Christmas Stocking

Come with me on a journey through time and space… next stop is Christmas 2017. 

I’m all over the place with my blogging, I know. What does chronology matter when it’s just for fun?! 

Here’s my baby’s Christmas stocking which I made for her very first Christmas. It’s massive.

I was making my template, which consisted of me trying to draw an aesthetically pleasing stocking on some newspaper which could definitely accommodate little gifts. My lovely friends were on hand to offer advice, and when I asked them if they thought it was big enough they both said no, so I made it a smidgen bigger and then added my seam allowance. Yes I am blaming them! 

“You’ve got to fill that now” said various helpful people once the enormous stocking was complete. Having used it though for the little one’s first AND second Christmases, I actually don’t think it is too big at all. 

The mistletoe fabric is leftover from my Christmas dress a few years ago, the white lining was in my stash along with the red felt and ric rac. The red fabric for my appliqué “H” was part of a quilting charm pack I was given as a gift a few years ago, and the ribbon was from the stash too. I padded the whole thing with a layer of quilt wadding (left over from previous quilting projects), and I am really glad I did, it gives it some substance. 

There we have it! A beautiful Christmas stocking in red and green. Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas everyone!

Dress to Skirt Refashion

I have hung onto a bunch of too-small dresses for a long time, waiting to see whether I would fit back into them. But, now I am ready to accept that I have grown, and I really doubt that these smaller dresses will fit me again any time soon. My bigger bust seems like it’s here to stay! 

I eventually realised how silly it was to hoard a selection of too-small dresses whilst also complaining to myself that I a) don’t have anything to wear and b) don’t have money to spend on sewing supplies. So I went through the little stash and gave a few away to my sister, a couple to the charity shop and chose a few to refashion. 

The original Emery dress (click for blog post)

The new skirt
This one was my first Emery dress (I pleated the skirt rather than gathered). I would have loved to have kept it as a dress, I do think this fabric looks much better on a dress than a skirt, but there just wasn’t enough fabric to play with across the full bust. There was also a bit of damage next to the zip on the skirt part. It was a low quality concealed zip, and with the stress of the bulk at the waist seam, the fabric next to the zip had torn a bit. To cover it and prevent any more damage, in my skirt refashion i interfaced the tear and then used an exposed zip from my stash. I’m not all that sure I like the style clash with an exposed zip and a very floral flouncy skirt, but maybe it will grow on me. 

The waistband is thinner than I originally intended, through stupidity alone. I used the waistband from the Pippi Pinafore since it’s perfect, but forgot it is a lined waistband rather than a fold over one. But 
I actually really like the skinny waistband, and it will probably be much more practical. The deep waistband on my Flamingo skirt always gets bunched up when I wear it, which annoys the life out of me, so I’m hoping this will prevent such problems with this skirt. 

I added a popper to the waistband. I was going to put a button on, but the waistband was just too bulky to sew a neat button hole. 

Thanks to Me Made May, I now love pairing a Sorbetto top with a full skirt - who knew?! I’m really happy to discover this, especially since my white Sorbetto is a bit short to wear with jeans, but it’s very soft and impeccably sewn (if I do say so myself), so I’m chuffed to bits that it will be back in regular rotation! 

All we need now is some more sunshine please! 

PS if you'd like to see my Me Made May outfits please see my instagram (although I am planning to do a mega round-up at the end of the month).

Ravel or Debussy dress - a Pippi Pinafore

Another blue thing! I'm clearly loving blue at the moment.
Ravel or Debussy dress (Jennifer Lauren Handmade Pippi pinafore pattern)
You know how sometimes an idea for a project lodges itself in your mind and just will not leave? This was one of those.

I've loved the idea of Pippi pinafore shape since I saw Roisin's beautiful versions. I do love the idea of pinafores in general but was worried that a Cleo-esque shape would be too sack like for my taste, and I would miss the definition of a proper waist and bust darts. Anyway I started lurking the pippipinafore hashtag on Instagram and saw some absolute blinders on there. Then I remembered this royal blue cotton drill I've had in my stash for a few years. It seemed too perfect an idea to put aside so I broke my spending rules and bought the pattern. No regrets!

I had a bit of a problem with the PDF pattern. This one is designed so that the printing goes right to the edge on two sides, but my printer somehow chopped a little bit off these edges. While it is nice to not have to lop the border off two sides of each page before taping together, I think I'd rather have the border on all four sides to avoid this type of problem. Anyway I don't know what but something went awry and a bit was missed off one side of each page. I didn't want to print it all again, so I just guessed / measured between sizes or notches to know how far away to tape each piece from its neighbour. I crossed my fingers and hoped I wouldn't encounter any problems because of my guesswork, but happily it was all fine.

I really, really enjoyed sewing this. I took my time over it and honestly enjoyed every minute (apart from when my machine jammed sewing one of the strap button holes. I wasn't very zen at that moment). I don't often have call to practise my topstitching but loved doing so on this dress.

Fit wise it feels great, but since looking at these pictures I feel I need to do a bit of work on the bib and straps. The bib gapes a bit at the centre front, and I think the issue is that my shoulders/traps pull the straps towards centre when I'm moving around, which distorts the bib a bit. It may also just be a bit big so I'll start by sizing down in the bib next time. I may also need to shorten the straps, and perhaps move their placement on the back further apart?

The fit of the skirt is fab and I love love love the pockets and pleats, and how the button band, facings and waistband fit together. I gave it a really little 1/2inch hem, as I didn't want to lose too much length, but actually I think I could've gone a bit shorter.

I was so happy when I found that I had enough of this elephant / woolly mammoth cotton lawn left over from this Sorbetto top to line this beauty with. I love a happy lining, and the light weight lawn is a perfect partner for the heavier cotton drill.

The buttons are another joy. What is it about buttons? They bring me a lot of happiness. These are from an old RTW pair of shorts that I loved to death, and of course then harvested the awesome nautical metal buttons. There they sat in my button tin until the Pippi pinafore came along to give them life once more.

So I am loving this dress, it's easy to wear and will pair with so many of my existing tops. The only slightly annoying thing is that it appears this fabric creases easily (in these photos I had only been wearing the dress for about an hour and hadn't even sat down in it). Plus it's another cat-hair attracting fabric, so I will always be creased and furry! Hey, there are worse things to be!!!

Also I finally got my hair cut! It's been over a year! It had got to the point where I was willing to hack it off myself, so I'm glad I managed to make it to the hairdressers at last. I'm still not used to it but I think I like it!

The Newspaper Picnic dress - a Tilly & the Buttons Joni

The Newspaper Picnic dress (Tilly & the Buttons Joni pattern)

For my birthday 
I was rather excited to receive Tilly and the Buttons' "Stretch" book from my lovely best friend who knows me well. I’ve been admiring the patterns in this book for a while and immediately knew I would make the Joni dress first. 

The fabric here is from Fabricland, which I used some birthday money to buy. I have to say, I’m not entirely convinced about my fabric choice. It looks a bit.... worky? Serious? Basically if I worked in an office it’d be just the thing. But I don’t, and so I’m trying to convince myself it looks ok with sandals and a messy bun here. 

Let’s be honest, it’s comfy and it’ll get worn a lot, especially on cool spring days, in autumn and in winter with navy tights and brown boots. So maybe it’s just not a natural choice for a summer dress. 

The fabric is lovely, it’s a really nice weight with lots of stretch and good recovery. As usual I have some left so I will be making the little one something from the scraps, plus maybe my first foray into knicker making! I’ve downloaded the Megan Neilsen Acacia pattern and am looking forward to having a go. 

Back to this dress, and just to add my thoughts on the pattern. I graded between bust and waist, and ended up sewing the side seams at 1 inch instead of 5/8 once it became apparent that it was too big (should have sized down!), but apart from that no adjustments. I should have raised the shoulder seams (a common adjustment for me so not sure why I didn’t think to do it), as all the extra fabric there makes it look a bit like I’ve got shoulder pads in. Maybe that adds to the workwear feel of it?! After wearing it for a day I actually feel it’s too big all over, so if I do make the pattern again I will go 1 or even 2 sizes down. 

The twist front is actually not complicated at all to sew, but I have to say I’m not 100% happy with how it sits. I was always fiddling with it to try and get the twist to look nice, and stop the ends of the neckline binding showing. One of them is poking out in the photo above. It's bugging me even just looking at it in pictrue form! I’m contemplating putting a few hand stitches in to keep the twist in place. It’s quite low cut which is fine but again it makes me wish I’d cut the size smaller so the neckline sat closer to my chest. 

I’m not overly sure I like the lines of this dress on me, but it’s comfy and swishy and actually did a really good job of keeping me cool on a super hot Easter Sunday. We went for a lovely walk in the woods (perfect for taking blog photos!) and had a picnic. We forgot our picnic blanket and the grass under the trees was all dewy, so we had to sit on bits of the newspaper. It was wonderful and just such a happy family day. This dress will certainly always remind me of it and how content we all felt as a family.

So all in all I’m feeling lukewarm about this make. It was a very quick, satisfying sew though, and I think it will grow on me! While I’m not immediately keen to make millions of Joni’s, I do think a black one would be useful, and maybe also a really fun print - palm leaves comes to mind - with shorter sleeves for summer. 

Next up on the sewing list is a Pippi Pinafore which is making good progress, about 20 refashions which are in various states of progress, aforementioned knickers; then jersey dresses, a pinafore and a sun hat for the little one. Plus I have just started formulating plans to make my first pair of jeans. Springtime certainly ignites the urge to sew in me! I just need more hours than are in the day to get through it all!

The Nora Dress

McCalls 6891 shirt dress in navy polka dots

The Nora Dress: McCalls 6891 in navy polka dots. I'm sure I didn't mean to look quite so smug!

Recognise this pattern? It's the McCalls 6891 which came free with Love Sewing magazine in February. I loved the yellow version on the pattern envelope, and then when I saw Rebecca’s beautiful double gauze creation I was sold and hunted high and low for a copy of the magazine. It was a real treat to sit and read a sewing magazine too. I really enjoyed it! 

I’ve had this fabric ear marked for a shirt dress since I bought it in the John Lewis sale, oh, four years ago??! I bought the buttons then too, they are little silver metal ones and are just a tiny bit special and make me happy. Funny how buttons bring a little bit of joy isn’t it. Quite ridiculous it has taken me so long to make this fabric into a dress, but this was one of those occasions where I was grateful to have some suitable stash fabric to use, as I would have struggled to justify spending on new fabric. Spending money is tight these days! I’m trying to use up my stashed fabrics and patterns where I can, as well as refashion things I’ve had in the sewing pile for ages, so I can get my sewing fix without breaking the bank. It’s also satisfying to see the stash going down instead of up! 

Originally I was going to make a McCall’s 6696 from this fabric but I was a bit reserved about the blouson back, and knew I’d want to adapt that, plus I didn’t have enough of this fabric for the pleated skirt. I will sew a 6696 one day though, to try out the different collar type and skirt. 

This is one of those “perfect fit” patterns, which gives extensive fitting instructions to tissue fit first. I legitimately couldn’t be bothered with this. I HATE tissue fitting with a passion. It’s fiddly, I always end up ripping the pattern and just getting annoyed. Much prefer an actual toile. That said, I did look at the finished measurements first and grade between sizes at the waist. 

I did my toile and didn’t change much else as it seemed a good fit. I should’ve done a full toile with the skirt on and buttons etc, as it’s actually not a great fit in this version, so I’ll count it as a very wearable toile, and make some alterations next time. I am glad I did a bodice toile though if only for the collar construction. It wasn’t too tricky once I got my head around it but my word the instructions are as clear as mud! 

Caveat: I’ve worn the dress all day in these pictures so it’s mega creased and the collar needs a good press into submission. This fabric seems to attract fluff and cat hair, so that’s fun. Speaking of the fabric it’s a very drapey, lightweight cotton twill. It hangs beautifully and is so nice to wear. As I mentioned I barely had enough fabric, because in my ultimate wisdom I decided ages ago to make a cushion cover out of it (which has since been thrown away, otherwise I would have cut it up for pockets). So I had to piece one of the facings and two pocket pieces, plus make the pockets smaller. I refused to make it without pockets. What’s a shirt dress without pockets??! And I didn’t want to make them in a contrast fabric as I didn’t want to ruin the overall look with any bits peeking out of the pocket openings. 

Moving on to the fit. I’ve got some drag lines from bust to shoulder and quite a lot of excess fabric above the bust. I think I need to raise the shoulders but I’m worried about how the collar will complicate matters. I think I just need to get to work! The amount of ease in the waist is nice to wear, so I don’t think I’ll change that. There’s a fair bit of excess fabric through the lower back so I need to have a look at that too. 

Buttonholes were a joy (thanks automatic buttonhole foot). I did a tiny hem as I liked the length as it was. I should have put the top button slightly further up, as you can possibly see in the pictures the collar has folded where it feels like it. I’m going to put a press stud on the inside there to keep it in one place, but next time I’ll space my buttons differently. I didn’t follow the button spacing on the pattern, as I like a button at the waist to stop gaping, and I felt that with smaller buttons I needed them closer together. 

Little Tiny Hem
Lovely buttons, easy button holes and a lot of cat hair

I called it the Nora dress because my grandma had a dress very much like this, a navy polka dot shirt dress, and when I picture her that's what I see her wearing. 

By the way, this is the ideal shoe pairing for flattering blog photos, not for real life being a mum/drama and music teacher/professionally tired person. I really wear it like this:

Or what my husband called "the librarian look", this:

I flat out love this dress. I declare I shall wear it til it falls apart. 

Me Made May 2019

I'm in! 

I, Marie of Ree-Sewn, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May 2019. I endeavour to wear at least one me-made garement per day during May 2019.

The last time I took part in Me Made May was 2016, when I pledged to wear 25 me-mades over the month of May. This is the first time I have pledged to wear me-mades every single day for the whole month. It's definiely a challenge but I'm up for it!

Reasons I am excited about the challenge:

  •  I really feel the need for a wardrobe shake up. I am sick of reaching for the same tired things! I think it will do me good (and encourage me wear the clothes I love) to think a bit more concsiously about what I choose to wear each day.
  • My me-mades need more love! 
  • I'd love to get more creative with the styling of my clothes.
  • It always reinvigorates my desire to sew the clothes I have been planning to
  • It will motivate me to refashion the lovely things in the rather large pile that has been languishing for months, waiting for attention.
  • Money is tight at the moment so I just can't buy much in the way of clothing or even fabric. So I'd really like to use the clothes I DO have to their full potential.
  • Sewing time is also precious and finite. I need to make sure I'm using my sewing time wisely for maximum wardrobe gains. I'm all for sewing the most useful clothes for everyday life. These days I'm all about the cake and less about the icing (frosting).

Reasons it will be challenging for me:

  • I don't have millions of me-mades. A few more than I did in 2016, granted, but I've also retired a fair few dresses when I finally accepted that my bust size was not going to magically decrease again. My post-baby bust does not fit in some of my earlier makes. Hence the big refashioning pile...
  • I don't have much time to faff about with outfits and styling (I usually have a toddler clinging to my leg at getting-dressed time). My defence against this is to be VERY organised and have everything laid out ready. Let's see how that goes....
  • I do like to photograph my Me Made May outfits, it really helps me analyse my wardrobe and styling. BUT it is going to be more difficult to find the time to snap a picture each day, which will have to be on self timer mode on my phone! I would do mirror selfies, but we actually don't currently have a full length mirror! I know! However do I manage. 

I can't wait to get going. We'll see how the photographing goes, but at the moment I'm intending to do a daily outfit post on Instagram (hey - follow me! @ree_sewn), and a weekly round up here on the blog.

If you're new to Me Made May, have a look at Zoe's blog post all about it. Thank you so much Zoe for starting such a fab movement with Me Made May!

I'm so looking forward to seeing everyone's Me Made May and hearing about their experiences. It always fills me with inspiration!

Flamingo Skirt

This skirt is a refashion, although I never shared the original incarnation on the blog.

Flamingo Skirt: a simple pleated rectangle with waistband

Over 18 months ago I whipped up a very quick pleated skirt with this flamingo fabric which was leftover from this dress I made in 2013. For the first time ever the baby had a long nap (she was only a couple of months old at that point), and I frantically sewed this skirt while she slept, as I was sick of wearing the few things I had that fitted me. The resulting skirt did the job, and I did wear it, but the bar fastening always came undone and soon it was too big so just looked baggy. I was also not very pleased with my pleat placement, so I kept meaning to re-do it.

Well, finally I did and I’m so glad, as I just love the print.

I had to take the waistband off and redo all the pleats, but they are now much more flattering so I’m glad I took the time to do it. I also made my waistband shorter and added poppers above to close it above the zip. Much more reliable than the bar closures I had before.

So there we are! These pictures are much better than my usual offerings as I wore the refashioned skirt to a lavender farm near us, which also has a wildflower meadow. Just dreamy views. It did make me laugh though, it was relatively busy and pretty much everyone was just having their own little photo shoot amid the flowers.

There’s something really special about wildflowers. I’d love to dedicate a bit of garden to wildflowers. One day, one day.