MeMadeMay 2017- My Pledge

It’s a new year and new pledge for me.  Just in case you haven’t heard of Me Made May, it is the brainchild of Zoe at So Zo, what do you know, and involves dressmakers, knitters, and refashioners pledging to wear more of their handmade and altered clothing.  Everyone gets to set their own challenge for the month of May and if you like, you can share your progress on social media.  I’m hoping that quite a few of these beauties will be making an appearance.

I did participate in Me Made May for the first time last year and enjoyed it, but found it hard work getting pictures of what I had been up to.  This year I am going to be a bit more practical and pragmatic.  I wear a uniform to work, so it isn’t always practical to wear me-mades there (except perhaps some un-blogged underwear), so this is my pledge…

‘I, Naomi of Naomi Sews and @naomisewsnews, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item, at least two evenings a week and on weekends/bank holidays for the duration of May 2017.  I will also attempt to log my journey though may on Instagram.’

This month is also my submission date for my next unit from my PGCE so things may get a bit wonky mid-month, but I’m going to give it my best shot!  It might well be fun to have something else to think about and work on when I’m stressed and tired of reading academic papers!

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Matt’s Waistcoat

My husband has a real fascination with maps. We have some really cool ones displayed on out walls at home, and a whole box of Ordinance Survey maps of various wild parts of the UK for walking with.  When we were invited to a wedding and one of his friends suggested wearing fancy waistcoats, Matt naturally wanted his to be lined with map fabric.

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We chose the fabrics together, opting for cotton twill from Trago for the outside and some map print cotton for the inside.  This was the first time I had sewn anything for Matt and I didn’t want to disappoint, so I was a little nervous, but this came together beautifully.

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The pattern is Kwik Sew K3662 and I ordered the findings (buttons and a waistcoat buckle) from Calico Laine.  The buttons are metal self covered buttons to perfectly match the outer fabric.

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One of the scary things about this waistcoat was that the first steps involved sewing my first ever welt pockets.  I did sew a single practice pocket to check that I understood the instructions and then dived right in.  I don’t know why I was so worried- it was no-where near as difficult as I had imagined. I think I was just the thought of having to cut into my carefully cut pattern pieces that made it a bit nerve-wracking.

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This pattern is a bit mind boggling in the way that it all comes together. I did just have to trust the instructions, and it worked absolutely fine.  It is a bit worrying though when you have to turn most of the project though the shoulder seam!

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It was definitely fun to be on the camera end of the photos for a change- Matt has been channelling his best model poses for you though!  I think we might just have to get him in again sometime.

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Sewing for special occasions – Bridgetown Backless Dress

This month I have loads of weddings to attend so my April project Sew My Style needed to be suitable for special occasions, and ideally something that I can wear afterwards too.

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This Sew House Seven pattern is a pretty good match for my sewing plan, and also happens to be the sew my style project for April- perfect timing!  It is the Bridgetown Backless Dress.  I like that from the front it looks quite modest, and all the excitement is in the back.  This is only the second Sew House Seven pattern that I have used- the first being my Toaster Sweater from January, but I found the instructions and pattern drafting spot on.

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The fabric is a viscose challis called freesia from Fabric Godmother. I spotted this fabric on Instagram and loved it right away. I have never used challis before, but I love the weight and drape.  I wasn’t sure if it was ok to wear black to a wedding, but I think the spring flowers on this make sure that it doesn’t look too sombre.

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It is the shiftiest thing that I have sewed so far!  I cut most pieces on a single layer which helped, and had a new blade for my rotary cutter.  The skirt pieces were cut on the fold and have ended up slightly off grain, but not so much you would notice!  I sewed up a size 4 in this pattern.  There is quite a bit of ease designed into the pattern to help it drape properly at the back.  The waist is brought in with elastic so it can fit perfectly.

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For the sewing, I used a new size 60 needle to help it pierce the fabric, but otherwise it behaved fairly well.  This fabric does catch and cause little runs, so I had to watch my pins carefully!  Like Emily from Self Assembly Required, I found the facing pieces to be too long, but it was very easy to trim them down to size.  I finished all the seams that needed it with a three thread overlock to keep things neat and tidy.

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The sizing has turned out well- the back drapes beautifully but without being too low cut. (I can still wear my usual bra). I do love being all dressed up for spring weddings!  This one was held in these fantastic gardens and by a lake, so it was too difficult to decide which pictures to include and which to leave out… I just couldn’t resist including a whole heap!

English Tea Dress

This week I have another ‘back in time’ post to show you the first ever dress that I lined, the English Tea Dress, by Simple Sew.   I made this dress about a year ago to wear to a spring wedding, and it has found another wedding outing now!  This pattern was free with a magazine, which is something I still enjoy indulging in.  You can get so much inspiration in fabric, style and patterns all in one place.

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I am very proud of this dress. It is not perfect, but not in any way that you would really notice without me pointing it out.  I had to do quite a lot of research and working out to finish the construction, because although there were pattern pieces included for this cap sleeve, there were no instructions about how to insert and finish it, and at the time I had only ever constructed sleeves that were completely set into the armscye.  I found a tutorial online from After Dark Sewing which was really helpful and used it to finish the sleeves with bias binding.

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I am pretty pleased with this invisible zip.  Not quite invisible, but I did manage to get it neatly concealed between the fabric and the lining.  There weren’t separate pattern pieces for the lining included, but my lawn was a bit too thin to just use alone, so I created my own pattern piece for the bodice lining.  I think I used Tilly’s tutorial on how to line a skirt to help work out the construction process.

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This dress is definitely ‘before overlocker’ so the seams are just pressed open and zig-zagged and the hem is a narrow turned hem.  This dress is made in a lovely soft cotton lawn which I think was from Calico Laine, though it is so long ago it is no longer in stock, and lined in a basic polyester lining fabric from Trago.  The fabric is a little busy to show off the unusual shaped bodice, which comes to a ‘v’ at the centre front.

As you can see, this dress is still wedding ready, and I had a lovely time dancing the night away in it!  I’m hoping that it will continue to have wedding outings for some time to come (and in the meantime, I would like the sun to come back so that I can wear it for everyday).

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My second Moneta

Having had a chance to test out the Moneta pattern by Colette a couple of months ago when writing my guest post for Minerva crafts, and having seen some awesome variations in Instagram as part of the Moneta Party, I thought that I would have another go.  This time I made a few little changes, including shortening the sleeves for spring!

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Once again, pockets seem to be an essential feature of everything that I make!

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They are just so perfect for sticking your hands in on a spring evening.

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My previous Moneta dress fit pretty well, but I have taken in a little at the waist, and this time I have adapted my altered pattern pieces from before so that all the seam allowances are the same now.  Once again, I used the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top to modify the bodice pattern so that it fit me better.

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The only other real change was to switch the gathers on the skirt for pleats.  To do this I measured the difference between the bodice measurement and the top of the skirt. I divided this by 4 (for the 4 pleats- two at the front and two at the back), and then divided by two again (to work out how much fabric I needed to take in at each side of each pleat).  This sounds very complicated when writing it down, but in reality is very simple.  I did add clear elastic to the waist seam, even though I wasn’t gathering onto elastic, to avoid the seam from stretching out in the future.

 

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Surprisingly difficult to see the pleats in this fabric, but I do like the flat front that it gives to the waist.

 

This fabric came from Ebay and can be found here still.  It is a printed Ponte Roma and like my previous Moneta is a nice weight, but still drapes well in the skirt.  I love the deep hems on the skirt and sleeves.

 

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Perfect drape for a bit of swishy-ness

 

I’m sure there well be more of these dresses in my wardrobe at some point.  It is just so versatile- can be dressed up or down, can be worn layered or on it’s own.  It is a great pattern for adding options to your wardrobe.

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Fehr Trade XYT Top

Having made the funkiest leggings around, I naturally needed something to wear to coordinate with them!  I thought that it might be a bit much to go orange and pink all over, so I needed a pattern that had the option for a contrast panel.  This is the XYT Workout Top from Fehr Trade.  Melissa who designs the patterns designs exclusively active wear and so the patterns are actually designed to be used while exercising.

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This pattern has loads of options for both styles and finishes.  The instructions are clear and helpful, and the Fehr Trade website has a few suggestions about where to purchase suitable fabric.

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This top I made with the scraps from my Virginia Leggings, and some navy lycra which I am using to make a cycling jersey for my husband.

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I chose the make the ‘Y’ option, and initially planned to add the built in bra, but it ended up being far too small! It may be that I size up the bra part if I make this again. Once I had decided to abandon the built in bra though, it went together pretty easily.

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The finish is definitely not perfect, but for my first ‘activewear’ pattern I am fairly happy and there is nothing about it that would stop me from wearing it.  Just slightly wavy hems and fold over elastic!

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This top is comfortable and moves well. The lycra is very stretchy so I have great freedom of movement. I think I will be giving it another go in the future.

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On a side note- I did say that I wasn’t sure how well the leggings would hold up to use and wear.  Sadly, the fabric is starting to tear at the waistband- I think this may be the point that I caught some extra fabric and had to unpick my overlocking so there may have been a weakness there already.  I will wear them for now though, and once they fall apart I can make another equally crazy pair!

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