Blog

A monochrome turtleneck

I’ve been absolutely swamped with work recently (and when you’re self-employed this is no bad thing!) but I still managed to squeeze in a little Me Sewing on the side. I’m a big believer in sewing up a “quick knit top” when you need a mojo boost, and this top probably took an hour in total, from tracing to cutting to sewing to wearing, split into several ten minute segments snatched here and there – the busy woman’s way to getting stuff sewn!

The #sewdots Falda jacket

Rosie (of DIY Couture fame) created the “Sew Dots, Raise Lots” campaign for the month of October to raise money for the RNIB (Royal National Institute Of Blind People). The premise was simple – sew something with polka dots (because it looks like Braille!), donate to the RNIB, and share on social media with the #sewdots hashtag to be in the running for a huge prize mountain.

I’m not able to participate in every sewing initiative that comes along, but I knew I wanted to be a part of this one, because sight loss is something that’s affected people I love. For pretty much my entire childhood, my grandmother was legally blind from cataracts and glaucoma and I saw how her lack of eyesight isolated her from everything she used to love (like knitting and her independence). More recently, my Dad has suffered from Macular Degeneration, enduring years of regular injections directly into his eyeballs (!!) in order to try and slow the progression of the disease and retain his ability to still at least have some peripheral vision. I’ve also worked closely with the Blind Abilities community in my previous spoken word audio career, and tried to make our service and apps welcoming for the visually impaired. If you’ve got an Apple device, go ahead and turn on VoiceOver for a few minutes and try to navigate through your favourite apps as a visually impaired user would (but they do it way, way faster!)

A yellow Drape Drape dress

From the first time I flipped through the first Drape Drape book, this dress really grabbed my attention and I knew that I’d eventually make it. Like most of the patterns in the Drape Drape books, this one has both unusual, 3D seaming and lots of gathers (or tucks). This is the third pattern I’ve made in the series, after the asymmetric teeshirt (twice!), and the gathered tunic dress.

Unlike the Pattern Magic books, in the Drape Drape books the patterns are included in several sheets at the back which you trace off, a’la Burda magazine. But though the lines aren’t packed as densely as in Burda’s, the lines aren’t coloured nor do they have different dashes or dots, so it’s not as easy to trace in my opinion! Because the shapes are often wraparound, the pieces can be quite big, and you have to trace them in a few different parts.

A Breton tee dress

The origins of this dress are a bit “chicken and egg” – did I think about making the Breton tee dress from the latest Great British Sewing Bee book first, or did I decide I finally wanted to cut into the hefty black and white striped ponte in my stash first? I’m not entirely sure of the order, but I do like it when a plan comes together which doesn’t involve me buying anything more!

A neon cropped tee

As you heard earlier this week, I bought this eye-wateringly n-e-o-n peach, 100% polyester pique jersey at Abakhan in Liverpool to pair with some grey scuba to make the Triple Triangle Dress from the new No Patterns Needed book.

But I really only used the pique jersey in strips to bind the armholes, neckline, and waist, so there was quite a bit leftover. Now, I must point out that this pique jersey is craaaaaaazy bright in real life. Like, “it hurts your eyes to look at it for too long” bright. So most women would probably shy away from both wearing it near their face and wearing it in big blocks of colour.

I am not most women.

A Triple Triangle scuba dress

Like my Donna Karan x Liberty shirt you saw earlier this week, this dress is another departure from my comfort zone. Yes, it’s made in stretchy scuba and in decidedly “me” colours, but it’s drafted from my measurements instead of a pattern and you can see my midriff!

This all began when I went to the launch party for the DIY Couture No Patterns Needed book back in July. The party itself was a total blast – it was basically a Who’s Who of the London sewing scene and I got to see loads of people I’d not seen in years, as well as meet plenty of new friends too, in addition to seeing a lot of the models from the book wearing the different designs. I bought the book on the night (and got it signed!) but I wanted to hold off talking about it here until I’d had a chance to actually make something from it.

Now, if you’re expecting an unbiased review, you’re going to have to go elsewhere – Rosie is a good friend, having bonded not just over sewing but cycling, London, helping people, teaching, generally having a good ol’ rant while we worked together behind the scenes on GBSB season 3. This is her second book, and I personally know how hard she’s worked on this, slaving over it even on the hottest summer days, for like two years now! She’s truly a one-woman show, devising all the designs, working out the maths so they fit any body shape, and doing all the illustrations and samples herself, too.

A Quick Ombré Teeshirt

I only bought this fabric from Abakhan Liverpool only two weekends ago but I’ve already sewn it up and worn it already!

As you’ll recall, I was pretty restrained upstairs at my first Abakhan experience, but then I went down into the bargain basement, and saw this ombré teeshirting! Even then, I could see it was quite thin with very little stretch but I loved it too much to let it go! I paid about a fiver for the length (about 1.5-2m?), and there’s probably enough left for a second tee, too, to be honest. So this is quite the bargain make!

A teal french terry Tessellate hoodie

I know some of you are melting in summer temperatures right now, but spare a thought for those of us shivering in July – no, not just the Aussies and Kiwis, but also those of us with “unpredictable” summers (for real – I had goosebumps here in London yesterday and it certainly wasn’t from air conditioning!). Even if you are enjoying “classic” summer temperatures right now, cast your minds forward to the days when you can exercise in cooler temps in a hoodie like the Steeplechase Tee pattern

The version I’d like to show you today was made in “terry backed wickaway lycra” from Imagine Gnats in the teal colourway (but it also comes in chile red, green, lilac, vapor blue, and jade!). This stuff is absolutely brilliant for activewear – it’s got a smooth (but not shiny) face with a loop backing, but it has a decent amount of stretch for something so nicely heavyweight. If you’re not familiar with Imagine Gnats, they’ve got lots of other athletic fabrics, too – the owner, Rachael, is an active sewist herself!