Thursday, 28 May 2015

MMM days 23-29

I am currently really sick of May, not me-made-may, just May in general. I had a deadline on the 29th and it has dominated most of my free time, including weekends and has made me fed up and grumpy. It has also meant that while my 'to sew' list has increased my sewing time disappeared, just leaving me with frustrated dreams of my ideal wardrobe. Also, what is with the weather? There was hail again today! Anyway, enough complaining, my deadline is done and I have lots of things to look forward to, including, hopefully, some more sewing time. 

So what did I wear during my grumpy week?

Day 23
Angelica top, jeans (Asos), cardigan (New Look)

Day 24
This dress was my alteration for last week which I realised that I forgot to include in my round up post.  It's not me-made but has now been altered by me.  I have a problem with some RTW dresses that they gape round the neckline which I think is a result of a hollow chest.  This dress has been in my wardrobe for 10 years and each time I wore it, the gaping bugged me so it did not get a lot of wear.  I really like it though so I'm glad I took the time to make it more wearable for this summer.

Day 25
A wardrobe fail meant that I wore exactly the same outfit on day 23 and 25 so I couldn't be bothered to take another picture of the same outfit.  I was also working on a bank holiday and was grumpy about it so not in a mood for photos.

Day 26
Lady skater dress, cardigan (New Look)

Day 27
Tartan mini dress, cardigan (Dunnes). This was the first day I dared to bare my legs as the temperature edged up into the late teens. 

Day 28
Bicycle skirt, t-shirt (Dorothy Perkins)

Day 29
Lady skater. I love the print on this dress which is why it's remained in my wardrobe but it was one of the first things I made and each time I wear it, I see all the flaws!  A group of us are away for the weekend and a mega accomodation fail meant that I was too stressed to get a picture.

Right have a lovely weekend everyone and enjoy the last couple of days of me made may. I'm off to a wedding at the seaside!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Book review; 'Famous Frocks, the little black dress'

My aunt sent me an Amazon gift voucher for my birthday and after MUCH deliberation (my birthday is in June and I ordered these in April), I finally used it to purchase the season 3 Great British Sewing Bee book and 'Famous Frocks, the little black dress' by Dolin Bliss O'Shea.
Lots of reviews have been popping up about the GBSB book but since the fabulous frocks one is my favourite and I actually couldn't find much info on it before I ordered it, I thought I'd do my own review.

Just a warning, this is a really long post!

The book contains patterns for 10 statement dresses and then variations on these dresses inspired by a number of fashion icons (although I feel the term icon is used a little loosely).  However, be prepared for a lot of gushing, I love most of the outfits in this book and it gives so many outfit options!

First up is Chanel.  Ok, she definitely counts as an icon.
One of the things that I think is great about this book is the line drawings, it makes it so much easier to see if the details of an outfit are going to suit you and to make alterations.  I love the pocket detail on this one.  Now I know the title of the book explicitly states that the statement dresses are black but I really don't love this one in black.  I love the colour of the variation though:
The recommended fabrics for both Chanel dresses are stretch fabrics.

Next is Joan Crawford.  I really love the shape of this one, I find cowl necks really interesting and flattering and the waist detail is great.  The recommended fabric for the detail is sequinned, I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to put that through my sewing machine though.
The variation for this one is an A shaped skirt.  It's a decent basic but not wildly exciting which is why I didn't include a picture.  However, if you wanted to create yourself a handmade wardrobe, it would be a good pattern to have.

The third icon is Ava Gardner:

Oh my god someone take me to an event where I can wear a dress like this!  Sadly I can't think of any event when I could wear this but I love it, talk about va va voom!  Hmm, if I want glamour maybe I should insert it myself and just start wearing dresses like this out for dinner, 

The Ava variation though, could be a a really cute and wearable summer dress.  The only issue I have with it is that I wouldn't be able to wear a bra and there are no instructions for building in support.  If you have a lot of sewing experience and know how to do this, or have a small bust, this would be a brilliant dress.

So the next icon is Audrey Hepburn.  It surprised me that I really liked the Audrey Hepburn selected outfits.  Although I find her incredibly glamorous and beautiful, she was a very different shape and size to me so the things that she wears wouldn't usually suit me.  However, I find this dress really cute, it's very similar to the BHL Flora dress which I've already made a couple of times and really love.  The difference between this one and the Flora dress is that the skirt is gored and a bit less full so it's probably a bit more flattering.

The variation is great too, same bodice with a pencil skirt.

The next icon is Grace Kelly.  Now I really admire how elegant Grace Kelly always looked and I love the 1950s look which she wore so well.  However, I also have to get real and accept the fact that I'm just not that well put together so although I dream of being that glamorous, I'm probably not going to be able to pull it off.  Also I although this dress is lovely I don't think it would suit me.
The Grace variation is a pencil skirt, again a handy basic but not that exciting by itself.  Also I prefer my pencil skirts with waist bands which this one doesn't have.

So the next icon is Mary Quant.  I'm starting to regret scoffing at the use of the word icon, so far I wouldn't quibble with any of them.  Again this is a really cute outfit.  I feel like I'm in the minority here but I'm not a massive fan of Peter Pan collars but I love the see-through sleeves.
This is variation is brilliant.  I can see this outfit fitting into my life, possibly slightly longer though as I don't have the model's legs and it's not terribly work appropriate at the current length.

So the next icon is Liza Minelli.  This is where I start to take issue with the 'icon' term.  Maybe Liza Minelli is a style icon, however, the only thing I have seen her in is Cabaret and the look that she has in that is not one I especially need to try and pull off.  However, I do really like this dress, maybe if this is Liza's usual look, she should be my style icon.
In the variation, I really like the sleeves but I'm less keen on the fuller skirt.

The next icon is Angelica Huston.  Again an icon?  However, she did really rock the Morticia look in the Adams Family.  I like the photo of this dress and even the drawing but I know it would look hideous on me.  This is one of the few things in the book I know I will never make.
However, the Angelica variation is amazing.  I love this top and the drape is gorgeous.

The next icon is Princess Diana.  I think icon is probably fair in this case, although Princess Di had some major misses style wise too.  This dress is lovely, such a simple outline.  Princess seams are very flattering and I could really use some simple dresses like this in my wardrobe.
The variation is a blouse.  I'm undecided about how I feel about this one, maybe it's the fabric which I really dislike.  Maybe the proof will be in the making...

And finally we have Kate Moss.  This is a very 90s dress, not in a bad way and has come back into fashion again.  You can't really see from the photos but this is a lace dress with a lining in the body. You would want to have quite a bit more sewing knowledge than this book provides to produce a good version of this dress I think.
The variation for the Kate dress is the only one I really don't like.  I hate that style of neckline but I see it in the shops all the time so someone must like it.

Ok so now you've had my opinions and all the photos here are some helpful practical details:
6 of the patterns are for stretch fabrics which I find really great as I like sewing with stretch fabrics and appreciate how fast they sew up

The patterns only come in 5 sizes which cover a broad range-there are about 8cm between each one.  If like me, you fall between sizes you have to trace of the pattern in between sizes which feels very clumsy and I was worried about accuracy.  The patterns are printed double sided so the pieces have to be traced off which I didn't mind as I tend to do this with my paper patterns anyway.  However, the pieces are spread over two pages, which I just found bizarre.  Instead of having one piece on a page, they've cut them in half and put one half on one page and another half on another despite having space for the whole piece on one sheet.  If anyone knows what the rationale for this might be, please let me know.

The variations in this book are great but are not just handed to you on a plate, you have to make the alterations to the patterns yourself, although the instructions for this are good and actually I think this is quite a good way of learning to hack patterns.  Although the lazy side of me complains every time I look at them.  The potential for outfits from this book are huge, all the skirts and bodices are designed so that they fit together.

It's difficult to see who this book is aimed at.  The techniques outlined at the beginning are quite basic but I feel the level of sewing demanded from some of the patterns is beyond what a beginner could do as there is not enough detail to guide them through.

So having been using this book as my bedtime reading for weeks and dreaming of the outfits, it was time to put it to the test. Strangely the first thing I decided to make from this book of fabulous dresses was a top! I just loved the beautiful drape of the Angelica variation top and decided to give it a go.

I sewed it up following the instructions and despite my worries about the tracing, everything matched up perfectly. However when I tried it on, it was huge round the waist, this is clear from the drawings of the dress but not from those of the top.  However I took it in by an inch on each side at the waist which worked fine.  

Overall I'm pleased with it and the drape is super pretty but it could really do with some more waist/underbust shaping for my taste. I used a really pretty viscose from simply fabrics in Brixton just for extra drapey-ness. It's not a big deal as this top is so loose but next time I'll do a broad back adjustment. 

I would definitely buy this book for a friend but probably not a beginner as the instructions are maybe not detailed enough. However for someone who knows their way round a pattern, this book is full of lovely outfits to make up. Which one should I make next? Anyone else tempted by this book? 

Friday, 22 May 2015

MMM days 16-22

Hi all. Happy Friday! Wow May is certainly zipping by, how is it day 22 already? I've been a bit less irritated by my clothes this week but I'm really working on trying to plan my 'to sew' list to create a more coordinated, wearable wardrobe. Hopefully this will be reflected in the next few makes that you see on here.

Day 16
 Birdie Edith blouse, Jeans (Asos), cardigan (New Look)

Day 17
Lady skater, belt (pinched ages ago from my mum), cardigan (new look) and shoes (asos). 

Day 18
I had a study day and spent it slobbing around in RTW pyjamas and lounge wear

Day 19
Vintage top, skirt (thrifted). I've been wearing this skirt a lot recently as it is a good basic piece which I have shockingly few of, however, I'm starting to loathe it as it fits really badly, is huge at the waist and the way it wrinkles up when I'm sitting down makes me look pregnant. Not a look I'm currently aspiring to! Time to get sewing some basics! 

Day 20
Strawberry circle. Skirt (unblogged) and owl jumper

Day 21:
Refashioned skirt, vintage top, belt (thrifted or pinched from my mum, I don't remember which) for a uni day followed by celebratory drinks for my friends birthday. Happy birthday Dominika! 

Day 22
Birdie Renfrew (unblogged), jeans 

Although I was less frustrated this week with my wardrobe, I predict the final period will be more frustrating as I have a couple of big events in this time and I think my me-made wardrobe will let me down. 

Anyway I'm off to concentrate on my Friday night glass of prosecco, I hope you all have super lovely weekends. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

A vintage top, Simplicity 9742

Hello everyone, today I have another vintage make to show you. I had a totally different garment planned for my next vintage pledge item but then two things happened; me made may where I realised I have a real dearth of decent me made separates and I found this great pattern in a charity shop.
It's dated 1980 and is made of just 2 pattern pieces. It was the bow detail on the shoulder which really sold it to me.

As there are just 2 pieces you can't really get creative with pattern placement and you really need the 2m that the pattern states. I made this up in a gorgeous raspberry peachskin that I think I got for something stupid like a £1 a metre in the closing down sale at Atlantic fabrics in Brixton.  It's got to have been at least 18 months since I bought it, as I bought the fabric for my trio of skirts at the same time, so its nice to stashbust a bit.  Sadly this fabric was not really wide enough for the pattern pieces so I had to made a shorter sleeved version than the pattern shows.

I really love this top and it's really easy and quick to make up.  I measured the pattern pieces before starting and made a broad back adjustment but apart from that, I didn't make any fit changes. As I mentioned the fabric wasn't wide enough to make the length of sleeves on the pattern pieces, however I really like this length.

As it was such a simple make, I made a bit of effort to make the insides pretty; french seams all over the place.

I can see this top being a real staple in m wardrobe but as there is clearly zero natural fibres in it, it's not all that ideal for summer.  However, summer seems reluctant to arrive in the UK so that's really not a problem at the moment (in case you think I'm being over dramatic about this, I got hailed on today!) I do have some silks in my stash, I can see another version of this top being a good way to use one of them.

I'm pleased to have got in another make towards my vintage pledge. Two down, two to go.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

MMM days 8-15

How're you all doing with your me-made pledges? I have found this week a bit more challenging, partly because it's revealing to me where the holes in my wardrobe are and is leaving me feeling frustrated with my clothes. However I'm still really enjoying taking part, it's just that it's giving me a huge 'to sew' list!

So what did I wear this week?

Day 8:
Bicycle print lady skater (unblogged) I'm such a terrible documenter, I even took photos of this so that it could make it onto the blog and it just didn't quite make it.  Sadly I took the photos back in December and I was wearing it with almost the same number of layers as I am in May! It was actually raining on us when we took this photo!

Day 9:
Belladone dress and cardigan (new look). I wear this dress a lot and really need another, there has been one cut out on my work-in-progress pile for a while, I must get on and finish that.

Day 10
Spent mainly in non-me-made pyjamas as I had work to do and was feeling grumpy about it!

Day 11:
Galaxy refashioned dress-first time this dress has been worn this year :) Cardigan (new look). Sadly I didn't have a photographer today and this selfie isn't wonderful which is a shame as I really like this outfit.

Day 12
Plantain t-shirt, skirt (thrifted)

Day 13
Bicycle skirt, t-shirt (Dorothy Perkins), cardigan (Dunnes)
Again another item which is getting its first outing of the year. I'm very happy spring is starting to arrive but I would really like to not still be wearing black tights. Come on sun, time to make your way to the UK! 

Day 14
Grey skirt (New Look 6873), refashioned lady skater jumper (seen during OWOP but did not get its own post)

Day 15

Lady skater dress, cardigan (New Look, bored of seeing this cardigan yet?)

My repair this week was to fix a seam that had split in my Anna dress, so as soon as the sun arrives to stay, I'll be able to wear my lovely maxi dress again.

Happy weekend everyone.