Wedding Makes

I’m writing this blog pre-royal wedding. But now that’s out of the way – we can start thinking about the real wedding of the year… mine and Beardies!

We knew from the start that we wanted a small wedding. We quickly agreed on a registry office ceremony with just immediate family, followed by a village hall party with close friends and family. So with the basics sorted – the big question was… what to make?!

I didn’t want to give myself so much to do that it becomes stressful- but I had so many idea’s! So I’ve inevitably taken on a bit too much… but I’m sure it will all come together.

Jem Weston - wedding cardigan. Lilac by Kim Hargreaves from Breeze

The main things I’m making at the moment are my top and cardigan. Having a dress that is only worn once doesn’t really fit in with a minimalist lifestyle! I thought a top and skirt would give me more options after the wedding. I could shorten the skirt and wear it with other tops and I could dress down the top with a denim skirt.

I found the perfect skirt pretty quickly, but making decisions on the style of the top has been a lot mire difficult! I’m currently on version 3_B and I’m really hoping to start the final top soon! If it all goes completely wrong then I could always just buy a top… but fingers crossed V3_B will work out.

Beardie doesn’t want to know exactly what I’m wearing so no pics if the top yet I’m afraid. He doesn’t mind seeing the cardigan I’m knitting though so you can see that above. I knew I wouldn’t get that done in time if I had to knit in secret!

Kim Hargreaves Lilac cardigan from Breeze

With our wedding being in August- it will hopefully be gloriously sunny, but just in case it’s not I’m knitting Lilac by Kim Hargreaves using Rowan Summerlite 4ply. It’ll be a lovely summer cardigan to have in my wardrobe after the wedding as well.

I’m also knitting a tie for Beardie. I will be updating the Tweed Tie pattern for different yarns as the Fine Tweed is now discontinued- so keep your eye out for that!

Jem Weston Tweed Tie - knitted tie pattern

I will also be making some fabric table runners. I’ve done a lot of fabric chopping but keep getting distracted by how gorgeous the prints are so it’s a slow process!

Jem Weston - wedding table runners

And our friends have been helping us with making pom poms to adorn the village hall.

Jem Weston - pom poms

It’s all very exciting!

MMMAY18 Inspiration

Last time I took part in me-made may I was wearing mostly knitted garments. I think I only had one sewn skirt and as most of my knitted garments are wool and May can be quite warm… it was tricky!

I was hoping that taking part this year would curb my shopping urges and inspire me to make. When going into a new season, and with a change of weather, it’s tempting to ‘refresh’ ones wardrobe by hitting the shops.

With the beautiful weather we’ve been having – I’ve been admiring (and somewhat jealous of) everyone’s gorgeous summer clothing… but finding myself thinking about what to make rather than what to buy. So me-made may is working (yay!), but the difficult thing to accept is that making clothes is a lot more time consuming than shopping for them so I can’t have my dream wardrobe instantly.

There are still lots of gaps in my handmade wardrobe and me-made may is a fantastic way to discover new patterns and see real people wearing them.

If I needed inspiration to make more swooshy skirts with pockets – there is plenty over on Instagram: @kateevadesigns @michelle.a.sews @cleocmc

Since making the Alder Shirtdress I’ve been looking for a more fitted shirtdress and I’m loving these: @rhiannonbrum @megthegrand @craftysooze

I’m not quite ready to make trousers… but aren’t these gorgeous?: @lauren.leigh @slipslipkate @erica.l.wald

I love my Scout Tee and it’s the perfect fit. But it’s a rather crumply fabric and the colour looks a bit boring with denim, so I’m keen to make a plain bright or light coloured one and definitely a patterned one. I’m loving these: @aimeeshermakes @kathleenbmur @sozoblog

And I’m also keen to make some summer dresses and floaty skirts & cami’s: @boxcarsewing @sarah_naomil718

I might struggle to limit myself to 33 items next year!

Final Trapeze Dress

It’s been a little while since I finished the toile for my Trapeze dress and I’m so glad I made it in nice fabric because I’ve gotten a lot of wear out of it!

I started the final dress straight away, but then it sat on the back-burner for a while because I got really excited about making the Alder dress… and I really needed to make a start on my wedding top!

But there’s nothing like a deadline to help you get something finished. And I was spurred on by the start of Me Made May and the fact that we were going to a wedding reception on Thursday… and I had nothing to wear.

Trapeze dress | Jem Weston blog

I love it! I adore this Anna Maria Horner fabric and it’s the perfect style of dress to not break up the pattern. I made a slightly better job of sewing this than I did with the toile and made the neckline slightly lower, so it’s lovely and comfortable.

Despite being exactly the same fabric, it feels a bit stiffer than the toile. This might be because I’ve washed and worn that a few times now – so I’m hoping this one will soften a bit over time.

Expect to see this dress popping up on Instagram a few times during Me Made May!



Alder Shirtdress Toile

I was in the middle of making my final Trapeze dress in Anna Maria Horner fabric…but I was so excited about making a shirtdress that I abandoned it and made an Alder shirtdress!

As I had enough Anna Maria Horner fabric to make the Trapeze dress plus another- I decided to use that for the toile and I have some lightweight denim for the final dress.

It’s very much a summer dress and as we don’t have anywhere at home to take pictures of me wearing it… and it’s still too cold to venture out without sleeves and thick tights – I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a while before seeing pictures of me wearing it!

Alder Shirtdress front - Jem Weston blog

Based on the size guide I should have been making US size 6 for the top and size 10 for the hips. As it’s loose around the hips I opted for size 6. And it’s huge! It’s supposed to be a loose fitting style so I was expecting that, but I’m not sure whether to use my denim for this or maybe choose a more fitted style.

Alder shirtdress collar - Jem Weston blog

It will be perfect for me in the summer. Whenever we have a heatwave I always struggle to find something to wear! A lot of my dresses are man-made fibres so not breathable and all the cotton dresses I have are strappy beach dresses…not always appropriate. This dress is 100% cotton and loose-fitting so will be perfect and cool during a heatwave and will also look good with jeggings on a more typical British summer day.

I made the back section in one piece rather than two separate pieces with a yoke so that I wasn’t breaking up the pattern – and for the same reason I omitted the breast pockets.

Alder shirtdress back - Jem Weston blog

The collar was the most complicated thing I’ve done! I managed to put the collar stand the wrong way round which doesn’t matter too much – and also put the button band on the wrong side so it does up like a man’s dress!

Alder shirtdress collar - Jem Weston blog

Overall I’m pretty happy with it and can’t believe I managed a collar and fairly okay button holes! I really want to make a striped version like this one

That would definitely test my pattern matching skills – and would be the perfect summer dress!

Capsule Wardrobe – Take 3

I started working towards a capsule wardrobe back in October last year with my Project 340 where I wore just 40 items for three months. It’s meant to be 33 items (Project 333)…but it was a practice run!

I tweaked things and restricted it down to 33 items for January and February (Project 233)…and now I feel ready to start building a slightly larger, ongoing capsule wardrobe.

Restricting what I wear has been great. I suppose it’s similar to having overindulged on cake for years, then cutting down on it or cutting it out completely for a while makes you really appreciate it… and maybe realise that you don’t need as much!

I’m looking forward to finishing the wardrobe diet and getting to the point where I can just maintain what I’ve achieved… but I’m not there just yet.

As I’m always making things it means I’m having to tweak things regularly. This is making me more mindful of what I’m making. I want my wardrobe to have a higher proportion of handmade items – so if I knit a new jumper then it has to do the job of another jumper and be a replacement rather than an addition to my wardrobe. So I started a plan for handmade replacements…

This is based on rules I created for an ongoing capsule wardrobe that I think will work for me – with the main wardrobe consisting of 30 Winter items and 30 Summer items which can be mixed and matched for the in-between seasons.

after living with such a restricted wardrobe for five months… having this many options is a bit overwhelming! So I might streamline it further – but it’s a good starting point that means less stuff stored under the bed and more choice in my wardrobe.

The rules:

  • Shoes x 10 pairs (not including walking boots, wellies & gardening shoes).
  • Bags & belts x10
  • Necklaces x 10
  • Earrings x10
  • Bracelets x10
  • Rings x5 (not including engagement ring).
  • Sunglasses x1
  • Gardening, DIY & sportswear must fit in one drawer.
  • Underwear must fit in one drawer.
  • Nightwear must fit in box.
  • Summer items x 30
  • Winter items x 30

I’ve also put all the hangers in my wardrobe backwards – when I wear something I will hang it back the right way so that I can see what I’m actually wearing the next time I re-asses.

I still have some clothes in ‘storage’ under the bed, but this is decreasing every time I create a new capsule. I think once I achieve my final capsule wardrobe and am just maintaining it (ie – one in, one out) then I’ll be okay with having a few things stored under the bed… but if I’ve not included them in my wardrobe for a year than they definitely need to go!

I’m really looking forward to going back to a 33 piece wardrobe in May for a Me-Made-May/ Project 333 mash-up!

Trapeze Dress Toile

I’m really enjoying my weekly sewing classes at All Things Creative! Working at home can be isolating – so it’s great to have a few hours each week to spend time with creative people, learning new skills and doing a bit of selfish making.

For those not familiar with the term toile – it is a sort of practice garment made from the pattern so you can check the fit and make any alterations before cutting into the final fabric. I’m taking the dressmaking slow and steady and learning how to do things properly – so making a toile is really important.

I want to make the final Trapeze dress in some gorgeous Anna Maria Horner fabric which I’ve had in my stash for years and I adore!

Toiles are often made in calico, but I wanted to check my fabric wasn’t too heavy for the dress style – so I decided to use some Denyse Schmidt fabric I had which is exactly the same weight. My hope was that the toile would be wearable and I would have two trapeze dresses!

I made a few alterations to the pattern before starting. I used the long sleeve pattern but made them narrower and shorter and I made the overall length shorter so it would sit above the knee.

Jem Westob blog | Merchant & Mills Trapeze Dress

I also made it a size smaller than the pattern recommended for my measurements so that it would be more fitted at the top. And of course I added pockets… essential!

I did my usual trick of cutting along the wrong line on the pattern so I made a size 8 with a size 18 neckline!

Because the neckline is quite high I actually think that making it wider was a happy accident. For the final dress I’m planning to make the neckline slightly deeper at the front because it’s not super comfortable.

Over the last few weeks I have learnt that I’m not very good at putting in sleeves… it’s really difficult! I’m definitely improving though and I can see a big difference between the sleeves in this toile.

It’s a bit difficult to see in a photo – but on the right side the fabric is pulling a bit across the front of my shoulder and the neckline is poking up. I think this is because of my poor sleeve insertion skills!

I spent much longer doing the left sleeve and it sits much better.

Overall – a very wearable toile! Although I do think the shape will suit the bigger bolder print of the Anna Maria Horner fabric better. What do you think?

Scout Tee

I’m three weeks into my All Things Creative dressmaking course with the fantastic Deirdre Robbins…and I’ve finished the Scout Tee! (Apologies for the slightly blurry photo – we didn’t get around to pics at the weekend so I had to do the selfie stick thing).I’ve sewn quite a lot of clothes in the past and even attended other dressmaking and pattern cutting courses. But a lot of what I’d learnt I’ve forgotten or just didn’t take in properly at the time – so I often end up ‘bodging’ things together.

This is the first thing I’ve made where I’m actually proud to show you the inside!

I learnt how to do french seams (properly!) and Deidre talked me through how to do a ‘faux french seam’ for the sleeve head. It’s not quite as beautiful as the french seam but it’s pretty nice and neat.

The Scout Tee pattern is really simple and easy to follow. I made the toile (practice version to check the fit) in a quilting cotton and it was too thick. This final version is a fairly light and very soft cotton from The Eternal Maker.

A cotton lawn would work beautifully so I’ll be keeping my eye out because I want to make more!

I’m really excited about making the Alder Shirtdress but I’m going to tackle the Trapeze Dress first. Wish me luck!

Skirt in a day

After a busy weekend in Scotland, and lots of driving- I decided to give myself the day off on Monday. One of the perks of being self-employed!

I spent my day off making a skirt with some beautiful Anna-Maria Horner fabric, which I bought at Festival of Quilts. I didn’t plan it very well and made it up as I went along so it’s a bit smaller and shorter than I wanted! But I’ve learnt from my mistakes and I’m keen to buy more fabric to try again!

I wanted to make a full circle skirt so I started by taking my waist measurement and working out the radius (I had to google how to do this because I couldn’t remember!). I then decided on the length I wanted and added that to the radius of my waist measurement- this would be the radius of the full circle. This is where is started to go wrong!

Because I wanted the flowers to face upwards on the fished skirt- I had to cut two half circles rather than a full circle. Also- in order to have the flowers facing upwards I had to cut the semi-circles across the fabric and was limited by the width of the fabric- thus it came out shorter than I wanted! This is where some planning would have been good. I probably could have worked out a better way to do it if I had more fabric, but never mind!


I was scrimping a bit to try and keep as much length as possible, which means I made the waistband a bit too small as well! It’s wearable though- and was quick and fun to make. I’ve learnt a lot- so it’s time to buy more fabric!