Monday, 2 May 2016

Since my pledge for Me Made May 16 is to wear all of my handmade items in my possession, I thought it best to document them, so we can then count them off as I go. This also keeps me accountable. No pretending half way through the month that a particular item has been donated to charity! :)
So, here we go. I have split them into 3.5 categories. That will start to make sense as you read. 

1. Seasonally Inappropriate
It's true that we can often get 4 seasons in one day in Scotland, but unless the temperatures get above 20°C, I won't be wearing these items. But I'm recording them because you never know!

2. Occasionally Inappropriate
As in inappropriate to the occcasion. Not that they are fine most of the time, and then are sometimes rude. I have no plans for any nights out, fancy or otherwise, and I sure ain't wearing a low back, midrifff cut out, cross front jumpsuit to work, so unless I get a last minute invite somewhere, I will also not be wearing any of the following:

3. Wear!
Pretty self-explanatory this one. I will wear all of these at least once during the month. Some have never been blogged, hence the hasty, bad-lighting, hung on the wardrobe photos. Actually most are worn pretty regularly, so it should all be fine.

3.5 Wear but debatable
I actually have 33 items in the wear category, but 33 doesn't make for a nice symmetrical collage, so I pulled these 3 out, to keep the photos nicely balanced :) and also, because they are least likely to be worn. I will try, however:
  • I have a strong suspicion the Moss will no longer fit - like, won't stay up anymore.
  • The 1974 dress is ripped and unwearable (down the front bodice seam). I will attempt to fix it, but I'm not sure it's salvageable.
  • The Ultimate Trousers also don't fit that well, and again, I'm not sure they stay up. Downside to Maternity leave sewing! :(
I have an idea that I will somehow score these off as I go. In reality though I'm not sure I have the skills. Let's find out together! Also, you'll have noticed 33 items, but only 31 days. Should make for a couple of interesting outfits!!!

OK, let's go!
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Sunday, 1 May 2016

2016 Sewing Budget: April



This month? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. :)

I know I said this wasn't going to be a fabric buying ban, and I have spent less than my budget every month so far, but I was still a bit disappointed by the fact that I haven't really managed to stick to my original rules, so I aimed to spend zero this month and I achieved it. It wasn't easy, I will be honest. So many new patterns, so many ideas. But I managed. I used thread and even buttons from my stash. OK, my output wasn't amazing, but still.

That's the end of my initial 3 month pledge, but I do plan to continue. I know next month will bring spending with it. I need want a dress for a wedding evening reception I'm going to in early June, and I have a few other ideas which will need a pattern or some thread or something. Plus Me Made May always equals a bit of panic sewing! But I managed one month. Maybe I'll manage another later this year? :)

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Thursday, 28 April 2016

Me Made May 16

I'm scraping in here just before the start of May, but I am pledging to join in with Me Made May again this year. If you aren't familiar with the concept, take a look here.

It's taken me a while to think about what my pledge or challenge should be this year. Last year, I challenged myself to wear more me made bottoms, as I was on Mat leave and had fallen into a "jeans and top" rut. This year I'm back at work 4 days a week and most of those days I will wear something handmade, usually a dress or skirt, so I wasn't sure what to do. I want it to be a challenge, but I don't want it to be stressful.

But yesterday I wore a handmade blouse that doesn't get much wear for no particular reason. I was thinking about this last night, when the penny dropped, and I had my challenge. So, here goes...

I, Helen from Grosgrain Green, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '16. I endeavour to wear at least one me made garment each day for the duration of May 2016, and to wear each and every item of handmade clothing that I own, at least once during the month, where seasonally and occasionally appropriate.
I already know where the handmade gaps are in my wardrobe, and I do generally sew what I like to wear. But I do have handmade items languishing in my wardrobe that rarely get worn, but which I can't quite bring myself to throw out. So, this year I want MMM to give me the opportunity to identify why I don't wear them. Is it that my style has changed? Is it that they no longer fit? Is it that actually they are just pretty craply made? Is it a wardrobe orphan? Am I just not wearing them out of habit and could there still be life in them?

If, after wearing each item I still love it, I will resolve to wear it more. If I find myself hating or even just feeling a bit "meh" about it, I will donate/recycle it and move on.

The only exceptions to this are occasion and weather specific. May in Scotland, generally, is not that warm, so I can think of at least one skirt that I won't wear because it's way too summery to wear with tights. Similarly, I have no nights out planned in May, so unless something drops into my social calendar (unlikely), I probably won't wear my Seachange top because I would feel ridiculous wearing that during the day. My aim is not to make myself feel stupid, so, for those items, I will resolve to wear them at the first available opportunity, so I can go through the same process.

Are you signing up? What is your challenge? Here's to another fun May!
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Saturday, 16 April 2016

Completed: Denim Inari

So, this dress was a bit of a challenge, when it really didn’t need to be. It was also one of the first times that I made a fit adjustment that worked as I hoped thought it would!


First things first, this is another Inari dress by Named. The fabric is a beautiful crosshatch denim from The Splendid Stitch and was one of the fabrics I bought with the voucher I won. The fabric is maybe a little on the heavy side for this dress, but it works. Amy also has a lovely navy stretch denim, which would also have worked well (possibly better), but I loved the crosshatch weave of this particular denim. I ordered a swatch and it was quite stiff initially but I had a hunch it would soften after a wash, so for the first time ever I washed a fabric swatch. This shows it pays to do so! The fabric was lovely to sew, although areas with multiple layers, like the hem, were a challenge. I used a denim needle and standard thread.


I’m pretty happy with the fit of my first Inari, but the low armscyes are a bit annoying and I suspected they might be even more so in a thicker, more stable fabric. So I attempted an adjustment to raise/reduce the depth. To do this, I compared the pattern with that of the Scout and realised the armscye was (I think) about 5/6cm lower on the Inari. To err on the side of caution I opted to remove 4.5cm (I cannot remember why that 0.5cm seemed so important!). I did this by cutting a line perpendicular to the grainline/CF/CB across the bodice, through the armscye. I actually did this in 2 places so I wasn’t taking too much out of one area, and I made the lines run through the straightest part of the armhole curve, so it had least impact on the curve shape itself. I then overlapped the pieces by 2cm and 2.5cm respectively, keeping the cut edges parallel. I did this to the front and back pieces.

To adjust the sleeve, I did the same, drawing parallel lines perpendicular to the grainline, ensuring the lines were in the sleeve cap (rather than sleeve itself) and keeping them above the notches, so they would still match up.

So far, so good. At this stage, I realised that I had effectively shortened the entire dress by 4.5cm, and as the Inari is already pretty short, I decided to add this back in. I was aware I’d hiked the whole dress from the armholes up by 4.5cm so I wanted to make sure the cocoon shape was in the right place. I therefore added the 4.5cm back onto the bodice/dress piece at the lengthen/shorten line that’s just below the sleeves/armscye. Named patterns are great in that they have multiple lengthen/shorten lines!

I made a muslin to check the sleeve fit, so cut it at waist length to save time and fabric. The sleeve/armscye were a good fit, but were snug so I decided to lower them by 1.5cm again, making the overall adjustment only 3cm (2cm and 1cm). I did the same with the sleeve. I opted to leave the additional length in the dress, as the original is pretty short, and I figured 1.5cm additional on the length was neither here nor there – if it bothered me, I could take it out of the hem. I was a bit tired of adjustments by that point and was running out of sellotape.


I then cut straight into the denim. It all went together beautifully and it didn’t even occur to me to try it on until just before I added the sleeves (the last thing I did), and which point I realised it was far too long. The front sat just immediately above my knee, which just made the dress feel really “meh”. To work (on me at least), a solid colour, cocoon shaped dress needs to be short. I was really disappointed! 

I managed to resolve the issue by removing about 4cm off the length. It means that the vents are shorter than designed and a little of the tapered shape at the bottom is lost, but it elevated the dress from “meh” to the “yay” I had been expecting! So, where did I do wrong? Short of blaming the pattern pixies making mischief, how do I explain the additional length? I can’t.  I really, really can’t. I just don’t get it. I removed 3cm of length, so it makes sense that I would add that back on to retain the original length. Everything else was the same: same hem length, same size, I am the same height. I really have no idea.

Anyway, I am pleased to report that I am otherwise delighted with this dress! Funkbunny on IG had suggested that I look at this dress by Jillian, and I’m glad I did, as I immediately loved the look of the exposed neckline facing. Jillian very kindly explained how it was done, which was very straightforward. You simply sew the facing right side to the wrong side of the dress. Clip the curves and turn out. She had edgestitched hers before topstitching twice. Instead I understitched before flipping it out, and then topstitched with one row of triple stitching. I actually messed up the first lot of topstitching, as I found the curve, plus the backwards-forwards motion of the triple stitching hard to manage, so I ended up having to unpick quite a bit of triple stitching. Which was fun (it wasn’t). I then basted the facing in place before attempting again, and it worked far better the second time. My topstitching game still needs improvement but it’s passable. The edge of the facing remains raw and it will fray, but that's the point.


Other alterations I made to the pattern was to add the sleeve cuffs wrong side out. It just felt like that made more sense in a dark denim. And I added inseam pockets. I used the pocket pieces, including pocket facing from the Ailakki jumpsuit. The pocket linings are a bird print voile I got from Franca. They are very handy, but I do feel that they mess with the silhouette somewhat. I’m undecided on them.

I triple stitched the hem, and added bar tacks at the top of the vents, and at the top of the sleeve cuffs, again in the yellow thread. I had a debate initially about which colour to use, but ultimately the yellow won it for me. It also matches the selvedge of the fabric, so felt right. 

So, another successful Inari. I am seeing more and more of these popping up on the interwebs and it's easy to see why. A simple shape that really flatters everyone! The perfect dress!
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Sunday, 3 April 2016

Completed: Block Printed Scout Dress

Hello! Hope you are enjoying the Easter break if you are having one. I, sadly, am heading back to work tomorrow having just had a week and a bit off. I am easing the pain with red wine, sweet potato crisps and a new dress to wear tomorrow.

There are a couple of back stories to this particular dress, but firstly let's talk about the most exciting part: I printed my own fabric! I've been interested in doing this for a while. If you follow me on Pinterest you will notice I've been spamming your feed with print related pins (my board is here if you are interested), and buoyed by my recent stencil success, and some successful potato printing that Small Boy and I did at Christmas, I finally got round to executing the idea. I already had the ink, and most of the necessary tools, so I bought some linocutting tools on Amazon and I was good to go.

The fabric printing process was really good fun and I definitely want to do more of it. A lot more. I read a few different tutorials online before starting. Rochelle has written a few posts , which were really helpful. I bought the same ink and carving block she uses (I've linked to the products I bought, but I'm pretty sure I did not pay that much for the ink). I will state that I am most definitely not an artist. I cannot draw for toffee, but all that Pinterest-ing made it clear that simple, geographical shapes can work really well. I had a play around with a few different shapes, and made a few stamps before settling on the really simple cross stamp.
I will definitely revisit the triangles and the cross-hatch circles at some future point
The carving of the stamps is trickier than it looks on all the videos - I was anxious I was going to mess it all up at the last moment, and although I enjoyed doing it, once I was done I found I was really tense!



Rather than over-complicate things, I went with random pattern placement, which I like and which, I think, suits the style of the dress. I did ensure all of the crosses were the same way up by marking the back of the stamp, and I tried as much as possible to keep the crosses parallel to the grainline, but this was done by eye. As you can see from the above photo, rather than print 1.5m of fabric, I cut the pattern pieces out first and printed each separately. The main reason was that I cut out the pieces before deciding to print them, but I would have done so anyway, as I simply don't have the room to print large pieces of fabric. It also allowed me to consider how I wanted the pattern to look on each piece, and helped to avoid any awkward "X marks the spot" faux-pas on my bust, or anywhere else!

The fabric itself is a very lovely chambray from The Sweet Mercerie (sorry, not sure which one to link to it), that I bought in their Black Friday sale. It's beautifully soft and has a nice drape and a really lovely weave to it. I wish I had bought more.

Now for the dress. The shape was inspired by the below dress that I spotted in this season's Hush catalogue. I'm really loving their aesthetic at the moment, and thought this dress looked really cool, comfortable and stylish.

The shape looked very simple, so I thought I could emulate it cropping a Grainline Scout to waist level and adding a gathered skirt, which is what I did. I also added the button back detail because I like it. To do that, I didn't cut the back bodice on the fold, and added a further 7cm width to make a grown on placket (is that a term? it is now). The placket was 3cm wide, based on the size of my buttons. I doubled this over and used a 1cm SA (3 x 2, +1 = 7) (I just used a comma in a sum). In the end I sewed the placket shut, as I don't need it and it saved me making button holes. Had I decided to do that initially, I could have just created an external box pleat and saved myself a bit of work!

Other alterations included raising the neckline slightly, and reducing the shoulder to a size 0. Recently I've been thinking that my Scouts are too large on the shoulders, so this modification has given me my preferred fit through the shoulder. I also cut the size 0 sleeve. I'm not convinced this was the right thing to do as my notches were totally off, but I think the worst thing that could happen there would be less sleeve cap ease, and having made this previously with no sleeve cap ease, I knew this wouldn't be the end of the world.


I think it has worked well. My version is somewhat looser fitting than the Hush dress, and initially I thought I had wasted my lovely printed fabric on the frumpiest dress ever - both the volume and the initial length seemed off - but as ever Instagram saved the day.

My gut feeling was to chop considerable length off it, to counter the frump, but as sewsarahuk pointed out, it would have thrown the garment off balance (she also suggested that if all else failed, I could crop it to a peplum top, which I would never have thought of and made me so relieved that I had a back up plan. Thank you sewsarahuk!). So, instead I hemmed it at just above knee level. This has the added bonus of meaning I will be able to wear it in the summer - while I like my legs clad in black opaques, I'm not so keen on them bare, so my hemlines tend to be much more modest in summer!

It's funny because even after hemming it last night, I still wasn't completely convinced, but when I chucked it on today with tights and heeled ankle boots to take these photos, I completely fell in love with it. Yes, some people will probably still think it's unflattering (husband's comment: "it's really nice. It's meant to be wide isn't it? I like it, but you don't look like you have any boobs"), but I really do like it.

And should I decide that I'm not in the mood for loose and flowing, it actually works pretty well belted!


But mostly likely I won't, and I'll happily wear it like this!







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Friday, 1 April 2016

2016 Sewing Budget: March


Right, before we start, I need to make a disclaimer: I have partly failed this month. Failed because I bought lots of fabric, but only partly because I didn't actually spend very much money. Let me explain: I won a £50 giftcard for The Splendid Stitch. Amy has started a Customer's Gallery on her website and to launch it, she ran a draw. I uploaded a photo of my jumpsuit and happily my name was picked out the hat. I needn't have spent it immediately - there was no expiry date - but I had my heart set on a particular fabric (the Atelier Brunette) that I (correctly) suspected would sell out pretty quickly. The gift card was single use, so this happened:

In my defense, there was a great deal of consideration made over what to buy and even ordered swatches. How sensible. Every single thing I bought has a plan against it. Well, nearly.

Bottom to top:
Navy crosshatch denim (and matching thread) - another Inari dress.
Black Eva poly-viscose suiting - trousers, probably the Cali Faye Hampshire Trousers, which is a pattern I don't yet own. I know, I know, but I don't have a suitable trouser pattern for this fabric and I REALLY NEED trousers for work, so it is permitted.
Black Lydia viscose challi (out of stock, so no link) - this is to accompany the...
Atelier Brunette modal challis - this was going to be either a Biscayne blouse or a Camas, but then there wasn't enough fabric left. I really wanted the fabric though, so I bought the very last 0.75m and then chucked in metre of the black rayon challis so I can combine the two. I haven't actually decided what I'll make; possibly another Geometry top, or maybe something else. Maybe I'll just see if I can get hold of more of it, and use the black viscose for something else?

Oh yeah, and the linocutting tools? Well, I've been dabbling a bit in fabric printing. I already had all the other bits needed, so I just needed some cutting tools to get going. The results of this will hopefully be finished and blogged soon.

In theory I shouldn't really need to buy anything in April. I have the Inari dress to sew, plus that shirt dress that I am procrastinating on because I think it is going to be hard. But I really could do with trousers (Me Made May is fast approaching!). Let's see! How are you getting on?
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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Say It Ain't Sew

Did you know that March was National Craft Month? I didn't until recently. To celebrate, Scottish company Say It Ain't Sew got in touch to ask me to help spread the word about the work they are doing. I have to be honest, I had never heard of the company, the products or what they offer, but I was intrigued. And we all love a sewing pun, don't we?!

Say It Ain't Sew was founded by former costume and fashion designer, Iona Barker in 2010. Iona's mission is to get Scotland sewing, and to further this, she holds free (yes, free!) weekly sewing classes in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. To fund the classes, Iona makes and sells sewing kits on Etsy, which she supports with her own YouTube channel. I'm not sure I get the economics or the logistics (how does she pay her bills?), but I think the idea is really cool.

Sadly I can't make it along to the weekly Edinburgh sessions - the times are difficult for me - but they do sound like fun, with recent makes including Easter bunnies and pandas, but they did send me one of the sewing kits that is currently available on Etsy to give it a try!
Please ignore the weird carpet - we were away for the weekend.
I chose the Glasgow Tenement House, mostly because I was really intrigued as to what it would look like (this was before it was up on the Etsy page). The kit consists of pre-cut felt and instructions. You need to supply the thread, needle and scissors. The instructions are pretty clear, although there are limited diagrams, which makes things trickier for the more visual among us. I guess this would be where the YouTube channel would come in, though. The Tenement was fun and fairly easy to sew. It's a bit fiddly, especially the sewing the last tab in place, but it does state that it's challenging for beginners. It really only took about an hour or so, though and I enjoyed it. I particularly love the detail of the bay window and the fact that the roof tiles are "carved" on (I believe the whole thing is actually laser cut). They add a nice attention to detail.


While the kits fund the classes, they would in themselves make a nice gift to introduce a friend to sewing. Or why not treat yourself to something a bit different? While they are not sold as toys, I know the donuts would go down a treat with my boys.

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