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A pleated floral skirt

I made a skirt! And I actually wore it outside the house, moments which are important in my life as a maker and wearer or skirts 😉

I was never a big fan or skirts because I considered them fussy and higher maintenance than a pair of shorts, especially when you bike, run around and sit in the grass, looking at ducks floating peacefully on the lake. But when I received this beautiful fabric as a Christmas gift, I thought it would make a really pretty skirt. I didn’t know if I would really wear it, but I made a promise to myself I would at least give it a try.

floral skirt back snap detail

Pattern and construction

The skirt itself is just a rectangle of fabric, shaped by knife pleats, with a fitted waistband. I used a zipper and a pressure button for closure.

floral skirt back detail

This is probably one of the simplest garments to make. If you’re not sure about the pleats, you could just sew a tube and gather it with a drawstring or elastic. Since the cotton has a medium weight, I thought the pleats would work better, but if your fabric is lighter, elastic might actually be a better choice for you.

floral skirt sq

I like the skirt because the cotton is quite heavy so it can stand a little wind. It also makes it bicycle friendly (tested!). The overall shape, a bit like an inverted peony looks very pretty, makes it look special. With flat sandals and a t-shirt it looks pretty and casual and it can look quite formal with heels and a silky blouse.

I haven’t lined it yet, but I think I will.

Garment notes:

Sewing pattern: self-made.

Things I wish I’d done differently: love this! Next time, I’ll make sure to add pockets in the side seams!

Fabric: around a metre of cotton, received as a gift 🙂

No notions, thread from my stash.

Final cost = nothing

MMM16 Weeks 3 and 4

A bit late, but just as insightful as if would have been, have I written this two weeks ago 🙂

Week three

The third week of May was dedicated to watercolor. I received a beautiful new watercolor pad as a gift and the paper is beautiful! It was such a pleasure to paint on it.

My me-mades on the drying line are, from right to left:

  • a me-made striped t-shirt I made using a self-drafted pattern,
  • another white self-made t-shirt,
  • a suede house robe I made as a muslin for the Oslo cardigan and turned out really pretty,
  • a self drafted blue cotton floral eyelet t-shirt blouse
  • a pair of new pajamas in a fun robots and rackets fabric, using the Moji pants Seamwork pattern and replacing the drawstring with elastic

mmm16 week 3

Week four

I was travelling the last week of June so my me-made-outfits were a bit more planned than usual. Again from left to right:

  • the floral peplum top I self-drafted and thrifted denim shorts with a new hem
  • a RTW green tank top I had for ever and the refashioned jeans I got from my sister last year.
  • a batwing wool knit dress I refashioned recently and leggings

mmm16 week 4 part two

  • a RTW little black dress and a tiny floral shirt I made recently using a pattern I made starting from the Negroni shirt pattern by Collette Patterns
  • a blue top with a mesh lace top part of the bodice (this must have a more specific name, do you know it?) with a loong story. When I first bought it, it was a long-sleeved, shirred hem, super see-through pink blouse. With a snip there and a dye bath there it turned into something I wear quite a lot!

MMM16 week 4 part one

Things I learned from MMM16

I wasn’t sure what I was going to gain from Me Made May, but I always love everyone’s post, ideas, point of view. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about my wardrobe, but I discovered some new things:

  • Most of the RTW garments I own are refashioned/edited/remade/changed in some way. I didn’t realise it before, but I almost never wear a piece of clothing the way it was designed to be worn
  • When I make my own clothes, I don’t focus on tailoring and fitting as much as I should. I end up with meh-fitting garments I spent hours to make, when just another hour of seam unpicking (aaargh!), removing a couple of centimetres here and there, adding a little dart, would turn that garment into something beautiful!
  • I still have a lot of clothes that I love because I’ve made them and they are beautiful, but don’t feel right for me/my lifestyle. I need to do something about this.
  • I had a lot of fun with the different types of illustrations I used for these two last weeks, as well as week 2 and week 1.

What about you? How was your MMM16?

 

Me Made May 16 – Week 2

This second week of me made may 2016 I’m experimenting with documenting the clothes I made or tailored or refashioned by drawing in coloured pencils. It’s really great to try something new.

Coloured pencils are so uncomplicated. In the best way possible. I mean, there are wonderful artists out there that do magical things with their ideas, ability and… coloured pencils, but most of us had a box of pencils when we were kids. It was okay to just scribble away all day and if I remember correctly, there was no other goal than having fun. And an inexplicable urge to draw.

Drawing and documenting what you make and what you actually wear have another advantage: zooming in on the details and cherishing the little things. The simple, beautiful things of everyday.

Monday and Tuesday

Drawing also helps us discover new things about the most common objects around us. Take this denim trench, that I recently thrifted and refashioned and now wear all the time. I couldn’t draw it from memory, I had to look at the shape and the position of the pockets, just to be sure. I had no idea it had that upper row of pockets!

The refashioned sweatshirt is the same one I was talking about here. It’s just comfy and great for rainy days.

mmm16 week 2 trench and sweatshirt

Wednesday and Thursday

Two of the me made and me transformed tops I wore this week are both very old friends. The one on the left is a top I made many years ago, from a beautiful piece of white gauzy fabric that I bought at a flea market and I wanted to turn into curtains at that time. Alas, I had bought too little of it.

I first made a top using a Burda pattern that was a bit like an inverted tulip. It had looked lovely on the model, it looked really awkward on me. It stayed in my closet, marinating for a while, until I just cut of the bottom part and left the hem straight. And what do you know, the perfect woven fabric t-shirt was thus born.

I’ve worn this for a couple of years I think, until, one sunny day involving ice cream, or maybe vermut, or maybe both. The stains did not come out. So I dyed it grey. It came out even better than before. And here we are, many years after, still together 🙂

The second top was RTW and had a similar fate. The white and blue stripes gradually became off-white and blue stripes, and later strange-white and blue stripes. So off-in-the-same-bucket-of-dye it went and, like the previous shirt, it came out looking even better. It’s still one of my favourite t-shirts.

mmm16 week 2 tops

Friday 

These jeans were waiting in my closet since last summer, when my sister gave them to me as a gift. She had also received them as a gift. I really wanted to wear them, but the fabric (really sturdy, 100% cotton) was a bit stiff and with their full-length bootcut, they felt… heavy (does that make sense)? And the fit… meh.

I kept thinking about things I could do to them and how I could tailor them to make them fit great (hey are a gift from my sister after all!) and decided to get the seam ripper and remove the back pockets. I also tailored them to fit as peg trousers and cut them off just above the ankle. Very trendy, you will say. Yet that perfect, just above the ankle crop, also cut away the little family of stubborn stains of mysterious origins.

The result: my new favourite pair!

mmm16 week 2 jeans

Weekdays

As a bonus, I wanted to talk about my lunch and furosiki. Furoshiki is the Japanese way or wrapping goods, gifts, clothes that needed to be transported, in fabric. The fabric can be reused again and again. Any fabric napkin can be turned into a lunch bag, but for making this one, I used a beautiful pink and orange fabric I received as a gift. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, because I liked it a lot, but it didn’t inspire me to make any garments from it. But turning it into fabric napkins means it gets used and I get to see it every week.

We’ve had the two sets of eight for a few months now. They are super easy to wash and reuse. And they look pretty. Before, I had made white fabric napkins, but I noticed patterned fabric are more forgiving for everyday use.

What about you, how was MMM16 last week and what discoveries did you make?

 

mmm16 week 2 furoshiki

Me Made May 16 – Week 1

Love the idea of MMM16, or Me Made May, the challenge to wear things you’ve made or refashioned yourself for a month. Not so much the idea of selfies 🙂

This week I experimented with illustration as a way to record and share my MMM16 musings.

Monday: leggings and a thrifted sweatshirt that I refashioned and completely reshaped. I made a mistake and forgot to change my needle to ballpoint and had to unpick a seam when I sewed this, which means that there are some unsightly holes under one of the armholes 🙁 I was thinking I could add embroidery to fix that and give this sweatshirt a second refashion.

me made may 16 refashioned sweatshirt

Tuesday: Denim Adelaide dress, yet to be blogged and a black RTW t-shirt. I’ve had this t-shirt for a long time and I am impressed how well it still looks.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 13.21.05

Wednesday: Self made white t-shirt in self-drafted pattern (yay!) and Adelaide world map vest, together with refashioned jeans.

me made may 16 self made vest and tshirt

Thursday: Traditional Romanian Peasant blouse (called “ie” in Romanian) that I did not make but want to try to make one day and a refashioned high-waisted denim skirt. Not pictured, but worn, self knitted white cardigan.

me made may 16 denim skirt and peasant blouse

Friday: refashioned plaid shirt and black joggers (the fancier word for sweatpants:). I’ve had this shirt for more than 10 years and I wear it almost every week. It might even be one of the first men shirts I restyled.

me made may 16 shirt and joggers

It was also fun to do these illustrations every day 🙂

How is your MMM16 going so far?

The problem with sewing as much as you want

The only problem with sewing as much as you want is that you end up with lots of stuff. Lots of garments you loved to think about, plan out, and make reality.

But how much stuff does one need?

Not so much, I think.

When putting back in storage (finally!) my winter clothes and reviewing my possessions (which I am trying to keep to a certain minimum that still lets me discover new combinations and garments I love and not worn in a while), I realised I have a bit more than I really need.

Do I love everything I sew? I care for all of them, because I made them and I liked making them, but If I could give them away to someone who would enjoy them as much as I do, I would be just as happy. But I don’t feel like giving them away to someone who doesn’t understand their value. Do you know what I mean?

So what do you do with the too many garments you make every season? Do you keep them all? Do you have a friend with similar fashion taste to give them to? Do you just donate them?

I am also curious, what do you love most, the process of sewing or the final result?

 

 

 

A self-drafted floral peplum top

“Oh! A top with flowers”… my partner exclaimed when presented with this blouse.” But you don’t really do flowers…”

And it’s true. I don’t. Normally. Yet when I saw this fabric, a light and fresh cotton batiste it screamed of spring and pretty things. There was still snow on the ground then, but today it feel like a good day to share this without feeling spring will be jinxed and forever banished from Canada.

In a recent post, Portia was writing how sewing enables us to adapt trends (or in this case things that inspire us) and make them work for us. I like that.

floral peplum top 3

And I like how this blouse looks. It’s one of the few self-drafted patterns I that looks exactly like what I wanted. I even did a muslin for this. The construction is simple: a darted bodice that flares a bit from the waist down. The peplum is created with a few rows of shirring. The sleeves are set in and end just above the elbow. The neck opening is large enough to make any zippers or buttons unnecessary, which is a kind of simplicity I really like.

I initially went for 3/4 sleeves, but they didn’t balance well the bodice. It looked strange. Now looking at the photos I am wondering whether the blouse would look better with shorter sleeves… any suggestions?

floral peplum top_1

Garment notes:

Sewing pattern: self-drafted

Things I wish I’d done differently: I could have made it a few centimetres longer.

Fabric: Cotton batiste, 1m  14 CAD

No notions, thread from my stash.

Final cost = 14 CAD

 

 

Tie Dye Flared Knit Top

This is actually a short sleeve top I made almost two years ago (!), I just drafted the pattern using a t-shirt I already owned and, instead of cutting the body of the top at the sleeve point, I continued the shoulder line, perpendicular to the neck line. I explained how to create the flare, in the How to make a flared waist tank top blogpost.

self_drafted_short_sleeve_knit_top_back

The construction is very simple: I first sewed the shoulders seams together, then the side seams. I then finished the flutter sleeves, the neckline and the bottom hem. Very simple and very practical.

Garment notes:

Sewing pattern: self-made. Similar to this one I described here.

Things I wish I’d done differently: Maybe use a more drapey knit?

Fabric: 1.1 meters tie-dye knit I bought in Barcelona for maybe a couple of euros.

No notions, thread from my stash.

Final cost = a couple of euros 🙂

How to tie dye fabric napkins with blueberries (DIY natural dye)

Have you ever tried natural dyes? Some of the natural dyes I’ve used in the past are coffee and tea. They give linen and cotton a wonderful vintage look.

This time I’ve tried blueberries. They always stain my fingers and they stained one of my handmade napkins recently, so I thought I’d give it a try.

I first boiled a cup of blueberries in water for around 30 minutes. I strained the berries and left the not dark red looking water, to which I added vinegar and salt to help set the colour on my cotton napkins.

Before submerging them in the dye, I’ve knotted and folded and wrapped my napkins. I wanted to see the shapes the dye would create.

I simmered the napkins in the dye water and then let them dry almost completely. The result is the pretty lavender blue on the napkins in this post.

fabric napkins 3

But does it last?

I didn’t want to use any other chemical than the colour fixative I already had at home (salt and vinegar) but you should be able to make your dyed fabric last longer if you use a mordant.

The napkins kept their beautiful lavender colour until their third wash, after which the fabric turned a light blue. I enjoyed them as they were, but for some people they might just look like stained napkins, which is probably why my partner had decided to use the precious blueberry dyed napkins as cleaning rags when I was away. 😮

So, in short, the result is beautiful, but the dye quickly fades.

fabric napkins shibori

Upcycled: blue wool Oslo cardigan to tiny vest

As happy as I was when I first made this wool Oslo cardigan, and as much as I tried to wear it outside the house, the cardigan just didn’t work! It was just so itchy! It was itchy even on top of two layers, so lining it would have not worked.

So I washed it cold and dried it hot in the drier to see if the felted wool would be a bit less itchy. The cardigan was oversized so it worked, but alas, it was still itchy. I washed it with conditioner in an attempt to make it even less itchy, but that didn’t really make it wearable either, so again into the washing machine it went, to felt even more.

DSC_4942 copy

Miraculously, this time the fabric was nice and soft. So I cut it up and made this tiny vest. I used the felted wool sleeves for making guest slippers.

DSC_4934 copy

I sewed some metallic snaps to keep the vest in place.

I’m still not completely sure I love it, but it’s really warm and I’ve already worn it outside twice. It doesn’t look very bag with a dress either. And it all else fails, it’s a great little layer under my coat too.

Black Knit Skirt

I really wanted to make a simple knit skirt pattern for a while now. A couple of months ago I even wrote this post about 5 knit pencil skirts that inspired me. While I would like to stay away from a true pencil skirt silhouette, I like the effortless and fitted look of a knit skirt.

black knit skirt side

This is just a first try. I am not 100% happy with how it fits in the back, but I will wear it a few times and see what I can improve. Without modifying a pattern, this would look much better in a more structured knit, with less stretch.

black knit skirt back

Maybe it’s just the winter blues (or grays) but this skirt would be so fun in a bright or crazy-patterned fabric. It’s really comfortable to wear which is very good in my book!

Garment details:

Pattern: Self-drafted (a few hours of trial and error, but I can use this in the future)

Note: this pattern was designed with a thick knit with just 25% stretch. The fit is not the same with a knit with more stretch. This would actually work best with a more structured knit or a scuba.

Fabric: less than 1 metre black Jacquard knit 5 CAD

Notions: elastic, from stash.

Cost: 5