Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Made by me

White Top - made by me
Navy Trousers - made by me
Mustard sandals - Fly Girl

I made these trousers and this top a couple of months ago, but somehow haven't got around to blogging about them...partly because I'm only half happy with them. The top I made before I felt properly comfortable working with knits (now I'm half-comfortable and it's a much better place to be than wholly uncomfortable) and the workmanship is fairly horrendous.

I didn't use my overlocker, which is fairly essential on a thin, white jersey as the seams are visible through the fabric. I also never got round to putting any binding on the neck, which is fine as this top is very much a test-piece (it has been assigned this role retrospectively, as obviously when I started making it, it was going to be my favourite t-shirt ever - boundless optimism is always a good starting place in garment sewing, otherwise one would never start).

But none of this actually matters, because it fits in exactly the way that I hoped it might, which means that I now have a reliable set of pattern pieces to work from in future. It also means that it's a jolly good thing that I've taken so long to post this because it's yet another occasion where I am left with no option but to tell you how much I love Cal Patch's Design-It-Yourself Clothes book and without interspersing my Cal-praise (which a couple of months ago featured in nearly every other post) with other things there's a danger of looking like a sycophant (albeit one with a bulging wardrobe).

But really, I'm so delighted. I have four shop-bought tops very similar to this white one...the only differences being that there's slightly different detailing on the yoke and that the other four are really well-made and fit for venturing out in public. But despite the fact that I have four of them, I worry over them. I worry that their loveliness might be worn away; that their colours will fade and become shabby with washing; and that holes will appear in their threads and that I will be left with a gaping, great irreplaceable hole in my wardrobe and that every day I will go to get dressed and feel like crying over their loss. So now you can see what a wonderful thing it is to know that, if I can find some suitable jersey and improve my skills in working with it further, I can make this top over and over again, until I have at least 30 of them, at which point I might be able to relax properly.

And on to the trousers...the trousers have amazed me slightly. When I was drafting the pattern for them I couldn't quite believe I was even attempting it as they were so unlikely to go right (I say this because I always find it difficult to find trousers that fit nicely in shops)...but weirdly they came out well first time and are the most wonderful fit. The fabric has about 3% of something stretchy added to it and it means that they hug in all the right places and are forgiving in other places. I'm really happy with the way these are made and like the detailing on them, however, I'm not completely happy with the fabric, so again, a garment to be kept indoors, but definitely something to be remade in nicer material once the weather turns cooler.

I'm thinking they must be quite flattering too...as in reality my bottom is actually twice the size of the one in this photo.

So I am left with two unwearable garments, but two happiness-inducing sets of pattern pieces (yes, Cal's fabulousness remains undented). I think this is a good result. There are just two short weeks before the summer holidays begin and I am unsure whether my end of term dressmaking report should read:

"Florence has had a good year and comes to her dressmaking full of enthusiasm and willingness to tackle new things. While her efforts don't always bear perfect results, she learns from her mistakes and we are hoping to see more wearable pieces from her next year."


"Florence is a slightly deluded puppy who approaches each new task with a boundless enthusiasm that is exhausting to behold. Despite never quite catching the stick, she remains undeterred and ploughs on with an unshakable belief that the next thing she endeavours to undertake will be a success in every respect. We believe that her growing catalogue of mistakes are undoubtedly a drain on the earth's precious resources. If seen in the dress fabrics department she should be apprehended and held until her sewing machine has been confiscated and her husband has been made aware of what a grave disservice he is committing by smiling encouragingly at her when she presents him with yet another fundamentally flawed garment."

I feel that the latter report rings more truthfully in my ears...but we both know that I shall carry on anyway.


  1. they look great. I need to look at that book again, although I usually end up totally disliking anything I make for myself. :(

  2. Read you loud and clear missy! I'm totally on the same page (figuratively and literally) I've drafted myself a shirt from Cal's book but haven't got round to testing it yet, partly because I'm sure it won't be perfect but loved the process of drafting it! If I did make it I could then indulge in another drafting session! Having used Cal to make my most favouritist skirts in the whole wide world I'm eager to make the shirt but relunctant to complete it as I'll end up, like you, with a flawed but educational piece of clothing. I love the process of drafting but my inexperience and lack of real life sounding board means that the learning curve is steep. My enthusiaism is greater than my ability and I also have a DH who nods and smiles in the right places whilst not understanding a word I'm talking about (bias, functional ease, seam allowances.....) thereby fuelling this belief that someday I will make something more complicated than an a-line skirt for myself! One day soon I'll have a bespoke wardrobe but until then I'll have some slightly-dodgy-not-to-be-worn-in-public-but-bring-a-smile-to-my-face items! I feel your pain sister!

  3. Fantastic!!!! I'm in awe, I rarely make anything for myself, perhaps you have inspired me?? lol

  4. Please share the pattern that makes one's bottom shrink to half its size!

  5. i think you should get top marks for your dressmaking journey this past year Florence. you tackle each project with an open yet analytical mind, which is a really good thing, and you certainly are happy to learn by mistakes. it is almost as if you need the mistakes to help you fully understand, which is also a great thing as we learn most from the mistakes we make. i have been so impressed with your newly found pattern drafting skills (a la Cal) and your eye for detail and finish are astounding. I wish you well on your continuing quest for perfect garments.
    ginny xx
    p.s. have you ever thought about joing a local sewing class with access to an experienced teacher?

  6. The trousers are marvelous! I really adore them. :) Both pieces fit wonderfully. I can't wait to see more.

  7. I wish my "indoor" clothing attempts were half as nice as yours.

  8. Your enthusiasms is infectious, just wish I was as good at fitting as you, it does help that you have such a lovely figure. You do inspire me so maybe I will make those trousers that I’ve made a toile for….Hope you don’t mind me asking but where do you buy your fabrics?
    Happy stitching

  9. Now I am seriously impressed Florence - not that I wasn't before of course! Trousers are a whole other world and I have only made pairs for my boys when they were little. Do agree about the figure though!! Please keep these dressmaking posts coming x

  10. Heheh, I fully hear you! I am always super enthusiastic when I start making stuff usually saying things in my head like 'this will be the best quilt ever' and then the shiny idea slowly gets a bit rougher around the edges. Got to keep the hope though. I love your lengthy descriptions of the making process. It's so inspiring to to hear of your learning curve. I am really keen to start sewing stretch too, but it scares the hell out of me. I really love the sounds of this book- gotta get it one day.

  11. Love that book too. It makes sense even if my pattern pieces always look really strange, they fit. I've got several patterns drafted but not made up waiting for the right fabric - I hate sewing with stretch fabric though. Your trousers are great.

  12. Now why didn't I read this yesterday? Instead I was stood in a bookstore trying to remember the name of that book...

    They both look good enough to wear out to me. Actually, you'd have a hard time getting me to remove any clothing that makes the size of my rear look smaller...


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Florence x

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