Friday, 1 June 2018

End of May Update

I was going to write one post but realise that it’s far too long despite not really feeling I’d achieved much! So I will do a separate post for my finished trousers. That will also give me a chance to get some photos!!

Me Made May 18

I decided not to sign up for Me Made May as I just don't have the variety of self made garments and don't want to post photos showing the same things on multiple occasions. The idea is to make your own challenge - and it should be a challenge, not something easy. I decided to use the time to try to wear more of my hand made garments, decide which I liked and wanted to keep (many are too small, sadly, with weight gain), cull more clothes and identify wardrobe gaps to contribute to a sensible sewing plan, including hopefully finishing my trousers!

So that was ongoing throughout May - and in fact is still continuing, as is decluttering in general.

The main gaps I have found are, not surprisingly, around trousers, shorts etc. The trousers that currently fit are too heavy for the hot weather we’ve been having. I don’t have any shorts that fit - and that includes my golf wear.

So, June plan - make a pair of shorts or trousers or preferably both with a cooler fabric. I have already made a pair of trousers that I can wear to golf. I need to see if I must make a pair of crops or whether I can still fit into a pair.

Garment alterations

The first task I completed in May was to lengthen a pair of trousers. I had two pairs of trousers, same size and style, in different colours. Last year I shortened these trousers! This is something that's practically unheard of. They were much too long and I shortened and cut off the excess. 

Unfortunately, they've shrunk in the wash and maybe my extra weight is pulling them up too. 

Anyway I took down the hem of one pair, attached bias binding right side to right side and created a false hem by folding, understitching and pressing bias to wrong side and hand sewing the hem. I didn't get much extra length but it is what it is. I was only able to do one pair as the hem line on the other pair was abraded and would have been too obvious. The fabric of both trousers is very soft and isn't wearing at all well. These are the best fitting trousers I have.

Pulls still present. Faced hem just seen in background

A few weeks back, I wore these trousers to a nice walk along Whittle Dene Burn, with a bit of a climb. Plenty of birds and flowers but we didn't see any animals. I think our group is too noisy! We had a lovely lunch in the garden of a local pub. During this we were treated to some ukulele music by members of our party. On my return home, I saw my trousers were a bit muddy in one place. Although the weather was dry, sunny and warm, there were still some left over muddy patches. Anyway, as I was brushing off the mud, I realised that these trousers are actually pretty disreputable - there are so many pulls in the fabric, not all due to holly bushes and hawthorn on the walk.  I’ll try to pull the threads through to the back but if that doesn’t work, I’ll use as a template for another pair, which will be by then all the more urgent!! (I wore them again today on a walk without having fixed them; they are far too warm for this sunny weather)

I had two main garment construction tasks at the start of May

Self drafted top further modified

I continued making my modified self drafted top. After I sewed up the sides with extra shaping, I noticed that the stripes on one side didn't match across the seamline at all while the other side was okay-ish. I had to take the mismatched side out and resew.

I decided to use self fabric bias binding (partly because I forgot to take the reel of commercial bias binding I was considering!!) and cut out the required pieces. After thinking about construction and the fabric, I went with my tutor’s recommendation to construct like a knit neckline, that is folding the bias strip in two and attaching. This isn't the way I would have chosen but the fabric was a bit difficult to handle.  She also demonstrated how I should be doing my side splits. I made up a template to ensure the stitching visible on the right side is identical on each side.

I finished the bias binding around the neck and armholes and I wasn't at all happy with it. I didn't like the finish and the band didn't lie properly. I think this technique simply didn’t work for this neckband; the same finish as the first would be better. No photos of this.

I thought the unfinished side splits and hem were fine. When I tried it on, David said he didn’t like the bust darts and I agreed as they were rather pointy despite careful sewing and pressing. I was going to abandon.

Side splits, back longer than front.

However, Lyn felt this top could still be salvaged. She agreed the bias strips sewn in this way didn't work and should be removed (and helped me by removing the overlocker thread, which I always find so difficult despite knowing the theory.)  I decided to redo in the standard way and ease the neckline and armscyes a bit more. You might have realised that my bias strips were a little narrower by this time as I had trimmed the earlier seam. Never mind, I still manage to make it work, though now, in order to get a neckband wide enough, I decided on top stitching on the band to finish rather than using stitch in the ditch. It worked out okay. I had to redo a couple of areas where I missed the back seam edge.

I  asked Lyn to look at the darts. She didn't find them that bad but steamed them over a ham which improved then considerably.

So, I finished the top. I’m ‘meh’ about it. I can probably wear it but won’t reach for it first out of my tops. I really don’t feel this design is my TNT and probably won’t make any more. I don’t feel it fits well enough but can’t put my finger on the issues. I'll try to get some better photos - I'm just not feeling well today and am not up to modelling!

Self drafted trousers - I’ll put these in a separate post.

Many people can watch TV and knit. I'm not one of them. I have made more mistakes and had to rip back more rows. I'm not getting on very quickly as a result! Fortunately, my waistcoat is for cooler autumn days (well it was supposed to be for spring but that's gone now)

London Fabric shopping

I’ve just returned home after a few days in Cambridge, Essex and London. In London, my main fabric purchasing task was to get green sandwashed silk to make Helen another dress. I succeeded in this.

I also bought some lovely Hugo boss wool for trousers and some lovely silk for me. ‘When I was young, much younger than today’ (cue music - Help! by The Beatles which is playing in the background as I type), I had a beautiful grey patterned silk or silk effect shirtdress that I loved and thought flattered. It could have been silk as it was rather expensive. This was of course in the days before I sewed or had any knowledge whatsoever about fabrics. I saw a silk that slightly reminded me of this fabric so bought it. I plan eventually to make a shirtdress, though of a different style to the original, more suited to my current body shape.

Meantime, I also bought some lovely plum coloured crepe, thinking shirtdress (practice before using silk!) and some linen.

London Exhibitions
I visited two exhibitions

Design Museum - Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier

He was small but loved tall models. A few of his photos emphasise height differential
“Conceived and co-curated with Monsieur Alaïa before his death in November 2017, the exhibition charts his incredible journey from sculptor to couturier, his nonconformist nature and his infectious energy for fashion, friendship and the female body.
Unlike many of his contemporaries, Alaïa personally constructed each garment by hand and refused to bowto the pressures of fashion week deadlines, instead working to his own schedule. His collaborative approach earned him an esteemed client list, including Greta Garbo, Grace Jones, Michelle Obama and Rihanna.
Rather than a retrospective, the show interlaces stories of his life and career alongside personally selected garments, ranging from the rare to the iconic and spanning the early 1980s to his most recent collection in 2017.” from Design Museum literature

I’ve seen a few posts about this exhibition, which is why I learned of it in fact, so I won’t say too much about it. I did take some photos but they didn’t come out very well. I enjoyed it. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of fashion and art.

The exhibition is on for a few months yet. October 2018, I think.

V&A - Fashioned from Nature

“The first UK exhibition to explore the complex relationship between fashion and nature from 1600 to the present day
This exhibition will present fashionable dress alongside natural history specimens, innovative new fabrics and dyeing processes, inviting visitors to think about the materials of fashion and the sources of their clothes.” From V&A literature

I haven’t seen any posts about this - though I haven’t been reading as much as usual so sorry if I missed yours. The exhibition is on until January next year and I really enjoyed it, though when you’re in London for a short time, there’s a tendency to try to cram too much in so I was tired with really painful legs (it’s an issue I struggle with) and perhaps didn’t get as much from it as I should have.

Again, I was able to take photos, again only with my mobile, and again they aren’t that great, sadly. David came with me to this exhibition and we found quite a lot to talk about afterwards. It is certainly thought provoking.

I’ll see if I have any photos worth posting.
Bark lace

June plans
I have started a toile of the shirtdress I plan to make. I need to make a FBA and haven’t got around to thinking about it yet.
My mother has decided to move back into sheltered accommodation so I’m rather busy with that, travelling back and forth and staying to help with paperwork in particular (my mother is registered blind) and don’t know how much sewing I’ll get done over the next month. Sadly, too, a friend from my university days died and I’ll be going to her funeral in the Leeds area next week. I clearly won’t manage to finish either shirtdress or wrap dress in time for the events they were planned for. Never mind.


  1. The exhibitions sound interesting, I'm off to London a week on Friday. If you want somewhere to stay next week in Leeds, you're more than welcome.

    1. Thanks for the offer, Margaret - we're going to drive down and back on Thursday. We're giving a lift to an old university friend that I haven't seen for 40 years! She's staying with us on Wednesday night.


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