cluelessleigh

Catch-up Chit chat

Hey there peeps! Long time no speak. I started writing a catch-up post at the beginning of lockdown here in the UK but I found it so hard to find the right words that it got abandoned. I still don’t know the right words but I’m trying again anyway as I miss writing here.

I hope you’re all safe and well. I won’t go into the pandemic much because I’d be in danger of writing an essay. I’m very lucky and haven’t been been affected that badly. I’m lucky to have a job where I can work from home, none of my friends or family have caught Covid and I’m an introvert so staying home hasn’t been too hard for me.

The hardest part of lockdown for me was not seeing my mum at the beginning. I’m lucky that she lives close enough that now we’re allowed to have extended households here in Wales I can see her again – more than before probably!

I’ve been working from home for 6 months now and my work have massively embraced it. Like a lot of places they are going to adopt it on a longer term basis and as soon as we can get our of our lease on our office they will.

So I got a dog!

Meet Ivy

I’ve been desperate for a dog for a long time but as we both work full-time too far from home to call in during the day we’ve never got one. So working from home means I’m finally able to. The ex-partner of a friend of mine who passed away late last year had a litter of springer spaniels from their dog and it seemed like really good timing and a nice way to remember her.

She’s named after Ivy the Terrible from the Beano, which I loved as a child. But she’s also Ivy League when she’s a good girl. I’m hoping she’ll be a good running buddy when she’s old enough to go running. At the moment we’re sticking to the 5 minutes per month of their age rule so we can only go for 20 minute walks, which is quite hard to stick to!

The pandemic hasn’t been great for my anxiety and I’d become pretty agoraphobic so having a reason to go outside has been so good for me. Having a puppy also means people talk to you, which will be good for me too even if my social skills have gotten even worse than before!

But this is a sewing blog

In terms of sewing, I haven’t done a lot. I did a bit back in March and April but it tailed off. I made:

And I have these in progress:

The future

The manfriend and I made it official at the beginning of March so at some point there will be a wedding dress to make but who knows when with things the way they are.

I’m not really a big wedding person so I have suggested to him that we just get married now as soon as we can get a slot and then do the party part when we can as it may be years away and I want to be married to him now.

At the moment you can have up to 30 people at a wedding here but who knows how long that will last. I’ve already started mentally planning my “legal wedding” dress though… I’ve got 2.3m of midnight blue silk crepe de chine in my stash that I’d make either a tea dress or a wrap dress with.

We’ll see. But whatever dress I make at whatever point I’ll be sure to blog about it. Promise!

Other Sewing Plans

I haven’t done much sewing since we got Ivy at the beginning of June because she’s really clingy but also really naughty so I can’t go in the sewing room or she’d eat anything she found on the floor, which would undoubtedly include pins and pattern pieces as I’m not a tidy sewer. So I can only really sew when the manfriend is home and that’s usually when I’m either knackered or want to hang out with him rather than disappear upstairs. I have managed to snatch a bit of sewing time recently though, which has been nice.

As always I have plans coming out of my eyeballs. I’ve continued doing the wear log I mentioned at the beginning of the year so that has made me a lot more aware of what I’ve been choosing to wear most. Basically my stretchiest jeans, t-shirts and Blackwood cardigans. Which isn’t very inspired.

So I’d like to build up more comfortable clothes that look a bit nicer. Or even just more of the same to have more options to choose from. I bought the Deer and Doe Dressed ebook to help me plan a sort of WFH capsule wardrobe but I’ve got a bit stalled at the moodboard stage. I definitely see more elasticated trousers in my future though. I’ve really liked the look of the Pietra pants for ages but I didn’t want to support Closet Core Patterns. I had googled dupes of the pattern and even scoured the Burda site but I couldn’t find anything I liked as much so I caved. I’ve got a Style Arc pattern that’s elasticated at just the back to try too.

I’d also like some more comfy dresses. A surprise hit for me has been a fitted jersey dress my mum gave me a while back because it was too small for her. I have the Deer and Doe Givre pattern but haven’t made it because I thought I’d be too self conscious in it but it’s very similar to the dress so I plan to give that a go.

Other stuff

I’ve done some different crafting and I took a couple of paper flower making Zoom workshops. I took a sunflower one a shrub rose one and I really enjoyed them both. It was so nice to try a different craft and I love the flowers I made. I’ve signed up to the new kit subscription too.

I don’t really have anything else to report. It feels like my life revolves around the puppy these days – my camera roll certainly does! I’m also really busy at work so after I’ve finished and taken Ivy out all I want to do is vegetate.

But I’m healthy, happy and just wanted to check in with you guys. Take care everyone!

Sew Over It Alex Shirtdress

Howdy folks! I actually have a finished garment post! Gasp!

My lack of proper blogging over the last couple of years means that I have a massive backlog of finished projects to share.

I asked on Instagram last week if people would like me to blog about the finished garments that I haven’t done a proper blog photo shoot of but have a couple of photos of from Outfit of the Day type photos. And people mostly said yes so I’m going to start trying to get through my backlog.

Though today’s post actually has proper photos that I took ages ago but didn’t do anything with. You can tell how old the photos are from how long my hair is. I think I’ve chopped it all off twice since then!

Please excuse the fact that the dress is wrinkled to hell and back. These photos were taken after a day at work and this fabric is very wrinkle prone. You expect less wrinkling from polyester!

I originally bought this fabric to make an epic circle maxi skirt to wear to a wedding but I didn’t check the width and it was too narrow. So I made a pair of Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes palazzo pants instead. They turned out to be perfect for the wedding and meant I had lots of fabric left over. Enter Alex.

I absolutely love the colour of this fabric. It’s my dream green. Green is my favourite colour and it’s surprisingly difficult to find green fabric I like.

I made this dress such a long time ago – 2017 I think – that it’s hard to remember anything useful to say. Apart from the sizing stuff, which is all down the bottom of the post. I seem to remember that the fabric was a bit of a nightmare. It didn’t press well and it frays as soon as you look at it. I struggled to get my sewing machine tension right too.

I used French seams throughout and I bias faced the hemline with the same fabric as the dress.

I did make a self fabric tie but I don’t ever seem to wear it with it. I usually pair it with this tan belt or a silver one I have. I have thought about wearing it unbelted but it’s just a little too sack like. Here it is unbelted:

This photo also highlights the drag lines I get from my bust to my hips. I get these a lot and if after nearly six years of sewing I still don’t fully understand why or what I need to do to fix them. I feel like it means I need a dart but I’m not sure the best way to go about adding one.

In this blog post about the Archer shirt, Siobhan mentions that she lengthened the whole centre front by the amount she was taking out of the side seam with the dart. That makes sense to me and means that you don’t have to faff about shortening the back. So I might give that a go before making this again or the next time I spot the problem.

The details

Pattern: Alex shirtdress from the Sew Over It City Break eBook

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 40

A0 file included? Yes

Measurements: Somewhere around 38.5″ – 31.5″ – 41.5″ at time of photos

Size made: 10 (this is 2 sizes down from the suggested size)

Size range: Bust 33″- 45″, Waist 26″-38″, Hip 36″-48″ (Though there is 8″ ease at the bust, 17″ at the waist and 10″ at the hips so you may be okay if you’re just out of the size range.)

Alterations

Shortened 2″ around waist and 4″ on skirt part so 6″ in total.

Fabric used

Poly crepe from Minerva Crafts. I don’t know how much sorry because I cut most pieces from the offcuts from my palazzo pants rather than actual yardage (I know we buy fabric in metres here but but metreage isn’t a word and meterage means something else, plus yardage just sounds better anyway)

Another version?

Maybe. I have a New Look shirt dress pattern (6449) I’d like to try first.

Any changes next time?

I’d do what I mentioned about adding a bust dart. I’d add a bit of the length back to the skirt as it’s a wee bit skimpy without tights or leggings. There’s probably something to be done around the shoulders and back to improve the fit too.

Any tips or advice 

There was an error with the sleeve tab in the version of the pattern I used but I downloaded the copyshop versions of the patterns when they released them and it had been fixed in that version. So if you downloaded the pattern as soon as the eBook came out like I did I’d download the pattern again. I think half of the tab had been left off.

Final Thoughts

I really love this dress in theory. It’s a lovely colour, it’s super versatile as I can wear it as a top as well as as a dress.

This photo makes me miss that hair colour.

But sadly the fabric makes it a little difficult to wear. It’s thin so it’s better suited to warmer weather but it’s also polyester so the lack of breathability means it not the nicest to wear when it’s warm. That means it doesn’t get worn as often as I’d like.

I still consider it a successful project but I think I need to keep my eyes peeled for a better fabric match.

2019 in review

As promised I’m here to nerd out at you with my annual (biannual if you include Me Made May) Stat Attack.

I made 18 garments in 2019. That’s the least sewing I’ve done (or fewest completed garments at least) since 2015.

I think the main reason is that at the beginning of the year I was having a really tough time with my mental health. I had a terrible manager at work and I was really struggling because of him.

Fortunately he left in the summer and it made a huge difference. I have a much nicer big boss now (my little boss has always been the same and she’s great) who actually treats his staff with respect and trust. Work has been bananas in general this year though. I have been so busy, which I actually prefer and have so much more job satisfaction. It’s just been very tiring so I haven’t wanted to come home and bend over cutting things out or be shut away from the Manfriend sewing. I just want to sit on the sofa and decompress.

I know some people find that sewing offers that decompression and it does for me too, once I get going. It’s the getting going that is the problem.

Anyway, that’s why I haven’t really sewn that much this year and a lot of the sewing I have done has been a lot of quick win easy stuff. I also (just remembered) that I did a three month career development programme at the end of the year. It came with quite a bit of homework so a lot of my evenings and weekends that would normally have been spent sewing were spent doing assignments and elearning.

What I made

The graph below shows what garment types I made. I included the usual categories even though they’re empty.

graph showing what I made by garment type

Not a very varied year this year. This ties in to what I said at the beginning of the post about quick, easy sewing projects. I was and still am in desperate need of tops though. I’ve made lots of dresses over the years but I wear jeans and a top far more than the dresses. So 13 tops is a good result.

Here’s the graph from earlier split into garment types for no real reason other than I got carried away and I enjoy the rainbow colours. There are no real trends that I can see. I have sewn fewer dresses the last two years but I don’t know that that’s something that will continue.

I’ve included a table of this one too because it was really hard to put in the alt text.

201420152016201720182019
Skirts312152
Tops251011813
Dresses76101083
Shorts/culottes100110
Trousers013020
Cardigans022720
Jackets000200
Other020200

Knits vs woven

It was a very heavily knit biased year this year because they’re quick, easy and they’re what I’m most in need of in my wardrobe.

Here’s the overall breakdown:

pie chart showing knits vs woven, there is only a very small wedge of woven
2 woven garments to 16 knit garments

And here you can see it split into garment types:

I only made two woven things and they were both Deer and Doe Melilot shirts. I really enjoy the process of sewing shirts. They’re a great thing to make in small time slots as there are lots of little steps so you feel like you achieve something each time.

I’ve been meaning to get some photos of them because they’re both the wrong size so I thought it’d make for an interesting blog post. One is a 40 and the other is a 44 but my measurements probably put me at a 42 – at least they did, my holiday and Christmas have increased them slightly so the 44 might be the right size now. I’ll need to check.

Prints vs solid

a pie chart showing solid vs print, the solid wedge is slightly smaller than a quarter, maybe a fifth

I really thought there’d be more solids than this. I think it’ll be really useful to see how my print to solid ratio in my wear count compares to this.

Pattern companies

Below is a graph to show what pattern companies I used. The overall scale is the number of things I made with a pattern from that company but the darker/purply blue colour is the number of patterns I used and the light blue is when there were repeats of the same pattern. I hope that makes sense.

a bar chart showing what my finished garments by pattern company

So there were no runaway winners in the favourite pattern or pattern company race this year. Though the Dixie DIY Ballet dress and Hey June Lane raglan are probably the real winners as I used them as the base of lots of things.

Going forward I’m going to try to only support pattern companies who have an inclusive size range. I’m still going to sew the patterns I already own that don’t have as wide a range as they should because I have already bought them so I don’t want that to be a waste of money. But I won’t be purchasing more from those companies until they expand their sizing range. I also need to make sure I tell the pattern companies when I would have bought one of their patterns if their size range was wider.

Remakes

I made 10 new patterns and remade 8, which seems fairly standard for me. Roughly half of what I make seems to be new patterns.

Fabric choices

Less of a viscose heavy year this year. I think because I sewed a few things with cotton jersey. The polyester was some scuba and a couple of bits of jersey that I got two things from each so it’s only actually three bits of polyester fabric.

Success Rate

This is a category that just popped into my head as two of the polyester things I made are both wadders that have never been worn and sadly I think that’s actually the case for quite a few of the things I made this year.

Of the 17 things I made for myself three of them have never been worn, two have only been worn once and another is only good for wearing around the house.

So that’s either a 72% or 67% success rate depending on whether you count the top I wear around the house as a fail or not.

The failures

Mostly the failures have been down to fabric and fit. Two of them were intended to be wearable toiles anyway, they just didn’t end up wearable. The other is a Seamwork Neenah top, which is polo-neck and my office is just too warm for polo-necks. I could and should wear it at home though.

One of the things I’ve once worn once is a Hey June Lane raglan I lengthened to dress length. Unfortunately, I didn’t lengthen it quite enough. The neckline also sits a bit too wide, which is a pain as it’s in sweatshirting fabric so it’s for cooler weather when I don’t want that much neck out.

The other is a dress I made from the Deer and Doe Sirocco jumpsuit pattern. I like it in theory but there are some fit issues around the armhole and upper chest. It also gaped a bit as the fabric relaxed through the day. It’s by no means unwearable, it’s just not something I reach for.

Stash

Fabric

I bought 20 pieces of fabric, totalling 32.2m and I used 15.5m so I haven’t continued my stashbusting streak sadly. I added 16.7m to the stash – but that does include 3m that I got as a Christmas present that I don’t feel should completely count.

Even worse is the fact that only 7m of the fabric I used this year was bought this year. So I clearly didn’t actually need to other 25.2 metres.

But, to look on the positive side, 32 metres is probably the least fabric I’ve bought in a year since I started sewing. It’s certainly the least I’ve bought since I started tracking it. So that’s good.

I spent £320.48 on fabric this year, which works out at an average of £9.95 per metre, which is up exactly £1 from last year. I did say I wanted to increase the average cost.

Patterns

It’s a very similar state of affairs when we look at patterns. I bought 19 patterns and 1 pattern magazine (Ottobre), with 10 patterns in. So that’s a total of 29 patterns. And I’ve sewn 1.5 (I used the bodice of the sirocco jumpsuit with a skirt, so that’s the half).

As with fabric, I bought fewer patterns than last year (42 including book patterns). It just feels worse because I didn’t sew as many of them. Last year was a 12% useage rate and this year was only 5%. So that’s something to work on.

I spent £162.92, which is £8.15 per pattern if you count the magazine as one or £5.62 per pattern if you count each pattern in the magazine individually.

Plans

Make Nine

I thought I’d revisit last year’s make nine plans to see how well I did – spoiler, it could hardly be worse.

I chose fabric instead of patterns for my make nine and I only sewed one of them. Oops.

I’m not going to choose a new Make Nine this year, I’m just going to carry on with those ones. If I carry on at this rate I’ll be done by the end of the decade at least….

2020

This year I’m hoping to just do a little bit more sewing really. Though I have another busy work year ahead of me, so I don’t know how much I’ll realistically get done. I have cut out two things to make – an a-line scuba skirt and an Anna Rose Tethys jumper.

I want to buy less too. I know I go into every year with that aim but I feel quite optimistic. I’m trying to follow a new rule where I’m not allowed to buy any fabric without getting a sample swatch first. It really helps curb the impulse buying. I have of course bought loads of swatches. But no fabric, apart from one piece I bought before I made the rule.

Other than that I have no real goals for 2020. How about you? Have you got lots of plans and goals or are you playing it more loose this year like me?

New Year Catch Up

Happy new year! I hope you’re all well and got to have a nice break over the holiday season. The Manfriend and I had a super long break as we went to Gran Canaria to celebrate his birthday the week before Christmas.

It was a lovely, relaxed holiday. Lots of reading in the sunshine and eating nice food. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen me sharing some handmade holiday outfit snaps on stories. Here they all are, plus a couple of others.

We came home on the 22nd and had to hurriedly get all the food shopping done and finish the last bits of present shenanigans before Christmas.

The main one being decorating my Christmas cakes. I’ve made my Nan a cake every Christmas for the last decade or so and last year I started making one for Aled’s parents too. Sometimes it feels like a massive rod for my own back but I really enjoyed it this year. I sat and moulded all my little creatures and then iced the cakes and added them.

Christmas cake with penguins decorating a christmas tree
My Nan’s cake
wedge shaped christmas cake with skiing penguins and a snowman
My in-laws’ cake

Christmas was nice but a bit strange. My mum went to stay with our family for Christmas so it was the first time I hadn’t seen her at Christmas. Apart from that it was business as usual. Lots of excellent food and TV watching. My highlight was World’s Strongest Man (as always) followed by The Witcher – I didn’t get the Henry Cavill thing until they put him in a bad blonde wig…

Oh, I also taught myself how to crochet – ish. I’m still learning and I have to really concentrate but I’m enjoying it a lot.

But anyway, sewing!

I am planning to repeat 2017 and 2018 and write a nerdy statistical review of 2019 post but I haven’t got round to it yet. I just wanted to write a little check in post and share something I’m planning to do in 2020.

Inspired by Alex from Sewrendity, I’m going to do a wardrobe/wear count this year. Basically I’m going to record everything I wear as I do for Me Made May but without deliberately trying to wear Me Made (and without daily photos) and then at the end of the year I’ll have shed-loads of data to nerd out over. I think it should give me some really interesting insights on what I wear, what I need and what I really don’t need.

Alex has lots more information about what she did and a Google Sheet you can download if you want to do your own count. I’m still figuring out how exactly what I want to record and how so I’ll probably check in with an update further down the line.

I’m sure there’s more I wanted to put in this post but everything I think of would fit better in my review post so I’ll leave it here for tonight. I’ll be back soon with my nerd-out post.

#JulyMadeIt Thoughts, Stats & Graphs

As promised, I’m back with my stat attack post – I’m a little disappointed I didn’t get it finished yesterday so I could make a poor staturday pun but I drank beer with my beloved instead. I regret nothing.

Anyway, stats!

How did it go?

I didn’t make a pledge as such because there was no one to pledge to but I went by my now usual Me Made May rules. Which is that I only have to worry about wearing handmade if I leave the house.

I wore handmade on 24 days out the 31 – so that’s my cold days and some lazy weekend days. I’m happy with that and even happier that 78% of my outfits were entirely handmade. That’s much better than last year’s Me Made May, where I only managed 49%. I suspect that was helped by it being too warm for jeans but I’ll still take it as a win.

What I wore

The graph below shows what I wore by garment type. Both handmade and RTW – dark purple is handmade and light purple is RTW. I have left cardigans off the graph because I don’t have reliable figures on them. I generally didn’t start the day in a cardigan but wore one quite often in the office (air con), which I didn’t record. So I thought it best to just leave them off.

Pattern companies

The graph above shows the garments I wore by pattern company. The columns show the total number of times I wore a garment made from one of that company’s patterns. Then the line chart shows the number of garments that was.

So for example, the bar chart for Megan Nielsen shows that I wore a Megan Nielsen pattern 3 times but the line chart shows that it was just one garment, that I repeated. Whereas I wore True Bias patterns 8 times and it was 7 different garments. I hope that makes sense. It might have been better as a stacked bar chart.

It clearly shows what a romp away winner True Bias was though! All down to my Southport dresses and Ogden camis.

This graph is a little unfair to Seamwork as I wore that one garment a lot more than once. I just didn’t log it very well.

Print vs Solids

I tracked whether every garment I wore was a print, solid or had a texture. By texture I mean things where they are technically a solid but they’re a bit more interesting. So if something was crepe or lace I would have put it in texture – the one bit of texture was my burnout Seamwork Wembley cardigan.

I noticed that the type of prints I wear can be split into just a few categories so I kept track of what type of print I wore too and here are the results:

I really love a floral clearly. I used geometric as a bit of a catch-all for anything shape based and/or abstract. So as well things you’d typically call geometric like my Newport dress my crosshatched Gabriola skirt and heart print Winslows went into geometric.

The “Animals” category was originally called novelty but both the garments in there were animals so it got a name change.

Colours

I tracked the general colour family that things fell into. That wasn’t always easy with my love of floral prints but I just went with the main colour. Black and green have crept up and blue has drifted down a bit. I think that’s a new entry for yellow too.

Most worn garments

  • Wembley cardigan – I don’t know exactly how many times
  • Flint trousers – 3 times
  • Green Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes – twice
  • Juniper cardigan – twice
  • Ballet tee – twice
  • Southport dress – twice

My favourite outfit(s)

I could easily have chosen four outfits but these are my top two favourites.

Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes (palazzo pants) with a RTW black off the shoulder top (well it’s actually a body)
Sewaholic Gabriola skirt and True Bias Ogden cami

Instagram’s favourite outfit

My Sew Over It Doris dress.

Gaps/conclusion

I could do with some more solid, neutral separates. There were some patterned skirts I would have liked to wear but didn’t really have anything to go with them so I didn’t.

A few more tops in general would probably be a good idea as that’s the category that saw the most RTW.

I’d like another lightweight neutral cardigan too – I said that last Me Made May as well and it just hasn’t happened yet.

And I could always have more maxi dresses and Winslow culottes.

Other than that I didn’t really notice any particular gaps. I think I’m going to do another Me Made Month challenge in the autumn/winter if anyone would like to join me? I definitely have fewer cool weather handmade clothes so I’d like to work out what I need there – and be inspired by other people’s outfits, so I hope I can encourage a few of you to join in!

#JulyMadeIt

Hello! Remember me? I’ve been absent for a while because my mental health has been in the toilet and I have withdrawn from the internet, and well, everything really. But I went to the doctor and I’m back on medication (I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression throughout my life) and I’m feeling much better at the moment. So here I am, blogging again.

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that I carried out my own little Me Made May style challenge in July. Me Made May is one of my favourite online sewing community challenges so I was disappointed to miss out on it this year. If only because my nerdy little self needs those stats!

I’ve started working on my analysis and graphs for that post (I know how you all look forward to those…) but this one is just a round up of what I wore.

Day 1 – Sew Over It Doris dress

I started off strong with this pretty Sew Over It Doris dress that I think I’ve only actually worn twice. I started off thinking it was too dressy for work and then I outgrew it. It fits again now though so I should put it into more frequent rotation.

Day 2 – True Bias Southport dress and Wembley cardigan

This day was a scorcher so a floaty viscose dress was very much called for. This is one of my favourite dresses to wear in the summer. This is also your first glimpse at my new office (same job, we just moved) and the Towy looks almost pretty here.

Day 3 – Sewaholic Gabriola skirt and jersey New Look 6217

I love this Gabriola skirt, it’s so swishy and feels every so dramatic to walk about in but it’s a smidge too big now. I teamed it with this oversized New Look 6217 top I made out of jersey in the hope that the extra fabric around my waist would hold the skirt up enough to not have to wear heels. It worked and I got lots of compliments at work on both the skirt and top.

Day 4 – True Bias Southport dress

I had the afternoon off to spend time in the sunshine with the manfriend (he had the whole week off). This floaty Southport dress was perfect for a wander for some lunch and ice cream.

Day 5 – Chi-town chino shorts and RTW vest

I had this day off too so I chucked on these very crumpled and slightly too big chi town Chino shorts and a RTW top to just bimble around the house and lounge in the garden.

I really like these shorts and I should probably try to take them in a little bit so I can carry on wearing them.

Day 5 cont – Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes and RTW top

That evening we went out to a comedy night at the local theatre so I changed into something a bit more appropriate. It was a lot of fun and I’m going again this month with some friends I used to work with.

Day 6 – Frankenpattern’s monster top and RTW shorts

Can we take a moment to appreciate the awesomeness of this fabric? It is little duck/geese astronauts floating through space.

The pattern is the Dixie DIY ballet dress shoulders and sleeves, merging into the Hey June Lane raglan somewhere around the bust. Then the neckline is from the Southport dress.

I’m not too sure about the yellow neckband. It goes nicely with their beaks and feet but I feel like it needs more yellow to work so I may do sleeve bands too. Or remove it and just put a self fabric neckband on instead.

Day 8 – Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes and Ballet tee

These Winslows are too big at the moment (they’re a size bigger than the green ones) so I tried to make them fit again by putting some elastic in the back of the waistband. It worked a bit but I didn’t make the elastic quite short enough so it didn’t help enough. I bought some linen look viscose from Oh Sew Crafty to make a new pair but I haven’t gotten round to it yet.

The top is hacked from the Dixie DIY ballet dress. I haven’t blogged it but I did talk about in this really old video. It’s quite stretched out of shape now so it only really works tucked in. I need to trim it and re-hem it but I avoid alterations like the plague.

Day 9 – Megan Nielsen Flint trousers and New Look 6096 top

I really need to make another pair of Flint trousers, they’re ideal for the summer. The top used to be a New Look 6096 dress but it was a smidge too short so I really rare wore it as I felt too self conscious. So I chopped it into a top and now it gets a lot more wear.

Day 12 – True Bias Southport dress

Days 10 and 11 are missing because I suddenly came down with a stinking cold and felt dreadful so didn’t get dressed. This photo wasn’t taken on the 12th because I still looked and felt dreadful but I got dressed and went to work and this is what I wore.

Day 15 – Newport dress

I returned to my sickbed for the weekend and binged Stranger Things so I was very much feeling the 80s vibe of this dress when Monday rolled around.

This is me playing “snoutball” with Max, which he loves. He has to have the muzzle on to play because otherwise he will kill the ball and then be sad that he can’t play anymore. He is not very clever. Except when he is. A while ago my mum went for a run in the morning before work and as she was getting ready she told him he wasn’t coming. So he laid down in front of the back door so she couldn’t get out.

Day 16 – Megan Nielsen Flint trousers and Ogden cami

New day, same fabric. Can’t quite believe I got to day 16 before the Ogden cami made an appearance! I’ve got three Ogdens and more planned as it’s perfect for using up smallish bits of leftover fabric.

Day 17 – Sewaholic Davie dress

I made this Davie dress yonks ago but it sat unworn, waiting for a hem for a very long time. Then one day, I think I couldn’t find anything to wear so I just chucked it on unhemmed and it’s stayed in rotation ever since, still unhemmed but I’m fine with that.

Day 18 – Sew Over It Penny dress

This is my second Sew Over It Penny dress and the only thing I changed was adding a little length to the bodice centre front and to not take as much length off the skirt (though it is still shorter than drafted) but it looks looser than my first version (makes an appearance on day 23).

If I was ever going to do sewalongs on my much neglected YouTube channel this would very much be a contender as I think the instructions and the order of construction are both really poor. But aside from the challenging filming logistics I’m not sure I need another Penny dress. I would definitely like a top version though.

Day 19 – Jeans and True Bias Ogden cami

I decided to continue the same fabric, different day thing and wear another leftover fabric Ogden with RTW jeans/jeggings.

Day 22 – Self drafted pencil skirt, Ballet tee and Jennifer Lauren Handmade Juniper cardigan

This skirt is definitely a contender for favourite thing I’ve made this year. It’s made with scuba fabric that came from Lindy Bop and my self drafted pencil skirt pattern. The top is my Dixie DIY ballet tee again and the cardi is the Jennifer Lauren Handmade Juniper cardigan.

Day 23 – Sew Over It Penny dress

This is my first Penny dress, as mentioned above. It’s a little too short but I still really like it.

Day 24 – Self drafted pencil skirt and RTW top

I bought this top when I went to H&M for a cardigan to keep at work (air conditioning disagreements). Then I decided I didn’t think I’d wear it and was going to return it but I couldn’t find the receipt so just went with it. I wasn’t sure how well it went with this skirt but the manfriend said it looked nice so I wore it and then my colleagues were nice too, so I guess it goes. The skirt is another self drafted pencil skirt made with ponte.

Day 25 – Sewaholic Gabriola skirt and True Bias Ogden cami

I bought some flatform shoes specifically so I can carry on wearing this skirt even though it sits a bit lower on my hips now. I really love it with this Ogden cami.

Day 26 – True Bias Southport dress

I wore the same dress as on day 2 and I didn’t get round to taking a photo.

Day 27 – New Look 6096

It was a nice sunny evening so me and the Manfriend went for a walk on the coastal path with a blanket and a couple of cans of (hipster) beer and did a middle (ish) class version of cans in the park. This New Look 6096 dress is one of the oldest things I made that I still wear regularly.

Day 29 – Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes and RTW top

I found another thing to go with my new top so I’m okay with keeping it now. I really like this outfit. Winslow culottes are such good summer trousers. The look of a skirt without the chub rub.

Day 30 – Sew Over It Alex shirtdress

It was a cool enough day to wear sleeves so I deliberately chose this dress for more same fabric, different day nonsense.

Day 31 – Megan Nielsen Flint pants, RTW top and JHL Juniper cardigan

And for the final day I wore my trusty Flint trousers again with a really old RTW top and my Juniper cardigan again.

It was really nice to be back on Instagram and engaging with people again but I was glad to go back to just getting dressed without so much thought. My Instagram Husband was also glad the daily photoshoots were over.

I’ll hopefully be back soon with a graph attack post. I’ve already made two graphs and I tracked all sorts of things in this years spreadsheet, which I’ve found quite interesting.

Have a great weekend lovelies.

My 2018 sewing in graphs

Happy new year, folks! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas if you celebrate and a good break if you got to have one. My Christmas was lovely and betwixtmas was blissfully relaxed and lazy.

I had planned to do a bit of sewing to try to finish off some of my WIPs but I ate Christmas food and watched telly instead. We’d saved series 3 of Ultimate Beastmaster for Christmas, which I very much enjoyed but would have liked a little bit more Honeybadger (the male Australian host).

But anyway, I lured you in with talk of graphs. I enjoyed last year’s graph attack so much that I’m back with another one this year.

What I made

I made 27 garments this year, 24 for me and 3 for other people. They were all sewn as I didn’t do much knitting.

As seems to be usual for me they were mostly all tops and dresses but I did also sew quite a few skirts this year.

pie chart of garments made by type of garment

Knit vs Woven

pie chart of knits (48.1%) vs woven (51.2%)

It seems I am a straight down the middle girl on the knits vs wovens question as this is the second year in a row when there was only one garment in it.

It was a fairly even split between knit and woven for most garment types but knits took the lead on tops and wovens on dresses.

Printed v PDF

I’ve sewn a lot more printed patterns this year but I’m still a PDF girl at heart.

Indie v Big 4

I had intended to try a few more Big 4 1 patterns this year as I have a sizeable collection of them now from magazines and from shopping sprees when they’re on sale. Ooh, maybe I should pick out some of them and do Ella’s #sewsix with just Big Pattern patterns.

I also “self-drafted” a couple of patterns this year. Not that there was any real drafting involved in either of them. One is a knit pencil skirt pattern that I’ve used twice. The other was a dress made of rectangles of fabric shirred at the top. So nothing fancy.

Pattern companies

There was no romp away winner in the sewing pattern company category this year. The bars in the graph below shows how many garments I made from each pattern company and the line chart on it shows the number of different patterns from each company.

Remakes?

I’m surprised by how few patterns I resewed this year. The patterns I did sew again were:

  • True Bias Lander pants
  • True Bias Ogden cami
  • Dixie DIY Ballet dress t-shirt hack
  • Helen’s Closet Blackwood cardigan
  • My self drafted knit pencil skirt
  • The skirt from Simplicity 1418
  • New Look 6217 top in a knit (this was a fail)

Looking at it in a list it doesn’t seem as bad. There’s nothing wrong with sewing new patterns I suppose. I was just a bit surprised by it.

Fabric choices

No surprises that viscose is still my most used fabric as it is my one true love fibre. The percentage of cotton I used has nearly doubled from it’s 15% last year and polyester dropped from 29%.

Stash

Fabric

This year I bought 25 pieces of fabric totalling 41.1 metres, which is less than half the amount of fabric I bought last year! (Last year was 107.4 metres)

Though, my output was lower and I’ve cut out 48.75 metres (38 fabrics) and most of those things have become garments. Last year I’d cut out just under 69 metres of fabric but a lot of those things were sat waiting to be made into garments, which probably shouldn’t count.

So the stash DECREASED by 7.65 metres. Wooot! It’s not quite the 1 in: 2 out ratio I’d hoped for but I’m still really happy to have actually decreased it for the first time.

I also tracked how much I spent on fabric this year and it was £368, which is a little over £30 a month. I’m pretty happy with that, it’s not excessive and I can’t see myself managing to get it much lower. It’s an average cost per metre of £8.95, from a mixture of some really cheap fabric and a couple of pricier bits.

It’s a bit of strange thing to say but I think I’d like to get my average slightly higher next year. I’d like to buy fewer, higher quality fabrics. Though as I mostly shop online it can be hard to know what fabric is better quality and what is just more expensive.

Patterns

I didn’t specifically track patterns but I went back over my Bits n Bobbins posts for the year and counted up the patterns I bought. I bought 31 patterns plus 2 pattern books containing 5 and 6 patterns respectively. So in total that’s 42 new patterns.

And I have sewn 5 of them…

That’s not a great conversion rate, so that’s probably something I should look at this year. If I’m not going to make the pattern straight away there’s no need to buy it straight away.

I think I’ll track pattern purchases and cost this year too because I can’t keep buying more and more patterns I never make.

The verdict

I had a tough year at work and my mental health has continued to suffer so I tried not to put any pressure on myself to sew if I wasn’t feeling it. We also did a fair bit of decorating and I prioritised other hobbies like running. So I didn’t feel like I’d actually done much sewing. But 27 finished garments is the same as in 2016 and only 5 less than in 2017 so it’s fairly average for me.

I’d like to be a little more productive this year and work my way through my stash a bit. I’m really pleased with myself for decreasing my stash last year and I’m hopeful I can continue that trend.

If you’ve got this far I hope I haven’t bored you to tears with my nerdy sewing stat nonsense. If you like the nerdy stuff, is there anything else you think I should track? Or that you’d be interested in reading more about?

True Bias Lander pants

After me saying in my Flint trousers post that I don’t think I would ever get on board the cropped wide leg trouser train I only blummin’ went and made a pair!

Of course I’ve never actually worn them…

I went to Green Man Festival in August and the weather forecast was a little bit shonky so I got myself in a tizz about what I’d wear. So I made these. My thinking was that they’d be long enough to keep me warm but short enough that they didn’t drag on wet grass/mud.

Well it turned out that we had pretty glorious weather and they stayed in my backpack the whole weekend. Oh well.

 True Bias Lander pants and ogden cami

I have no idea how to wear them. All of my shoes feel wrong and all my tops look wrong – unless they’re tucked in, which I don’t really feel comfortable with as it makes me feel all belly.

I made this pair a bit tighter than my shorts version. I haven’t blogged about them but you can see them in this post.

back of my lander pants

The back view looks a smidge like my bum is eating the trousers so I could probably do with scooping out the back crotch curve slightly. There’s also a little horizontal fold of fabric just under the waistband so I need to shorten the rise slightly at centre back. I’m not sure what I need to do about all those diagonal lines/folds/droops either. I’m not sure if it’s a bum issue or a knock knee issue. Or something else entirely.

lander pants side view

Oh, these don’t have any pockets on them. They were a last minute thing the day before Green Man so I decided to leave them off to save time, with a view to going back and adding the back pockets later. 

lander pants and flannel shirt

The details

Pattern: True Bias Lander pants

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 38

A0 file included? Yes

How’s the PDF?
Fine. I’d already made the shorts so I only printed the leg parts as I already had all the other bits. 

Measurements: Waist 31.5″ – High hip  40″ – Low hip (bum) 41″

Size made: I started with a 12 but I don’t think they’re a good reflection of the size 12 as I made quite a few changes (listed below).

Alterations:

  • Added 1/4″ to the front inner thigh from the crotch point tapering to nothing by about mid thigh
  • Took the centre back in by about 1/4″ (I used the width of my presser foot, which isn’t quite 1/4″)
  • I also took the side seams in by the width of my presser foot tapering out to nothing a bit before my knee
  • Used a contoured waistband
  • Shortened them a bit but I can’t remember how much sorry. It was a bit more than I needed though as I ended up taking a smaller hem.

Fabric used: 1.4m of cotton twill left over from my Deer and Doe Anemone skirt, making this a #sewingleftovers project.

Another version?

I don’t know. I have some black denim I had been thinking about making a full length pair out of but I really don’t know what tops I have that would go with the silhouette. 

Any changes next time?

I need to work on the fit a bit more. Not sure of the specifics but there is definitely some tweaking to be done.

Final Thoughts

This was probably a bit of a pointless make really as I just don’t know if I’ll ever wear them.

Bits and Bobbins: July-September

I can’t quite believe how quickly this year is whizzing away. It seems like only yesterday I was writing the first one of these round-up posts and now it’s nearly Christmas… (I know it’s not really but this year I seem to have mentally skipped spooky season and jumped straight to full on festive mode.)

So what have I been up to this quarter?

Projects finished

Can you tell I like blue? The red Ogden sticks out like a sore thumb!

July

August

  • True Bias Lander pants – blog post coming soon! Hopefully…
  • Christine Haynes Rumi dress

September

Projects in progress

I’ve nearly completed my Deer and Doe Reglisse dress. All I need to do is level the hem and hem it. So obviously it’s been sat on Doris the dressform for a fortnight. I’ve tried it on and I didn’t love it as much as I was hoping I would, which is probably what’s stalled the progress.

I also started work on my Chi-town chinos that have been cut out for a year. I’ve sewn the pockets and started the fly front but that’s as far as I got.

Stashbusting stats

Fabric in (this quarter): 9 m
Fabric out (this quarter): 11.8 m
Stashbusted (this quarter): -2.8 m

I was doing really well this quarter and bought hardly any fabric and then I went to a sewing meet up with lots of other Welsh sewers and bought 3.5 metres of fabric. Oops. Oh well, I still got rid of more than I bought this quarter.

Fabric in (year to date): 29.1 m
Fabric out (year to date): 34.5 m
Stashbusted (year to date): -5.4 m

The stash is slowly shrinking so I’m happy. Goodness knows how much I’d added by this point last year so I’m proud to have gotten my buying under control by even this little.

Pattern buying

I was actually been fairly restrained this quarter and only bought:

I’ve already bought a bunch this new quarter (oops) but that’s for the next post.

Sewing related things I’ve liked

I bought a button sewing foot for my machine and I’m in love. Sewing buttons on is one of my most hated tasks. I’ve never been very good at it and I just don’t trust any button I’ve sewn on to stay on.

The foot makes it so easy. You have to drop the feed dogs and make sure you’ve got the stitch settings right – my machine has a button sewing stitch but I think just a zigzag will do the trick – but once you’re set up it’s easy peasy to whizz through.

I’ve since seen an Instagram post saying you can do it without a special foot so if you don’t have a (sewing machine) foot fetish like I do then I’d definitely recommend having a look into that.

There was also a great TV show on the BBC called Back in Time for the Factory where they recreated a clothing factory as it would have been in the 60s, 70s and 80s. A big group of Welsh women then went to work on the production line. It’s about much more than sewing and I did get a bit weepy at some of the parts about going on strike for equal pay. If you didn’t watch it then I’d really recommend watching it on iPlayer if it’s available where you live.

Meet-ups

#walessews meet up at TrixieLixie in Cardiff

I was lucky enough to take part in two sewing meet-ups over the last quarter. In August I met the lovely Ella (aka @sewistella) in Swansea for a mooch around Lee Mills and a coffee. Then at the end of September the fabulous Sara @saraknitsandsews organised a #walessews meet up in Cardiff.

It was brilliant getting to meet so many other sewers. I’m quite shy and a bit awkward when I meet people for the first time but the beauty of meeting other people who sew is that you already have something in common and things to talk about. It was a lovely day and I’m really looking forward to the next time. There’s talk of us having a Frocktails kinda thing.

What’s next?

As always I have far too many plans and far too little time/energy. I really want some autumnal tops but I also need to sew a dress for Halloween out of my Alexander Henry zombie pinups (officially called Beauties and Brains) fabric so it doesn’t sit in my stash for another year. 

I also need to start work on my dress for the Sewcialite Soiree in Bristol next month. I’ve bought a pattern (the Dorothy dress from Sew La Di Da Vintage) and it’s going to feature the shimmery green mesh from stash rainbow photo above.

I’d quite like to sew a coat over the next few months too. I put the Grainline Cascade duffle coat on my Make Nine list but I think I’m going to bump it for something else.

What are your upcoming plans?

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 8014 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.