Grainline Archer shirt

grainline archer shirt

This shirt has been a long time in the making (I started it in March) and I made ALL the mistakes during sewing it so the finished product is rather shonky. Luckily, shonkiness doesn’t stop me wearing things I’ve made – though I do have a tendency to point out the flaws to people who wouldn’t even notice.

So, what went wrong?

It was all going quite well until I got to the sleeves. I’d sewn the sleeve placket binding thingies and was pinning the sleeves to the armholes when I realised that I had pressed one of the bindings wrong. Instead of pressing them both to the inside I’d pressed one to the outside because the right and wrong side are really difficult to tell apart. There’s a little bit of stitching on the top of the binding on the inside to keep it in place so I put the shirt aside to unpick and redo that. Then it got warm so the shirt waited.

I picked it up again as the warm weather started to die down, fixed the placket and cracked on with setting the sleeves. I pinned the sleeves in place to sew and then realised* that I’d pinned them wrong side to right side. So I unpinned, repinned, sewed them both, overlocked them both and topstitched them both. Only then did I notice that my sleeve seams were on the outside.

Facepalm gif

*I now think that I hadn’t pinned them wrong the first time at all and just got myself mixed up because the side with the undercollar is actually the right side of the shirt.

It got put aside again for a bit because I was too frustrated to even attempt to fix it. I eventually decided on an – imperfect – fix and got to work unpicking. I removed the topstitching then sewed a line of stitching 1/4″ away from the original seam line to use as the first pass of a french seam. I unpicked the bits of overlocking that were on the wrong side of that stitching and then trimmed the seam down, unpicked the original seam and sewed a french seam.

This did mean that my sleeves are wrong side out (and I had to twizzle my sleeve plackets – again) but I don’t care. I don’t think it’s noticeable and this was only supposed to be a wearable toile anyway.

Grainline Archer button up shirt

Now I’ve shared my woes I suppose I should go back to the beginning. I find the shoulder on Grainline patterns really wide so I measured the shoulder on the Archer before cutting it out and compared it to my favourite oversized shirts from H&M. It was a full inch wider so I did a stonking big narrow shoulder shoulder adjustment.

I cut everything out on a single layer and I can honestly say I HATE cutting out plaid/check/tartan/whatever. I cut a bunch of pieces on the bias because I like the way it looks (and it avoids having to pattern match).

I’m holding the hem out like that because it seems to get all hitched up on my bum really easily. I thought there was more ease at the hip than this or I would have graded out. I’ve just checked the finished measurements and there are 2.5″ ease, which explains it a bit.

The sleeves and cuffs are both bigger than I like in a shirt. I actually moved the cuff button over by quite a bit because in the right place the cuff is way too big – it would probably fit around my, not insubstantial, upper arm. It’s a bit too wide for my preferences too. I looked at my RTW shirts and they’re a good 1/2″ or more narrower.

The buttons are recycled from an old shirt of the manfriend’s and I sewed them on BY MACHINE! Yes that needed to be shouted. I’d seen people rave about sewing buttons on by machine and I never trust my handsewn buttons – it’s not my strength – so I invested in a button sewing foot. I’m never looking back. It’s excellent. A bit nerve wracking at first, making sure that you’ve got the stitch width right. But I just used the handwheel until I was certain everything was lined up right.

I’ve sewn things with collars before but this was my first proper collar, with a collar stand. It went okay but I definitely need more practice. One side of the collar stand is a much better shape than the other… 

The details

Pattern: Grainline Archer shirt

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 46 (that’s for two views so it would be less if you wanted to figure out which pages to print for the view you wanted to make. I couldn’t be bothered and just printed the lot.)

Easy to put together?

I don’t know if I did something wrong when I was printing but it didn’t have a border and I’m sure previous Grainline patterns I’ve sewn have had a border box. I found it made it really difficult when trimming the pages and to know if I was lining things up correctly when assembling.

A0 file included?

Yes. (2 pages)

Measurements: Bust 39″ – Waist: 31″ – Hips 41″

Size made: 12

Alterations:

  • Narrowed the shoulder by 1″
  • Shortened the sleeve by 2″
  • Sewed an inverted box pleat on the back instead of a box pleat – I just prefer the way they look
  • Left the pockets off – but I may still add one

Fabric used: 1.75m cotton cranleigh tartan flannel from Plush Addict.

Another version?

Yes, I think so. 

Any changes next time?

Quite a few. I’ll pinch the tower placket from another pattern (Deer and Doe Melilot or Sewaholic Granville) and use that instead of the bound placket. I’ll slim the sleeves down, probably by as much as 2″. I’m also going to shorten and narrow the cuff .

The fit is possibly a little too boxy for what I wanted so I might add some curve at the waist. Though I’ll be adding some more room at the hip so maybe I’ll just add that first and see if that visually balances things out a bit. I can always take the waist in during sewing if I think it needs it.

I’m basically trying to recreate my favourite H&M shirts so I’m going to have a look at them and see what changes I need to make it more like them.

I think I’ll do a bias bound hem next time too. Oh and the interfacing I used was too heavy so I’ll use a much lighter one next time. If I interface at all as I don’t think the H&M shirts are interfaced.

Listing all the changes I want to make does make me think about whether I should just use a different pattern. Manju shared her Simpicity 8104 shirts recently and I really like the look of the fit on her so I might think about giving that a try.

Resources/tips I used: 

I’d always seen people rave about this collar insertion method so I didn’t even bother trying the method from the instructions.

I used pritt stick for sticking the inner collar stand down while I sewed it. It washes out and I didn’t find it gummed up my needle or anything. I’d tried fabric glue before and didn’t find it very sticky so when I saw Kelli from True Bias saying that she uses a normal washable glue stick I thought that was a great idea.

There are also some great tips in this post on Sarah’s blog – I saw this post after I’d already sewn the collar or I definitely would have used the tip about making a collar stand template (tip #8).

Final Thoughts

I’m really pleased that I’ve made myself a shirt and I’ll definitely wear this a lot even though it seems like all I’ve done is moan in this post. 

Another True Bias Southportish dress

I’ve been wearing my simplified maxi True Bias Southport dress a lot during this lovely weather we’ve had* this summer and it occurred to me that I never blogged it despite taking photos last year. A few snaps of it have made the odd appearance whenever I’ve mentioned my love of the Southport but I’ve never shared any details.

*Had being the operative word – at least in my little bit of the world. Me and the manfriend are going to Green Man festival next weekend so I’m hoping the sunshine comes back for that.

But anyway, back to my Southport dress.

This was one of my last minute makes before we went to Cyprus last year – I think I hemmed it the morning we were due to drive to Gatwick. It’s another Southport dress with all of the interesting Southport bits taken off. So I omitted the button band and cut the bodice on the fold, I left off the skirt slit and swapped the drawstring for an elastic waist. It’s a slightly more flared skirt too. I need to alter the skirt pattern piece really, I just swizzled the pattern pieces out while I was cutting out.

The fabric is a really nice feeling viscose I bought from Oh Sew Crafty. It’s a good quality viscose considering it’s super cheap – £4.20/m. It’s just that little bit more stable and nicer to work with than some of the other cheap viscose I’ve used. This colourway is sold out but they still have a tan version. I met up with the lovely @sewistella last weekend for coffee and a browse in Lee Mill Fabrics. They had a light background colourway of this fabric there and I was quite tempted but managed to resist. My willpower must have been particularly strong as I resisted loads of tempting fabric and only actually bought a pair of tassels to turn into earrings and some knicker elastic.

Back view of True Bias Southport dress

I didn’t have time for french seams so the seams are all overlocked, which made this a really quick sew. I did everything up to the hem in one evening session and then levelled the skirt hem and hemmed it the next day. The neckline and armholes are bound with self bias tape. I used my favourite binding method, which I think is called a french binding – what is it with me and french finishes? It’s the method where you fold the bias strip in half lengthways, sew both raw edges to the right side of your garment and then turn it all to the inside and stitch it down. Here’s a tutorial from Made by Rae.

The details

Pattern: True Bias Southport dress ish

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 51

A0 file included? No, only US copyshop

Measurements: At time of photos, Bust 39″ – Waist 32″ – Hips 41.5″ – Height 5’2″

Size made: 6, which is massively sized down. The finished bust measurement for the 6 is actually 38″ so I’m not entirely sure how I fit into the dress…

Alterations:

The same fit alterations I made to the bodice for my first version: I moved the shoulder seam forward by 2cm, raised the front neckline by about 1.5cm and shortened the skirt about 4″.

On this version did a small makeshift swayback adjustment as I was cutting the dress out by pivoting the bodice back pattern piece. I also tweaked the front shoulder seam to fix some neckline weirdness – I just cut a smidge off the front shoulder at the neckline, tapering to nothing at the shoulder point. I think this is a hollow chest adjustment.

In terms of style alterations:

  • I cut the bodice on the fold to omit the button band,
  • Made an elastic channel out of the waist seam instead of the drawstring channel, and
  • used a slit-less slashed and spread version of the skirt.

Fabric used: I think I used nearly 3m of 140cm wide viscose but I’ve got some quite big scraps leftover that I’m hoping to get a top out of.

Another version?

It wouldn’t be a shock. I think I might make a “Scoutport” next though, using the Grainline Scout tee for the top and the Southport skirt.

Any changes next time?

Maybe but I’m not sure what yet. Hopefully I’ll have lost some weight by then (I’ve been running 3-4 times a week) and I won’t need to make any fit changes. If I haven’t then I should probably add a bit of ease.

Me and the manfriend
This is my, “Mum, enough!” face as she gets a bit carried away with the continuous shooting mode on my camera.

Ooh, in Southport related news, Kelli has now released it as a paper pattern, which should be good news for any PDF haters who fancied the pattern.

I think that’s it from me for today. I’m probably going to disappear into my sewing room now and spend some time working on my Chi-town chino trousers. How about you, what’s on your sewing table at the moment? Are you still sewing summer clothes or have you started thinking about autumn yet? 

Megan Nielsen Flint Trousers

Hey there folks. How are you doing? Well I hope. I have one of those rarely seen beasts for you today – a finished garment post! I’m skipping my most recently made garment straight to the top of the blogging pile because I love them a little bit and have worn them nearly every day this week. I took these photos after a full day at work, which is why they’re so wrinkled.

Though looking at these photos is making me realise that my waistband fluff up is more noticeable than I thought. I switched the buttonholes and buttons around so that my buttons were hidden but I didn’t put them in the right place and the end of the waistband flaps about a bit. I do plan to sew a snap on the end but I haven’t done it yet.

There, flaw pointed out. Let’s get back to business. As the title says, they’re Megan Nielsen Flint trousers (I can’t bring myself to call them pants, sorry). I don’t think I’m ever going to get on board with the cropped trouser trend so I lengthened these to full length. I’m a shorty so I didn’t have to add much – I added 3″ and sewed a 2″ hem, not 2.5″ as in the pattern. I possibly could have added a smidge more length/taken a smaller hem to make them a bit more feet hidey but I was worried about them dragging on the floor.

They’re made with a lightweight chambray I bought from Oh Sew Crafty, which has led to me referring to them as my “Summer jeans”. I feel like they just go with everything. I had lots of compliments on them at work and got told I looked like I should be strolling about on the French Riviera in them. I’ll take that.

They look a bit like my bum is eating them in this back view but they don’t feel like they give me a wedgie at all. I may scoop the back crotch a little on my next version though, just to check.

In terms of the sewing everything went fine. I mostly followed the instructions but I did the waistband slightly differently. The instructions have you sew the waistband on (to the right side side) and then you have to press the inner seam allowance up before topstitching from the front to secure it. Instead I pressed the seam allowance up first (1/2″ instead of the 5/8″ in the pattern) without realising that it mattered which edge I pressed because of the notches being asymmetrical. So to make my notches match I had to sew the waist band to the wrong side, which I think I actually prefer because you know that you’re catching it all when you topstitch. I always have iffy bits when I stitch from the right side and hope that none of the seam allowance has escaped on the wrong side.

The details

Pattern: Megan Nielsen Flint shorts and pants

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 51

A0 file included? Yes, 3 pages.

How’s the PDF?

I got the A0 file printed so I can’t comment on how easy the tiled version is to assemble. The A0 version was fine but one whole page is taken up with un-nested waistbands for all sizes. If I was printing it again I think I’d be temped to skip that page and figure out which pages of the tiled version I needed to print for my size.

Measurements: Waist: 32″ Hips: 42″ Height: 5’2″

Size made: Large

Alterations:

  • Lengthened by 3″ to make full length trousers
  • Shortened the back rise by about an inch at the centre back, tapering to nothing at the side seams.
  • I also took the side seams and centre back in but I think that was because the waist had stretched out when I tried them on as the waistband still matched up in all the right places so I won’t adjust my pattern.
  • I swapped the buttons and buttonholes around (badly…)

Fabric used: 2m of 150cm wide cotton chambray from Oh Sew Crafty

Another version?

Yes I think so. Maybe a black or navy linen pair.

Any changes next time?

Yes. I’ll try a curved waistband instead of the straight one. I’m also toying with putting a fly front on them. That would kind of take away one of the selling points of the trousers but I actually enjoy sewing a fly zip.

Any tips or advice

Watch out for the waist stretching out. And if you do hidden buttons do a better job than I did.

Non-clueless versions:

Final Thoughts

I love my Flint pants (gag) and I think they’ve given me a bit of trouser sewing confidence. No crotch weirdness! That’s probably because of the fairly loose fit but it did make me wonder if I should give Megan Nielsen’s Ash jeans a go. Maybe this will be the year that I crack trousers!

Bits and Bobbins: April-June

Hey peeps, I hope you all had a lovely weekend and Monday has been gentle with you. Somehow another three months have whizzed by and it’s time for another quarterly round-up thingy. I’ve spent the whole three months trying to come up with a name for it and had nothing but The Stitch Rep (like sit-rep), which is a bit rubbish. So I put the Manfriend on the case and he just came up with bits and bobbins, which tickled me so I’ve gone with it.

Projects finished

I’ve been a wee bit more productive than last time so I’ve split this part into the months.

April

Just a Tilly and the Buttons Bibi skirt this month.

May

  • Scoop neck ballet tee – this has already become a firm favourite
  • Knit New Look 6217 tee – this was a bit of a wadder. I added a bit of ease as I was cutting it out and it turned out huge. It’s fine for bumming around the house but I’ll never wear it outside.
  • Striped pencil skirt – another new favourite. I think I need to alter the pattern slightly (shortening it between waist and hips) before making more but I’m still really happy with it.
  • Hey June Union St tee – I made a right pig’s ear of the v-neck but I don’t think non-sewers would notice.

June

  • Tilly and the Buttons Joni top – I don’t like this. I have a slight issue with Tilly and the Buttons patterns as I think because their target market is beginners certain things are done in the easiest way, rather than the best way. I don’t like the way the neckline is finished in this pattern and I know if I wear it I’d constantly be adjusting the twist as one side likes to try to turn under and the other side flips out. I’m going to see if my mum wants it as it’s purple, which she loves and her bigger boobs might pull the fabric more taught and stop some of these issues.
  • Sew Over It Eve wrap top(/toile) – This isn’t technically finished yet as I still need to add a waist tie but I’m still counting it. I made it with fabric leftover from this dress and I think it’ll look good with my striped pencil skirt.
  • Sew Over It Eve dress – I made this to wear to a wedding and for #sewtogetherforsummer and I love it.

Projects in waiting

It’s mostly the same ones as last time. These are the ones I hope to sew soon though.

  • Grainline Archer shirt – in progress, just sleeves, side seams, cuffs and buttonholes/buttons to go. So loads. Part of me wants to leave it until the autumn now as it’s flannel so I won’t get to wear it but I also want to check the fit so I can make a chambray version as I think that’ll make a great cover up for cooler summer evenings.
  • Red Ogden cami – I really want to get a wiggle on with this one because I made some fit adjustments and I need to know if they worked before I can make any more Ogdens (and I have a lot of Ogden sized scraps).
  • Named Kielo wrap dress – I’m making it out of this floral viscose jersey and I probably should have made my first one out of something I like less but the fabric I was going to use for a wearable toile turned out to be directional.
  • Chi-town chinos – I cut these out last year and still haven’t gotten round to sewing them yet.
  • Deer and Doe Reglisse dress – This has been in progress since last summer. I messed up the collar and put it on hold until I could face unpicking and redoing it. Then summer disappeared and I haven’t got back round to it yet.

Stashbusting stats

Fabric in (this quarter): 9.1 m
Fabric out (this quarter): 9.2 m
Stashbusted (this quarter): -0.1 m

I just squeaked in under the wire here when I cut my Kielo out on Wednesday. I hoped to get it sewn up as well to wear on Friday but I didn’t get time on Thursday night.

Fabric in (year to date): 20.1 m
Fabric out (year to date): 22.7 m
Stashbusted (year to date): -2.6 m

I may not have gotten rid of a lot of the stash but I’m really pleased with how little fabric I’ve bought so far this year. I’ve been making much more sensible purchases and I haven’t been swept away by pretties I have no immediate need for.

Pattern buying

I fell foul (afoul?) of the sales and bought a load of New Look and McCall’s patterns. The list is in the order I bought them.

Things I’ve liked

I bought some Heat n Bond Soft Stretch fusible hemming tape after seeing people rave about it on Instagram and it really is great for hemming knits.

This blog post isn’t from the last three months but I just rediscovered it in my Feedly saved posts. It’sa great post by Charlie of This blog is not for you about making our hobbies stressful, which is definitely something I cab be guilty of.

I can’t really think of any other sewing related things I’ve liked. Me and my hangover very much enjoyed Set It Up on Netflix this weekend though. I’m not generally much of a romcom gal anymore but I thoroughly enjoyed it – and think I would even if I wasn’t so delicate.

That’s probably enough list bombardment for one evening. I hope to be back with a finished garment post or two soon.

Me Made May 18: Thoughts, Stats and Graphs

Hey everyone. I hope you’re all having a nice week. I’m sitting in my sunny garden on my lunchbreak as I write this so everything feels pretty good at the moment. Nice weather makes such a difference doesn’t it?

Anyway, I’m here to get all navel gazey and introspective about Me Made May. Complete with graphs! God, I love a graph. Let’s just dive on in shall we?

How did I do?

I have mixed feelings about how I did this year. On the one hand I don’t really feel like I did that well. Because my pledge was only to wear me made when I left the house and I’m a strange hermit person I only participated on 19 days, which doesn’t feel like enough. But on the days where I did take part I wore a lot more Me Made than RTW. Excluding repeat wears I wore 21 different me made garments and 7 RTW garments.

I was just shy of my goal to wear completely me made for more than 50% of my outfits. I managed 9/19, which works out at 47.7%. So that’s not too bad really.

I do think that this year probably better reflects how I actually dress than last year. I didn’t repeat any outfits but I repeated more individual garments. If I hadn’t had a week off there probably would have been repeated outfits though. There were a couple of days where I wanted to put something on that I’d already worn but stopped myself. I must admit, I found thinking so much about what to wear quite draining and I was happy to just wear whatever I felt like on the 1st June.

What I wore

Graph time! Here’s what handmade clothes I wore by garment type. The blue is the number of times I wore that particular type of garment and the green column is the number of different garments.

I wore far fewer dresses this year and a lot more top. Knit tops was a gap I identified last year and I now have a couple of them, which got a fair bit of wear. I’ve also added two Ogden camis to my handmade wardrobe since last year and recently made some knit skirts (also identified as a gap last year) which seems to have given separates a boost over dresses. My handmade cardigan collection got a lot of wear too.

And the ready to wear graph:

The first thing that I see with this graph is how much less RTW I wore, which is good. I wear leggings quite a bit and I haven’t actually counted them in most of my stats but I put them on the graph. I don’t think I can be arsed to make leggings. Obviously, I have the Helen’s Closet Avery leggings as I’m a fangirl and if I ever stumble across suitable fabric I might make a pair but I don’t hate RTW leggings.

As with last year, the RTW trousers are jeans as I still haven’t made any. I just can’t seem to get anywhere with the fitting and I get so disheartened every time every time I try. I need to find some sort of real life jeans/trouser fitting course to go on I think, I just can’t seem to figure it out by myself.

Colours

I’ve had a little look at the colours I wore and I’ve made a pie chart of them.

That a lot of blue! No matter how hard I try to step away from the blue fabric and try other colours I just don’t seem to be able to do it. I just realised there should be a slither for red as well as I wore my red cardigan once.

Prints vs Solids

I counted up how many prints and solid coloured garments I wore and overall it was an exact 50-50 split with 14 of each (not including repeat wears). What I found more interesting was how differently solids and prints were split when between RTW and handmade.

As you can see, I wore faaar more handmade garments with prints than RTW garments with prints. That one print RTW garment is a striped t-shirt.

The split is more even with solids (43% RTW, 57% handmade). But if you look at RTW on it’s own 87% of the RTW garments I wore are solids. Which I think means that I have a wardrobe gap for handmade solid coloured garments.

Top 5 most worn garments

1. Wembley cardigan – 5 times
=2. Grey Blackwood cardigan,  – 3 times
=2. Aqua Blackwood cardigan – 3 times
=2. Winslow palazzo pants – 3 times
=5. Geometric print Ogden cami – twice
=5. Ballet tee – twice
=5. Scoop necked ballet tee – twice
=5. Pink blackwood cardigan – twice
=5. Bibi skirt – twice

I don’t think I’ve done that leaderboard correctly but I wore too many things 2 or 3 times, making it a right pain. I was shocked by the Wembley cardigan being the winner as I don’t really like it that much. It is really handy for spring/summer though as it’s nice and lightweight and goes with everything. I’ve got some white viscose jersey that is too thin for the t-shirt I intended it for so I might use that for a cropped Blackwood cardigan to have another option.

My favourite outfit

I’m torn between my Winslow culottes and scoop necked ballet tee and my knit pencil skirt with New Look 6096.

Instagram’s favourite outfit

Tilly and the buttons Bibi skirt with my ballet tee.
Tilly and the Buttons Bibi skirt

Most versatile garment

I don’t think I had a wardrobe MVP this year. Last year my Alex shirt dress was the clear winner (and what made me add this category) but nothing stands out this time.

Things I learned/random thoughts

I don’t find Me Made May easy. I saw a lot of people say that they wear me made everyday anyway and it was just the photos they would find hard. I’m lucky to have somewhere I can leave my tripod set up all month so the photos aren’t particularly hard. (Apart from some body image issues I was battling at the beginning of the month.) I don’t wear handmade every day though so Me Made May isn’t a case of business as usual for me. It’s effort and thought.

I don’t think I care about having a 100% handmade wardrobe. There are things I just don’t see the point in making and it was never my intention to make everything I wear. It’s not a practical goal for me as I’m not a prolific sewer and I’d rather concentrate on making things I can’t buy.

God, my wardrobe is dull. When you look at my MMMay outfits all at once, it’s just bland and dark. I wish it was brighter and more colourful. Alas, I just don’t think it ever really will be.

Why is there not more pretty viscose jersey available in the UK? You can get some awesome woven viscose fabric but you see very little exciting viscose jersey.

I really want some pink trousers. Not that I think I’d wear pink trousers but I saw loads of awesome ones on Instagram during Me Made May it made me think I want some. I even ordered pink linen swatches but I haven’t succumbed to ordering any. I may think about a pink linen skirt instead, it’s less of a fabric commitment.

Over the last few years I’ve very much gravitated towards the skinny jean/trouser with a loose top silhouette. I think it’s time for a change. My two favourite outfits this month are both a bit more fitted. The pencil skirt outfit more so but even though the top I’m wearing with the palazzo pants is floaty it looks more fitted in that outfit. Maybe I need to make some more fitted tops for tucking into things.

Gaps and conclusion

I don’t think I really identified any huge gaps. The only thing I’ve pushed to (near) the top of the sewing queue is another pair of Winslow culottes. Oh and I really need to replace my red waterfall cardigan. I’d like to make some more colourful things – that aren’t blue – but I also want to sew my stash so I’m limited there. I also want some white tops to wear with patterned and colourful bottoms. I’ve got a few metres of white viscose in the stash that I intend to turn into an Ogden cami, a tie waist SOI Penny dress hack and some other top I haven’t chosen yet.

I spent some time over the month thinking about the handmade clothes I have but don’t wear and why that might be. More importantly, what I could possibly do to fix it. I’m thinking of turning this BHL Anna maxi dress into a skirt, harvesting the skirt fabric from this BHL Flora for a top and I’m definitely cutting this New Look 6096 into a top.

All in all I think this was a successful Me Made May. I find it really interesting to look at what I wore and I’m thinking about doing it again in a cooler month.

Four year blog anniversary and my sewing story

WordPress told me it was my anniversary a couple of weeks ago but this is the date I published my first post so this is what I’m calling my blog anniversary. Or blogiversary if you prefer.

I started my blog not long after I started sewing so I thought it might be a nice way to celebrate four years of the blog by writing a little post about my sewing story.

Unlike a lot of people in the sewing community I didn’t grow up in a crafty household and I certainly didn’t learn to sew as a child. We were given a sewing machine once but none of us could thread it so I think it got given away. I’ve found out since I started sewing that my granddad sewed and made clothes for my nan and my aunties, which I think is just lovely.

He made those dresses

The women on that side of the family are also excellent knitters. I had some great jumpers that my mum’s Auntie Mabel knitted me and a knitted Worzel Gummidge, complete with a tiny mouse in his hat. Apparently my granddad’s mum also used to knit samples for knitting pattern covers.

But that’s an aside. All that craftiness just seemed to skip my mum. I tried to teach her to knit once and it was one of the most frustrating experiences. If I needed anything hemmed or a button replaced, that was always my dad’s job.

The most sewing I’d done before my 30s was sewing big triangles cut out from a t-shirt into the side seams of a pair of cords to turn them into big ass flares. I did it all by hand with a simple running stitch (I didn’t know there were other stitches) and I am still AMAZED they didn’t fall apart in the washing machine. I also once tacked black circles onto a red top to dress up as a ladybird for a fancy dress night out. Me and my friends did a lot of fancy dress nights out in my 20s so I could bore you with lots more grainy old photos like this but I generally used fabric glue and wonder web for my creations so I didn’t think I could count them. (You can see some on Instagram here)

I then got myself a boyfriend who could sew, which was ever so handy. He repaired things for me and he even made me a bedding set for my birthday. I had a thing for cow print back then and he made it out of cow print satin. I still have it even though it’s for a double bed and I’ve always had a king size so I’ve never actually used it. But still. It was a handmade gift and it would feel wrong to get rid of it even though it feels sort of weird to keep presents from an ex.

It was actually my friend reminding me how gutted I was to not have someone to do my sewing for me when he and I broke up that made me think about writing this post.

After that I thought about learning to sew a lot but I thought I’d be rubbish at it. The only time I’d used a sewing machine was in one technology lesson when I was about 12 and we used an unthreaded machine to punch holes in paper with different shaped lines printed on it. I’m also very faddy and have abandoned many, many hobbies in my time. I was worried that I’d buy a sewing machine for it to just gather dust.

So I just talked about how much I’d like to have a go for ages. Years. I nearly bought a sewing machine so many times. I once pleaded with my mum to buy me one from Lidl and I’d pay her back (I was buying a house and was trying to keep my bank accounts and credit looking good). She wouldn’t. She has seen the fads first hand…

I then stumbled upon sewing blogs. I can’t quite remember how but I think it started with Sarah of A Million dresses. Who is technically a lifestyle blogger but when I found her blog she’d just spent a day learning how to sew a dress. Which made me think dressmaking must be loads easier than I thought if you can learn how in a day. Then through Sarah’s blog I found Roisin aka Dolly Clackett and binge read most of her blog. Falling more and more in love with all of her beautiful dresses. That was exactly the sort of thing I wanted to make.

From there it was a short jump to all the other “famous” sewing blogs, including Tilly and the Buttons. I spent hours reading all of Tilly’s beginner sewing guides and convinced myself I could do it. So in March 2014 I used some of my house deposit savings to buy myself a basic sewing machine. The rest as they say is history.

I made an envelope back cushion cover as my first project, which I still have.

Bonus Poppy

Next came an elasticated waist skirt. I followed one of the may online tutorials and I was so proud of myself when I finished. It has cartoon raccoons on it and I’ve worn it approximately three times. Turns out, I hate elasticated waist skirts. I also still have that somewhere and I’ve thought about trying to refashion it into something I will actually wear.

From there I dived into sewing real patterns. I find the best way to learn how to do something is to have a go at doing it. I learned so much from my first few projects. Mostly that fitting is really hard.

The rest of my sewing journey is here on the blog and I love that I started it so early in my sewing. It means I can see just how much I’ve improved and learned over the years. And just how much my focus has changed. I don’t think at the start I’d even considered making anything other than woven fit and flare dresses. I can’t remember the last one of those I made. They’re just not something that I actually wear.

But anyway, that is how I got started sewing. I hope you haven’t been bored silly by this long, rambling post. Have a great weekend folks. And here’s to the next four years of blogging.

Me Made May 18: The finish line

And just like that, it was over. I might manage to make it to work on time now… Spoiler: I won’t.

This post is just going to be another round-up of the things I wore for the second half of the month and then I’ll write up a Stat Attack post (with graphs, obvs).

Here come the outfit photos.

16th – Jeans and Ballet tee

It was a work from home day but I was expecting a parcel so I put clothes on. I didn’t take a photo though. The top was another Ballet dress tee but I managed to get a grease mark on it so I only really wear it around the house.

17th – Anemone skirt, Southport tank and Blackwood cardigan

I don’t think I’ve worn this skirt since last Me Made May. I like it but it fits a bit strangely. When I was thinner it would twist around and now I’m bigger it seems to lift up so I can’t seem to win. I may just not be a skirt person. Though, I wore a knit pencil skirt I really like today so maybe I am.

18th – Jeans, off the shoulder Scout tee and Blackwood cardigan


This top isn’t very comfortable. I think I cut the elastic too short so it pulls up and the sleeve sleeves dig into my armpits. I need to unpick and alter it but I’m rubbish for avoiding alterations.

19th – Winslow culottes, RTW tank and Wembley cardigan


A nice, breezy outfit for afternoon tea at the Manfriend’s parents’ house. I really love this top. It’s made an appearance every Me Made May I’ve taken part in.

20th – Nothing

I wore my favourite too casual for outside the house shorts for lounging in the garden.

21st – Bibi skirt, Ogden cami and Wembley cardigan

Two repeated garments but in a different combination. This is when I started trying to mix up my poses a bit. I was having a dance in this one..

22nd – Winslow culottes and scoop necked ballet tee


I really love this outfit. I really need to make myself a solid coloured pair of Winslow palazzo pants. Or shorter ones for warmer days. They’re the perfect thing to wear to avoid chub rub but still get to be cool.

23rd – Blue Southport dress and Wembley cardigan

This dress is a nice one to wear when it’s warm as it’s so light and floaty.

24th – RTW trousers, Ballet tee and Blackwood cardigan


The sun disappeared so I dressed drably to match the weather. I really like these RTW trousers. Well the whole outfit really even if it isn’t exactly exciting.

25th – Jeans, New Look 6217 and rtw cardigan


I really, really need to make a replacement for this cardigan. It has several holes in, paint on it and I still wear it.

26th-28th – Bimbling clothes

I had a super lazy long weekend so I was mainly in shorts or joggers. I tried to work my way through some of the crap on the Sky box (Aled was out) and did a bit of sewing – finished off a Union St tee and started work on an unseasonal flannel Archer shirt. Then I got sucked into his hangover sofa time the next day and we watched some dreadful stuff on Netlfix, it was fabulous.

29th – SOI Penny dress

I was trying to show just how fabulously swishy the Penny dress skirt is. Sew Over It shared my picture on their stories too, which was exciting.

30th – Loungewear

Work from home day so I spent it in yoga pants, a PJ vest top and that red cardigan I love but should bin.

31st – knit pencil skirt, New Look 6096 and Wembley cardi

And it’s the final day. My skirt is ponte and I drafted it myself, if you can call it that as there’s not proper drafting involved. I pretty much followed this method from Maria Denmark but I skipped the removing 4cm step and just didn’t add any seam allowance, which basically does the same thing.I also stitched in the ditch at the side seams to secure the elastic under instead of topstitching. My top is my New Look 6096 dress. I rarely wear it these days as it’s a bit too short so I’m going to cut it into a top as I really like how it looks here. A top version of it would probably be a good scrap buster too.

I was really getting into my stride with the photoshoots but I’m looking forward to not having to think so hard about what to wear tomorrow morning. If it’s clean and fits, it’ll do. Hope you all had an enjoyable Me Made May if you took part and learned things about your sewing and wardrobe.

Me Made May 18: The halfway point

Hey there folks. Hope you’re having a nice week. I have Me Made May halfway point recap and navel gazing post for you today. Apologies to those of you who follow me on Instagram and have seen all of these photos before.

So, this month I have worn:

1st – nothing me made

And we’re off to a strong start. This was a decorating day, so I was in paint covered clothes for most of it.

2nd – jeans, blue and white striped tee with blue Blackwood


This was only put on briefly to pop to my mum’s house to collect her step ladder to do the cutting in portion of painting.

3rd – jeans, black scoop neck ballet tee

Me and a very scruffy miniature schnauzer
I properly left the house! I went to Ikea for some new sewing room bits and pieces. I’ve manged to drag out this sewing room refurb for far too long. I’m still not finished but I’ve only got the woodwork left to paint. I’d hoped to do in the evenings after work this week but it will probably get left until the weekend.

Anyway, I wore RTW jeans and a freshly sewn t-shirt (I have a sewing station set up on the dining table). I made it using my t-shirt pattern hacked from the Dixie DIY Ballet dress pattern. (Very simply, by tracing the shoulders and armhole and then pivoting the bodice out slightly to give a bit more room at the bust but to still be fairly fitted and then flaring the side seams out below the bust and over the hips.) But while I was cutting the t’shirt out I overlaid the Southport dress bodice and copied the scoop neck from it onto the t-shirt.

I think I made the neckline a smidge too wide and I probably should have made the neckband a tiny bit shorter to keep things a bit more snug but I still really like the t-shirt. It’s still unhemmed in the photo because I was still sewing it while my mum was on her way to pick me up. Well, and my cover stitch is trapped in the spare room behind the contents of my sewing room.

4th-7th – Nothing Me Made

I was living my best #hermitlife so I spent a fair bit of time in my favourite oversized men’s* jogging bottoms (the best PJs). I also got my first period in over a year (I have PCOS), so I spent a couple of days on the sofa with a hot water bottle feeling sorry for myself. Particularly as one of those days was the hottest day of the year. I found myself reaching for a RTW oversized flannel shirt I have on those days for some reason. I have a flannel Archer already cut out because I already knew I love a flannel shirt.

While I was in my self-pity sofa nest I bingewatched the two seasons of Project Runway that are on Netflix and fell in love with it. Does anyone know if there’s anywhere I can watch the rest?

*Should that have an apostrophe and have I put it in the right place??

8th – Ballet tee dress and grey blackwood cardigan


My first working day of Me Made May. Yaay…. I went for a comfy outfit to ease myself back into work. I love this dress. It’s just a t-shirt dress but the metallic flowers on the fabric make it feel that little bit fancier.

9th – Ogden cami, jeans and navy cardigan


I work from home on Wednesdays so don’t usually get properly dressed but we went to the cinema in the evening so I had to. I love my two Ogden camis and have plans for several more. This one was from the leftover fabric from a Sew Over It Penny dress and I may cut one out of the leftovers from my first Penny dress too.

10th – Winslow culottes, cream lace top and pink Blackwood

Today was a Helen’s Closet lovefest with both Winslow culottes and a Blackwood cardigan. The top is RTW and it is past it’s best so I’d quite like to make something similar to replace it. I find lace really tricky to buy though as I’d like to feel it first and I don’t really go many real life fabric shops.

11th – Jeans, Ogden cami and Blackwood cardi

My other Ogden cami and my most worn Blackwood cardigan. I love these two together.

12th & 13th – Nowt

I did technically go out as I went for a run but I don’t count that because I have plenty of activewear that fits me fine so I don’t need to try to make any. Plus, I don’t have expensive tastes with exercise clothes so it would be waaaay more expensive for me to make it than it is to buy it. I did buy the Avery leggings pattern though but more with regular clothes leggings in mind.

14th – SOI Penny dress and cropped Blackwood cardigan

The weather at the beginning of the week was beautiful here so out came the summery clothes. I really love this cardi with this dress

15th – Bibi skirt and Ballet tee

And yesterday I wore my Bibi skirt from Tilly and the Button’s latest book and my first Ballet tee. The skirt is another thing that’s still unhemmed. Though it is fused in place with Heat n Bond Soft Stretch hemming tape that I bought after seeing people rave about it on Instagram. It seems to work really well and still has plenty of stretch. I’m looking forward to seeing if it makes the coverstitching easier.

This has hands down been my most popular outfit on Instagram. Which is funny because it’s the one I’ve felt least comfortable in.

How’s it going?

Slightly better than expected. Because I’ve gained weight loads of my me made clothes don’t really fit me anymore. I think I’m going to have to do more repeats this year than last but that’s okay. I’ll try to style things differently if I can but the point of Me Made May for me is to reflect my actual wardrobe so I don’t mind a few repeats.

Spotted any gaps?

I have a pair of knit shorts I’ve had since 2004 that are my favourite thing to bimble around the house and garden in when it’s warm. I cant think what you’d call them, they’re just a loose fitting jersey short with an elasticated waist and contrast binding. Any sort of loose or flowy knit shorts would probably fill the gap. I also used to have a pair of jersey culotte* style shorts that I love for warm weather but I outgrew them. (*To me, culottes means shorts that look like a skirt. Not wide legged cropped pants.)

The main other thing I’ve noticed is that I could do with more solid coloured makes. I’d like some white or cream tops to go with my patterned bottoms. I have a few metres of white viscose in the stash that I’d like to make a couple of tops from. I’ve also got a couple of black knit tops in progress that I was batch sewing with the scoop necked ballet tee.

Other than that it’s just trousers and jeans. Which I keep saying I’m going to make and never do. Fitting is hard.

Learned anything else?

It wasn’t part of my pledge but I wanted to try to think more about the me mades I don’t wear this month and see if there’s anything I can do to fix that. I have a couple of dresses that I don’t really wear because they’re a bit too short so I’m thinking of cutting them into tops and rehemming them. I have a pair of Winslow culottes (palazzo pants version) that are too small that I thought about using Helen’s elastic back hack on. The neckline of my pineapple Scout has also frayed and I think the fabric is too delicate for a binding really so I’m thinking of chopping the shoulders off and making it into an off the shoulder top. I still have leftover fabric so I thought I could sew on a shirred band as I’ve seen a few RTW tops like that recently.

I haven’t had any epiphanies yet but there’s still time.

Right, that’s enough waffle from me. I hope you’re all having a great Me Made May if you’re taking part.

Me Made May 18: The Pledge

Last year's Me Made outfits
Last year’s Me Made outfits

Well April has sneaked away and tomorrow is the start of Me Made May. How did that happen? Last year’s Me Made May feels like it was only just here!

If you’ve not heard of Me Made May, it is a challenge devised by Zoe from So, Zo… what do you know? to get people who make their own clothes to wear and love them more. There are as many ways to take part in Me Made May as there are people who take part. The sign-up post on Zoe’s blog has loads of different ideas.

The pledge I made last year of wearing at least one handmade item every time I left the house worked quite well for me. Like I said back then I have no desire to make loungewear so it’d be hard for me to manage an every day pledge. So this year’s challenge is to choose a pledge that is just that little bit harder.

This is what I’ve come up with:

I, Leigh aka @cluelessleigh of Clueless Seamstress, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’18. I will endeavour to wear at least 1 handmade item every day I leave the house for the duration of May 2018 with at least 50% of my outfits being completely handmade – bar shoes and underwear and that.

Aiming for at least half of my outfits being completely me made seems like a good challenge. My dresses and cardigans will be a help, but it’s my lack of trousers etc that could let me down. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

I’m off work this week but I’m planning to spend most of it inside, finishing off decorating my sewing room and generally pottering about. The only outside activity I have planned is a trip to Ikea. (Strange hermit person for lyfe) So my outfit posts might be sparse at the beginning of the month. I’ll be sharing photos on Instagram and a couple of round up posts on here. Then of course there will be a big nerdy graph post after May.

Anyway, that’s my pledge. Good luck fellow Me Made May-ers.

Christmas presents I made last year

Happy Wednesday folks. Hope you’re all having a nice week. I have one of those rare beasts for you today: a finished garment post! Not a proper one though as I still can’t find the mojo to take photos of myself these days. I don’t know how I’m going to cope with Me Made May! I realised I didn’t share any photos of the things I made for Christmas presents last year, which is daft as I made a point of taking a few snaps before wrapping things.

I made myself a promise after getting myself stressed and miserable the previous year that I wouldn’t make any Christmas presents in December. I didn’t really stick to my promise but I did get everything finished by mid December, which is progress.

Helen’s Closet Suki Kimono

Helen's Closet Suki Kimono

I don’t really wear a dressing gown apart from a ratty old towelling one that I put on when I get out of the shower but the Helen’s Closet fan girl in me still wanted to make a Suki kimono. So my nan got one for Christmas.

It’s another fab pattern, with great instructions and lovely touches. I particularly like the hanging loop and the fact that the ties are sewn on so you can’t lose them. There are two sets of instructions for certain parts – the neckband and the cuffs – depending on whether or not you want your seams enclosed. I chose to enclose them and I used French seams for a nice finish.

Dinosaur tail

A couple of years ago I made my cousin’s little boy a dinosaur tail for Christmas. So when I found out that their little girl likes dinosaurs too (I don’t think big brother gives her much choice) I thought it’d be nice to make her a little tail too. I was sent a lovely photo of the two of them in their tails and apparently she’s been accepted into Clan dinosaur. ETA: There’s a good tutorial on how to make a tail here: http://www.running-w-scissors.com/2011/03/dinosaur-tails.html.

Dinosaur hoody

  

And this hoody is for my cousin’s little boy to go with the dinosaur tail I made him previously. I cut it out the Christmas before last but ran out of time to sew it so I don’t know if it actually fits. I think my mum said she’s seen a photo of him in it but I haven’t. Hopefully he can least hang it from his head as a cape.

Sew Over It Alex shirt dress


Not the best photo and the dress doesn’t actually look that good on her here. I’m sure it looks nicer in real life but she looks a bit swamped in fabric around the shoulders and arms here. I’ll get more photos eventually and I might need to offer to take it in a bit. It is supposed to have a dropped shoulder but they look like they’re hanging a good 2-3″ off Mum’s shoulder.

Christmas cakes

  

Every year I make my mum and nan a Christmas cake each and I curse myself so much for making a rod for my own back every time. My royal icing skills aren’t the best and these looked way better in my head but I’m still pretty pleased with them.

And that’s the lot. I tried not to go too nuts with the plans this time. I think I’m going to try to phase out the handmade gifts from now on though. It’s a lot of unnecessary pressure to put on myself at one of the most stressful time of the year. Maybe I need a “only make things I can’t buy” rule. How about you, do you make handmade gifts? Do you plan 23 different gifts and then only end up making 8?