Making Christmas presents (or presents in general)

(This is a long ass post, get yourself a cup of tea and get comfy!). Also if you’re my mum, dad or sister do not read!! These are your Christmas presents that still haven’t arrived….

If you know me at all you know that I do not make anything for anyone! Gary’s been asking for something handmade for yeeears and I’m still yet to make Emily anything. When I first started sewing and before that, crochet, I used to make presents for all my friends and family. I quickly stopped when the effort I put in didn’t equal the reaction received. You know the, oh thanks, and then to add insult to injury you’d never see it again! My gran actually gave me back the quilt that I spent 8 months carefully hand-sewing.

Also I felt a bit embarrassed giving handmade gifts because my skills just weren’t up to scratch. Let’s be honest it looked a little Becky Homeecky.

Fast forward 4 years and I’ve started making gifts only for those who request it. This year it was my mum who asked for something I’d made. She loves my handmade gifts because she’s also a maker and knows the time/effort/money that goes into making something.

It got me thinking, I’ve got a shed load of fabric that needs using and it wouldn’t take me long to make some presents. I decided to make my mum a Hemlock and my sister too after perusing my stash. I chose the hemlock because it’s supposed to be oversized and therefore fit wasn’t an issue. The pink jersey was from Backstitch and the jersey from Fabworks. Both fabrics bought before I decided what I would make before buying (I find it’s more likely to get used this way!).

My sister has 2 babies under two and it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to make for them too…. Then Thread Theory posted about a wallet pattern and bam! I’m making for my whole family in Canada.

I took advantage of the Black Friday sales and purchased a load of PDFs on sale. I bought the Wiksten Harem pants, the thread theory bifold wallet pattern and the Brindille and Twig romper. The harem pants fabric was leftover from the Valley blouse I made (unblogged).

I asked my sister what colours she liked the babies in and specifically requested pink for my niece. I didn’t have anything in my stash and so bought some spotty jersey from Guthrie Ghani (who didn’t have a sale on. Wahhh). The snaps were in my stash and originally from eBay.

Kids clothes are surprisingly addictive to make! I cut the fabric in one evening and in another sewed both the pants and the romper up (in less than 2 hours!). Even though the harem pants are French seamed they still sewed up quicker than an episode of Outlander. This makes the effort of making much less and so I’ll be less offended if I never see it again!

For the wallets I bought a metre of fake leather. I’m not averse to buying leather projects but the thought of buying a hide and handling it grossed me out a little. Not to mention leather is crazy expensive.

This wallet very nearly didn’t get made. This was the THIRD attempt. So much for making one for every male in my general vicinity. The fabric I bought is very, um, springy and it made making the wallet difficult. The first attempt I used two layers of the “leather” and it was far too thick and wouldn’t lie flat. The second attempt I used yet more scraps from my Valley blouse. The stitching was uneven and looked too homemade to even think about gifting it.

I actually gave up at this point and asked my dad what he would like. My poor brother in law will just be getting a voucher as having family in Canada means I have to send the parcels off ASAP and I’d already missed my personal deadline.

Anyway third time lucky – I used my walking foot, put the machine on the slowest speed and pressed the hell out of the wallet. I used some scraps from my coat lining for the inner.

Sorry for the bad lighting I was just so pleased to finally finish it!

I also made Gary a wallet to stop him asking for something handmade!

The last thing I made was an Ogden cami for my friend Lisa. She’s already had a handmade kimono and specifically requested another handmade present so I bought the cami pattern during Black Friday and used a metre of viscose I had in my stash.

phew! Well done if you made it to the end. I’ve never made so many presents before but I really enjoyed it this year.

I’m even planning on making Gary a shirt for his birthday! Who even am I!?

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2017 roundup

Another of my favourite posts to read. I just love seeing what people have made/their total tally over the year.

In 2017 I made a total of 36 things. Of that 7(!) of those were presents (1 Ogden cami, a wallet, harem pants, romper, pouch for the valentine swap and 2 hemlock tops) which I think is a record for me. I also made 9 tops, 8 dresses, 2 bras, 1 skirt, a coat and 4 pairs of trousers. Oh and one sweater!

Tops:

Burda chambray shirt / McCalls gingham shirt/ Ogden cami in cotton lawn/ alma blouse / Republique du chiffon Suzon blouse in clip dot fabric / pink stripe lark tee / valley blouse in cotton check / Tessuti Alice top / Sewaholic alma blouse

Bottoms:

Morgan jeans / Pauline Alice Rosari skirt / Sewoverit ultimate trousers x2 / Pauline Alice Turia dungarees

Dresses:

McCalls shirt pattern / By Hand London Kim dress / Ogden-Southport mashup / BHL Anna / McCalls floral dress / Sewoverit Eve / Tilly and the Buttons Cleo / Named Inari

I’m quite impressed by my productivity this year as I think it’s the most output I’ve ever had in a year!

Hits and misses of 2017

I absolutely love reading these posts about what people have loved and hated about what they’ve made. I find it really interesting.

Misses of 2017

Cleo dungaree dress

I’m not gonna lie I feel ridiculous in this dress. I think because I have a toddler I just feel really stupid if I’m dressed similarly to her! It was a 50/50 choice of making the cleo or another Pauline Alice Rosari skirt so I think I’m going to refashion it and see if it gets more wear.

Turia dungarees

My Turia dungarees have fallen in the same category. Although looking at this picture I might need to try give them another go!

McCalls M6696

I have no idea why I don’t love this dress as much as I was expecting. I think the lack of sleeves makes it harder to wear and the full skirt makes me feel too dressed up. It’s too twee for work and too dressy for a weekend.

Archer shirt

This Archer shirt has no sleeves and is totally the wrong length. I think I needs refashioning but I’m gutted this fabric which I adore isn’t getting worn.

Hits of 2017

Cascade duffle coat

I’m not going to lie I’m super proud of this coat. It’s the most time and effort (and most expensive!) project I’ve ever made. I absolutely love it.

Morgan jeans

As soon as I made these jeans I didn’t take them off for 4 days! The only reason I peeled them off was because they got muddy!

Alexandria peg trousers

I’ve worn and worn these to death! They’re comfy and easy to wear. Great for work too!

Sewoverit Eve dress

This Eve dress is fairly new but I find myself reaching for it straight out of the wash. It’s easy to wear, requires no ironing and makes me feel really put together.

Christmas Moneta

Oh how I hate sewing the moneta! That waistband elastic drives me mad but I love love wearing them.

I wear my white polka dot one on a regular basis and every time I wear it I think I need another! I’ve had some stretch lace in my stash for a while and when I was thinking about making a Christmas dress for our work do it popped into my head.

I had some blue jersey leftovers from a dress I made for a friend and they were a perfect colour match. I had scraps left of that jersey when I was done – gotta love scrap busting.

The lace has a scalloped edge which means no hemming the sleeves or the skirt! Yaaaaas. Therefore the dress came together really quickly. I had to fight my overlocker through the thick layers of jersey around the waist but other than that (and the elastic application which I had to do twice) it was an easy and quick make.

I originally wanted to have some lace without lining on the bodice but I thought it would look messy so I overlocked the layers together and turned under.

2018 Make Nine

I really enjoyed the 2017 challenge although I didn’t have 9 items on my list! Most of the items have been heavily worn and thought out.

And so here’s my 2018 make nine:

I’ve got some rifle paper co canvas to make a bag and this pattern from Niizo looks perfect.

I bought the Kyoto sweater in the Black Friday sale and some of the Atelier Brunette sweatshirting. I need more casual weekend tops and my winter wear is mainly rtw.

I need more variety in my work wardrobe. I’ve got some grey jersey in my stash and plan on drafting a pattern. There’s loads of tutorials online.

I had a lot of success with my Morgan jeans this year and I’ve been my most worn/reached for. I’m going to down a size and try again for some black skinnies and some indigo in cone mills denim.

Out of my whole wardrobe – seasonal, work, leisure – it’s underwear I actually need! Most of my bras don’t fit well since having Emily which is surprising considering my clothes do.

I’m desperately in need of some new work trousers. I binned the only black rtw pair I had. Put a hole in the grey ultimate trousers and the only plain pair I have are my port trousers which are too casual. The other pairs are patterned and don’t go with everything! The sasha trousers look perfect but I might just crack out a couple of ultimate trousers as they don’t require stretch cotton.

This coat!!!!!!! The By Hand London Rumana coat hasn’t been released yet but look at it! It’s stunning. I’m still not brave enough to tackle a big 4 coat due to patchy instructions and this one looks perfect. I’d like to make it in either a classic camel or mustard.

I need a new purse as mine is just too bulky and this one by Noodlehead looks perfect! I’m not sure I have enough of the rifle paper co canvas for both a bag and a purse though so I may have to buy some contrasting canvas to go with it.

Lastly the Hadley top which I also purchased during Black Friday. I’m not reposting the awful photos she has on her website (her previous models were so much better and less awkward) and I think the Hadley has been overlooked. I’d like to make a couple of plaid Hadley’s and maybe even a dress length to use up some of my stash.

My sewyear resolutions are the same as last year; no new patterns or fabric! Of course I didn’t stick to it (thanks to the Rifle Paper Co new release) but I did stop myself from buying fabric without a pattern in mind. I have reduced my stash considerably too and I don’t buy nearly half as much fabric as I did. I may do a one-in-one-out policy once I have used the majority up. I’d also like to blog more as I really enjoy writing up a project at the end.

And that’s it! Of course I’ll end up making more than 9 items next year but this is a great starting point! What are your sewing plans for next year? Any big projects to tackle?

Sewoverit Eve dress

This dress was destined to be made from a different fabric but sewoverit patterns tend to be large fabric eaters and I didn’t have enough. Then fabric godmother sent out a money off coupon. I’d had my eye on this chaffinch crepe for a while and snapped it up. The fabric was a nightmare to sew, my machine kept gathering the fabric and even with new needles and thread and a lower stitch length I couldn’t get it to stitch straight. I don’t usually have a problem sewing viscose/crepe and so I’m wondering if my machine may need a service?

It didn’t take long for this dress to jump my sewing queue. I cut a size 8 graded to a 10 for the waist and hips. I sewed the bodice and then left it for a week. Unfortunately I think this stretched the front out because no matter how I wrap it the front gapes. Hence the camisole underneath. I ordered some stay tape but it didn’t arrive in time so I used some lightweight interfacing to stabilise the bias.

I think if I make another Eve dress I will shorten the bodice as it’s a little long for my torso.

Emily told me I looked like a princess in my pretty dress – hell I’ll take that! What a compliment.

The elusive perfect shirt dress

One of my favourite things to wear and to sew is the shirt dress. However I have yet to find my perfect pattern!

I’ve made the McCalls 7387 which has kimono sleeves and isn’t fitted around the waist. This is my favourite of all my shirt dresses. I tend to wear it with a belt.

The Alder shirtdress should be perfect on paper but the lack of sleeves makes it difficult to wear. I’m always cold and I need sleeves or a cardigan! I also find it comes up too short to wear for work with leggings and it looks weird with jeans.

The view B of the Alder is too short and sleeveless. I found that the chambray is not holding up to being washed a lot and so although I do like this version I try not to wear it too often.

And finally the ubiquitous McCalls 6696 which every blogger under the sun has made. I think that the fabric is too bulky and the skirt sticks out too much. It makes for a nice shirt dress which is too twee for work and too dressy for a weekend! I might swap out the buttons for wooden ones and see if it gets worn anymore.

Next in the shirtdress queue is Bruyere. It has sleeves and not a super full skirt so I’m hopeful it might be my perfect shirtdress!? Any recommendations of your favourites?