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Friday, 31 July 2015

Sleevey completed

Well here is the completed sleevey.

It fits me like a snugly fitting knit top, with deep scoop front neck, very deep V back and long sleeves. As it is a dense polyester knit it is quite warm, so almost as warm as wearing a long sleeved top under a dress except the neckline and waist are not covered. It works under a cap sleeved dress, I don't think I actually own any sleeveless things any more so not quite sure why I made it and when I'd wear it!

I think it would be better in a mesh or more open lace, so it would be cooler.
It needs 4 way stretch fabric to have comofrtable sleeves, but basically it works as an idea.
And if you have bought a sleeveless dress and need something like this they are easy enough to sew with overlocker and coverhem/twin needle.
If you are making a dress then you'd probably give it sleeves in the first place.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Sew your own 'sleevey'

There are a few companies (Sleevey Wonders, Sleevey Magic,  EZ Seeves, Sassie Sleeves and UK based Cami Confidential who also do some great high front lace camis) making a modern version of a sleeve+bodice to wear under a sleeveless dress idea which I suspect goes back to the medieval chemise.

Anyway back to the modern version, where the idea is that you can wear something under your sleeveless dress to give the appearance of it having sleeves. Versions in mesh or stretch lace look quite interesting. To get the best effect these seem to have no shoulder seam and no seam on the upper edge of the sleeve, a deep scoop neck on one side and a deep V with clasp on the other, to avoid too much fabric pooling under the arms a variations on the Close Fitting Kimono Block looks like it would work quite well.

So here's my mini mockup of what a 'sleevey' might look like.
I've avoided an upper sleeve seam by splitting the deep V back open (and off grain but hopefully not a problem). I will have a go at making a mock up of this using existing TNT patterns laid out in this sort of arrangement and share with you in a few days.
Anyone else tried to sew their own 'sleevey'?

If you don't mind a seam where the sleeve joins the body then just use any close fitting knit top pattern, scoop the neckline out low front and back, use the selvedge of the stretch lace as the sleeve hem and finish the neck and  hem with fold-over-elastic (FOE).

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

My thoughts on Kate's Style Advice: Part 1

You may recall Kate's two posts on
Style Analysis for Ruth
Style Advice for Ruth

I'm carrying on with my thoughts looking now at Kate's Style Advice.
Style Advice
1. Ruth has a semi-shaped body so looks best in semi-fitted styles. The two outfits (above) would classify as semi-fitted. Her best look is to create a slight waist emphasis, following her natural curves. This would include softly shaped shoulders (no heavy padding). Ruth will suit styles in fluid fabrics (Ruth likes working with jersey). Lots of styles suit her but it would be good to avoid the extremes – neither a boxy outline nor a very fitted curved shape. I haven’t checked Ruth’s colouring specifically but I think this red and navy outfit is great in terms of both colour and shape.

So I would agree with this. The style examples Kate picked out of my various self-sewn and RTW shots are all where the skirt/trousers have a shaped facing rather than a waistband. I find this is a very good style when you want to have your tops worn out (rather than tucked in) as there are no lumps and bumps from zips/buttons underneath and I think it minimises a tummy. It is a style where the garment has to fit fairly well, so if your weight fluctuates you'll need to put the elastication you need in the back waist or have several sizes.

She has also chosen outfits with the tops worn out over the skirt/trousers, which she and DBF prefer.
These navy trousers are M&S wide legs and still pull a bit over my full behind.

I notice Kate also picked the ones with me wearing longer strands of beads, which is interesting as I have them in various lengths.

I do already add gentle shaping to my self sewn knit tops.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

My thoughts on Kate's Advice: Body Shape

You may recall Kate's two posts on
Style Analysis for Ruth
Style Advice for Ruth

I'm carrying on with my thoughts on Kate's advice.

Kate wrote:-
Body shape
As Ruth notes above she has a definite curve at her lower back and a fullish derriere. But she has a fairly straight look from the front. So I think her body shape is semi-straight. Ruth’s shoulders don’t slope and have a squarish outline. However they are rounded forward, and her head is also set a little forward and this combined with a slight curve at the upper back makes her spine appear to have a definite S shape. Her lower back goes in – a classic “sway back”. I would say that Ruth’s shoulders are very slightly wider than her hips, which is pretty ideal, and makes her figure look balanced.
Ruth’s has a shapely, but relatively modest, bust.
Women with a semi-straight silhouette tend to gain weight across all areas meaning it can be hard to disguise weight gain.  Ruth is most concerned about having too much bulk at the waistline and plans to address this. Certainly the use of a belt or a tie in the hollow of the waist can make the slightly fuller tummy appear slimmer.
Ruth has a good, round bottom and longish legs that means she looks great in trousers. Trousers are probably her best look. They can be formal and tailored for work, jeans or casual styles for the weekends. Overall with the semi-straight silhouette Ruth should go for slightly fitted styles avoiding the extremes of either the straight or shaped figure. I will elaborate this in my next post.
Now this was interesting, because Kate is comparing shoulder and hip width, I don't come out as a pear shape which I would do if you compare bust and hip. So I think the analysis of semi-straight is actually quite helpful. As she's observed I gain weight all over so basically stay this shape. However I'm a few inches over the NHS recommended maximum waist size for women as this estimates the amount of hidden fat a person is storing around their organs so for health reasons it would be a good idea to try to lose some inches off the waist. Interestingly I shall still have a weight above the recommended BMI even when my waist is within the recommended range. However it is definitely worth doing and I'm planning to tackle my eating habits once the bulk of the KonMari process is over.

Kate then continues
Face shape
Ruth’s face shape is fairly round with quite a lot of curves – for example her shaped lip line, and her cheeks and chin have a definite curve to them. This is not an angular face, although her jaw is squarish, but it is as wide as it is long. Consequently the longer, looser hair styles with a side parting are much more flattering than the pulled back look with a straight fringe.
OK I can see this. It might take a while for the fringe to grow out!
Ruth is a UK s14-16, and  5′ 5″ tall. So she will suit medium to large-scale patterns. She has already worked this out for herself, and as you can see from the pictures above, Ruth choses wider belts, larger prints and jewellery.
I think I'm more the 16-18 end at the moment, but yes I already knew not to wear small prints or tiny detail as its just lost of a sturdy person like myself :-)
In terms of proportions Ruth has nice long legs, with a relatively short upper body. When we choose clothes that make us appear to be “in proportion” we need to get the horizontals in the right place to help create a balanced figure. And in order to appear taller and slimmer we want to avoid the horizontal lines in our outfits cutting across our body at it’s widest point.
Ruth often chooses a long jacket over a long skirt. While this look is OK for her proportions a longer top or jacket over a short skirt will be more flattering. The two looks she wants to avoid are a short top over a short skirt, or a short top over long skirt/trousers. For the same reason she should usually wear her tops out over her skirt or trousers, rather than tucked in at the waist.
Ooh now I think there's a few interesting things in here, firstly I would not have considered myself to have long legs so this had me scratching my head a bit tbh. In the Jan Larkey method I come out as balanced, but Kate uses different measurements. I have had some success in the past with petite jackets with 3/4 sleeves (I may have a shorter upper body, but I don't have shorter arms).
I agree that we want to avoid the horizontal lines cutting across at the widest point. I thought I was already doing that, but maybe more tweaking is needed.
I wouldn't have considered that I was wearing long jackets over long skirts, I would have said moderate jackets with longer skirts, so obviously need to play a bit with proportions here. It can be difficult to shorten jackets though so have to see how this works out as I take the outfit photos (deep sigh).
DBF agrees with Kate on wearing tops untucked, as he has gently suggested it a few times, though for shirts and blouses and tailored bottoms with belt loops I don't think it looks right to wear anything else.
Heck this is tricky isn't it?

Monday, 27 July 2015

My thoughts on Kate's Advice: Wardrobe Personality

You may recall Kate's two posts on
Style Analysis for Ruth
Style Advice for Ruth

So I'm going to mull over her comments in public here on the blog (hope that's OK Kate).

Kate wrote:-
Wardrobe personality
I have covered the wardrobe personalities here. So let’s start by trying to determine which suits Ruth the best? What do you think?
  • Classic
  • Dramatic
  • Romantic
  • Natural
  • Gamine
Ruth, having read lots of style books, put herself down as a Natural, with Dramatic qualities.
Now I don’t think Ruth is a Natural. Ruth loves clothes and has a strong commitment to looking her best, although comfort is high on her list of requirements. A true Natural doesn’t really care what they wear and will feel comfortable in hiking gear or jeans and a sloppy sweater. What Ruth definitely is not, is a Romantic – she actively dislikes bows, hearts, frills and flounces. So overall I think Ruth is a fairly conservative and Classic dresser who is looking for some Drama in her wardrobe – she is keen to wear jewellery, hats and colour – but as she notes within a professional environment it needs to be done really well to avoid looking a bit OTT.

So reading through Kate's thoughts there, I would say I do agree generally with what she says here. I am fairly conservative and classic in the clothing shapes that I choose, experimenting with colour, print and accessories but keeping my clothes fairly simple in shape. I do enjoy clothes and whilst comfort is a big factor for me I cannot bear for instance to wear things I think are clashing, and even on casual weekends will choose a tee with black in the print to wear with black casual trousers or brown in a print to wear with brown trousers etc. I become distressed if I have to wear non co-ordinating things due to a laundry problem for example.

I do have the odd heart shaped item, but more in room decor made from raffia or wood and one chunky glass pendant in a stylised heart shape, but I am definitely not a frills, bows and flounces person. The one blouse I have with a tie neck gets tied into a low knot and NEVER in a bow. So I think the Romantic is safely ruled out!

I have tried more Dramatic items a few times, but they are too much, I agree that I want my simple classic shapes but with a dramatic twist. So I am going to look at trying some slightly different silhouettes and interesting bits of drama without being too much, because then I become uncomfortable. So for example the black ponte skirt with 3 angled points in the hem. If I wear it to work I find the points get caught in the car door on the way, then tangle in the wheels of my office chair, before trying to trip me up as I descend the stairs!

I do however love coral, burnt orange, turquoise, seafoam green - rich warm colours particualrly for my tops and chunky jewellery if I am wearing a collarless top, more subtle jewellery within a collared shirt.
Maybe not so much the hats, but I really do love earrrings, necklaces and brooches the most, with stretchy bracelets a little and rings not much at all. I find rings and bracelets get in the way of doing things where earrings, necklaces and brooches do not.

I like matte things more than shiny (hammered pewter over diamante), texture over smooth (I changed the shiny faux silk lampshades on my bedside lamps for ones which look like handmade paper) and in my recent KonMari process got rid of almost everything satin (bar one dull satin blouse) and velvet so I shall be a bit stuck for an evening cover up come any winter dressy events. I do like leather, especially in jackets, coats, bags, boots and shoes, though suede seems impractical I have some boots. I like stripes, checks, paisley, prints shaped like large leaves in particular but cannot stand tiny prints or polka dots. Lace is for lingerie only, unless its a textural chunky corded lace.

I quite like (faux) pearls if something interesting has been done with them (not your basic strand though I did inherit my grandmother's classic 1950s 3 strand I never wear it) and tend to keep my earrings a little smaller due to having a fairly short neck.

I did think a classic would be a person who wears makeup every day and I must admit despite having a drawerful and having phases of wearing a little touch - mostly lipstick - I often forget and go to work in a smart suit and jewellery but no makeup. Maybe something else it would be nice to change slightly.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Trying new styles

I was looking at these trousers

And the lace inserts on this top

From Burda September 2014.
To try some slightly different shapes and silhouettes.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Kirsten Kimono Dress and Tee + Extra top

A while ago I downloaded the free Kirsten Kimono Tee pattern. I've lengthened the sleeves by 4.5 cm, scooped the front neckline slightly, straightened the back neckline and flared the sides slightly.

The first version had enough spare fabric to be a dress, so that's what it is (for now at least) though it may get shortened to a top.
The second version was made as a top with a slightly curved hemline.
After that I used the rest of this tissue weight synthetic feeling fabric to make my classic New Look 6414/ 6735 hybrid tee with 3/4 length sleeves.
All sewn with black thread on the sewing machine, overlocker and coverhem. I might switch over to ivory now and make some more next week.

And the Summery Summary is here

I seem to have made:-
1 x pair of leggings
4 x A line midi skirts
2 x knee lngth pencil skirts
1 x dress
1 x tunic
2 x silk culotte slips
5 x short sleeved top
3 x long sleeved tops
and all without changing the thread on the sewing machine, overlocker and coverhem (Actually I rethreaded with black after some alterations and repairs)

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Another Silk Culotte Slip + Bonus Silk tee

This is another silk culotte slip for wearing under skirts, so now I have three. They are all from the same lovely blouse weight silk and pretty much identical. The original has a piece of black ponte as a tab identifying the back, the new ones have a small piece of coloured elastic each one red, today's blue. Hopefully this will just allow me to rotate the wear of them.
There was not enough left to make a fourth pair so instead I whipped up this little silk tee, the edges are just overlocked, turned and stitched and its made from one piece with a hole cut for the head, then the side seams stitched up. It actually fits quite well.
The front neck is scooped out but the back neck is cut straight across. Should be nice with pearls to lift the darkness round the face. This lovely matte silk reads more as charcoal than black.

Silk Culotte Slip

I already have a pair of these silk culotte shorts which I wear as a slip under skirts in the summer to stop my legs sticking together. I loved that pair so much I made 2 more pairs in beige cotton sheeting, but I didn't love them as much and they got KonMari'd recently, which left me with only one pair so I dug out the silk again and cut out 2 more, this is the first.

The original black silk ones were sewn in April last year - April Silk Culottes
People like to know which patterns I've used but since I don't just sew from the pattern it can be hard to explain.
Take any favourite PJ pants pattern (I used Burda 12/2007 no 127) with a front and back pattern piece. Fold them to the length you want (I go for just above the knee). Layout with the side seams approx 1.5" apart ensuring each piece is on the grain still and the hems and waist are in line.
Cut out as a single piece, then sew the front and back leg seams together, then the crotch seam, then hem the legs,  make a casing for elastic in the waist and add a little tab to the back waist so you know which way to put them on.
You could even do french seams particularly on that seam between the thighs.
I found that silk was good for this and polycotton sheeting was not as good. In future I would use any very thin cotton, silk or viscose (rayon) but not polycotton or anything thicker then a blouse weight.
I wear these under my skirts all summer long!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Wearing my recent projects: tunic, leggings, top and skirt

Here I am wearing the tunic and leggings.My hair is clipped up so you can see the fit better. I cut the back piece on the fold and there's pooling. I needed to be brave and have a centre back seam even with the angled hem. I'm not loving this olive colour on me but its an interesting experiment as I do quite like the tunic shape, especially from the front.

Next up the shorter top with the leggings, I wouldn't feel comfortable wearing these out but it shows the fit of the leggings a bit more.

A bit of wrinkling under the but, so probably need to just pinch a little bit out there before the next pair, though not too much of an issue under a tunic. These are so fantastcailly comfortable I can imagine some knit pyjama trousers for the winter.
Next up the two piece dress, where I dare say a few would like the hem on the skirt a bit shorter, but as it is this rises above the knee when I sit. If it was shorter when standing it'd be really short when sitting. I have a lump on the inside of each knee which is not very attractive so don't like to show it off too much!

I've been wearing my hair down today and it does make my face look less round but is hot and also obscures the fit, hence its clipped up here.

Ruth's Adventure's with Machine Dye

I bought this skirt in the charity shop.
It was £1. I think because although it was a lovely linen mix skirt it had a really nasty polyester lining that felt like wearing plastic. However I looked at the label and had an idea.
I cut out the nasty polyester lining, laundered the skirt and then dyed it denim blue with a Dylon machine Dye.

As you can see it says cotton, linen and viscose will dye OK so I threw a few other items in and went ahead.
The end result is this lovely soft denim effect.
Its quite long, so may get shortened a bit as I experiment with Kate's advice, or I may just embrace my inner hippy and wear it with chunky blue sandals.

Monday, 13 July 2015

More advice from Kate and a tunic experiment

Hi folks here's the next installment from Kate - Style Advice for Ruth
Processing all this info and trying it out in real life is going to take a while I am sure.

Meanwhile to go with the leggings/slim trousers I really fancied a different style of top because the ordinary tops would have felt a bit short with the slimmer cut of the leggings.
I didn't want a tunic that was long all the way round, and having just extra bits at the sides adds to the saddlebags, so I decided I wanted an offset angled hem. I experimented by placing a piece of tissue aginst myself and then used my existing top pattern with added roll neck and cuffs. It just seemed to be what worked with the fabric.
The fabric is a funky graffiti print. I'm not sure either it or the olive base fabric is very me, but it was useful for the experiment with this tunic shpae.
 Here it is with the slim trousers, the long point comes about half way down the thigh.
This is the Tunic extension pattern piece I created to lengthen my normal top pattern into an angled hem tunic.

McCall's 5394 Leggings

I have trouble with purchased leggings because I carry excess weight in my thighs. If I size up to get a comfortable fit through the thigh, then the attached elastic waist is far too large, also generally the leggings are too short in the back crotch. I did try some leggings from Burda magazine on two occasions but both only went up to a 44 and were still a bit tight in the legs.
But recently I dug out McCall's 5394 and compared it to the Burda to find the crotch shape was very similar but the angle of the waistband was very different. I redrew the waistband to be more like the Burda and then chose the McCall's size which was slightly larger than the Burda 44. This was the XL which is equivalent to a 20-22, but its only a number and better fitting clothes are always more flattering whatever the size says.
The blue lines are the original cutting and folding lines for the waist casing. The orange line was my new fold line. You can see that the orange line dips below the lower blue line at the front, rising to above the higher blue line at the back. So if you have a Burda butt like me, you might find this waistline alteration useful.
(A hint you might need this too is the front waistband is always too high, but the back waistband is always too low and pulls down lower when you sit). I remember being frustrated by this more than 20 years ago and not knowing how to fix it. I find many Burda trousers fit me quite well with only small alterations, so buy the Burda magazine just for the trousers.
Its hard to see from the photo, but I cut these from a remnant of tubular ribbed knit. It was from the local cheap shop and a very uneven piece, but good for experimenting and no great loss if they were straight in the donation bag for someone else to enjoy.

I had to cut the tube open, lay it flat and cut each piece out separately in opposite directions (remembering to flip the piece over)  to get it out of the fabric, but I have to say they are super comfortable and fit more like slim trousers than leggings. The knit is quite hefty though so although I've made them in July I don't see it being practical to wear them until at least September maybe later. I will try them on for a quick photoshoot sometime this week though so you can see the fit.

Being this slimmer fit they needed a more tunic style top, and I'll share later what approach I tried for that.
As they fit like slim trousers, not like leggings, they wouldn't have the right fit for something like a stretch lace, though I'm not sure stretch lace would be a good choice for me anyway.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Kate's Style Analysis for Ruth

The lovely Kate has won the SWAP on Stitcher's Guild the last two years and it turns out she has training in colour and wardrobe analysis and clearly knows how to put it into practice for herself with stunning results.
Now sadly, I didn't love my SWAP much this year when it was done, so I asked her for some advice on style for my body shape, personality and lifestyle.
Now I have to confess that what I wear is not necessarily what I sew, some me-made things are in regular rotation, but I also wear lots of RTW. I've been doing outfit shots over on my old blog to try and establish what works, as photos look a bit different than squinting at yourself in a mirror.

The goal I shared with Kate was that “I would like to nudge my sewing more in the direction of fabulous things I want to wear rather than easy things that are quick to sew.”
You can read the first part of her response here.
Kate's Style Analysis for me

Small ironing board

My main ironing board is too large for anywhere upstairs in the new house, so when I saw this one, which is more of a 3/4 size board, in the supermarket I decided to get it.
It has a 97x34cm ironing surface area and was only £10. I may need to add some extra padding as its fairly thin (it is a 'Value' model hence the smaller size), but there is room  to put it up on the landing and still get in the doors to the bedroom and bathroom so a big win for me.
If I moved some stuff out of the sewing room I might even be able to get it in there, though its pretty tight so maybe that's not such a good plan.

I will move the big ironing board downstairs and use it for ironing clothes (as opposed to pressing bits of sewing projects) since I like to do the ironing whilst watching TV.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Black/white/green animal print - two piece dress

I sewed up a raglan sleeved tee and an A line skirt from this fabric a while back.
Here I am wearing those items.

Recently I finished up the straight skirt and the 3/4 sleeve top with pieced front. The print is so crazy I am not sure how obvious the piecing is.
 The top has a slightly squared scoop neckline.
The skirt is made of two panels and sits just below the knee.


Together the impression of a dress.
Tomorrow I will try showing me wearing them. The fit is quite good. I would wear these in cooler weather with black tights and tall black leather boots, a black jacket and a white, green or silver necklace.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Wearing the pink tee

I've worked out a place where the wheely bin can take the camera on self timer that doesn't get direct sun, so you can get shots of me wearing things.

Hmm I think it needs a bit of a press and maybe looser sleeves next time.
It is soft and stretchy and will be a lovely PJ top, though too pale for me in everyday wear I think.