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


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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.

Me Made May ’15: here’s to a month of positivity

Me Made May 1

This started out about my now-yearly  blog post about why I’m signing up for Me Made May, but has turned into something a little different. So please, humour me for a minute while I get completely personal on you all.

About 6 months ago, I started taking the pill again. I last took it until I was about 21 and had no discernible issues. This time, I don’t think I’ve been so lucky.

For the last few months, I’ve been struggling with some of the most intense and unpredictable mood swings I’ve ever experienced in my life. At points my mood has been lower than it has ever been before, I have struggled to concentrate at work and I’ve been more negative and cynical than I usually am. When it hits me, it feels like I’m stuck in a pit of despair and just can’t get out.

I sleep it off, try to make the most of a new day but then something triggers the cycle all over again. It’s just not me. I’m the girl who once did a six-hour Karate grading with a chest infection – I like to think I’m tough. Not that people with mental health issues aren’t tough, because my god, they are some of the toughest people I know.

It’s more this debilitating recurring feeling that I can’t do my job, my blog, anything right has shaken me to the core. Whatever has been happening for these last few months has undermined everything I thought I knew about myself and my personality. It’s jarring.

I went to my doctor yesterday, who was brilliant and gave me lots of options including counselling if I want it. Here’s hoping now I’m *officially* off the pill, my moods may get a little closer to what I’m used to. Fortunately, I’ve caught it soon enough before it did any serious damage and I’m already feeling 10 times better than this time last week.

For a few reasons, I don’t usually like writing about this stuff – and you may wonder what exactly it’s got to do with Me Made May, anyway?

What I love about Me Made May is something you find at the core of all good communities: a good idea driven by talented and like-minded people with something to share. I’ve long admired Zoe for starting it and everyone who takes part. I think we forget sometimes just how cool we are for making our own clothes. Sure, sewing’s a lot more popular than it used to be, but it’s really not that common a hobby. We kick ass!

I think celebrating my makes and the community I’m part of is probably exactly what I need right now to pick myself up from all of this nonsense. I know I’m going to be totally fine – I’ve started up yoga, been playing ukulele again (CLASSIC LONDON HIPSTER ALERT) and, of course, I’ve been sewing.

IF YOU’VE MADE IT THIS FAR, WELL DONE. Here’s my pledge:

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‘I, Elena of Seamless, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made garment a day for the duration of May 2015. If it’s not me-made, I will try to make sure it’s at least second-hand. I will endeavour to wear a completely me-made outfit at least once a week. I will also to my best to BE POSITIVE.’

I’m hoping to wear more me-made garments than not, but I need to be a bit more realistic as I’ve had to donate a bunch of stuff that didn’t fit anymore. Nowadays, I have a better handle on what styles and prints I’m more likely to wear and I always find Me Made May a useful way to figure out my wardrobe.

How about the rest of you? Are you Me Made Maying this year?

The Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with Fabric review

Ever watch the Great British Sewing Bee and think: I could TOTALLY do this. I definitely could speed sew as though my life depended on it on national television.

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Well, you know what, I never have. Even my mum agreed I’d be pretty bad at sewing quickly. Yet what did I do in the course of preparing my review of the Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion with Fabric? I challenged myself to the GBSB experience at home. And it was messy.

Long story short, my room now looks like a thread-filled hurricane hit it. It’s made me wonder just how many helpers the GBSB crew have to help keep the sewing room clean and if I can possibly borrow some to clean this mess up.

Before I get to the project which unleashed such chaos on my room, let’s have a little nose at the book, shall we?

OBLIG NOTE THAT YOU SHOULD NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU DON’T WANT ANY GBSB SPOILERS

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Nevermind the wonky pockets: 9 things I learnt making my first coat

I have wanted to make a coat for absolutely ages.

coat1

Much like trousers, they’re one of those garments which seem hella daunting. It’s taken me years to finally brave it. But just before Christmas, I got there! Hurrah! Made from a fuzzy wool tweed and a satin lining, it’s the perfect slouchy coat and has certainly got me through the Winter months. The pattern is the Gerard by Republique du Chiffon. Marketed as a ‘boyfriend’ coat, the slouchiness makes it the perfect beginner coat. (Sadly the instructions don’t, but more on that later)

coat 4

Basically even though I’ve just noticed the pockets are wonky (I MEASURED AND EVERYTHING WHYYYYY) and I had a minor social media meltdown over the pattern pieces, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve achieved.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Instagram will have seen all the ups and downs already, but here’s a little more about what I learned:

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope your stockings were full of sewing goodies and you’ve had a great day with the family. I know I have!

Well, the cat likes her present anyway. Merry Christmas everyone!

A photo posted by Elena Cresci (@elenacresci) on

The past month has been a touch hectic as you can imagine but I’ll get round to posting some updates (including on my coat!) as soon as I’m back in London.

Making my first coat

Oh crikey – I’m not entirely sure what I’ve let myself in for with this one.

I’ve wanted to make a coat for forever, but have never quite had the guts to actually go ahead and do it. Sometimes I feel like my sewing techniques are a little too slapdash for the more complicated projects. But how do you get better if you don’t try and stretch yourself every now and then.

Luckily for me, the “in” shape (basically the coat everyone in London seems to be wearing) is a slouchy, boxy boyfriend coat, usually in varying shades of pastel. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to follow trends usually, but it makes it a lot easier to find inspiration when you see it on the Tube every morning.

I had a look at a few boxy-type patterns and ended up going for Republique du Chiffon’s Gerard coat and I think I’ve found a great black and white tweed fabric in a shop near me . I had thought about going for some ridiculous colour, but I think I’d rather something a bit more neutral for my first coat.

That said, I’m not overly encouraged by this pattern so far. It’s been quite a bumpy ride, and I’m not even halfway through the toile. Being a French company, all of RDC’s patterns are, of course, in French. But some of them are also available in English PDF versions. I thought: great!

My least favourite bit. And I've also got to trace some pieces. Buggerit.

A photo posted by Elena Cresci (@elenacresci) on

Unfortunately, all the pattern pieces are still labelled in handwritten French, so you’ve got the job of deciphering the handwriting as well as matching the pieces to the English in the instructions. They do have a key, but a couple of the pieces aren’t numbered, which makes it a bit confusing. Also, I really wasn’t keen on having to tape the pattern pieces together and also trace them afterward. I’m told this is common with French patterns, but I’m a firm believer in not having to trace if you spend an indordinate time taping the pieces together.

On top of this, because I’m a bit thick when it comes to instructions anyway and keep getting confused, the toile keeps going wrong. I’ve sewn wrong bits together, got confused by which pieces they mean (I really wish they’d referred to the numbers in the instructions) and just made a bit of a mess of the whole thing so far.

I wish this was a more positive update of the coat-making! But I’ve had a super-frustrating evening and I haven’t even begun fitting the damn thing yet. I’m kind of worried the shape is going to look awful on me and I’ll have to scrap the entire thing.

*sigh*

If anyone’s made this pattern and has any tips, they’d be much appreciated…