Made by Me!

Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Wardrobe Angel Helps Save My Style!

I had an interesting wardrobe experience a few weekends ago. One which has led me to re-think in part my spring wardrobe (which due to having a bad spring cold is now morphing into my summer one!!). To give a little background, I was on my usual commute to work when I picked up a free paper, The Metro, and spent the journey leafing through it. Time passed and as I was about to leave it on a seat for someone else to pick up when I noticed an article about something that interested me. But back to that in a moment. For a couple of years now I have been sewing with more earnest, trying hard to make clothes for myself that I can wear day to day in an effort to reduce the amount of clothes I buy for myself. Now I am not one who believes I can sew everything in my wardrobe, there is neither enough hours in the day or if I'm honest patience to do that. For example I want to make at least one pair of jeans in my lifetime but I know Topshop do awesome ones which fit my like a glove so why bother... Now I'm an advocate of well made and long lasting clothes both in my handmade and bought wardrobes and consequently I have things that have lasted years. Its just now I cant fit into a lot of it. I spent a few long hours a few weekends ago rifling through my entire wardrobe trying everything on and got rid of two huge bin bags of stuff I don't wear, don't like, cant fit into and dare I say it never even cut the tag off....awful... Anyway I was left with a mixture of overly patterned handmade items and a few remaining odds and bits of staple wardrobe and a clueless me considering how to pull my wardrobe together. How had it gotten so unco-ordinated and frankly a little disorganised? I felt like I didn't know what I needed or what to sew or buy next to make my wardrobe work better for me. And so in comes the article! I read a piece about someone called 'The Wardrobe Angel', which you can read here. She is someone who comes to your home, helps style what you have, tells you frankly what doesn't suit you and then sends you a shopping list afterwards! Voila! I felt like I was approaching my forties, I was clueless about what the hell I was doing anymore and whether anything in my wardrobe was really working for me so I bit the bullet and asked for some help, and I am not afraid to admit it.

My small shared wardrobe...
The first thing I have learnt is I have far too much pattern in my wardrobe (which admittedly I knew but hadn't really considered a problem before). Whilst I make lots of clothes I basically have nothing that goes with anything.Useful!! I have also managed to completely evade any thought about colour co-ordination across the entirety of my wardrobe. Even when I thought I was making a wardrobe that was full of good colours for my complexion and to work with my hair I was just again creating more confusion and less cohesion by not thinking about having a tonal wardrobe - basically things that can be worn together easily. I have read so many other blogs and everyone else seems to be completing their wardrobes with much more thought, or at least it seems that way. I wonder if anyone else has this problem when they start out sewing? It feels like I have been a kid in a sweet shop sewing up things in materials that catch my eye, rather than for the very practical reasons that its something I need and will fit perfectly into my existing wardrobe.


See what I mean from my previous makes...? Pattern, pattern, pattern!!

I also seem to have two wardrobe personalities, a more modern edged one and one that likes all things vintage but it appears I don't mix them too well!

And so to the next revelation, the capsule wardrobe - something that I think I have been trying to think about in the loosest of senses by preparing for a winter and spring sewn wardrobe. In my spring wardrobe blogged here I have at least picked items that I need and feel I have a lack of in my current wardrobe but the first item I make, the Meissa shirt, whilst a lovely shirt pattern, is an example of something that goes with nothing in my current wardrobe. And surprise, surprise its really blooming patterned!!!!

It was following the visit from the Wardrobe Angel that I have re-thought how I want to sew going forward. Basically from now on 90% of what I sew will be plain, not patterned. As mentioned I have a distinct lack of items that work together so this is an attempt at re-balancing my wardrobe. It isn't to say that I wont sew in patterned fabric ever again but that I will be more thoughtful about it. I will for example still sew up a skirt in a burnt orange patterned fabric as part of my spring pieces and make a kimono from the silk in my stash as planned but I wont make the Style Arc culottes out of a pattern but a bold plain colour to act as piece that pulls things together in my wardrobe.

I found a brilliant web page very recently called un-fancy where blogger Caroline talks us through her Spring capsule wardrobe and how she built it - and best of all she shows us day to day how to style it which gives me tonnes of inspiration - she has an awesome laid back but stylish approach to dressing. Immediately when I read it I totally got where I was going wrong and thought about what it is I really need to include in my wardrobe to make it work. With her template in mind here is a list of items I want to include in my wardrobe - I have chosen 38 items altogether including jewellery although at present this is a first draft/ work in progress - and what I don't have I will either make or buy - because I just cant sew everything in time!! And to be honest as I said above Spring is almost over so this will be a Spring/ Summer capsule with the potential to move some more dresses in there mid season to keep it fresh. What with colds and false starts on sewing I have a lot of catching up to do!!

1 - 4 -  T-shirts - grey (I already own one), white and a couple of logo/ vintage style band t-shirts in  the mix too. I plan to buy these.
5 - 6 -  Two long line vest tops in cream and white to stick under things and to use as a layering item. Again another purchase as I cant make them as well as the shop bought ones.
7 - 10 - Camisole tops - I have three in staple navy, black and off white from Topshop but am after an electric/ royal blue or sky blue one? I plan to make the twisted tank from Burda in a washed silk. I think this could go well with both skirts and trousers.

11 - 12 - Lace tops. I have one I have bought from Warehouse which I love in an ivory colour but I also still plan to make the Emmeline tee in lace which is currently sitting in my stash.
12 - Kimono - to make out of green and white silk from my stash. I may also just buy a sleeveless duster coat for summer.
13 - Sweatshirt/ thin jumper - I will buy this.
14 - Shirt - in Chambray or maybe even just plain white - and I still plan on making it from the Named Clothing Tyler shirt pattern I talk about in my Spring wardrobe post.

15 -17 - Jeans - I have them already in black, blue and grey/black so am sorted!
18 - Smart trousers - I want them in a staple neutral and love the Named Alexandria peg trousers from the new Ticket collection. Its the perfect length for me and looks like something that could be smart and comfy all in one!
19 - Culottes in a plain colour which I plan to make. Thinking possibly a blue/ navy.
20 - Full skirt in plain colour - again I plan to make this but I am not sure what colour yet. I may make two have a patterned one as well as I did see some lush fabric from John Lewis home section that I think would be lovely. Its hard to stop the pattern junkie in me!!

21 - Pencil skirt in cotton - this will be made from the burnt orange batik fabric I have in my stash.
22 - Cardigan or cape cardigan. I want to buy this and for it to be grey or black.
23 - Leather or faux leather jacket - I have my eye on a Topshop one...
24 - 25 - Cropped jacket x 2 - I already have a pink jacket from Warehouse I wear a lot but its patterned and so I wanted something plainer and able to work across a number of outfits. I plan to make a navy lightweight wool coat and am thinking the new Named Lourdes cropped jacket from their new Ticket collection would work nicely. Apparently according to the Wardrobe Angel my body shape works better with a jacket that falls at my waist or on my thigh. So longer or short!
26 - Dress in a bright colour pop. I want to make the dress but I am not sure what I want yet - I do have a crush on this Named Clothing Delphi layered maxi dress. I would make it shorter I think to mid calf but it is an almost exact copy of a silk one I am lusting after from Madewell, a clothing store I really want to shop extensively in and they don't ship to the UK yet.....sad face...

27 - Boots with a heel - my current shoe boots fit well in this category and I think they can take me through the Spring.
28 - Flat boots for summer to wear with jeans and dresses.
29 - Slip on sandals - Office shoes have some beauties in at the moment.
30 - High heeled sandals - I have quite a few of these in my shoe collection so happy not to buy something new.
31 - Adidas high tops - I already own some.
32 - 36 - Four new necklaces
37 - 38 - Two new bracelets

Colour wise I am apparently a summer woman so am following the colour palette below as a rough guide. It was a little hard to define myself but only because I have changed my hair colour from my natural mousy brown colour and it was confusing issues with deciding where I sat. These are the colours that go with my skin tone - apparently I suit any shades of blue, lavender, charcoal grey, burgundy, turquoise, mauve, plum, fuchsia, lemon yellow, forest green and sepia. It doesn't mean you cant wear other colours but these are meant to be more flattering. Take a look on this blog to work out your season or this web page here.

So now to decide what colours to make my new wardrobe in! I have a lot of denim in blue and black so these colours will be prominent as well as white as a base. As a minor colour I want to include grey. I think I would like accents of pink, yellow and green too. Maybe random but according to the colour wheel these colours do go together! Guess I will see how I get on!!

Suddenly I feel a bit more on track with my sewing plans and can actually begin to sew things with a purpose - I will use this spring/ summer to see how my list of capsule items holds up and whether it works as an efficient wardrobe.

Do any of you use colour charts to work out what you plan to sew or just go with what you fancy when faced with bolts of fashion fabric?Are you also a pattern junkie and is it causing havoc in your wardrobe?!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Papercut Patterns Meissa Shirt - Finished!

This pattern is the Meissa shirt from Papercut Patterns. It is a lovely shirt to make but it took me forever to get round to it! This is the first time that the lurgy has well and truly kicked my ability to sew right out from underneath me. For the last few weeks the most I have done is trace and cut out the pattern pieces and that was on a day off from work when I was meant to be resting. It really did me in and I felt knackered afterwards…so much for taking time to get better! For the next week I looked at the lovely fabric with a sneer as it sat there staring at me…a constant reminder that I hadn’t touched it. Well that’s a lie, I did lay the fabric out and attempted to pin the pattern pieces on to it but I gave up at the effort of it all. I am firm believer of starting a project the way you mean to go on, in a positive and optimistic way, not in a tired, half-arsed fashion.  It is only now over three weeks later that I have cut out and sewed this shirt together. I feel like it has been a bit of an uphill struggle to get it done but it’s a struggle I am glad I went through as I really rather like this pattern.....but...well I am just not sure it works on me!! What do you think? I am sure this is partly due to fabric choice but I am mightily disappointed to have made something I can't work out how to wear without looking like a complete frump!!

The shirt is like a little burst of Spring, or perhaps more appropriately I am channelling a little bit of the seventies here too!! How very on trend....erm hum....But I do I love the flower power pattern of this Bari J fabric and the colour is divine but I am not sure that the combination of the style and the fabric has done me any justice on this occasion!

On the plus side the shirt was really straightforward to put together, I especially liked that you didn’t have to set in the sleeves but that you just sewed them in flat. So much less stress!! I have to say Papercut patterns are built for ease of sewing. Their instructions are so simple to understand and their patterns look much more complicated construction wise than they actually are. Well I say this and whilst I do generally mean it, in this case it was true apart from one thing - the shirt in the pattern instructions show the shirt with the buttons on the wrong side - so doing up a shirt the male way with the buttonholes on the right side rather than the left - unless of course I am reading it totally wrongly. I realised this as far as the front opening is concerned but got the cuffs the wrong way round so it feels like re-learning how to do up a button when I try to put it on!! This means it takes half as long as it should to get it on in a stumbly fashion.  Hopefully you cant notice they are wrong. All in all the shirt was a pleasure to make regardless of the instructional error – and even better for the fact that my sewing machine had been recently serviced and was working LIKE A DREAM! Well apart from the oil I kept finding dripping off of it. I thought I had wiped that machine all squeaky clean but alas no and I may have got some on the shirt itself, and whilst I washed it I am not sure it’s all come out to be honest. I am just hoping it’s not really obvious!

I had thought making a shirt like this would be much more daunting but it really didn’t feel it. Admittedly I don’t think this is exactly a properly tailored shirt. If you want something like that the Granville from Sewaholic is your baby. And looking at some of the online tutorials from Tasia at Sewaholic it is a more intense sewing experience, a bit of a learning curve. It’s the kind of thing I would like to try but am not really into having a proper tailored shirt in my wardrobe so it would be more for technique than for wearing. At this point, when I don’t feel as though I have as much time to sew as I used to, then I really don’t want to risk wasting my precious sewing hours on something I am not going to wear (which is why making something you hope to wear but realise is awful on you is a little bit devastating!). I know it’s not a real waste as sewing to learn techniques is really the only way to push on your skill level but I would rather do it with something that will take treasured pride of place in my wardrobe.

So the only thing that annoys me about the way I have put together this shirt is the pattern placement at the front. I was still a bit off colour when I cut this out and it shows. I would also use a smaller seam allowance on the cuff next time as it is a little bit snug.

There are a few features on this pattern that I love. I like the button placement, two at a time along the placket, and I really like the brass buttons I used. The buttons were a free gift when I bought the Meissa pattern from Sewbox and it felt like destiny that they should become part of the shirt. The only issue was they only gave me five of them and the shirt needed 14 buttons in total, Sewbox had sold out and I couldn't find them on any other site. I have never been great at searching for things on the Internet but it took a good long time (insert days of searching) to find them somewhere that did stock them...and ridiculously it was when I finally just searched under the simple term 'buttons' and clicked on the first available link. I think they are really pretty and work well with the shirt fabric. What do you think?

I also really like the little gathered sections on the top front of the blouse. It is a lovely little touch and makes the shirt just a little different and a bit more feminine than more tailored shirts. The rounded soft collars and wrist bands also feel less formal and rigid. Altogether much more my style. I have to say that the way the shirt is constructed also means there are few exposed seams so the shirt actually looks pretty good from the both inside and the outside. Bonus!

So whilst I ponder whether to wear this shirt or not - style advice gratefully received! - I do think its a really nice pattern and maybe in a block colour will look better on me? Who knows.... I was thinking of maybe taking off the arms to have something a little more casual but I am still not sure how this will work or whether I should just relegate it to the back of the cupboard!! So what do you think? How would you make this disaster better?!