About Me

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Currently, I'm a stay-at-home mum to an inquisitive and often rambunctious three year old girl and her sunny little brother. In a former life, I was a lawyer. I know which I prefer. On the odd occasion that I get some downtime, I knit, crochet, read, sew, sing badly, dance even more so, enjoy a glass of wine and watch bad TV, sometimes in varying combinations of the foregoing and not necessarily in that order of preference.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Me-Made May

My recent class with Zoe Edwards has led to me discovering her blog, her amazing talent for refashioning and upcycling and the rather wonderful Me-Made-May challenge.  I have a feeling my friend Julia did this last year, after she had been bitten by the sewing bug.  The idea is, basically, to wear as much handmade stuff as you can during the month of May.  You can shape the challenge in any way you wish and Zoe offers loads of great advice on how to do this, and on what the challenge is (and more importantly, isn't about) here.

It got me thinking.

I don't have many me-sewn garments - running total currently is 1 skirt, 1 dress, 1 top and a rather hastily made and poorly constructed headband.  BUT, I do have quite a lot of knitwear accumulated over the last ten years of knitting regularly and I don't really wear any of it as much as I should (or would like to).

I need to be realistic about my challenge - I don't have tons of time on my hands and we're going away for the second half of the month, so sewing lots of new garments just isn't going to happen.  We're also going somewhere pretty sunny so most of my knitwear is not going to be making the trip with me.  So, with that in mind, I am making the following (admittedly conservative) pledge:

"I, Lyn of Domestic Witterings, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '15.  I endeavour to wear me-made garments at least 3 days per week for the duration of May 2015.  I will also endeavour to complete one of the two WIPs I currently have sat on my sewing table."

The things sat on my sewing table, in case you are interested are my Cappuccino dress (see my last post) and a skirt that I've been playing around with since last summer - it is based on the Delphine pattern from Love at First Stitch (you can see it on there on the cover), but taking inspiration from a very lovely Boden skirt I saw a lady wearing while out and about in Ealing.


I've been bitten hard by the sewing bug in recent weeks.  Watching The Great British Sewing Bee really inspired me, and I've been having fun making nighties, a skirt and a dress for Birdie.

The nighties have proved very popular, the skirt remains unworn (despite being declared to be "beautiful" when it was first produced) and the armholes need re-binding on the dress after it turned out that the sleeves were too tight.  It has been that way for a few weeks now.  Hmm.  Really should do that.

Then I finished off the Butterfly Coco that I started planning over a year ago (!!!!!) but procrastinated about endlessly (and it turns out unnecessarily, as it was very easy and I'm really pleased with the end results).  I may, or may not, manage to blog properly about all these things at some point in the future.  Who knows.  I'd certainly like to.
Please excuse the awful photography, frowny face, roly-poly tummy, laundry and small boy trying to push me over - I'm crap at taking pics at the best of times, I had to crop this one heavily so you couldn't see the rest of Mount Laundry, I haven't been running anything like as much as I should and it is really hard to concentrate when a small boy is trying to push you over.

The success of the Coco go me thinking seriously about sewing for myself and before I knew where I was, I'd signed up for the Cappuccino Dress Sew-along on the Oliver + S blog.  That didn't work out so well in terms of timing and it is still sat on my sewing table, collar completed but not much else.  Oops.  It does look pretty though:

But the ideas kept flowing and the fabric and patterns kept being gorgeous.  More collecting, not much sewing.

I soon realised part of the problem was nerves.  I'm largely self-taught - my gran taught me a bit when I was younger but the more I do, the more I realise she did the tricky stuff for me and I did the easy bits.  So she'd cut everything out, she'd sort the fitting, she'd handle the zip, and I'd do seams. Consequently, I can sew, finish and press a seam like nobody's business but I worry endlessly about cutting things wrong, not adjusting my patterns properly and fiddly things like buttonholes and zips.  It is one of the reasons I enjoy sewing childrens' clothes, particularly girls' things - I've never yet needed to add a zip to anything or found a buttonhole that couldn't be replaced by a press-stud.

I realised what I needed was a class.  I love books and learn well from them, and I'm sure I could do all sorts of things via YouTube videos, but what I really love is learning from another real-live human being.  I've toyed with sewing classes a couple of years ago, and even extracted a promise of a class as a birthday present from Hubby.  I never got round to booking on, partly because of babies and small people and life in general, but mostly because I couldn't find one that was going to result in an end product that I really wanted in my wardrobe.  I'm a stay-at-home mum.  I don't get out a huge amount without at least one small person in tow and, no matter how much I try to kid myself otherwise, a prom dress, a pencil skirt or a 1940s dance dress aren't really appropriate for grubbing around in the park or crawling on the floor at playgroups.  The garments may be lovely in and of themselves, but they would languish in the back of my wardrobe and it felt like a lot of money and effort for something I would hardly wear.  I know the skills are transferable, but I get so little sewing time (or me-time in general), that I'm loathe to use it for anything less than a fully-functioning part of my wardrobe.

Then I saw The Village Haberdashery was running a course to sew the very lovely Deer & Doe Sureau dress in the company of Zoe Edwards, she of the fabulous (but I will concede new-to-me) blog, So Zo' What Do You Know.  It was only a couple of weeks before the course. Before I could second-guess myself, I booked.

Best decision I've made in ages.  Not only did I have a fab weekend, meeting some lovely people, not least of them Zoe, but I also came away with this! (It looks better on me than it does on the hanger, I promise!)

To say I love this dress is an understatement.  Is it perfect?  No, but what handmade garment will be?  It fits, in all the right places.  It looks nice on (I will try to get some pics next time I wear it).  It features a zipper that I installed myself (and that you can barely see). I've already worn it twice and I can't wait to make another one.

I've also come away with bags of confidence about my sewing in general and tons of ideas for future garments, both for me and for the kids.  Of course, since the workshop, almost two weeks ago, the kids have conspired to be utterly rubbish at sleeping so I haven't managed to sew a stitch (other than to add the buttons to my dress), but I remain hopeful that garments will soon be appearing.