Nita Wrap Skirt hack

Hi all! If you follow me on Instagram, you're probably already aware of the reason for my recent radio silence over here. I've just got back from my travels to Japan, where I had the most amazing time and managed to make it to Tokyo's infamous Nippori 'Textile Town' district for the most overwhelming fabric shop of all time (more on that soon). In a pre-trip panic over (extremely) warm-weather-appropriate clothes, I managed to stitch up a few new garments that I'll be sharing over the next couple of posts. First up, here's a Sew DIY Nita Wrap Skirt hack.
Nita in Nara
I've made the Nita Wrap Skirt a number of times (first up as a pattern tester) and I've always found it an easy pattern to get a bit experimental with - see previous attempts in denim and pleather. The inspiration for this gingham ruffle hack came from a couple of fab skirts by Jess and Daisy, as well as a strong and continuing high street trend for gingham garments.
Inspiration from DIY Daisy (L) and Jess Sews Clothes (R)
It's not often that I sew with straight cotton as a serious fan of the drape, but I thought this light-ish weight gingham would work for both the skirt and the high temperatures in Japan, plus it was a bargain at just £2.99 p/m from Samuel Taylors in Leeds. The fabric holds the gathered ruffle perfectly, so I'd be tempted to do a repeat of the hack in a similar fabric.
Aptly worn with a Kyoto Tee, in Kyoto
Ruffle hem close up
I made view B, shaking up the order of construction a little to make room for the addition of the ruffle hem. This meant sewing the darts and side seams of the skirt up first, but joining the ruffle before finishing the front edges. The ruffle was cut at 20cm deep, and each piece (2 for the left/right front skirt and 1 for the back) measured 1.5x longer than the skirt piece it was being gathered in to. I stitched the pieces together and hemmed the bottom and sides before gathering the raw edge in to fit the skirt, matching at the side seams and the notch where the front pieces are folded in to finish the wrap edges. Hope that all made sense, but of course, do let me know in the comments if I can make it clearer!
In Nara in the rain
How much leg is too much..?
I love that the depth of the ruffle makes the skirt midi-length. I hadn't originally intended for it to be this long, but I feel like it offers that extra bit of modesty to make up for the inevitable amount of leg flashing you get when sitting down in a wrap skirt (I'm sure you guys know what I mean)!

Looking a little tentative here...
I used the tie fastening option rather than D-rings, so not to weigh the fabric down. I found that this worked really well, though when we visited Nara whilst in Japan, the savvy deer worked out the fastening (or unfastening) of the skirt quicker than I could unwrap the crackers that we'd bought for them. Thank god I bothered to add the inside snap fastening to this Nita! (See candid deer feeding shots below for more skirt, but really just for more LOLs).

'Give me those crackers or the skirt gets it'!
Thanks Chris for capturing some of my finer moments in Nara.
The deer might not like it, but I love this version of the Nita Skirt. I'm hoping to be able to transition it through to autumn/general British weather with tights and a Papercut Patterns Fall Turtleneck! I'd love to try a slightly asymmetric hem like Daisy's above, or maybe a ruffle along the front diagonal edge - maybe another one of these is on the cards!

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Jazz Ready to Sew

I've had the pleasure of testing another wonderful pattern recently. Please welcome the newest member of the Ready to Sew family and the follow up to the equally fab Joanne Culottes/Shorts pattern: the 6-in-1 Jazz Jumpsuit and Dress!

Ready to Sew Jazz!
Jazz is a relaxed and stylish pattern with 6 different bodice and bottom combinations. In truly predictable me-style, I of course went for view 1, a combination of the culotte bottom and sleeveless v neck bodice (see below for the other 5 variations). I had my quick-approaching summer holiday in mind - panic holiday sewing commence! - so picked an amazing lightweight printed cotton from my stash - a £2 treasure from the last Hebden Bridge WI Rag Market - to make it up in.
Jazz variations
Jazz is a pretty hefty PDF pattern, though if you're decisive about which version you want to make, you can be savvy with your printing and save on paper. Another great paper and time saving trick is to try printed option B. The pattern lines run right up to the edge of the paper, with just the slightest gap at the margins of the page, meaning no trimming before taping pages together. I've never used a PDF like this before but I'm sold! Note, the pattern is also layered meaning you can select your size, though in my haste to get making I forgot to take advantage of this function!

PDF option B with no trimming required!
I cut a size 42 based on my bust measurement. I could have graded down to a smaller size at the hips and waist, but I figured the style was fairly relaxed anyway. As with the other Ready to Sew patterns I've made - the Jane Shirt and Joanne Culottes - the prep includes overlocking all raw edges that need it prior to sewing. I really like this method of making, as I'm usually lifting my overlocker back and forth when needed mid-make (the woes of limited sewing space).

Loving my Jazz jumpsuit!
The construction is simple and the instructions are easy to follow, again with click through tutorials on the PDF for some of the trickier techniques. My only slight downfall with this version was not stay stitching or interfacing the neckline. I managed to warp the neckline out while making which is a bit of a shame, but with the relaxed fit and nice drape of the fabric, I can just about get away with it. This is something I mentioned in my tester feedback and the final version of the pattern does have a note to interface if your fabric needs it - useful for people like me who don't give it a second thought unless told to!

My relaxed neckline
I made the whole Jazz jumpsuit, including cutting and sticking the pattern together, in just one day! It really is a breeze to sew, with a few nice techniques such as making/topstitching the pockets and gathering the bottom of the garment into the waist, keeping it interesting to sew. The most time consuming and fiddly part for me was attaching the self made binding to finish the armholes - you could use ready made if you wanted to cut a corner here - but it's worth it for the lovely finish, inside and out!

Side view
Back view
In terms of styling the finished garment, I chose to make a simple tie and attach a couple of loops at the side seams so I could belt it in for a bit of definition a the waist. Jazz is super loose fitting around the waist, which I lots of people will love, but I know I'll get more wear from mine with the option to belt it.

I love love love the finished Jazz and just haven't been able to resist wearing it before my holidays. It also came with me on a recent work trip to Barcelona and doubled up as the perfect conference/sight-seeing wear! I've just finished version number two, in black crepe - the perfect replica of an amazing &otherstories jumpsuit I've wanted to copy for years - and will share it as soon as I've got some pictures!

Jazz on tour in Barcelona!
I can't recommend the Jazz pattern enough, particularly in terms of value with 6 different garments to make from just the 1 pattern. You can buy a copy of Jazz on the Ready to Sew website here and be sure to check out other versions for inspiration at #jazzreadytosew

Thanks Chris for taking pictures, particularly encouraging this 'fun' shot
Obviously I have my favourite, but which Jazz bodice/bottom combo would you go with?

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Papercut Patterns Kyoto

This year's Me Made May (once again) highlighted my startling lack of tops to pair with my many culottes, growing trouser collection and the odd skirt. I struggle with finding appropriate summer tops as I'm fairly self-concious when it comes to strappy things, so when I saw the new Sakura collection from Papercut Patterns, the not-too-revealing Kyoto, with it's quirky ruffles, really excited me! It's also aptly named, as we're jetting off to Japan next month and plan to visit Kyoto while we're there! Here are the two versions I've made so far:

2 Papercut Patterns Kyoto tops
The PDF pattern was reasonably priced, and there really aren't too many pages to print. If you're savvy and only want to make the t-shirt version, you could save a few more pages by skipping the sweater sleeve (I'm saving that version for the winter). One of my only criticisms of the pattern is the suggested lay plan. Cutting 'on-the fold' pieces out on the flat feels like so much effort, so I opted to fold both sides of the fabric so they met at the middle and all pieces that needed it could be cut on the fold - much more efficient!
Suggested lay plan...
...vs my alternative lay plan - note I did actually move piece 4 so the grain was the right way
I'm a long time fan of the Papercut Rise/Fall Turtleneck pattern, and the instructions aren't too dissimilar to that - easy to follow and quick to construct. I cut a size Small based on the finished measurements (my actual measurements fall into the Medium), first in the white jersey. I was clearly really confident that this pattern would be a hit when I did my jersey shop, buying white, black and pale pink in one go. It only takes 1.1m (and you could probably squeeze it out of 1m) making it a pretty cheap pattern to sew up! Here's a look at version number two, in a pink jersey mix:
Wearing my pink Kyoto with a new pair of B6178 culottes
I used my machine fitted with a walking foot and stretch needle to sew all the seams and finished raw edges with the overlocker. There's some fairly delicate topstitching to be done around the neck edge and along the hem of the ruffles, but nothing too challenging. The most time consuming bit of the make was gathering the ruffles to fit them into the sleeves, but the whole thing only took a few hours - hence making two in a very short space of time!

I really like the fit of the finished top. It is over-sized in style, so if you want something a bit closer fitting then definitely down size. The neckline on my white version came up quite wide, but I think I may have accidentally stretched it out while making. The neckline on the pink version, made with a slightly more stable knit, sits spot on, so this might just be something to keep an eye on depending on your fabric!

My boyfriend questioned why all of my recent makes have 'clown-features' - with reference to this vintage ruffle shirt - to which I protested that it was most definitely the year of the ruffle/sleeve (back me up on this ladies)! I love the ruffles and I think they add just the right amount of interest to an otherwise plain t-shirt, without being totally over the top (or clown like).

I'll definitely be making the Kyoto again - of course, as I've already bought the fabric in! Both versions actually mark an end to my long time aversion to wearing white/pale colours, and it's quite refreshing - I'm going to have start putting a white wash on..! Will you be making anything from the Sakura collection?
Quick look at the new Papercut Patterns collection
In other jersey sewing news, I recently tried out my very first Burda pattern, the #114 knot dress from the 05/2017 issue or online here. I really liked the tie waist detail and luckily for me, it was the 'sewing lesson' for that month so it had extra instructions and the pattern pieces were shaded in pink to make tracing them off spaghetti junction that bit easier. I made a size 42, which came up really big! I took huge amounts out of the side seams and cut a big chunk off the hem, which has actually changed the fit of the dress completely, but it's definitely 100 times more wearable! I had intended it to only be for holiday, but here I am wearing it during a bit of a heatwave we had here in the UK recently, and I really quite like it :)

Braving Burda
I feel like I might be getting into this sewing with jersey thing! What are your favourite summer patterns for working in stretch fabric?

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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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