Watercolour Painting Update

So it’s been a couple of weeks since I published a blog … and boy has it been a tough one ! I won’t go into details but my anxiety has been high and there’s lots of changes going on … but I feel stronger now and know it’s for the best. Sorry that’s vague but very soon I’ll be able to reveal more !!

But to the subject of this blog … I’ve found that when I am anxious, painting in watercolours is just the best therapy! It’s so relaxing, and I manage to zone out from my worries. So unsurprisingly I’ve had lots of practice recently and I’m really proud of how much I’ve improved since my last blog post about it.

I’ve now filled my beautiful Audrey Hepburn sketchbook and can’t wait to get more paper so I can keep going !

I ordered another paint palette from Hobbycraft – nothing fancy but I was desperate for more colour choice! I also bought some more brushes and a palette for my tube paints. The little set up I have now is so lovely … it instantly relaxes me when I lay out my paints.

The way I’ve been working is browsing Pinterest, Instagram and google images to find inspiration … whether it be copying an image to practice certain techniques or planting the seed of an idea and setting off from that ! I think working this was has really helped me improve as it meant I could concentrate on the techniques rather than the idea … I’m getting much more confident with just freestyling it which is really exciting…

I’ll do a quick round up of my favourite paintings that I’ve done so far !

This was my first proper painting that I did after practicing … I am so happy with how it turned out ! I just did some splodges of watered down blues and greens for the background. And then I used a fine paintbrush and black paint to add the details. I love the bold shapes of the leaves and then I shook the paintbrush over it to leave specks of black. I really love this one, it’s kind of whimsical and dream like …

The next one I did was this display of plant pots. Each plant and pot is different and I love how they work together. I’m really proud of the shading and textures that I managed to achieve particularly with the shadows on the pots! I’d possibly change the shelves a bit but I really want to frame this one !

The bike was painted whilst I was using my bike lots during the beginning of lockdown. My bike is pretty but nowhere near as beautiful as this one! I’m so in love with the colour and again the shading went really well. Imagine just cycling along with those flowers around you … again I want to frame this one, one day !

This door is probably my most detailed painting so far … there are a few things that I would change but overall I’m really pleased with it! The door came out particularly well, but I’d try to improve the steps as I don’t think the depth and shadows are quite right. I had photo for inspiration an did find it tricky to work out the perspectives.

The wreath was a quick paint but one I really love! It was done on a day I was really struggling to stand up for myself so I decided to get a bit motivational with my quote! The pretty flowers were really relaxing to paint as they are so delicate and in my favourite colours. I’d really like to paint some more really delicate flowers as they are so beautiful!

Again this one was done whilst feeling quite stressed … but it did really calm me down. The colours are really beautiful and any time I can use the paintbrush to flick paint across the page is good with me! I painted the flowers and then found a lovely quote to paint over the top of it. As with before I just used a find paintbrush and black paint. I think I would frame this one too as it really is pretty !

The final one is all in blue ! I decided to stick with a colour scheme and go crazy with the flowers! I really love this effect, it almost reminds me of patterns painted on delicate china. It got a lot of love when I posted it on Instagram Stories … a couple of people even said I should get it printed on fabric which would look so cool !! I just went with the flow on this one and kept adding until I filled the page, I just had to know when to stop…

I’m so proud of how much I’ve improved and particularly how much I’ve grow o enjoy it ! It’s so lovely having something that you can do when you feel stressed or anxious as so often I sit and stew with my thoughts … not good!! I’m so excited to get started on my new pad of paper and am definitely going to start framing them and maybe even give some as gifts !

Supporting Small Businesses within the Sewing Community

So since the world has been in this weird place I’ve taken it upon myself to support small businesses … that basically means I’ve been shopping ! But I’ve tried my best to buy from wonderful small businesses, so I thought I would talk you through them and what I bought.

When I visited The Stitch Festival on 1st March I had a lovely time browsing and stroking all the beautiful fabrics at Sew Me Sunshine’s stand … and ever since I’ve been a bit obsessed with scrolling through all her amazing fabrics online! At the festival I bought a dreamy blue sweatshirting to make a Bertha cardigan out of, and then when that was a success I decided to buy it in the stone colourway too. And I bought the red version to make another cardigan in but this time as a birthdaygift for my sister!
Harriet has a wonderful range of fabrics (which has been slightly limited in the current craziness but she has worked so hard to give us an amazing range!) so do head over to her website!

The next business is another fabric shop … and one that I didn’t discover until quite recently. 1st for Fabrics has a huge range of fabrics and haberdashery and the lovely ladies who run it are ridiculously helpful! I’ve placed a couple of orders with them so far this lockdown … first of all was some beautiful Navy linen and white jersey. Both of which are amazing quality and a great price … the linen is waiting to be sewn into some Safiya dungarees!
The next order was mainly overlocker thread … I needed more black thread but decided to treat myself to some colours too. I bought pink, turquoise and blue to use all together for extra fun seams! After I placed the order I received a phone call from them apologising for the fact they were out of stock of one colour, it was so lovely to receive such personal service and of course I didn’t mind choosing a different colour. I also ordered some white viscose to line a skirt which was a bargain. I know I will keep ordering from them as they always seem to have what I need !

Happy Fabric is another of the small businesses I have bought from in the last few weeks. I love their iron on vinyls and always find it hard to choose from their beautiful colours! I placed an order for all the rainbow colours as well as a glitter sheet and a flocked one to … I can never resist their glitters! I really recommend visiting their social media accounts (particularly Instagram and Pinterest) as they have tons of inspiration to help you get started.

Something a bit different this time … I took part in one of Too Cute To Quit’s virtual workshops! Zoe runs workshops around London and surrounding areas but of course with the crazy situation we are in the middle of at the moment she cannot host them in person. So she’s set up some amazing online workshops, I took part in the macramé plant pot holder workshop and it was so much fun! She sent all the materials needed through the post and then last Friday evening Zoe taught myself and 4 other ladies how to knot and somehow we ended up with beautiful plant pot holders … it was so lovely chatting with people who are outside of my little lockdown bubble! And who knew macramé was so relaxing and mindful … I definitely haven’t been doing any online window shopping at macramé cord !! But at least that would mean I am supporting another small business … right ?!?
If you fancy learning a new craft keep an eye on Zoe’s social media so you’ll find out about any upcoming events!

I technically didn’t buy this from a small business however the new Great British Sewing Bee book has been written by two lovely ladies from the sewing community. Alexandra and Caroline from Selkie patterns have created a wonderful range of patterns for the new book and I’m so excited to get sewing! It’s also a plus that one of my lovely friends from school is modelling in the book – how cool is that!?! I’m particularly excited about the overalls, one of the dresses and the jacket … which of course may mean I need to buy more fabric!!

My latest purchase is from Holm Sown – a really lovely fabric shop and haberdashery in Castle Douglas, Scotland. Rachel sells a beautiful range of fabrics, patterns and haberdashery which are very difficult to resist! She had some beautiful natural linen fabric which I’ve bought with the thought of maybe making a couple pairs of trousers – possibly the Tilly and the Buttons Safiya trousers and the In the Folds Peppermint Magazine Wide Leg Pants. The linen was such a bargain as it was in the sale – sorry I managed to nab the last of it ! But I’m considering dyeing some of it to make the Safiya trousers for work so maybe navy or black. I also stocked up on a few bits of haberdashery like machine needles, interfacing and a zip to use on the trousers!

So think that’s all the small businesses I have bought from so far but a few others that I highly recommend are …
Pink Coat Club – super cute pin badges, patches and labels all sewing themed ! I have way too many of these but every new design Joy creates are beautiful !
Cloth and Candy – Fuz sells the prettiest fabrics for crafting, quilting and dressmaking. If you want beautiful prints on a lovely range of cotton fabrics head over to her website. She also sells haberdashery and gifts too … I’ve bought a few bits of fabric from the shop and it’s always hard to stop myself buying all the pretties!
Tilly and the Buttons – my absolute favourite indie sewing pattern designer! Tilly and her fabulous team produce amazing garment patterns and books which are perfect for beginners and experienced sewers alike … particular favourites are the Cleo Dungaree Dress, the Tabitha T-shirt and the Ness Skirt!
Fabric Godmother – they have an incredibly beautiful range of fabrics and also sell a lot of remnants at really good prices. When I visited the Stitch Festival it was so lovely to be able to stroke lots of their amazing fabrics, I genuinely don’t know how I resisted buying more!

So that’s everything for today but I just wanted to finish by saying that please continue to buy from small businesses … I know sometimes it’s not possible and I’ve certainly bought from the likes of Amazon and Hobbycraft when I can’t buy from a small business (for example Cricut supplies!). But where you can checkout the small businesses online and even locally to you! Lets help them all stay busy and maybe it’s a good enough reason to treat yourself !

Introduction to Dressmaking Zoom Workshops!

As you may have gathered from my blog and Instagram page … I’m a big fan of making my own clothes! I’ve sewn since I was a child, taking textiles at GCSE and then going onto study Art and Fashion at college. However for the last 3 years I’ve made countless pieces of clothing for my wardrobe which is the most joyful hobby. It’s such a satisfying process to take a flat piece of fabric and end with a beautiful piece of clothing that you can wear again and again. Sure, you make countless mistakes and some pieces just don’t suit you … but you live and learn!

Since before lockdown started I’ve been trying to think of a way to hold beginners dressmaking workshops. I’ve never been able to form a proper plan but one thing lockdown and being furloughed has been great for is giving me time to work things out !

So here goes ! I’m at the point of being able to launch a few ‘Introduction to Dressmaking’ Zoom classes. Here’s how they will work …

I will be hosting 2 different workshops both based on Tilly and the Buttons patterns … one workshop will be making the Stevie dress/top (Size 6-24) and at the other will be focussed on the Dominque skirt (Size 6-20). The size charts below give you more information regarding measurements but just shout if you have any questions !
Both of these patterns are perfect for beginners and can be made in easy to handle fabrics such as cotton. Perfect for beginners!

A quick overview of each pattern …
The Stevie dress and top is a super cute boxy pattern that is flattering on many body shapes. It has no complicated fastenings, sleeves or fitting so is perfect to start with! I love the pattern as you can wear it back to front for a different look! As you can see below I sometimes wear it with the ties hanging down at the front. It comes in sizes 6-20.
The Dominique skirt is a simple straight skirt with an elasticated waist and pockets. Can be made in many types of fabric. You can vary the length to suit your taste. There is another variation on the pattern to make a midi skirt cut on the bias however as this is slightly trickier we will only focus on the straight version for now. This pattern comes in sizes 6-24.

You must have a sewing machine that you are able to use on the day as well as a basic understanding of using the machine. For example you must be able to thread the machine and needle, be able to sew basic running stitch and possibly zig zag. As well as being able to troubleshoot if you have any issues, I’ll be able to help to a point but obviously over zoom it is a bit trickier!

You’ll also need some basic dressmaking tools such as fabric scissors, pins, tape measure, an unpicker, threads and bobbins. You may also need a large safety pin (if you’re making the skirt) and a fabric pen or tailors chalk! If you have a rotary cutter and cutting mat you can use these to cut your fabric but don’t worry if not … fabric scissors will do the job !

With each of the workshops you’ll receive the paper pattern and tracing paper which I’ll post to you before the workshop. You’ll also have access to a pre-recorded video which will explain how you read a pattern, work out your size, trace the pattern and cut your fabric. I’ll of course be on hand via email to answer any questions you may have with this stage !

Then on the day we will be ready to go straight in with the actual sewing ! I’ll talk you though each stage, being sure to highlight certain things that you’ll find will come up again and again in dressmaking. We won’t really be focusing on the ins and outs of fitting as the 2 patterns are easy to fit, hence perfect for beginners! Instead you’ll learn about notches, finishing techniques, construction, reading pattern instructions, hemming and more …
We will spend approximately 3 hours sewing however if it takes a bit longer I’m happy to go on if it means you are happier with your finished piece !

I have decided not to include fabric in the price of the workshop for a few reasons.
1. Fabric shopping is almost better than the actual sewing itself ! So I’m giving you this joy!
2. It’s a very personal decision as I don’t want you to make a piece of clothing that ultimately you won’t wear because of the print or colour!
3. Using second hand fabric is a great way to make a sustainable wardrobe. It’s also cheaper, so go digging around your airing cupboard for old sheets or duvet covers. Maybe visit a charity shop (If they are open of course!) and source some fabric. You could also look round car boot sales, vintage shops or ask friends and family ! Older relatives may even have some vintage sheets or curtains that you could use. The possibilities are endless (ebay is also a good place to look!) !
4. You may already have some fabric that you could use !

I’ll pop some links to a few amazing fabric shops below in case you want to treat yourself to something fancy ! Just be aware that you’re first attempt may not be perfect so don’t be disappointed … I will often use a cheaper fabric to test a pattern before I make it in fancier stuff !

https://sewmesunshine.co.uk

https://www.fabricgodmother.co.uk

https://sistermintaka.com

https://www.1stforfabrics.co.uk

The workshops will be £48 per person. During this workshop you’ll make either the Stevie dress/top or the Dominique skirt.
The price includes the paper pattern, tracing paper, elastic (if you are attending the skirt workshop), the pre-recorded cutting video, 3-4 hour workshop via zoom and support via email before and after the workshop.
There will be a maximum of 3 people attending each workshop so that I can give everyone enough attention and ensure we all finish with a lovely piece for your wardrobe!
I have set some dates below however if you fancy getting together a group of friends or family I’ll be happy to discuss alternative dates. Just pop me an email to discuss!

Stevie Dress/Top Sunday 2nd August 2pm – 5pm
Dominique Skirt Tuesday 4th August 10:30am – 1:30pm

I’ve only set the 2 dates at the moment but may well add more later on into August if there’s interest!

If you’d like to book or have at questions just pop me an email at mheffer59@gmail.com .
I’d love to introduce you to the wonderful world of dressmaking!

Making a Macramé Wall Hanging

Macramé has been a craft that has always appealed to me … I love the simple, organic look which is created by all the knots. And since trying it for the first time with Zoe from Too Cute To Quit, when I made a beautiful plant hanger, I knew I had to do more.

However it has taken me a little while to get going again! I ordered some macramé cord from Hobbycraft which was £6 for a 200g ball (81m). Its a braided style and comes in some really lovely colours. I bought Mustard and Linen as I thought they were nice basic colours to start with. Fustratingly I can’t find how thick the cord is but it’s not super chunky macramé cord so be aware of that!

Now I just had to work out what to make!
During the Crafters Market online craft fair I spotted Mindful Macramé’s wall hanging kit … however I knew that I had the cord already, as well as some sturdy sticks from the garden which I thought I could use for the hanger. So I messaged Jane asking if there was a way I could buy the tutorial and instructions without the materials. I was amazed when I received her reply, she offered to send me the videos for free in return for a post on social media. I promised to go one up and write a blog about making the piece as I was just so grateful !

I decided it would be the perfect project for one of the very hot days we were expecting … I cannot sit in my sewing room when it gets above 28 degrees as it becomes hotter than a greenhouse!! So I often have to find jobs and activities I can do elsewhere … this was perfect as I set up a picnic blanket in the garden and got to work!

Jane had created a really comprehensive video tutorial across 5 videos. I had used square knots before but other than that all the other knots were new to me… but Jane talked through each knot and captured them clearly on camera. She talks through at a good speed and lets you know when you can pause it to just go ahead at your own speed. Jane has a really calming voice so it was lovely to listen to her talk through the process, no way you could get stress whilst listening to her !

I found the whole action of knotting repeatedly so therapeutic. Once you get the hang of each knot it becomes easy to switch off and enjoy the process. It was a lovely way to spend a hot afternoon and I was so so pleased with the final result!

I think my finished wall hanging turned out smaller than it would if you buy the full kit from Mindful Macramé due to the fact my cord is thinner … but I love the design! It’s also given me the confidence to maybe try and freestyle my next one as I feel like I’ve been able to practice the basic knots. I’ve got lots of cord to use so I need to get making ! They’d make lovely gifts as they are really unique and if you’ve made it yourself that’s even better right!?

If you fancy giving macramé a go I’d definitely recommend getting a kit or attending a workshop first … it just guides you through the process instead of going in blind! Jane also sells plant holder kits too so if you’d like to try that instead there’s always the option. I love the plant holder I made at the workshop with Zoe and definitely want to make more of those too !
Jane’s kits are £19 and include everything you need … the cord, predrilled and threaded wooden hanger, written instructions and the video tutorial. These would also make great gifts ! Find them here on her Etsy page!

I’m so chuffed with my 2 macramé creations and can’t wait to make more … it won’t be too long till I’m going crazy and making everything macramé !!

Safiya Dungarees

So as you may or may not have gathered …. Tilly and The Button’s wonderful patterns are my favourite! And as soon as I saw other amazing sewists making the Safiya Dungarees I knew I needed to make at least one pair for myself. I was particularly inspired by 2 versions – the first being What Abi Makes’ double gauze version. I hadn’t even thought about using double gauze but her pair looked so comfy and cosy that I knew it was something I needed in my wardrobe! And fortunately I had some double gauze in my stash that I won with Sew Hayley Jane!
And the 2nd version I saw was Tilly Walnes’ black linen version with beautiful gold pattern (which she printed using fabric paint and a potato!) … I’m not one for black but the linen looked so lovely that I ordered some navy linen from 1st for Fabrics.

The pattern is pretty straightforward however I had to make a few adjustments to get it fitting right. Firstly I have quite a short body ! So I did have to adjust that quite a bit … I think (sorry I don’t know the exact measurements) I took off a few cms from the bottom of bodice. I couldn’t take a huge amount off as the crotch doesn’t have a lot of ease (something that I have since changed for the trousers!) so just had to work with what I had cut out !!

I also had to adjust where the straps sat at the back, they were sitting too far under my armpits. I guess it’s because I have quite narrow shoulders, so I simply moved them round towards my shoulder blades. This made a huge difference to how the whole piece sat when I wore it so I was glad I adjusted this! I do think I may change the front placement next time too as they sit quite wide and the neckline gapes a bit on the linen version (as you can see below!).

I think the final change/addition I made was to add on belt loops. I did this after wearing the double gauze version for the first time! It was very frustrating when I went to the toilet as the belt wasn’t attached to anything. So with the addition of belt loops it made it much easier !! A very important consideration when wearing a jumpsuit as we know !

So I think that’s everything to say about them except to say how much I love this pattern! I really love the shape of it, how different it looks in different fabrics and it’s such a simple piece to wear and style. I think I may make more in the future … possibly in a lighter weight fabric like a cotton or even a viscose. I’m also a huge fan of the trouser/shorts variation of the pattern … but that’s for another time !!

The Sewing Weekender Online 2020

I’ve not been here much in the last few weeks as I just didn’t feel right posting sewing and craft content with all the amazing Black Lives Matter information being shared across social media. It is so much more important to spend time reading, learning and listening to the voices of Black people, so in my tiny corner of the internet I decided to step back. The amount that I have learnt about racism, specifically in the UK as a whole, but also in circles in my personal life has been eye opening. Something that should have been in the forefront of my mind and many others, way before it has – but at least it has changed now.
I will be continuing to research and learn but will also be posting some sewing and craft related content. I may well collect together a few resources and amazing people that I have recently discovered here in a blog soon but for now I want to talk to you about The Sewing Weekender that happened last weekend.

I have never been lucky enough to visit The Sewing Weekender when it is hosted in Cambridge but have always been a jealous onlooker !! However obviously, because of lockdown, they haven’t been able to hold one this year … so Kate, Rachel (The Fold Line)and Charlotte (English Girl At Home) took it online !
I kept going back and forth as to whether or not I should buy a ticket. But I decided that I deserved a treat of a whole weekend of solid sewing and when I saw that all the profits were going to 4 incredibly charities I couldn’t resist.

As the weekend approached I made sure I would have the whole 2 days free … I also made sure I was fully ready to be super productive! On the Friday before I printed the Ilford Jacket pattern from Friday Pattern Company, stuck it together and cut out my fabric ready. I only planned the one project as I hadn’t made it before and thought it would take quite a while to get through.

Saturday arrived and I guess I got started at 11am ish … there were so many amazing videos from people in the sewing community so I got watching! Particular favourites were Tilly Walnes’ (Tilly and the Buttons) Q&A where she talked about how the business is run as well as how to stay motivated. Zoe from SozoBlog on Instagram did a really interesting video on saving money when sewing, I already do a lot of the things she mentioned but there were some really interesting tips that I want to take on board.
There were also some really lovely videos in their series of Conversations with the Community. Lots of really amazing sewing Instagrammers, vloggers and business owners had recorded short videos where they chatted about everything from their recent makes, business plans and important topics such as diversity within the community.
I even listened to the new episode of the New Craft House’s podcast with Rachel from The Fold Line whilst eating my lunch in the garden !! Perfect!

I got on really well with making my Ilford Jacket, it was surprisingly straight forward! I used some dreamy fabric that I bought from a car boot sale a while back when on holiday in Scotland. It’s a heavy cotton (I think!) with a wonderful vintage style floral print, perfect to make a wearable toile of the jacket. I would say the whole jacket took maximum 6 hours to put together which was incredible considering I was often getting distracted by people’s Instagram posts !! But it just seemed to work – you know how sometimes patterns just go together simply, even when they are slightly trickier!!
The jacket turned out really well so I’ve already bought some fabric to use for my proper one! I’ll probably write a more in depth blog about this pattern as I’m planning on making another one soon … then I’ll have more comments on the construction and fit ! But spoiler I love it !!

Another of my favourite parts of the weekend was the zoom session that happened each day. It was so lovely to hear from Kate, Rachel and Charlotte but also we got to see what lots of participants were making. It was incredible to watch people from around the world all taking part in the same event and sharing their mutual love of sewing! There were people in America, Canada, Israel, Spain and even Australia, as well as around the UK. Excitingly I got to go on and share my jacket, it was so fun chatting with the ladies and I got so many wonderful comments afterwards which made me feel all warm and fuzzy !






On the Sunday it was a very similar set up … lots more videos – including a really interesting video from Pigeon Wishes showing us how their fabric rolling machine works ! It was quite literally one of the most addictive things to watch, I had never even thought about how fabric is rolled onto bolts.
So I worked my way through the video content whilst starting a new project.




Ok that’s not 100% true … I had already started my Libby Shirt from Sew Over It a few months back but got stuck on the collar. For some reason I had just got really annoyed with it and couldn’t work out how to go any further so it sat on my mannequin, mocking me !!
So when I needed something to work on for Sunday I decided to bite the bullet and give it a go. And amazingly it seemed to work … I managed to get it finished and I love it ! The version I made was in a blue cotton from Fabrics Galore that I can wear it to work, I’ve ordered some more blue fabric to make another work shirt but am also going to make one for everyday wear. I have a floral cotton lawn in my stash that I think could be perfect!

There was another zoom session on Sunday which I once again really enjoyed … this time I sat and ate my lunch whilst watching it and then managed to get more of my shirt finished.
During the weekend I had been chatting to a few lovely sewing friends on Instagram and suggested that we did a little sewing catch up zoom call of our own. So during the afternoon 4 of us, Rebekah from @sewno65, Sophie from @sophs_makes_and_bakes and Serena from @serenasews_, logged onto zoom and had a lovely 1 hour long chat about all things sewing! It was so fun to talk to people that I had only messaged before. We enjoyed it so much that we might even do it again soon with a couple of others who couldn’t make it that day !

Another amazing part was the huge Virtual Goodie Bag which was stuffed full with discount codes from amazing small businesses … I’ve already placed a few orders ! I had my eye on some more fabrics for another Ilford jacket and another work shirt. As well as some to make more basic tops and some summer trousers! I’ve ordered from Sew Me Sunshine, Lamazi Fabrics and Fabric Godmother and am so excited to receive the orders !! Look at those colours !!

I genuinely got to the end of Sunday and felt sad that it was all over … Throughout the weekend there was just such a warm feeling of community and it just made you feel better about the world for a couple of days! Of course parts of it won’t stop! I’ve followed lots of new people on Instagram as well as gaining many new followers myself so look forward to keeping up the interaction. And of course the sewing won’t stop! I’d like to try and put aside a weekend every month or two as I was so productive and really enjoyed the uninterrupted sewing time.
I hope that it takes place online again soon as I think it really bought the community together and was just such an amazing thing to be part of. Especially when they managed to raise over £23,000 for NHS Charities Together, Mind, The Stephen Lawrence Trust and Black Lives Matter !! I’d love to attend one of the events held in Cambridge one year but until then I loved taking part in this !
A huge thankyou to the ladies at The Fold Line and Charlotte from English Girl At Home!!


Me Made May Round Up!

We made it !! At the beginning of May I pledged to take part in me made may by wearing handmade at least 5 days a week. I also wanted to use the month to assess my wardrobe and work out what I like wearing and what I need more of in my wardrobe! The final thing I said I wanted to do was to tackle my work in progress pile … now I’ll say this straight away, I didn’t do well on this pledge so lets just leave that here!!
So let’s focus on the outfits!

I gave myself a bit of leeway by pledging to wear handmade for 5 days of the week … I wasn’t sure that I would be able to take photos everyday and even whether I would be able to wear handmade everyday. But I did it, I managed to wear something handmade every single day of May !! There was one day when the only handmade piece was a scrunchie but otherwise I wore at least 1 handmade garment as part of my outfit and I’m so proud of that!
Here are all my photos of each outfit … this May featured a lot of hot days which are not my favourite! But it did mean that I had to try out some new outfit combinations, be brave and wear some dresses in different ways! I also wore trousers quite a bit when it was cooler, I’m not a big trouser wearer (what a weird phrase!) but I really love a lot of the outfits where I’m wearing jeans!

I thought I would highlight the new garments that I made during May (or just before). The pieces that I made were mainly basics that I knew I would get a lot of wear out of. There were a lot of All Well Studio box tops in various styles … It’s probably one of my most worn patterns … it’s so versatile and works in so many different fabrics ! I love how cool they are in the hot weather but also I think they will make great layering pieces for autumn/winter. I’d like to try out some other hacks … maybe little ruffles on the sleeves and hem, button up front, more cropped versions and some more cotton ones too!

I made a few other pieces … particularly Tilly and The Buttons patterns (plus a Tessuti Fabrics Mandy Boat Tee in orange stripe jersey!). First up is the Bobbi skirt which I really love … it took some fitting to get just right but I’m so pleased with it! I did have a bit of a war with the poppers but hopefully they are staying put now !
I also made the Safiya trousers from the Make it Simple book , but I cropped them to make shorts. I kind of used them as a trial run to see how the fit was and if I liked them … the result was great and I’m going to definitely make many more ! One of the things that I am really in need of are shorts so it’s great to find a lovely, easy pattern to use. I’d love to make some plain pairs to go with all my patterned tops.
Finally I made an Indigo dress but extended it to a midi length with a ruffle. I’m slightly undecided on this piece for a few reasons … the sleeves aren’t quite right, for one the shoulders are too wide but also they are just a bit too long. I’m considering taking the sleeves off so that it is a similar style to my tartan indigo dress. I think I may get more use out of it this way. I’m also considering taking off the bottom ruffle ! I’m just not sure whether it looks a bit too much like a Victorian nightdress !! But I think I’ll take off the sleeves and see what happens.

As I mentioned earlier I’ve really enjoyed wearing trousers …. I think some of my favourite outfits have been a simple Mandy Boat Tee with jeans, or with a cute tshirt .

I also really enjoyed wearing skirts … I’d like to make another plain version of the Ness or Bobbi skirt as I love my denim one! It’s so versatile and great all year round !

Something else I found interesting was wearing dresses in different ways. For example a few of my dresses such as the Tartan Indigo dress and the In the Folds peplum top hack I always wear over tshirts or long sleeved tops. But then I was running out of warm weather clothes so I wore them without and was actually really surprised by how much I liked it!

So that’s the round up of my outfits … but I just wanted to say a bit about how much it has helped me work out what needs to been added to my wardrobe. The main thing I need are plains ! Plain tops, plain trousers, skirts and shorts … I’m always drawn to patterns and prints in beautiful colours but realistically I need to buy some plain fabrics that will match with the wonderful prints. So I’m going to try and be strict with myself and do some research into buying some heavier weight plain fabrics for bottoms like trousers and skirts, and also some lighter weight ones and jerseys for tops . I’m also going to have a look at what patterns I can try and add in , particularly basic tops .

Overall I really enjoyed this months challenge … it was a welcome distraction from the monotony of lockdown and was fun to try something new. I’m definitely going to try and document outfits more often, rather than just when I make something new. If I like an outfit I’ll post it, just because ! It was also really lovely seeing other peoples everyday outfits… I discovered lots of new people to follow and have loved engaging with them on their photos. It’s such an amazing community and I think me made May has really highlighted that for me.
I hope that I can keep increasing the proportion of handmade garments in my wardrobe, and introduce more handmade workwear pieces so that when Me Made May comes back round again I’ll be able to take part properly again !

To find out more about each garment, pattern and fabric just head over to my Instagram page here.

The All Well Workshop Box Top Pattern

I thought I would introduce you all to the All Well Workshop Box Top pattern … it’s a wonderful pattern that has so many amazing hacks to try. Just look at the artwork and Amy’s (one half of the team behind the business) styling of them! I’ve made 4 versions so far but I know that won’t be all… especially when there’s so much inspiration on Instagram!
So a quick description is that it is a basic boxy top that if you make it in the simplest form it is just 2 pattern pieces! Then you can add sleeves, a peplum, a skirt, lengthen it into a straight dress, add patch pockets, inseam pockets, a waist tie, cuffs or even colour block! The possibilities are endless and it’s amazing being able to mix and match to create so many different garments. In this blog I’m going to talk you through the different versions that I have made so far and maybe a few extra plans …

As part of my lockdown sewing I decided to tackle a few me made items that aren’t quite working for me. One of the first ones was a dress I made for last Christmas, it was made from some beautiful rifle paper co. cotton bought from Cloth and Candy. I only had just over the metre and realistically that was too tight to get a gathered waist dress out of – but despite this I still tried ! And didn’t really succeed … I wore it on Christmas Day but that was the only time. So I grabbed it out of the wardrobe and got to work, the original pattern that I used was the All Well Workshop Box Top but it had strayed away from the original pattern! I unpicked it at the waist, as I had tried to add in a waistband to make the dress longer, then I added the peplum skirt back on. I tried it on and then cut it to the length I wanted.
And that was probably the best thing I could have done … in maybe 2 weeks I’ve worn the top maybe 4 times as opposed to wearing the dress once 5 months ago !

Since then I’ve also made another top in exactly the same style because I love the Rifle Paper Co version so much! Last year I bought a remnant of green and white stripe seersucker from Holm Sown which I think was about 1 metre … I knew I wanted to make a top but couldn’t decide on a pattern. So when I knew I wanted another peplum top I suddenly had inspiration! I used the basic box top pattern along with the peplum add on (which I made longer to make the most of the fabric!). However this time I didn’t cut the back piece on the fold, instead I added about 2cm on the centre seam so that I could fold it over and create a faux button placket. It was such a simple hack and looks really effective – even if I do say so myself ! I finished it off with some brown wooden buttons and my new favourite way of hemming … using the rolled edge hemming setting on my overlocker!

I think the first version that I made of the box top was actually a dress … I added a gathered skirt to the top and of course pockets! It is made out of some cotton that I managed to scout out at a charity shop last year … its such a cute design and something very different for me, I don’t often go for white. But I really like how it turned out, it’s a great, comfy throw on dress !

And the only other version that I have made is a sleeved version. When I made my Cocoon Coat I bought a lovely black and white spot viscose from 1st for Fabrics for the lining, and I ended up with quite a bit left! So I managed to squeeze a box top out of it with sleeves just above the elbow and it’s a great basic top. However when I tried it on to take photos the sleeves aren’t quite sitting right for some reason, so I may unpick the sleeves and leave them like the other three versions … we’ll see !
The whole top looks completely different when sleeves are added and even more so when there’s no peplum which is why I love this pattern! And different when made in different fabrics … my other 3 versions are made in stiffer, cotton fabrics rather than the floatier viscose of this one.

I’ve got lots of fabrics that I think would make perfect Box Tops ! I’d like to keep experimenting with new hacks … maybe button placket down the front. Or possibly an exposed gather. I might even add pockets or colour blocking to use up my scraps ! So many options … I urge you to go, buy the pattern, peruse the hashtag #allwellboxtop and then buy all the fabric (or shop your stash!) – you won’t regret it !!

Me Made May

So it’s only a few days into Me Made May but I’m really loving taking part or the first proper time! In previous years I haven’t had enough me made garments to wear for the majority of a month or I’ve been at work multiple times a week where I have to wear a uniform. So now that I have a more substantial handmade wardrobe and I’m not at work due to lockdown I thought it would be the perfect time to take part!

I decided that setting myself the task of wearing me made every day of the month would possibly be too big of a challenge. Therefore my pledge is to wear a me made outfits 5 days of the week – I may do more but I thought it would give me a bit of leeway for days when I don’t fancy wearing handmade, or don’t want to pose for a photo!

I’ve also started taking proper photos everyday … I even dug out my fancy camera which hasn’t had as much use since I upgraded to my iPhone. It’s been something that I’ve really enjoyed so I’m hoping to keep it up for the month … although we are only a few days in so check back with me in a couple of weeks !!
Here’s my set up … as it happens I rearranged the corner of my bedroom and it has created a perfect photo spot.

Another thing that I wanted to achieve during Me Made May is to really assess my wardrobe and work out what needs to be added. So far I’ve found that I need some more trousers that aren’t jeans ! This is huge for me as up until maybe 2/3 months ago I was in a phase where I never wore trousers … but now I’m really enjoying wearing jeans and trousers. So I’m on the hunt for some lovely trouser patterns and of course some fabric !! Any suggestions very welcome …

And the final thing I’m aiming to do is finish more WIP (work in progress) projects and rework any garments that aren’t getting much wear. I’ve done this already with a few dresses that haven’t been quite right and so far it’s been very useful – I’ve gained 2 t-shirts from 2 dresses that just didn’t fit quite right/ weren’t quite me! I’ve got a whole pile of half finished projects, clothes that don’t quite fit, clothes that just aren’t quite right – so these really need sorting and if lockdown isn’t the time to do it when is ?

I’m super excited for the rest of the month and can’t wait to see what everyone else achieves … Instagram is just the best place during Me Made May!

Tilly’s Tabitha T-shirts!

Ok, I’m going to start this blog post by saying you need to make yourself a whole range of Tabitha T-shirts!
But let me tell you why …

First off the pattern is from Tilly and The Button’s newest book Make It Simple. It has a front piece, a back piece, sleeves and a neckband. It’s super simple and a great shape. I had to narrow the shoulders slightly but other than that the size 4 (my normal size in Tilly’s patterns) fit me perfectly. It’s quite a boxy t-shirt with short sleeves that in the scheme of things are quite long – however I’ve found that they look cute rolled up and kept in place with a couple of stitches.

I’ve made 6 now and each one looks different! I’ve used cotton jerseys for each as I prefer the feel and felt that a more sturdy jersey would be better as opposed to something like a viscose jersey. But I suppose a viscose jersey would work and just give you a different look !

My Tabitha T-shirt Collection

On four of the 6 tshirts I’ve used cotton ribbing for the neckband. I personally think that it worked better than using the same jersey. When I didn’t use cotton ribbing the neckband doesn’t sit as flat which is a shame, I wonder whether shortening the band or even making it narrower would work better so might give that a go next time I want to use the same fabric.

I think the first one that I made was as part of a pj set … I had a remnant of some adorable whale cotton jersey that I had made a dress from a couple of years ago. So I managed to squeeze out a t-shirt and a pair of shorts … I’m not quite happy with the fit of the shorts yet but the t-shirt is super cute! As I mentioned the neckband doesn’t quite sit flat but as they are pjs I’m not too bothered.
Also you might be able to see that the shoulders are quite big … I kind of used this as a wearable toile and didn’t bother adjusting as I thought that I would prefer the top to be baggier for pj’s.

Ok so the first day to day wear one was made using some white cotton jersey that I think I got for free somewhere … it had a few marks on it but I managed to avoid them when cutting out. I used grey cotton ribbing from fabrics galore for the neckband as I’m not a big fan of completely white t-shirts. As this one was my first I made it up without any changes and then tried it on, I then unpicked the sleeves and moved them in to narrow the shoulders.
Afterwards I ironed on my cricut vinyl of The Beatles logo which I made in black glitter … and I love it !!
The Beatles are my favourite band and as I mentioned in my Cricut Joy blog (find it here) I had a white tshirt with a black logo in mind so was thrilled to make it a reality …

The second one I made was a pink cotton jersey with deep grey coloured ribbing for the neckband. The pink jersey was from Girl Charlee before they closed their UK website – its a lovely dusky rose pink that is one of my most favourite colours! I cut the shoulders narrower before sewing this time based on how much I had to cut off the white one and it worked much better.
Obviously I decided to add a little bit of cricut magic … this time in the form of Moomintroll from the Moomins. Again see my previous post to find out how I made it … it was surprisingly easy once I got my head around mirroring the image and separating the outline and main shape. And I love the result so much …

The third one was made from some jersey I bought from Fabric Godmother at The Stitch Festival. Its a super cool turquoise and mustard leopard print – I’m not a huge fan of normal leopard print but these are two of my favourite colours so I couldn’t resist! It’s a beautifully soft cotton jersey again and this was the other one that I decided to use the jersey for the neckband as well – it would have looked super cool with mustard ribbing but I didn’t have any of that and didn’t want to order some just for 1 neckband! But I love the result and have of course added a little iron on transfer – I had the perfect mustard flocked iron on vinyl from Happy Fabric so cut out the words ‘choose happy’ in beautiful calligraphy style writing and ironed it onto the front of the tshirt. I love it (are you seeing that I really love this pattern!!)

The next one was is made from another wonderful cotton jersey from Sew Me Sunshine which has the most beautiful space print on it. There are planets and stars in lovely teals, corals and grey on a black background. I fell in love with the fabric as soon as I saw it at The Stitch Festival and couldn’t resist buying a metre for a t-shirt! I added dark grey cotton ribbing for the neckband as I thought it could do with some plain to break up the pattern. And of course I had to add some more iron on vinyl however this time as it is such a busy print I decided just to add little stars. So on a few of the grey stars I added glittery stars in some teal and coral glitter vinyl that matched the planets perfectly ! The vinyl was from Happy Fabric once again – they have an amazing range so check them out – they are open and shipping on certain days so do go and support them!

The final one was actually made when I was going through all my me mades that don’t get worn or don’t fit. I had made a red and white striped Ruska knot dress by named clothing but it never fitted properly, then I added a Joni skirt to the bodice but still I never wore it. So I laid the pattern pieces on the skirt and managed to squeeze out a t-shirt. And even better I managed to keep the hem in tact so didn’t have to hem the t-shirt !! It also meant that the sleeves have a seam running from the shoulder to the sleeve hem, which with the stripe pattern looks really cool – a happy coincidence! I decided to use white ribbing for the neckband of this one which really gives it a smarter look.
And of course I added a little iron on design … this time a cute little bunch of flowers with the words ‘no rain no flowers’. Amazingly this one is fast becoming my absolute favourite !!

So I hope that has persuaded you to give the Tabitha tee a go ! It really is a lovely easy pattern that you can make out of so many wonderful colours and prints ! It’s taking all my strength to resist buying all the jersey whilst we are on lockdown … these are some of my particular favourites so if you haven’t got any jersey suitable in your stash and fancy treating yourself I definitely recommend checking these out ! I’m trying my hardest to resist the urge to buy these !