Instagramming my way through Sew Colette

A month into my job meant two things. One: my first payslip. Two: the end of my 24-month contract on my despised Blackberry.

Obviously, the first thing I did was jump headfirst into another 2-year contract… except this time with a half-decent iPhone. So far, I’m very happy, because at least now my phone has an alright camera – being cameraless doesn’t make blogging about sewing any easier.

Naturally, I’ve jumped on the Instagram bandwagon and while I’ve managed to restrain myself from snapping vintage-themed shots of my food to show off to the world, I’ve started documenting my Peony step-by-step. As per, I’m taking my sweet time. I’m just about finishing up the muslin, only to notice I may have forgotten to buy a zipper. Oops!

This week is all about Fabulous Fit – which is the very bit I haven’t really got to, not having a zipper and all. But I have a hunch this won’t be too difficult a project to nail the fit, unlike last time around when I was slashing and adjusting like there was no tomorrow. Gathers on the skirt are just a bit more forgiving when it comes to my signature slapdash sewing.

I’m using some fabric from my stash, but being as fabric week isn’t until next week, I’ll keep that under wraps. What I will say is I’m thinking of experimenting a little with either dyeing or embellishments once more with this project. Check out Sarah’s post this week with her very royal Peony inspiration – wish I’d thought to nab some lace for this one!

If you want to follow my progress (or lack of if last week was anything to go by!) then check me out on Instagram under the oh-so original handle elenacresci. For non-Instagrammers, would you be interested in some sort of weekly sewing roundup either on the blog or via Flickr?

ALSO: keep your eyes peeled for something exciting this month because both the blog and the Seamless Pledge are turning the grand old age of ONE. I won’t lie, I haven’t quite decided what this exciting something will be, but I’m sure it’ll be grand. (suggestions on a postcard please…)

And now for something different… my first time with embroidery

If there’s one thing I’m terrible at when it comes to sewing, it’s taking risks.

But, as you all know, when it comes to the Twitter dress, one hell of a risk was needed to try and salvage this project. Not to mention, quite honestly, I am really really BORED of this garment now.

Enter embroidery, a craft I’ve never really had a go at and probably should have practiced a bit more before getting my brand-new embroidery needles stuck in – but this is risk-taking sewing here. EXTREME stuff, I’m telling you.

Embroidery requires a hoop to keep the fabric taut while you’re stitching along, desperately praying everything won’t come out all wonky. I was half tempted to go without, but, according to Sublime Stitching, the hoop is an integral part of the ULTIMATE EMBROIDERY KIT and being as this was EXTREME RISK-TAKING TIME, it just wouldn’t be the same without the hoop now would it?

I had planned to buy my ULTIMATE EMBROIDERY KIT from the lovely Sublime Stitching, but, er, I got impatient and toddled along to a lovely craft shop in Guildford called Pandora instead, where I acquired some stitchery goodness.

Keeping my Twittery theme in mind, I asked a good friend of mine to doodle me a  swallow. I get enough stick for having earrings with a passing resemblance to the Twitter logo (especially considering how much I’m on there), I couldn’t quite face actually embroidering it onto a dress. Isn’t it a nice design though?

Now, you’d think the sensible thing to do would be to practice, practice, practice first on the oodles of scrap fabric I have. Psht. Whatever. EXTREME RISK-TAKING has no time for piddly practice. This project needs moving along, pronto!

I sheepishly admit I wish I’d done a bit of practice now. It’s not that it looks too bad, it’s just a bit… wonky. Poor wonky bird. It had such high hopes, coming from a lovely design, but my inexperienced embroidery hands just got a bit over-excited and everything went all over the place. I could take it out, I suppose, but you’re assuming I can be bothered.

Getting stuck in couldn’t have been easier, thanks again to Sublime Stitching. Have you seen the tutorials available on the site? They’re fantastic, really clear and excellent for beginners. If I get more into embroidery, perhaps a cheeky book order is on the cards.

This isn’t even the half of why the Twitter dress is taking me so bloody long. I wish I could promise you an adventure-filled sewing tale full of pattern-slashing and skilful adjustments but it’s more a case of me sitting in a half-sewn muslin cheering on whoever was doing some sporting stuff on the telly.

It’s grit my teeth time to get it done now. The embroidery, while wonky, was actually pretty fun because it was something different. Now it’s back to the sewing grindstone. Sigh.

Do you ever get bored of your projects because they’re taking so long? Sometimes I wish the sewing fairy would come to visit and I’ll come home to find everything done, seam finishes and all…

What do you do when you hate your work-in-progress?

There are always going to be projects which don’t work out so well.

A poor choice in fabric, a cut which isn’t quite as flattering off the pattern envelope or even just the sheer effort of trying to force a project to go your way can turn a work-in-progress to an unfinished garment. These are the projects which make you want to run out to the shops and just buy a similar garment because it would be oh-so much simpler.

This is where I find myself with my Twitter dress. It started out so well! I found the fabric in Boyes while I visited York, even found some super-cool buttons and was planning to whip up a turquoise version of the sixties dress featured in the blog’s first giveaway.

So I cut out the pattern pieces and started basting them together to fit. Despite my best efforts, I don’t think this garment has ever not looked like a potato sack, that is, a potato sack with an uncanny resemblance to medical scrubs.

As it stands, this dress would probably be more at home in a doctor’s surgery than wherever I would be wearing it. I toyed with adding a collar, but it didn’t really work out too well.

I don’t know about you, but when I hit a brick wall with a project, my sewing motivation goes right downhill. Add to this a couple of failed job interviews and you haven’t exactly got a match made in stitching heaven.

I need to claw back my motivation. As I post this, I’ll be searching for another style in the hope I can salvage what I have left of the fabric before I forever associate it with the medical-scrubs gone wrong.

What’s on your sewing table at the moment? Have you ever had to turn around a failed project?

Me Made May ’12 – Thank you Zoe

It’s the final day of Me Made May 2012!

This month has gone by in the blink of an eye, a mix of me-made, work placements complemented with a flurry of exam and deadline nerves. When I’ve had a chance to check out people’s outfits on the Flickr group, I’ve loved seeing everyone’s outfits as the month went on.

Obviously, there’s one person to thank for all this! Zoe’s a real inspiration of the blogosphere – I even got the chance to meet her in person this month when I visited Brighton right at the beginning of May. Gillian came up with a great idea on the Flickr group to thank Zoe, hence the thank you sign.

Me Made May was all about re evaluating my relationship with my me-made wardrobe. Too many of my makes end up with discarded mass-made clothing at the bottom of my wardrobe, but May brought the spotlight right back on the leaps and bounds I’ve made with sewing since I first dusted off my sewing machine.

But more than this, Me Made May is about a community. Hats off to Zoe, because she’s helped create something you’ll find digital journos going on about all the time: a real sense of community. The best part of blogging is the way connections are built with like-minded people and I can’t think of many better examples than Me Made May.

So, thank you Zoe, for creating an inspiring community challenge. Looking forward to next year already!

As for the last outfit of Me Made May, what better note to end on than with my favourite make so far? I really wish my pictures showed how lovely the flocked velvet hearts on the fabric are. This one’s particularly apt, as I paired it with some tights and a yellow cardigan when I met Zoe in Brighton.

This time, I added one of my favourite scarves from my collection, which I bought when I did my first shop as an employee in Lush. The scarves in Lush are either designed by the company and made from recycled bottles or vintage, like this one. Whenever we got a batch of new scarves, you’d have to be quick to snap up your favourite before a customer or another member of staff got to it first.

The general rule we used to go by was to put your favourite scarf on display at the beginning of the shift and if it was still there at the end, it was clearly just destined to be yours. Or, at least, that was how I justified the ridiculous amount of vintage scarves I accumulated while working there!

Happy end of May, everyone! What were your highlights?

Keep your eyes peeled for more on the me-made refashion challenge. I’ll get these exams out of the way and get the plans rolling…

Me Made May ’12 – Layer up!

Trying to avoid outfit repetitions often results in a bit of creative thinking for Me Made May.

This top is actually a dress! A pretty short dress, mind you. I wear it when I’m feeling particularly scandalous. Or, you know, with a pair of tights.

But as it’s Me Made May, I thought I might pair it with my ruby red Cynthia Rowley skirt from Day 1. The result isn’t too bad – I’ve always loved the cowl neck on this dress. Note to self: make some cowl neck tops.

Not too long a blog today because I’m polishing up a feature for my final day on placement. Yesterday, I got the chance to go to a publishing conference in London, which was pretty ace! The idea of being able to pop to London on the train is surreal for a Cardiff girl used to a horrible and normally smelly drive there in a cheap as chips Megabus.

But, obviously, the best bit is the press badge. I love a good press badge, me.

Me Made May ’12 – Technical Difficulties…

This blogging every day lark is a lot harder than I thought it would be, especially without images to add to the post.

So, two things went a bit wrong yesterday. First off, I couldn’t access Seamless’s dashboard and then I couldn’t find the cable for my borrowed camera to upload yesterday’s picture! Not that I really should have bothered because here’s how it turned out:

Bit dark and you can’t even see what’s Me Made about the outfit! On the plus side, the lovely El (yesterday’s birthday girl!) made an appearance, and that’s enough for me. We also saw The Avengers – it was brilliant!

Anyway, here’s what I wore yesterday:

A lovely combination of my not-quite Meringue skirt and the old favourite of a leopard print cardigan, which even after multiple washes, still smells very much of Lush. It’s (sort of) black and white, so it inevitably ended up in my work wardrobe.

So hands up who here treats leopard print as a neutral? This won’t be the last you’ll see of my leopard print, that’s for sure. My favourite ever pair of shoes are a pair of monster leopard print heels with Christian Louboutin-style red soles. Honestly, I wear them with pretty much everything I shouldn’t.

Over the years, there’s been many a leopard print creation which has caught my eye. Here’s my top five from the sewing blogosphere:

  • 1. The moment I saw Suzy’s Rock Chick Clovers, I was in love. In my second year of university, I owned the most ridiculous pair of grey leopard print jeans, but these are far, far better than those Primark pantaloons. I wish I could pull them off like Suzy does!
  • 2. No favourite creation list is complete without my blogging fave, Zoe, who turned out another Colette patterns creation, the Macaron, complete with just enough leopard print to set my heart a-flutter. Want. Not to mention, she also made a leopard print coat. Jealous.
  • 3. Oona is another classy lady on the blogosphere. Last year, she turned out this fabulous leopard print dress with an exposed zipper. Check out the brilliant apron too!
  • 4. People keep telling me how ‘in’ detachable collars are. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Peter Pan collar, but I’ll sew what I like, not what’s in thankyouverymuch. That was, until I saw Iroiro’s detachable leopard print collar, made especially for a  Janelle Monáe concert no less, and fell head over heels in lust.
  • 5. Last, but not least, those of you familiar with Sew Weekly will undoubtedly have seen their ‘Make this Look’ feature. The minute I get my hands on some disposable income, you can bet I’ll be making the hell out of this look – if I’m still brave enough to pull that much leopard print off, that is!

Anyone else unashamed leopard print fans? Perhaps we should set up some sort of support group…

One good turn deserves another – Giveaway!

You heard right, it’s giveaway time!

But before I get to the giveaway bit, I need to tell you a little bit about my friend Ki.

This lady in the middle* is a bit of a legend you see. Not only is she an all-round kick-ass kind of gal, she’s got a PhD in awesome (or at least this is what I assume). Ki and I are pals from my time in Swansea, but now she has an exciting job in England and I’m back in the Welsh capital, we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like to.

Except when we caught up earlier this week she brought me PRESENTS!

Not just any old present. LOOK AT ALL THOSE PATTERNS. As you can imagine, I got just a little bit excited. Her Mum’s a bit of a seamstress you see, and she’s been lovely enough to lend me some of her old patterns, which I’m going to trace and have a crack at making. Amazing present or what?

So, in lieu of Ki’s most excellent present, I propose a giveaway of my own. The whole trace it and pass it on ethos works quite well for old patterns – they’re highly sought after and go for a fair bob online. So I thought I’d take a leaf out of Ki’s book and offer one of my own collection to you guys.

This here is Vogue 7239, a ’60s style pattern with a coat and dress. Pretty schnazzy, right? I’ve yet to make this one up myself – I snapped it up at a vintage market here in Cardiff (actually, my friend Keiligh wrote about it here, there’s even a photo of my hands rifling through the vintage pattern goodies!) and haven’t had the chance to use it yet. It’s a size 14 with 36″ bust measurement, but I imagine it would be pretty easy to scale up or down.

What I’m going to do is trace the pattern, photocopy the instructions and send it along to one of you! All I ask the winner to do is pass it along in your own giveaway once you’re done with it – simples! Also, do blog about your creation! You’ll see mine at some point (I hope!) when I get a chance to whip one up, and it’d be great to collate the different versions we make.

All I need you to do is to comment with what you’d do with the pattern – what fabric would you use? What colour? Where would you wear it? You know me, I’m nosy! I’ll choose the winner at random two weeks today on March 28. This giveaway is open to everyone!

Oh, and do check out Ki’s blog, it’s lovely. Also, if you’re on the Twitter-machine, get following, because she’s a legend! Any ideas on how I can repay her?

*FYI, the one on the right with the blue hair? Equally legendary.

Clothes Swapping

Clothes swapping has become an increasingly popular way to spice up your wardrobe without breaking the bank.

clothes swapping swishing

How many times have you bought something on a whim, only never bothered wearing it? I know I have. Everyone seems to have at least a few garments lurking, unworn at the back of their wardrobe. Maybe you bought it because it was on sale or because it fit into whatever trend was en vogue at the time.

Charity shops are full to the brim with unwanted clothes. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This is where clothes swapping comes in. Also known as swishing, clothes swapping has become popular both online and offline, with swapping sites like Big Wardrobe and Swishing popping up left right and centre.

A couple of days after I began my pledge, I went along to my first ever fashion swap, armed with some unwanted clothes rescued from the back of my wardrobe. The concept is simple: you get a certain amount of ‘points’ or tokens in exchange for the items you bring along. After you’ve collected your points, the rifling begins and you hunt down your bargains.

The Cardiff Fashion Swap at the Vulcan Lounge charged only £2 in entry fees, meaning those who brought an armful of clothes got more than their money’s worth. Swappers had brought garments aplenty and we were surrounded with potential swap items. A touch of vintage was represented with a stall courtesy of Vintage Gem Cardiff – a boutique in Radyr I definitely plan on visiting in the future.

vintage brooch mannequin

On the high street, shopping is made easy for you. After all, it’s in a shop’s best interests to make clothes easy for you to find. Rifling through a mixture of clothes at a fashion swap is a completely different experience. I don’t know about you, but I find it much more satisfying to find a lovely item or two after a good search through clothes rather than the high street’s spoon feeding.

The Cardiff Fashion Swap was organised by recent Cardiff graduate Ellie May Williams with the help of Cardiff’s Oxfam Boutique.She tweets under @elliemay_13, and I’d keep an eye on her Twitter if I were you, as she has an Oxfam Boutique and more clothes swaps in the works. Ellie told me:

“It was lovely to see Cardiff get its swap on! Can’t wait for future swaps, where we’re hoping to get more high quality items and maybe even some vintage pieces so we can raise even more money for Oxfam!”

The night itself was pretty successful all around. Ellie told me they made £100 on the night itself and items left over will raise at least another £150 for the charity. So it’s no surprise Ellie’s planning on holding a few more in the future.

cardiff fashion swap garments dress and shoes

I know what you’re all thinking… what did I nab myself? I didn’t do too badly, nabbing myself a dress and a pair of shoes. Not exactly Winter wear, but hey! It was free and some of my unwanted clothes went to a better home!

People in the Cardiff area should keep an eye out for more fashion swaps. As for those of you from further afield, have you attended any fashion swaps? Or do you organise one of your own? Get in touch, and let me know which items you swapped your way to!

The photos of the event are courtesy of my lovely friend Magda, who blogs here!

Disaster!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I managed to get the graduation ball dress finished on time, meaning I had a fabulous dress to wear to the do. Now, I had noticed a fair bit of spillage on the dress, which was a shame as I’d originally planned to wear it to a wedding the following Saturday, but figured it would come off in the wash. However, I did notice a bit of discolouration on the dress as well. I somewhat foolishly assumed it would come off in the wash, despite the gnawing feeling this would not be the case.

After having washed it, I’ve come to the horrifying realisation that something may well have bleached the fabric, and there are tonnes of very noticeable splashes of pink/purple all over the dress. As you can imagine, I’m less than pleased. Sure, I could always remake the dress in another fabric, but I really don’t have the funds to accommodate that, so I’m in somewhat of a pickle.

I have no idea what could have caused this – the fabric is a combed cotton I’d pre-washed before sewing the dress. It looks an awful lot like bleach to me. A possible solution could be to just throw caution to the wind and get the entire thing bleach-splashed, though I worry about how that would look. Alternatively, I could potentially dye the entire thing with a fabric dye, but I don’t know if that would evenly balance out the colour of the dress.

Has anyone ever had this problem before? Any thoughts you guys have would be greatly appreciated!

Cutting it fine…

We’ve all been there. That deadline is looming and yet somehow your project is nowhere near done. There’s no question of my being able to meet deadlines; I may have been working right up until the deadline in some cases, but I’ve not yet had an instance of turning in an essay or a piece of work late just yet, and I don’t plan on starting anytime soon!

Where self imposed deadlines are concerned however, I’m a little more fickle. Unfortunately, this has been the bane of my sewing output for some time now, and I’m not the only one. Instead of rushing to finish whatever project I have on the go, I’ll more often than not leave it unfinished for weeks after my proposed deadline.

I was determined this wouldn’t happen with the latest item, the Grad Ball dress, and my work on it set off to a fantastic start. Now that I’m living at home, I’ve decided my brother’s room is to become my sewing room – that is, just as soon as he buggers back off to university. Luckily for me, he was off visiting his girlfriend the weekend before last, giving me plenty of space for cutting out my pattern pieces. Things were going swimmingly.


Then disaster struck. I woke up a day or so later nursing the most horrendous sore throat I’ve yet experienced, and thus began feeling well and truly sorry for myself. How I’ve managed to be running here there and everywhere while at Swansea without getting ill, I don’t know, but it seemed like it had caught up with me a week before graduation. Talk about crummy timing.


Turns out I had a nasty case of tonsillitis, thus followed more days of my feeling sorry for myself and looking pathetic in my fluffy pink dressing gown, nursing cooling cups of tea I couldn’t quite face drinking due to the pain in my throat. Cutting it fine is an understatement; I was up against the clock anyway with just over a week until Grad Ball and the dress nowhere near finished, and now I had wasted a few days being poorly, it looked even less likely I’d have a me-made creation to wear as planned.

Thank god my procrastination gland stopped working, because a few nights sewing like my life depended on it and I’ve just got some finishing bits and bobs left on the dress. In a way, I have a bit more confidence now in my ability to get things done. With so few projects completed of late, it’s nice to have pulled this one out of the bag against the odds.


On top of that, I somehow managed to also finish the scallop waist skirt for graduation as well. I guess when you’re up, you’re up! I’ve been in touch with my lovely photographer friend Martha to sort out some sort of photoshoot for the garments, so I’ll have a proper post for both up as soon as we’ve done that!