My 2015 in sewing

Ok: so I didn’t blog that much last year. It happens! And 2015 has been kind of weird.

And I have to say, I’m pretty happy to be leaving 2015 behind. That said, 2015 wasn’t all bad. As those  of you who follow me on Instagram will know, I’ve definitely been sewing plenty. Given I’m so completely behind on blogging these, here’s a rundown of some of my favourite projects from this year.

Sew Over It 1940s tea dress

Sew Over It 1940s tea dress

I’m never not going to love a dress which makes me feel like Agent Peggy Carter. This was mostly an easy sew, save for the point in the centre connecting the bust and the skirt – which I don’t think I got completely perfect anyway. The fabric, also from Sew Over It, was a dream to sew. My only complaint is I sometimes feel this one’s just a touch too fancy for work… but who cares, I’m still going to wear it.

Patterns by Gertie: Butterick B5814

Patterns by Gertie B5814 dress

What do you do when you’re off to a wedding you know your ex is going to attend? You make the best goddamn wiggle dress of your life. Mind you, I wouldn’t want to give an ex any credit for this one, because it is goddamn glorious. It looks a lot more complicated than it actually is, thanks to the pleats and the draping. I think perhaps the bust is maybe a little big and I didn’t quite nail the sleeves, but who cares. The fabric is a drapey synthetic of some sort, lined with a cotton blend. This dress also requires the wearing of the funkiest bra I have ever owned. So now you know.

The red tulip Audrey dress

As I’ve said before, I love, love, love sewing books with loads of patterns for me to choose from. Famous Frocks: the Little Black Dress has a really lovely Audrey Hepburn-style pattern with a high neckline, which can either be paired with a circle or a pencil skirt. I made one with a gathered skirt in red tulip-patterned cotton. It’s so easy to put together, I think I may make another version with a slim skirt. I’ve got my eye on the Joan pattern from

The little black Georgia dress

This dress by By Hand London is sexy as hell. I sewed it in a black knit, so I didn’t need a zipper. I feel happy every time I wear this dress – so much so I made two this year, another in a glittery knit with wide straps.

Colette Patterns Macaron

I’ve had this pattern in my stash for years, ever since I lived in Germany. I don’t know why it took me so long to make it, but I’m glad I finally have. It’s deceptively easy to sew. For some reason I thought the top part would be difficult, but it was relatively simple in the end. The blue fabric is not the best quality – it even melted at one point when I was ironing it – but HEY what does it matter, no one can tell so I won’t tell if you won’t.

Colette Patterns Macaron

Comfy as hell Simplicity 2591

This one’s a re-do of a pattern I last used about four years ago. You can read more about it here because it’s one of the few I actually blogged about last year.

And what for 2016? Well I’ve got some plans, of course. Stay tuned for more. Happy New Year!

Simplicity 2591 in knit: why it pays to go back to tried and tested sewing patterns


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First things first, I’ve got some thank yous to dole out. I was incredibly nervous about my last post. Unfortunately it’s still a bit intimidating to admit you’ve been teary-eyed at your desk because hormones are playing funny business with your brain. But, thanks to commenters here, on Twitter, Facebook and in real life, I’m really pleased I did it. Sounds cliche, but it really does feel like a weight off my shoulders. I can’t expect to be 100% just yet, but I feel miles better just a week after coming off the pill, so I have high hopes for the months ahead.

As well as Me Made May, there are also some sewing dares afoot. Gillian challenged me on Twitter to not only blog at least once a week but also be positive about myself in some way or another. Killing two birds with one stone here with a speedy make I’m pretty proud of.

Simplicity 2591

Simplicity 2591 the first

The first time I made Simplicity 2591, a cap-sleeved dress with the kind of in-seam pockets your hands dream of, I was still a novice sewer. As proof of how long ago it was, I present exhibit A: this picture of me on a rock wall with red hair.

Making it out of fabric with flocked velvet hearts (sourced via eBay, of course), I thought it was one of the best things I’d ever made. It’s undergone a few changes since then – I got rid of the cap sleeves (too puffy) and, er, broke the zip. When I found some sweet stone-coloured jersey fabric from I forget where now, I immediately thought I should go back to the pattern I last attempted around 3 years ago. It’s the kind of fabric which just screams to be worn as a the comfiest dress in the world.

It ended up being just that – it was also one of the quickest sews I’ve ever attempted. Granted, I was on a bit of a roll (I made another, more complicated dress, in the same fortnight) but HOLY CRAP jersey is the best stuff to sew even if my overlocker is back in Cardiff. I just used a zig-zag stitch and we were away! No seam finishing. nothing. I even attempted some top-stitching along the neckline and sleeves to attach the facings in the place – though I cheated because I couldn’t find a twin needle. Seems to be holding up alright so far.

dress

Because I was using knit fabric, I made a few changes to the sizing – I could have probably saved a bit of time and gone a size down with the amount I ended up taking in at the seams, but it was nice to have a lot of allowance to play with. I haven’t gone up a size in Simplicity patterns either. Meaning no toiles for me, hurrah!

I also used a different sleeve pattern, the curvy tulip sleeve from the Colette Patterns Macaron. I seem to have a real problem with puff sleeves – if I don’t take a wedge out of most puff pattern sleeves, I end up looking like an extra from a Wham video. The ’80s would not have been my kind of era. I much prefer this cap sleeve. The Macaron calls for you to make two and sew them together but I ended up drafting a facing instead so it was less bulky.

Also also also – knit fabric means NO ZIP. Hurrah! But because I’m dim and forgot to take a picture of the back, you can’t see that. I didn’t cut the back on the fold, just had a centre back seam.

As you can probably tell, I’m really pleased with the outcome. AND DID I MENTION HOW COMFORTABLE THIS DRESS IS? I could sleep in it. I won’t, because it’s too nice for that, but I COULD. And what more could you really ask from the comfiest dress in the world?

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Had a pin in my dress all morning #sewingproblems

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Bonus: the first day I wore it to work, I went around with a pin still attached to the neckline. Sewing accessories are the next big thing, I hear.

Me Made May ’12 – Off to Brighton

I love a good train journey, I do.

Ha, not really, but I’d definitely understand if you thought I did. Truth be told, a 7.55 train to Brighton is not my idea of a perfect Sunday morning, but on Me Made Day six, that’s what had to be done.

Day six’s outfit is proving itself to be quite the seasoned traveller – this is exactly what I wore on the way to York! Dresses are just so much easier than seperates, you don’t need to mess about so much with worrying about what tucks into where and print-clashing and whatnot.

Happily, this little number has not been lying neglected in the back of my cupboard lately, but I’m ashamed to admit it did for some time after it was made. The fabric is beautiful, navy blue with flocked velvet hearts, and the shape is very, very flattering, so why was it left unworn?

Well, truth be told, the problem lay with the sleeves. They were pretty puffy and just a little too cutesy for me. So a few months ago, I snipped them off and finished the sleeves with some bias binding. Voila, a dress worn far, far more often.

I nearly ended up giving this one away! Just over a year ago, I was roped in to doing a charity fashion show with various gubbins I’d made. It was quite funny really, because, unlike the retailers showing their clothes on the day, there was actually no theme or correlation between my items whatsoever.

Leonie looking fiiiiiiiine – picture by Leah Tew

My then colleague and good friend Leonie threatened to steal the dress from me after she wore it down the catwalk and I seriously considered giving it to her, because I just didn’t wear it that much. But, to be honest, it’s probably the most well-made garment I’ve ever turned out.

Unfortunately for Leonie, that means it’s a keeper! I still have the pattern, so I’ve always meant to make her one – she’s getting married soon, so perhaps it could be a gift to the bride.

Oh and I definitely should mention that yesterday I got to meet the lovely Zoe in person! Yay! Along with her fiance, Pat, in his Zoe-made shirt, and the brilliant Rehanon in a fabulous me-made mint dress, we had a nose at some of Brighton’s open art houses.

Basically, artists open their houses to the public for a month, showcasing their work in a homely environment. It’s  a surreal experience, wandering around a stranger’s living room and looking at their art, but definitely one I’d recommend.

I should probably get to sleep now, as I begin my placement at journalism.co.uk tomorrow! Eek! Wish me luck!