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My Minerva outfit reveal: floral crop top and pencil skirt

July 15, 2014

So it’s taken me FOREVER to write this post, and you’ve probably already heard about the Minerva meetup on a million blogs.

You know about the Raiders Of the Lost Ark style craft warehouse, the amazing dinner at Blackburn Rovers FC, and the red carpet line-up, as well as the realisation that the £3 taxi ride exists when you leave London.

So this post is just about my outfit. Thanks to Katie for taking some of the photos (you’ll be able to spot them, they’re the good ones).

The outfit

I knew I wanted to make something different, and in the end I came up with the idea of a pencil skirt and crop top:

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Originally I was going to sew some kind of crazy one-shouldered 60s pencil dress, but when the fabric arrived (this beautiful John Kaldor stretch cotton) I knew I had to do something simpler. The print is huge! And I didn’t really fancy a shift dress. So co-ordinates it was.

The pencil skirt

It’s a By Hand London Charlotte skirt, which is really straightforward to sew. I made these changes to the pattern:

  • Cut a size 12 but added length to the waistband, which I interfaced.
  • Lengthened the darts 1.5cm each at the front, as I was getting a strange fold of extra fabric there.
  • Interfaced the edges of the invisible zip.
  • Added a back vent using this tutorial.
  • Lined it with this stretch mesh.

Stretch cotton is absolutely perfect for this pattern, I’ll be looking for some more to make another one. Although you need to add a vent – not sure how you could walk in it without one!

Minerva outfit 2The crop top

It’s a Burda pattern – 05/2012 #131.

I cut out a size 34 and had to make some serious changes as it was huge. I took the sides in a lot, cut about 4 inches off the bottom, added back darts and neck darts, and swapped out the button band for a zip.

Here’s how it looks on the back:

Minerva outfit backI did make an effort to match the pattern on the back pieces, but I didn’t bother with the sides. You’ve got to pick your battles.

Everything else

Cutting out was an enormous pain. I did it all on a single layer as the print is so huge. I didn’t really want to end up with a massive flower over an anatomical feature.

My inspiration was this outfit from Jonathan Saunders which is slightly more classy:

Jonathan SaundersIt’s pretty tricky to know exactly how much midriff to expose, but I was limited due to zip size.

The separating plastic zipper is from Jaycotts, and I had to choose between the 14 and 16 inch variations without knowing exactly how long the top would be. In the end I went with the 14 inch, which worked as the skirt was so high waisted.

crop top zip close-upZIP ENHANCE

Will I wear it again?

The acid test. As a whole, I reckon the outfit works, and I might get it out for a wedding this summer. It turned out slightly more cartoonish than I intended, but I think I rocked it anyway.

It seems highly unlikely that I’ll wear the crop top with another skirt – the Charlotte is the most high-waisted skirt I own.

I did try the top on with another skirt, but it was all a bit 90s looking. I distinctly remember wearing a tie-dye crop top to a school disco in about 1996, so I think I’ll leave that style the second time round.

The skirt is a different issue. I’ve already re-worn it loads! It looks really good with a denim shirt, if I say so myself:

pencil skirt and denim shirt

Thank you Minerva!

Huge thanks to Vicki and everyone at Minerva for organising such an amazing day. I’ve been a terrible network member lately, massively behind with projects and blog posts, but I really enjoy being part of it all, and I sincerely hope I’ve managed to shift some fabric for them. They deserve it!

Also a big thank you goes out to all the ladies of the online sewing community, for being awesome.  I’d be living a much sadder life if I’d never met all these amazing women. Although I’d probably have spent less money on fabric.

Picture 3

Spoolettes forever

Me-Made-May: final round-up

June 7, 2014

I’m very behind with this Me-Made-May roundup. You’re probably sick of seeing these blog posts by now, so I’ll just cram everything into one giant update.

I was doing well with the daily photo, but the end of the month slipped into chaos. I got tired of seeing my ugly mug on Flickr every morning, plus I went on holiday to Norway which knocked out my normal routine.

I did well with my pledge though, honest! I didn’t wear a shop-bought pair of jeans the entire month, and generally my outfits were 80% handmade.

Here’s the photos I did manage to get:

All-blue extravaganza (Days 20, 22 and 23)

Me-Made-May1.jpg

 

L-R: Blue chambray shirt and knit pencil skirt, blue Burda jeans and striped Hemlock, Maudella denim skirt and sweatshirt

The week of bad photos (think this was days 24, 25 and 26?)

Me-Made-May2.jpg

L-R: Burda jeans and a Robin jumper (Yes, I finally finished this jumper! Blog post to come) McCalls knit dress, polka dot trousers and Hemlock tee plus hungover face.

Norwegian adventure (no idea which days these were)

MeMadeMayNorway.jpg

L-R: Knit pencil skirt and chambray shirt (super-classy airport toilet selfie), unblogged denim trousers and stripey top, chambray shirt again and some (gasp) trousers from Dorothy Perkins. I did get them in a swap though. They were brilliant for climbing up a big Norwegian hill.

And here’s the traditional Me-Made-May giant photo collage:

Me-Made-May-2014.jpg

Drumroll please! The Me-Made-May 2014 Yes I Like That awards go to…

Most worn item:

Definitely my chambray shirt. I’m glad I spent all that time doing French seams and sewing buttonholes – I love wearing this and it feels quite smart.

Most complimented item (online):

This has to be my Simplicity geometric shirt dress. But I think it must photograph better than it looks. I didn’t get any offline love for this dress, and someone even asked me if I made it myself, WITHOUT following up with a compliment. Dissed.

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Most complimented item (in real-life):

It was the Flora shirtdress, although it might have something to do with the fact that I wore it to the big sewing meetup. Those seamstresses are pretty free and easy with their dress compliments.

Most earth-shattering realisation:

I don’t really like wearing dresses! I only put on three all month, and I felt pretty uncomfortable in all of them. Knit dresses are an exception though, so I need to make more of those. Other than that, SEPARATES 4 LIFE.

Most versatile item:

A tie between my Hemlock tee and my Built by Wendy grey sweatshirt. They go with everything.

Favourite new Me-Made-May blogger:

A difficult one to choose, but I think it has to be Marilla, who I chatted to at the big meetup, and who has a wardrobe of beautiful stripes.

Worst photo location:

A tough category, but I think I’ll have to go with the disgusting toilets at London Fields Brewery, 10 hours into an all-day music festival (you can see the evidence in day 25 above). Nobody can say I don’t suffer for my art.

Log-cabin patchwork cushion

May 25, 2014

So, I finally made something useful out of all those fabric scraps I can’t stop hoarding (it’s becoming a serious problem – I do a cull every six months, but I think they’re breeding inside my plastic IKEA boxes…)

It’s a log-cabin cushion cover! Behold the glory:

logcabin cushion

We’ve talked before about the massive high of trying a craft for the first time, when you’re totally clueless about all the mistakes you’re making.

This cushion definitely qualifies for me. It’s pretty wonky and is not going to win me any rosettes at the WI fete, but it was a total thrill to put together.

Here’s the back where you can see the construction (and wonkiness) more clearly. Another brilliant thing about patchwork – no seam finishing!

patchwork back

I used this super-helpful tutorial and cheat sheet to work out what strips to cut. I aimed for yellow on one side and blue on the other, but tried to mix it up a little bit so it didn’t look too much like the Ukrainian flag.

All the fabrics are scraps that I’ve been saving for years. The insects and the bikes were screenprinted by me in various classes, and you might spot bits of other projects here and there.

I didn’t cut all the strips to length in advance, just did it as I went along. This ruler, recommended by someone on Twitter, was super-useful, along with my rotary cutter and mat.

The back is entirely made from the chambray left over from my recent shirt project, and the buttons are vintage ones from my stash:

back of cushion

Although I enjoyed making this, I can’t see myself going over to the dark side and becoming a full-on quilter. Precision is not my strong suit.

Also, I didn’t actually quilt this as you can see, just backed it with some yellow fabric to hide those messy seams, and then overlocked the edges before making the cushion cover.

To finish, I thought you might enjoy this view of my sewing room mid-construction. I think tidying up took longer than making the actual cushion…

patchwork mess

Me Made May 2014 week three: the sun comes out!

May 18, 2014

I’ve really enjoyed this week’s round of MMM, probably because the sun came out.

I also went to the big London sewing meetup which was completely epic. Never have I seen so many handmade dresses together in one place! It almost caused a rip in the space-time-clothing continuum.

Anyway, here’s what I wore this week.

MMM Day 12 and 13

Day 12, off to work. I am wearing my vintage Maudella skirt and my stripey Burda kimono sleeve top. My cardigan is from H&M, my brooch is from Tatty Devine, and my shoes are from Clarks (of course).

Day 13, workday. Wearing my polka-dot Moss mini (it’s on wonkily, the seam does really sit at the front). Also my Built by Wendy sweatshirt.

MMM 14 and 15Day 14, at work on a sunny day. I had a haircut! I’ve been growing my hair for ages, so I could have an up-do at my wedding, and also just for the novelty value. But I’m so happy to have a bob again. Oh, I’m wearing some unblogged denim trousers, my McCalls white broderie top, and a cardigan from Dorothy Perkins.

Day 15, at work, still sunny I’m wearing my yellow skirt from a vintage pattern, and my Hemlock top. Must make more of these.

MMM 16 and 17

Day 16, at work. The first time this year my legs have seen the sunlight without a protective layer of tights. It was a tough day for them but I think they coped well. Not sure about all the passersby who were blinded by my milkbottle white pins. I am wearing a Simplicity 2258 skirt, a McCalls white shirt, a cardigan from Cos, and some yellow Vans (actually a wedding present from my husband!).

Day 17, off to the big sewing meetup Wearing my Flora dress for the first time in public. The cross-over top gapes a bit and I was in danger of flashing everyone on the tube and at the meetup, so I’ll probably stitch it down.  My cardigan is from Uniqlo and my shoes are from, yes, Clarks. This was the perfect outfit for a day of chatting, shopping and drinking with 70 other sewing ladies.

Day 18

Day 18, Sunday brunch and outdoors drinking Check out the different backdrop! And the yellow light coming from a strange orb in the sky! It was so hot today. I wore my Simplicity Lisette traveller shirtdress. I’m still not 100% sure about this dress so I’m glad that Me-Made-May gave me the push to wear it.

Minerva Blogging Network: Chambray shirt (Vogue 1323)

May 15, 2014

I’ve finally jumped on the chambray bandwagon!

chambray shirt 1

Yes, I may be five years behind the rest of the blogging world, but at least I got there in the end.

This is my latest Minerva Blogging Network project, and the pattern is Vogue 1323. I’ve wanted to sew this ever since I saw Erica B’s heavenly version in hot pink.

Mine isn’t quite as slinky, but it’s a lovely little spring shirt and was fun to sew. You can read my full post about it on the Minerva network here.

Chambray shirt closeup

The fabric is gorgeous but it does tend to wrinkle. I promise that I ironed the shirt before I took these photos, even if you can’t really tell.

Somehow, even though I spent ages matching everything, the pockets have come out wonky at the bottom. Look at the photo - the pocket on my left is about a cm lower than the pocket on my right.

This is DEEPLY annoying, as I swear they were even at one point. I think I caused the wonkiness when I sewed the placket.

Here’s an in-progress shot, you can see that the left pocket has already started to creep down…

chambray shirt in progress

I’m not convinced that I sewed the bottom of the button placket correctly, as the instructions were brief and v obscure. So that may be the reason.

Oh well, I don’t think anyone will notice.

If they do, hopefully they’ll just think I have one bosom larger than the other. Better that than shoddy sewing skills.

French seams on armhole seams

The instructions for the rest of the shirt were good. They tell you to do french seams all over the shop, even on the sleeves, and I obediently followed. It makes for a lovely clean finish, which is good as this fabric does fray a bit.

chambray skirt back

I don’t always do what it says on pattern instructions, but I tend to think they know best, even if what they’re saying is obviously ridiculous. Also, I always read instruction manuals, which may be a connected habit.

Just a small insight into my psyche there for you.

You can buy the kit for this project here for £34, which includes everything down to the thread (chosen by clever Vicky at Minerva, and it’s a perfect match). You even get a trouser pattern thrown in by Vogue for no extra! How can you resist?

p.s. You might recognise the trousers from a previous Minerva project.

chambray shirt 2

Me-Made-May 2014: week 2

May 11, 2014

Will you look at that, another week been and gone.

I’m finding Me-Made-May a bit of a struggle at the moment. I just want to put on my Levis in the morning and not think about what to wear. It could be the weather, it’s been horribly rainy here this week.

Anyway, here’s what I wore in week 2:

Days 5 & 6:

MMMDays5&6

Day 5: Wearing some unblogged trousers which I will talk about soon, my giraffe shirt, and a jumper from Uniqlo (which also featured heavily in last year’s MMM, if I recall correctly).

Day 6: Gah, what a terrible photo. I got up too late for Alex to take my picture in the morning so had to settle for a late-night picture in the dark. I’m wearing my blue jeans, my leopard print top, and an old grey cashmere man’s jumper that I reshaped on my overlocker and added elbow patches to. Not that you can see any of that in this picture.

Days 7 & 8:

MMM7&8

Day 7: Wearing an unblogged knit pencil skirt, made from the same fabric as my Plantain, a new shirt which I’ll blog about this week (it’s Vogue 8728), and a cardigan from Cos.

Day 8: Once again I got up too late to take advantage of the in-house husband photo studio, so here’s a super glamorous selfie taken in the disabled toilets at work. I’m wearing my green skirt, a shawl I knitted years ago, and a jumper from Uniqlo. Also, my tights have hearts on!

Days 9, 10 & 11:

MMMDay9&10&11

Day 9: I’m wearing my tartan skirt, my stripey Hemlock top, and my favourite cardigan from Cos. Check out my amazing multi-tasking abilities, drinking tea while getting my picture taken like a boss.

Day 10: Saturday, hooray! I did practically nothing on Saturday and it was great. A weekend where I don’t have to get on any public transport is a good weekend in my book. I did manage some sewing. I’m wearing my first pair of me-made jeans, an unblogged basic jersey top, and (say it with me now) a cardigan from Cos.

Day 11: Today I stayed in all day cooking and it was great. I’m wearing my blue skinny jeans, my stripey Hemlock, and my knitted Tinder cardigan. I was actually wearing my hideous (but comfortable) indoor slippers but I took them off for reasons of vanity.

So there we go, 11 days down. I’ve been too busy to spend much time in the Flickr group this year, which is a real shame as it’s a great place to get inspiration. The one person I have seen and highly recommend following is Sara from Mixed Emotions. You must check out her blog – I want to wear everything she makes.

Me-Made-May 2014: Week 1

May 5, 2014

So my Me-Made-May challenge this year is to wear 90% handmade clothing.

I am excluding RTW knitwear, because a world without cardigans and jumpers is a world I don’t want to live in. But I’m going to try and wear entirely me-made shirts, skirts, tops and trousers.

This should make life a bit more difficult, and keep my third MMM interesting, as well as showing up all the gaps in my handmade wardrobe.

I’m posting every day on Flickr (and sometimes on Instagram) but I’ll do a round-up here every Sunday.

Here’s what I wore for the first 4 days (click for a larger version):

MeMadeMay14 Days 1-4
Day 1, At work - New, unblogged sweatshirt, blue wool Moss skirt, necklace from COS.

Day 2, At work - Moss denim skirt (this has seen better days and think I’m going to have to throw it out. Sad times). Plantain top, cardigan from H&M.

Day 3, All day hen do involving a canal boat, dinner, and karaoke - Wearing my Vogue 8728 dress and a cardigan from COS.

Day 3, General bank holiday lazing around and drinking - Wearing an unblogged knit pencil skirt from the same fabric as my Plantain, McCalls 6355 top, and a jumper from Uniqlo.

That top I’m wearing on day 1 is my new favourite sweatshirt. Here’s a slightly closer look:

sweatshirt

I made this using the basic set-in sleeve pattern from Built By Wendy Home Stretch (buy this book! It’s amazing), using the same fabric as this skater dress.

It was ripped off from inspired by a jumper I saw in the menswear department at COS. All I did was cut a yoke for the front and back, using the wrong side of the fabric.

I also cut the neckband with the wrong side facing out. The cuffs and band at the bottom are just doubled up fabric strips, and the whole thing was sewn on my overlocker and took about 2 hours.

I have the itch to make more sweatshirts now. Working with knit fabrics feels like cheating, it’s so easy and quick!

If you’re taking part in Me-Made-May 14, how are you finding it so far? Easy/hard/inspiring/challenging?

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