My best 5 makes of the year


So, I know we're well into January now, but I was recently reflecting over my 2015 makes and thought I'd share my faves. Interesting isn't it what our favourite makes reveal about us...

Top 5 makes of 2015

So I obviously have a deep love for  Grainline and Named Clothing patterns. Both had two in my top 5 favourites. And I've made that Sew Over It shift dress 5 times now. Yikes. I hope being predictable isn't too boring.

I'm also noticing a deep love of solids. Man, I'm really doubling down on being boring.

But that said these makes are my closet staples. Simple. Modern. I wear then ALL the time. Like, tapping-my-foot-impatiently-waiting-for-them-to-dry kind of wear. I think they get worn so much because I can't really get bored of them.

Also, I made jeans people. Real, live jeans.

Honourable mentions

I don't think it'd be fair if I didn't mention these patterns. I made at least two Ella tanks and 4 (yes 4) versions of the plantain tees and Hudson pants. Guess what I lived in over the summer?

The Beatrix and the inari tee are new makes, but I'm really looking forward to wearing them more often come warmer weather.

I also made clothes for the bambino and his friends. I'm not very good at blogging about those makes (though they do crop up in my Instagram feed from time to time) but I really should. I also made a teepee for the little guy. Which I love (he's a bit less sure).

It's funny how a lot of these makes tested my skills (the Jamie jeans, Moss skirt) or helped hone my techniques (plantains, Hudsons, Ella tank, Beatrix, all of the children's/baby's clothes). And some were just a joy to sew (in particular the Inari, the Jamie jeans, the Moss skirt, and the teepee).

I'm really looking forward to 2016 and all the sewing adventures. I still plan to sew with intention (2016 mantra: do less, but do it well) but can't wait to get stuck into some projects.

What about you, what were your top makes in 2015? What do you plan to sew in 2016?

Handmade Wardrobe | grey jamie jeans


Named Clothing Jamie jeans
Guys I did it. I survived my first ever attempt at sewing jeans. I know, I can't believe it either. I'm still in shock.

But, the big question you must be asking (apart from, dude how can I give you a virtual high five), is was it worth it?

Let me just say right now, jeans aren't easy. They're totally achievable, immensely satisfying. But it's not something you could knock out in an afternoon. Well, not me at least.

Named Clothing Jamie jeans
I chose the Named Clothing Jamie jeans pattern. Possibly not the easiest jean pattern for a total novice. Scratch that, these really are not the best choice for a beginner (I'd imagine Closet Case File's Ginger jeans have a much simpler construction).

But you know what, I love the pattern.

Those feisty front seams and slanted side pockets just do it for me. I also love the shape of them. So I kinda made a rod for my own back there, but in a good way, if that makes sense.

Named Clothing Jamie jeans
I have to say I would be nowhere without Allie's excellent sewalong over on Indiesew. Honestly, she made it all so much less painful then it could have been.

And to be honest, there were some painful bits. I had some epic battles with the pockets and the front pieces. No fault of the pattern, just me being a dullard.

Named Clothing Jamie jeans
If you look, the outer front sections of the jeans (the front section with the pockets) are the wrong way round. The pockets should be slanting down towards the hip, not up.

I'm not sure what happened there really, just that I had a real mental block when it came to attaching the two sections that make up the front piece. Neither the pattern instructions or the sewalong could help. Bah.

I contemplated seam ripping the whole thing, but I'd already top stitched the two front pieces. And it was already my second time assembling the pockets. So I just ploughed on. 

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and moved forward, right?

Named Clothing Jamie jeans
Apart from these pocket placement shenanigans everything else was really straight forward (more on construction and some tips can be found below).

I'm still not 100% happy with the fit. I mean look at all those smile lines around the rise. Ugh. Actually don't look.

Not quite sure how to fix that, but I think it has something to do with the rise curve. Back to the drafting board me thinks. 

Named Clothing Jamie jeans
I'm most proud of the fit around, well, the back (not sure I'm loving the way my rear fills up that whole shot there, but hey, sewing blogger problems, right?)

The curve around my waist is pretty spot on and I think it's pretty flattering. There's still a few more lines here then I'd like, but I have no idea how I would fix that. And besides, I sewed me some jeans, so, I win at sewing :)

Named Clothing Jamie jeans
So, back to the question. Is it really worth the hassle?

Heck yes.

This was probably my most satisfying make of 2016. Sure there's still plenty I need to learn, but it's been a real positive experiment - wonky pockets and all.

If you're a competent sewer (which I would define as knowing your way round a zipper and be willing to have a go) then you should definitely, 100% put jeans on your 2016 sewing hit list.

How to be awesome at sewing with only 10 tools


top 10 sewing tools to sew like a pro
Sewing is such a minefield of gadgets, isn't it? You could fill cupboards full with all the different tools on offer. But really after years of sewing I've realised, you don't really need all that much to sew like a pro.

In fact. You only really need 10 tools to sew up a storm. True story. You can make all sorts of gorgeous makes with just these tools. 

top 10 sewing tools to sew like a pro
These 10 tools are the ones I reach for again and again while sewing my handmade wardrobe. Just throw in a sewing machine (see this handy guide if you're in the market) and you are good to go.

Of course all sewers are different. Maybe you have some tools you can't live without that aren't on this list? Have a read and see if you agree.

ultimate sewing tools top 10 list
Fabric scissors
You should definitely get a pair of really great scissors and keep them only for fabric. Seriously. Guard them jealously if you have to. As soon as scissors start cutting into paper you dull the cutting edges which leads to jagged edges in your fabric. 

Get yourself a separate pair of scissors for cutting paper. I use a retired pair of sewing scissors for cutting out  PDF patterns. 

Rotary cutter
Such a handy little tool. Great for cutting slippery fabrics and knits. Plus you get killer precision if you combine rotary cutting with a tracing wheel and carbon paper for transferring your pattern onto fabric.

Small scissors
You can never seam to have too many of these for sniping threads and trimming fabric. I have about 4 scattered around my sewing room, but these pictured are my favourite - a pair from my mamma's sewing box.

Tracing wheel
Really great when combined with carbon paper. The single most effective way to trace patterns onto fabric. It gives baller precision (technical term). 

I only just rediscovered this technique and I can't recommended it enough, especially when cutting slippery fabrics and knits.

Fabric pen
For marking darts, notches and the like. I like this one because it has an eraser (I'm a really haphazard sewer so I make a lot of mistakes).

ultimate sewing tools top 10 list
Measuring tool(s)
Obviously apart from a tape measurer which you need to take your measurements, I find these little seam gauges really handy. I use them when hemming and trimming, but they're also great in a pinch for adding seam allowances.

You also can't go wrong with a ruler - great for using with a rotary cutter to give you that extra bit of precision.

I think it's good to have a few sets of pins. I use smaller pins for more delicate and medium weight fabrics. Larger pins are great for heavier fabrics

I've also started using safety pins for alterations. It means I don't shed pins everywhere (a major health risk with the bambino) and I don't get jabbed with pinpricks when taking off projects. Double win.

ultimate sewing tools top 10 list
Seam ripper
Where would any sewer be without a seam ripper? The perfect tool for undoing sewing mishaps. I prefer to use ones with a red dot to stop me from mistakingly ripping through too many layers. But you could use the one that comes with your machine if your careful enough.

Pressing cloth
I've only just gotten into pressing cloths, but this bit of kit has really been invaluable. Pressing is soooo important for getting a good finish on makes, but you also don't want to muck up your fabric, or leave a shiny patch behind. 

A pressing cloth provides a thin barrier between your fabric and the iron so you get a good finish without damaging your fabric. Nice one.

Machine needles of different types
One of the single biggest game changers is using the right type of needle for the fabric. No one wants broken needles or giant holes punched through fabric because you had the wrong needle.

Do yourself a favour and get lots of different needles. Switch them out often too. 

If you find needles a bit confusing (I totally did fit the first few years) you can read my handy guide to machine needles.

And that's it. My the only 10 sewing tools you'll need to sew like a pro. 

Do you agree? Or do you have you're own secret/favourite/never-fail tool that you can't live without that's not made my top 10?

I only ever share products and people I think you'll like as much as I do (because sharing is caring). This post was brought to you in partnership with John Lewis. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. 

Handmade Wardrobe | a party ultimate shift dress


sew over it ultimate shift dress
I know the season for getting dressed up for parties has passed and all that, but, heck I wanted to share my last make with you all.

Also, how depressing are the poor light levels this time of year? I am completely struggling with the lack of sun. Plus taking a clear, decent photo is literally impossible (though planning on swatting up on the Better Pictures Project, including this post by Katie on editing your way to better photos). First world blogger problems, right?

sew over it ultimate shift dress
So, any-hoo, this little razzle-dazzle number was made up for my office Christmas party. I spent literally weeks trying to decide what to make. You know, looking at patterns, obsessing over fabric and all that. And then left myself about 2 days to sew it all up. Yup, time management is totally my thing ;)

I did make things easier on myself by choosing a TNT (tried and tested) pattern - the good ol' Ultimate Shift dress by Sew Over It (seen here as a maternity dress, and here as a secret super comfy work dress). It's such a classic (and classy) pattern.

Super quick to sew too.

sew over it ultimate shift dress
I did decide early on that I wanted to tweak the pattern to make it a bit more fun. So I scooped out the back by quite a bit and shortened the hem (more details below). 

With a sparkly necklace and some black heels it did the job quite nicely. And the 3/4 length sleeves kept me nice and toasty. All good, except...

sew over it ultimate shift dress
For this version I cut a straight 8 all over. Probably not the best choice. The fit at the shoulders is pretty spot on, but it's a bit too loose around the middle.

Baggy waist pouch? No thanks. Plus it's a little to tight around the hips.

sew over it ultimate shift dress
I should have really spent some more time considering the fit. I think an FBA on a size 8, then grading to a size 10 at the waist and hips might have done the trick. 

Have you had any success with FBAs or grading? Do you generally worry about fit our do you just sew and go? 

2016: sewing with intention


sewing blog handmade warddrobe
I'm not usually one for new years resolutions. It feels like so much pressure, doesn't it? I almost kinda make a point of not making resolutions.

But sometimes you can't help stopping to think about what you're doing. And I've been thinking a lot recently about sewing and spare time and quality time. 

So this year I'm sorta going to break my own rule.

I've come up with a plan for 2016, a goal for how I'd like my 2016 sewing to play out. Maybe you're thinking of something similar.

You see, my 2016 plan is to sew with intention.

Whether it's because of a busy life or bambinos, I don't think many people have much time to sew. I guess most people are sensible. They might only do a few projects over a year, but not me. Oh no sir. 

No, I run on full speed, trying to cram in as much sewing as I can whenever I get the chance. This means I've been getting into the habit of sewing r-e-a-l-l-y quickly. Most times that's been OK, but sometimes a disaster happens.

Like a week ago. I was desperate to get a sweater made up for Christmas so ordered some suitable looking fabric without ordering a sample. When the fabric came the fibres were just way too artificial to wear next to my skin. But instead of taking a breather and thinking things through, I just plowed on. 

Rushing to get the sweater finished, I didn't even notice that I cut the fabric in the wrong direction - so there was absolutely 0 stretch. Imagine how much fun that was - wearing a tight, overly-artificial fabric next to the skin. Yeah, you guessed it, not nice. 

I don't need to tell you how utterly disappointing it is to spend all that time and creative energy on something that just ends up straight in the bin. 

I love sewing my own wardrobe and want to keep it up in 2016, but I also want to take the time to really enjoy my makes. Not just charge through to fill my wardrobe. 

So my new resolution: sew with intention

I hope that if I slow things down and really enjoy the experience of sewing I'll make less mistakes and sew more things that I love to wear. Plus I can really get down and nail some classic techniques (like FBAs and top class finishing).

What about you? Are you in the habit of sewing too much, too quickly? Do you find that wears you out? Or are you more measured? Maybe you have other goals you want to work on in 2016?


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