My Week In Sewing: Holidays, Bomber Jackets, and Summer Sewing

Hello everyone and welcome back to the So What If I Sew blog! We are back for another ‘My Week In Sewing’ except technically it is two weeks as last weekend we were away on holiday. It’s been an exceedingly busy two weeks and I have been really looking forward to sitting down on my sofa with a cup of tea and taking a moment to reflect and write this blog. As we were off work from Friday to Thursday and actually away Saturday to Tuesday, the weeks have somewhat blurred into one so I will do my best to separate them and remember the interesting things but honestly its more likely to be a thematic blog this week!

Last week(w/c 11th) I was working on an exhibition opening and I have to say my me-made work wardrobe really came into its own. I wore my second Chalk & Notch Fringe Dress – which to tell the truth isn’t completely finished( I still need to sort the sleeves) but I wore it anyway and no one noticed so I’m counting that as a win. Then for the night of the private view I got my favourite Nina Lee Portobello trousers out – stylish, elegant, and space for two phones and an epi-pen in the pockets and a radio on the waistband! Then on Maundy Thursday the sun shone and I unearthed a make I had completely forgotten about. This McCalls M7531 midi dress(shown on the left) in a super cute pink stripey ribbed jersey from Sew Much Moor. It was funny, I was sat in bed on Wednesday night trying to figure out what to wear, I was going into the office and then having dinner in London in the evening with a friend so needed an outfit to do both. Then as I scrolled through my instagram account my me-made wardobe came galloping to the rescue! This dress was made in October and the fabric is far too thin to wear in the winter so I had just sort of forgotten about it but I love that even though the fabric is lightweight, the length helps to keep you warm and cosy, I love how comfortable it is while still looking smart, and I love the colours. Now that this make has been brought to the front of the wardrobe, I know it will be getting top billing for the rest of the spring/summer.

One of the functions of these blogs is take a moment and think about my week. I know I mentioned I was starting to be a bit better about taking time for myself but this philosophy sort of dissolved in the run up to the holiday as so much had to be done before I left. However on reflection I did manage to take some time for myself before it all kicked off! I started last week with a relaxed Sunday at the hairdressers. My appointments take roughly 6 hours but I really value that time to sit and relax, to read a magazine, to get a bit of local gossip, and generally enjoy time that is truly my own. I had dinner with a friend that I’ve not really seen since January 2020 which was wonderful and on Good Friday Adam and I had a wonderful relaxed afternoon in town together. What originally was a quick admin trip for birthday presents and picking up shoes from Timpsons, devolved into a full day together in town including lunch out and some shopping for me – I managed with great difficult to stay away from the fabric shop but I am on a fabric ban until I have enough space to the fabric I currently own! I also managed to accept that I wasn’t going to be able to finish my purple satin dress in time for our weekend away so instead of stressing and beating myself up I decided to be kind to myself and I ended up buying a RTW jumpsuit(as shown below with the bomber jacket) and a red jersey dress. Both of which I adore and fit me perfectly! Thats the funny thing, when you fully stop shopping for clothes and sew most of your wardrobe, buying something RTW becomes a lovely treat. Something that happens once in a while and that I appreciate far more than I used to. I really enjoyed trying things on, thinking about upcoming makes and silhouettes but not feeling pressure to get anything just engaging with my love of clothes and treating myself after what has been a really intense couple of years.

My main sewing project last week was my first Cashmerette Club pattern, the Kimball Bomber Jacket. I used a ponte di roma jacquard for the main jacket, black ribbing for the cuffs, neckline, and waistband, and a cosy viscose for the sleeve lining. Looking at this garment both in photos and on the sofa next to me right now, I still can’t quite believe I made it. So lets talk construction details: this project involved bias bound seams, zip pockets, jacket zips, and it allowed me a first go at quilting fabric. The sleeves are made of three layers of fabric, an outer jacket layer, an inner lining, and then a layer of batting sandwiched between the two to give the sleeve some body. It also contributes to making the jacket super cosy to wear. I quilted it by eye which was tricky, as neither fabric would take chalk markings, but it worked out fine if a tiny bit messy and then literally yesterday while I was tidying I discovered that I have a quilting foot for my machine. That would definitely have helped!

The pockets were also a real learning curve, for some reason I really struggled to get my head around attaching the pocket bags for the zips, but sure enough doing just one step at a time and not reading ahead(not reading ahead helps me when I a overthinking and I just need to focus on the step at hand), the instructions guided me through and I have two excellent pockets. There are also loads of other techniques in this that were a little new to me such as bias bound seams – which I love! All in all it was a real journey and I’m incredibly proud of it. I mean…please don’t look at the inside or anything and its by no means perfect, but I am extremely happy with the result and I know its going to get alot of use this summer. I was so proud of it that I wore it out in London on the Saturday night and made Adam take photos of me against a cool black wall outside our hotel. I had a bit of a vogue moment and I regret nothing. Side note: do we love my new sunglasses? The result of over an hour trying sunglasses on at TK Maxx but I am very pleased!

The bomber jacket and jumpsuit emsemble was in honour Adam’s mum’s 60th Birthday, we had dinner with most of his extended family and then went to see Cabaret which was an absolutely wonderful production. If you get the chance to visit the Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre I thoroughly recommend it! Then on the Sunday we escaped to the countryside for a few days walking and relaxing at a country house hotel in the North Downs to celebrate our anniversary. On our way back through London on Tuesday we rounded the trip off with nearly two hours, and an ungodly amount of money, spent in the enormous Waterstones in Gower Street. All in all a wonderful weekend and very much needed! Since we got back earlier this week we’ve been trying to sort things out as between work, Adam and I being ill, my MA, and the holiday, we STILL haven’t finished unpacking the house after the move! I know everyone says that unpacking takes time but Adam and I are normally very very speedy unpackers so it is a little stressful that the flat still isn’t completely sorted. We will get there though and there really isn’t that much left to do, it just feels a lot at the moment – we shall prevail!

However I have had time to get some good sewing in this week! After work on Friday I got the overlocker out and finished all the seams on my white Marlo cardigan. Now I just need to decide whether I want to put buttons on it or if I’m happy with it as it is. I have also been beavering away at my Harriet Bra and I am pleased to report that I now have about 75% of an actual bra! The casing is going to be attached next and then elastic to almost every side and then I just need to wait for the rings and sliders to arrive so that I can attach the straps. Idiotically I used my original rings and sliders on my Friday Pattern Company Saltwater Slip Dress which I will be able to tell you all about next weekend. Yesterday evening I also managed a little batch cutting and cut out my next Cashmerette ambassador project – I can’t reveal the pattern just yet – and my Closet Core Pietra trousers which I’m hoping to start this week as well.

I even managed to get a vlog out this weekend! Head over to my youtube channel for updates on my favourite spring makes, my summer plans, and an update on my make nine challenge.

So its been a week (or two!) of bits and pieces. I’m sorry I don’t have anything more meaningful to discuss this week but I really do love these blogs as a way to chat to you all and give you little updates on my sewing. Sadly there will be no sewing for me today as I need to write 3000 words of my dissertation for tomorrow for my tutor to review – wish me luck! Its only my lit review and I have done a massive amount of reading and I’m also fully prepared that what I give her on Monday is very much a first draft and I will most likely edit it a further 6 times before my tutor does her second review. However there is just time to squeeze in this week’s favourite fabric and patterns!

Pattern of the Week: Absolutely loving the Cashmerette Vernon Shirt at the moment! I’m on a Cashmerette kick at the moment and I definitely fancy the idea of making a shirt with no gape and no pulling buttons!

Fabric of the Week: This Ecru Patterned Viscose from Sew Sew Sew has absolutely stolen my heart! I want culottes, I want a dress, I want a skirt, I want absolutely anything and everything in this fabric!

Anyway, I had better get on with my dissertation so thank you all for joining me again this week and I’ll see you next weekend for another My Week In Sewing!

My Week In Sewing: Batch Projects, My New Sewing Space, and The Cashmerette Club

Welcome back to week two of the My Week In Sewing blog feature. I have to say I have been looking forward to sitting down and writing this all week! This past week has been far more sewing focussed, started some new projects, I kept going with some old ones, I tried a new philosphy of sewing and I have an exciting announcement so grab a cup of tea and join me for a round up of my week.

After a week off with illness I returned to work on Monday. My week off definitely helped me slow down and gain perspective and I was determined to try and carry that into the week. Needless to say that didn’t necessarily happen, by Wednesday I found myself all stressed and tense again however I did manage to take 30 minutes to myself everyday which I think is an improvement. Furthermore although I could feel myself returning to old habits I was at least aware of those habits and I do feel like I’ve made positive progress. I guess the key is, as with all long term change, to remeber that nothing is going to happen overnight. I’ve done the hard bit and realised that I have to change my habits but the reality is that I am tackling habits that have been instilled in me since birth so its going to take some hard work to unlearn them. However, it is strange what a period of rest and reflection can do for your motivation. On Monday I started a project that I have literally been putting off for a year. A whole year! I started cutting out my Cloth Habit Harriet Bra. It was one of those moments where you realise that you were actually worrying about nothing. For more news on this make look out for a youtube sew-a-long coming in two weeks time!

This week’s mantra came from a podcast I was listening to which discussed whether something is convenient or whether its positive i.e. when you make a decision are you making that decision because its just easier to do it that way or because it will be actively positive for you. A good example of this for me is going to ballet, I adore going to ballet but often its just easier to work out at home when I get back from work. However if I really think about it, actually going to ballet and socialising with the class would be much more beneficial for me. Sometimes its not possible to go but often all I need to do is remember to put leggings and ballet shoes in my work bag and then I would be able to go. I decided to go to ballet on Thursday and I had a wonderful time so I’ll definitely be going regularly after the easter break – although I should highlight that I can still barely straighten my legs today they are so sore!

This mantra has also made me consider when I have energy and what I should do with those periods. Something I see lots of sewists do, but could never stomach myself, is batch cutting. My style of sewing used to be, one project at a time, long sewing days, cutting and sewing everything pretty much on the same day. The issue with that system is that it means I have nothing to work on in the week without starting a whole new project, something that I rarely have the time or energy to do on Wednesday night for example. Here enters a product that I was shamelessly influenced to buy by Ruan (The Yorkshire Sew Girl) which are these amazing A3 project bags. I bought them off amazon, I got a pack of 5 and I am in love. They allow me to batch cut projects when I have the energy and then during the week when I have a moment to sew I can grab which ever project I want to work on, do five minutes of sewing, and then put the project back in the bag in whatever state it is in! Honestly these bags have revolutionised my sewing. Part of the reason I used to try to get so much done in one session was so that I didn’t have little pieces of fabric or pattern floating around that might get lost. Being able to grab a project and work on it as much or as little as I am able and then safely store it away has really helped me to feel comfortable with any amount of progress and I feel like my sew-jo has flowered again as a result.

Adam finally tested negative for covid so I was able to move back into the bedroom on Thursday. Although it was really rubbish isolating from each other for such a long time, there was one big positive. Having too sleep in the office meant that I had to unpack the room to make space for a bed. The result? The bed is out and now my section of the office / sewing room is full unpacked and beautiful. My sewing machines are out on the side board, my desk it clear, all my sewing supplies are stowed appropriately and the space feels calm and relaxed. I have filmed a tour of my new sewing space which I am really excited to share with you but you will see all next week!

This week I also started quite an ambitious project which is the Cashmerette Kimball Bomber Jacket an exclusive pattern to the Cashmerette Club of which I am now a member! The lovely team at Cashmerette have invited me to be a Cashmerette Club Collaborator so I will be having a go at some of the beautiful patterns and sharing my thoughts with you all. This is immensely exciting to me as I absolultely love Cashmerette patterns. They are primarily a plus size brand however they have expanded into straight size patterns but with proper cup size options – hallelujah! As any of you who have followed me for a while will know, I have a significant bust to waist ratio which can make some patterns completely inaccessible unless im willing to do a multiude of full bust adjustments which (spoiler alert) I can very rarely be bothered to do and often ruin the line of the original pattern because of the amount I have to add. Enter cashmerette patterns where I can make a US size 2 (UK 6) but with a G cup on the bodice! This bomber jacket pattern has been great fun so far, I’m working with a Ponte di Roma Jacquard and a viscose lining from Sew Sew Sew and this week I had my first ever go at quilting to create the sleeves of the jacket! I’m very nervous and I hope the jacket turns out well but I’m hoping to reveal it next week for you all providing I can pluck up the courage to insert the zips.

So its been a busy week! To round it all off I hit 5k followers over on instagram which is very exciting. It’s not exactly the most important thing in the world, but it was nice to take a moment yesterday and appreciate what a wonderful community I am part of and how happy I am to have an international community of sewing friends.

Now I’m off to get my hair done so I can return to a full head of blonde hair in time for our easter weekend away but before I go allow me to highlight my favourite patterns and fabrics I’ve spotted this week!

Pattern pick of the week: The Chalk & Notch Wren Top & Dress gains this week’s spot for pattern of the week! I discovered Chalk & Notch back in January and I have absolutely fallen in love with their patterns. The designs are beautiful and there are two cup sizes available across the whole size range which is fabulous.

Fabric pick of the week: White Broderie Anglaise from Sew Much Moor is my favourite fabric this week. It always makes me think of spring / summer although I’ve never had the confidence to sew with it! I’d like to have a go this year, I’m thinking possibly a fourth Amaya Shirt but let me know in the comments below of any patterns that work well with this fabric.

Thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoyed this week’s installment. I’ll see you next time for another My Week In Sewing!

My Week In Sewing: Sickness, Cosy Cardigans, and my Sicily Slip Dress

Hello everyone, I’ve been saying this a lot recently but welcome back after a brief hiatus. I’m hoping to have to say that less but life is what life is. The challenge from starting a blog in lockdown is that returning to the office, commuting, and generally being out of the house limits the time to blog. Furthermore the stress of returning to a hectic pace of life often means that when I do have time physically, I don’t have space mentally to think about writing. In many ways I felt pressure for this blog to be a practical outlet but now that I have my youtube as a zone for practical sew-a-longs and pattern discussions I wanted to take time to evaulate what this space is for me. The original purpose was always to share my sewing journey, so thats what I’m going to do.

Those of you who follow me on youtube will recognise the name of this series. For a good portion of 2020 and 2021 I would vlog my whole week and share it with you and I loved doing it. It was fun to share what I was up to from home and to share the reality of my sewing journey at that time. However since returning to the office and to commuting, I don’t have the same type of sewing time anymore and it became a real challenge to film anything interesting. So a few weeks ago I had a bright idea! I am bringing the My Week In Sewing segment across to the blog. I’ll still be able to share my week with you plus its a no stress way for me to keep blogging while also taking much needed time to process my week. I hope you enjoy reading this series as much as I am going to enjoy writing it.

My Week In Sewing: 28th March – 3rd April

This week is an interesting one in which to start this series because the majority of my week did not include sewing. In fact I was extremely unwell this week and landed in hospital on Wednesday with a fever, low blood pressure, and a chest infection that was having a good go at becoming pneumonia. However I am definitely on the mend and in many ways the opportunity to stop doing absolutely everything and just rest and focus on my health was a blessing. While I didn’t have much sewing time at the start of the week, I was still thinking about sewing all the time and that is something that can be very hard to capture on a vlog so I’m excited to share those thoughts with you.

Last week was gorgeously hot, as the end of March often is, and I got a chance to debut my Me Made spring and early summer wardrobe. I also started my annual spring body reset where I start moisturising my legs again, sorting out my nails, and putting on face suncream everyday. So even though it turned colder this week and the jumpers went firmly back on, my brain was very much rooted in spring patterns and fabrics. This mood was further bolstered by an exciting package from the Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn sale (shown below) with a beautiful lilac crinkle satin and a rust colour polka dot viscose.

I’ve never really sewn with anything lilac because I used to find with my old hair that it washed me out but my new blonde hair definitely helps to warm up my skin tone so I’m hoping it will look good. I’m just trying to find a pattern for this fabric. I definitely want to make a dress, most likely sleeveless and long but not necssarily flowing, and categorically no buttons. I’m racking my brains for something with the right silhouette so if you have any ideas do let me know in the comments below!

While I was lying in a bed in A&E on Wednesday I looked down at my trousers and noticed that they were starting to go threadbare at the knees and thighs. I’m sorry to say that I have an emergency/inpatient hospital outfit and have done since around 2018. The key to dressing for hospital I always think is convenience and comfort so for years my go to has been a comfy lounge/yoga bra (no metal so you don’t have to take it off for scans), a short sleeved black t-shirt, so they can access your arm for blood tests, cannulars, and blood pressure monitoring, a zippy hoodie or cardigan (something that can go over your shoulders if you aren’t able to put your arms back in sleeves, and my favourite comfy black harem pants which I have had since around 2007. They are super soft, lightweight but warm, easy to take off/put on, and will double as pyjamas if you are admitted. It is these beloved trousers that are finally going the way of all flesh so I put a call out on instagram for pattern suggestions to make another pair and you all asked me to share the recommendations.

Harem Pants Pattern Suggestions:

  • The Tilly and the Buttons Juno PJs and altering the pattern https://www.tillyandthebuttons.com/2020/02/make-it-simple-juno-pyjamas-sewing-pattern.html – this i didn’t go for becuase the vast majority of Tilly’s patterns just don’t fit me in the slightest and I don’t fancy the effort when I know its unlikely to work.
  • The Margot Trousers from Made My Wardrobe https://mademywardrobe.com/shop-products/margot-trousers-printedversion – These were quite a good option but the waist line was wrong for what I wanted. My harem pants have a flat panel from waist to hip, then gathered flowing trousers, and an ankle cuff at the bottom.
  • True Bias Hudson Pants but in a much lighter fabric – I love this pattern but this wasn’t quite right either as the shape doesn’t have the looseness that I want.
  • SEW Magazing Free Harem Pants Pattern https://www.sewmag.co.uk/free-sewing-patterns/sheena-pants – This was the best recommendation by far as it almost exactly matches my current pair. All I will need to do is to lengthen the waist/hip panel a bit and we are sorted! I am going to make these in a super soft bamboo jersey a little later in the year

This weekend I started to feel better so I decided to do some very slow pattern cutting. I managed to cut out two projects I’ve wanted to make for a while. Both of them are repeats of patterns I’ve already made and wear constantly, I am of course talking about the True Bias Marlo Sweater and the Chalk & Notch Fringe Dress. My original versions of which can be seen on the right. The Fringe Dress has been a massive success particularly in the warmer weather. Its comfortable and airy but still modest enough for work and I think the hemline is really fun. And the Marlo Sweater? Honestly I don’t think there has been a day when I’ve not worn it since it came off the machine!

So I will be making a dark version of the fringe dress in a beautiful black viscose with little pebble spots (but this time I’ll include the pockets!) and I will be making a cosy cream version of the Marlo in stretch waffle knit from Higgs & Higgs which will be perfect for colder spring days. I cut both out yesterday and actually managed to make 90% of the Marlo! I’d forgotten what a quick pattern it is to sew. All thats left is to interface the button placket, attach the neck binding and then do buttons and buttonholes.

It took me a lot longer than usual to sew but thats fine. At the moment I’m trying to understand and define what rest means to me rather than what other people say is restful. One huge realisation I’ve had is that for me, someone who constantly has a to do list, I need time where there is no goal. Time to do an activity for the sake of doing it rather than to achieve something. Yesterday I tried to practice that and do you know what? It really helped.

I’ve noticed that in a week of stopping literally everything I do that my mind has become a little clearer as well. So I made a decision about my Sicily Slip Dress. Some of you may remember that I made it back in february and although I’ve not officially revealed it yet as its part of a collaboration i did post it on my story because I couldn’t decide about the length. It was mid-calf and although everyone on instagram said to keep it long, I just couldn’t like it. I hated the way it made me look like a 1920s ghost and I didn’t feel like me in it. But i kept it loong becaues other people liked it and I just couldn’t decide. Now I’ve had space to think and my brain feels quiet I can see that I hate it long and that, although other opinions are useful when trying to make an irreparable decision, at the end of the day I am the one wearing it and I need to like it.

So I took a deep breathe and one inch at a time I shortened it until I began to love it. I took 8 inches off in total so now its mid-thigh and I lengthened the straps so that the neckline was much more flattering. I suddenly feel light. There are lots of a little decisions that can pile up and start to feel like buzzing noise in your head but sometimes it helps to remember that they are individual decisions and each one is entirely achievable if you give yourself time to concentrate on it. I can’t show you the dress just yet as its still technically a secret but I had a really good time slowly altering it to make it fit. It reminded me why I love sewing the way I do, because my clothes are for me and only me.

Today’s other job is to start but not necessarily finish to the make the office/sewing room passable as currently its full of fabric and I can’t get to the desk. Also as Adam is still testing positive for covid, I am sleeping in the office so extra impetus to clear some more space.

I thought I would round off by highlighting a fabric and a pattern that I’ve spotted this week

Favourite Pattern Of The Week: True Bias Zoey Dress & Tank Top

This one would have passed me by but for a fellow instagrammer sharing it on their story! I love everything about this pattern and its swiftly climbed to the top of my wishlist. As someone with a curvier figure I love the chunkier straps and the neckline. I ideally want to try the pattern before Summer so that I can make lots of versions if it works well.

Fabric I’ve Spotted This Week: Hey Sew Sister Peach Waffle Knit

Soemthing I’ve discovered about myself over the last year is that normal jersey and knits are fine but my god do I love a waffle knit. Everything about this fabric just cries out to be made into lightweight jumpers and cardigans, long sleeve tops, and cute lounge shorts, and honestly I can feel my resolve beginning to break! In A/W I was lusting after the Khaki version but now this Peach colour is my favourite!

Thats all from me this week so thank you for joining me. I don’t normally do this style of blog so if you enjoyed it please do give it a like, leave me a comment, and maybe even consider subscribing to hear from me each week.

Until next Sunday, have a wonderful week everyone!