Reeta Shirt Dress by Named

I snap-bought the Reeta Midi Shirt Dress pattern the minute that Named released their SS17 Playground collection, so it's safe to say I've been planning to sew this for a while. But it took the #sewtogetherforsummer shirt dress challenge to give me the encouragement I needed to get started (thanks Sarah, Suzy and Monika for the push)! Just inside the deadline, here's my finished Reeta:
Reeya Midi Shirt Dress - Named Clothing
I chose the fabric to make it up in pretty quickly too - this beautiful striped olive green poly-crepe from Minerva Crafts.  I was smug at finding the perfect fabric for only £4.99p/m... until I came to cutting it and realising that it was only 45" wide rather than 60"! This left me almost half a metre short and meant some very creative pattern placement, as well as the struggle to keep my stripes straight! By some miracle, I managed to squeeze the whole thing out of just 3m. Disclaimer: any pattern matching is completely accidental (though my contrast horizontal back yoke was totally intentional).
Minerva Crafts poly-crepe
Reeta was a fairly straightforward sew, arguably easier than the '3 scissor' difficulty level stated - I made it in just a day. I saved myself a few extra steps by skipping the pockets. As much as I like the style of them, the placement, combined with the style of the dress, just wouldn't do any favours for my bust. The only real difficulty I had was with attaching the collar, mainly due to the severe curve at the front - a couple of attempts sorted it though. I was also a little confused over how to hem the dress with the way the facing was attached at the bottom as earlier instructed, so I sort of freestyled it.

Interior waist detail
I was quite surprised that the pattern didn't include a drafted piece for the inside waist casing, though to be honest, my limited fabric wouldn't have stretched to that anyway. As recommended, I used length of ribbon in green to match the dress, which makes for a really nice finish - perhaps something to make an external feature of in future. I threaded my cord through the ribbon channel and finished it with two toggles (leftover from my hardware purchase for my Waver Jacket) for a sort of 'utility' look.

Waist detail

When trying it on, I noticed pulling between the button holes at the waist if the cord wasn't tied as well as toggled, so I've stitched the centre front closed. And moving onto the buttons... I had total shade amnesia over the exact green of the dress when I went button shopping and came home with these little brown-looking ones that although aren't the worst, also aren't the best match. (I also do this regularly with zips too - anyone else?)

Side view
In terms of fit, I made the size 42 and it's pretty much spot on! In future I would change the placement of the top button as it falls slightly too high on my bust. And something that a lot of people comment on with Named patterns is the length. The patterns are designed for an average height of 172cm which is almost 5ft 8". For reference, I'm 5ft 6" and had to take a good few inches off the length of the Reeta when it came to hemming - I should've known better having hacked a good 8" off many Kielos. I still think it might be slightly too long, so the question is, should I shorten it more?

Back view
I really like the finished dress, though I can't help but feel that there is a fine line between frumpy and cool, and it's very much sitting on it - dinner lady chic vibes in this fabric anyone? I love the detail of the dress, particularly the sleeves and the waist cord/casing and choosing such a good quality, drapey fabric gives it that extra special finish - I think it almost looks like it could be hanging in Whistles, though coming in at less than £20, it definitely doesn't have the price tag to match!

A few tweaks to future versions - length and taking the side vents slightly higher - will make hopefully increase my love for Reeta even more. I'm thinking a lighter weight cotton version to add to add to my holiday handmades in the very near future!

Looking thoughtful - thanks Sara for photo-taking!
Did you make a shirt dress for #sewtogetherforsummer? Leave a link to your blog in the comments if so - I'd love to see it! :)

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All Me Made May-d out!

This year marks my second full Me Made May attempt. And considering the challenge I'd set myself, I think I did quite well to deviate from my 'majority handmade' pledge (i.e. all separates have to be made by me) only once!
Here's what I wore for the second half of May:

Week 3
Week 3! Top row: Days 15, 16 & 17; Bottom row: Days 18, 19, 20 & 21
Day 15 - Ralph Pink Sahara Shirt; Day 16 - Rise Turtleneck hack and GBSB pencil skirt which was my first ever blogged item; Day 17 - Named Talvikki Sweater and vintage-pattern hacked trousers; Day 18 - Fall Turtleneck and self-drafted skirt; Day 19 - Rise Turtleneck and velvet split-side skirt; Day 20 - A new wedding outfit! Vintage ruffle blouse and B6178 culottes; Day 21 - Fall Turtleneck and GBSB casual trousers.

Week 3 was a little bit of a mixed bag. I was really trying to incorporate a few older items that don't get much wear, but I felt like a bit of a jumble sale on a couple of days. Day 16's full outfit has since been designated for the charity bag - it just didn't feel very me and although I love the Rise Turtlneck hack, it needs work on the fit and remaking in a more suitable fabric. On the other hand, I LOVED wearing Day 20's newly made outfit to a wedding. Considering how the separate garments would work together from the point of making definitely worked and it's something I should aim to do more often.

Week 4
Week 4. Top row: Days 22, 23 & 24; Bottom row: Days 25, 26, 27 & 28
Day 22 - Sleeveless Rise Turtleneck and B6178 culottes; Day 23 - Ready to Sew Jane shirt and GBSB casual trouser hack culottes; Day 24 - Kielo Wrap dress with sleeves; Day 25 - Kielo Wrap Dress; Day 26 - By Hand London Flora/B6178 jumpsuit mash up; Day 27 - B6178 culottes and vintage-pattern wrap top; Day 28 - Sleeveless Rise Turtleneck and my brand new tester version of the Ready to Sew Joanne Culottes.

The warm weather combined with an insanely busy week at work should have thrown me in week 4, but looking at the week as a whole, I'm pretty pleased. I got some great wear out of my now many pairs of B6178 culottes and enjoyed adding the new, more relaxed, Ready to Sew Joanne culotte to the mix on Day 27. My main struggle was finding summer appropriate tops to pair with my many bottoms - as mentioned in my mid-way round up, I have masses of Rise/Fall Turtlnecks, but very little variation outside of that. 

And in the final few days, here's where I got lazy/fell off the band wagon...

Days 29, 30 & 31
Days 29, 30 & 31
Day 29 - A RTW top with B6178 culottes; Day 30 - Repeat wear of the Joanne culottes and sleeveless Rise Turtleneck; Day 31 - vintage-pattern hacked trousers and Rise Turtleneck

I was feeling a bit of pledge-fatigue by this point and just threw anything in my bag whilst packing for a bank holiday trip to Bristol. That included my favourite RTW top, which I broke my pledge in wearing on Day 29, and a few other repeat wears. In all honesty, I'm not too disappointed that my commitment tailed off towards the end. It was a long and busy month and I really did set the bar very high with my pledge.

Things I'll take from this month:

- The need to make a wider variety of tops.
- More consideration for how a new garment will work in an outfit as a whole before making it.
- A need for a couple of summer work-appropriate dresses. Luckily we're on the casual side of smart/casual, but it would still be useful to have some smarter dresses for warm days.
- I have LOADS of handmade clothes, many that I didn't even get round to wearing in the month. There's no need to kick myself or feel guilty if my sewing output is slow.
- I very rarely buy high street clothes, but the my few remaining RTW clothes have lasted this long for a reason - I really like wearing them! Although it was good to challenge myself with my 'majority handmade' pledge, it was also perhaps unnecessarily harsh in that it prevented me from wearing some of my most loved items. I'll eventually replace these old RTW favourites with a handmade alternative when needed, but until then, I'll be mixing them with handmade and aiming to get as much wear out of them as possible.

Whilst I'm relieved to relax the daily selfie game, I'm also already looking forward to next year's Me Made May to see how my efforts compare. It's been exciting and inspiring seeing everyone share their outfits as ever this May. Thank you Zoe for organising. Here's to another year!

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    Joanne Ready to Sew

    Hi all! I've had the absolute pleasure of testing Joanne, the new 2-in-1 culottes and shorts pattern from French company Ready to Sew. When RaphaĆ«lle kindly got in touch to ask if I'd like to be a part of the testing team, she had me at 'culottes', so the addition of an on-trend paper bag waistband came as a total bonus. I loved sewing the Ready to Sew Jane shirt, so I had high hopes, and I'm pleased to report that I wasn't disappointed. I think a lot of you are going to love Joanne as much as I do...
    Ready to Sew Joanne culottes!
    The two options for Joanne - culottes and shorts
    If you follow me on here/Instagram, my love of culottes (particularly the B6178s) is pretty evident, so I obviously chose Joanne's culotte view for my test garment. Like the Jane Shirt, the PDF pattern is accompanied by a couple of cool click through features including tutorials and a playlist, which was totally my type of music so I stuck it on and got started.

    I selected a size 40 based on my full hip measurement and the advice given by the pattern (my waist measurement falls into a 42, but the elastic waistband is pretty forgiving). The fabric requirements are given at 2m for the culottes (and only 1m for the shorts) but I had my heart absolutely set on using the 1.5m of mid-weight mustard cotton I picked up from the latest Hebden Bridge WI Rag Market. Needless to say I made it work, but when I say it was a squeeze I really mean it. I'll definitely be be sticking to the given yardage in future!

    Patch pocket detail
    The make was a real breeze and I managed all the cutting and sewing in just half a day. The pattern design is really simple, but it has some fun detailing to make it an interesting sew, particularly the topstitching around the curved patch pocket edge. Personally I love topstitching, but if it's not your bag, don't let that put you off! It's a great opportunity to learn or practice the technique and the pattern provides a clickable link to a topstitching tutorial to help.

    Paper bag waist detail
    Creating the paper bag waistband was a totally new technique for me and I love it. It's definitely something I'd like to do again and a feature I might even consider exaggerating in future. Essentially you just stitch a couple of rows in the middle of your waistband that act as a casing, and thread a skinny length of elastic through - who'd have thought it would be so easy? The pattern also has the option of a classic waistband as an alternative to the paper bag style.

    Back view
    Overall, the Joanne is a beautiful pattern that's both easy to sew and easy to wear. The finished style of the culottes is relaxed yet cool, and I think I could wear them in pretty much any situation. The patch pockets and the seams in the back mean there's a bit of room to play around with prints and different fabrics too. 

    The Joanne pattern is available to buy from Ready to Sew here.
    It's a great pattern for summer and I'll definitely be making more use of it before I head off on my holidays to Tokyo in a couple of months! (Recommendations welcome!!) I'm going to try a pair of patterned shorts next!

    Sunshine appropriate bottoms!
    Which version of Joanne would you make? Shorts or culottes?

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    Maximum ruffles: a pink pairing

    I was donated a big box of vintage patterns last year - mainly magazine pull outs from the 80's and 90s - and I've yet to make full use of them. So recently, I challenged myself to look beyond the sometime questionable prints/styling/use of shoulder pads and unearthed a blouse pattern that had the true potential to turn out either 100% ridiculous or totally on trend (it is the year of the sleeve after all). A last minute plus one invite to a wedding was all the encouragement I needed to give it a go, and along with some carefully-colour-considered culottes, I'm pleased to report that I think I just about pulled it off!

    1992 Prima Magazine blouse and B6178 culottes
    The pattern I chose to work from was from a 1992 edition of Prima Magazine. It's a bit new romantic, a bit Shakespeare in Love, and definitely more feminine than I'd usually go, but there's something about the oversized shaping that seemed to offset the girlishness of the ruffles. The fabric requirements were pretty large, particularly as a lot of the ruffles and ties have to be cut on the bias - 4m in total! - so I went for a bargain mauve poly crepe from Minerva. It was lovely to work with - light and drapey without being slippy - and only cost £16 for the lot!

    October 1992 Prima pattern
    I really enjoyed the process of making and gathering all the ruffles for the shirt. The neckline is probably too ruffled if anything - particularly for my bust - so I might tone it down a bit if I ever made the shirt again.

    Distributing my ruffles!
    The gathers at the neckline are encased with a neck binding, which was particularly tricky to topstitch neatly! Considering the bulk there - two layers of ruffles, one layer of shirt and the neck binding - it's not turned out too badly.

    Topstitched neck binding
    The sleeves were similarly tricky to topstitch, but it was turning the ties that caused me the biggest headache! I'd always been adamant that I didn't need a loop turner as I'd never make a garment with spaghetti straps, but I've never considered ties as embellishments/fastenings until now. I turned the first one with a pencil and a lot of patience, but I couldn't keep it up for the other 5 (2 for the neck and 2 for each sleeve). Luckily my friend Erin loaned me her loop turner, which worked like magic!

    1 tie turned, 5 to go.
    I was just starting to feel pretty optimistic about the blouse, and then I attached the sleeves... I knew the blouse was intended to be oversized, but the overhang on the shoulder was way too much and the heavy gathers at the sleeve head just drew attention to the poor fit. It looked totally clown-like and completely unwearable, so there was no other option but to attack it. Nothing fills me with more fear than armscye adjustments, particularly mid-make, but hacking a few inches off of the shoulder and re-distributing the previously heavy gathers on the sleeve to fit the new arm hole definitely saved the day in this case!

    After! :)
    I love the blouse loose and it would look great with a pair of skinny jeans - if I owned a pair, must work towards making some! - but as a wedding look, it really needed to be cinched in at the waist, so I made these culottes using one of my favourite patterns, the Butterick B6178 (view D). The pattern is free with this month's Love Sewing mag too, so definitely worth picking up a copy!

    A carefully considered combo!
    I already have a couple of pairs of these culottes (blogged here) and I love it that each looks a bit different depending on the fabric choice. This fabric is a slightly heavier weight brushed cotton from the Hebden bridge WI Rag Market, which hangs really nicely and looks much smarter than my previous pairs. After my latest trouser making experiments, I also decided to use petersham at the waistband, which gives them a slightly more tailored finish. I've never been a particularly 'pink' person, but I keep finding myself drawn to these shades. I'm not normally one to consider how garments will pair together either, but I really did this time and I think (hope!) that it shows!

    Styled with a RTW leather jacket, M&S heels and a vintage bag
    I had a last minute crisis of confidence and almost didn't wear any of it. But then my alternatives weren't perfect either - older makes that I loved at the time, but now I can spot the flaws in their fit and construction. On the morning of the wedding, I decided to go with it, paired with a leather jacket and heels, and I'm really glad I did!

    With my boyfriend Chris :)
    I have one more wedding on the cards for later in the summer, so I'm hoping to plan my makes a bit further ahead for this one - maybe the Trend Patterns Asymmetric Dress? What makes will you be wearing to weddings this year?

    Stay in touch!

    MMMay17 mid way round up!

    Happy mid way through May, or to be more specific, Me Made May! I set the bar quite high with this year's pledge, challenging myself to wear 'majority handmade' each day. I must say, I did find it quite a struggle to get into the swing of things, but then what's the point if it isn't a bit of a challenge?! Here's my first couple of weeks:

    Week 1
    Week 1! Top row: days 1, 2 & 3; Bottom row: days 4, 5, 6 & 7
    Day 1 - Fall Turtleneck and vintage-pattern hacked trousers; Day 2 - Named Clothing Kielo Wrap Dress over a sleeveless Rise Turtleneck; Day 3 - GBSB pencil skirt hack and Simple Sew Lottie Blouse; Day 4 - Named Clothing Inari Tee Dress layered over a Fall Turtleneck; Day 5 - Vintage-pattern trousers, Rise Turtleneck and Grainline Studio Driftless Cardigan; Day 6 - Sew DIY Nita Wrap Skirt, Rise Turtleneck, Papercut Patterns Waver Jacket, Radiant Home Studio Retro Rucksack; Day 7 - Sew DIY Nita Wrap Skirt and Fall Turtleneck.

    I very quickly realised my obsession and reliance on my (luckily) fairly large collection of Papercut Patterns Rise/Fall Turtlenecks. I wore one in some form or another for 6 out of 7 days in week 1 and 4 days in week 2 and it's opened my eyes to a near-imminent need to make some other style of top/t-shirt - something lighter weight and more suitable for warmer weather. Recommendations of simple-yet-quirky basics would be very much welcomed if you have any!

    It felt almost boring and uniform-like to keep reaching for this same style of top in the first week, but I think that's more of an effect of being hyper-aware/photo taking each day. It's clearly a pattern I love and a style I'm comfortable with wearing in lots of different ways and situations, so I'm not going to fix what's not broken, just maybe add a couple of non-turtleneck casual shirts into the mix to compliment!

    Week 2
    Week 2! Top row: days 8, 9 & 10; Bottom row: days 11, 12, 13 & 14
    Day 8 - Pinstripe B6178 culottes and Fall Turtleneck; Day 9 - V9186 dress; Day 10 - Vintage pattern-hacked trousers, sleeveless Rise Turtleneck and Grainline Studio Driftless Cardigan; Day 11- Ready to Sew Jane Shirt and B6178 culottes; Day 12 - Rise Turtleneck and Pauline Alice Turia Dugaree Dress; Day 13 - Rise Turtleneck and Named Clothing Kielo Wrap Dress; Day 14 - No Patterns Needed Deep V Tunic and B6178 culottes.

    Week 2 has clearly been themed around blue and khaki, and the amount of colour I've been wearing has actually come as a bit of a surprise to me - I really thought I wore more black! Picking my clothes each morning has really highlighted my tendency to reach for the newest things I've made, so I've consciously tried to dig a little deeper into my wardrobe and mix things up a bit. I'm quite pleased with how I'm doing so far, but there's still quite a lot of my wardrobe that's gone untouched. The real challenge for the next couple of weeks will be seeing whether I can get some older makes into rotation or working out if it's time to part ways with them.

    RIP Kielo: day 13 of MMMay17 and the first wear!
    Finally, a special mention needs to go out to my long time favourite dress, which is very sadly on it's way out after many wears and multiple repairs. This Kielo Wrap Dress was my first Named Clothing pattern and probably one of the first things I made that I truly felt was 'me' in style. I'll be sad to see it retired/repurposed/recycled, but on the plus side, at least I have the right hobby for making a replacement!

    Hope everyone else is doing well with their pledges! :)

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    Thanks for visiting!

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