Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sew My Style, Sewing

The Ogden Cami 3 Ways

The True Bias Ogden Cami has soon become my tried and tested pattern, it is very similiar to some Topshop cami’s I have been wearing on rotation for about 5 years, the pattern is truly worth the hype and I’ll continue to keep making them. So here’s the Ogden Cami three ways.

It’s a very satisfying quick sew and and came together in an evening. The construction was simple and I chose to french seam both the top and the facing for a neat finish. Turning the straps through feels like a true Houdini moment, if you get stuck there is a sew-a-long on the True Bias Blog if you get stuck. The pattern calls for Light weight woven fabrics such as crepe, rayon challis, voile, and lightweight linen. I made a toille from a cotton bed sheet which has a too much structure for the pattern, but I was just using it for the fit it did the job. The toille came up a bit snug and the the facing was too short, (which I have now refashioned as pyjmas.)

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I made the adjustments and made it up again in this colbalt viscose, left over from sewing my Eve Dress . I love it, I know I’ll get plenty of wear out of it in warmer weather with jeans or some Carrie Trousers.

My friend lis came across some fabric she’d had in her cupboard for 10 years when she was moving house and asked me if I could turn it into a pair of trousers for her, there wasn’t quite enough fabric for a pair of trousers, as it was very narrow, so I suggested an ogden cami instead, which I thought would be ideal for her up and coming holiday.

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It was my first time working with such a busy print and it was directional so I had to carefully consider how I cut it out, initially I had wanted to incoperate both patterns on the front and back of the cami, but in order to do that,  I would have had to the dragons..birds…eagles…not entirley sure what they were upside down. So the perfectionist in me, decided to leave the birds soaring towards the sky and used the other pattern on the fabric for the inside instead.

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It was the first time I was sewing something that wasn’t for me, so I spent some extra time pressing the seams and making sure the hem was straight. I was happy with the result and I really like the added detail of a different fabric for the facing, for me it’s these toughtful, often subtle details that make the difference between custom made v’s ready to wear.

I’ll definatley be making more of these cami’s and I know they will become a staple in my wardrobe. When it comes to summer I’d like to lengthen the top into a dress version similiar to this version by bombazine having lived through the 90’s not sure I’m ready to pair it up with a white t-shirt or polo neck underneath, but will be a staple on hopefully hot summer days.

All for now.

Claire

XO

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sewing

Sewing A Winter Coat

After spending hours making the Etta Dress, shamefully I have only worn it once. Even though I loved wearing it, knowing that I’d made it myself, it got me thinking about making a more wearable everyday handmade wardrobe. Before launching into buying loads of fabric and patterns, I spent some time thinking about what makes up my day to day wardrobe. I also defined my style and read around the concept of capsule wardrobes. With winter coming up, I knew I wanted to make a coat to get as many wears out of my make as possible.

In summer I made use of the Sew Over It 20% off Sale and bought the Chloe Coat Pattern and the online class: an introduction into sewing coats.  When I first saw the Chloe Coat pattern I loved the classic collarless cut and loved the idea of making multiple coats in different weights of fabric to see me through the seaons. It was the first time I’d bought an online class and I can really recommend it, as it gives you confidence to tackle trickier projects, holds your hand through more complex steps and allows you to go at your own pace. I dilligently watched all the steps even before buying any fabric, so I knew what I was letting myself in for. I kept the laptop to the side of the sewing machine to refer back to the videos, I must have watched the lining video about six times!

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Contructing the pattern was a big task, with separate elements for the coat, interfacing and lining. Chloe is a 72 page PDF, so it was an evening’s work and I recommend making floor space and doing it all in one go so you don’t get mixed up.

Buying coating fabric can feel a bit daunting as it is more expensive. I watched a timely vlog by Gutherie and Ghani on the arrival of their autumn fabric, where Lauren explains the difference between coating fabrics in detail.  Like most people, I always thought the thicker a coat fabric, the warmer it would be, but the properties of a warm coat come from the composition of the fabric. In general, the higher the wool content, the warmer the coat. A cashmere wool coating, which can feel thin to touch, will be warmer than a chunky polyblend.

I set about looking for some fabric. I had a few projects in mind when I first saw the chloe coat; a plain black wool coat with a black and white stripey lining, a navy or colbalt coat with a gold lining and a geometric print in a lighter weight fabric.  I have had this gemoetric print coat saved on my pinterest board for years and I’m still searching for the perfect patterned fabric for a lightweight version.

In the end I settled for a Navy Twill Wool Blend Fabric from Minerva Crafts that I spotted in the sale for £7.99/m, a safe bet that I knew would go with plenty of my day to day clothes. Additionally I could put it on without thinking about what I was wearing underneath and it was not a huge investement if it all went pear shaped. It has a 60% wool content and 40% Polymaide content, if I was honest I was worried that just 60% of wool it wouldn’t be warm enough. But after looking at the labels of my current high street coat I was suprised to see just how much wool content I’d been able to buy just for just £7.99/m and I love how warm it is. It really proves the value of natural fibres, and next time I make a coat I would definitely invest in 100% wool now I can call myself a confident coat maker.

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To prepare the fabric, instead of prewashing, you need to steam the wool. When pressing the seams, it’s recommended you use a tailor’s clapper and ham. I invested in a tailor’s ham because I thought it would be handy for pressing sleeves on other projects, but I made a DIY clapper from some wood offcuts and stuck them together with gorilla glue. Wool takes a bit of extra pressing, the best analogy I read likens the ironing of the fabric, to using curling irons on your hair. The longer you leave the heat on, the better set the curl, and the longer you press the heat in with the clapper, the flatter the seam.

Tailors Ham

I made a toille to check the fitting, I have broad shoulders so following the instructions, I cut the size to fit my shoulders and was able to take in the side seams. The style of the coat is unstructued and oversized, so the fit wasn’t too complicated. There is about 6 inches of ease which allows plenty of space for woolly jumpers. I didn’t construct the toille in full, because I knew how labour intensive the project was going to be, and this navy wool fabric wasn’t crazy expensive. I actually saw the navy version as a wearable toille itself.

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The construction was straightforward, the class introduces the tailoring technique of using ice wool under the shoulders, which involved some hand sewing, but it is not tricky. It was the first time I inserted an invisible zip and again it was really straight forward, I just had to triple check when I was cutting down the zip placket to make sure I didn’t get my right and left mixed up. I really like the colbalt blue zip as it adds a playful detail.

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The patch pockets are lined, very practical and large enough for a set of keys when running out of the door.

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Constructing the the lining was straightforward, but hemming the lining and turning it inside out was a bit tricky. When you reach the hem the end is in sight, so it’s tempting to hurry along, but it’s worth just taking your time and coming back to it with fresh eyes. I chose this gold lining from my local fabric store Abakhan  in Altrincham to add a bit of interest to the relatively plain coat.

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I am so pleased with the end result, it was a time intensive project, but it was so satisfying seeing it all come together and worth the investment as I have worn it nearly everyday since finishing it. I have pulled it on over my trainers and leggings and jumper when walking the dog, and with a dress and tights or worn with jeans and boots.

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I would make this pattern again, but recently I started to consider the enviromental cost of fabric production and over consumption following watching Stacy Dooley’s recent BBC documentary Fashion’s Dirty Secret. So for now, this navy coat works well with my autumn and winter wardrobe and I don’t really need any more coats. So I have neatly packed the pattern away to dig out at a later date, the timeless cut of the coat means it won’t go out of fashion and I look forward to experimenting with a geometric print fabric. I’ll no doubt be wearing this coat for more than half the year, let’s be honest it does always rain in Manchester, proudly knowing that I made it with my own hands.

All for now.

Claire & co.

xo

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Sewing

Meet Eve. Sewing A Wrap Dress.

Meet Eve, she is the Sew Over It wrap dress with two variations; one with an on-trend dropped hem and fluted sleeve, the other 3/4 sleeves and a straight hem. As an admirer of Diane Von Furstenberg and her signiture wrap dress, I wanted to give this pattern a whirl in a hope it would become a staple pattern in my wardrobe across seasons.

Eve Pattern

I have never owned a wrap dress that I have loved. I wore one which was obscenely short in my early 20’s, but I liked the idea of it more than the reality. Perhaps I’m getting old, but so many of my ready to wear clothes are just cut too short. I’m not particuarly tall, maybe a little above average, but I feel high street retailers are cutting corners and skirt hem lengths to cut costs.  One of the best things about sewing your own clothes is getting them to fit perfectly, I have signed myself up for a Bodice Fitting Masterclass at Fred Aldeous with The Ministy of Craft so hopefully my fitting will improve over time.

 

Eve Toille

In the height of this sizzling summer I made the fluted sleeve version and directly copied a sample in a colbalt blue viscose, which I bought from The Fabric Room. To check the fitting I dilligently made a toile, and in hindight I’m glad that I did as I ended up lengthening the bodice by a few centimetres. It came together easily. It was the first time I used stay tape to stabilise a neckline, thankfully it worked and it didn’t stretch out, but it’s definatley something to watch out for. The only tricky bit is the long hem, rather than being complicated it’s just time consuming, because you hem from the neckband all the way round.

Eve at Bettys

I made my toille from a cotton bedsheet, which is a more structured fabric than the pattern recommends, but I wanted to make a wearable toille and I thought a cotton version would be nice for the costa del North West during the summer we were having. It came together easily and I instantly loved the style of it, I even wore the toille to afternoon tea at Betty’s with our parents. The bodice came up a bit short on me and didn’t fall on my natural waist in this cotton version, and with this structured fabric it flared out a bit too much.

DSC_2670After altering the pattern, I set about cutting my ‘real version’. It was my first time working with viscose fabric, but with plenty of pins I managed to avoid too much slippage. The viscose version falls with more drape and I really love the fluted sleeves.

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The yoke is eased in with gathers, an elegant detail. The ties make it comfortable to wear and easy to fit with room for manoeuvre if your waist fluctuates.  Sadly, by the time I got round to making this version the summer was over, i’m sure this will be a staple in my summer wardrobe from now on, come on sunshine!

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I have plans to make the 3/4 length sleeve version in some velvet, I’m undecided between emerald green and navy blue. I’m hoping to pick up some fabric at the Birmingham Rag Market with the Sew Brum meet up in October, but until then I can just admire this Eve in my wardrobe and dream up new versions as I will be certainly be making Eve again.

All for now

Claire & co.

XO

 

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Dressmaking, Handmade Wardrobe, Journal, Sewing

Sewing A ‘Knock Out’ Dress

When I came across Tilly and The Buttons patterns the Etta Dress jumped out at me, the lemon print on the sample and the elegant cut of the pattern truly make this dress, as the title of the online class suggests,  ‘a knock out’.    Like most beginner sewists, I was pretty set on making myself an occasion dress for my wardrobe, even though I wouldn’t get that much wear out of it day to day, I think wearing a dress that you’ve made yourself, that you know is fitted to your body, brings a whole new level of confidence for a special occasion.

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As reward for teaching myself  to sew and for graduating from the Love at First Stitch Book, i bought this pattern and some coral stretch cotton fabric from Sew Over It to make a knock out dress to wear for a family wedding. It was going to be putting my newly acquired skills to good use as the pattern said ‘for a confident beginner’…eep!

Coral is not a colour I wear often, but last summer I picked up a linen coral dress on holiday and often get complimented on it. I had also tried to buy a Coral Bardot Dress in the Sale from Wallis last year, for another wedding, but it was out of stock in my size when it came to processing my order ( heartbreaking ) So I was pretty pleased that the end result was going to be a dress i’d been dreaming up for over a year (without the cold shoulders..win..win!)

 

Wallis Dress

 

I opted to make the capped sleeve version, with a a collar and without the pockets. It was the first time I made an official toille, I made it from some Calico I picked up in the sale at Abakhan and on the surface the  process sometimes seems labour intensive, I was really glad I did, because I needed to add some length to the body and the skirt, so it would fit perfectly on the bottom of the knee. The Calico didn’t have any stretch and when I pinned the back to wear I was a bit worried I wouldn’t be able to eat…or dance to much in the dress. But determined in my plans I set to cutting into the fabric…!

 

Constructing the bodice and the skirt was plain sailing, but I hit a road block trying to add the collar. I got cocky and skimmed through the instructions, because I felt I remembered what I was doing.,because I’d made a toille.,such a rookie error. So I attached the collar without the faced piece so had to go back and unpick it. I also had to unpick the zip because I didn’t have the interfacing for the back seams when I was making it, yes on a Friday night…so i just skipped that stage, but when I went to wear the dress..the invisible zip was visible, I think it was because of the stretch in the cotton. So I spent quite a bit of time unpicking, then interfaced and put the zip in again. I used an invisible zip foot, it was better, but still not great…so I sewed over the zip tape again with a normal zip foot. I made bias binding tape for the sleeves a first for me, with some help by watching Lauren from Gurthie & Ghani’s YouTube Tutorials.

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Honestly, I love it. I feel great in it and better still I am confident knowing no one else will be rocking up in the same frock as me, as I made it myself. When I tried it on I never wanted to take it off. I reckon it will be posh frocks and wellies when i’m out walking the dog.

I had bought some champagne coloured lining fabric to line the whole dress, but because of the heatwave I didn’t want to add a synthetic lining to a cotton dress on what could potentially be a very hot day in July.  The stretch in the cotton made this dress really comfortable to wear, even though it is fitted. The zip is still not perfect and because I didn’t have a coral zip, or couldn’t source one locally you can’t really hide any mistakes, but I had to let go of my perfectionism and remember firstly it was my first proper wearable dress and secondly no one else would give two hoots about my zip.

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I plan on making this dress again, I want to try the long sleeved version, without the collar in a puppy tooth for winter, I think without the collar and dress it down for everyday. I also like the idea of an emerald green one, which would feel very Joan from Mad Men. If I was working in an office i’d probably make several versions of this dress and wear them on rotation because it’s smart, sophisticated and feminine.

Joan Mad Men

Thanks to Tilly and The Buttons for this knock out dress, I’m sure I will always hold a special place in my heart for Etta. Especially as I got a shout on Tilly and the Buttons instagram stories of a photo of me wearing this dress at a wedding.

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All for now.

Claire & Co.

XO

 

 

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Dressmaking, Sewing

British Heart Foundation The Big Stitch Campaign

The British Heart Foundation’s Big Stitch Campaign encourages style savvy shoppers to put their sewing skills to good use and personalise an item found in one of their shops. To take part in the competition you need to post a photo of the refashioned make during the 1st-15th July, giving you a chance of win return flights to Paris or Milan, a Janome 2200XT sewing machine from Sew Essential or a £50 voucher towards a dressmaking class with Sew Over It.

Motivated by the slightest possible chance of coiffing on aperetivo by the Navagali. I had my first crack at refashioning. I picked up a linen dress from Ann Harvey in our local BHF Store, I was drawn to the quantity of quality fabric for a fraction of the price, the print bordering on the fashion from Hawaii 5-0, but I think because it’s black and white I can just about manage to get away with it.

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I knew I wanted to turn the dress into a jump suit after being inspired by the Tilly and the Buttons Marigold Jumpsuit and the subsequent hacks. I am love with this hack from Self Assembly Required.

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Like the start of all good projects,  I set about making a Pinterest board for some Pinspiration. I started out looking at jumpsuits, co-ord loose tops, trousers and then just anything printed. I really liked the tie twist on the front of this Linen Jumpsuit from Anthroplogie  The back was fitted with elastic, in order to achieve the more tailored front. I wasn’t sure on the wide leg, I thought it would make me look wider.

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I love the cut of this tailored jumpsuit, again which I found on Pinterest, especially the cigarrette peg trousers.

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In the end I used a Simplicity pattern, a loose, tied cropped trouser pattern from Sew Creative, my local sewing class. It was a bit more of a challenge trying to cut the pattern from the fabric, even through there was a lot of fabric, when I braved it and cut the dress open, I noticed all the seams and shaping for the dress that I would have to incorporate into my design.  So the trousers have a seam down the leg and back leg. I made a cropped version, which meant I just had enough fabric to make a top. I made some patch pockets from the sleeves and pieced together the scraps to make drawstring for the waistband.

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After much deliberation over whether to make separates or a jumpsuit, I realised I didn’t have enough fabric to make a top that would be long enough to cover the waistband of the trousers, so the decision was made for me. I roughly followed the Ogden Cami pattern for the top, but it was a bit short and I didn’t have quite enough fabric for the facing, so I just turned over a 0.5cm hem, hopefully the structure of the linen will save it from gaping too much over time. I experimented trying to add a bow to the front, but because the shape of the cami is unstructured, it hung in a really strange way, so I scrapped it. I attached the bottom of the top to the waistband and the drawstring of the trousers gave some shape to the waist.

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Overall, I was pleased with it as a first attempt of hacking a pattern and refashioning. It taught me to be less precious about cutting fabric and I had to leave some perfectionism behind, simply because I didn’t have enough fabric, but still the end result turned out fine. I had enough fabric for a headband which ties everything together. Quite a bold outfit for Altrincham high street, but it would be a great grab and go outfit for a day at the beach in the summer. Looking back I would probably brave a wider leg on the trousers. I thought they might make me look wider, but they would probably balance the loose and unstructured fit of the garment.

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This make has certainly planted a seed for a jumpsuit obsession, I have a jersey jumpsuit in my wardrobe, that this make has inspired me to dig out and wear a bit more, I am also tempted to try a tailored jumpsuit, either the Vogue 9075 or the Named Ailakki Cross Front Jumpsuit 

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Fingers crossed, I think the winners are announced at the start of August, so hopefully i’ll be wearing this outfit swanning around Milan or Paris or better still spending those Sew Over vouchers on a Coat Class. There is some stiff competition when I followed the hashtag, so hopefully whatever the outcome it will encourage more refashioning and recycling from second hand charity shops.

All for now.

Claire & co.

XO

 

 

 

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