Monday, 17 July 2017

Handmade Holiday Part 4

The last part! You can find parts 1, 2 and 3 by clicking on the numbers.

I am not a maxi dress person. I think they look lovely, but I never really got them. I had no need for one. But, then I came across this Burdastyle pattern, in Melissa's May Burda review here, and I found myself coming up with all sorts of reasons why I needed a maxi dress for my holiday: if we wanted to visit the Blue Mosque in Istanbul I'd need my legs covered (my head glossed over the fact that I'd also need my head and arms covered too); what if people dressed up for dinner in the all-inclusive resort - wouldn't a maxi beautifully bridge that divide between casual and dressy? Plus, if I hated it, I could always cut it to midi or shorter.



I managed to shoe-horn it in, but only after all the other items were finished and only on the proviso that I finished it BEFORE the week before we went. I started and finished it on the Monday. We left on Friday morning.

So, although the pattern is in the magazine it's also online. Not sure I would have bought it on the strength of the line drawings, but for once Burda's styling made my heart leap! My experience in making this dress reminded me why I avoid Burdastyle. I'm not going to go on a rant, because we've all made Burda patterns and all know their flaws. At least I didn't have to trace it.

The fabric is bamboo jersey, from Edinburgh Fabrics, which I thought would nice and light and breathable. Actually the dress uses so much fabric it weighs a ton, and was only suited to the cooler evenings. The pattern as drafted actually has an outer dress with an inner layer much like a tank. I'm not clear why, other than to support the outer layer maybe, but I skipped it anyway. I also skipped the neck and armhole bands, because it was quicker and easier to just turn once and stitch. The fabric requirements given by the pattern are woefully inadequate. I mean seriously inadequate. I bought the recommended length of 2.2m, and - bearing in mind I didn't cut the bands or the inner tank thingy - I had to seam the front piece because there was absolutely no way I was going to get those pattern pieces on the fabric otherwise. I don't actually mind the seam at all, so no biggie, but still!

The dress itself is a straightforward tank shape from the front, with a slightly cocoon shaped skirt but the back has all the drama with a sort of cape-like drapey bit hanging off the shoulders (excellent description, Helen). The instructions were clear as mud, so the construction was a bit of a head-fuck, but I got there in the end.
You can see how the back neck sags under the weight of the fabric here

Not sure if it was a drafting error, or if I stretched out the armholes when sewing, but the armscyes were ridiculously large. It's possibly a bit of both. I think I ended up removing about 20cm from each (yes, really!), tapering it down the side seams. Because the side seams actually sit to the front, this has resulted in an angled shape to the armhole, which I rather like.
You can sort of see the angled armscye here

I think I added length, just in case, which I cut off again, but I left the bottom unhemmed - partly laziness, partly time, partly because I doubted I'd keep this as a maxi, so what was the point? So far it's still a maxi dress!

The result? Yeah, I kind of love it. I wore it twice on holiday. Not sure how much wear it'll get outside Turkey or a similar hot location, but you never know. I love the kind of Grecian vibe it has. It's nice unbelted but Paul vetoed that, so I wore it belted. It works well, but it is the kind of dress you fiddle with quite a lot. But I like the swishy nature and I really love the shape of the skirt. I think I will have to find another excuse to wear it at home!
Grecian Goddess pose, obvs.

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Friday, 14 July 2017

Handmade Holiday Part 3

You can find parts 1 and 2 here.
While I was procrastinating on my dress, I made a pair of shorts. We have only been abroad once since we had the kids, and I hadn't done a beach style holiday in about 20 years so I was majorly stressing about what to pack. I only owned one pair of short which I have had for over 10 years so I thought a second pair wouldn't go amiss. There are a few shorts patterns I fancied trying but with the limitations of time, I decided to stick with something I knew would work - the Emerson by True Bias. Since I had made the cropped pants last year I knew they would work perfectly. 

I used a Robert Kaufman railroad denim that I've had in the stash for a number of years, so it was good to finally find a use for it. Its a lightweight denim, so not too thick or heavy for hot weather. 
The shorts came together with no issues whatsoever. It's a great pattern and a quick sew. At this point my overlocker was still working so the insides are overlocked in red, and I bound the inside waistband with Liberty bias binding. Because I can.
My only regrets with these shorts are that I used cheap elastic which isn't very stretchy, which makes them a bit difficult to get over my hips (especially on top of a wet swimsuit!) and which also makes the waistband a bit tighter than my others. In general they are slightly less comfortable than my cropped pants. I think I need to fiddle with the crotch curve a bit if I make another pair - I suspect the chambray of the cropped pants relaxes more than the denim and so is a bit more forgiving. They aren't in the pattern, but I also could have done with patch pockets on the back on these. However, they are still a great little workhorse of a pair of shorts. I wore them numerous times on holiday. They are comfy (just not as comfy as the others), and they go with pretty much everything. The length as drafted is perfect for me - not too long, not too short. I can imagine they will last me the next 10 years!



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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Handmade Holiday Part 2

My dress for my brother's wedding! :) (I posted part 1 here).
Me with my mum and my sister
From the start I wasn't overly committed to making my dress, but if I'm honest, I couldn't be bothered shopping. I kind of hate shopping these days. Anyway, I decided that if I did see a RTW dress I loved, that I would buy it, but in the meantime I'd have a look around for patterns and fabric. I wasn't hung up on a particular style of dress, but it needed to be easy to fit and to sew and comfortable to wear in the anticipated heat of Istanbul. I had seen the Sway dress by Papercut Patterns before, but it had never really stood out for me, but for some reason, this time it appealed. It fit the bill on all counts. If you don't know it, it's essentially a tent dress with a self made belt. No darts, no waistline. Very little fitting required.

I made a toile anyway, in poly crepe because I'd read that the armscye was low - it was - and I wanted to check the length. In the end I reduced the size of the armscye by a couple of cm, I think, and I also added to the length by about 10cm just for personal preference. I had to sew the toile at my parent's house because that was the week they ripped out the kitchen and we had a makeshift set up in our living room, with basically no room to swing an unpicker.




I may go back and finish this toile properly as I really love the colour.

For fabric, I initially fancied silk, but couldn't find anything I really loved. I then went to the Knitting and Stitching show in Edinburgh and found the perfect Atelier Brunette viscose crepe in a gorgeous burgundy colour on the Guthrie & Ghani stand. It's a lovely fabric in a gorgeous weight and it has a slight sheen to it, making it look very rich. It frayed pretty badly, but otherwise was nice to sew. I think the crepe made it much less prone to slipping than other viscoses/rayons I have used in the past. I would definitely recommend this fabric and would love to buy more. It comes in a range of colours.

I then procrastinated a lot. I have no idea why. I think I was nervous of cutting out the viscose for some reason, so when I forced myself down to it, it was only a couple of weeks before the wedding. Luckily it comes together quickly and is a very easy sew. I had a minor setback in that my overlocker broke halfway through making this, and I ended up having to finish the raw edges with my overlock stitch on my sewing machine. It works fairly well, but it's SLOW and obviously it doesn't trim the edges, so the insides of this are not as pretty as I would have liked.






The dress was made as per the instructions, other than I messed up the pockets and sewed them with raw edges showing on the outside, so I unpicked them and did without. They were also too low anyway, probably something to do with where I decided to lengthen the dress. I didn't make the belt loops, preferring to add chain stitch loops for a more subtle look. This pattern is reversible, but it's designed that the V neck is at the front. I far preferred the low V to the back, and thought the curved neck at the front was very flattering.
Thread chain belt loop. Also this gives a good indication of the sheen on the fabric.

I love the resultant dress. It's not the dressiest dress for a wedding - Feyza's family and friends were all far more glamourously dressed - but it was comfortable, and I jazzed it up with jewellery and heels. The wedding took place at 6pm, but it was still absolutely boiling at that point. The whole thing was outside, on the Asian side of Istanbul, right on the Bosphorus. It was absolutely stunning, but I was glad of a loose fitting, breathable dress (and that I'd thought to take extra deodorant with me), as it was almost unbearable for us fair skinned Scots. The heat did lessen though, as the sun went down and it became the most perfect balmy evening. It was such a fantastic wedding.















Congrats to my baby brother Ian and his beautiful wife Feyza.
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Monday, 10 July 2017

Handmade Holiday Part 1

Our lives have been dominated by 2 things over the past few months: our kitchen extension and my brother's wedding in Turkey. The extension is still rumbling on, and I think I will blog about that once it's finished, but the Turkey trip is now just some lovely memories.

Our trip to Turkey was a 2 parter. 4 days with family in Istanbul for the wedding, then a further 4 days, just the 4 of us in a resort in Oludeniz on the West coast. Two very different experiences, but both fantastic in their own way. 

I did think I would post about my handmade holiday. I took a fair number of self made items with me, but I didn't take photos of my outfits because I was either too busy doing stuff or too busy doing nothing. Of course I made my dress for the wedding, and also my niece's dress who was one of the flower girls. I also made a couple of other garments specifically for the holiday, and I will blog about each in turn, starting today with my niece's dress. I didn't think to take lots of photos, though, so apologies. I also now can't remember many of the details, so this'll be a short post!

I didn't intend to make my Annie's dress initially, and my sister didn't ask. I kept telling myself to keep my mouth shut - I had enough to be getting on with - but clearly didn't listen to myself. I came across the Made by Rae Geranium dress on Instagram and it was pretty much what my sister had described as having in mind. I sent her the photo and before I knew it, I had offered to make the dress. 
It was very straightforward to make. There are quite a few options (there is now an expansion pack with even more options available!), but we went for the plain round neck, the flounce sleeve and the gathered skirt. I suggested we use broderie anglais as it's pretty and quite dressy, but still cool enough for the Turkish heat and not so dressy she won't wear it again. My sister chose a circle broderie anglais from John Lewis. I told her to get cotton lawn or voile to line it but the fabric the woman sold her was more like muslin - very thin and it frayed like mad.


I did a quick and simple toile in an old sheet to check for size. The pattern comes in 2 age ranges. Annie was between the different size ranges, but it made sense to buy the larger range, so we could use it again in the future. It was a little big for her, so I just took some width out at the sides. I can't remember how much.
Strike a pose
Due to the transparency, I decided to use 2 layers of lining fabric to line the bodice. As I went along, it occurred to me that I could underline and line the bodice, which meant no visible seam allowances in the "holes" in the broderie. This actually worked really well. The bodice is very satifying to make, with all raw edges enclosed. The broderie anglais didn't fray, so I left the edges of the flutter sleeve unfinished. 





I did plan to double line the skirt, but I felt there might be too much bulk with the gathers, so just underlined it instead. The length was ideal as was, so I overlocked the hem and finished it with some lace trim from Hobbycraft. Finally, I handstitched on some peach coloured ribbon at the empire line (waist) to tie in with my sister in law's flowers. The buttons are flower shaped, again from John Lewis.

And that's it. With a flower crown, her outfit was complete! She looked absolutely gorgeous and did a fabulous job as a flower girl, along with her partner Betul (I have definitely spelt that wrong), my sister in law's cousin.
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Friday, 2 June 2017

Me Made May 17: Last bits

Hello, hello. Just thought I'd check back in to talk about the last bits of Me Made May this year. As I type, our kitchen is being installed. It sounds like the builders are about to come through the wall, but they are loudly and badly singing along to Absolute 80's - you should have heard their rendition of Tiffany's I Think We're Alone Now, even the kids were killing themselves laughing - so I'm assuming it's going OK.

So, where did we get to. Oh yes, on to day 24.

Day 24: Hacked Kelly skirt (Megan Nielsen) in chambray, plus black Lark tee

Day 25: Hacked Grainline Archer shirt dress in viscose

Day 26: Megan Nielsen Eucalypt Tank in viscose with chambray True Bias Emerson pants.

Day 27: Double gauze Emmeline Tee

Day 28: Lark tee with "refashioned" (i.e. too long hem chopped off) jeans.

Day 29: Stockholm blouse

Day 30: Scout tee in Atelier Brunette cotton, with Linden sweatshirt. Double Grainline.

Day 31: Eucalypt tank in viscose, with Named Alexandria pants in polyester.

And that's a wrap.

Thoughts: lots and lots of repeats, which got a bit boring, but on the whole I was happy with the month. I know that I wear what I sew, but it's always nice to get confirmation. I don't aim to sew everything, so I'm always cautious to identify holes in my me-made wardrobe, for the sake of one month a year, when those holes are happily filled with RTW the other 11 months, but it would be nice to have more handmade outfits. So, more bottoms, especially trousers and jeans. I think I also need a few more short sleeved tees, handmade or bought, as I don't seem to have many of those at all. What did I wear last summer?

In terms of MMM inspiration, I am left wondering why I have never made any Inari tees, when I've made the dress twice. I am also a bit obsessed with the Ogden cami, which I previously had zero inclination towards. The power of instagram!

Anyway, with the kitchen nearly done, I have my next few projects lined up. I have just muslined a dress for a wedding at the start of July, and I also am hoping to have time to make a pair of Emerson shorts, and possibly an Ogden or 2 before we go (the wedding and our holiday are in Turkey)... Unlikely, but we will see.

Did you take part in Me Made May this year? How did you find it?

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Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Me Made May Pt 2

It feels a bit trite posting about clothes, given what happened in Manchester last night, but if life doesn't go on, they win. We have to carry on. I'm not sure what else to say on the matter really, other than my heart goes out to everyone in Manchester, directly impacted or not.

And so onto the trite clothes. *Weak smile*.


Day 10: Atelier Scammit Stockholm blouse again with chambray True Bias Emerson pants.

Day 11: Katy & Laney Geometry top in Cotton + Steel rayon

Day 12: Grainline Lark tee, hacked to have a stepped hem. Also Small Boy wore his Oliver & S shorts in Made by Rae baby cord, plus his Book Day shark hoodie (refashioned from a RTW hoodie).

Day 13: Named Sloane sweatshirt in Atelier Brunette sweatshirting fabric.

Day 14: Megan Nielsen Eucalypt tank in C+S rayon

Day 15: Tessutti Brigitte tee

Day 16: Little Tailoress Emmeline tee in double gauze, plus Grainline Moss mini

Day 17: Grainline Lark tee

Day 18: Grainline Scout tee in Atelier Brunette cotton

Day 19: Stockholm blouse again

Day 20: another Grainline Lark tee, plus in the evening I wore my I Am Patterns Aphrodite dress to a wedding reception

Day 21: Emerson pants again.

Day 22: Schnittchen Tanja dress in ponte

Day 23: Another Emmeline tee, this time in Liberty Tana crepe

Thoughts: I wrote on Instagram on Saturday that I feel this has been a rather dull Me Made May for me. I feel like I'm wearing the same things over and over, and there isn't much in the way of excitement, or fashion directionality. But I recognise in myself a need to get comfy and cosy and to be invisible (sartorially) from time to time. Usually when I am stressed, anxious, mega busy or all 3. And I've been all 3 with regularity this month due to everything else that's been going on. There are loads of handmade garments I haven't worn this month, because I haven't felt like it. And that's OK. What I will say though is that I have enjoyed what I have worn, and it's nice to know that I am making the things I want to wear, regardless of situation or mood. That's a win.

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