Shirtdress Plans!

I’ve been saying for ages that I want to make another Alder shirt dress. The first one I made was meant to be a toile… but I never got round to making the denim one I had planned and have ended up wearing this one loads.

Alder Shirtdress front - Jem Weston blogI initially thought it was way too big, but after a few wears I started to enjoy the loose fit and as I’ve washed and worn it the fabric has softened and now has a nicer drape.

I wanted to make the next one with sleeves because two of the most worn items in my wardrobe are long-sleeved shirt dresses – one plaid and one denim. They’re basically secret pyjamas and I wear them with leggings while working at home.

Knowing that I like the fit of the Alder shirt dress – I thought I would use that as my starting point… and went down a Pinterest rabbithole! The first version I found with sleeves was this one by Bolt & Spool.

They used this Grainline Studio tutorial of an Alder and Acher shirt mash-up. I initially thought “great – just what I was looking for… Alder with sleeves added. Simple!”. Then I read the tutorial and have been procrastinating ever since because it sounded too complicated! Bearing in mind that I’ve only ever done a collar once… and despite being heavily supervised by Deidre at All Things Creative I still managed to get part of it upside down.

So then I started looking into whether it would be simpler to just make the Archer shirt and add length to make it a dress. And of course it would be simpler! I love this version by Vivat Viritas

But – the Archer shirt has quite a straight/boxy shape and I know that I would have to play with blending different sizes (as I’m generally two sizes larger on my bottom half) and that might effect the shape and overall look.

So I’ve settled on this version… the Archer + Alder mash up V2!

Using the Alder pattern for the bottom section should give me plenty of room around the hips and there aren’t any massively complicated tweaks to make so fingers crossed I’ll manage it without supervision!

I know that it’s going to take me ages. I don’t get much sewing time and I don’t want to rush it… but it would be really lovely if I manage to get it done before the end of the year so I can tick it off my make-nine-2020 list!

Summer Dress

I finished a summer dress!

Summer dress made in Atelier Brunette navy fabric with sporadic little green, cream and golden yellow squares.

I traced the pattern from a dress that I wear a lot… but it turned out quite differently as I tweaked it along the way.

I’ve never done an elasticated waistband before and initially created a channel to slot the elastic in, but it didn’t sit right so instead I stitched the elastic directly to the waist seam using a long zig zag stitch.

It’s made in an Atelier Brunette fabric which I bought from Guthrie & Ghani. I’d bought a small amount a while ago just because I liked it and then also bought a small bolt end which gave me enough for a dress. I’m concerned that the skirt is a bit see-through… but maybe that’s okay in the summer!

It’s a super simple shape and was quick to make (apart from the waistband faffing) so if it’s comfy to wear I’ll be making more. A lightweight linen would be great because I’m always too hot!

That’s another one ticked off the make-nine-2020 plan. Next up sewing-wise is a shirt dress – which might take me a while because collars are confusing!

Jem Weston - Make nine 2020 plan!

Make Nine 2020 – update

I thought it was about time for me to give you an update on my make-nine-2020! Being more than half way through the year – I should in theory be more than half way through my planned makes… but unsurprisingly I’m a bit behind.

I mentioned last week that I’ve been suffering from a loss of knitting mojo. After finishing off my Esme Cardigan and Merry Jumper Dress earlier in the year – my garment knitting took a sharp nose-dive in terms of productivity.

My knitting mojo is definitely back! I’m really keen to finish my second Burnt top and my subtly festive beaded jumper… but I’ve almost completed some exciting new designs so I’m trying to stay focused on those and not get distracted… I can’t wait to share them with you!

I was actually pleasantly surprised by how my make-nine is looking and (perhaps I’m being unrealistic – but) I think it might still be doable this year.

I’ve started having a sewing evening every Wednesday and sometimes on a Sunday too, so I’m hopeful that I will finish my sewing aims for the year. Of the five remaining knit projects, two are almost half done and two are quick projects.

The only problem is… I’m not feeling in the mood to knit a fair-isle jumper right now. Maybe that will change when autumn kicks in. Even with the more vague plans I had for this year it’s still not vague enough! I’ve seen a cardigan in the new Rowan AW collection (coming soon!) that I’m excited to knit so I might do that instead and roll-over the fair-isle to make-nine-2021.

How’s your knitting/sewing mojo doing? Did you make plans or are you just going with the flow?


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?

Rowan SS20

Rowan launched their new Spring/Summer collections last weekend and there are some gorgeous garments… here are my faves!

Lace Sweater by Chloe Thurlow from Mode at Rowan Collection Two, knitted in Summerlite 4ply.

I love this jumper – it would be so nice over a summer dress. A great extra layer for the unpredictable UK weather.

Striped Tank Top by Chloe Thurlow from Mode at Rowan Collection Two, knitted in Handknit Cotton.

Super cute and simple! I’d love to go extra nautical with navy and white stripes.

Bowie by Lisa Richardson from Rowan Magazine 67, knitted in Fine Lace.

Just look at those flouncy sleeves! This would take forever to knit… it’s going on the long list.

Bari by Lisa Richardson from Rowan Magazine 67, crocheted in Summerlite 4ply.

There’s a whole section of crochet in the main magazine this season which is great – this might be a good starter project for me!

Palermo by Lisa Richardson from Rowan Magazine 67, crocheted in Summerlite 4ply.

I love this! Pretty sure it’s beyond my crochet skills right now but you never know.

Which is your fave? Are you summer knitting yet?

Make Nine 2020

After a slight fail on my Make Nine 2019 plan… I decided to be a bit more vague with my 2020 plan!

Jem Weston - Make Nine 2020

I do have some definite plans for the above – but I wanted to have some flexibility on the exact projects so that I can change my mind throughout the year.

The colours above aren’t necessarily representative of what I’m planning to knit/sew with, but I am trying not to make everything in teal (which is challenging!).

I started the new year with a jumper dress in Kid Classic on the needles – I can’t wait to finish it! Hopefully it’ll still be cold. After that – I really want to finish my Esme Cardigan which was on my make nine plan for the last two years… so I thought it would be unreasonable to carry it over again!

Have you got a making plan for the year?

Made Six 2019

Earlier this year I chose my ‘Make Nine 2019‘ – The nine garments/accessories that I planned to make for myself this year. As you’ve probably guessed from the title of this blog… I didn’t make nine!

Of the items I had planned, I only actually finished two – some mitts and my wedding cardigan… both of which I started making in 2018! I’ve also finished knitting my Esme cardigan but as we’ve been doing work to the house I haven’t had the space for blocking (which I want to do before I finish sewing her up).

I also made a few things which weren’t on my Make Nine 2019 plan so this is my Made Six 2019…

Considering I also did all the knitting for Cosy Alpaca Knits this year – I think I did okay!

I’ve decided to be a bit more vague with my Make Nine plan for 2020. For example – I might plan to sew a summer dress but not choose a specific pattern until I’m ready to make it. This might be breaking some rules! But I think it will help me to stay focused on my Make Nine projects without feeling restricted.

Have you looked back at your 2019 makes?