My Super Summer Sewing Plans (Or ‘How I Will Finally Tackle My Monster Fabric Stash’)

Thank you to everyone for your lovely words and well wishes on last week’s post. As someone who has struggled with mental illness for most of my life and continues to advocate for the incredible benefits of creativity to health and wellbeing, it’s not easy to openly confront/admit to continued challenges. However, it’s also clear to me that nothing in life works with the mythical convenience of a panacea. Creative outlets – much like my experiences with medication and therapy – are vitally important components of my efforts to overcome mental illness. But (at least, in my experience) they work most effectively when used in conjunction with one another. My life with anxiety, depression, self-harm – and the various other manifestations that my struggles take – is one of peaks and troughs. I’ve never wanted to give the impression that I’m ‘recovered’ and now live a life totally untouched by these issues. In fact, too much of the discussion around mental illness is told from the perspective of ‘survivors’ or those who are now considered free-and-clear. It’s an appealing picture but one that doesn’t fully capture the months of peaceful, productive existence followed by months of crippling panic and sadness that represent the experiences of so many. All of this to say that I’m truly grateful for the kindness of everyone who has reached out with understanding and positive wishes for my health, particularly as I’m reintegrating some serious sewing back into my routine!

Enough with the serious stuff! I’m here to talk summer sewing plans and my continued efforts to diminish my fabric stash. Now that I’m back to sewing, it’s inevitable that I will once again start to accrue fabric at a baffling rate. I honestly hadn’t been too concerned with the size of my personal haberdashery until we moved into our new place and I was faced with the incredible challenge of finding adequate storage for everything. The sewing room in our old apartment had the benefit of an incredibly large wardrobe/cupboard (so big that there were steps to climb into it – so something of a Mary Poppins carpet bag set-up). Faced with normal-sized cupboards, I realised quite how dramatic my fabric collection has become. So, in an effort to get my stash down to more manageable proportions, I figured that I should put together some plans for the summer months and start to work through those fabrics that have found themselves languishing in my sewing spaces for too long.

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1. Sew Over It Jessie Coatigan 

Also known as Laura’s own, personal version of ‘A NeverEnding Story’. This is the project that I had left half-completed when I stopped sewing last year. It’s still resting, in its sad, frayed state, on my mannequin and I’m determined to finally get it finished. Let’s ignore the fact that I’m going to be sewing a hefty coat/cardigan whilst suffering through the 37C weather – this project has got to be finished before I can let myself get on with anything new. And there are some truly tempting pattern/fabric combinations that I have lined up for myself. So here’s hoping that this serves as adequate inducement to finally tackle my sad, neglected Sew Over It Coatigan. At least I’ll be well prepared once autumn comes around!

2. Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress

I’ve already had a tremendously successful encounter with this pattern, resulting in one of my very favourite makes. When I picked up some of Rifle Paper Co’s incredible Alice in Wonderland fabric, I was immediately determined to use it in another version of Sew Over It’s amazing shirt dress pattern. Anyone who has found themselves feeling creatively uninspired will probably know the draw that some beautiful fabric can hold. During my time away from the sewing machine, this is the fabric that kept whispering sweet inducements to get me back at the pedal. I’m so excited to see how this one comes out – particularly since it’s a dress that can be easily styled for both summer and autumn!

3. Untitled Thoughts Matilda Wrap Dress

I’ve had the most beautiful stretch fabric waiting its turn in my fabric stash for well-over a year – the victim of some continuous changes to my sewing plans (as well, obviously, as my lack of sewing for all of 2019). One of the motivating thoughts that I’ve had at the back of my mind as I attempt to get back into a sewing routine is my brother’s wedding in October. I haven’t felt particularly pressured to create something, although it would be really nice to be able to wear something that I’ve made specifically for that day. I also desperately want to avoid the hours of shop trawling that would be the inevitable consequence of my decision to not make something myself. My current thought is that this fabric – combined with the Matilda Wrap Dress pattern from Untitled Thoughts – would work as a contender. Even if I decide not to go with it, I think that it will make for a beautiful dress!

My fabric is actually so close to that from Untitled Thoughts’ own version!

So those are my immediate sewing plans – probably sufficient to see me through the summer and definitely enough to have me really excited to be back at the sewing machine. I’m hoping that my summery makes will be done in adequate time to actually enjoy them before the leaves start falling! What are your summer sewing plans? Let me know down in the comments!

 

 

How To Sew The Perfect Winter Holiday Outfit: Finding A Pattern

Now that I’ve rediscovered my sewing motivation, I’m in full swing planning out a dress for the holiday season. I rarely sew with an event in mind (in fact, I think the last time was for Valentine’s Day about three years ago). I tend not to respond well to deadlines in sewing, even though I’m great with deadlines in just about every other area of my life. Since sewing plays such a vital and necessary role in my mental health maintenance, I suppose I resist anything that might add stress or pressure into the mix. However, this year, I have found the most perfect pattern for the holidays and am feeling the inspiration coursing through my veins. So trying to get it sewn in time for Christmas (or, if there are delays, New Year’s Eve) doesn’t feel like too much of a burden.

In recognition of the fact that we can now permissibly begin talking about Christmas (yes, my Christmas tree is already up!), I thought that I would write up a post to provide some Winter Holiday sewing inspiration. I’ve been doing quite a bit of searching about in order to settle on my own festive project, as well as looking back over patterns I’ve already made myself, and I have some real gems for you!

V8999 – 1954 Dress Pattern

This is my chosen one. I actually found it on a hunt in a pattern sale at Joann’s (probably the best pattern bargains that I’ve found anywhere to date) for about $3 and fell instantly in love. The shape is so unique and I just adore the panelling. I’ve decided to sew this up in a cranberry crepe to really hammer home the Christmas vibe. I was actually on the hunt for an emerald green because deep greens are probably my favourite colours for clothing. However, I was VERY budget limited. Because this dress requires an astonishing 8.5 yards of fabric (that’s about 8 metres). I’ve never sewn with that much fabric before, since even the most poofy of vintage dresses typically only require about 4 yards. Have you ever made a pattern that required so much fabric? I don’t think I’ve even seen one before this! The amount of fabric made me genuinely debate whether this pattern is the one for me, largely because I just couldn’t justify spending $100 on fabric for one dress that – let’s face it – might not turn out how I envision it (especially since I never make muslins). But I’ve recently discovered fabric.com (not sponsored in any way, they just have incredible fabric deals!) and managed to get all of my fabric and notions for about $45, which I consider quite the success.

So putting aside how frustrated I will inevitably be when having to cut out 8.5 yards worth of pattern pieces, I’m excited for this make. It’s been a while since I made something truly vintage since this year has been mostly focussed on sewing up some everyday wearable clothing. So it’s high time that I got back on the vintage horse and, with a goal in mind, I’m sure I’ll make it!V8999V8997 – Misses’ Princess Seam Dress

This is a pattern that I made for last year’s Cocktail Hour Sew-Along and I’m still pretty obsessed with it. Although the pattern itself is quite casual, this is definitely a dress where the fabric can transform the garment into something super glamourous. I used a black satin with silver stars and am still so in love with the way that it turned out. I decided to go with the version that has floaty sleeves (version A), since it feels most occasion-appropriate to me. However, this pattern comes with four very different versions, including two that are far more form-fitting. So, if that’s your style, I think that it would look perfect for a work Christmas party or New Year’s Eve shenanigans.

Also, this dress has pockets! Need I say more?

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The Belle Curve Dress – Decades of Style

If you’ve been visiting Sew for Victory for long enough, you’ll know that the Decades of Style Belle Curve dress is just about my favourite pattern of all time. It’s just stunning. I made it very early on in my sewing career (ambitious much?!) and was amazed to find that it turned out really beautifully. Until I cut through it a couple of months ago when attempting to stop some fraying, that is. Disregarding my thoughtlessness, this remains a beautiful pattern. The sunburst dart detailing on the sides gives the dress an incredibly flattering shape and is probably the most effective design detail that I’ve seen on any pattern.

Don’t be intimidated by the number of darts. If I could make this as my third ever sewing project, I have faith in your abilities. It’s also a relatively quick sew! I actually wore this dress for Christmas back in 2015, the same year that I started sewing and launched Sew for Victory. I highly recommend this make if you’re looking for a holiday pattern with a distinctly vintage edge!

Belle Curve

Sierra Jumpsuit – Papercut Patterns

If you’re looking for something a little more modern and less conventional, the new Sierra Jumpsuit from Papercut Patterns might be exactly what you want. Full disclosure: I haven’t actually made any of their patterns before. But their newest collection popped up on my Instagram feed and I was instantly in love with this particular pattern. I can just imagine it in an emerald green corduroy (even though, technically, the pattern recommends light to medium weight fabrics, but I do love to run counter to advice when it comes to my sewing). With a turtleneck underneath, this would be a stunning winter outfit. The waist-tie of the jumpsuit gives it that glamourous edge, without feeling too fancy. So if comfort and utility are important to you (or if you’re going to be chasing a herd of children around for most of Christmas day), this pattern would be an excellent choice!

Sierra Jumpsuit

So those are my favourite patterns for all of your winter holiday needs. I will obviously be keeping you appraised of the dress making process, as I tackle monster amounts of fabric. If you don’t already follow me over on Instagram, you can catch me there – I usually post copious amounts of photos to my Instagram stories to document my making process. Otherwise, let me know in the comments if you have any favourite holiday patterns. What are you making this year?

Chataigne Shorts (Deer And Doe)

I’m back with my first truly autumn make! As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been taking a much needed break from sewing and blogging whilst attempting to cultivate some sort of balance between all of the competing elements of my life. Fortunately, my version of the Chataigne Shorts from Deer and Doe patterns is something that I finished back in the summer and, now that the weather has turned, I’ve been able to take them out for a spin…

Full Length

I actually ordered this pattern way back in June, just a couple of weeks before Deer and Doe announced that they were releasing it as a PDF. Living in the middle of the US has definitely made me appreciate the joy of PDF patterns. Since this pattern shipped from France, got lost en route, and had to be resent after a 30 day wait period, it ended up taking about six weeks for me to actually get the pattern to my door. Not ideal. However, this is certainly one of the risks of ordering internationally and, in future, I’ll definitely be using PDFs where I can! The long and short of this is that, what was originally intended to be a summer make, has ended up becoming part of my autumn wardrobe.

Fortunately, I’m someone who has always preferred wearing shorts in the autumn. Although the 100F heat in Missouri has necessitated that I embrace summer-appropriate clothing, I’m infinitely happier when I can pop on a pair of tights and plenty of layers along with my shorts. I decided to make my version of the Chataigne Shorts in a faux suede (that I bought from Joann’s), mirroring the pair shown on the model in the Deer and Doe photos. Not only does the heaviness of the fabric make these shorts nice and toasty, the colour also provides that perfect neutral tan for a lovely autumnal colour palette.

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This particular shorts pattern drew my attention largely because of the super unique details. The pointed shape of the waistband and the neat little darts add a wonderfully tailored look to the garment. There are also some lovely deep pockets on the front and, as you all know, I’m a massive fan of anything with pockets. They were particularly helpful here because it was below freezing when I was taking these photos!

Construction-wise, none of these details posed much of a problem. I did find that it took a bit of fiddling and multiple attempts to get the point of the waistband to line up perfectly with the crotch seam. In the end, I accepted that it was going to be ever so slightly off centre. My husband couldn’t even see the issue but I’m sure many of you will sympathise with the excessive fixation that can accompany those not-quite-perfect sewing moments. I’m getting better about letting them go but I still often feel like I can’t see anything other than the mistake. Tell me that I’m not alone in this! Aside from the waistband, everything else was pretty simple. The instructions were quite clear and easy-to-follow and the shorts themselves close with an invisible zip attached to the side seam. If you’re familiar with this insertion process, you’re already good to go!

There’s also an added cute detail of pocket flaps on the back of the shorts. Unfortunately not full pockets, but the lack of pocket on the butt really helps the garment to lie flat against the body without any lumps or bumps. I was a fan of this particular addition because it was quick, easy, and looks very sweet!

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Fit-wise, I simply followed my measurements and hoped for the best. It worked out because the shorts fit really nicely and comfortably. The top of the waistband sits at the waist and it is worth bearing in mind when fitting that adding the waistband will shift the shorts upwards quite dramatically. So, before attempting to gauge fit, make sure that your waistband is comfortably sewn in place. Overall, I think that the shape and detailing of the shorts makes for an incredibly flattering look. I particularly loved the length of the pattern. I’m always a bit concerned when buying short because, as wonderfully as they may fit when trying them on in a changing room, you never know whether the dreaded ‘ride up’ will occur when out walking. There’s honestly nothing worse, particularly on a hot and sticky summer day. Both with tights and without, the Chataigne Shorts are the perfect length to prevent this from happening. I feel like I could wear them all day without fear of them riding up my thighs (maybe nobody else actually worries about this, but it’s a major review point for me!).

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I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone in the market for a unique and comfortable pair of shorts. The pattern also comes with an option for a scalloped hem at the bottom of the shorts, if you would prefer this to the cuffed legs. There is also an option for a higher waist! So plenty of choices to suit all styles. I’m very sure that I’ll be making another version of these shorts sometime in the near future. Although I think that the waistband attachment would make this a tough pattern for a beginner, it presents few challenges to sewists with a familiarity with basic techniques and a bit of courage. And, if you’re like me, autumn can actually be the perfect time to whip up some brand new shorts!

My Favourite Autumn Patterns!

It’s the last day of August and I’m already anticipating the autumn with determination. I love autumn, not least because it offers a break from the 40C weather I’ve been forced to endure for the past five months. Mostly, I adore the cosiness of the season – the hot drinks, blankets, books, and being able to layer my clothes. In fact, clothes play a really central role in why it is that I love the autumn so much. I always struggle to dress appropriately in summer. I’m not a big fan of shorts and skirts, unless I can throw on some thick tights or knee-length socks with them. I love cardigans and jumpers. Unfortunately, none of these things lend themselves to a summer in Missouri.

So, with true anticipation, I’ve been thinking hard about my favourite autumnal patterns. Some I’ve already made, some I hope to make for the first time! I thought I would share them with you, at least partly in the hope that it might motivate me back to my sewing machine.

Chataigne Shorts – Deer&Doe

I’m actually in the process of whipping up a version of these shorts, imitating as closely as possible the suede version shown in photos on the website. Although I’m using faux suede (#veganlife), I really wanted to copy the style that they’ve shown because it just feels super autumnal. I’m actually a big fan of tights under shorts – in fact, I’ve always worn shorts far more often in the autumn/winter than in the summer, so my version of the Chataigne shorts will definitely serve that look!

On a technical level, I also just love the design of these shorts. They have a unique pointed waistband which I just adore. The pleating on the front is another detail that I tend to search for whenever I’m looking for short patterns or buying shorts on the high street. So stick around for this because, fingers crossed, I should have some photos up in the next couple of weeks!

Vintage Shirt Dress – Sew Over It

This is a pattern that I’ve already worked with and loved. However, my version – very pastel and generally summery – is not super suited to the cooler months. The pattern was an absolute dream to work with and I’ve been determined to make a new version ever since I finished my last one.

The long sleeve option would make this pattern perfect for the start of autumn, when temperatures are cool enough to need coverage but not so cool that you need thick layers. I’m thinking that a more muted fabric – perhaps even a plain cotton – might work perfectly with a bright pair of tights or a hat. I’m always on a bit of a beret kick in the autumn so anything I can make work with that obsession is always super welcome.

Ginger Jeans – Closet Case Patterns

Another pattern with which I am well acquainted but planning out a new version. The pair of Ginger Jeans that I already have – navy denim with white anchors – will actually be pretty appropriate year-round. However, I’m in love with black jeans. I think they look so chic and, bonus, they match with just about everything. As we approach the autumn and some cooler weather, I’m excited to actually get some wear out of my trousers. They’ve been languishing in my wardrobe for months because it’s been far too hot (I know, I just can’t help complaining – but I’m English, very fair skinned, and just generally find this weather totally unreasonable).

If you’re looking for some new jeans for the autumn and fancy a bit of a challenge (although not the level of challenge that you might expect and fear), I definitely recommend the Ginger Jeans. They were my first experience with jean making and the process went off without a hitch. Super clear instructions, very simple steps, and just generally a good time!

Juliette Blouse – Sew Over It

One of my sewing goals for this year was to spend more time working on separates. So far, I’ve been doing a pretty good job on this. But my sights are set on a new make – the Juliette Blouse from Sew Over It. Since making the Lucia Top, I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with ruffles. Any top that gives me the opportunity to flaunt some frilly goodness is, in my view, worth the time it takes to make.

I’ve been on the hunt for some good blouse or shirt patterns that would work in colder weather. Particularly something that I can tuck into a skirt or jeans, that also fits easily under other layers. The Juliette Blouse seems to fit these requirements perfectly. That said, the layering would be vital with a blouse of this kind since it demands a very lightweight fabric. But, as I mentioned above, I love a cardigan – so really it’s just an excuse to add on even more layers!

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So those are four of my favourite autumnal patterns, all of which I’m planning to make (or, in some cases, remake) over the coming months. Do you have any favourite patterns for the autumn? Leave your recommendations below!

Sewing For Summer!

I’m honestly not sure how we’ve already ended up mid-way through the summer. Things that felt way off on the horizon – starting my yoga teacher training, my 30th birthday (!) – are now just around the corner. Not to mention the fact that I’ve just celebrated my first wedding anniversary and have now been in my apartment for a whole year, even though it feels like I only just landed in the US. I’m honestly feeling a bit blindsided by how quickly 2018 is progressing!

Thankfully, I’m feeling pretty accomplished when it comes to my sewing. I already have a lot of makes under my belt and have definitely taken good steps on all of my 2018 sewing goals. Mostly I’m pleased that I’m finding a way to spend more time on building my everyday wardrobe and I’m getting so much joy from actually wearing my makes on a daily basis! I still have big plans for the rest of the year. Sewing is definitely harder in the summer – longer days and nicer weather mean that I’m generally keen to spend as much time as possible out and about. Plus my work commitments have escalated dramatically, so trying to fit everything in is definitely presenting a challenge. But that won’t stop me!

I’ve just wrapped up a beautiful make with one of my all-time favourite fabrics – the Fox Tales fabric from Dear Stella. I deliberated for quite a while on what pattern I wanted to use. In the end, I settled on the skirt from Sew Over It’s Rosie Dress. I really love the pattern – plus, it was one of the few that worked with my very narrow fabric. I’m excited to show you some proper pics, although I’m working on a new white version of the Lucia Top to go with it before I’m ready with an outfit to photograph. For now, here’s a little teaser…

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Definitely the cutest fabric ever!

I’ve been planning out some other new projects. I’m super lucky to have been accepted as a new member of the Minerva Crafts Blog Team, for which I’ll be reviewing some different sewing-related delights. I’ve been working on my very first Minerva Crafts project and my first post will hopefully be up on their blog soon! I’ll be sure to link you to it once it’s done so that I can finally reveal one of the things that I’ve been working on.

I also picked up a few new vintage Simplicity patterns from Joann’s a couple of weeks ago. I got them in a super sale, each for about $3, and thought the sale would be a good opportunity to stock up! One of my more immediate makes will be this super cute 1940s pattern…

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I picked up the fabric from Joann’s at the same time as the pattern, without much thought on an appropriate project. But mulling over it, I think the cotton will work incredibly well for this skirt and top! The fabric itself is a little stiff so I think I’m going to have to pre-treat it in the hopes that it will soften up. If anyone has any tips on this, please let me know! I normally just do a standard pre-wash but I feel like this will not be enough to soften this particular fabric. I also have crazy sensitive skin so need to be careful about what I use (if I don’t use certain brands of washing liquid, I break out in a full body rash, so it’s no joke!). Any tips are definitely welcome!

I picked up a couple of other Simplicity patterns that I consider to be more along the lines of wardrobe staples. I’m not sure when I’ll actually use them but, at such a wonderful price, I figured it was a good opportunity to grab them!

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So much to work on! I think it’s going to be a busy summer of super sewing. Fingers crossed I’ll continue to feel the motivation. What are your summer sewing plans? Do you find yourself sewing less or more in the summer months?

Have a beautiful week, friends!

Sewing For Sweating: Making Your Own Activewear

I’ve alluded a few times to the fact that I spend most of my work week in athletic wear. Since I work from home and do yoga a couple of times a day, it’s really too much effort to get changed whenever I want to roll out my yoga mat. Despite this fact, I’ve never considered the possibility of sewing for a workout. This is really an oversight on my part because there are constantly pics of other sewist’s athletic makes floating around on social media. So I know that it’s possible! Now that I’m moving towards starting Yoga Teacher Training (I actually have an interview for a programme lined up!), I’ve been thinking increasingly about the need to start sewing some of my own yoga clothing. But where to start!?

Sewing athletic wear is quite different from sewing regular garments for a number of reasons. Most prominent is obviously the fabric. You’ll most likely be working with fabric that contains a good amount of spandex or lycra, so learning to sew with stretch fabric is a must! I’m still somewhat challenged in this arena – although getting a walking foot has helped immensely. You’ll want to be sure that you have all of the appropriate equipment for sewing such stretchy fabric, including machine feet and needles. It might also be a good idea to have a practice with some scraps of the material before diving right in. I found this great blog post written by Melissa Fehr on the Colette Blog – it goes into some of the things that need to be considered when selecting fabric for activewear.

It’s also super fortunate that many fabric sellers now separate out fabric for athletic garments. This is the case on fabric.com (who have a separate section for swimwear and activewear) and, for those with a bigger budget, at Mood. With sewing activewear so clearly on trend right now, it really isn’t tough to find the right kind of fabric for the job! Plus, there are some seriously striking colours and patterns out there!

Rex Fabrics

Fabric from RexFabrics LA

Once reassured that there’s plenty of fabric out there, it’s a question of finding the right sewing pattern. Obviously much of this will depend on the type of activity that you need the garments for – although there is certainly some overlap. Since my primary activity is yoga, I’ve spent the past couple of weeks on the hunt for potential yoga clothing patterns. There are few different places that are worth visiting if you’re on the lookout for activewear patterns! Here’s a list of some of my favourites:

– Fehr Trade

Melissa Fehr is a bit of a guru in the world of activewear sewing, so it’s not surprising that the patterns on offer from Fehr Trade are so great! I think I’m actually going to invest in their book – Sew Your Own Activewear – since it’s the same price as buying a couple of patterns. If you’re not in the market for more sewing books, however, there are plenty of individual patterns on sale, appropriate for a good variety of activities – including things like cycling and hiking! My favourite is the Knot-Maste Yoga Set (of course!) because it looks incredibly comfy:

KnotMaste from Fehr Trade

– Seamwork

Seamwork has a couple of really great patterns (the link above will also take you to an amazing feature about building your own activewear wardrobe). I’m a big fan of their Aires leggings – although I would probably replace the mesh insert with a contrast stretch fabric – in combination with the Rio top:

Aires and Rio

Patterns for Pirates

On a recommendation from one of my Instagram friends, I decided to check out the Peg Legs pattern from Patterns for Pirates. The nice thing with yoga pants is that you really can wear just about anything, as long as its comfy and you can move well in it. My collection includes pants that I’m sure are meant to be for running, as well as regular leggings and actual designated yoga pants. The Peg Legs pattern fits many – if not all – of these descriptions. In designing the pattern for a specific activity, the main choice comes in the fabric used (with running you’ll obviously opt for something stretchy but supportive with a good amount of compression to it, versus using a jersey fabric for regular leggings). I love this pattern for its versatility, but also the fact that it looks super good as shorts! Since we’re headed for 100F in the summer, shorts are a necessity!

Peg LegsSo there we have it! Something of a beginner’s guide to sewing your own activewear, thrown together from the bits of research I’ve done in hopes of building my own activewear wardrobe. Since yoga clothing is also super expensive (the contradictions abound!), it can actually work out to be a really cost effective route! I’ll be getting started on this soon and will definitely share my progress once I’m underway. In the meantime, if you have any tips or suggestions about activewear sewing, please do leave them in the comments below!

 

Denim Dilemma!

Picking fabrics can be a nightmare of indecision. This is the main reason why I tend to pick projects based on fabrics that I already own. That way, I can fabric shop purely for what I love rather than panicking myself into a stupor trying to decide on what’s most project appropriate. But this doesn’t always work. Sometimes a project finds its way to the top of my To Do list without any workable fabric in my stash. Participating in The Big Vintage Sew-Along and The Cocktail Hour Blogger Tour were great lessons in fabric shopping with actual purpose!

When my only pair of jeans (store-bought – and yes, I only had one pair due to my pre-transatlantic move wardrobe cull!) ripped at the weekend, I knew that I would have to shift my upcoming projects around a bit to accommodate my need for new jeans. Since I already had the Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns lined up, I decided to just delay my Mimi blouse for a little bit and prioritise a new pair of jeans. Who knew, however, that picking out denim could be such a task? My husband drove me out to Joann’s where I managed to spend 45 minutes looking at a pretty limited selection of denim, trying to decide what I wanted to do. Initially, I was planning on simply replicating my old jeans as closely as possible by picking out a relatively dark, plain denim. But then some alternatives caught my eye.

Firstly, I was super tempted by a white floral design that I thought would make such a gorgeous pair of jeans for the spring. I carried it around the shop with me for ages before deciding that it might just be too far away from the versatile pair of jeans that I’d initially been intending to make. I’m all for straying off of the beaten path and I adore a good pair of statement trousers (my Ultimate Trousers really demonstrate this fact) but since I currently own no jeans – and I practically live in jeans and yoga pants – I figured best to stay as simple as possible.

That said, I obviously can’t resist making garments that look as unique as possible. So when I came across an adorable dark denim with embroidered anchors, I couldn’t resist!

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How cute is this? The only thing that remains to be seen is whether I actually have enough. I ended up finishing the bolt and it came up just short of the requirements. Annoyingly I fall in between two sizes for the pattern, both of which have different fabric requirements (2.75 yds versus 3 yds). The width of the fabric also falls between the two given widths. So estimating whether the 2.75 yds I ended up with will be enough was a bit of  a task. In the end, I bought it and am going to check the pattern layout before prewashing (in which case, the fabric is still returnable). Fingers crossed that it will work!

I also bought a super cute cotton for the pocket/waistband lining! I love the triangle pattern. Plus the colour scheme feels very much fitting with the nautical theme. I spent a while trying to find a stripy fabric that would work – mostly because I thought that stripes would look really great – but no such luck! I’m super happy with my choice anyway!

Deciding on the fabric was definitely a bit of a trial. But I always have to remind myself that I can have a second stab at any pattern I love. If this version of the Ginger Jeans goes well, I totally anticipate a return trip to Joann’s for the super sweet floral denim! This said, I absolutely need to get better about not feeling as though I’m making life-changing decisions every time I have to pick out fabric. Not least because I fear my husband will eventually stop driving me out to fabric shops if he has to spend many more hours trying to have opinions about fabrics.

Stay tuned and fingers crossed I’ll have some jeans to show you soon!!

New Projects: What’s Next?

With February now well under way, I’m attempting to get together some coherent sewing plans for my next few projects. The down side of not planning out a series of makes for the year (along the lines of #makenine on Instagram) is that I do spend a lot of time dithering when I find myself between projects. Since my sewing productivity has increased massively this past month, my lack of planning is becoming even more of an issue. On the other hand, my makes tend to be responsive to whatever I’m feeling at the time so planning out patterns for the year doesn’t really work well. To navigate these two perspectives, I’m trying to develop a planning method that falls somewhere in between by having the next few makes lined up – hopefully sufficient to get me through a month or two. With that, I thought that I would write up a post on my more immediate sewing plans – at the very least it gets my plans out of my brain (where they will inevitably slosh around and eventually disappear into the ether of my other thoughts) and written down in a concrete way!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been spending a lot of time recently working from Tilly and the Button’s Love at First Stitch book.

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I’ve owned this book for ages but had yet to actually make anything from it. Having just finished up the Clemence skirt (photos to come soon!), I’m now working on a version of the Mimi blouse. I’m actually super excited about this make. I’ve never been big into making separates – I always seem to default to dresses because they’re just so pretty! But I’m determined to diversify my me-made wardrobe this year and separates are going to be a big part of that. I fell in love with the 60s style of the Mimi blouse and thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to use the beautiful fabric that I won during #vpjuly last year.

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I was going to hang on and make a dress from this fabric (as per my traditional dress obsession) but I can’t help thinking that it will make a super cute vintage blouse. Plus there will be some extra fabric left over for other things, which is always a bonus!

After I get done with the blouse, I’m thinking of working on another version of the Decades of Style Belle Curve dress. This was one of my earliest makes and remains one of my favourite patterns. It’s just so beautiful! Unfortunately, my early version of the pattern is both much too big for me now and not amazingly made. I definitely applaud myself for managing to make the pattern at all and, given my complete lack of sewing knowledge at the time, am still very happy with what I achieved. But I think the Belle Curve dress is definitely a pattern that will benefit from my much improved sewing abilities.

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I don’t yet have any fabric for this dress. I think it’s going to be a matter of rooting around at some fabric stores in order to find the perfect material. I think I’m still going to go for something plain (not patterned) and relatively light in colour, since this allows for the darts to show up especially well. I was actually really pleased with the fabric choice on my first version, so I think I’m going to try and use something relatively close to that – because why change what works?

The last project on my current list is the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans. I’ve seen these jeans circulating in the blogosphere for a while and with consistently incredible reviews. I always struggle to find good jeans in stores because they’ll inevitably be baggy on my waist and thighs or too tight on my hips. The idea of making my own jeans is massively appealing and, with my recent Ultimate Trousers success, I’m feeling really motivated to make even more trousers! Not to mention, Closet Case’s jeans patterns are all 30% off for the month of February, as is their online Jean Making course! So I think I’m going to capitalise on that discount and give these jeans a go.

So that’s everything I have planned for the next month or so. If I continue on my current trend, my self-made wardrobe will definitely be growing exponentially through 2018! What do you have lined up for February? Dark, cold winters are definitely optimal sewing time. Maybe this -10 Celsius weather will clear up in St. Louis soon so that I can actually go out wearing some of what I’ve made this year.

 

January Goals: How Did I Do?

At the start of 2018, I set out a few goals for myself. This was in an effort to (1) avoid the inevitable pitfalls and discouragement that come with the idea of resolutions (I feel like ‘goals’ are much more fluid and less associated with berating yourself for failure), and (2) help to give me some direction on the things I’d like to accomplish this year. Although I’m totally open to the fact that these objectives will change as 2018 progresses and circumstances shift, it’s always nice to have some goals that keep you moving forward. In an effort to keep checking in with myself – and to also give you some idea of my current sewing status – I thought that it would be a good idea to do a short monthly rehash of my progress and projects.

January has actually be a super productive month for me. My first goal for 2018 was to do more sewing – and this is something that I definitely succeeded in fulfilling so far! I’ve completed three projects in all, which is pretty amazing compared to my rather paltry showing last year. My first make was a version of B6242 – a reproduction of a 1960s pattern. This was definitely one of my more ambitious projects but ended up being one of my favourites! I especially loved the fabric choice because cherries always have a vintage feel to them (how did this come about, I wonder?).

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After finishing up this dress, I decided that it was high time to use one of my favourite fabric finds – an Australian aboriginal cotton that I’ve been too scared to cut in to. After consulting with lots of wise sewists on Instagram, I decided that a pair of simple trousers was the way to go and found my perfect pattern in the Ultimate Trousers from Sew Over It. The finished project is honestly one of my favourite makes of all time. I love absolutely everything about the finished product and the whole construction process was such a joy. Nothing crazy or complicated. And the resulting fit was something I didn’t think could be achieved without some serious alterations – instead, I just followed the pattern sizes, made the trousers, and found that they fit like a glove all over.

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Once the trousers were all done, I decided to continue working my way through my fabric stash and, shortly before the end of January, had whipped up a version of the Clemence skirt from Tilly and the Button’s Love at First Stitch book. I’ve had this book for a while and had yet to dip into any of the patterns (or, honestly, even look through it). But I’ve had the most darling sparkly bicycle fabric in my sewing cupboard for the past six months and knew that it would make a perfect skirt. I’ve yet to review the pattern – or show any pics – on Sew for Victory, but this will be coming up in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, here’s a sneak peek…

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My second 2018 goal was to find more of a balance with vintage versus everyday wear. I definitely feel like I accomplished that in January. The Ultimate Trousers are absolutely something that I will be wearing on an everyday basis – as is the Clemence skirt (albeit only once spring/summer rolls around because it’s currently sleeting in St. Louis). That said, it’s a continued priority to sew vintage and vintage reproduction patterns when I can because, even though they are perhaps less versatile in terms of daily wear, they are absolutely my passion. A balanced approach to vintage versus everyday sewing is going to be key, and I think January reflects the development of a much better balance between the two.

My final goal for 2018 was to blog more. Without a doubt, January has been my most productive blogging month since I launched Sew for Victory a couple of years ago. I’m now in a position where I can dedicate much more time to the blog – in the past, Sew for Victory has always coexisted alongside PhD programmes and international moves. January has definitely been an amazing month for engagement with you all and with the broader sewing community. I’ve learnt SO much. I launched my Vintage Sewing 101 series at the start of the month and it has been an incredible learning curve. I’ve been baffled by a lot of what I’ve read but always leave more informed than when I came in. Since we’re not even at the end of the first of the eight sewing manuals, I’m sure there will be a lot more learning (and bafflement) coming my way.

Of all the posts I’ve written this month, however, I’m hands down happiest with Sewing for Self-Care: Your StoryI’ve been so overwhelmed by the response to this initiative and so excited by how supportive the community has been. The post appeared on The Fold Line and is currently featured on their Sewing Challenges and Hashtags page for 2018. As a result of this post, I’ve been contacted by some amazing and seriously courageous people. Some will be writing posts, others simply reached out to share their own experiences of sewing and self-care. Universally, these stories demonstrate that sewing is an incredible tool for people facing all kinds of battles. I feel so genuinely honoured to have been able to hear these stories. Never, when I was at my worst, would I have anticipated being in a position to share my experiences and have people prepared to volunteer information about their own to me. I can’t express how much respect I have for all of you who have faced, or are still facing, challenges with your mental health and attention to self-care. As much as self-care has become something of an overused phrase within the past couple of years, there is no catch-all term that better encompasses how we must all work to treat ourselves. I’m so excited to write more on this topic and introduce some other fantastic crafters to the conversation!

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So there we have it! What a whirlwind of a month! It’s been a fantastic way to kick off 2018 and, even though I’m still figuring some things out (and there are definitely places for improvement outside of these three goals), I’m excited to continue to move forward in February. Given that January and February are typically my personal annual low points (I don’t enjoy extra hours of darkness), 2018 is definitely bucking the trend! Thanks for following and supporting me through the first few weeks of 2018. I can’t wait to see what the next month has to bring!

 

Ultimate Trousers (Sew Over It)

I’ve been on such a sewing whirl this month. My second make of 2018 is done and dusted and, my goodness, is it a cracker. After many, many months of dithering about whether – and how – to use my favourite fabric, I finally decided to take the plunge. I’d expected that I would go for a dress or skirt since those are traditionally my favourite makes but, on a whim, I had a browse around for some good trouser patterns. My only foray into trouser making (the Tyyni Cigarette Trousers from Named Clothing) was un unexpected success – unexpected because I was scared and had thus far avoided having to really fit anything around my generous butt and hips. The Tyyni trousers stoked my confidence but I’m a sucker for lovely floral cottons and hadn’t acquired any fabric that really propelled me back into the world of trouser making. That is, until I found the most incredible Australian aboriginal fabric and decided that a pair of statement trousers – in the form of Sew Over It’s Ultimate Trousers pattern – was a necessity…

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Let’s start with how much I love love love this fabric. I was worried that it might be a little too much for trousers but I adore it. I got it on a trip to The Quilted Fox – a fabric retailer in St. Louis. It’s called ‘Spiritual Women’, which just sells it even more, no? The intricate design of the fabric makes for the most incredible statement garment. I love it as trousers because it works so well with a simple top for a casual look, but I could also see dressing it up with a pair of heels and otherwise black ensemble.

In terms of the specific pattern I used for the trousers, I’m not sure that I could’ve done better than Sew Over It’s Ultimate Trousers pattern. I hemmed to above my ankles to give it a more relaxed feel. The simplicity of the pattern itself – the fact that it uses a side zip and is otherwise unobstructed by a fly or anything else – means that it really works perfectly with a bold fabric. It honestly makes for the most amazing pair of trousers.

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In terms of the construction, it genuinely couldn’t have been easier. I used the PDF version of the pattern and it came together like a breeze. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll know that I have a bit of a vendetta against PDF patterns. Even the ones that are generally easier to put together always have some issues – typically a few pages that just won’t go together like they should, with the pattern lines refusing to match up. This is the first PDF pattern I’ve put together where I’ve had absolutely zero problems of this nature. Everything went together perfectly and it was honestly one of the most satisfying parts of the entire process.

The actual trouser construction was also incredibly quick and easy. I had the whole pattern together in half a day (not including pattern and fabric cutting time). This is truly a trouser pattern for all abilities. If you know – or are willing to learn – how to insert an invisible zip, you’re all set. That is easily the most complex part of the construction process. Since I’m waiting on my invisible zipper foot, I only have a regular zipper foot to work with. This – plus the fact that the I made the trousers very fitted – means that my invisible zip is very visible. I knew that this would be the case, however, and half planned for it by picking a bold colour that matched with some of the patterning. I actually think that a visible zip on the side looks pretty great, so this might be a design point to consider when planning out a pair of your own.

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In terms of the fit, I fell right between two of the sizes (10 and 12, I think) for both waist and hips, so I simply drew in my own line. Make sure to pay attention to the pattern instructions when measuring your waist – the measurement isn’t that of your typical waist, but rather 2″ below this point. I ended up drawing a mark on my belly to make sure I was correct. You might also want to get someone else to give a hand with this (or use a mirror) – since this waist measurement isn’t your natural smallest point, the tape measure has a tendency to shift on your back. I had my husband help out by making sure that the tape measure was level the entire way around my body.

I’m super in love with the fit of the trousers. They’re definitely on the tighter side looks wise (although not uncomfortably so) but, since I live most of my life in yoga pants and leggings, I’m pretty used to this. If you want something with more ease, it would definitely be worth making a muslin and sizing up a bit around the hip area. But I honestly think the finished product is incredibly flattering and comfortable just following the size guide laid out in the pattern. When I make another pair of these trousers, I’m not planning on making any adjustments.

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I also really love where the waist sits. I’d say that it’s definitely above where most store-bought trousers sit, but it’s also wouldn’t be classed as high-waisted. The waist is, I think, much of what makes the trousers look so flattering when on. That said, there’s also a super helpful resource on the Sew Over It website for how to make these trousers high-waisted. The website also has an archive of their sew-along for the Ultimate Trousers which provides a tonne of useful information on every part of making the trousers, if you’re in need of a bit of advice.

In summary, I’m just super obsessed with every part of these trousers. Enough that I took them on an outing almost as soon as they were off of the sewing machine.

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So definitely take a look at Sew Over It’s amazing Ultimate Trousers pattern. It is incredibly easy to put together and is an absolutely perfect way to use up those bold and beautiful fabrics in your stash.

Then you can go and hang out with the geese, who will be stunned into submission by your fantastic trousers. Trust me.

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