Planning my Autumn/Winter Sewing

I’ve had fabric on my cutting table since May.  There have been pieces used and pieces added, pieces put back in the cupboard and other pieces brought out or bought in moments of weakness on spotting something gorgeous on Instagram.  Now I have 5 piles, about 25-30cm tall.  There comes a time when just having the piles on the table – out so I can see them and be reminded that I really want (need) to make them up just isn’t doing a good enough job.  I had also gone through a couple of boxes of Burda magazines and tried to be realistic about what patterns I really wanted to make, tried to only look at those that I would like to be wearing this autumn/winter.  Piles of fabric and lists of patterns to trace – that’s only step one!

IMG_20150831_192918
One of the sketches with notes and a little pile of fabric swatches.

I was still too far away from getting a solid idea of what I was going to make this season, so I decided to add something new to my arsenal.  Taking small samples of each piece of fabric I really wanted to make up for the winter and my pile of Burdas, I started sketching.  Once that was done I put sketches with fabric pieces and laid them all out.  21 projects covered my bed.  Most are tops or blouses, there are a couple of pairs of trousers – naturally – and a coat & jacket.

21projects - my autumn/winter wardrobe is all here, waiting to be made!
21 projects – my autumn/winter wardrobe is all here, waiting to be made!

How do you plan your sewing? Do you plan at all? I have to say that until this little exercise, I hadn’t really planned anything, just sort of hoped that what was out would eventually get sewn up!  I’ll show you next time how I’m getting on with this new “organised” way of working! 🙂

Welcome 2015, let’s get down to Business!

Happy New Year to you all, and a belated Merry Christmas, if you celebrate.  Boy have things been quiet on my sewing table, but now is the time to rectify that!  I’ve been very busy with a different line of work over December and now that that has quietened down I can get back to my sewing.  I’ll fill you in later on what I was getting up to, but if you follow me on Twitter, chances are you spotted a few plant & flower related photos…  That’s the clue!

Anyhooo, I bought a decent amount of fabric online while on the sofa watching movies with the family on Boxing Day, as you do, and it has started to arrive!  Soo exciting to get new fabric!  I am determined not to let it accumulate in the stash, so here’s my first project.  I have a 3m piece of olive crepe backed satin that arrived from Fabric Godmother – I know, olive green!  No black, grey, white or blue…  I’m being brave this year.  From my Wardrobe Architect board, I have identified this palette from Design Seeds with the olive as something I might actually like to wear, so this is a start at coming up with a selection of garments for it.

Natalie Top by Lolia Designs

I saw & pinned a blouse pattern by Lolia Designs called Natalie to my Wardrobe Architect board on Pinterest a while ago.  I liked the idea of the “panel” in the centre.  They call it a pleat, but it does nothing a pleat is designed to do.  It’s a folded back extension of the front so it flaps around a bit I would think.  I haven’t bought the pattern, it is not in my size and I’d like to change a few things.  I’m combining the idea of that central detail with the sleeve from my placket blouse, but deepening the cuff.  I’m also going to re-use but slightly alter the hem from the black & white spotty silk faux placket blouse.

I love the look of this blouse, the sleeve is something I’m going for with the new pattern, of course it won’t have the button placket or collar, but that can appear on a different top!

So the pattern was started in the evening of the 30th, the toile started yesterday afternoon (New Year’s Eve!) – yeah, not going out, and I’m finishing it off today.  I hope it turns out the way I imagine, the result should be available by the end of the day!

I’ll do some round-ups of last year’s projects in a bit, I managed 92 projects to the end of November, so I’m quite chuffed at that, I still need to see how I did on the Stashbusting front.  I know I used a lot, but I’m not sure I managed to stick to my 1 in for 2 out policy…

In the meantime, I hope you’ve all had a wonderful time with family over the holidays & are ready to tackle this new year with a vengance!  Also waiting with baited breath to find out who I’m partnering with for Jungle January 2015!

Wardrobe Architect & Me Made May 2014

Wow, two big things to get me out of my sewing rut & into something better and more interesting!  I was in quite a funk earlier in the year & the kind comments of my readers & the discovery of the Wardrobe Architect managed to drag me out of it.  I just need time and space to think of all the lovely goodies I’d like to make to suit, and then find the fabric to realise those day-dreams!  I made a good start with 3 blouses, then stopped to make fabulous things for skinny daughters & catch up on a bit of vintage sewing.

Now Me Made May is fast approaching, & I haven’t done much more to sort my very teeny-tiny wardrobe.  Very teeny because I switched over my winter & summer things this week.  There were loads of nice things in my summer boxes, the problem is that some I really don’t want to wear anymore & others I simply cannot wear (to put it plainly, I eat too much of what’s not good for me & I don’t exercise).  So it’s my fault I have only 2 t-shirts…

I do plan to make some more Plantains, once I find suitable fabric.  My local fabric store has a pitiful selection of jerseys, basically a handful of plains and some Liberty’s.  Not what I want!  One of the “tasks” for the Wardrobe Architect sessions was to create palettes, neutrals, accents etc, that we liked, then to narrow them down to form one particular palette from which to work.

My wordrobe consists mainly of neutrals – that’s where I’m happy, but I do realise the need for a little splash of colour here and there, and with summer knocking faintly on the front door I want to inject some colour or lightness that takes up some of the black & grey I live in in the winter.  That has been hard to do.  Whilst I like lots of colours, I don’t necessarily want to be wearing them.

I also find prints tricky.  Again, I like them, I can admire them, but wearing them….  I get scared.  My favourite pattern or print is the spot.  They’re safe.  But I want to be more adventurous!!  When I look into my fabric pile – meaning the pile I want for myself, I see spots, circles and more spots!  And variations on spots & circles…  I think I have an obsession.

silks, spotty & plain
Silks, spotty & plain

One thing I have managed is to get more pants! Or trousers, if you prefer.  There were a couple of pairs of linen trousers from the summer box that still fit – and that I still like the shape of (or can re-cut a bit).  But their colours were all wrong.  I didn’t take photos, not that long-sighted!  One pair was a chocolate brown, like milk chocolate.  I have always found them tricky to wear, even though I wanted a pair, I stick with turquoise or white on top.  The other was an interesting shade…  It was a shot linen, a kind of teal-green and violet.  Sounds weird, but I liked the effect.  Again, there was a problem of what to wear that with!  This time I decided to take action, if I was to wear them, they had to change colour.

So I threw them into the washing machine with a box of Dylon Antique Grey dye and waited for the result.  I love the new colours!  Because I didn’t use a dye stripper first they have come out of the machine with their own take on the grey.  The chocolate is now a warm, rich grey that I LOVE, the shot linen has hints of it’s original shade, but overall looks a blue/purple black/grey.  They’re perfect!  I will re-cut the legs of the purple/grey to make them narrower, but the chocolate grey is a perfect match for some of the colours I came up with for the colour project.

Chocolate linen trousers now a lovely warm dark grey
Chocolate linen trousers now a lovely warm dark grey

While I was dirtying up the washing machine, I also dyed a lightweight beige linen black, & re-blacked a pair black linen trousers that will also be re-cut.  All in all a great result!  Now to sort the tops…..  I have 3 pieces of spotty silk, different weights, weaves & colours and one black & white “blob” silk-cotton blend I made a blouse from a couple of years ago that needs attention.  I managed to catch the back on a door-handle or something & ripped it.  So I need to come up with something that can re-use parts of it, it’s far too gorgeous to chuck out.

This is my current collection of fabrics to work with - help?
This is my current collection of fabrics to work with – help?

If you want to see where my whirling head is going with the Wardrobe Architect exercise, I have far too many ideas on my Pinterest board.  While I love a floaty, not too structured blouse, I don’t want to make them all look the same.  I seem to be taking the same shape at the moment, and just adding different sleeve & collar details.  Will they be different enough?

Three ideas
Three ideas

At the moment, my hope that me Made May would be giving me the opportunity to really see if my new wardrobe was working properly is off to a stuttering start.  I know there’s still a week left, but pattern making takes time!  If only I could just decide what to make – with the foresight that it will look fabulous, I wouldn’t be stalling so much.

I need input from you fabulous sewists.  The sketch above on the left shows what I was thinking of doing with the “blobby” blouse that got ripped.  I had the idea from seeing this great blouse on Kollabora.  I’m just not that willowy, so I need to be careful of where the contrast goes, and how much to use.  Ideas??

My apologies for what seems to me to be a rather rambling post, I just need to get my head round what I should be sewing – and fast!!

Sewing Class Fun

My first Sewing Sunday of 2014 took place yesterday – & it was a full class!  I always look forward to these Sunday sessions, I never know what projects are going to turn up (unless someone lets me know beforehand) so it’s quite interesting sometimes!  This month I knew a few things in advance so I could do a little planning!

clockwise from top left: houndstooth pencil skirt, renfrew underway, more renfrew, refashioning trousers into a skirt, toile for wrap over dress, chiffon blouse
clockwise from top left: houndstooth pencil skirt, Renfrew underway, more Renfrew, refashioning trousers into a skirt, toile for wrap over dress, chiffon blouse

My six “students” had a mix of stuff, some new projects & other unfinished items that had been lurking at the bottom of sewing boxes for a little while.  First off was a lovely cream & black floral chiffon that has given my student more than a few headaches.  It’s going to be beautiful when its done, but the Burda magazine instructions don’t help when she’s not got me for interpretation!  The blouse is a combination of this one from BurdaStyle 11/2012  and the version with the long neck tie.

One of the UFOs was a gorgeous black & white houndstooth pencil skirt with the most amazing lime green lining!  It had been started about a year ago & then abandoned in favour of soft furnishings for a new house.  Now that those are done my student is back to finishing this skirt.  I love the fabric!

Then there was a refashion of a pair of trousers into a skirt & when that was finished, the student moved onto a skirt toile.  I liked the fabric she was toiling in, a slubby purply-blue & black soft furnishing fabric!  It would have made a fabulous Bellatrix Blazer with black contrast lapel & welt.  (Bellatrix is still definitely on my brain!)

I also had a student making a pair of men’s trousers, self drafted.  He’s made a few of these now, each pair gets slightly altered as his confidence, ability & style becomes more definite.  I know his next pair will be part of a suit, so we’ll be having lots of toiles of jackets soon!

Men's tailored trousers - self drafted
Men’s tailored trousers – self drafted

Another pair of men’s trousers on the go was the Thread Theory Jedediah chino pattern.  My student had contacted me during the week regarding a good pair of guy’s trousers, & after I’d bought the Goldstream Peacoat I felt confident in recommending this pattern.  A toile was under way for those (to be made up in a fabulous burnt orange corduroy) as well as a toile for a self drafted wrap dress.

Last – but by no means least, was the student who went home with a huge smile on her face.  She had a new overlocker & was armed with the Sewaholic Renfrew & a couple of metres of a viscose jersey.  By the end of the day she’d conquered the overlocker & the pattern!  Reassured of the ease of the pattern, she says to look out for more of these being whipped up, which is music to my ears!

The magical Renfrew & a very happy lady  :)
The magical Renfrew & a very happy lady 🙂

We also talked loads about the Wardrobe Architect project & they all agreed it sounds really useful & interesting.  I think they’ll be downloading the questionnaires & delving more into Pinterest * Polyvore very soon…

I am going to chivvy these guys on during the rest of the month to ensure they get some sewing in before our next Sewing Sunday so I can see some finished projects & the beginnings of new stuff!  Spring is on its way, as are the sewing shows so we need to get some of that stash fabric busted in order to justify buying loads more…  🙂

On my sewing table this weekend

I can’t believe it’s another weekend & February is well on the move!  I have another blouse on the pattern table…  This Wardrobe Architect is already coming in really handy, my Pinterest board is pretty full of lovely goodies to copy inspire me & after last weeks post, I have now added Polyvore to my “this takes up all your time you should be spending sewing” problem that I only had with Pinterest up to now!  It’s such fun!

The blouse I’m working on is based on Deer & Doe’s Airelle.  No point in me buying the pattern, they don’t do my size & I really cannot be arsed to do all the adjustments that would be necessary to make it fit me.  I’m doing my own, but please, if you fit the sizing, go ahead & buy a copy, cause I think it’s rather cute.  There are loads of variations on tinternet.  I found this from Asos, & immediately thought of the Airelle.  So I am doing a combination pattern.

Asos blouse, has the bones of the Deer & Doe Airelle
Asos blouse, has the bones of the Deer & Doe Airelle

I love the tucks down the centre front, and also on the yoke.  I thought I’d use the tucked band as a concealed buttonband, rather than pull the thing over my head.  Here is what I was thinking during the week.

Sketch for my version of the Airelle & the Asos blouse
Sketch for my version of the Airelle & the Asos blouse

As you can see from the notes, I think I’ll be making this in a dark blue georgette from the stash.  The Sewcialists are sewing blue in February, a colour I adore so have no problem fullfilling this particular “challenge”.  I have been working on the pattern today & have only made one alteration.  I am not making the deep cuff, but sticking with the narrow sleeve band I’ve used for the previous two blouses.  All the pattern pieces are done, the pieces with the tucks gave me a small headache!

Working out the tucks for the button band
Working out the tucks for the button band

The toile is all cut out & ready, I’m going to get on with that on Monday.  I also have a “new” pattern for jeans/trousers to toile.  I say new in inverted commas because I have had it a while – 2 – maybe 3 years…  Not good.  It is the “Metropolitan Slouchy Trouser Jeans” from Hot Patterns, & I am really looking forward to how these turn out, because they are perfect according to my silhouette research on Polyvore & Pinterest!  🙂  If they are a success, that will be the Smarty Pants Challenge over at The Monthly Stitch sorted!

I just need to get them traced & toiled, I bought a new pair of curtains from the charity shop today for just that purpose!  Then I need fabric, I am on the hunt for a denim that’s more linen like, something that will enhance the floppy-ness of the style.  Happy Sunday sewing, I’m off to a gathering of my students (a full class this time!) in Alveston for our monthly class tomorrow.  So far I know there’ll be 2 pairs of guys trousers in the making, one wrap-over dress and a Renfrew.  Heaven knows what the others are going to spring on me, but I’m happy.  🙂

Make that another blouse – & more stashbusting!

Riding high on my success with the Jungle January blouse, I thought I’d dive straight in & make another while all was going well.  I used my Wardrobe Architect Pinterest board to decide what elements to combine, without going overboard.

One thing has become apparent over the last couple of weeks doing the Wardorbe Architect thingie.  I seem to be chanelling a bit of the 70s.  Not full-on retro stuff, but hints in the sleeves, bootcut or flared trousers & little jackets.  So while everyone else is looking to the glamour of the 50s & 40s – I have to pick the funky, glamourous 70s!  Now I am a 70s girl, but what I remember of the decade is definitely not stylish.  My mum dressed us kids in tartan trousers, turtlenecks, corduroys that got static & made the dried grass stick to them & pinafores in the winter.  I vaguely remember long dresses & floral prints for the summer, & a denim shirtdress??  No way I am going back to that, I prefer the idea of glamourous 70s!

Day 34 02-03

So with that in mind, the fabric for the new project is from my stash, a piece I bought in Cornwall last summer on holiday – because the first thing you do when looking for a place to stay is to Google “fabric shops in…”.  Right?  Along with various other pieces, I bought 3m of this polyester satin, large black dots on a cream ground – & I think it’s rather retro.  Normally I don’t buy polyester, but I could not resist these spots.  The Remnant House in Bude did well from that little excursion on a rainy day.

bishop sleeve blouse collage Going back to the bodice block, I traced off the front, added a 1.5cm buttonstand & 4cm wide grown on facing.  The hem was shaped like the Jungle blouse & the shoulder dart moved to the underarm.  The waist darts were eliminated & the side seam taken in an extra 1cm.  I think with this one though that I will sew a narrow dart, the fabric is so lovely & floppy but there needs to be a little more shape.

DSC07149-1On the back I measured a 12cm yoke & separated it from the rest of the pattern.  I drew a line up to the yoke seam line from the centre of the back dart positions, & cut up it to add 3cm of fullness to enable me to have gathers above the shoulder blades. This has worked out well.  One of the toiles I’d made for the jungle blouse had had a yoke, but I’d made it too high (only 8cm from the neck) & it didn’t sit right.  Again, the darts were eliminated, the side seam taken in an extra 1cm & the hem shaped.  I’m really happy with the back, so no adjustments needed there for the next time!

DSC07170-1The sleeves are my favourite bit!  🙂  I traced the pattern piece from the Jungle blouse, adding in the lines where I’d slashed & spread.  I cut up the centre of these lines on the front & back and added more!!  The back ended up with 10cm of fullness, the front with 6.  Then I widened the sleeve seems by 2cm on the back & 1 on the front, added 4cm to the length on the back and only 1 on the front.  This means that the back is fuller & longer & should have a fabulous hang when done.  And it does!  It is a bit of a bishop sleeve – to do it properly you should  go for full length with a deep cuff. Mmmm, I do love a bishop sleeve!  🙂  If you want to make your own, this is from Patternmaking for Fashion Design, by Helen Joseph-Armstrong.

DSC07165-1The collar is just a simple convertible collar, permanently disabled!  I never wear tops buttoned up to the neck so I placed the first button to have a decent “v” and an open collar.  I’ll make the stand & fall shallower next time, although it doesn’t bug me like this.  One thing that does bug me though is the front.  The rows of spots don’t line up across the front!  AARRGGHH!  The fabric must have slipped while I was on hands & knees pinning & measuring, & of course, I didn’t notice until it was too late!  I must remember not to look in the mirror – at least when its on I can’t see it!  Oh dear…

DSC07162-1Onto the stashbusting!  January was pretty good really.  I used some white linen that I’ve had for aaages to make a vintage jacket.  Bellatrix has scored really well with 4 stash fabrics used!  Woot!  I’ve decided to stick with my use 2, buy 1 from last year.  That means I get to buy 2 new pieces – if I need them..  Ha!  Who am I kidding, of course I NEED it!  Husband & I went up to Solihull on the weekend, he looking for lighting for the living room, me tagging along in the hopes of finding some goodies in the John Lewis sale.  As luck would have it, we both struck gold! I win though, because I managed to persuade him to buy my fabric!  I left clutching 4m of silk, two 2m lengths, & grinning like a Cheshire cat!  I’m-a-gonna make some fabulous blouses with these…

DSC07111I just need to decide on which details to cobble together from all the lovely images on my Pinterest board.  It may take a while.  😉

Positivity

Thank you for sending me positive words & vibes last week.  It’s funny how, when a negative thought takes hold (in January for me particularly) it’s really hard to shake it off – despite how many times I think, “snap out of it already!”  I can say I have made progress.  I am now in posession of a third bodice block & toile, and this one actually seems to work in all the right places!  When comparing it to the other two I cannot say it’s hugely different, so what made this work & the others not??  Heaven knows, ’cause I sure don’t!

How many bodice block toiles does a girl need???
How many toiles does a girl need???

Something else that’s looking up is the styling of my Jungle January make.  I have come across The Coletterie’s plan for the Wardrobe Architect earlier in the month & thought it looked interesting.  Quite frankly, this weekend it was downright necessary!  So I’ve signed up, downloaded the questions & done a little soul searching.  Now I’m not going to post my answers here, they aren’t that interesting, but they did make me think & I’ve realised that I was again trying to put myself into a place (clothes) that I didn’t belong.  I also read Tia Dia’s latest post & inspiration hit me like a thunderbolt when seeing her Jungle January outfit! I created a new Pinterest board & trawled thought my other pins looking for stuff I really liked et voila!  I am now back on track.

I have toiled my fashion cut & apart from a couple of alterations am pretty happy with it.  So today I am going to get sewing & hope to have something really “me” when I’m done.  I am really looking forward to having a new top & that leopard print viscose is so soft & drapey..

I leave you with something from artist Lisa Congdon who’s blog & sketch book entries are amazing & another free printable for your sewing space, click here to download it from the original site, & in various colours.

Sewing is Cheaper...Has anyone else decided to use the Wardrobe Architect to re-organise their wardrobe, or sewing for this year?  I have seen posts from Evie & Vikki so far.