Monday, 29 May 2017

Ice Cream Cranes


So now that I think of it, this dress is already about 18 months old. When I made it, Dolores seemed to have a sufficient amount of dresses so I made it in the size above what she wore at the time. Now that she fits it, her wardrobe seems to be even larger. Note to self: stop making Dolores clothes for a while.


Pattern:

As an adult, I find the question 'What would you like for Christmas?' really tricky to answer. Well, fairly recently I realised I could just respond 'sewing stuff'. A couple of years ago, that 'sewing stuff' took the form of a couple of Oliver + S children's sewing patterns, including this one. Oliver + S patterns are beautiful things, always very well designed with excellent instructions, but also quite pricey so not something I'm flush enough to buy regularly myself. I chose this one because, unsurprisingly, I'd seen lots of lovely versions on the interwebs. 


Like all Oliver + S patterns, I think the Ice Cream dress one has some lovely proportions and details, like the gathers joining with the yoke running along the kimono sleeves and the little notch at the neckline. Also, like all Oliver + S patterns I've tried so far, this one took a bit longer to make than I think a children's garment should take, but I felt like I'd had a little sewing lesson and picked up a new technique or two by the end of it. I made the size 3, and I decided to not bother with the contrast yoke or hem band as my fabric was already busy enough.


Fabric: 

Do you ever have a piece of fabric that's burning a hole in your stash? By which I mean: you love it and it's totally something you'd use, but for some reason, the right project for it evades you for ages. I think this is some fancy Cloud9 quilting cotton that was everywhere for a while a couple of years ago. The Village Haberdashery had a garment made from it in their window display one day when I was teaching there, and I mentioned that it I thought it was amazing. That class I was there to teach was the last one before I went on maternity leave to have Dolores, and Annie (owner of VH) was incredibly sweet and gave me a metre or so as a gift when I said goodbye. 


Like most quilting cottons, it was very easy and enjoyable to sew with. I'd say that its stiffness is at the outer limits in terms of what is suitable for this sewing pattern though. If I were to make this pattern again I'd probably choose something a little softer and more flowy. 

I choose a scrap of white and navy polka dot cotton from my stash for the cute pockets, which I think looks more fun and unusual than a solid contrast. 



Thoughts:

When we took these pictures, it was too chilly to wear summer dresses, so we were layering it with tights and long-sleeved t-shirts underneath. I love that, despite being made of cotton, this dress is versatile enough to be worn 3/4 of the year! I'm also a big fan of the tiny pink button I found in my stash that echoes the pink moons in the fabric print. If Dolores didn't have too many clothes already, I'd be very tempted to make lots more of these. I'll probably make another in the next size up...

Cost:

Fabric: £0 (a gift from VH, sadly no longer available)
Pattern: £0 (also a gift, but can be bought in PDF form here for $15.95, approx. £12.45)
Total: £0

Friday, 26 May 2017

Areli Want to Like This Top


Agh! I'm so conflicted about this project. On the one hand, it was super fun to make and feels lovely to wear. On the other, it's astonishingly unflattering. Kind of medical-gown-levels of unflattering. 


Pattern:

After falling through a Pinterest sewing pattern rabbit hole, I came across the Republique du Chiffon Areli pattern. I'm a sucker for a bib detail and I adore the proportions of this. Plus, piping. When doesn't piping make something better?! I seem to be steering away from more fitted silhouettes these days, and I could see myself wearing this with some jeggings as I chase small children around a playground on a warm day. 

(image source: Republique du Chiffon)

I was enamoured by the fact that it consists of just three pattern pieces. Not only because I'm lazy and that's less taping together and cutting out required, but I also think that shows some clever designing. Obviously I picked the top length, for breast feeding access and also because I'm concerned the dress version would look a bit sack-like (oh the irony), and I don't like having to belt things to give them shape. 

I made one modification to the pattern, which was to shift the inner pleats a bit closer to the outer ones, so that there is a bit more space between the inner pleats and the bib. I adjusted the pleats on the back in the same way to keep the garment balanced.  


Fabric:

Running with the French theme, I used some very gorgeous Atelier Brunette cotton for this project. Annoyingly, the colours in my photos are not very accurate. The fabric actually a rich mustard shade (although officially it's 'gold') but my images are making it look a bit washed out. I don't think it's a colour that I should wear so close to my face (for me, mustard is best worn 'indirectly', as a cardigan, trousers or tights), but I love it so much that I don't really care that it doesn't suit me. 

(image source: Fabric Godmother)

I would struggle to justify shelling out £15 a metre on cotton fabric, but ohmygod I can see why people do. I acquired it when working at one of the Fabric Godmother open days last year as payment for my time, which is pretty much the only way I could get my mitts on stuff like this. It was a total dream to work with. The only bit of the project that proved tricksome was applying piping to such fine fabric, but I used some light-weight fusible interfacing to the bib section which wasn't mentioned in the instructions but helped a lot. 



Thoughts:

So I loved making this top, and it feels really soft and breezy to wear. But, unflattering colour aside, it's really doesn't look great, doesn't it? I'm trying to work out where it's going wrong. Even though I'm of average height, it seems a bit short on me, I think I'd prefer it to be to the bottom of where my thumb is resting in the image above. Plus, although I went with the size that tallied with my measurements, it's possible that the size down might look a bit better. 

I've just done a Google image search to look at other people's versions, and I can see there are a few other women whose tops sit a bit like mine does in the image above. I'm not particularly busty, but I'm wondering if this style suits smaller busted women. I really do enjoy wearing this top, and will definitely continue to do so, but I'd like to learn a lesson if there is one to be taken from this. I'd appreciate your thoughts on this! 


Cost:

Pattern: €9 (approx. £7.80) available in PDF form here
Fabric: £0 (in exchange for my time, but it can be bought for £15 a metre here, you'd need about 1.5m for this top)
Piping: approx. £2
Total: £9.80, although I'd like to try using this pattern again if I can figure out how to make it look better which will reduce the cost-per-use of the pattern

Monday, 22 May 2017

Happy #MMMay17! Sewbox Giveaway

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED AND A WINNER HAS BEEN SELECTED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED. CONGRATULATIONS BETH!***



Here's the second and final #MMMay17 celebration giveaway, and it's a really good one!!! Susan from Sewbox.co.uk has been insanely generous in offering up a £50 voucher to be spent on her site, with free postage included worldwide! £50?! You know what £50 will get you? LOADS. Sooooo annoyed I can't enter....


Well, if it wasn't unethical to enter my own giveaway and I won, do you want to know what I would pick? Probably some of this Liberty Tana Lawn pictured above. Because I recently discovered this French sewing blog and she makes lots of beautiful stuff from the Liberty Betsy print. 


And I'd further my trouser-making investigations with this lovely-looking Hot Patterns slim cut pants pattern. Plus, I'd probably get some other bits I'd need for the project, like the zip and thread. Job done.

If you are a Me-Made-May'17 participant and would like to enter this awesome giveaway, please let us know in the comments for this post what YOU would choose from the Sewbox.co.uk site. Don't worry, if you win you will be allowed to change your mind if you wish! Make sure that you've entered by midnight GMT on 28th May, and please include your email address in your comment if it can't easily be found within two clicks of my mouse. Good luck! 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Great Dribble Bib Swap!!! Are You In?



So, right now many of us are currently knee-deep in our Me-Made-May challenges. If you are, I hope you're having a fun and illuminating time. I'm not wishing the month away, but I must admit that each year, when May comes to an end and the challenge is over, I always feel some loss, mostly for the connections and community that are created during May. Well, this year I've decided to try something new-to-me, something that also might fill that Me-Made void when June rolls around: I'm hosting a sewing swap!

This swap is aimed at new or expecting parents, or the friends, siblings, colleagues etc. of new or expecting parents, who are up for sewing and then posting a baby's dribble bib, and to receive one made by someone else in return.

Why dribble bibs? Well, it seems like there are a lot of sewing bloggers and Instagramers around the world who have either recently had a baby (mine is seven months old now but I view anything up to a year as 'recent'!), or have one on the way. I thought this might be a nice way to connect with each other, reaching out in sleepless solidarity by sending each other a low-energy little project. Obviously, new parents or about-to-be-new parents don't have heaps of time to sew, but finding a scrap of time to do so can be really beneficial to mental health (I've found), so this might be a great motivation to find that spec of time! But this sewing swap really is open to anyone, not just parents, who has a baby in their life, or is about to.

If you would like to take part, then please email me (sozoblog at g mail dot com) with your name, address (this is a global swap) and whether you require a bib for a boy, girl or unisex (if your expecting and don't know the gender) by 30th May. I'll then email you the details of who you'll be making a bib for by 1st June. You will have the entire month to create a dribble bib (as opposed to a bib for protecting clothes when eating) and pop it in the post by the end of the month. I'll use a random number generator to assign who will send a bib to whom, so it'll be nice if you include your name when you send the bib so the recipient will know who made it.

Aside from being assigned a gender/gender-neutral, the style or design is totally up to you, but please make it big enough to fit a baby up to year old or thereabouts. If you are stuck for inspiration, then I've collated some ideas on this Pinterest board, which also includes links to some free bib patterns and tutorials (and you can find my dribble bib tutorial here).

Frankie has recently pushed out all four front teeth AT THE SAME TIME, so it's dribble aplenty round these parts. I really hope that some lovely sewers/sewists take me up on this so we can send each other some awesome dribble catchers! Oh, and I'm totally new to hosting a swap like this, so if there's something you think I've missed then please let me know.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Happy #MMMay17! Miss Maude Giveaway


This Me-Made-May, we've got two awesome giveaways for participants to enter by way of celebration. This first is being hosted by Jennifer Lauren Handmade, and the prize has kindly been donated by the incredibly well-curated, NZ based online sewing emporium, Miss Maude. Emma, Miss Maude's owner, has generously offered the winner their choice of one sewing pattern and two metres of fabric, PLUS a surprise piece of haberdashery thrown in for good measure, AND includes shipping worldwide.


If you're asking me what I'd choose (and I know you were just about to!), I'd probably go for some of this delicious looking organic cotton gingham woven in India (pictured above). How chic and grown-up would it look made up as an I am Patterns Pan Tee?! But that's just me. 

Head over to Jennifer's blog post to find out the full details on how to enter, but do so quick because the giveaway closes this Sunday (14th May). 

Friday, 5 May 2017

Refashion Friday: Primark Maxi Dress to Striped Scout Tee


When you find a well-fitting, quick-to-make sewing pattern, like Grainline's Scout tee, you'd be crazy not to make another, amirite? I'm so pleased that I held back from cutting into this charity shop score maxi dress until after I had the chance to try out that pattern for myself. 


'Before' garment:

Whenever I pop into a charity shop, I check out the dress section for both larger sizes and maxi styles, as you can sometimes get a good amount of fabric for your money in those items. I was particularly elated when I found this treasure because: A) it was in one of the cheaper charity shops in Hastings so, for once, the fabric I wanted to reuse didn't cost me more than if I'd bought something similar on the roll in a fabric shop, B) it's a Primark garment, and as one of the biggest 'disposable fashion' offenders here in the UK, I take extra pleasure in giving new life to something that started its life on their racks, and C) navy and cream stripes. 

Initially, I considered leaving fairly well alone and simply hacking off the bottom. My thoughts being that it's existing shape is similar to the April Rhodes Staple dress pattern, and I have worn the living hell out of my version. But where's the fun in that?! Also, I'm not a massive dress wearer, even when I'm not breastfeeding, so I decided to go with a remake that would see LOTS of use. 


Pattern:

Having toiled and made up this pattern before, I knew which size to start with (i.e. a size smaller than my measurements would have suggested I cut), and also what issues to look out for. I found that the sleeve head/shoulder seam on my safety pin version sat a touch too far off my shoulders. But I feared that grading to a smaller size for the top part would make this top too tight across my shoulder blades to get on and off or feel comfortable. What I ended up doing was to slightly redraw the armhole shape to simply scoop away a little from the shoulder line so the sleeve heads sat where I wanted them to. That seems to have corrected the issue nicely without reducing the width across the back at all. Boom. 

The only other change I made was to create little side splits, mainly because I like the way they look, but also because I found with my safety pin version that it's a bit of a stress point with all the yanking up for 'access' that all my tops currently receive. The side splits meant that I couldn't do French seams on this version but I was happy with that as I think it made the side-seam pattern matching a bit easier.  


Thoughts:

So I'd say that I've now completely nailed the fit of this pattern on me, until I go and change size/shape, of course. If I were being the pickiest pernickerty of all time, I would, however, point out that I should have used cream bias to finish the neckline rather than making self-bias from the dress fabric. You can see a tiny bit of shadow where a navy bit of the bias can be seen through the cream bit of the neckline at the front. But I'm going to chalk that up as a lesson learnt and move the hell on.

Whilst I was figuring out how to position the Scout tee pattern pieces on this dress, I discovered some nail varnish along the hem. Perhaps the former owner was painting her toe nails on holiday before a night on the razzle. I think there's a bit of it still inside the turn up on the hem of my top! I think that's as close to going out on the razzle as this top is going to see, but you never know...


Cost: 

Pattern: $12 in PDF form (approx. £9.86)
Dress: £3.50 from Oxfam in Hastings 
Total: £8.43, as per my own rules, if I use a pattern more than once I calculate the total with the pattern's cost-per-use (in this case, by dividing it by two) rather than the original pattern price 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

My #MMMay17 Pledge




'I, Zoe of 'So, Zo...' blog and @sozoblog, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I endeavour to wear all me-made clothing (excluding bras, socks, tights and footwear) each day for the duration of May 2017'


It's that time again my friends: for all of us who want to take part in the the Me-Made-May challenge to take stock of what's going on in our lives, and think about how we hope to improve our relationships with our handmade wardrobes. Or something like that.

For me personally, this Me-Made-May will be my first as a full-time mum of two little people, and probably my last with a baby hanging around the place. That means needing to wear intensely comfortable and practical things in outfit combos that take NO TIME to put together, with regular breastfeeding access a necessity. That all may sound a bit constraining, but I'm actually feeling really good with what I have, and have to, wear these days. Plus, I'm feeling a real freedom, both practically-speaking in the comfortable clothes I'm wearing, and conceptually by not needing to 'dress to impress' anyone at the moment.

I've accepted pretty fully where I am currently at with my lifestyle/wardrobe needs, so much so that I had a major clear out a few weeks ago. I bagged up and donated at least a third of my wardrobe. I guess, there's nothing like an expanding family to shift and refocus your priorities. That said, I've also been feeling for a year or so that my personal style and influences were shifting somewhat, but being pregnant for most of last year meant that exploring that was put on hold. Now I'm not pregnant, and I have a fairly clean slate in the form of my dramatically thinned out clothing selection, I'm free to add to my wardrobe slowly and mindfully, which I'm really excited about.

But back to Me-Made-May. Although my pledge this year is the same as it has been for previous years (including the first in 2010!), this year will be different for me in that I've decided not to attempt daily documentation photos. Taking photos is, of course, NOT the point of the challenge, but it has always been something I've liked to do (however much of a struggle it can sometimes be) as I've found it really informative and useful. But I just can't see how I'll be able to keep up with that this year, whilst dealing with two tiny scamps with their various and different needs. Plus, Mr So Zo is studying hard at the moment on top of his full time job and childcare duties, so it doesn't seem fair to rope him into daily mini-photoshoots as well. Also, with my current limited clothing selection, I'm expecting lots of outfit repetition, so there's not much point in taking pics of the same thing over and over again.

Instead, I plan to write down what I wear each day, so I can analyse at the end which items get worn the most, and therefore which types of things I should focus my future sewing activities on making. I will take some outfit shots here and there, perhaps when I'm feeling particularly pleased with an outfit, or more likely, when I randomly get the chance!

If you plan to challenge yourself during Me-Made-May, I hope that coming up with a useful pledge wasn't too tricky. I wish everyone heaps of fun throughout the month, and hope that you learn lots of useful lessons along the way.

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