handmade wardrobe summer series 2014/15

The Big Reveal! Summer Outfit 1

The Big Reveal! Summer Outfit 1

I had to call this post "The Big Reveal" so we could have a little chuckle and remember back to my Handmade Wardrobe challenge in 2013.  Ah, wasn't it so much fun?! Crazy busy but fun. I'm not sure if I'll manage to make a whole outfit every month ever again but I'm so glad I did for so many months that year - I've absolutely lived in those clothes. It surprised me how well the outfits coordinated with each other - I'll tell you all about it sometime ...

Anyhow, here we have my first finished summer outfit. I'm both amazed that I've actually done it and super pleased that I have.

The Big Reveal! Summer Outfit 1

The Big Reveal! Summer Outfit 1

Of course my Washi top took all of fifteen minutes to finish. I hand-stitched the seam, catching it ever so carefully so you can't see the stitching from the outside and gave it a press.

It's a lovely fit across the chest and I've taken some width out from the waist/hip region so it is a little narrower which works better for me. No pockets this time which I'm kind of missing although they'd probably look silly. I'm wondering about a slightly longer, lightweight, tunic version with a simple scooped neckline and colourful pockets ...

The Big Reveal! Summer Outfit 1

It's hard to see the detail on my Moss skirt because it's so dark. The fly worked pretty well although I would like to try it again with lighter fabric. The drill was so thick layer upon layer and my poor sewing machine didn't much like it. I didn't even try a button hole in the waistband. Instead I used a trouser hook and bar to hold the waistband closed.

It's a groovy, comfortable wee skirt if you don't mind having all your legs on show. I made the shorter version of the skirt and I like the details such as the yoke at the back and the angled pockets. I didn't do any top stitching but I think I'd like to try some on another skirt.

I did find however that the skirt came up a little large on me. I could have gone down a couple of sizes and took a chunk out of both sides before I attached the waistband. It wasn't the pattern - it was me. When trying to work out which size to make I found my waist measured four whole sizes larger than my hips. Worried that it wouldn't fit if I made the smaller size I cut out the larger one. Now I've made the skirt I realise that it goes nowhere near my waist. It sits right down on my hips. Next time I'll go with the smaller size.

The Big Reveal! Summer Outfit 1

My necklace is fun. I bought the beads on Etsy a couple of years ago and the black beads and leather cord were from my stash. 

I tried a couple of ways of string the beads. Initially I thought I'd string them simply on the leather but it wouldn't fit through the holes on the beads! That's when I added the black beads, trying first one then two between each wooden piece. Two worked better and I added a couple more on each end too. All the beads are strung onto some clear plastic jewellery "wire". I made a small loop at each end and tied my leather cord to each loop with a long tail so I could knot the cord for several inches up itself. The knots are slightly haphard and look a little like crochet. 

I'm the worst critic of my own creatiions. I wasn't sure about the necklace as I made it. Would it look ok? Would it look totally amateur? I tried to look at it as if I was viewing it in a shop. Would I like it then? In the end I decided I would, in a "tribal" meets "urban" sort of way.

Well, I'm so pleased that I've finally got something new to wear this summer. Let's hope the good weather stays around for a while because I'm itching for more summer clothes now! 

Pins - The Pointy Kind

Pins - The Pointy Kind

I've nearly finished the top for my next outfit. It's just waiting for a hem which I'm planning on sewing once I've sewn my skirt so that it's just the right length.

Pins - The Pointy Kind Pins - The Pointy Kind

It really didn't need much work to get this top to the "nearly finished except for the hem" stage. I can't believe that it has sat around for so long waiting. I'd dyed the cotton for the bias binding around the armholes a long time ago - all it needed was to be cut into bias binding and attached!

Pins - The Pointy Kind
Pins - The Pointy Kind

I've mostly stuck to the Washi dress pattern as it comes, other than taking some of the width out of the body fabric from under the bodice down to the seam. The end result is slimmer and less roomy over my middle and hips.

I'm rather keen on my contrasting yellow bias around the armholes. Because I dyed it myself the fabric isn't a perfect solid but slightly tonal and I like that. I'm imagining it gives it a more "bespoke" vibe (even if no one sees it!).

I actually could've taken a little more fabric out from under the arms to get an even better fit. I think I've changed shape slightly since first cutting the top out last year. But, it's ok as is, perfectly wearable.

I'm also not entirely sure that I like the stiffness in the neck facing. The fabric is a slightly weighty woven quilting cotton and the extra facing seems a bit of overkill around the neck. It just feels a bit formal for a tank top. It crossed my mind that I could take it off and re-face the neck but I couldn't bring myself to make the extra effort - this top might never get finished if I start doing things like that!

Pins - The Pointy Kind

You can see in the pictures how I attached my binding. I first pinned the right sides of my fabric together and then sewed, flipped, ironed, folded and ironed (again) the binding inside the armholes, pinned it again and then hand-sewed it down. While I was pinning it occurred to me that you might enjoy a quick chat about pins.

Once upon a time, I learnt to sew by copying my mum. That meant, I pinned my sewing just like she did and she probably pinned hers just like her mum and so on. Roll on a couple of decades and the internet and I started to notice that other people pinned their sewing a little differently. They placed their pins into fabric perpendicular to their seams whereas I had always pinned my parallel to my seams. Of course this made me curious and so I set out to find out if whether there was a difference.

Pins - The Pointy Kind

Well, it turns out, there just might be.

There is apparently an adage that goes something like: "use your pins like a stitch". That is, use them to hold your fabric firmly in exactly the right spot just like a stitch would. Some people would argue that the best way to achieve this is to pin your fabric perpendicularly to your seam - not the parallel pinning that I'd always done. So, I did some experimenting while machine sewing and hand-sewing my most recent armhole binding and I placed some pins parallel to my seams and some perpendicular to my seams ... 

What did I find out?
  • it's a little easier to manipulate your machine sewing when you're pinning perpendicular to your seam but easier to hold the fabric and pins when you're hand-sewing if your pins are parallel to your seam;
  • the perpendicular pins can stay in for longer when you're machine sewing; 
  • if you run over a perpendicular pin with your machine by accident it's unlikely to be a big problem that breaks your needle;
  • you can use heaps more pins to keep things in place if you pin them perpendicularly
  • there seems less chance of being pricked with pins placed perpendicular to your seam when you're machine sewing but more chance when you're hand-sewing;
  • you can accidentally pin your pins into your fabric upside down if you place pins parallel to your seam and that means you either have to turn them all around or stop your sewing machine well before your pin so you can take it out and that defeats that point of your pin!
  • old habits die hard and new things feel strange for a while.
So, overall? I liked the perpendicular pinning for machine sewing and my old method of placing my pins parallel to my seams when I'm hand-sewing.

What about you? 

Are you particular about your pinning? Parallel or perpendicular? (confused by all the P's?!)

P.S. I was interviewed by Joanna on The Knitographer today! I'm over there chatting about Truly Myrtle, new designs and my creative process, if you fancy a read.



Oh my goodness. The Outfit is going awry. Check it out. I tried to get the colours as accurate as I could but everything still looks a little greyer than it does in real life. Think pitch black. BLACK.

I actually dyed both the fabric and the shoes twice. The first time I bought a small packet of black dye for the washing machine and a bag of salt and chucked it all in. Around and around they span and looking through the door (front loader) I was hopeful. But when they came out and then dried, my hopes were dashed. The shoes were ok-ish but a bit motley but the fabric was a solid olive green. Far from the grey I was after. Bother.

It took another week to get more dye and then a bit longer to get them back in the machine. I hunted for grey dye but couldn't find any and settled for more black. To be on the safe side I bought a bigger packet and I tentatively thought I could just keep adding more until it all turned out perfectly.

The story goes downhill at this point. One day, whilst trying to do a million and one other things at the same time (most likely cook dinner, supervise homework, sweep the kitchen floor and talk on the phone) I was struck with the thought that I'd do a quick dye job while the washing machine was free ... Dumb idea because in the chaos I decided to chuck the whole large packet of dye in to save mucking about with copious dye jobs. 

You can imagine what happened. In fact, you can see what happened. The whole belly lot went blacker than black except for the stitching on the shoes which is still too light, the rubber soles which are a decidedly dodgy shades of blue and the elastic which looks worse with the stains even more noticeable. The shoes are a disaster!

I'm trying to talk myself into the fabric. After all, everyone wears black in New Zealand, I wouldn't be out of place? Except I haven't worn black for years. I embrace colour and frills and sequins these days. I'm not sure whether I want a black skirt. Maybe with some top-stitching? Dunno. That might just look odd. 

I think I'll have to take the plunge and see how it goes. I don't think I can do anything to lighten my black fabric and I really don't want to buy more. This is it. I'll have to make it work!

Make me feel better. Tell me about your dyeing disasters!

Handmade Outfits Are Back!

Outfits Are Back! Summer Series - Outfit 1

Whoo Hoo!! Remember my Handmade Wardrobe series last year?! Well it's back for a Summer 2014/15 series! 

My wardrobe is desperate for a New Zealand summer overhaul. I scraped through last summer all hot and yucky, dreaming of cooler dresses, less sleeves and more swooshy, lightweight clothing and I'm not planning to do it again. Warm weather is in the air, I need new clothes and since I'm still on a quest to create myself a totally handmade wardrobe I'd better get started. These clothes aren't going to make themselves! 

Like last year, I'm plotting and scheming in terms of outfits - rather than individual pieces - planning new clothes outfit by outfit gets me all excited and motivated. But this time I'm going to go a little easier on myself. Last year I aimed for an outfit a month and my plans were scarpered about half way through the year when we began our big move downunder to New Zealand. At the moment, with Christmas around the corner, a few more knitting designs in the wings and a buzzing family life, I don't fancy imposing any rules on myself. They'll only get broken! 

So, my plan thus far is to make myself one outfit at a time; bags, jewellery and accessories included. No time limits but ideally I'd like to have made a bunch of new clothes by the end of the summer ... that's about March/April 2015. I'm also thinking I'd like to stretch myself a little and try some new techniques. Isn't it all sounding more exciting by the minute?!

I'm also hoping to use as much as I can from my fabric and yarn stash and limit what I buy. I had a rummage through my fabric stash over the weekend and really and truly, it's crazy how much stuff I've got hidden under my bed.

So, where to start? The motley assortment in the photo will be my first outfit. I like to name my outfits and I'm calling this one "mother of four tries to look a little chic while still feeling very comfortable" or something like that. For this outfit I'm doing a little finishing off, a little "making-over", as well as  some making from scratch.

The black and white fabric is an almost finished Washi top. The black is actually more dark grey than black; it's an old Amy Butler cotton print. The top is sleeveless with a keyhole neckline and it shouldn't take much to finish. I just have to bind the armholes with the vivid orange cotton I dyed a while ago and them hem it.

The dingy brown fabric is a stretch denim that I'm going to dye grey (along with the battered blue shoes). Once dyed it's going to become a short, funky Moss Skirt. Fingers crossed about the shoes. I'm not sure how they'll go. They're jolly shabby and terribly stained.

Everything will be finished off with a chunky necklace featuring these rather fabulous wooden beads around the front. I do love making jewellery.

Best I get cracking. I'll be back soon to report how I'm getting on. Anyone fancy joining me in whipping up an outfit?