Saturday 19 January 2019

New year reflections

I have been a little bit absent from the blog of late and as the end of 2018 approached and I was reviewing what I had done this year, I realised how little I had documented either here or on Instagram this year. This made me a bit sad as I like having a record of the work I have done and the opportunity to look back and review what I feel has worked best for me.  At the beginning of 2018 I didn’t have the headspace to set myself any goals or consider what it was I wanted to achieve, as a result I don’t really have a sense of what it is I’ve done this last year. I also took part in fewer challenges or events this year which has made me feel a bit disconnected to the community, although I did go to one of the london stitchers meetups which was a really lovely way to connect with other sewists in real life and not have any pressure to sew something for it. With these reflections in mind, I have a number of thoughts about what I would like to do in the next year. 
My favourite makes of 2018.  A maxi Anna dress and my green wool Flint trousers.

One of the positive things about my lack of documentation and engagement in community events was that I took sewing much slower this year and for the most part made things that I like and wear.  Rather than being completely focused on sewing the latest pattern or making a whole new wardrobe, I also gave myself space to make some bits and pieces that were not clothes (or at least not clothes for me) which allowed me to slot sewing more successfully into the wider context of my life.  I made a friend’s wedding veil this year and while it was entirely hand sewn, not my favourite thing to do, it was lovely to feel that I was adding something unique to her special day.  I also made some bits and pieces from scraps to fit with my wider sustainability goals, such as reusable make up remover pads and handkerchiefs.  These have seen a lot of use and it felt good to prioritise something that wasn't clothes.  They were actually really satisfying to sew as they were so simple and it allowed me to be really mindful about the sewing rather than engaging in my usual stresses because I'm doing something complex.

This was the only photo I took where you can see the veil properly!  It goes so well with my pjs!

This year I decided to select #makenine patterns as, even if I don’t make them, I like having a framework for my makes and to organise my thoughts of why I did or did not complete a make.  My selections are in themed clusters.  First off are a couple of vintage patterns, one of these I haven’t made before but fits firmly with my love for the 1970s, the other is a 1960s pattern which I made a wearable muslin of a few years ago and I wear all the time, and have just had to take apart and finish all the seams-the muslin was made before I got my overlocker, so I feel it may be time to add another one of these to my wardrobe.  Next are a couple of tops, I am ALWAYS on the search for good tops.  I have already made one version of the SOI Clara and love it but the Megan Neilsen Dove has been in my stash for ages and I haven’t got round to making it up. The next item is the SOI Joan dress which also has been in my stash for ages without being made up.  The next few garments are ones that seem super scary to me and I want to try this year.  The Rumana coat, I have never made a coat with as many pieces and elements as this one but I bought the fabric for it when I was in Hong Kong last year and cut it out around Halloween and then put it on a shelf and ignored it!  Hopefully I’ll get it done before the season for it is completely finished.  A bra has been something that I’ve been wanting to tackle for ages but the it seems super tricky to me and assembling all the hardware etc was putting me off so I’ve booked myself onto a class to have my hand held through the process.  I’ve been eyeing up the ginger jeans for ages and having dipped my toe into the jeans world a little with my Mia jeans, I’d like to take on this more complicated project.  Making my own trousers has been a real game changer for me, as this was always the area I struggled most to get ready to wear that fitted me.  On that note, my final pattern is the Lander pants which I purchased in the lack black Friday sale but haven’t had a chance to make up yet. 

As ever I would like to work my way through some of my stash this year.  While in general I have been quite good at not buying too much fabric in the last couple of years, my purchases while in Japan and Hong Kong have meant that overall I’ve had much more fabric in than out.  I would like to reverse this trend this year.  I already have pieces ear marked for 5 of my #makenine so hopefully these should make the initial dent in my stash but the aim is to try and make it through a bit more, if for no other reason than we need some more space in our spare room! 

To ease myself back into sewing again this year I made myself another Renfrew cowl necked top.  I wear my previous version all the time, in the colder months I probably wear it for part of every weekend so figured another one would not go amiss.  This top uses a surprising amount of fabric-it’s that cowl and as I used some scraps left over previous projects, one of the cowl pieces had to be pieced together to make it all fit but I’m really pleased with it.  It’s a great layering piece and I’m sure will become another staple for the cold season.  It was nice to start with something simple and wearable and it has given me some motivation to sew some of the other projects I have in mind. 

Tuesday 30 October 2018

A very special Anna

Today’s dress is a bit special to me for a number of reasons. Firstly I made it to wear to the wedding of a my good friend, Katie and it was lovely to have a special dress to celebrate her special day in.  Secondly, I made it in some great fabric I bought in Japan last year.  I have no idea what I was planning to made with this when I bought it, as I purchased 5m which is more than I would usually buy without a plan, however, kudos past Alexa for making good choices! 
The dress is of course the Anna dress, isn’t it funny how when you make up a pattern that you love you instantly want to make it again.  I haven’t made an Anna dress in a couple of years and now have made 2 versions in the space of a few weeks!  The first version of the Anna that I ever made was the maxi version and I loved floating around in that dress so much, sadly it completely disintegrated as it was made from a viscose that frayed like crazy and I made it before I had an overlocker.  I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to make another to replace it. 
 Apart from the back alteration that I’ve talked about in other versions, I made the pattern up straight from the pack.  I always find it hard to believe when a dress pattern says it needs something like the 4.5m required for this dress, particularly as I’m usually quite economical with my cutting.  However, a maxi dress with gored skirt really does!  I only have some scraps left over from my 5m!
 The fabric is a cotton of medium weight and so was a total dream to work with and there'll be no fraying issues with this baby!  I feel that this is a good use of my Japanese stash and I think I'll get a lot of wear out of this once we return to my preferred summer season! 

The pictures are courtesy of my friend Dominika who is obsessed with photos and getting the perfect photo.  When she makes me take her photo 10 times or makes me pose for mine forever, I whinge a lot but then she get such good results that I really shouldn’t be such a brat about it. 
Thanks Dominika!
The dress was a bit of a last minute scramble as I had a few other things to do for the wedding such as make the veil!  This was a really fun project and it was lovely to feel that I was doing something important for their big day.  It involved a lot more hand sewing than I would usually sign up for and I forgot to get a picture!
What a lovely couple!  I'm definitely glad that I got to be part of their special day and had something to wear that felt appropriately special.

Sunday 21 October 2018

Around the world

It's Indie pattern month over on the monthly stitch, which is one of my favourite sewing events of the year as I always discover new patterns and designers and see great adaptations of patterns.  This year one of the themes was 'around the world' which meant that you had to sew a pattern by an Indie company outside your own country.  I thought this was a great challenge and really pushed me out of my comfort zone.  I'd assumed I sew lots of patterns from different pattern companies around the world and while this is true to an extent, there is a big slant towards UK pattern companies, the patterns I've made over the last few months have been from Cocowawa, By Hand London and A LOT of Sew Over It.

Anyway I consulted my pattern stash and pulled out the Waffle patterns Vanilla top.  I discovered this pattern company through a previous years indie pattern month, see an interview with the designer here. I think I bought this on black Friday last year so it's nice to finally get round to using it.

I used some jersey that I bought in Japan last year.  It's a nice symmetry to use a Japanese fabric for a pattern from a Japanese designer.  While Japanese designs always look so cool, the lack of fitting and defined waist line means that they're not usually my style so this was also my first venture into Japanese style patterns.

The front and back pattern pieces look crazy when they are laid out on the fabric, which was kind of exciting because it wasn't like anything I'd ever sewn before!  The instructions were good and I thought the design of the neckline binding was really good and gave a nice finish for a V-necked top in jersey.

However, I do think the sizing is bit off.  I made the jumper true to my measurements and I do think it's a bit too slouchy and oversized and because of the unusual shape, I'm not entirely sure how to fix it!  I have worn it loads since I finished it though so it clearly can't be bothering me that much!

Saturday 6 October 2018

An oldie but a goodie

With this make I've returned to an old pattern that was everywhere in the blogosphere at one point and I've already made several versions of, a couple of versions here and here.  It is of course the By Hand London Anna dress.  Despite having made this dress a number of times, I have never made the V-necked version so it was nice to try something new while still in the realm of the familiar.

The fabric I used is one of a pair of sheets I picked up in a charity shop a few years back.  I used one of them to make this vintage shirtdress.  Unfortunately as it was my first version of the shirtdress, it was a bit short in the torso and while I loved it I was never that comfortable in it so eventually donated it.  On the plus side I had plenty more of the fabric which I loved so time for dress number 2 from a sheet!  I started my dressmaking journey with a lot of refashioning projects and while I now buy a lot of fabric, I love when I am able to return to some refashioning and to pursue my hobby a bit sustainably.

I always feel like the Anna bodice is a bit short on me (spot the long torso theme) so I lengthened this one by about 5cm.  It may have been a cm too much but I'm not going to get too picky about it.  With my last Anna dress I had made some alterations to adjust for gaping in the back which I did again this time.  I also decided to add a pleated skirt for a slightly different look and while the calculations behind pleats always defeat me (and I'm usually good at maths!), I got there in the end and really like the finished look.  Despite the pleats, this was really a very quick and satisfying make.

It was really nice to make something up that I'd made before and could be fairly certain was going to work well.  While it's always lovely to get a new pattern and try out new things there is something wonderful about returning to a TNT pattern. 

Sunday 30 September 2018

Last of summer sewing

I took these pictures on a recent trip to Hong Kong where my clothes were totally weather appropriate but now I’m back in the UK they feel totally out of sync with the weather and the autumnal sewing that everyone is doing now.

I’ve got a duo to share today. When thinking about what I wanted to wear when away in hot and humid Hong Kong I knew I wanted to make a sew over it silk cami in a breezy fabric and some more Megan Nielsen flint shorts.

The pair of flint shorts that I made last year got so much wear that I definitely wanted a new pair this year in a slightly more neutral colour to go with everything. This pair are made from some black cotton that I had in my stash and were perfect for sightseeing in and going with everything else I’d brought with me. I made the tie closure version and made no alterations. Basically I have nothing to say about these, this is maybe my 6th pair and I can just crack them out and fall in love! A couple of previous versions can be seen here and here.

The silk cami is made from an old Hobbs linen skirt that my mother donated to my stash a few years ago and so is also a refashion.  The skirt was cut on the grain so could basically just be used as a length of fabric. I harvested the zip for my stash too.  Have you all been keeping track of the fabulous refashions happening as part of the refashioners series?  While it's nice to be doing a refashion alongside the rest of the community, this one is no where near as inspired as the other garments in the series.

I’d made a couple of silk camis before but found the fit a bit odd. It’s got quite a loose fit but was tight across the bust. With my decidedly average C cup I’d never had to do an fba before but being no time like the present, I consulted the blogosphere for the knowledge.  I found this post and this post helpful but since neither of them quite covered what I was doing, I'm not entirely sure that I've done it correctly.  I wanted the final top to have a bust dart so that the top didn't end up too shapeless, however, with the adjustment I have ended up with a much roomier top, so for my next version, I will take it in at the sides.  It does fit much better across the bust now though.


What's kind of mind blowing about refashions is how little is left over when transforming what seems like a bigger garment into a smaller one. There were really only a few scraps left over from the skirt when I was finished with this.

For more outfit and Hong Kong photos, please follow me over on instagram @almostahippy.  Have a good week.

Monday 3 September 2018

Sweet as honey

I really loved the honeycomb shirt and dress by Ana from Cocowawa when it was released but I attempted to resist buying it as my sewing output has reduced and I’m so I’m attempting (and failing) to reduce my fabric and pattern buying too.  However, there were so many gorgeous versions popping up on my instagram that I couldn’t help it.  I love a shirtdress, they must be among the most worn items in my wardrobe so the fact that this pattern offers a dress and top versions is a real bonus.

This was my first Cocowawa pattern, while I love some of her other patterns, they are a bit too casual for my mainly work wardrobe, although the Chestnut gives me all the heart eyes and is seriously calling to me.  I was really impressed with the pdf, it seemed to have be planned with economy of paper (and sticking time) in mind and is only 28 pages for all the different versions. 

I made up a size 4, grading to a 6 over the hips, as per my measurements and found it to be pretty accurate but this is a loose fitting top.  I used the remnants of an old duvet cover that I had bought in a charity shop and used to make my vintage halter neck dress.  I found the instructions for the most part really good.  Everyone has been raving about the burrito method for closing the yoke but I wasn’t paying attention at this point and so just stitched my yoke shut and finished it in the way I would any other seam so mine is not so pretty on the inside.  The only thing I struggled with was buttonhole on the mandarin collar, I was struggling to get a neat buttonhole on the collar because of the fabric bulk and then I realised that it wouldn’t close over the other side properly even if I got one so I simply decided to sew buttons on both sides of the collar and call it a feature.  I had a little look on instagram and there seems to be a mix of buttonholes and no buttonholes on the collar so I don’t know if that’s something I fluffed or not.

I love the bow details and can’t wait to make a winter dress complete with the sleeve bows too!  When we were taking these photos, I realised I have a gaping problem between the buttons.  It’s not going to bother me enough to do anything about on this version but on a future one, I think I’d add in more buttonholes, I have space for them as I lengthened the bodice so I could definitely get away with one more.  I used these super cute little strawberry buttons from my stash, I bought them on a market years ago but I don't remember which one. 

Although my face seems huge in this photo, it's probably the best photo of the top so I'm just going to have to deal with looking like a bobble head doll! 

I really recommend this pattern and am looking forward to future versions becoming part of my shirtdress wardrobe!

Thursday 26 July 2018

Expressing my love for the African wax print

Today I have a very colourful dress to show you.  This is my fourth African wax print dress and each time I wear the others I swear that I'm going another as they make me so happy.  I feel like they fit my style well as they are colourful without being novelty and I also love the great interactions I get with other people when I wear them.  People come up to me on the street or the hospital that I work in and talk to me about the prints which is awesome as Londoners tend not to do that often.

I used the Sew Over It Ultimate shift dress pattern.  I've made this pattern so many times but I'd never made the frilled shoulders before as I'm not a massive frill fan but I don't know what got into me and I just went for it and I'm really pleased as these frills I love. 

Despite making this pattern a lot of times, each time I do, I think that I need to lengthen it.  I think I forgot because several of them are winter versions that I wear with tights.  However, this is definitely a summer version and it feels like it should be a smidge longer.  However its been doing me well in this heat wave we've been having. 

And just because if there's ever a giant pink flamingo around you, you should definitely give it a cuddle, particularly if you're wearing a dress to match!