Me Made May 2016


Oh well hi there, long time no see!

The wonderful Zoe is helming Me Made May again this year, and I’m signing up for the challenge.

For the uninitiated, this is the deal: for the entirety of May, I am to wear stuff I’ve made every day. 

Now, this time last year I was convinced I’d definitely be able to go the whole month wearing just me made stuff. Sadly, I still lack motivation when it comes to making basics, and I’m also going on a holiday in… Ooo 8 hours or so, which may well involve kayaking (I know, poor me). Somehow I don’t fancy a sun dress’ chances in a kayak. 

So! I HAVE MADE MYSELF A POINTS SYSTEM. My pledge is as follows:

“I, Elena Cresci, of Seamless and @elenacresci, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear only me-made clothing (with the exception of underwear, coats and jackets) each day for the duration of May 2016. Each me-made day gets me 10 points, but if I wear a non me-made garment, that’s minus 5 points, unless said garment has been altered by me.”

THERE WE HAVE IT. And why did I leave this so last minute?! I’ve got to go to bed so I get up in time for my flight… Follow me on Instagram for outfit updates (if you follow me already, then you’ll have seen my holiday sewing already…), though they may be a little sporadic this first week. Can’t wait to see everyone’s makes!

My 2015 in sewing

Ok: so I didn’t blog that much last year. It happens! And 2015 has been kind of weird.

And I have to say, I’m pretty happy to be leaving 2015 behind. That said, 2015 wasn’t all bad. As those  of you who follow me on Instagram will know, I’ve definitely been sewing plenty. Given I’m so completely behind on blogging these, here’s a rundown of some of my favourite projects from this year.

Sew Over It 1940s tea dress

Sew Over It 1940s tea dress

I’m never not going to love a dress which makes me feel like Agent Peggy Carter. This was mostly an easy sew, save for the point in the centre connecting the bust and the skirt – which I don’t think I got completely perfect anyway. The fabric, also from Sew Over It, was a dream to sew. My only complaint is I sometimes feel this one’s just a touch too fancy for work… but who cares, I’m still going to wear it.

Patterns by Gertie: Butterick B5814

Patterns by Gertie B5814 dress

What do you do when you’re off to a wedding you know your ex is going to attend? You make the best goddamn wiggle dress of your life. Mind you, I wouldn’t want to give an ex any credit for this one, because it is goddamn glorious. It looks a lot more complicated than it actually is, thanks to the pleats and the draping. I think perhaps the bust is maybe a little big and I didn’t quite nail the sleeves, but who cares. The fabric is a drapey synthetic of some sort, lined with a cotton blend. This dress also requires the wearing of the funkiest bra I have ever owned. So now you know.

The red tulip Audrey dress

Hot damn I'm pleased with this dress. Just the hem to go! #sewing

A photo posted by Elena Cresci (@elenacresci) on

As I’ve said before, I love, love, love sewing books with loads of patterns for me to choose from. Famous Frocks: the Little Black Dress has a really lovely Audrey Hepburn-style pattern with a high neckline, which can either be paired with a circle or a pencil skirt. I made one with a gathered skirt in red tulip-patterned cotton. It’s so easy to put together, I think I may make another version with a slim skirt. I’ve got my eye on the Joan pattern from

The little black Georgia dress

LBBHLD (little black @byhandlondon dress) awwwww yeaaahhhh #sewing

A photo posted by Elena Cresci (@elenacresci) on

This dress by By Hand London is sexy as hell. I sewed it in a black knit, so I didn’t need a zipper. I feel happy every time I wear this dress – so much so I made two this year, another in a glittery knit with wide straps.

Colette Patterns Macaron

I’ve had this pattern in my stash for years, ever since I lived in Germany. I don’t know why it took me so long to make it, but I’m glad I finally have. It’s deceptively easy to sew. For some reason I thought the top part would be difficult, but it was relatively simple in the end. The blue fabric is not the best quality – it even melted at one point when I was ironing it – but HEY what does it matter, no one can tell so I won’t tell if you won’t.

Colette Patterns Macaron

Comfy as hell Simplicity 2591

This one’s a re-do of a pattern I last used about four years ago. You can read more about it here because it’s one of the few I actually blogged about last year.

And what for 2016? Well I’ve got some plans, of course. Stay tuned for more. Happy New Year!

Review: Tefal Access Steam

Real talk: I hate ironing. IT’S SO BORING.

Unless I’m sewing something, that is. I always feel I’m getting more out of it. My mum prefers to do the ironing all in one batch. Me? I’m an iron as I go kinda girl. Or just not iron at all. Or I’ll even do that old trick where you hang up your dress in the bathroom as you have a shower.

DSC00609

Given my general ironing laziness, I was pretty excited when Tefal got in touch to ask me to review a fancy pants garment steamer. Could this be the end of my ironing board?

First things first, here’s what you get. The Tefal Access Steam is handheld and comes with two attachments; one with a brush and a steam cover. You pop in some water via a removal tank at the bottom of the steamer and switch it on. It’s pretty quick to heat up – the instructions say about 45 seconds – so it’s pretty speedy. The idea is, you hang up your garment, press the switch and point the steamer at the thing what needs ironing.

So how did it match up to my iron? I tested it out on a few things in the wardrobe. First: a cotton Mathilde shirt which always gets creased really easily.

pic1

I was a little disappointed on this front. It didn’t really get out the creases that well, which is a shame. The fabric’s a bit annoying on that front anyway, but I was hoping to get better results on this shirt given I’ve got a lot of garments in the same fabric.

I didn’t want to give up though, so I tried it on a homemade garment in a different fabric, a cotton viscose which creases like nothing else I own.

pic2

As you can see, this one had much better results!

Given this is a sewing blog, I was curious to see how it could help on that front. Now, I don’t think it can really replace my iron – I need it to iron seams and pieces as I go, and I don’t think this can quite replace that. But, where it does come in handy is with fabric prep. It’s a pain to iron a massive bit of a fabric, but if you hang it over a curtain rod and blast at it with this, it makes it a much smaller job.

Altogether: not too shabby! It won’t be replacing my ironing board anytime soon, but, given how lazy I am, I imagine I’ll be using it a fair bit as a quick fix.

A few other sewing bloggers have reviewed this too if you’d like to take a peek, I’ve added the links below.

Sew Scrumptious 
A Million Dresses

Stop what you’re doing and look at this new Vintage Vogue pattern

WOULD. YOU. JUST. LOOK. AT. THIS. GODDAMN. PATTERN.

PicMonkey Collage

Photo: Vogue Patterns

I think I may be in love. Is it possible to get married to a sewing pattern? If so, you can call me Mrs V9127 from now on.

V9127 (1)

Photo: Vogue Patterns

I’ve felt the big four are a little hit and miss lately, so it was an absolute joy to see this pop up in my Twitter timeline today. Naturally, the appropriate freakout commenced. Would you just LOOK at that collar? And how about those scalloped pockets?

V9127 (2)

Photo: Vogue Patterns

The triangular stitched details on the points are a delightful touch, though I have no idea how you’d recreate that without some fancy-pants embroidery machine. And I have to say, Vogue has just nailed the fabric choice here. Looks like a crepe to me, and the colour is just exquisite. Those buttonholes could do with being bound, but that’s me splitting hairs.

V9127 (3)

Photo: Vogue Patterns

And can we talk about the back? The belt buckle, the heart-shaped lines, what look like elbow darts but I genuinely have no idea… sigh. That’s it, I’m in love.

Photo: Vogue Patterns

Photo: Vogue Patterns

Vogue rates it as an “average” pattern in terms of difficulty, so definitely not one for beginners. I do wonder if I’ll struggle with it, given my slapdash nature. This is a pattern which calls for the most precise execution.

I see a short-sleeved version in an autumnal purple, and I’d definitely need to take up the hem a tad. Honestly, I would wear this to work. They’re used to me coming in looking like an extra from Call the Midwife anyway.

We’re truly being a spoilt for new pattern releases, by the way. As well as the rest of Vogue’s Autumn releases (Lladybird has a great run down of them, good and bad) both Tilly of Tilly and the Buttons and Tasia of Sewaholic have released two new patterns each. Then there’s Sew Over It’s vintage shirt dress, which I’ve already bought some fabric for. I’ve got a feeling this summer is going to be a busy one for sewing…

 

 

Me Made May ’15 – over for another year

Me Made May photos

Well, May pretty much raced past, didn’t it?

I think this is the first year I’ve managed to take photos almost every day of me made May, save for gaps due to illness and a Devon holiday. At the beginning of this month, I said I wanted May to be about positivity, and it mostly has been. There’s something about making an effort every day which puts a little more of a spring in your step – or at least in mine. Sometimes, making myself look good in the hope that it’ll make me feel good has a little bit of an effect.

I don’t want to pretend May went by all sweetness and light – hormones aside, there are life issues which also need taking care of. But without the pill-induced fog of sadness, what once seemed like insurmountable problems seem much more manageable.

And the fact is, the last few weeks, I’ve felt more myself than I have done in months. Which is a welcome change, and more than I could have asked for at this point.

As for the actual challenge: I succeeded! Every day, I wore at least one me-made or second hand item. Though it did make me realise there are a few more me-made items I’d like to add to my arsenal. At some point, I want to make a trench coat, a better fitting pair of trousers and more wardrobe basics. Not to mention a few more circle skirts to swoosh around in.

That said, this month’s sewing hasn’t been entirely unsuccessful: I’ve made a purple jumper, a black wiggle dress, a lemon-patterned sun dress and, a must for every wardrobe, a Powerpuff Girl costume. (Buttercup, obv. Because I’m the tough one.)

I feel more confident in my sewing than ever – it’s just the rest of it I need to sort out now! But I’ll get there. Tell you what though, looking forward to not having to take a photo every day…

I want to say a huge thank you to Zoe for hosting the challenge once more! Here’s to next year.

Me Made May ’15: the first 15 days

first 15 days of me made may

 

As if we’re more than half way through Me Made May! I think this may be the first year I’ve actually managed to photograph most of my outfits, which is a change. So far, I’ve learned:

  • I’ve got a lot more killer me-made looks than I thought
  • Wearing velveteen dresses to work is fun even if your colleagues think you dressed up especially for the election results
  • I could do a mean Peggy Carter cosplay if I wanted to
  • A fringe makes everything better
  • What I lack in me-made basics, I make up for in awesome dresses and skirts
  • When in doubt, headscarf, headscarf, headscarf

Woop! How’s Me Made May going for everyone else? If you want to follow my progress, I’m posting everything on Instagram.

Simplicity 2591 in knit: why it pays to go back to tried and tested sewing patterns


Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 22.03.43

First things first, I’ve got some thank yous to dole out. I was incredibly nervous about my last post. Unfortunately it’s still a bit intimidating to admit you’ve been teary-eyed at your desk because hormones are playing funny business with your brain. But, thanks to commenters here, on Twitter, Facebook and in real life, I’m really pleased I did it. Sounds cliche, but it really does feel like a weight off my shoulders. I can’t expect to be 100% just yet, but I feel miles better just a week after coming off the pill, so I have high hopes for the months ahead.

As well as Me Made May, there are also some sewing dares afoot. Gillian challenged me on Twitter to not only blog at least once a week but also be positive about myself in some way or another. Killing two birds with one stone here with a speedy make I’m pretty proud of.

Simplicity 2591

Simplicity 2591 the first

The first time I made Simplicity 2591, a cap-sleeved dress with the kind of in-seam pockets your hands dream of, I was still a novice sewer. As proof of how long ago it was, I present exhibit A: this picture of me on a rock wall with red hair.

Making it out of fabric with flocked velvet hearts (sourced via eBay, of course), I thought it was one of the best things I’d ever made. It’s undergone a few changes since then – I got rid of the cap sleeves (too puffy) and, er, broke the zip. When I found some sweet stone-coloured jersey fabric from I forget where now, I immediately thought I should go back to the pattern I last attempted around 3 years ago. It’s the kind of fabric which just screams to be worn as a the comfiest dress in the world.

On a roll with this sewing lark lately. Here's Simplicity 2591 in a grey knit.

A photo posted by Elena Cresci (@elenacresci) on

It ended up being just that – it was also one of the quickest sews I’ve ever attempted. Granted, I was on a bit of a roll (I made another, more complicated dress, in the same fortnight) but HOLY CRAP jersey is the best stuff to sew even if my overlocker is back in Cardiff. I just used a zig-zag stitch and we were away! No seam finishing. nothing. I even attempted some top-stitching along the neckline and sleeves to attach the facings in the place – though I cheated because I couldn’t find a twin needle. Seems to be holding up alright so far.

dress

Because I was using knit fabric, I made a few changes to the sizing – I could have probably saved a bit of time and gone a size down with the amount I ended up taking in at the seams, but it was nice to have a lot of allowance to play with. I haven’t gone up a size in Simplicity patterns either. Meaning no toiles for me, hurrah!

I also used a different sleeve pattern, the curvy tulip sleeve from the Colette Patterns Macaron. I seem to have a real problem with puff sleeves – if I don’t take a wedge out of most puff pattern sleeves, I end up looking like an extra from a Wham video. The ’80s would not have been my kind of era. I much prefer this cap sleeve. The Macaron calls for you to make two and sew them together but I ended up drafting a facing instead so it was less bulky.

Also also also – knit fabric means NO ZIP. Hurrah! But because I’m dim and forgot to take a picture of the back, you can’t see that. I didn’t cut the back on the fold, just had a centre back seam.

As you can probably tell, I’m really pleased with the outcome. AND DID I MENTION HOW COMFORTABLE THIS DRESS IS? I could sleep in it. I won’t, because it’s too nice for that, but I COULD. And what more could you really ask from the comfiest dress in the world?

Had a pin in my dress all morning #sewingproblems

A photo posted by Elena Cresci (@elenacresci) on

Bonus: the first day I wore it to work, I went around with a pin still attached to the neckline. Sewing accessories are the next big thing, I hear.