Clémence Skirt (Tilly and the Buttons)

Finally, some photos of my Clémence skirt! The skirt has been sitting on my mannequin for a couple of months, totally finished. But, thanks to St Louis weather, I really couldn’t find a good opportunity to take pics – and I was determined to get the photos while I actually took my skirt out for a spin! Fortunately, we had some beautiful weather last week and I finally got the chance to pop on my new favourite skirt for a picnic with my hubs.

20180412_151630

I’m not really sure what my hopes were for this skirt. I had picked up the fabric last year on sale and knew that it would make a perfect skirt for the summer. However, in a pattern that’s becoming frustratingly familiar to me the longer I’m in the US, the fabric proved too narrow for almost all of the sewing patterns that I had in mind. Le sigh. I’d yet to sew up any of the patterns in Tilly and the Buttons’ Love at First Stitch book but figured I’d have a flip through in the hope that one of them would work with my fabric. Lo and behold, the Clémence skirt was perfect!

There are so many things that I love about this pattern. First and foremost, it’s a super easy introduction to making your own patterns. It talks you through measurements, seam allowances, and the various aspects of drafting the skirt as a pattern for yourself. So you won’t find the pattern in the pattern library included with the book – you have to draw it up yourself. The downside to this is that you obviously need some extra tools – tracing paper and long rulers being the main necessities. But I found it super rewarding to draw up the pattern for myself, so I definitely consider it a bonus that the Clémence pattern offers a really basic introduction to doing this!

20180412_151813

The pattern itself is incredibly simple. It’s made up of just four patterns pieces – the front and back skirt, plus two cuts for the waistband. The shape comes entirely from the gathers used around the waist. Using a stiffer cotton, I found that these gathers gave an incredible amount of volume to the entire skirt – a volume you would normally need to achieve with either an underskirt or the use of horsehair braid on the hem. Using a fabric with some stiffness to it definitely helps the gathers gain this shape.

I also really enjoyed the way that the Clémence pattern introduces beginners to some new techniques. The use of gathering is not necessarily something that beginner sewists would have encountered previously and the instructions included alongside the pattern are a super effective introduction. You will also be guided to ‘stitch in the ditch’ for attaching the waistband, meaning that the waist of the garment – with the gathers and invisible stitching – is a real focal point for the skirt.

IMG_6098

Glittery bicycles and balloons are the best!

The pattern also gives super detailed instructions for using french seams. Confession time – I’ve somehow avoided ever using french seams on anything. I guess I just haven’t come across them with the patterns that I’ve used before. But now I’m obsessed! They are such a clean way of finishing a garment – I’ve honestly never made a skirt that looks as tidy on the interior as my Clémence skirt. Normally, I’d turn to my serger for seam finishes but I think I might be a sometimes-convert to the french seam in future!

IMG_6350

I think the most complex part of the Clémence pattern is the insertion of the invisible zip. But isn’t zip insertion just one of those skills that really takes work to perfect?! I know that, even after two years of sewing, I still don’t have zip insertion down perfectly every time I make a garment. This pattern doesn’t offer particularly detailed instructions on inserting an invisible zip but look to trusty YouTube and you’ll find all of the guidance that you need!

What an incredible pattern this is for beginners! However, even a non-beginner stands to benefit from revisiting the techniques included with this pattern and, ultimately, you definitely won’t regret the opportunity to make such a super cute skirt. The whole pattern sews up in an afternoon and would make a really effective stash-buster because the fabric requirements are so reasonable! With warmer weather on its way, this would make such a great project for just about everyone – plus you get to buy a book with so many gorgeous patterns, which is just an amazing bonus!

So whip out some of that cute cotton you’ve been hiding away and have a go at the Clémence skirt. I know that I’ll be checking in again soon with 50 new versions!

20180412_152115(0)

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.

IMG_6084

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.

IMG_5127

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.

Pattern

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.

 

Project Updates!

It’s been a while since I did one of these posts – mostly because the mayhem of everyday life had basically eliminated my sewing time. Since being in my new place, however, I’ve been totally reinvigorated with the urge to plan projects and actually make progress on my ongoing makes. This is largely thanks to having my own designated sewing space, which is no longer just a sea of boxes and bags of material. I’ll be writing a more detailed post all about my sewing space – and tips on making your designated sewing area work for you – very soon. In the meantime, a sneak peak. From this…

IMG_4951

To this…

IMG_4960

It’s truly a perfect little space. After 8 months of moving from place to place, it’s wonderful to finally be somewhere permanent where I can invest in my sewing set-up! This room was the site of my recent triumph with the Tyyni trousers – one of my favourite patterns to-date and certainly one of the most wearable.

Since my foray into trouser-making, I’ve actually been reflecting hard on the direction of my sewing. Sew for Victory and my decision to take up sewing in the first place were very much a product of my love for vintage fashion. I wanted to have the skills to make vintage clothes with complete freedom – and without the associated price-tag of reproduction or genuine vintage clothes. Vintage fashion is what I love to sew. However, I have been finding problems with wearability. There are many people who feel comfortable – and look amazing – decked out in 1950s clothes, hair, and make-up on an everyday basis. I’m not one of those people. My style has split personalities. Special occasions definitely call for me to root through my vintage makes for something appropriate. But, otherwise, I typically go for optimal comfort or what I would identify as a more European style of dress. To stop it getting a bit dispiriting looking at a rack of me-made clothes that I don’t get as much use out of, I’ve decided to alternate my makes – one everyday item to every one vintage piece. While I’m going to try to keep the everyday makes as vintage as possible – similar to the vintage flair of the Tyyni trousers – I want to strike a better balance with my sewing. I think that this approach will let me continue to make the vintage clothes that I love so much, while also ensuring that I build a wardrobe of more wearable items. If any of you have grappled with similar issues, definitely let me know how you struck a better balance in what you sew!

Anyway, enough soul searching and onto my current projects. When I decide to make something, it’s typically the case that I’ve stumbled upon a pattern I love. Turning this on its head, my current make is instead inspired by a fabric that I fell head-over-heels for as soon as I saw it. For any Harry Potter fans out there, you’ll understand why…

FullSizeRender

The cutest fabric in the universe. As you can see, I decided to have a go at making the Zadie dress from Tilly and the Buttons. I’ve loved the look of this pattern for ages but have always avoided knit fabric. In fact, until this fabric turned up, I didn’t even realise that it was knit! After my success with trouser-making, however, I’m feeling extra brave and ready to take on the challenge. That said, I came up against a problem almost immediately. I took great pains to research every aspect of working with knit fabric. When it came to cutting, I made sure that I treated the fabric as well as I possibly could. To ensure that I cut perfectly on grain, I even followed and pinned the ribbing up the fold. It took me forever. Then, after cutting out my pieces and getting ready to sew, I realised that I had cut my skirt and bodice pieces upside down.

FullSizeRender3

Many, many tears ensued. I think mostly because I was so disappointed in myself for making such an elementary mistake. I’ve never worked with one-directional fabric before and it hadn’t even occurred to me that I would need to worry about cutting my pattern pieces appropriately. And my sadness only got worse when I found out that the company I’d ordered the fabric from was out of stock. My husband spent an entire evening trying to source it from elsewhere – making calls and sending emails – but we found nothing. In the end, I figured that the only way forward would be to either scrap the project entirely or to try and make it work on the fabric that I still have. I managed to recut the bodice pieces from some remnants. The skirt was the real issue. In this instance, I had to reshape and resize the pieces to fit on the existing pieces of skirt fabric – basically turning them upside down. I mocked up a version with some cheap knit fabric to see if it would work and it seems like it should – although it’s difficult to gauge on this particular pattern because there are a lot of different parts to the dress. So keep your fingers crossed for me and hopefully I’ll have a dress to show you before long!

To keep me from getting too depressed about my silliness, I’ve also had my eyes on a project to come after this one. For those of you who are on Instagram (there’s a link to my profile in the sidebar for anyone interested), you might have already seen the Sewing the Scene challenge. This challenge is asking participants to sew a garment inspired by a film or a TV show. I’m definitely feeling the potential here and I’ve been searching around trying to settle on something that I could make. There are just so many options! If you’re planning on participating, definitely let me know. I’d love to hear what you’re up to and follow your process.

FullSizeRender2

That’s all for now. I’ll be back on Friday with a new My Vintage Life post – I’m planning a really great one, so I hope you’ll stop by. In the meantime, happy Wednesday!