Handmade Wardrobe, Journal, Sewing

Me Made May 2019

2019, was the 10th year anniversary for Me Made May, an initiative set up by Sozo to encourage makers to wear items in their handmade wardrobe. On Sozo blog, Zoe speaks about how all clothes are handmade by someone in a factory normally, so she prefers the term me-made to describe clothes that you’ve made yourself. This was my first time taking part. I am far from having a 100% ‘Me Made’ Wardrobe, but I do have 14 items in my spring capsule wardrobe, that I’ve made myself.

  • Tilly and the Buttons Stella Joggers
  • True Bias Ogden Cami blue
  • True Bias Ogden Cami linen
  • Thread Theory T-shirt white
  • Sew Over It Molly Top blue and white stripe
  • Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top yellow
  • Sew Over It Molly Dress blue stripe
  • Sew Over It Alex Shirt Dress denim
  • Simplicity hack jumpsuit chambray
  • Sew Over It Eve Dress colbalt blue
  • Tilly and the Buttons Joni dress black and white stripe
  • Sew Over It Mia Jeans
  • Sew Over It Erin Skirt
  • Wool and the Gang Hotline Sweater

With just under half the number of items for the optimum capsule wardrobe, I thought I’d pledge to wear one piece of me made everyday, in a hope of understanding what I reach to wear everyday, discover what I’m missing and most importantly celebrate one year of making my own clothes. So here it goes…

 

 

Well, I did it, and I loved it, so here’s what I learnt.

Getting dressed matters

I heard Helen and Caroline on the Love To Sew Podcast, discuss the science and satisfaction behind making your own bed in the morning, it gives a sense of accomplishment before the day has even begun. They likened this to getting dressed in the morning and wearing clothes you’ve made yourself, as a double dose of accomplishment. I have to agree. I learnt that getting dressed matters, I’m unemployed at the moment for health reasons, so it could be tempting to stay in my pyjamas all day on the sofa. But I go to yoga everyday at lunch time as part of a physiotherapy programme, so it’s tempting to wake up, put on active wear in preparation for yoga and walking the dog. Soon enough by the time I get home from yoga and make lunch, half the day is gone and I end up staying in leggings and cosy hoodies ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.

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[The pin is from Joy from PinkCoat Club, which I picked up at Sew Creative]

This signposts to a need to make my own sportswear, but importantly MeMadeMay forced me to get up and get dressed for the day, and just swiftly change into yoga gear when the time came. I noticed a shift in mindset, I’d plan my outfit the night before, (just like I did when I was working in an office) and it put a spring in my step, knowing that, yes, I may be the best dressed dog walker, and my self-appointed title contained more gravitas, because, I’d made my clothes myself. So I’m all for supporting and continuing the #diyootd because getting dressed matters, to firstly make sure I showcase my wardrobe, but also to celebrate accomplishments everyday, however small.

Jumpsuits everyday, all day

By far, my most worn item during May was the Simplicity Hack Chambray Jumpsuit. I have grown to LOVE it, the fitted bodice creates a sillhouette,  but the relaxed fit trousers make them comfortable to wear. I paired it with a RTW, but second hand, stripe top and trainers. Putting it politely, the weather has been changeable, so with a t-shirt underneath this was a great choice for unpredictable climates. The main reason I hadn’t been wearing it was because I needed to hand stitch the lining, so MeMadeMay gave me the little nudge I needed.

JumpsuitBut I have grown to love jumpsuits, they are comfortable to wear, easy to put on and suit my lifestyle. The Sew Together for Summer challenge this year is jumpsuits.  I’m going to start a jumpsuit sewing marathon, firstly with the Deer and Doe Sirrocco with both short sleeves and long sleeved hack in cotton jersey. Then a Tilly and the Buttons Marigold and Bettine mashup, inspired by Emily from Self Assembly Required, then I’d like to try the Fibre Mood Carmella Boilersuit for autumn.

Mending over making new & upcyle from your own wardrobe 

MeMadeMay forced me to handstitch linings & finish hems, reminding me to finish one project fully before moving on to the next project. I unpicked and upcycled, my Sew Over It Molly Top, which is made from Navy and White Breton Ponte Roma, the fabric I love, but I find the sillhouette drowns me. Although I was reaching for stripe tops most days, Molly remained unloved, so I decided to transform it into a 3/4 sleeve coco top instead to maximise fabric in my wardrobe, so it taught me to upcycle and mend from my wardrobe, first before upcycling from second hand shops. Next year, one of my pledges will definitely be to finish projects before starting anything new.

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A summer coat is a staple

Most days, I was reaching for my denim jacket, or a light midi length coat, it was May, but some days it definitely felt like March. So it spurred me on to make The Named Isla Trench Coat, I have on my Make Nine List for 2019.  Inspired and motivated by all the makes I was seeing this month, as well as the rain, I finally cut the fabric and it’s soon to be finished, which will be set to be a well worn staple.

Denim Jacket

My love for coat making continues, mainly because I know I am guaranteed to get a lot of wear from them and I love all the tailoring involved, so I’m tempted to make a Closet Case Kelly Anorak with a fur lined hood for walking the dog when the weather calls for strong protection against the elements after seeing Becky’s version here on Note from The Sewing Room.

Relaxed fit trousers

I realised how much I love a relaxed fit pair of trousers, I have two RTW pairs, one in a crepe, I bought for going to Morrocco a few years ago but since have worn them at home. Paired with an Ogden Cami, the relaxed fit, make them easy to wear, great for sewing days, when I’m crawling on the floor playing pattern tetris.

Relaxed Trousers

The Sew Over It Carrie Trousers are a similar fit and style, I have the pattern, but I’m looking for a great patterned crepe to make them, or maybe I should hang fire until I have some of my own surface patttern designs ready to print on to crepe.

Jeans

I have three pairs of jeans in my wardrobe, one I’ve made myself and two ready to wear pairs, one which is too snug and another which I like the cut of, but I don’t really like the wash. So jeans need to be a priorty for my making.

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I have the Ginger Jeans on my Make Nine, but I really want to nail the fit on them. I want to tackle the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers first, then draft a pattern for trousers based on the recent body scan I had Manchester University so I have a real understanding of the adjustments I need to do to make the perfect fit for my body shape.

It was eye opening how I have three pairs of jeans in my wardrobe, that I’m indifferent about. Spending time and energy to make a great fit on one pair is more important to me than having three mediocre pairs that don’t make me feel good. I’m sure there are thousands of unloved pairs of jeans in womens’ wardrobes across the world, because well no two bottoms are the same, so finding RTW jeans can seem like an impossible task.

A massive thank you to Zoe from SoZo blog for having such a bright idea 10 years ago to set up MeMadeMay. Hopefully by sharing photos of home sewn clothes it will encourage more people to start making their own wardrobe. It was seeing other peoples’ photos in which they were wearing their homemade clothes on Instagram last year that got me inspired to start garment making. So to celebrate my one year anniversary I’ve made a page with a gallery of my 2018-2019 makes. Finally a big thanks to Rob, who painfully and patiently took photos throughout May, yep, there’s a shirt coming your way to say thank you. May, will certainly become a creative highlight of the year and here’s to MeMadeMay 2020.

Claire

XO

 

 

 

 

 

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Inspired by, Journal

Inspired by Laura Slater

I’m in the midst of my #100daysofpatterns project and in addition to creating my own work, I’ve been taking inspiration from print designers around me. Last week, I found myself at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, definitely a day out I’d recommend if you’re in the area, and I came across the work of Laura Slater.

The studio describes itself as ‘Informed by the interaction of colour and shape, the design focuses on the translation of drawing and surface through hand printed processes. The specific interests lie in engagement with pattern and it’s ability to connect us to the environments and objects we surround ourselves with. This is explored through approaches to drawing, process, materials and product.’

What I love about the work is how you can see the process used to produce each piece, from what I can tell the work has been screen printed and printed with monographs. I’m drawn to the brave colours and bold shapes. There is a clear influence from the natural world and bringing the outside in, and this creates a sense of calm to the shapes, and in turn to the interiors. The work is produced on natural materials and how these fabrics take on the ink adds to the individuality of each piece.

John Lewis

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A collaboration with John Lewis sees the prints on their womanswear collection, called Kin creating bright abstract striking womanswear with simple silhouettes. The main take away for me from looking at this work is seeing how integral the process is in the aesthetic and how important that is to continually stay true to the materials and processes used. Laura teaches workshops in her studio in Leeds, so with any luck, I’ll find myself at one of her textiles screen printing workshops to get started on screen printing onto textiles.

Claire & Co.

XO

 

 

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#100daysofPattern, Fabric Design, Surface Pattern

#100daysofpatterns – Week Two

I’m in week two of my #100daysofpatterns project and I’m still at it. I have a confession, I had 10 days holidays so I’m picking up where I left off, but it wasn’t all wasted time as I saw the work of Laura Slater at The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, so eyes peeled for a round up post of her work as inspiration. Although I’m a few weeks behinD with my #100daysproject the same principles apply. Wake up, work on patterns, repeat.

I started this week with a bit of head scratching as this weeks prompts is ‘Thankful for’. It’s tricky because a lot of things I’m thankful for are not tangible. In the end I decided to go off piste and use the prompt ‘Fauna’ to direct this week’s project. I’ll make a tenuous connection, I have tenderly (neglected) an aloe Vvra plant since I was a student and somehow it has just flowered in the most gorgeous orange. I like big scale prints, so I’m dreaming up overlapping banana leaves and cheese plant leaves. Here’s my my mood board that got me started:

From here I set about drawing plants in my sketchbook and scanning them in. Here’s a spread from my sketchbook.

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Next, I knew I needed to improve my technical skills on how to get my motifs to repeat in Adobe Illustrator. I went to SkillShare, one of the staff picks was From Abstract Handmade Marks on Paper to Seamless Surface Patterns in Illustrator taught by Attitude Creative.  Although the class didn’t teach, exactly, what I was trying to create, it walked through creating hand drawn marks, editing them in photoshop and it used the pattern tool in Illustrator to create multiple iterations and repeat patterns. The tutor’s teaching style really resonated with me, a great pace, clear instructions and constantly recapping key points, which is vital when you’re flipping between screens, multi-tasking and trying to take on information. I found her accent, really calming, which is crucial if you’re anything like me and have to rewatch sections, multiple times, without loosing your head.

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The first chapters require you to make abstract marks, experimenting with differnt media and scales to get a range of handdrawn marks to work with. It encourages me to step away from my comfort zone of fineliners and pencil, and I reached for different types of pens and indian ink. I loved the process, I found it liberating, I made tons of different lines, which are great to use in patterns and add texture. Then I generated line drawings of leaves and I created pages and pages and they kind of exploded all over my desk.

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From here,the class guides you to scan your image in for optimum quality, how to set up your photoshop document, how to clean up any marks, how to select only the marks and how to prepare the file for Illustrator. Next in Illustrator, you’re walked through how to vectorise your marks, how to use the live trace function and how to use the pattern tool, first for single marks.

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Then finally, you’re taught how to use multiple marks and add colour and extract your patterns for use in other design work.

Colour Export

It was a steep learning curve, which is why this post is a little later than planned, it soon became apparent that there was no way, at my current skill level was I going to be able draw, scan, edit and repeat a pattern in one day, when I was spending half my time stuck in Skillshare watching tutorials trying to work out the technical side. But I had plenty of line drawings and images to work from so after a day or two making all my lines and motifs, I focused on the technical side so I could play catch up. Even though there was a lot of head scratching, I feel like once I finally cracked how to make a pattern tile repeat, it was worth the ground work and now the good bit, the real creative stuff can start.

What was really interesting to me, was how the marks were created in black and colour was applied later. In week one, I had scanned water colour images in and was a little disapointed that the colour lacked vibrancy. In Illustrator you can easily add and swap colours around using the re-colour artwork tool, for this to work at it’s best, you need swatches with a collection of colours you want to use in your designs. Whilst I was designing/drawing/ sewing last week, (I can’t remember which) I watched another Skillshare tutorial by surface designer Bonnie Christie, Master Colour With The ReColour Artwork Tool.

Wow, I feel like I’ve offloaded, but I learnt a lot this week, I am loving doing a #100daysproject because it feels like it builds momentum and it’s true, ‘creativity finds you working’. I struggled with the technical side and when I was stuck in Skillshare trying to figure out how to make my patterns repeat, and I was desperate to get designing I felt overwhelmed. It was so frustrating because I couldn’t get what I wanted from my head to the page. So I took the pressure off of making one pattern a day, and just decided to show up at my computer, watch more videos, keep drawing and soon enough I got there. When you’re just starting out there is the ‘the gap’ a term coined by David Shiyang Liu’s between one’s taste and one’s skills. This beautiful video sums it up entirely, so I’d urge you to watch it if you’re creating work and in any doubt. I definitely felt stuck in ‘the gap’ this week, but that is why Skillshare really, really is great because it teaches you the skills. You can’t teach taste or style, but you can teach technical skills. Having access to artists and designers from all over the world in your bedroom is well, unbelievably liberating and democratic. I’d love to be able to study a course to retrain, but my body isn’t reliable enough to turn up on the same time consistently and nor am I in a financial position to commit to the cost.

You can sign up to 2 months free skillshare, using this link here.

For now, happy making and never stop learning.

Claire & co.

XO

 

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sewing

Sew Over It Kitty Dress

So I’m soooo pleased to announce I have been selected out of over 600 applicants (wahhtttt!) to be a Pattern Insider for Sew Over It. Lisa Comfort and the team have developed a huge range of patterns, for a stylish, modern wardrobe, drawing inspiration from vintage silhouettes. It’s fair to say, I am a big Sew Over It fan, I have made many of their patterns in the past, EveCoco, Chloe and The City Break Capsuale Wardrobe, so this is a great opportunity for me to work with a brand that I already love. The role of a Pattern Insider, is simply to make up the pattern ahead of the release and to share photos of your make, so the sewing community can see the pattern made up on a range of ages, races and body shapes. Honestly, I was blown away when I got introduced to other ladies in the group who are all making from all across the globe. This is the first project I took on, The Kitty Dress.

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The Kitty Dress comes with two views, a princess seam bodice, with a panelled skirt (this is the version I went for) or a short sleeve bodice with a gathered skirt. Of course, there is also the option to mix and match. To me, this dress is timeless, perfect for a day at Wimbledon or swanning around on the French Riveira..! I wish! Or just great for a summer’s day and smart enough for an office with the buttons. It really reminds me of the 50’s fashion in the film Brooklyn, which I loved and honestly where I wear it, I definitely feel like Ellis Lacey when she returns to rural Ireland, feeling very glam.

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I deliberated over the fabric choice for a while, initially I thought of the Lisa Comfort ElderPress Cotton Lawn in Navy Blue, in the end I opted for this white linen and viscose blend with black dots on, from The Fabric Rooms so it would be timeless.

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The bodice comes with the option to self line, or to use facings. Honestly, I hate facings and much prefer a finished garment when it has been lined, so it is always worth the extra work. I was a bit worried that the fabric would be sheer, I lined the bodice in the same fabric and thankfully the unlined skirt is fine. The pattern calls for a lot of fabric, 3M, of course you can choose to line in another fabric. I paired the linen with wooden buttons from my local haberdashery.

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The bodice is fitted with a princess seam, the first time I made something with a princess seam I was a bit intimidated by the term, but my advice is just to pin, pin, pin as you ease the fabric on the curve. I didn’t stripe match, that would require some dedicated pattern placement and cutting. There is a lot of ease and room around the armhole, which you can see in this picture. If were to do it again, I would maybe take some off, but the ease around the armholes makes it comfortable to wear and it’s not too fitted around the bust.

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I cut and made a straight size 14 based on my measurements. I’m smaller on top, than the bottom, so I could have got away with grading between 12/14 but I wanted a relaxed fit to match the linen.  The waistband came up a bit short, so my advice would be to cut a larger size, then trim off the excess when folding and constructing the waistband.

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The waistband construction took a bit of head scratching, it’s similiar to that of the Camille jumpsuit, but it creates a really neat finish inside, so persevere with it. The skirt has eight panels, so keep your pattern pieces attached to the cut out fabric as you want to ensure you match the right seam. As I was piecing it together I laid out the skirt in a circle to help me keep track. The skirt hangs and moves beautifully, it feels very elegant.

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Oh and did I mention it has pockets.

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I love this dress, it’s definatley doing to be a classic in my summer wardrobe, worn with my cropped RTW denim jacket throughout spring.  I’m looking forward to taking on more projects over the coming months so eyes peeled for more Sew Over It pattern releases.

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All from me,

Claire & Co

XO

 

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Drawing, Fabric Design, Surface Pattern, Workshop

Floral Motif Workshop with Rachel Taylor

On Saturday, 11th May, I took part in a Floral Motif Workshop led by surface pattern designer and teacher of Make It In Design Rachel Taylor at the Reloved Upholstery Studio at the Pear Mill in Stockport. The workshop came at a great time for me, in the midst of my #100daysofpattern project to learn from someone, who was desiging work to be liscenced across the globe, producing her own products and teaching students online through Make It In Design.

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It was my first time visiting the Pear Mill in Stockport and it cetaintly won’t be my last. The ground floor is a Vintage Emporium will sellers filling the huge space with their array of clothes, books, household objects, furniture looking for a new home. The Pear Mill, which was built in 1913 was was the last cotton spinning mill to be built in England. Following the end of World War 1 there was a boom in cotton production, in England, but sadly that was not to last, as forigen markets in India, China and Japan increased their spinning capabilty and cotton prices fell by 38%.

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The space is now let by local businness of all sorts, including Reloved upholstery . It is ran by Simione who loving breathes lives back into chairs, specialiaing in iconic Ercol designs. The large studio is crammed full of inspiration, from fabric swatch books, a library and a huge workspace with industrial sewing machines. It’s fair to say it was a great creative space to work in.

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Following initial introductions with the other course partipants, who were all women and in the majority looking to the turn their designs into a business, it was great to meet other like minded people. We listened to Rachel talk through her work and design process.  For me, the main take away from the teaching was ‘how are my lines different to anyone else’s’ and what makes my lines and in turn my work individual. If you’re working in fineliners, (FYI I swear by Micon) it’s easy for a line to look like anyone else’s line, but Rachel re-iterated the importance of finding your personal style and one way to do this is to create lines with diffrent marks and textures. From there we got stuck in, using a range of warm up techniques, left handed, eyes closed, different materials and then started to create motif’s on the flowers in front of us.  We worked in black so it’s easier to edit in greyscale in Adobe Photoshop and Illustraor.

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It was great to draw a range of plants, all of which were (with permission) from Arley Hall Garden. They were a lot of show stoppers amongst them, Allium were stand out. But Rachel made a good point, these show stopper iconic flowers have been, and will continue to be inspiration for artists across the globe and through time.  One alternative is to create flower hybrids, just like it’s done by horticulturist, with stems from one plant and leaves from another for instance, to create individual designs, that still remain familiar. For anyone who has read my blog from the start,  (yep, I know that’s only you Rob) you’ll know initially I was reluctant to design florals because it’s not really my style, but I am prepared to take that all back.  I love plants, I just don’t like ditsy style prints. So it was about making floral motifs that feel like ‘my style’.

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Signature style can feel elusive, but the more work you produce the more you find your voice, so I’m happy to continue to keep making stuff until it feels intuitvely my own, At the moment my best work is a combination of inks and fine liners. I want to create a solid body of work before I digitally print any samples on to fabric. I was able to ask Rachel questions about printing fashion fabrics, how to collate a collection and what were the best studios to approach within the UK.  As someone who followers a lot of home sewists online, I was familair with a lot of names mentioned and reiterated that although it can seem overwhelming, sewing, designing, illustrating all at once, all these pursuits feed into each other. So for now, i’m urged to keep up all the projects.

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A rare photo of me caught in the act, happiest surrounded by plants, with a paint brush in my hand, wearing that jumpsuit I made.  (Proof it’s not just clothes I make for Instagram photos, I do actually wear them.)

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At the end of the day, I had created heaps of floral motifs to scan and edit and work up into patterns on Illustrator.  But most importantly, I came away inspired, energised and filled with faith, that yep, I could do it too. When you’re creating work and putting yourself on the line, it’s all too easy for self doubt to creep in, you think ‘you’re not good enough’ ‘not talented enough’ ‘too many other people out there already’ and these moments of crisis in confidence can become crippiling. But Rachel instilled some wisdom, to make my work unique and made me feel that there is space out there for everyone, as long as you’re creating from your own authentic voice.

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I’ve come full circle on my stance on floral design and now can’t get enough, I’ll be working these up into repeat patterns.  Rachel is running a drawing meet up at Arley Hall Gardens on the 3rd of August, that i’ll be going to for another day of meeting like minded people and stopping to smell the flowers. Eyes peeled for more florals to come.

All for now

Claire & Co.

XO

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