Me-Made-May’12

I, Marianna of Sew 2 Pro, will endeavour to wear at least one made-by-me garment each day for the duration of May 2012.’

When I signed up for this group project, initiated by the sustainable sewing blogger So Zo What Do You Know, I little anticipated what big parts in my wardrobe would be played by a coat, boots and a brolly.  Hang on, didn’t I actually see one parent in the playground wearing gloves?! 

Never again will I smirk when I hear the folk say: “Never cast a clout till May is out.”

Elizabethans

The day the Queen came to town, I wore the dress I named after mum to Queen Elizabeth I.  This picture was taken at a fashion booth, one of many, that was on display during the visit.  My coat, brolly and bag were temporarily put on the floor, causing a small security concern. 

Along with Trash! this dress featured heavily in the first half of the month and I don’t want to see it again till October, although I discovered it teams up nicely with a Pipetto Originals belt that I wear with jeans sometimes.

Pleated neckline top. Benetton Coat, Levi 921

Pleats

Saturdays saw me in my two pleated tops.  Here’s Number 1 worn whilst hassling the McCulloch & Wallis dummy (as is my custom).

And here’s Nicotine Surprise, worn with a nearly camouflaged doggy.

My fascination with pleats was indulged some more when the warm weather returned.  Here’s the Lime Burda 7378.

Schoolrun Skirt

Probably the Me-Made outfit I wear the most in the summer.  I made it some 3 years ago by adapting the Basic Skirt Block into an A-line.  The fabric is an old, discontinued print from Alexander Henry called Zen Charmer which seems equally popular with the kids and the mums. 

Every year I buy a simple top or two to wear with this skirt.  This year, in the spirit of Me-Made, I trimmed a H&M T-shirt with some black crochet-type lace that I didn’t know what to do with for years.  I’m not sure if this mini-project was executed entirely professionally (notice how the T-shirt stretches out where the lace has been sewn on), but seeing a bit of skin through the lace is a nice effect.

New Look 6459

Recently, I made a smart, new version of this pattern but here are a couple of the oldest dresses I’ve ever made.  In fact, I’m thinking of retiring them as the fabric is old and the zips not up to close scrutiny.  The problem is that I still love them so I wear them on hot days at home when I’m burning dinner and I’ll probably give them one last holiday in the scorching sun.  In other words, they’re beachwear!  And the halter necks helps with the tanning.

NL 6459 in faded Viva Frida fabric (by Alexander Henry again)

And in Tattoo by Alexander Henry.  This dress is now 5 years old.  How many RTW dresses would put up with so many summers of use?

Heartbreak

If it hadn’t been for Me-Made-May’12, I wouldn’t have had the camera out in the garden on that first warm Sunday of the month (13th), when we also happened to snap my daughter carrying her kitten Blackadder: the only picture of the two of them together.  Blackadder was killed days later and we miss him more than I can say.

Dear Blacky,

Thank you for being a part of our family and adding so much love and fun to our days.

I’d hoped we’d have years. What a fine lapcat you’d have become!

Enjoy your sleep.

M&C xx

Holiday, Wedding, Funeral

Burda 7378 is a sleeveless dress with pleats radiating from a raised waistline and two darts at the back.  Last summer when I bought the pattern, I wasn’t sure if my beginner’s skills would be up to a pattern marked “average” but having been rather intrigued by pleats that feature so often on Ready-to-Wear clothes, I thought I’d at least get some insight into their construction.  Rolls and Rems provided an easy-to-work cotton poplin (at £4.95 a 115cm-width metre) and invigorated en route by the fabric’s fantastic colour I quickly set to work.

After this:

And this:

And this:

I ended up with this:

I wore my Burda 7378 on my last summer holiday and loved the contrast between the colour of the dress and my tan (those were the days!).  Though the pleats weren’t perfectly executed, I still gained much satisfaction looking down at them.  After my hols, being very much under the impression that the pattern was a thumbs-up, I made two more versions.

A sophisticated, funeral-friendly black:

 And a shot-silk version, fully lined in an oyster acetate:

Here’s a close-up of the fabric.  It’s by John Kaldor and was bought at a considerable discount from Geoff Rosenberg.  The colours are to die for!

So, having finished all three, imagine my disappointment (here we go!) when I put them on for the purposes of this photo shoot only to be told by my DH that this pattern makes me “look fat”.

Huh?  Now he tells me?!  Ok, I admit that a couple of times last summer when I wore the lime dress to slap-up meals, I thought to myself: “Thank goodness there’s enough room in here!”  In fact, I’d even made a mental note to recommend this pattern to anyone accommodating a 4-5 month-old fetus!

And in case you think it’s the stiff poplin, let me emphasise that the two more drapey fabrics don’t make it much better: this really isn’t the pattern for you if your waist is the particular feature you like to accentuate.  Maybe the dress would look better in View A – a maxi.  But I’d still hesitate to recommend it if you aren’t tall.

If all this hasn’t put you off and you decide to give this dress a go, here are a couple of notes on sizing and modification:

Sizing

If you’re between sizes, go down: you’ll be fine!  My three dresses are size 10 (US: 6) though I’m 12 hips on a good day.

Sewing the Straps and the Lining

By following the pattern instructions, you’ll be attaching the lining to the fashion fabric at the neckline and armscyes, handstitching the lining to the zip then sewing the dress straps as in the diagram above.  The lining straps are then machine-stitched before the garment is turned to the right side and the fashion fabric straps are slip-stitched (Step 14).  The best of my attempts at this produced:

It wasn’t so simple with the silk!  But you don’t have to follow the instructions slavishly!  Having for some months now been an avid reader of the Slapdash Sewist, I now know that there is another way.  If you’re averse to handsewing and if the slip-stitch isn’t your best couture move, I refer you to Slapdash’s All-Machine Clean-Finish Sleeveless Bodice Lining Tutorial.  Especially recommended if you’re making the long, fully lined version of dress.

Good luck and let me know how it went!

P.S. I don’t care if it does make me look fat: I’m ready for that Holiday/Wedding/Funeral…