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?

Summer Tops

It’s August… and that means that Rowan have launched their lovely new Autumn/Winter collections! Although I’m looking forward to Autumn (always) I’m not going to share my top picks with you yet because I’m feeling much too summery.

I’ve become very aware this summer that I don’t have many clothes to wear when it’s really hot. I have very few strappy dresses or tops and those I do have are either too warm (ie- not breathable fabric) or rather worn and tired.

So I’m on a mission to make as many summer tops as I can before the weather turns cooler and I get distracted by wool and cosy cardigans.

I have a vest top which is a good size and shape for me – so I’ve traced the pattern and I’m planning to make three new versions. One in some leftover teal fabric from my petal sleeved Scout Tee, one using fabric from an old dress that shrunk and doesn’t fit and a third in some rather beautiful Liberty Lawn.

Of course – if I make the first and don’t like it I’ll go back to the drawing board and use a proper pattern!

I also kept seeing gorgeous versions of the Ripple Bralette by Jessie Mae pop up on Instagram and I’ve fallen in love with it!

Above: @a.beagan.handmade @yarn_bard @aleichiaknits

I’m trying to whizz through knitting my Kim Hargreaves Burnt top so that I can cast on a Ripple Bralette and hopefully get that done before the end of summer too!

Which knitting season are you in?!

 

Me Made May 2019

It’s almost Me Made May time! I wasn’t sure whether to take part this year for a couple of reasons: Firstly, my me-made wardrobe (and wardrobe in general) has changed very little since last year and secondly… I hate taking photos of myself!

But then I thought about how much I enjoyed taking part last year and decided just to go for it – so here’s my pledge…

‘I, Jem Weston, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May 2019. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made item per day during May 2019’

The issue of my wardrobe not having changed much since last May is actually a positive thing. I stepped away from the “fast fashion” culture a long time ago – but sometimes it’s difficult to ignore the societal pressure to buy more stuff and constantly be striving for the next new thing. So when I contemplated sharing my outfits every day for a month I immediately thought “I have nothing new and I wear the same things all the time!”.

But I’m actually really proud of having less stuff, getting more value from the clothes I do have and being more considerate of the huge impact the fashion industry has on people and our planet. If you want to know more about this I would highly recommend watching The True Cost.

Slow fashion is just that… slow. So I’ve added very few new handmade garments to my wardrobe since last May and it’s taking ALL my willpower not to shift my shopping urges over to fabric and yarn!

I’ve been living with a capsule wardrobe of 60 items plus limited bags, shoes, underwear, nightwear and jewellery for over a year now and I’m being very strict with my one-in one-out rule so I’ve only bought a few things… and that’s mostly been underwear.

But… I still don’t wear everything in my wardrobe. So I’m hoping that Me Made May will help me to re-discover the things I’m not wearing much, encourage me to make alterations to a couple of things that aren’t quite right and motivate me to sew up my wedding cardigan!

I will be sharing my outfits over on Instagram and Facebook throughout May. And as for not liking taking pictures of myself… I’ll just have to get creative!

Who’s joining in?

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!

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!