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…

Finished Meringue – making the best out of a bad situation

After much in the way of seam-ripping, frustration and snipping of scallops, my Meringue skirt is done, but it looks a little different from how I’d originally intended.

Grainy image is grainy – I need Martha!

First of all, I’d like to say a HUGE thanks to everyone who offered their tips and sympathies in my last post.

I’ve shyed away from blogging about sewing mistakes before, because you lot are so bloody talented I don’t want to show myself up! All joking aside, I think it’s better to admit to mistakes, move on and make the best of such things.

In this case, it meant doing away with the scallops. Despite the Colette book explicitly saying I should choose a fabric which holds shape well, I was swayed by the lovely bottle-green colour and drape of this swishy crepe from a fabric shop down the road from my new place in Cardiff. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a bit of swish!

When it came to ironing the scallops, it became clear they wouldn’t set. They were all puffy and bulky in the wrong places. Then there was the fit of the skirt itself – it was so, so loose! It looks a bit too tight in the above photo because I’d just cooked an epic meal for some friends, so you’ll have to trust me on the fit being a lot better now!

Obviously I’m way, way behind on the Sew Colette challenge, but nevertheless I’m going to move on from this one and get on with the Parfait dress. This time, I’m definitely making a muslin!

Apologies for being really behind on catching up on blogs of late, I promise I’ll be back commenting soon!

Meringue disaster! Or, why I should have made a muslin

sew colette meringue sewalong
There’s trouble in sewing paradise… that is to say, my Meringue skirt has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
Not only am I month behind, but the end product looks AWFUL. So awful, I couldn’t bring myself to photograph it.
This is a classic example of when I’m really, really rubbish at sewing. As you know, I’m quite behind on the Sew Colette Project (I’m nowhere near starting my whatever it’s called dress!) so I was really hoping I could get this done this weekend.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. My lovely Meringue looks a bit like, er, well, a potato sack for lack of a better phrase. I’ve made a number of rookie errors here.

The fabric I’ve used just isn’t stiff enough for starters, making it awfully fiddly to get the scallops to work. I also did what I vowed not to do at the beginning of this year and cut corners – I didn’t mark the stitchline clearly enough on the scallops, meaning it’s turned out awfully on the hem.

As for the sizing, it’s actually a touch too big. I say a touch… I can actually fit my whole hand in the waistband when I’m wearing it. This does absolutely nothing for me, as you can see, I’ve got quite a small hip to waist ratio, so this just isn’t working out.

Sometimes I get projects like this and I feel like I want to just throw the towel in altogether! But I think I’m going to try and make this one work. Sadly, the scallops are probably going to have to go, and I’m going to resize the damn thing. I’ll probably keep it as an a-line skirt, but I’m a bit gutted it’s going to be quite a boring a-line rather than with the fun hem detail.

Tune in next time for home-sewing gone horribly, horribly wrong…

Sew Colette: Muslin or no muslin?

sew colette meringue sewalong

In the Sew Colette sewalong organised by Sarah and Erin, this week was designated Meringue muslin week.

As you know, my week has most certainly not been a sewing week! With an exam on public administration on Monday and an essay on phone hacking due on Thursday, it was all journo hands on deck, which, as I’ve mentioned before, doesn’t tend to leave a lot of time for sewing!

The Flickr group is already filling up with bloggers’ renditions of the a-line skirt, but I’ve decided to skip the muslin part of the project. Not exactly in-keeping with my less quantity more quality sewing ideal for 2012!

After all, winging it and skipping the muslin stage is probably one of my worst sewing habits! There are a couple of reasons for this:

  • Laziness: One of those fast fashion habits I’m afraid! When I have made muslins, I’ve rushed through the process without really taking the time to check fit and wearability.
  • Cost: While muslins tend to be made from easily-afforded cheap fabrics, my fabric budget isn’t exactly significant while I’m still training as a journalist.
  • Waste: If I buy fabric, I want to use it and wear it. Where’s the sense in my taking a pledge against buying unnecessary garments from the high-street when I’m sewing garments which gather dust after I’m done adjusting the fit?

A popular tactic in the sewing blogosphere is to make a wearable muslin. The fabric may be cheaper than what you’ve bought for the garment proper, but it’s still a garment you would wear. Take Melizza for example, who has made a wearable muslin to see how the scallops would look in a lightweight cotton.

Photo by Martha Moreno

Before Christmas, I drafted up my own pencil skirt pattern. In this case, a muslin was a must because it’s such a closely fitted garment which had been drafted up based on my measurements in the summer – even a minute change in measurements is going to affect the fit on a garment as form fitting as this one.

The result is a pencil skirt I’m still going to wear (because I’m stubborn!) but with clear indications of fit issues. Take the wrinkles across the front and on the zipper – this means I need to add a bit more width to this garment.

Photo by Martha Moreno

I made this in a cheap-as-chips polycotton I had lying around in my stash – imagine if I’d made it with something a bit more expensive? Mind you, the fabric wrinkles very, very easily – does anyone know if the wrinkling would be less obvious in another fabric?

I’ve popped more photos of the skirt up on my Flickr page if you want to take a further look! 

The Meringue skirt is less formfitting than my pencil skirt, so I should be OK if I make sure to use a generous seam allowance in case any adjustment is required! I was gong to draft a waistband according to the Coletterie’s helpful tutorial, but I’m not sure if this would be sensible when I’m not making a muslin.

Any readers taking part in the sewalong? I can’t wait to see everyone’s finished garments! I have no internet at my new house which has made catching up with blog reading a bit more difficult!

Project Planning: Meringue Skirt

Sometimes, I’m a bit crap at sewing. No, this isn’t false modesty – this is actually true.

My sewing performance oscillates. Sometimes it’ll reach the dizzying heights of a perfectly executed invisible zipper, but the next week it could drop to the deepest depths of a poorly executed blouse courtesy of the old enemy… buttonholes.

A dress I managed to screw up, sad times.

Memories of failed projects still haunt me to this day – like the above dress I tried to make when I was still living in Germany. The fabric was amazing, but sadly, the dress wasn’t meant to be.

Hardly the sustainable sort of sewing we’re after, is it?

As you all know, 2012’s sewing mantra is quality, not quanitity. Bad habits from my fast fashion days run rampant when I sew.

It happens to the best of us – we start cutting corners because we’re so impatient for the final product. I’ve even distracted myself by thinking about whatever project I’ve got lined up next and before I know it, the one I’ve barely begun working on is old news.

If the pledge is about steering away from this mentality towards a more sustainable one, then this speedy, sloppy sewing just doesn’t contribute anything constructive at all. At the end of the day, you’ll end up with a poorly made garment you may as well have spent a fiver on, because it’ll fall apart in no time.

So let’s slow it down right from the beginning – take a step back and start planning. As a rule, I’ve never done this.

Mood-boards just haven’t been my thing – I tend to keep a lot of ideas in my head,  only to have them change when I spot some pretty quilting cotton. The Colette Sewing Handbook suggests you draw yourself a croquis.

I know what you’re thinking – sounds like something French and to do with potatoes, but it’s actually a sketch of clothing on a figure. It’s a good way to visualise what your garment will end up looking like.

Colette Patterns, Meringue

Alternatively, you can go for the moodboard-style idea as I’ve done above – I actually used Polyvore for this one, linking images of fabric I’d seen online. This is a pretty simple project, so I didn’t need to add much, but for something like the Macaron, which features two different fabrics, it could be useful to have all your planned fabric and notions in one place.

As for the project? I’m thinking a royal green colour – I’ve been a bit of a fan of jewel tones for a while. The handbook recommends a medium weight fabric like poplin and Raystitch has some great jewel tones on offer in plain cotton of a medium weight.

Need inspiration for your Meringue skirt? The Coletterie has plenty, but here are a couple of others I found (curiously, all black and white versions!):

  • I’ve already got a houndstooth skirt, but I was so tempted to make another after seeing this beauty from Lauren, who blogs at Lladybird. She’s used the Coletterie’s tutorial to add a waistband – I might just do the same.
  • Sharon’s added some piping to the hem of her Meringue, going for a monochrome look with some pinstripe fabric. Lovely. She’s even included a nice little walk-through of how she did it.
  • The newspaper fan in me could hardly ignore A View Into my World‘s print-style Meringue! It was actually a gift for a friend using the same fabric as she made for her equally excellent rendition of Sewaholic‘s Minoru jacket.

Any planning tips for this lazy seamstress? I’d love to hear them!