Me Made May 2021

I can’t believe I will be taking part in my third Me Made May this year! I have enjoyed taking part the last 2 years and feel like I want to try a new challenge this year. I have a blog posts rounding up my experience in 2020 and 2019.

This year I am going to kick the month off with a 10×10 challenge. If you haven’t heard of this before you take 10 garments, in this case including shoes, and only wear these garments for 10 days. Accessories won’t be included in my challenge but some people like to do this too.

The key to this is choosing 10 items that work in multiple outfits. Recently I have been reaching for a lot of the same garments so I am interested to know if I can complete the challenge.

Of course one of the biggest obstacles will also be the weather. I checked the weather and knew there was a lot of rain forecast over the 10 days so the first garment I picked was my Serra trench. After that I added in my white Veja trainers and built the rest of the wardrobe around that.

The other items I picked are:

  • Rose Tencel Jersey Tyra Tee
  • White Linen Viscose Crepe Olya shirt
  • Grey Jackson Sweater
  • Black Interstellar Hoodies
  • Blue Dawn Jeans
  • Black Luna Joggers
  • Ditsy Floral Crepe Sedavi Dress
  • Floral Victoria Dress

I have counted a total of 13 potential outfits from this selection so I hope I won’t run out of options!

I will be back with a round up of my outfits and my thoughts on this challenge.

Sharlene xx

My Wardrobe Hero’s

The concept of a ‘Wardrobe Hero’ or Key Piece in your wardrobe is that it is something that works for you. They are the pieces in your wardrobe that you pull out over and over again. These pieces are different for everyone. I’m going to share mine with you today and maybe you will discover you have your own “Wardrobe Hero’s”.

A selection of my Wardrobe Hero’s.

Classic Cotton T-Shirt

First up is a wardrobe staple for many, a classic cotton t-shirt. My favourite style is oversized and boxy. I love this style tucked into jeans or wore loose over leggings. My go-to pattern at the moment is the Just Patterns Tyra Tee. It has a dropped shoulder and loose boxy fit. It works great in cotton jersey or in a drapey Tencel jersey. I currently have 3 in my wardrobe but am planning a few more, possibly in a light weight french terry that is sitting in my stash and a classic white cotton jersey.

Tyra Tee in Rust Organic Cotton Jersey from The Rag Shop

Vintage Style Jeans

I had longed for a classic vintage pair of Levi 501’s for a long time but no matter how many pairs I tried they never fit. Enter the Megan Nielsen Dawn jeans! I have made 2 pairs of these and have a blog post detailing both and a third pair cut and ready to sew. I love this style of jean and have wore these at least 30 times, if not more. They go with nearly everything in my wardrobe.

I originally made them with the concealed button fly but they did not sit right. The buttons pulled and left drag marks (although this never stopped me wearing them). I unpicked them a bit and put a zip in instead and they are sitting so much better now.

Blazers

I have always shouted about my love for Blazers so it is probably no surprise that they have made an appearance. I have a selection of Ready to Wear and Me Made blazers in my wardrobe and love them all. I am wearing the outfit above as I type this. I love how they pull together an outfit and I feel so confident in them. They are a handy through on in spring/summer and I wear them with jeans and a tee or dresses.

My Pink Blair blazer is one of my favourites. Made for the Lamazi fabrics blog

Timeless White Shirt

This is an item I was so happy to finally add to my me-made collection last year. A white shirt is probably something a lot of us have in our wardrobes, although they are maybe kept for the office or interviews! I have a few ready to wear white shirts but they were never ‘just right’. I purchased the Bright White Linen Viscose Crepe from Sister Mintaka with the plans to make the Paper Theory Olya shirt. It was perfect! The right amount of oversized drape and lots of interesting details.

Wear Anywhere Dresses

This one will probably be on everyone’s list. Dresses are a great addition to your wardrobe, they are easy to throw on with minimal effort and can usually work for a number of occasions.

My favourites are usually midi length and in a dark floral print. I have a selection that work casually with trainers or my biker boots or dressed up in heels.

Left to Right- Self drafted pattern, Atelier 8 Avril Victoria, Fibre Mood Maya, Trend Patterns Bias T-shirt dress, Pauline Alice Sedavi and Coeli.

All these dresses get regular wear and are firm favourites and the darker colour palette works for me all year round.

So do you have any wardrobe hero’s? I would love to know! Send me a message on Instagram and let me know!

Sharlene xx

Fibre Mood Maya- Link Party 18

Issue 14 of Fibre Mood is out today and I was lucky to be part of the Link Party. I got a sneak peak of the new patterns and got to choose one to make.

When I saw the sleeves of the Maya dress I knew this was the one! Big volume and interesting details will always win me over. I loved the shape of the dress too and it was something I have wanted to try for a while.

The volume in the sleeve is created by gathers and not the typical gathers. It’s a really nice detail, and there are different options for creating more or less volume. Believe it or not, I went of a mixture of more/less volume.

The top middle pleat is inverted and the bottom middle pleat is a box pleat, resulting in a very interesting sleeve.

The rest of the dress has more simple design details. There are 4 ‘fish-eye’ darts on the front and back for shaping and the skirt has a lot of fullness at the front.

The fabric is a Linen Look Cotton from The Rag Shop and comes in 3 colours. This is the second dress I have made in this fabric and it has been a dream to work with. It hols the sleeve volume well but is still quite lightweight and has some drape for the skirt.

There are some beautiful patterns in this issue of Fibre Mood. If you want to check it out you can use this link. It is an affiliate link so if you do make a purchase I will receive a small commission from Fibre Mood.

Thank you for reading!

Sharlene xx

Spring ‘21 Sewing Plans

Last year when the pandemic first hit, i went through my stash and made plans for my Spring Summer sewing that was going to help me make a dent in it. I loved this method of planning and have kept it up since.

This year my plans are going to look a little different. Last year I fully embraced colour and added a lot of bright summery pieces to my wardrobe. Part of me thinks it was a way to bring some joy to an uncertain time, and I really did enjoy experimenting with all the colour.

This season I will be toning down the colour a lot! I have always had a love for neutral tones and one of the most common colours in my wardrobe is black. Not very exciting I know! But I feel more “me” in these colours. I love all the bright colours I experimented with last year, and I know I will love pulling them out again this summer.

Colour Palette

My key colour palette this season will constitute of black, beige, white, sage green and khaki. These are the colours that show up in my wardrobe time and time again. A lot of the fabrics I am focusing on are plains, but I am throwing in some delicate florals and checks too. And off course there will be denim.

I have a lot of these fabrics in my stash already so I have a great starting point. Some of them are already cut and made into garments, like my Tamarack jacket, Flannel Arden Pants and Ditsy Bakerloo dress.

I have pulled out 2 secondary colour palettes too, focusing on the colours I was sewing with last spring summer. The most important part of this planning process for me is to have a clear idea of what fabrics I want to buy and to ensure my future plans will work with my existing wardrobe.

I am still drawn to dusky rose tones and these will sit will with the core colour palette I am leaning towards. I will maybe add in some coral tones and deeper rusty oranges too.

Last year one of my colour palettes was navy and lilac. I made a few lilac garments but wasn’t keen on the fabric or shade of lilac, so I am still on the hunt for the perfect shade. I have already purchased a lilac floral viscose which will become a dress, and I have a lilac knit in my stash too. I am also on the hunt for a lilac linen to make a summer suit. I love my pink suit from last year and would like a trouser version for this season. I will need to find the ‘right’ lilac and wont be rushing into it.

I was drawn to a lot of orange fabrics last year but as it wasn’t part of my colour palette I avoided buying any. I think this year I will try to incorporate it into my wardrobe, as it is a colour I have always liked. If I can get my hands on some of the Mind the Maker Urban Leo in the photo I will be very happy!

What will I be making?…

As I mentioned in my sewing plans for 2021, I will be focusing a lot of my time on making trousers. I want to find a handful of patterns that work for my shape and are comfortable. I love my Helens Closet Arden pants I recently made in a Robert Kaufman flannel. They have been massive success. I am planning to try the By Hand London Jackie trousers, Untitled Thoughts Chandler and Just Pattens Tatjana trousers next. I also have another pair of Named Clothing Tynni trousers planned.

This will be my main focus in terms of sewing plans. I will be sewing more ditsy dresses and tops, and hopefully squeeze in a suit or 2!

And that’s it! I think I have really simplified my plans for this season as I have already built a fairly extensive me-made wardrobe. This year is more about focusing in on what really works for me and my style.

I would love to hear more about your spring summer plans. Let me know over on Instagram or leave me a comment on my latest YouTube video.

Happy sewing,

Sharlene xx

Serra Trench

An item that I have wanted to make since I started sewing my own wardrobe was a classic trench coat. And not just any classic trench coat, I knew I would need to recreate the ultimate classic Burberry trench.

Shortly after finishing my first coat in 2019 the Pauline Alice Serra Trench was released and I bought it straight away. This pattern is great value for money, with 3 different views included and it is unisex. I made view C with the detachable hood, and view B will probably be next on my list. I have a Donegal Tweed in my stash that would make a very cute bomber jacket.

Pauline Alice Patterns Serra Jacket

My sister got the main fabric for me for Christmas 2019, a water resistant cotton twill from Fabric Godmother. The lining is from eBay, and I think is available from a lot of fabric stores (affiliate link to Minerva). The buttons are Merchant and Mills made from recycled resin and bought from Good Fabric Store.

I had so much fun making this trench coat. The fabric is perfect for a Spring trench, and the best part is it will hopefully be waterproof! I used waterproof tape on most of the seams (anything that would be facing up really) so as soon as it rains I will be out to test it out. I got the seam tape from Amazon. As the fabric is water resistant you will want to take care with how you pin your pattern pieces. Either pin within the seam allowance or use wonder clips to avoid any extra holes.

When attaching the tape the inside of the tape (as it would be on the roll) needs to be facing down, I used a medium heat setting on my iron and some grease proof paper on top. The grease proof paper was the key factor here, I tried press clothes first and they didn’t work (the tape stuck to the cloth!).

The only thing I would change is the position of the belt loops. They are a bit too low compared to my natural waist. I am not too worried, I can still tie the belt if I want and can button it up.

There are so many lovely details in this pattern. I love the button tabs on the cuff and the welt pocket detail with a faux button so you dont need to unbutton it to use the pockets.

I love the lining detail on the gun flap (on the front) and the storm shield (on the back). When I first looked at the pattern instructions I was a little concerned by the amount of patterns pieces. There are 44 in total, but this covers all 3 views. 29 of these are for view C, and it was definitely worth the effort of cutting it out and interfacing everything.

This is a classic piece that I will wear forever, and exactly the type of project I want to focus on this year. Hopefully some day Emily will get to wear it too, it is something that will not go out of style.

At the moment I am enjoying layering it over one of my other favourite pieces- my Tamarack Jacket. These 2 pieces make the perfect spring jackets and are easily layered, but very cosy.

Thank you for reading and happy sewing,

Sharlene xx

Joyful Sleeves Challenge

This challenge has been on my mind for so long now and I am so excited to finally be sharing all the details with you. I knew once I hit my next big milestone on Instagram I wanted to run this challenge instead of a giveaway as it is a fun way to engage with all my followers while sharing my love of a good sleeve with you all!

The Details

The first thing I want to stress is you do not need to make anything new for this challenge, although it can be a fun time to engage with the community while sewing something new.

All you need to do to enter is post a picture on your instagram of a Finished garment using the hashtag #joyfulsleeveschallenge and tagging me @sosewdressmaking in the photo. And that’s it!

So what is a #joyfulsleeve?

To be honest, it can be any type of sleeve. Personally, I think you all know by now that I love a big sleeve. The bigger the better! I will be sharing some of my favourite patterns with big sleeves during the month and also a few tutorials of my favourite hacks.

But I know big sleeves are not everyone’s taste. A #joyfulsleeve can also be a normal sleeve, with no extra volume but in a fabric that brings you joy. Your favourite colour or a fabric with special memories will also count. Or it could be a sleeve that you set in perfectly on the first go and made you do a fist pump in the air! I want as many people as possible to join in.

The Sew-alongs

Each week during February I will be posting a sew-along for 4 of my favourite patterns and hacks.

First up will be the Bella Loves Patterns Flor/Vita hack that I have previously done. This time I will be showing you how to add a little (or a lot of) extra volume to the sleeve and will be making a wrap top without the ruffles.

Tutorial for adding a sleeve to the Flor dress

The next sew-along will be for the Atelier 8 Avril Victoria dress which I recently made. This pattern is only in French and I have had requests to make a sew along for this. I will be using a beautiful viscose crepe I received from Sister Mintaka recently to make this and might add a little length to the skirt to make full use of the fabric. This pattern has a more subtle volume to at the sleeve head which is a nice way to dip your toe into the big sleeve trend.

I know a lot of people have been living in comfortable clothing recently so I am including the Digital Pattern Library Belted Sweater. This sweater has amazing sleeves, along with some other really nice details.

The final sew along will be a pattern from the book “Pattern Magic” by Tomoko Nakamichi. The “Crater Sleeve” caught my eye straight away and has been on my ‘to-sew’ list ever since. I will be taking you through the pattern drafting process and how to sew the sleeve.

These sew alongs will all be available through my Ko-Fi page for my supporters. You can either buy me a coffee or set up a monthly donation. This money supports the content that I am able to create and will also go towards the prize fund. So the more ‘coffees’ I get the bigger the prizes will be.

The Prizes

These are still being confirmed so keep an eye out on my Instagram page for more details. It will be a range of patterns, vouchers and fabric. I also hope to organise a social Zoom call for my supports to have a chat about what you are all up to.

If you have any questions feel free to drop me a message on Instagram. I would love it if you could help spread the word and share my posts. I am so looking forward to connecting with you all next month and seeing your joyful creations.

Happy sewing,

Sharlene xx

Bra Making Journey Part 2

I am back with the second instalment of my bra making journey. Since my last blog post I have made 2 Black Beauty bras by Emerald Erin in one of the kits I purchased from Fit 2 Sew.

The first I made was View A and was a good fit around the band as I had added 1/4 inch on each back piece. However there was a bit of a bump in the cup and it didn’t sit flat. Before I made any adjustments to the pattern I decided to make another to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake with my seam allowances or cutting. The fit of the cups the second time was perfect although the band is a little tight as I had forgot to add a little each to the back piece.

My stitching wasn’t just as neat the second time and I have a few skipped stitches. I need to take extra care with my seam allowances too as I am realising this makes all the difference as they are so small.

After making these first 2 bras there were a few more bits I needed to order, most importantly bra tulle or cup lining for some of my fabrics. I purchased this from The Bra Shop (affiliate link). They have a selection of basic colours of bra tulle and some lovely kits as well. I also purchased some band elastic as I am planning to make the Jordy Bralette by Emerald Erin (affiliate link).

I spotted this beautiful embroidered lace and had to get some, I think it will make a beautiful set.

I am now starting to think about sewing matching sets and have been looking at the Adeline Panties by Evie La Luve (affiliate link).

I have a lot of bamboo and tencel jersey in my stash that will be perfect for making these however I am struggling to find matching elastics. A friend introduced me to Costura Secret Shop which is an Etsy store based in Spain (affiliate link).

They have a great selection of fold over elastics in lovely colours, although I am a little hesitant to order with postal delays and brexit! They have some stunning velvet kits that will probably win me over though.

I am looking forward to making some more bras now that I am all stocked up.

Thank you for reading and I hope you find this helpful. You can check out my latest YouTube video if you would like to see some of these fabrics in action.

Sharlene xx

2021 Sewing Plans

I mentioned in my 2020 round up that something wonderful has happened… I have a complete me made wardrobe! This is largely due to the fact that I have left work in retail and we spent the majority of 2020 indoors. But none the less, this has freed up my imagination to plan all the special makes, the big ones, that I have been putting off in favour of the quick and easy ones.

So for 2021 that is my plan, to slow down and work on the things that will truly bring me joy and build on my skills. I have toyed with the idea of of doing a ‘Make Nine’ again but I don’t think this will suit my plans. Instead I have a few areas that I want to focus on, along with adding to the basics I already have.

Tailoring

This is a big one for me and something I have always been interested in. I have already shared my plans that will focus on couture sewing techniques. This will be the ultimate ‘slow sew’ and will push skills.

Cream Dior Bar Jacket

I am starting with a classic cream Dior Bar Jacket. I have everything I will need for this project, I just need to start working on the pattern. I will put a slightly more modern spin on the style, and will probably make a black version after this.

Alexander McQueen Tailoring

I am also obsessing over the tailoring at Alexander McQueen this season. The are never short on interesting details and this is something I would like to explore too.

Trousers

I feel like this is a never ending story, but this year I will find the perfect trousers for me. I love wearing trousers but the reality of finding some that are comfortable is a different story. I have made a list of all the trouser pattern I currently have (there’s a lot) and potential fabrics in my stash that I can use. I will work through these first and then have few more patterns I would like to try.

I would like to buy the Deer & Doe Acajou trousers too, as I think these will suit the style I am after.

I have added a section to my fabric stash now with all my fabrics that are suitable for trousers. I love all the colours here and think this sums up my colour palette for the next while…

Colour Palette

Something I have noticed recently, and if you follow my Sunday Inspiration stories you will maybe have picked up on this, I am looking at more neutral and earthy tones in terms of fabrics and inspiration. These are the colours I always would have been drawn to before 2020. I think an injection of colour and print was needed last year as a way to combat what was going on in the world. I am happy that I have this colour ready to pull out when I need a pick me up or feel inspired by it. But I am ready to focus on a more neutral palette again and focus on those core wardrobe pieces.

Current colour palette

This has possibly all stemmed from my Tamarack Jacket which I completed at the end of 2020. I love the colours and fabrics I choose and could happily build an entire wardrobe around this. I fact most of my outfits recently are based around the question “Can I wear my Tamarack with it?”

I will of course still be making dresses, tops and sweaters. I will definitely need a few quick and easy makes in between all the couture sewing and trouser toiles. I will be focusing on fabrics and styles that fit in with all these plans. And I’m sure come summer I will be ready for a strong dose of colour and print again. I recently tidied up my fabric stash and put away my summer fabrics in a box to take back out closer to spring, not looking at them for a while will make it feel like I have new fabrics to play with when the time comes.

I would love to know what your plans for the year are. I have loved seeing everyone’s plans and make nines on Instagram.

Happy sewing (and planning),

Sharlene xx

Tamarack Jacket

My friend Rebekah (@sowno65 on Instagram) and I recently decided that we would like to do a “One Pattern Two Ways” project together. It didn’t take long for us both to realise that we wanted to make a Tamarack Jacket, and I think this was just the motivation that I needed or I never would have made one. Click here for Rebekah’s blog.

I already had a Pinterest board started so I headed there to see what style I wanted to make. I came across a jacket by a brand I hadn’t heard of before, Polder. I loved the detail around the edge of the jacket and the rounded curves at the front.

I had spotted a fabric from Sister Mintaka that would be perfect for this style, a Beige Cotton Linen Jacquard. I new I wanted to go for an Indian block print cotton for the inside and found the perfect fabric from Simply Fabrics Brixton. I picked up the batting from my local fabric store.

Do you want my top tip for your first quilting project- choose a fabric that has a square pattern! This made the quilting process so so so much easier, as I had to draw very few lines for my quilting.

I loved the quilting process, it was very soothing and relaxing, a little meditative. I can safely say I now see the appeal in it, although I will probably stick to quilting clothes and not quilts.

For the construction of the jacket I didn’t make things easy for myself and decided to make the jacket reversible. I am so happy I did this though as I know this is a garment I will treasure forever and the finish on the inside makes all the difference.

I tried to flat fell the seams by machine first (after trimming down as many layers as I could) but wasn’t getting a neat enough finish. So I stitched everything down by hand on the shoulder and armhole. I used bias tape on the inside side seams, and handstitched this too, along with the bias trim around the edge. This took me 2 full evenings in front of the tv, while watching family movies. I hand-stitched 2 patch pockets on the outside (although neither is really the outside or inside as it’s reversible) which will hold my phone and car keys.

Photobombed! Lol!

I had originally bought some cream cotton bias tape for finishing the jacket but I went off it after making a few samples. The fabric was sitting beside a cotton linen blend I was using to make a jumpsuit around the same time and I realised it was the perfect match for the darker tones in the cotton linen jacquard and a lovely contrast with the block print.

Test samples

I made a size 6 based on my measurements (B35/36”, W30”, H41”) and the fit is perfect. I can comfortably wear a jumper underneath and it will be the perfect layering piece under some of my unlined coats. If I wanted this to be a ‘coat’ instead of a jacket I would maybe size up. I think if in doubt with this pattern, size up! The wadding adds a lot of bulk to the shape so a larger size is the safer option.

I am not sure I can put into words the love I have for this jacket. Every time I wear or look at it I feel pride in every minute spent working on it and love for every stitch. I am happy I took the time to pick a fabric I really loved, with the amount of time spent on this jacket I would hate to not love it at the end.

I want to say a big thanks to Rebekah for suggesting this project and supporting me along the way. I also want to say a big thank you to Sandeep from Sister Mintaka who could not have been more supportive and helped out when I was deciding on quilting patterns.

This feels like the perfect project to finish off with in 2020. It hasn’t been a great year, but it has been filled with great makes. This has definitely secured a spot in my top makes list.

Sharlene xx

2020- A Review

I will be honest with you all, I have been struggling to look back over this year and ‘review’ it. At the end of 2019 I left my secure job in retail to focus on my kids and build my sewing lessons business. I know everyone is in the same boat and this year hasn’t produced the results many of us were hoping for. But the more I have thought about it the more I am feeling okay about it.

I have grew so much this year in terms of my sewing and blogging, and spending so much time at home is the reason for that.

YouTube

One of my biggest achievements this year is my YouTube channel. I have enjoyed branching into this area of blogging and reaching a new audience. I still have a lot of plans for this space and hope to add more exciting content in 2021.

My Wardrobe

I can now say after this year I have a ‘complete’ me made wardrobe. I will never be a minimalist in terms of my wardrobe, fashion has been a big passion of mine since an early age so its no surprise I have a love for clothes.

For a long time there were garments I felt that were missing, but I can now look in my wardrobe and choose the exact garment I feel like wearing that day. I still need to focus on trousers, but I think this will be a never ending quest for me and I will have more time for it now.

I tackled some pretty big projects this year, including a coat for Darren (my husband), swimwear, a bra and a proper bag (more on the last 2 coming next week).

This is a also going to free me up to focus on some of those big makes, more coats and blazers, and more couture techniques.

Blogging and Collaborations

I have had the opportunity to blog for some amazing companies this year, including Lamazi Fabrics, Good Fabric Store, The Rag Shop and Minerva. Not only have I had the chance to work with some amazing fabrics, I have built relationships with all the shop owners and I love them all! Thank you for trusting me to turn your beautiful fabrics into a garment.

Pattern Testing

This has also been a year full of pattern testing for some amazing brands, including Homer and Howell’s, Helens Closet, Bella Loves Patterns and Friday Pattern Company. Again, this has given me the opportunity to work with some amazingly talented designers. The support I have received from all of them has been incredible.

Teaching

Although I was only able to teach for a few months of the year, the time away from teaching just reinforced how much I love it. I missed it so much, I love witnessing that look of pure joy when one of my students completes a project. I cannot wait to get back to it, whenever that will be in the new year. My focus is 100% on this now and how I can continue to grow the lessons that I offer.

So leaving this year I am feeling positive. I have grew and developed my skills and this will only help as I more forward and focus on teaching. The time spent with my kids since leaving retail has been priceless and following this path will allow me to watch them grow.

I hope you can all find some positives from this year. However small they are this is all you need to focus on.

Happy New Year everyone, and here’s to an amazing 2021!

Sharlene xx