Coco

coco top

Now you won’t find many stretchy casuals on my blog as a rule but the beauty of rule of thumbs is that they can be changed in a click of the fingers. Move over wovens, and make way for the Coco that is stretch jersey (of sorts!)

coco top

I thank Tilly for this genius newbie. Not only for it’s ease of make…. 2 hours I tell ya! And that included pattern tracing and childminding! But a casual top with a retro vibe is completely up my street and something that was seriously lacking in my wardrobe. Over the last few years… 3 years to be precise… I am so proud to say that I have not shopped the high street for anything but undies and cardies. My wardrobe is almost completely handmade by me. But there still resides a few too many black Primani T’s for my liking and this is where Coco could change all!

coco top

I just love the funnel neck and although this fabric doesn’t appear to have more than one single natural fibre, it is a perfect weight to hold the shape. And the cuffs are a wonderful addition to compliment the neckline.

coco funnel neck top

I think I could have gone up a size but I quite like how snug and fitted it is. This top could be serious friends with jeans or capris, with a mini or maxi, and I’m thinking a pair of plaid shorts would partner perfectly. Worn today with an old faithful pencil and a pair of flip flops to do the hockey run!

And it must be mentioned that Mr Ooobop deserves a medal for these photos today. He was in one serious hangover and suffered plenty a head rush when he got up from down low for those creative sky shots!

coco top blossom

Today is just beautiful which is why I’m keeping this short and sweet. Gotta dash to catch those last few rays and Mr O needs a ‘hairy dog’, poor deserved love!

So if you haven’t done already, do pop over to Tilly and the Buttons shop and grab yourself a copy of this pattern. It doubles as a dress pattern,  includes a plain neckline version plus you get to see Tilly herself model the cutest versions of all!

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Skirt-shorts (not skorts, ok?)

stripy skirt shorts

Anyone with a nine year old daughter will completely understand how increasingly hard it becomes to appease one’s little darling in the wardrobe department. My offers of handmade dresses and skirts are still mostly being politely refused but I’m ok with that because it keeps the project list nice and selfish!

skirt shorts

But every now and then she gets a bee in her bonnet about a must-have item of clothing that even Primani just can’t deliver. This weekend it was a pair of skirt-shorts. Not skorts, you understand. There is a difference apparently. I could see the little foot-stamp brewing when I Googled pictures of skorts and it was a while before the penny dropped. The rolling eyes of a nine year-old are a picture I can tell you!

stripy skirt shorts

Getting the picture was one thing. Getting the pattern was another. Only one thing for it. Had to self-draft. I’m not quite ready to share my winging-ways until I’ve perfected it. But suffice to say it worked, kind of. Well totally if you judge by the response of the recipient!

I’ve had this stripy jersey in stash for some time. Yes! Can you believe it? Another piece of stash successfully busted! Doesn’t appear to have reduced the pile any though.

stripy skirt shorts

I used the side-cutter attachment on my Brother Innovis to create some faux overlocked seams and I used a regular zig-zag stitch for the hem and the elastic casing.

The ‘brief’ was to create shorts that looked totally like a skirt. Mission accomplished though I think perhaps I made them a little too full – the waistband is really tightly gathered. Little Miss O assures me they are comfortable enough but I think they could do with a little less volume.

stripy skirt shorts

Who would have guessed that a pair of skirt-shorts would encourage such climbing skills? Making them was easy enough. Getting them off her to put them in the wash might be an entirely different matter!

stripy skirt shorts
Beautiful photos as always by my very talented fella, Daniel Selway.

Me Made May 13: My final days

So here we are. The final days of Me Made May ’13! I feel quite sad in a way. But relieved. And accomplished. And enlightened. So thank you SoZo for setting this brilliant challenge. I didn’t realize quite what a knock on effect it would have. Or how it would make me feel. I wholly recommend this challenge to anyone who has yet to take the plunge. 

I really didn’t think I would make it to the end of the month. For sure there were repeats and some days no photo evidence at all. In reality, taking a photo of yourself every day is really difficult. Easy at first with all the initial enthusiasm for the challenge but then harder each day as the sun disappears, the hubby sets of earlier for work and the outfits get more tight-fitting the older they are!

But the journey was worth it. It was fantastic to focus each day on each hand made garment and realise where I’ve come from and what I’ve arrived at. Confirmation on what I’ve learned and achieved was invaluable. I don’t have time to stop and think properly about most things these days, especially what I’m going to wear on any particular day. So this was a fantastic excuse for self-indulged focussing, on past experience as well as some future plans. Oh yes, of course the flip side of the coin has meant my project list has increased ten-fold. But hey that list always makes for sweet dreams, if nothing else!

So to wrap up… the final days of  Me Made May ’13.

Jersey cowl neck top

DAY 22: Silk touch jersey cowl top and wool pencil skirt
Neither of these are blogged, I made them so long ago. But the cowl top is made from a free pattern on Burdastyle by Ichigogirl. Its the same as the stripy one I made. The skirt is a Simplicity pattern that my mum gave me to kick start my sewing antics. It has a little vent on the front knee. I didn’t line it, unfortunately and this is something I would never do with wool now. I should really go back and line it. It would hang much better and not stick to my tights!

Day 23 black self-drafted pencil skirt

DAY 23: Black self-drafted pencil skirt
This is possibly the most worn and practical of garments in my wardrobe. It fits like a glove, because I drafted it to my exact measurements. It’s properly lined and the lining is even properly attached to the vent. The waistband incorporates a woven interfacing so it doesn’t roll and is fastened by a hook and bar instead of a rubbish ‘eye’! It was a fantastic learning curve making this skirt. So absolutely worth all the effort that it feels fantastic to wear. I always imagined a whole weeks worth of these to choose from and I still think that is highly necessary. They are perfect work skirts and glam up nicely for a spontaneous evening out too!

DAY 24: Stripy wool mini A-line skirt
A miserable day. No sunshine at all, so the woolly skirt came back out. No photographer today I’m afraid. I’ve come to realise how much I wear this skirt. Mostly when I can’t think of anything else to wear. It fits; it’s comfortable; it goes with DMs… and it keeps my butt warm!

Day 25 mmm13 Elisalex shortened

DAY 25: The shortened Elisalex
Today was the 20th anniversary of the day my dad died. Always a sad day. But always a good excuse to don a pretty dress and catch up with my wonderful brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews. The cemetery is a bit of a trek from the bus stop so I needed to sport something easy to walk in. Small heels means small skirt in my world so there was only one thing to do. And that was to chop the bottom off my test Elisalex dress! So glad I did. The duvet cover did good! Although I love my longer rosy version, it’s kind of ‘for best’ but this cheeky little version is now a great little throw-on when-the-sun-shines-and-go dress!

DAY 26: Grey pencil skirt
No photographic evidence today. I wore the first pencil skirt I ever drafted which still fits pretty well. Its lined but has no vent. I was taking things one step at a time back then and to learn to create a vent was information overload! I have to take pigeon steps but it still works. It’s a good staple, though a little boring. It’s days are numbered as soon as the others are on the cutting table!

Day 27 goat eating dress

DAY 27: First summer dress of the year
Today we went to the Surrey County Show. An ideal place to sport a full on flowery frock. Not such a great idea to wear in the goat tent though! Note that Mr O sought his photo opportunity before letting me know what was occurring! I still love this dress but I need to take some volume out of the back. I didn’t notice before but it gapes at the zip. I’m pretty sure its a simple fix. And hopefully it will fit better.

Day 28 Danielle dress

DAY 28: Danielle dress
Now here’s a blast from the past. Almost 2 years ago to the day. It was a bit of a squeeze, I can tell you. So much wrong with this dress but I still like the vibe of it. The fabric was a charity shop find, unsure of the content but it’s soooo itchy and scratchy. I thought I was being out there by using red lining but that turned out to be a no-no with the pale open weave fabric on the skirt! I can’t really breathe in this dress and you can tell by the pull across my chest but this dress is a lovely reminder that I should make another that fits in a much lovelier fabric.

Day 29 button back top

DAY 29: Button back retro top
I was fast running out on day 29 so it was a great propmt to rectify some issues with some garments I don’t tend to wear any more. This one in particular was really annoying to wear because I made the neckhole too small. I really liked the jewel neckline but in reality it kind of chokes you to death. Only problem was that the first buttonhole started right at the top, so to lob a centimetre off the neckline would halve my first buttonhole. My need to wear a me-made top spurred on a quick fix and I replaced the buttonhole with a press-stud and sewed the button on top so nobody will ever know!

Day 30 vintage pencil skirt with pockets

DAY 30: Vintage pencil skirt with pockets
Not yet blogged but again, a hurried make out of desperation but boy I’m glad. I’ve been meaning to make this for yonks! It still needs some fine tuning and this is really just a test garment but I will fill in the details when I blog it. But what’s more to say? Its a pencil skirt with pleats and front pockets… hooray!

Day 31 1940s shoe dress

DAY 31: 1940s shoe dress again!
A shameless repeat but one I’m prepared to wear again and again. This is by far one of my favourite dresses. It gets comments from total strangers as I stroll down to Sainsbo’s. It’s cool and comfy and is covered in shoes! This is the item of clothing that I need at least 5 more of. Along with 7 pencils skirts, my wardrobe should have at least 7 of these too!

And so we leave the month of May and venture on to pastures new. A prom dress for my friend’s daughter is on the go, FBA’s and all, a bespoke pencil skirt for my daughter’s birthday present and another that was bid on by my friend at the school auction. (Far too nervous to ask what she bid!)

Thank you as always for your wonderful comments and support x

Me-made May’13: My first week
Me-made May’13: My second week/
Me-made May’13: My third week/

Me Made May 13: My third week

I did it. I actually made 3 weeks of Me Made May ’13! It wasn’t as desperate as I thought it would be and I’ve really enjoyed it! The only thing that has been a bit tricky is getting a photo when the mister has left earlier for work.

Most of the garments I have worn this week have issues. Mostly fitting issues. Things drafted either too big or too small and things that no longer fit because of some unwelcome poundage that crept up over the last year or so! I must learn to create things that fit in the now and not for when the pounds are shed. Because it doesn’t work like that!

Another revelation, which comes as no surprise to me, is that I need more skirts and tops for work. I’ve no shortage of ideas. Just got to pull my finger out!

So here we go. Week 3 of  Me Made May ’13.

pin dot jersey top

DAY 15: Pin dot jersey top
New Look 6753. This is one of the few jersey tops I’ve made. I like how it’s an easy-to-wear casual top but it’s not my favourite top to wear. Perhaps because I made it too big and its defied all my attempts of shrinkage too! I have since been advised to make a size smaller when using stretch fabric. I’m sure I’d love it more if it fit more snuggly. Still better than a Primani top though!

stripy cowl top

DAY 16: Stripy cowl top
This was a great free pattern from the Burdastyle website. Really simple to put together and really easy to wear. I’m not convinced I graded it up properly, or enough for that matter so the cowl isn’t as dramatic as it could have been. But I still like it.

pinstripe wool jacket

DAY 17: Wool pinstripe jacket
This is a pattern from Burdastyle magazine, issue 11/2010. It was my first venture into tailoring and is anything but perfect but it prompted me to delve more into the art of old school tailoring techniques which are now ready to employ when I embark on another. Once again I overestimated the size but that means it’s great to wear with a few layers underneath and boy I needed them today! The pinky mauve pinstripe means it doesn’t really go with much apart from a flooky pinstripe skirt that I owned already!

floral mini skirt

DAY 18: Floral mini skirt
I made this in march last year and it still feels good teamed with Docs and a cardi. Keep meaning to make more of these. They are so simple and so cute and so easy to wear. So long as its none too windy!

tartan shorts

DAY 19: Plaid shorts
I do enjoy wearing these. Despite the fabric going all bobbly on me. Only on the weekend, mind. Won’t catch me in the office with that much leg out! I wore them down to the river pub to meet some friends. The pattern I used was Simplicity 2659. A simple and satisfying overnight make. There will be more of these. It’s just a matter of time. However I will not be using the twill tape facing method. I will draft a properfacing this time. They do need a bit more structure at the waist and front. And I must make them a wee bit bigger next time!

black rose party dress

DAY 20: Black rose party dress
This is me and my lovely fella, the last of the party people, at the end of his spectacular 40th birthday party. It was taken in the wee hours of the morning and so I’m very glad the photo is such poor quality! The dress, which I just about fit into, was whipped up overnight for a party March last year. I have since found some very similar fabric which will be another one of these one day!

DAY 21: Wool check skirt
I didn’t manage to get a photo of today but rest assured it was a me-made kinda day. I wore the same wool check skirt I sported on the second week, day 10. Crazy that May has turned out cold enough to sport a woolly skirt more than once in the space of a couple of weeks.

Can’t believe there’s only one more week left. I think I’m going to have to dig real deep now!

Laters! x

Me-made May’13: My first week
Me-made May’13: My second week/

50s pin up silk knickers

silk knickers

Well Bridget Jones, eat your heart out. Mine are big and all silk!

There has been a lot of knicker making activity going on in blogworld recently. For example these pretty French knickers by Kat at The Couture Academic, these ‘little pants‘ made by Rachel at the House of Pinheiro and just check out Gertie’s prolific pant production line! Plenty ’nuff inspiration to ease me gently into the beginnings of lingerie-making.

As with most things I do for the first time, I headed to my Burda Style magazine collection, remembering a Lovely Lingerie section in issue 01/2012, which of course included the perfect pattern.

Burda Style LingerieThe only thing that flummoxed me was that these ones had a side zipper! I can’t get my head around having to zip up your pants in the morning, call me old-fashioned! I guess the rationale was that the over layer of tulle wasn’t too stretchy and I for one would never be able to get non-stretchy nicks over  my hips!

So first mission was to find some stretchy lingerie fabric so I could omit the zip. I went in search of stretch cotton satin but on presentation of skirt-weight cotton sateen each time, I gave in to the more luscious lure of 100% stretch silk. At £15 metre, these are definitely the most expensive but certainly the most luxurious pants I own. My faithful haberdashers in Shepherds bush market stocks the elastic lace at 50p a metre which softens the blow!

silk knickers bow

These were such an easy and delightful make. Though I don’t want to give you a ‘bum steer’ (!) They are more time-consuming than you would think, to stretch-and-stitch the elastic lace, top-stitching it twice on each opening . . . especially on to slippery silk.

Oh, and by the way, I make no apology for the lack of modelled garment. How could I possibly compete with the way that Scruffy Badger so confidently models her frilly knickers?!

The Daphne dress

In between the quilting and the vintage dresses and the obsessive pattern buying I’m quite often being art-directed by Little Miss Ooobop! for her next dressing up party outfit. Today was her friend’s birthday party, Scooby Doo was the theme and she wanted to be Daphne.

Daphne from Scooby Doo

Burda Style 10/2010 came in handy, and not for the first time, with a great kids pattern for a long T shirt. The original had a button placket and long sleeves which wasn’t an option for Daphne’s dress. Believe me, LMO does her homework good and proper. The only requested variation was that the dress had short sleeves in case it was sunny. She wasn’ t wrong, that daughter of mine… what a glorious sunny day we had today.

The fabric is a mauve stretch cotton jersey which we found in the first shop we went into! And at £3.99 a metre, a bit of a bargain too! The satin bias trim was from my favourite haberdasher stall in Shepherds Bush market for 40p a metre! No other notions. A v-neckline makes sure of that.

Daphne pose

To alter the pattern I simply cut the the body back and front on the fold, ignoring the placket shape. I lengthened by 4 inches and changed the neckline to a V-shape. And shortened the sleeves of course.

I used the trusty side-cutter to do a faux serge on the seams. Honestly it works like a treat! And I used a stretch stitch to finish the hems on the skirt and the sleeves. I have finished a v-neckline with stretch jersey once before, on my spotty top, and it was great to practice it once again. In fact I think I did a much better job this time!

LMO with missL

The hairband is quite literally a tube of the stretch jersey. A head measurement minus an inch. No elastic involved. I just relied on the stretch of the fabric and it was fine. I wasn’t going to get too bogged down with it as it was going to get ruined by orange hair spray in any case!

The neckscarf is half a metre of finest lime green polyester, seamed all round with a gap for turning! Actually I was lucky to be served half a metre. Apparently only regular customers get that deal!

The only tricky thing about this project was getting said daughter to pose. It’s getting harder and harder to get her to willingly and graciously pose. It normally involves hard cash but today we got off light with a double scoop ice-cream!

Daphne with ice cream

easy peasy spotty top

new look 6753 top

Despite sewing at every available opportunity, my wardrobe is still lacking in basics. Tops mostly. And particularly ones that go with everything. I spotted this pin dot jersey in a remnant box for 99p and imagined it as a top right there and then. I’m still quite scared of sewing with stretchy fabric but only because I don’t do it enough, and that is probably why I have a serious shortage of go-to tops. But I have to say, this pattern: New Look 6753 really was as ‘easy’ as it said on the packet.

new look 6753 sewing pattern

I remembered to use a ball point needle and set the stretch stitch and a couple of hours later it was ready to go. No notions, no sleeves, no lining… just the ticket for a brain addled by a weekend of pure self-indulgence!

The binding on the armholes and neckline looked to be a bit tricky from the instructions, mostly because I hadn’t done this before but it was painless, I can assure you. The binding strips are cut on the cross grain and not on the bias because, hey!… it’s stretchy already! The strips are seamed with right sides together on the short ends to make a loop and then pressed, long edges and wrong sides together. The binding is sewn, raw edges and right sides together and then the seam is pressed down towards the garment and a row of stitching made close to the seam from the right side, to stop the binding from rolling out.

new look 6753 armhole binding

To retain the ‘v’ shape neckline, before the binding is attached a small snip is made at the point of the raw edge of the ‘v’ and opened up to sew the binding on. When seamed and top stitched, a little dart is sewn on the wrong side of the binding to pinch the shape back into the neckline. All clever stuff!

new look 6753 neckline

As you can see from the picture above there is a top and a bottom bodice section. The top is subtly gathered to give some shape and create a bit of detail. This particular jersey fabric is very fine. Not sure of its content but I’m sure the shaping would have worked better on a sturdier stretch fabric. Not complaining at all for 99p though. This was a fabulous outcome for what really was a test drive.

I’m also sure that it is possible to go down 2 sizes in this style. I went down one size and it is still very roomy, though to be fair I haven’t washed it yet and if there is any amount of cotton present it is bound to shrink a bit, I hope!

I wore it today with my shorts which incidentally didn’t coordinate at all! Ironically, it appears I don’t have anything at all to go with this top so I now have some plain skirts to add to the project list. I did however have a snazzy M&S jacket to pick out the red of the shorts. Should have worn the blue shoes too I guess… doh!

new look 6753 top with jacket