Me Made May ’12 – Sharpen your sewing skills!

This month, I feel like I’ve been here, there and everywhere. Not content with a placement in York, I’ve nabbed myself one down by the seaside in Brighton.

I’m currently sat on the hostel bunkbed tip-tapping away and possibly annoying the girl who sleeps in the bunk below me. Well, hey, we all know – when it comes to hostels, you get exactly what you pay for. This one happens to be right next to Brighton Pier as well as being above a bar and a nightclub.

I definitely thought this through.

Since I lost track of the daily blogging yesterday, I thought it might be better to write about each Me Made Day (see what I did there?) the day after, especially as all my blog posts were going out so blooming late at night. Alas, photography remains an issue, but luckily I have a backup:

The eagle-eyed blog followers among you will know I haven’t blogged about this skirt, but it has been duly documented! In fact, if you like the Facebook page, then you may have spotted the wee t-shirt to skirt tutorial I wrote for The Cardiffian’s Arts supplement a while ago.

This was, quite possibly, the quickest bit of sewing I have ever, ever done. I kid you not, I think I did it in about twenty minutes. Honestly, I’m amazed it’s still in one piece.

But, despite the SUPER QUICK turnaround on the skirt, I really don’t wear this skirt often at all. Except for on Me Made Day Five, I think the last time I wore it was when we papped the photo for the article.

You see, the thing is about t-shirt material, is it doesn’t really work that well as a skirt. In fact, I complain about not being able to get the lovely double-knit fabric I crave on a regular basis. The unfortunate thing about this skirt is it shows every little lump and bump, whether it’s my comfy pants (thongs are the devil, more on this another time) or the outline of my tights.

I guess sometimes you make something kinda nyeeeh and you just have to roll with it. In my case, I whacked a longer t-shirt over it and didn’t bother tucking it in a la the photo above, because the fabric really does show all.

Sometimes. Me Made May is all about showing your runt creations a little bit more TLC.

On the plus side, when it came to laying out the page for the physical copy of the article, my lovely friend Phil came up with a genius headline:

SHARPEN YOUR SEWING SKILLS WITH A PENCIL SKIRT

Oh, journalism. I love you.

Now, blogosphere, tell me about your sewing runts! You know the ones, the ones you’re hiding in the back of your cupboard out of SHAAAAAAME. Or maybe they’re out for Me Made May too? Sharing is caring!

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…

Sneak Peek

This week will probably be a bit quiet because I have an exam tomorrow and an essay due on Thursday! So here’s a sneak peek at a little project photoshoot I did with my good friend Martha (who needs to get her website sorted so I can link her!) this weekend.

This girl knows all about local government finance…

See you after the deadline!

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!

The Graduation Skirt

A big part of the Seamless pledge is bringing focus back to the handmade and refashioned items in my wardrobe. Sewing progress is a lot slower nowadays, but I still have a few projects up my sleeves ready to share, and this is where this scallop waist circle skirt comes into the picture.

As some of you may have noticed, I’m a big fan of making things especially for big occasions; in the past I’ve made clothes for university balls, interviews and weddings. There’s something deliciously satisfying about wearing something you’ve made yourself, but even more so when you have a certain occasion in mind. When it came to graduating from Swansea University, I wanted to make sure I wore at least one handmade item.

scallop waist skirt blue
Elena Cresci BA, in case you wondered… (show off)

Using Vivat Veritas’s free pattern and tutorial from Grosgrain‘s month of free patterns, I made a royal blue circle skirt especially for the occasion. The bright blue gabardine didn’t exactly match the ridiculous graduation robes, which featured the most delightful shade of maroon, but I won’t tell if you don’t…

The pattern itself was so easy to sew up. Circle skirts are easy to draft yourself and there are plenty of tutorials online, including great ones from Gertie and . Chie of Vivat Veritas has done all the work for you on this pattern, meaning a lot less maths on your part! My inner maths-hating child was delighted.

There’s a nice little variation on the circle skirt theme with Chie’s pattern in the scalloped waistband. Scallops are becoming quite the trend from what I’ve seen on the online sewing community – as you can see from the newly released Colette Sewing Handbook which features the Meringue skirt with a scalloped hem. Lovely! Mine didn’t turn out quite as even as hoped, but I liked the effect anyway.

One problem I’ve found is the top of the waistband curves over so you can’t really see the shape. It’s not too big a problem, but does anyone have any suggestions on how to prevent this effect? Also, the back waistband doesn’t quite line up. Something to work on in future projects!

As for graduation – I may have spent most of it pretending I’d finally received my letter to Hogwarts. Standard practice really if you’re given robes and a silly hat. Is it any wonder I renamed it Wizard Day?

If you have any tips, I’d love to hear them!

The Wannabe Hack Skirt

Photo by Martha Moreno

This academic year hasn’t been completely devoid of sewing activity. Sure, this skirt may have been progressing on and off for a couple of months, but I eventually managed to get it done in time for my interview for my postgraduate course in journalism, hence why this skirt will always be ‘the wannabe hack’ skirt to me – a nod to the Wannabe Hacks website, which publishes tips and advice for wannabe journos such as myself. I’ve even had an article featured on there before!

It was important to me to wear at least one garment I had made to the interview for several reasons. I’m sure any fellow seamstresses will agree, there’s a degree of confidence which comes hand in hand with wearing an item of clothing you’ve hand-crafted. Even if the outside world won’t necessarily notice, there’s something different about what you’re wearing, especially as you haven’t picked it out from a sea of different sized versions of the same shirt/skirt/dress/insert garment here. After such a long period of sewing abandonment, actually wearing something I’d made to such an important interview gave me a bit of a buzz.

Most importantly though, sewing has proven to be a large part of the reason I began blogging as extensively as I do now. Arguably, The Siren (a commentary blog about life at Swansea University) would never have happened had I not been blogging every seam sewn during my time in Germany. So I felt it would be more than appropriate to wear a self-sewn skirt to an interview I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for sewing.


Maybe it’s good luck to wear your self sewn items to interviews, because I got in! I can tell this skirt will get a lot of wear during the Winter months at the course, as it’s made from fairly thick woven fabric. A few months after my interview, I asked my friend Martha to help me out in taking some photos of the skirt. Our setting? Brangwyn Hall in Swansea, where I’ll be graduating in a matter of weeks! We took my ‘shoe-case’ (the suitcase I kept all of my shoes) for fun and popped out one late afternoon in May for some photo-fun!

Martha said all good modelling includes triangles... so I became a teapot

Using the Jenny pencil skirt pattern available on BurdaStyle, I created a black and white houndstooth skirt, fully lined with purple silky fabric I had in my stash. The skirt itself is comfortable to wear but a few problems have come up – namely, the fit. I’ve come to the conclusion I’m a weird size, with hips only marginally bigger than my waist, creating some bugbears in how the skirt sits. It rides up quite a lot when I’m walking, and the lining insists on peeking out.


I think I’ve also shortened the skirt just a tad too much; a crime I’m often committing. This won’t be as much of a problem when wearing the skirt in Winter, as a pair of tights make an almost-too-short skirt somewhat more appropriate. I’m planning to create another pencil skirt in the style of Gertie’s orange bow skirt, but this time I plan on drafting my own pattern in the hopes it will improve the fit of the garment. Here’s hoping!

Want to see more photos from the day? Check out the photo set over on my Flickr!