Mixing and matching

As mentioned in my last post, I've been working on a bunch of mix and match garments - a response to the need for some basic and easy to throw on outfits, but also a part of a conscious effort to make things that get maximum wear! I thought I'd share them all here in one post. 

Just some of the combinations I managed!
The garments are:
  • Culottes - a hack of the Casual Trousers from Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with fabric
  • Self-drafted side split skirt - made in black crepe, but it's the same as the green velvet one I posted about here
  • Detachable bib - made using the same method as this tutorial I posted 
  • Papercut Patterns Rise Turtleneck x 2
Pattern hacked Culottes turned into overalls with a detachable bib
I made the detachable bib for the culottes shortly after I finished them a couple of months ago, and really liked wearing them together as overalls. The only problem is, the culottes became pretty unseasonal pretty quickly! So I hunted down some of the same black crepe, and made up a second version of the split side, self-drafted skirt (to be worn with tights!). I sewed buttons on the inside of the waistband so it could be worn with the bib too, as a pinafore dress.

Trying to show off the split in the side...
Continuing with the intention of being seasonal, I made up a couple of Papercut Patterns Rise Turtlenecks, that got a brief mention in my last post. I already owned a few high street incarnations of this style, but after seeing some fab versions of this pattern sewn up by Katie from What Katie Sews and Rachel at House of Pinheiro I thought it was time to brave the stretch fabrics and give them a go.

The Rise Turtleneck worn with self-drafted skirt and detachable pinafore bib
A grey Rise Turtleneck worn with Culottes and bib
I liked the pattern so much that I made it twice over a weekend. The Rise Turtleneck was really easy to sew, and the pattern has dispelled any fear or anxiety I had around sewing with stretch fabric. It's also perfect for layering, hence it's inclusion in the mix and match bunch - I really love it worn underneath this Kielo Wrap Dress.

Papercut Patterns Rise Turtleneck worn with Named Clothing Kielo Wrap Dress
I think my favourite combination is the Rise Turtleneck worn with the Culottes and bib. It feels super comfortable and relaxed, yet sort of cool at the same time. I'm thinking I could get away with this on a night out with some heels - I've practiced dancing and posing for the camera in it at least...

Winter culotte outfit!
I think these garments should see me through Winter to Spring as 'basics' - maybe even a bit longer if I leave the tights at home and swap the turtlenecks for a lighter blouse! They're definitely going to make packing for Christmas an easier task. Speaking of Christmas, I think the bib works quite nicely with last year's Christmas Lottie blouse...

Bib and skirt with my party Simple Sew Lottie blouse
Hope everyone's feeling as festive and sparkly :) And that's quite a lot of sewing in one post, so it may be my last for the year! Merry Christmas everyone!

Stay in touch!

Sewing, Sustainability and Shwopping

What do you do with your me made clothes at the end of their life?

Installation in London showing how many clothes go to landfill every 5 minutes
Textile waste is a huge problem, which is worsening with growing levels of consumption. I think we can make more of an effort to minimise the damage done - it's said that approximately 10,000 pieces of clothing go to landfills every 5 minutes in the UK - and sewing your own clothes is a great place to start. My clothing choices are much more considered since I've been making garments for myself - 'can I make this in time for a special occasion? how much wear will I get out of this? will the style/fabric/finish stand the test of time?' I guess these are some of the limitations of sewing your own clothes, but it massively cuts down my consumption (and disposal) of 'fast fashion'.

Installation in London showing how many clothes go to landfill every 5 minutes

I've been making a lot of 'mix and match' style garments recently - culottes, trousers and skirts that can be turned into pinafores or overalls by buttoning in a bib. I really have got more miles out of these garments for having the pinafore option (I posted a tutorial on how to draft and make a bib here). I'm hoping to blog about these mix and match pieces in a bit more detail soon, but for now, here are a couple of Papercut Patterns Rise Turtlenecks that I made to throw in the mix and match pile.

Papercut Patterns Rise Turtleneck
The pattern is a breeze to make, and I made up both versions using cosy jersey (the green one even has a bit of gold sparkle in!). I was a bit nervous sewing something close fitting in stretch fabric, but the instructions are really easy to follow. I've seen lots of tops in this style on the high street - and even bought one from H&M - but the quality and fit is so much better on my hand-mades. I've already worn them on their own, with the overall bib, and under a dress. 

Wearing the Rise Turtleneck out to work
These days my dressmaking and fabric choices are much more considered. I strive to only make garments that will get plenty of wear - like these mix and match ones - but pairing a pattern with the right fabric is a great skill, and something I still get wrong from time to time. I feel a bit sentimental about the few disastrous starched cotton blouses/dodgy synthetic numbers and general unworn garments - all the time and effort I lovingly put in, all the things I learnt while making them - but I can't hang onto them forever.

I don't really consider them worthy of the charity shops - I haven't got an overlocker so no professional finishes, and they generally contain a bunch of mistakes - but I don't want them to contribute to that landfill pile either. I did a bit of research and I'm going to donate them to Marks and Spencers/Oxfam Shwopping initiative. All the clothing either goes to Oxfam for resale, or to be sent to those who need it in the Third World, or (more likely in my case) the fibres are recycled to make new material.

So here's to an early New Year's sewing resolution - I'm going to make every effort to make sure I have no unworn garments in 2016. (But if I do have any disasters at least I know that they can be Shwopped!)

I'd love to know what everyone else does with their unworn me-mades! Do you hang on to them, or recycle them in someway or another? Let me know with a comment :)

Stay in touch!

Kielo Wrap Dress with sleeves

I know I'm not the only one who was THRILLED when Named Clothing released a sleeve pattern for their Kielo Wrap Dress. The dress is one of my favourite patterns (I've made it four times so far - you can see one of them here). I was almost ready to draft my own sleeve pattern, but luckily, Named saved me a job and released one on their website. So here it is, Kielo 2.0, the winter version!


The sleeve pattern is a free download which is available here and Laura and Saara have written a blog post with instructions on how to use it. I'll leave the explanation to them, but all I can say is wow, I'm so impressed with the layered pattern! This might be because I went on an Adobe Illustrator for work last week... but I was totally geeking out over the ability to select which sizes were visible for print and those to hide. I haven't seen this anywhere else - has anyone else? - but this should totally be the future of PDF patterns. I selected the UK 12 and 14 sizes as I couldn't remember what size I cut for previous versions of the dress.

Before and after: the layered pattern
After investigation, I found that I've made up a straight size 12 in the past. To add the sleeves, you have to make some slight adjustments to the shoulder/armhole area of the original pattern, and then it's pretty straightforward from there.

Adjusted armholes and sleeve pattern ready to go
My sewing buddy Erin bought the Kielo recently and it specified that the pattern should be made up in stretch fabric - I'm not sure if this is a new instruction, or something I've previously overlooked as I've never made it in stretch fabric before. Anyway, for the sleeved version, you really need something with a bit of stretch to allow for some movement in the arm/shoulder area. I made it using a quite unusual, textured, stretch fabric I picked up for about £3 at October's Hebden Bridge WI Rag Market. It's pretty see-through, so I'm wearing a slip underneath it in the photos.

New dress and fresh undercut!
Cutting required a bit of care - the stretch and texture of the fabric meant that the darts were a little bit trickier to keep on track. After that, the fabric was much easier to work with than I imagined! The dress comes up slightly bigger than my other versions, but that's fine as you can wrap it just a little bit tighter.

The sleeve pattern came to wrist length, and I was aiming for 3/4 length when I cut them down, but somehow they've ended up much shorter - oh well. I also took an extra 2 inches off the hem of this version compared to my others. This means it's 11 inches shorter than the original pattern - which seems to have been designed with very tall ladies in mind! I also took the back vent/split up a little so it's level with the backs of my knees (I had to do an emergency fix on a previous version after splitting the vent on an energetic walk).

Testing that back split!

I feel very chic in the finished garment - the sleeves put a whole new spin on a much loved pattern. I like the Kielo with and without sleeves, but I think for some people, adding sleeves will make quite an unusual silhouette seem much more wearable.

I've been wearing it out (LOTS) with coloured tights to highlight the fabric. And it's already had the wear and play test with my one of my best friends and her beautiful little boy...

Have you made the Kielo with sleeves? Or are you thinking of giving it a go now?

Stay in touch!

Super simple split-side skirt

I picked up some beautiful velvet in Abakhan a couple of weeks back - a good-sized bundle of textured emerald green. I had planned to use it to make a pair of trousers, but I was a bit too optimistic on the meterage. Instead, I managed to squeeze out a skirt of fairly lengthy proportions and it's quickly become my most worn item.

Looking seasonally witchy - lurking in Sheffield basements on Halloween
Feeling the need to 'achieve' something (i.e. finish a garment), I was aiming for the simplest sew - an elasticated waist skirt made up of just 3 pieces. Rather than using a pattern, I improvised with the amount of fabric I had.

Rough sketch of my made up pattern pieces
I cut the waistband a bit longer than my natural waist (to allow room for a little bit of gathering once the elastic was inserted) and made sure this length would match that of the front and back skirt once they were sewn together. All I had to do was sew the front and back skirt pieces (both cut to the same shape/size) together into a tube, and attach the waistband. I constructed the waistband in the same method as The Great British Sewing Bee casual trousers - this Megan Nielsen tutorial also nicely sums up making an elastic waistband.
Split-seam Pinterest inspiration

It wasn't until I'd nearly finished that I realised the skirt was utterly boring - despite the dreamy velvet - and it would be fairly restrictive to walk around in as it was so long and narrow. So I got the seam ripper and went straight for the side seams. I measured my rips, so the splits came just up to my knee, and finished the newly exposed raw edges, reinforcing the tops of the splits.

Post-split shot

For such a spur of the moment make, I'm so pleased with the results. I've seen a few long tops, tunics and dresses (possibly in Zara) with similar side splits. It's pretty hard to catch the splits on camera as I'm wearing tights, but I tried...

Trying to show off the split-seam
The weight of the velvet definitely lends itself to the style and movement of the skirt. I'd like to try something similar in a heavy crepe. And maybe I will get round to making those velvet trousers at some point!

Stay in touch!

A Liebster Award!

A lovely thing happened this week - my blog was nominated for a Leibster Award!

A Leibster Award is something that bloggers give to other bloggers - thanks so much to Fiona from Sewing vs Knitting for nominating The Magnificent Thread! The whole idea behind the Awards is to share a love of blogging and discover new blogs. You pass it on to others once nominated, so it's like being part of a positive chain of encouragement.

So as a part of receiving a Leibster, I have to share 11 facts about myself:

Hi I'm Shauni!
1. I'm named after a Baywatch character called Shauni. I was going to be called Mitch (the same as the Hoff's character) if I was a boy - no jokes. Of course this was all my Dad's idea.

2. I originally wanted to be a curator and spent some time working in the the Costume and Textile department at Leeds Museums and Galleries. I catalogued hundreds of Victorian Capes, handled garments too delicate to ever be displayed to the public, and eventually decided I didn't want to curate. I did, however, write some of my earliest blog posts for the Museum's Secret Life of Objects blog (like this one!).

Some of the capes I catalogued in the store at Leeds Museums and Galleries
3. I'm an only child and have always enjoyed it. I never really missed having a brother or sister (and I had a lot of holiday pen pals).

4. I grew up in Rotherham and left when I was 18 to go to Uni. I live in Leeds now, so retained a fairly strong Yorkshire accent (FYI it's a breadcake, and luggy is definitely a word).

Hyde Park in Leeds
5. I've had some pretty strange jobs, including dressing up as a the Gruffalo, and working in a castle. At the castle, I did everything from school tours, to locking up the castle (with a castle-size key!) and... cleaning the pigeon poo.

6. I own 15+ analogue cameras. I even made a knitted mascot for my University photography society once upon a time. I don't get the chance to use them nearly enough anymore, but still take great pleasure flicking through all of my old film photos.

A knitted camera
7. I based my A Level textile project on making a garment for Dita Von Teese. I remember getting into trouble for googling 'risque' images of her on the school computers!

8. There's nothing like the pure joy of buying a new pair of shoes. It's not often that I buy high street clothes, so shoes are my massive weakness. I recently had a pair of leather/wooden-soled clogs custom made by Walkley Clogs - it's love!

9. I was once filmed to appear in a TV episode of 'Grimefighters' (the show that followed people around who unblock drains/clear out houses/inspect dirty kitchens). My section was meant to be a lighthearted look at grime - I was cleaning and conserving Victorian floor tiles! - but I'm not sure if it was ever aired. If you ever see me on ITV2 replays, let me know!

Minton floor tile jigsaw
10. I kept a daily diary from the ages of 11 to about 20. I've still got them all and occasionally flick through them to stir up a bit of nostalgia - and often cringe at my teenage self.

11. I would spend all my days in Paris if I could (or won the lottery).

Paris through a Fisheye
It's so nice to hear that someone enjoys reading your blog, so thank you again Fiona
I'm now really happy to get to nominate some of the blogs I read too:

Please go and check out their wonderful blogs! If my nominees choose to accept, then they will also have to share 11 random facts about themselves, and pass on the cheer by nominating their favourite blogs with under 200 followers.

And I realise I haven't posted any completed garments in a while! I have a few posts waiting for photos, so expect some updates soon :)

Stay in touch!

Leeds Craft Hack

I was lucky enough to attend Leeds Craft Hack at Leeds City Museum last week. The free event was aimed at adults, and offered a series of workshops that incorporated technology and digital processes into crafting. I work in engineering and science communication, and (of course) my huge out-of-work passion is dressmaking, so the Craft Hack was the perfect combination of the two!

First up was a laser cutting workshop. I spent a bit of time making and manipulating a design (with the help of the guys from Leeds Hackspace), before sending it to be laser etched and cut by machine. I'd gone with my blog logo in mind so I was pleased that it was suitable for etching!

My laser etched and laser cut blog logos!
The technical side of things was kindly explained to me by Dominic Morrow who brought along his laser cutter for the event. The entire etching and cutting process took under a minute, and it was pretty cool to watch the cutter at work. I have no idea what I'll use them for, but I'm thrilled with the results - it sort of makes my blog feel more 'real' if you know what I mean!

Loving my new logos!

I also tried out a basic LilyPad workshop to make some wearable tech. The LilyPad is a little component that was pre-programmed with instructions, so that when connected to LEDs it can make them light up in a particular way. I chose to add the tech to a glove, so it involved a bit of sewing with conductive thread to connect the LEDs, battery pack and LilyPad up in a circuit.

LilyPad glove
I got a bit grumpy with how fiddly I'd made it for myself by using a glove, and took it home to finish. I'm regretting the decision now as I'm still trying to get my 'disco glove' working (maybe I've got my wires crossed somewhere). Anyway, here is an amazing video from @WillowStacey who definitely got it right...

I had a great time trying out some new things at the Craft Hack. Not sure I'll be whipping up Hussein Chalayan replicas anytime soon (I mean just look at what he can do with electronics WOW)...
Hussein Chalayan video dresses and wearable tech - sourced from Pinterest 
But at least I know that adding tech into my dressmaking is a possibility - stage wear ideas maybe? The day served as fab inspiration, and if I'm very lucky maybe I'll get to do something fashion and technology related at work - here's hoping!

The Craft Hack was expertly organised by Liz, aka @electroknitter - check out her website Electroknit to see some of the amazing things you can do when you hack a knitting machine.

Stay in touch!

A custom-made work in progress

Hi all, I wanted to share a very special project I'm working on at the minute: a custom-made stage outfit for Louisa from the band Actor

A feature accessory as a starting point
Since our first discussions, I've been obsessively pinning stage inspiration (along with Louisa). Actor play atmospheric alt-pop - Louisa is both a singer and guitarist - so front women and strong female artists like St Vincent, Karen O and PJ Harvey feature quite heavily. We also took inspiration from catwalk and high fashion looks - lots of feature sleeves, sheer and beautifully draped garments.

Our Stage Inspiration board on Pinterest
The final outfit will be made up of separates - a slightly cropped top and matching mini skirt - and a number of accessories, with the intention that each piece will be interchangeable, to create a series of different looks.

A first muslin of the top and test harness
Above is a first muslin of the top - based on the By Hand London Flora bodice. I plan to sew up the centre back and instead, insert a zip into the side seam, so we can fit the garment closely, but still make it easy to get into. I used leatherette from Fabworks to make a harness as a feature accessory to wear with the bodice. The harness can be worn with and change the look of any outfit - like the loose, sheer shirt Louisa is wearing in the first picture.

Fitting notes
After an initial fitting, I'll be making some slight adjustments to the fit of the pattern and taking it in a certain points. In the meantime, we're on the look out for the perfect fabric - possibly metallic in colour. If anyone can provide recommendations please get in touch!

Actor are heading out on tour this month (October). I'd highly recommend giving them a listen and catching them on one the following dates:

09 / Headrow House / Leeds
10 / Twisterella Festival / Middlesbrough
11 / Bungalows And Bears / Sheffield
12 / The Old Blue Last / London
13 / The Polar Bear / Hull
16 / Eagle Inn / Manchester
17 / The Basement - Live Music & Comedy Venue / York

I'll be posting regular progress updates so stay in touch!

Fabric shopping and Me Made in Amsterdam

Having just got back from a trip to Amsterdam, I thought I'd share a bit about an obviously very exciting thing when you go to a different city - the fabric shops! I saw some of the most beautiful, unusual and specialist fabrics that I've ever seen. In fact, I was completely overwhelmed... so much so that I couldn't pick anything to actually buy. So this is by no means a comprehensive guide, but more of a reminder for myself to not get so overwhelmed and BUY SOME FABRIC next time!

Beautiful sari and dress fabrics
Most of the shops I went to were based in and along the Albert Cuyp Market which the lovely Laura recommended to me via Twitter. The market sells a bit of everything, but as you walk along it, the fabric stalls and shops start to appear. Above and below are pictures I took of some of the most exciting fabrics I saw - the sort that I almost couldn't bear to cut into!

Insane feathered fabric!
Nanucci Tessuti
Nanucci Tessuti  is along the market road and had some BEAUTIFUL designer fabrics - though they were a bit out of my price range.

The one I should've bought!

The absolute gem of Amsterdam has to be A.Boeken - it is by far the best stocked haberdashery and fabric shop I have ever visited. The amount of trims, notions, tools and fabrics, was again, absolutely overwhelming - I felt like a child in a toy shop!

A Boken - one of the best haberdasheries ever
The fabric range is massive and pushed way past the 'norm'. It obviously wasn't for sewing, but they even had a wall of multi-coloured latex that you could buy off the roll/by the sheet - very Amsterdam!

Something a bit different...

And for those who favour working with yarns, there's Stephen & Penelope right next door. If anyone's visited Loop in London, I'd say it's quite similar.

And for the knitters out there
The only thing I found difficult to spot in all of the fabric shops, were nice, drapey viscose or crepes. Of course, all of the specialist fabrics more than make up for a slight lack of those for everyday wear!

Me made in Amsterdam

I think I've got my 'hand luggage only' packing down to a fine art now. I wore mostly me-made clothes whilst away, mixed in with a few other bits. Here's my much worn but as of yet un-blogged Kielo Wrap Dress - I wrote about the first one here.

Rudie toilets in a disco-cocktail bar that had a resident cat (!)
My overalls/casual trousers got the most wear (two outfts in one there!). You can make your own using the overall tutorial here.

And you may have already seen my last post about my casual trouser to culotte pattern hack. Well here they are again - I just had to get a picture in that was typically Amsterdam: bikes, bridge, flowers, canal.

Culottes in Amsterdam
I would love to hear from anyone else who's been fabric shopping in Amsterdam? Unlike me, did you manage to bring anything back?!

Stay in touch!

Thanks for visiting!

Thanks for visiting!