixing prints more.

So how has everyone else been enjoying Me Made May? What have you got out of it? I've found it interesting taking photos of my outfits, there have been a few last minute changes when I've realised what I'm wearing doesn't match  Although I said it last week I really can't get over how amazing the Flickr group is - it's been so inspirational! I've also love the sense of community from it - everyone is so nice and supportive of each other.  I'm also realising I could really do with making a few plain skirts for this changeable spring weather - a plain navy and a plain pink ideally.   Have you seen Margo's pink version, I'd love to make something like that!  Well, here's to the last week of Me Made May!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Me Made May 2013 - weeks 2 and 3 round-up

I can't believe it's week 3 of Me Made May already! My pledge was-

'I, Kathryn of Kathryn’s Busy Town, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '13. I endeavour to wear one me-made or re-fashioned item of clothing or jewellery each day for the duration of May 2013'

So far I've managed it though there have been a few repeats, and will be many more in the next two week, especially if the weather doesn't improve!

I feel like this has been a very valuable experience for me in thinking about what I should concentrate on making and how much wear I get out of the things I've made already. I'm really pleased that I do get so much wear out of a lot of the things I've made and am really surprised that in 19 days I've only had 2 repeats. I didn't realise I'd made that many things already.

Week 2

The image links through to my Me Made May Flickr set but I thought I'd include a quick description of the item here, along with a note on wearability. 

Day 6 - coral jersey maxi-skirt. Unblogged.  This is very fitted as I didn't realise about measuring both the waist and the hip - pretty important when your hips are waay bigger than your waist! As a result this is confined to a weekend skirt as it wouldn't be very practical for work, especially getting up and down ladders!
Day 7 - re-fashioned thrift store dress (I got it in LA so I can say thrift store here I think). Blogged.  In warm weather this gets worn loads, I love it.
Day 8 - Megan Nielson Banksia.  Blogged.  I love this and am sure I'll get lots of wear out it, though I've realised it only really looks good tucked in as it's quite boxy at the waist.
Day 9 - Circle skirt.  Blogged. Now that I've re-hemmed this it will definitely get more wear, though I've discovered circle skirts aren't so good on a windy day!
Day 10 - Elisalex dress.  Blogged.  I really love this dress and will definitely get a lot of wear from it.  However as I've made the hem quite short it is definitely a party dress rather than an everyday one.
Day 11 - Colette Meringue. Blogged.  Another very new make and definitely a new wardrobe staple.  I love this skirt and it's so comfy for sitting at a computer all day with the lower waist facing rather than a high waistband.
Day 12 - Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank. Unblogged.  Unfortunately although I was happy with the lace insert on the sleeves I've somehow managed to get the size of this one all wrong and it's way too tight under the arms. A learning experience then.

Week 3

Day 13 - re-fashioned denim skirt, previously a dress. Unblogged. Not much to say, this was a dress with shirring at the waist so I just chopped it off and sewed some new seams.  I'll definitely wear this much more now.
Day 14 - Colette Sorbetto.  Blogged.  This one gets a lot of wear. I should definitely make more of these as they're so versatile.
Day 15 - Sew Over It shift dress. Blogged.  I've worn this so much that the stitching is starting to look a bit worn and loose on the back seam, even though it was overlocked.  This may be down to the delicate bamboo cotton fabric. I need to use this pattern again - no zips!
Day 16 - Colette Meringue again.
Day 17 - Colette Sorbetto. Blogged.  My first successful make and I still love it, despite its many imperfections.
Day18 - McCalls 2401.  Unblogged.  I love this and really need to blog about it. I got a lot of help from a friend with getting the fit right on this and it shows. Definitely need to make more use of this pattern.
Day 19 - Tunic top, drafted by a friend.  Unblogged.  I love this and will need to ask my friend if I can trace off the pattern as I'd love to make more.  If I added just a bit more length this could be a lovely dress too.

So there we go, three weeks down and another 2 to go.  Seriously running out of clothes now so I apologise now for all the repeats that will undoubtedly come up!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Wildwood flower skirt

I'm naming this my Wildwood Flower skirt as I rediscovered my June Carter Cash CD Wildwood Flower while I was making it up. Isn't it great when you forget about something for ages only to have the joy of rediscovery! Today was my first day wearing it out (finished hemming it this morning) and it past the comfort test of sitting in a busy pub, and stuffing my face with chips and chicken wings. The lack of a waistband definitely contributes to the comfort factor!

Wearing my new Colette Patterns Meringue skirt

This is the first pattern I've made up from the Colette Sewing Handbook and it was really straightforward. More so because I left off the scallops.  I just felt with the busy fabric the scallops might be a bit much.  I didn't have to adjust the sizing at all and just cut it all out in one size - bonus!

Close-up of self-drafted pockets on my new Colette Patterns Meringue
self-drafted pockets
Can you tell I really like the pockets?! I used Casey's shaped pocket tutorial for the instructions and took the shape of the pockets from my favourite shop-bought skirt.  Another tutorial that I use all the time, which I'm sure everyone is aware of but just in case someone isn't, is the Colette invisible zip tutorial. Seriously this is the best tutorial for invisible zips, it makes them much less intimidating! I've never used an invisible zip foot as I don't have one, instead I just use my normal straight stitch foot and it works pretty well.  You have to try and get the foot to sit on top of the zip so that it holds the zip open a bit, allowing you to get as close as possible to the teeth.

The fabric is the left-over Liberty twill fabric from my Elisalex dress. I loved the fabric so much I thought it'd be handy to have a summer skirt in the same fabric.  I kind of wish I'd lined it as I'm finding it does stick to my tights a bit but hopefully spring will return soon and that won't be a problem!

Is anyone else finding Me Made May a real sewing inspiration?! I keep changing my mind about what to sew next as I keep seeing more and more amazing creations!  Tonight I'm cutting out a jersey Banksia but I'd also like to get started on a Vogue 1247 top as there have been some really gorgeous ones in the Me Made May flickr pool.

Monday, 6 May 2013

'Lush life' Grainline tiny pocket tank

This is my second Grainline tiny pocket tank but my first successful one.  I cut the first one way too big and will need to have a go at rescuing it.  This one, though, this one is pretty much perfect in my eyes!

Wearing my new Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank

This post fulfils the aims of my slow sewing on two fronts.  It's made from a nightie/dress I picked up for £2 in a charity shop when I was visiting my brother in Abergavenny, Wales (lots of good charity shops there!) so no new fabric.  I also took my time sewing and followed all the steps recommended in Jen's tutorial including the French seams.  It was my first time doing French seams and I'll definitely be using them again as it was much easier than I thought and it looks so neat!

Close-up of French seams on my new Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank
showing off my neat French seams
There wasn't enough of the fabric to cut both front and back on the fold so I cut the back in two pices with a seam down the centre back.  I managed to match the fabric up pretty well, it's not perfect but the print is so busy I doubt anyone would notice.

However, on Saturday I had a blip on the slow-sewing front as well.  We were in Walthamstow for some flat viewings (trying to buy our first property at the moment) and of course I got tempted by one of the fabric shops, Saeeds.  They do some amazing jerseys and I just couldn't resist! I got a nice thick deep pink/purple that I'm going to make into a maxi skirt and a more delicate drapey navy that is going to be a shirt dress.  So.. in the spirit of slow sewing, and following Kirsty's example I'm going to go through my stash and choose 2 fabrics that I don't have any immediate plans for, or don't think I'd use, and do a wee give-away.  It's also a good reason to go through my fabric and see exactly what I've got. Hey if you haven't already you should go and check out Kirsty's give away!

John Coltrane's Lush Life was my sewing accompaniment over and over again whilst making this.  I realised the name fitted the floral fabric pretty well.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Me-Made-May 2013 - week one round-up

I hope everyone else has been enjoying me-made-may as much as I have! This is my first year participating and I'm so glad I decided to take the plunge! The flickr pool has been full of amazing outfits and I've got so much inspiration from seeing everyone's participation.

Me Made May 2013 - my outfits for days 1 - 5
Check out my Flickr set

So far it's made me think I need to keep sewing more separates as a skirt and tops, and jeans and a top, are pretty much my every-day wardrobe.  I've realised I could really do with a few plain skirts, maybe a navy one and a pink one.  Ones that would work with tights as well as bare legs.

As well as uploading to the group Flickr pool I've been uploading to my own Flickr set if you'd like to check it out. If anyone isn't in the Flickr group stick a link in a comment as I'd love to see your MMMay!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Slow sewing

I was reading a post on a sewing blog recently (sorry I can’t remember which one, if you recognise the topic please let me know so I can credit your blog) where the writer was talking about how she felt she’d grown up with her sewing.  By this she meant taking her time, considering what she was sewing and why, and taking care with every step of the process rather than whipping up as many items as she could without really considering whether she’d wear them all or not.  I’m a slow sewer anyway (out of inexperience!) so I don’t really have the issue of whipping up loads of items but this really struck a chord with me for a few reasons which I thought it might be interesting to talk about a bit.

The tragedy in Bangladesh recently was truly shocking – I don't think anyone could pretend not to know about the terrible working conditions as it has been in the media for years – but the lack of care by the factory owners, and the amount of time it took companies like Primark and Matalan to issue a response has been quite disgusting.  The stories and photographs of the conditions that people were working in brought me to tears and the tragedy that had to happen for it to make front page news reminded me of the tragedy of the New York garment district fire in 1911 (which I wrote about previously) which did lead to labour reform.  Here’s hoping there are similar outcomes for Bangladesh.  

My reason for mentioning all this – asides from the obvious connection between what we wear and where it comes from – is how easy it is to be a part of the system, to block out the knowledge of the exploitation of people far across the globe in order that we can get jeans for £10 from Primark, or indeed £40 from Zara.  That’s where sewing comes in.  Sewing has made me really appreciate how much work goes in to the making of clothes.  The time it takes me to sew a garment, and the pleasure I get from doing this has completely dulled the appeal of impulse-buying from the high street.  That’s not to say I haven’t bought anything since starting sewing but compared to what I used to buy it’s a miniscule amount.  I am not na├»ve enough to think there’s no human cost involved in much of the fabric I buy but I don’t stockpile fabric in anywhere near the same quantities I used to with clothes.  What I love about sewing is that it has made me slow down, it’s made me think about the human and environmental costs of what we wear, and it continues to remind me how our actions are intrinsically linked to other people and places throughout the world.  What is also so great is how aware all sewing bloggers are of these issues, and how it informs the decisons they make - from the decision to begin to learn to sew through to what fabrics to buy, what to sew etc.

So for me slow sewing means two things – it means thoughtful living, and it also means exactly what is says, sewing more slowly.  I’m going to continue to take my time over what I make, and take more time to consider what I make, how often will I wear it, where did the fabric come from etc, and take the time to construct things properly so they last.  In that vein I have been working on a Colette Meringue.  I took the time to make a toile last weekend. On Tuesday night I drafted a pocket pattern and last night I cut out my fabric.  I finished cutting at 9.30 last night and considered jumping right in and starting sewing but then thought about it – I was tired, my back hurt and I doubt I’d have made a good job of it.  So I left it. It meant no new skirt to wear today as I’d originally planned but I know in the long run the extra care and attention will be worth it.  

Colette meringue - pieces cut out and toile made

So apologies for the rather long and over-worthy post but I've read quite a few really thoughtful posts recently about Bangladesh and the costs of fashion that I thought I would just add in my ramblings. Kathryn over at Yes I like that wrote a really good post about the Bangladesh fire and what can we do, and there are some really insightful comments too.

I hope everyone taking part in me Made May 2013 is enjoying it so far - I know I'm really enjoying seeing everyone's creations although I'm already struggling with remembering to take photos - will need to try and get one at lunchtime today!