Sunny Dress – #sewmystyle2018

Today I completed my Sunny Dress (pattern by Friday Pattern Company) for the January month of the Sew My Style Instagram challenge.  It was a quick and easy sew – I didn’t look at the instructions and just did my normal routine for sewing a t-shirt (one shoulder seam, add the neck band, other seam, each sleeve, then sew the side seams).  I did hem the dress first because of some of the comments on the facebook group about the difficulty of sewing the curved hem once the side seams had been done.  Apart from the bottom hem and the sleeve hems I sewed it all on my overlocker.

I do like this pattern but it does not suit me.  Also, it is reminiscent of a nightie; this could be because of the fabric I used (a very drapey viscose) which would be better suited to a t-shirt rather than a dress; but it could also be because of the length – just below the knee.  Maybe I’ll try this pattern again in a more structured fabric, such as a ponte, but it’s not a priority make.

New Year’s resolutions

As it’s the 1 January I set out below my creative goals and plans for 2018 (my New Year’s sewing resolutions).  This year I will be participating in three (or maybe more) sewing and sewing-related challenges:

  1. #sewmystyle2018 – I haven’t taken part in any sewing challenges before and this one looks like a good one to start with.  I like most of the patterns but am not so keen on a couple of them.  It will be good to push myself out of my sewing comfort zone and think more broadly about what will suit me and what style I want for my handmade wardrobe.  I also like the idea of having targets and a schedule to work to:  left to my own devices I procrastinate or stay within my area of knowledge (currently: t-shirts, knit tops, and easy wovens).
  2. #2018makenine or #makenine2018 – I’m not sure which tag to use so I’ll use both in my Instagram posts.  This will help with my third challenge below and it has forced me to think about what I need in my wardrobe.  I planned this using both the free Seamwork wardrobe collection planner and the excellent sewing planner produced by Athina Kakou.
  3. #RTWfast2018 (#2018rtwfasters) – no buying any ready to wear (RTW) in 2018!  Exempt from this are the following: underwear, socks, shoes jewelery, handbags and belts.  More information on this challenge is available on Goodbye Valentino’s blog.  I signed up yesterday!

I also hope to participate in the #memademay challenge and the one week one pattern (#owop) challenge.  I’ve probably got loads of the hashtags incorrect but I’ll get to grips with it all as time goes on (hopefully).

Welcome to my new blog

Welcome to the inaugural post of my new blog – Making a Creative Life (total delusions of grandeur!).  This is an online space for me to record and track my creative activity (pretty much exclusively sewing and dressmaking at the moment.  It varies – according to a former colleague; one of my hobbies is collecting hobbies!).

I have always been interested in creating things. I loved painting and drawing when I was younger and for a while I was determined I was going to be an artist (I’m not; I’m a lawyer), and over the last ten years or so, and after a long break from sewing and creating in general, I have rekindled my interest in making things.

About four or five years ago I took a jewellery-making course with a good friend from work.  I loved it.  For a year or so I was quite obsessed with making earrings, necklaces and bracelets.  I sold a few of them, wore quite a few, and gave away some as gifts.  I haven’t really done much jewellery-making since then, but I have a habit of coming back to my hobbies after a while!

My current passion is making clothes.  This is something that I have done on and off since I was about 13 or 14.  My maternal grandmother taught me the basics of reading a pattern, cutting out fabric, and constructing a garment.  She also bought me my first sewing machine; a Janome NewHome.  It was very basic but did everything I needed – straight stitches in three lengths, various zigzags and a four-step button hole.  Thank you, Granny!  I still have that machine and it’s great as a spare and for when I am using two different colour threads and can’t be bothered to keep rethreading my main machine.

About five years ago I decided that I wanted to learn more about sewing so I attended a five-week course run by the Birmingham School of Sewing.  It was useful in teaching the fundamentals, but we didn’t actually construct anything.  As I had made some items in the past, I was able to use it as a springboard to get back into sewing.  I started off as most people seem to: with a wrap skirt.  In my case, I used a Tilly and the Buttons pattern for the Miette skirt.  It was quick and easy to make so I made another in navy gingham with salmon-pink bias binding.

After this course, and about five years ago, my wonderful husband bought me a very much upgraded sewing machine, a Janome TXL 607.  It is computerised and has more stitches than I could possibly imagine, but most of all, it makes sewing a lot of fun.  For Christmas 2016 I was very generously given a Janome overlocker (the 9300DX) by my Mother-in-law .  I absolutely love this machine and the professional finish it gives to my garments.  There is now no limit to, and no excuses for not making, any garment I could possibly need (except bras – complex structural engineering required here! #fullbustproblems).

Until last year my clothes-making hobby was a fairly sporadic one, and I was not particularly adventurous.  I periodically made wrap skirts, A-line skirts, long skirts (lots of skirts), and all wovens.  Then I attended a two-day course at my local sewing shop, Guthrie and Ghani, taught by the amazing Layla Toteh. It was a game-changer!  I made a Grainline Morris blazer, then on day two of the course I made another one.  Then I went home and sewed a third one.  I was hooked!  I think it was a combination of the beautiful studio above the shop, the stunning fabrics available, the lovely, positive atmosphere, and Layla’s ability to make you believe that you really can sew whatever you want – nothing is too difficult!

Guthrie and Ghani is now a place I go to stare longingly at all the wonderful fabrics; where I book onto a course to get my sew-jo back when it begins to wane; and, where I go to buy patterns and seek advice on all aspects of my projects from the always-knowledgeable and ever-patient team.  As it’s just under two miles from my house, I also feel justified in rewarding myself with a purchase if I walk there and back.  Good for my physical health, not so good for my bank balance health.

At the start of 2017 I sort of made a resolution that I would make any clothes that I needed and I would refrain from buying ready to wear.  I didn’t succeed and I succumbed to a number of Joules tunics and comfy M&S leggings (my sort of uniform now).  I also had to plug a few gaps in my work wardrobe.  However, I did make some items which I regularly wear:  a Tilly and the Buttons Coco top, some Cashmerette Concord t-shirts, a few dresses and, most recently, a Tilly and the Buttons Cleo.

I intend to renew my pledge on 31 December 2017 to make as many items of clothing that I need in 2018!  Items exempt from this are underwear, hosiery, and shoes.

Some projects that I have planned are:

  • Lots more concord t-shirts – I have a gap in my wardrobe for long-sleeved, warm and comfy t-shirts.
  • A Papercut Patterns Sapporo coat – I have just bought the most unbelievably stunning navy silk and hand painted gold fabric from Fabric Godmother. Seriously, it is the stuff dreams are made of!
  • A Cashmerette Rivermont dress – Cashmerette patterns fit me really well (plus there’s the added bonus of not having to do a full bust adjustment).
  • Another Cashmerette Upton dress – plain navy this time.