Me Made Plans

I decided not to take part in me-made-may this year but I’m really enjoying seeing all the handmade outfits on Instagram!

My wardrobe is very slow changing and I haven’t added much to it over the last year – so my outfits this month are pretty similar to me-made-may 2019 anyway (mostly the lounge-wear/secret pyjama outfits)…

I know that I’m not the only one who’s been struggling to focus on things during lockdown… so I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s lacking productivity at the moment. But I am feeling really inspired by both me-made-may and having The Sewing Bee back on tv… so I thought I’d share a bit about what I’m working on and what I have planned next…

I’ve finished knitting the back section of this little jumper which is based on Sheen from Indigo by Kim Hargreaves. This is going to be my (classy) festive jumper. I normally decide far too late in the day that I want a festive jumper so I’m trying to be organised!

The yarn is from The Fibre Fox, which I bought at one of the fantastic Virtual Yorkshire Yarn Fests and the beads are from Debbie Abrahams. I decided to do a simple all-over beaded pattern rather than just beading the front section – I’m really happy with how it’s looking so far.

I think that my next sewing project will be a sleeveless version of the Peony dress with a gathered skirt using the tweaked bodice block from my denim version. I’ve got a few fabric options in my stash… but won’t be touching the expensive Liberty floral until I’m sure I’m happy with the pattern!

I think this will tick off ‘summer dress’ on my make-nine-2020…

For the ‘knitted summer top’ I’m planning to make another Burnt top from Indigo by Kim Hargreaves.

I love the green version I made last year – but when it’s warm and I’m wearing it tucked in, it feels a bit bulky around the tummy. So I’m planning to make a black cropped version that sits on the waist – to wear with high waisted skirts (or these fantastic culottes that I’ve got my eye on!).

Are you super productive at the moment or just making plans?

Slow Wardrobe

I first started playing around with developing a minimalist wardrobe back in 2017. I refer to the wardrobe I’m aspiring to as many things: capsule, minimalist, handmade… but the one word that definitely describes it is slow!

Developing a style/wardrobe that works for you and your lifestyle takes time… particularly when you’re making a lot of the clothing yourself. I’m enjoying the slow process of making more considered choices and shopping for/making clothing that will be in my wardrobe for a long time.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the idea of having ‘uniforms’ for different elements of my lifestlye. I was never a fan of having a work uniform – but being able to say ‘when I do this thing I wear that thing’ certainly made things easy. I think many of us have uniforms for different occasions but don’t necessarily think of it in that way.

So I made a list of my ‘uniforms’ taking into account how I spend my time, what I feel comfortable in and what suits my shape. It’s really helping me to stay focused on where the gaps in my wardrobe are and what I want to make!

Uniform 1: Skirt & top (or dress) & optional cardigan

This is my most versatile uniform, both in terms of when I would wear it and how, with just a few pieces, you can swap and change to make a lot of different outfits. I wear something along these lines for most nights out, work events and workshops. It’s an easy look to dress up or down depending on the occasion.

In terms of making/shopping – I always make sure the skirts I buy/make can be worn all year round. So nothing too warm and heavy that wouldn’t work in the summer and nothing too light and summery that wouldn’t work with tights and boots in the winter.

When I choose cardigan patterns I normally have in mind that I will wear them over a skirt & top or dress so I like them to be either long like the Esme cardie or to sit at the waist like Lilac.

I have a big gap in my wardrobe where dresses are concerned. Most of my old dresses were ill-fitting or uncomfortable so I haven’t held on to many. I’m keen to sew some that are flattering without being too fitted so that they’re comfortable… wish me luck!

Uniform 2: The shirt dress

This is my favourite uniform – I pretty much live in shirt dresses… but I only have a few! Sewing more is in my plan.

I have a plaid shirt dress and a denim shirt dress that I wear with leggings (a lot!) in the winter. It’s such a comfy working-at-home outfit that also feels decent enough for nipping to the post office or going for a walk. I can pop a jumper over the top when it’s nippy and it’s an easy outfit for going to the local pub after my pilates class because I can just put the shirt dress on over my leggings and t-shirt. Perfect!

I made an Alder Shirt Dress a couple of years ago and I’ve worn it so much! It was meant to be a toile, but I never got around to making the denim one. It’s pretty huge on me… which I initially thought was a problem, but it’s so comfy and the fabric has softened with time so the size and drape feel fine.

I wear it for working at home, going out and work events – on it’s own in the summer and with a jumper over the top and tights in winter. I definitely want to make more and have seen this pattern hack to make a sleeved version which I really want to try.

Uniform 3: The jumper dress

This is currently very much a working-at-home-on-extremely-cold-days uniform because the only jumper dress I have is really scruffy, unflattering and super warm (knitted in alpaca) so I think I would explode if I walked into a warm room.

I’m planning to knit a couple of new jumper dresses which I will most likely just wear at home (due to the getting too warm thing), but will hopefully feel nicer in and less embarrassed when I have to answer the door!

Uniform 4: Jeans and top

This uniform will soon become extinct because I only have one pair of jeans that fit well and they’ve gone very thin and holey! I’ll repair them and continue to wear them for occasions where scruffy is acceptable, but in the future I would love to make some jeans. I need to up my sewing skills a bit first, but any tips for jeans patterns would be gratefully accepted!

Here are some old me-made-may photos of happier times when my jeans still had some shape and no holes…

I was also going to talk about sustainable shopping and colour palettes… but this turned into a long blog so I’ll save that for another time!

Do you have a uniform/uniforms?

Esme Cardigan

I finally finished my Esme Cardigan!Esme Cardigan by Kim Hargreaves | Jem Weston blog

I’m not exactly sure when I started knitting it, but I do know that it was on both my make-nine-2018 and 2019 plans. It didn’t actually take too long but I knitted many other things throughout (including all the samples for Cosy Alpaca Knits!).

I’m thrilled with it. And yes… I do already have other teal cardigans! My Frankie cardie is more of a summer garment because I can’t get my winter coat over the sleeves. And I wasn’t wearing my Wave cardie – so I decided to let it go and Esme is the replacement.

Esme is knitted in Kidsilk Haze and Fine Lace stranded together, which creates a beautifully light and fluffy fabric. The pattern is in Grace by Kim Hargreaves.

I knitted the smallest size, but added a bit of length (I have a long body) and I also blocked out the width a bit so that it’s not snug across the hips.

Esme Cardigan by Kim Hargreaves | Jem Weston blog

I decided that it would be unreasonable for this cardigan to be part of my make-nine for a third year! But it was a WIP so it means I’m sticking to my 2020 rule…

How are your 2020 knits going so far?

Fashion/Clothes

Following on from last week’s blog – I want to start by talking about how minimalism has changed my attitude towards fashion and clothing.

I initially used Project 333 as a tool to streamline my clothes. Going through the process of limiting how many clothes I wear and storing the remainder made it much easier to let go of what I wasn’t wearing and appreciate the clothes I feel good in.

I now own dramatically fewer clothes! Deciding what to wear is so much easier, I’m making better decisions on what to knit, sew or buy and I have definitely saved some money.

I’m wearing my handmade/up-cycled garments a lot more – particularly those I’ve made in the last couple of years because I think I’m making better choices. If you’ve seen me recently I was probably wearing one of these outfits…

Condensing down my wardrobe and breaking my fast fashion shopping habits has been a great first step but unfortunately I haven’t immediately acquired the capsule wardrobe of my dreams!

My dream is to have an entirely handmade wardrobe… but I know that’s unrealistic because I don’t have the time or the sewing skills to make everything. I need to add to/replace some items in my wardrobe but I’ve been feeling completely lost as to where to find what I need/want to fill those gaps, from ethical and sustainable brands.

Since watching The True Cost I’ve been feeling really uncomfortable about buying anything at all from high street shops but simply didn’t know where else to shop. And this is where I’ll hand you over to the expert –Aja Barber!

I started following Aja on Instagram earlier this year and as I was learning a huge amount from her posts, I subscribed to her Patreon... and I’m so glad I did!

If, like me, you want to opt out of fast fashion but are feeling a bit lost – hop over to Aja’s Instagram post on five things you can do right now to get started. And I would highly recommend subscribing to Aja’s Patreon.

As well as extra posts and links to interesting articles about sustainability in the fashion industry – Aja’s Patreon includes a hand-picked list of ethical & sustainable brands. This has really helped me to work out where I can shop guilt-free to fill my wardrobe gaps.

I’m also trying to get better at second hand shopping! I’ve never really been a browser – I’m normally looking for a particular thing and that makes second-hand shopping a bit more difficult. So I’m trying to do more browsing with a view to picking up garments I could adjust or use the fabric from to make something new. We’ll see!

What are your thoughts? Are you moving away from fast fashion?

Change of Plans

This weekend I was intending to write a blog about my Ripple Bralette and the three new me-made summer tops I wore on holiday. However… it was too warm to wear my new Burnt top and I didn’t finish my Ripple Bralette because I was far too busy doing this…

I did however wear my new teal vest top and I love it!

I’m planning to make the straps slightly shorter for the next one, but other than that I’m really happy with the fit.

Hopefully the bralette will be ready for next weekends blog… but Noodle and his wonky ear are demanding quite a lot of attention at the moment.

He was bitten by another cat and it’s infected so he’s a bit fed up of being stuck inside wearing the cone of shame. We’re so grateful that our wonderful friend Steph got him to the vets and took such care of him while we were away! I don’t know what we’d do without her.

Hopefully Noodle will let me do some knitting today!

Day Trip!

Last weekend some friends and I traveled from North, South and West to meet in London for a day out!

We started the day in Ray Stitch. I’ve never been there before and it was a lovely shop with great fabrics and a huge variety of dressmaking patterns.

I completely forgot to take pictures so I nabbed the one above from their website! They also had lots of garments made up so it’s definitely worth a visit.

After a nice lunch and general pootle we popped into Loop where we all fell in love with a gorgeous blanket (and pointed at it apparently)!

I managed to resist buying any yarn – although there was a very tempting mini-skein bundle in shades of blue and teal… and lots of other yummy looking yarns!

My mission for the day was to only buy something if I saw an absolute bargain or something that really blew me away…. and then we went to Liberty!

It definitely wasn’t a bargain, but this Tana Lawn did blow me away! I’ve been wanting to introduce more orange and red into my wardrobe and the colours in this are perfect!

I always have a handy little sewing book with me – containing my measurements, how much fabric I need for the patterns I want to make, my colour palette and yarns from garments I’ve already made (for matching).

Having that information with me is great because it stops me buying on a whim. I know that I have enough of this fabric for a t-shirt or vest, it will go with my cardigans and most importantly – it will suit me!

Any shop tips for my next trip to London?

Festive Jumpers

I saw a post from Fahion Revolution on Instagram this week stating that “A jumper is for life, not just for Christmas”. With Christmas Jumper Day looming – they were encouraging people to shop at charity shops instead of buying new. Christmas Jumper Day is aimed at raising money for charity so this is a brilliant way to give twice and reduce waste!

The post was then re-shared by Karie Westerman – encouraging us to knit a “festive” jumper rather than a novelty one. A jumper that can be worn for the whole festive period and will last for years to come. This would definitely make sense with my capsule wardrobe.

I’ve picked my three favourite festive jumpers and hopefully by this time next year I will be wearing one of these!

Having mentioned Karie above – I will start with the wonderful woman herself. Karie recently launched Vinterskov which is a beautifully subtle Christmas jumper. I really wish I could wear mustard! I adore the hair/jumper colour combination – Karie looks fabulous.

I love the snowflake neckline of Etherow by Sarah Hatton. It’s quite an old pattern and the Alpaca Merino DK is now discontinued… but this would be lovely in Felted Tweed!

And finaly we have Stasis from Brooklyn Tweed. I’m trying to add more red, orange and coral into my wardrobe and I love this colour combination. In fact I love everything about this jumper!

Send me your festive jumper pattern suggestions please!

Make Nine 2019

Back in 2017, I shared my #makenine2017 image on Instagram – showing the nine garments I was planning to knit and sew throughout the year. I just looked back at it and realised that I can only tick off three of the nine! And to be honest… two of those weren’t completed until 2018!

I’ve made lots of other things that weren’t included in the above nine so it’s a bit disappointing to only be able to tick off three! For 2019 I want to set realistic and more focused handmade wardrobe goals.

I’ve been living with a capsule wardrobe for over a year now and it works really well for me. I’m finding that I’m getting less distracted by shiny new things that I want to buy or make and I’m thinking more before jumping in.

If I add something new to my wardrobe then I have to remove something else. This means I’m making sure that anything new I’m adding will replace something that I’m not 100% happy with or something that has worn out.

A few things in my 2019 plan are the same as they were in 2017… I obviously really want to make them!

I’ve also included a few things which are already work in progress but are unlikely to be finished before 2019. Is that cheating?

I’m determined to finish my wedding cardigan next summer, I have some new mitts on the needles using Gamer Crafting yarn and I accidentally cast on the Esme cardigan by Kim Hargreaves recently (I needed some comfort knitting!).

Knitting-wise I also want to make a new coral cardigan. I have a shop bought orange/coral cardigan which I pretty much live in throughout the summer but it’s seen better days and this coral Summerlite 4ply and Kim Hargreaves Tally cardigan will make the perfect replacement.

There are lots things I want to sew as well! The Betty and Peony dresses have both been on my list for a very long time! I WILL make these in 2019. You’re allowed to tell me off if I don’t…

Now that I know the Scout Tee fits me well and is an easy pattern – I’m planning to make a patterned version. Maybe in a lovely Liberty floral?

I’m still lusting after a button front skirt so that’s staying on the list. And I definitely need some new strappy summer dresses! Possibly using the Acton dress pattern.

Did you set yourself any making goals for 2018? Have you achieved them?

What are you making in 2019?!

 

 

Me-made Wardrobe Planning

Last week Eleanor from Knit Nottingham posted an Instagram picture of her fantastically minimal, mostly handmade and beautifully colourful wardrobe… I feel inspired! (fyi – she does have some stuff in drawers as well).

I’ve been feeling in a bit of a wardrobe rut and the ‘I have nothing to wear’ feelings have been creeping back in. Since I started living with a capsule wardrobe, this has happened whenever the seasons and/or weather changes. It makes me want to shop!

So instead of shopping I did some planning.

I think the main thing that’s making me feel stuck in a rut is the lack of variation of colour in my wardrobe. You can probably guess which colour is dominant?! I adore teal and am happy to wear teal everyday… but I don’t want to wear head to toe blue and teal everyday and Eleanor’s wardrobe made me crave more colour!

In the past I have bought clothes in lots of different colours because of being limited by the choice in the shops. I might find the perfect shape dress in a colour I wouldn’t normally choose – but if it only comes in that colour and it suits me then I’ll step out of my comfort zone.

I saw that lack of choice as a limitation, when in fact it was encouraging me to experiment with colour. When sewing or knitting a garment there are so many patterns, fabrics and yarns to choose from that the automatic choice is to go for my favourite – ie, teal.

So I’ve decided that rather than just choosing my favourite – I want to plan a palette for my wardrobe so that there are at least a few bits in there to complement the teal!

I started my palette by searching Pinterest for ‘what colours to wear’. I found this pin really helpful and quickly narrowed myself down to an ‘Autumn’ palette based on my hair colour, skin tone and eye colour. I’m not 100% sure whether I’m a ‘Deep Autumn’ or a ‘Warm Autumn’… but hey – they’re similar and it’s just a starting point!

I then searched Pinterest for ‘Deep Autumn colour palettes’ and discovered that my best colours are deep, rich and warm and I should avoid pastels! Luckily this sort of matches my current wardrobe content and I’ve learnt the hard way that pastels aren’t for me. So I just need to make sure I’m adding in some more of the accent colours as I’m making things.

I might not stick to this palette perfectly, but it will be great to have it as a reference to keep me focused when fabric/yarn shopping. It’s also helpful to know that the internet thinks my best neutral shades are mocha type colours rather than greys. After holding lots of little colour swatches against my face I can confirm this is correct!

I have a little notebook which I used to take to sewing class to jot down reminders about techniques or changes I’d made to patterns. It has now become my mini me-made wardrobe scrapbook! So my colour palette is inside the front cover and the notebook is packed with ideas and notes about patterns. It’s only A6 – so perfect for carrying around in case I happen upon a fabric shop.

For patterns I’ve already made there are some notes on sizing etc, and I’ve also jotted down fabric quantities needed for these and patterns I’ve not made yet.

I normally end up in a fabric shop googling the pattern and guessing which size I would make, then converting the yardage to meterage… having everything in one place will hopefully make fabric shopping less faffy!

Making these notes made me dread making the Peony dress! It’s a beginners pattern, but when I was looking at the sizing/fabric quantity I realised that I range from a size 2 on the bust to a size 10 on the hips (American sizes). That’s going to be a challenging pattern to adjust!

I’m currently knitting a blue/teal jumper and have a stash of blue and teal yarn and fabric… it might be a while before different colours find their way into my capsule wardrobe but it’s good to have a plan and I’m loving my mini scrapbook!