Saturday 26 December 2009

Not Knitting but Looking

I have an aim to be as wardrobe self-sufficient as possible, by which I mean making almost everything that I wear, and this aim is becoming increasingly important to me. But the more I think about this aim, the more it also becomes clear that, even for the most creative of peops in possession of a huge quantity of mad-skills, to be wardrobe self-sufficient is a very difficult task. For example, there are always going to be some types of garments that peops find a doddle to make (usually through many attempts and lots of practice) and those that they tend to avoid because they appear an impossibility. As I'm sure I have previously reported, for me knitwear is one such Achilles heal.
At present all my jumpers and cardigans are either ones that I bought previous to my initial Wardrobe Refashion pledge or are second hand, with the one notable exception of my first cut and sew jumper attempt which I wrote about here. However, one day I would love to learn to knit to add a further set of skills to my wardrobe creating abilities.

I must admit that there have always been three main issues that have put me off learning to knit. The first is an impression formed by watching my mum battle with knitting projects in the past: it seems that you often spend days on end knitting then trying on a sleeve or even get as far as having stitched fronts and backs together, and if there is a bad fit, masses of unravelling commences followed by many more days or re-knitting whole pieces. One of the things I like about sewing garments is that you can have mid-way fittings which you can respond to if necessary by performing small nips in here or letting out there or realigning this or that, before you get too far, thus preventing an unwearable garment or MASSES of unpicking and remaking. Maybe this concern is just a prejudice born out of a lack of knowledge, and perhaps fitting knitwear is something that needn't be such a headache?

My second concern is that is seems incredibly expensive if you want to use any wool that isn't a cheap synthetic ball of hideousness. It would be awesome to find old jumpers that can be unravelled and the wool re-used, but don't the original jumpers also have to have been hand-knitted to be able to do this? Sadly there appears to be some obvious limitations to this practice.

My third issue was that I rarely saw any styles of hand-produced knitwear that particularly appealed, since those hand-knitted cute 1940's cardigans that I like to imagine overflowed from the wardrobes of our grans and greatnans. I'm a massive fan of hand-knitted hats, scarves, gloves and mittens, but the examples of actual hand-knitted garments that I see in wool shops are rarely anything I would actually like to be seen in. Would I have to hunt down precious vintage knitting patterns if I took up knitting? Keen to be proved wrong and shown some current knitting patterns that I would be happy to wear it was time to do some research. It didn't take me long to discover some whilst checking out the fabulous Drop Stitches Not Bombs blog. The talented author is a true inspiration and her beautiful, and most importantly, wearable Audrey cardigan post led me to this company. It would appear that they have some seriously desirable options available, the pictures in this post hold testament to that (click on each image to be linked).

Now don't get me wrong. I don't want any knitters reading this to be under the illusion that I think knitting is a piece of piss and I'll be whipping up fabulous cardi's like it ain't no thang. I know that learning to knit is going to be a long, difficult and very much on-going task, even though I did a bit of knitting whilst at university (I recall making some not too terrible stripey mittens). So I guess I'm a false-beginner, as language teachers might say (i.e, you once had a bit under you belt but have since forgotten it all). I know that it's going to take a long time to acquire the skills to produce these garment patterns, but my discovery of their existence is certainly extra motivation.

Monday 21 December 2009

It's a Christmas Giveaway!!!!!!

Let me guess, you've been manically stitching for what seems like months to complete your handmade Christmas gifts, with the constant fear hanging over your head that the results will either be a FAIL or that they won't be appreciated with both outcomes resulting in a tragic loss of precious sewing hours, yes? I don't know how to avoid this scenario (although I have a feeling the answer probably would involve mulled wine), so instead I'm going to try to distract you, though seeing as you're on the internet reading this you probably have sought and achieved distraction all by yourself. Anyway.

A month or so ago I took some of my own money saving advice and broke my self-enforced eBay ban to bid on some vintage dress patterns. I must explain that I had to enforce a ban on this theoretically money saving practice as my inability to restrain my bidding kind of wipes out the 'money saving' element! Don't worry, I've more or less got a handle on things again, but my last bout has meant I am now the owner of way more vintage patterns than I can justify owning. My personal stand point on things is thus: if I honestly don't think I'm going to use the pattern, either because I already have something similar, it's the wrong size, or not my style, I have to release it back into the wild to find a loving owner.

These two beauts were part of a lot that I won which in my heart of hearts I don't think I will use. But the question is, would you?! The Maudella pattern is labelled Bust 36" Hip 38", and the Butterick is Bust 34". Sadly neither feature the date. The Maudella is a really unusual style that would really showcase a clever combination of fabrics and the Butterick is a really sweet classic style with a choice of neckline ('jewel neck' and 'shallow neck' apparently). The envelop of the latter is a little tatty, but all instructions are present and I believe the patterns themselves to be complete.
So, despite the small sizing difference (who really knows when it comes to different styles produced by different manufacturers?) I'm offering these up together. Both must have, at some point, belonged to a mysterious 'Anne M', as this is written on the front of them, so I feel it would be wrong to separate them. I'm willing to send them completely free of charge anywhere in the world, just leave a comment at the end of this post with some way for me to get in touch with you, and I'll pick a winner (assuming more than one person is interested) by a random generator, probably using some bits of paper in a hat, old school style, on Sunday 27th December at 9pm UK-time. Then one lucky winner will know that all thoughts of Christmas present making panic can be forgotten for another year, and self-indulgent sewing is but a postal journey away! Good luck and happy Christmas!

Wednesday 16 December 2009

At Colette Patterns this week: 'Creative Spaces: Jane Foster's Studio'

Imagine having a nose around one of your favourite designers workspaces. What inspirational images and objects do they have on display? Is it be messy or meticulous? Bright and colourful or muted and calm? What projects would you find in progress? How many projects do they work on at the same time? Questions, questions! Well, thanks to her blog, I was able to find these things out about the workspace belonging to Jane Foster, one of my favourite contemporary designers. If you fancy taking a look too, head over to this weeks post by yours truly at the Colette Patterns blog.

Monday 14 December 2009

Stitching and Styling

Another outcome from the month of sobriety (AKA, November): a dress to wear to attend my friends' recent wedding. I finished this creation some weeks ago, but didn't want to post about it until I had photographic evidence of it in action!

I used the Danielle pattern which is free from Burdastyle, but remembered to make some alterations since my first attempt at this pattern which came out irredeemably too tight in the bodice. This version's fit was a vast improvement. I also raised the depth of the neckline by about 1.5 cms, as the first version allowed my bra to peek out, not an attractive feature in a dress made to attend a wedding in! However, like the first attempt, I lined the bodice rather than making facings as instructed, it gives it a cleaner and more structured line.

The fabric I chose was probably meant to be curtaining fabric, as it was the widest fabric I have EVER encountered! I bought 1m 20cms and literally had enough fabric for two dresses. It was also very cheap from a shop which does not usually enjoy a reputation for low prices. I noticed on a subsequent visit that some bright spark had in fact cut this in half, effectively doubling their income on this item. Business as usual at Ribes i Casals.

Anyway, after completion, I couldn't help but notice that it had a certain 'little girl's bridesmaids dress' feel about it. I felt a little discouraged but then I found this image on some blog or other:

The styling of the model inspired the deployment of bright fuscia tights and homemade fuscia and white fake flower hair accessories which brought my ensemble together. Phew!

It was one of the most beautiful weddings I've ever been to. Congratulations Umi and Andy! I wish you all the happiness you can handle!

Tuesday 8 December 2009

At Colette Patterns this week: 'Vintage Details: Hand painted buttons'

So you've found a beautiful pattern, mustered up the patience to make a toile to perfect the fit, hunted down the most amazing fabric (we're talking fabric that made you gasp and sweat a bit the first time you clapped eyes on it), rounded up the usual suspects (thread, zip, hook and eyes blah blah) and you are all set to make the garment you are pretty sure your granddaughters fighting over fifty years from now. But wait! You're going to use those buttons?! The cheap looking plastic crap you picked up from the haberdashers chosen solely because the colour is vaguely the same? REALLY? Doesn't this creation deserve something better? Something that has been produced by hand with as much care as your garment is about to have lavished on it? Something like these vintage handpainted buttons that are the stars of my post this week over at Colette Patterns? Yes? How fortuitous!

Thursday 3 December 2009

Treggings and Stripes

Just because I don't buy new clothes doesn't mean I don't crave a new outfit when hitting the town as much as the next chica. Especially after a WHOLE four weeks of post-30th-birthday / pre-Christmas abstinence that is being drawn to a close with TWO birthday celebrations to attend in Saturday night. That, people, is the very definition of a situation which requires a new outfit! (Pictured above, the first sip after those four, long, weeks.)

As you might have seen from my more frequent posting, I've been getting my sew on as of late! November's sobriety has had the unexpected result of a surge in productivity. However, some of this increase in finished garments has got to be because I've been deploying some patterns which are either good to go, or require only a little tweaking. The aforementioned new outfit is a prime example:

The top is a variation of the two previous navy tops. It's the shape of the navy T-shirt but with the hem extended, and set in sleeves. Oh but wait, don't let me down-play my major achievement here: the self bound neck hole! Woo hoo! I really wasn't expecting this to work out, after my previous disaster, but I was inspired my EmilyKate's amazing stripy T that sports a great self-bound neckline. I just took it very gently so as not to stretch the cut neck edge. When the binding was attached, it looked pretty rubbish, but a gentle steam with the iron got it dealt with and made it lay flat. I was prepared for disappointment and the likelihood of re-cutting the neckline and using my usual zigzag elastic effect, but no, to my immense surprise it wasn't necessary!

Onto the bottoms. During the creation of my jeggings, I somehow located enough patience to mark all the alterations I had to make onto the pattern itself. So it was a simple enough task to take my jeggings pattern and some black sateen fabric that has a slight stretch and crank out some treggings.

EXCEPT the black sateen doesn't have as much stretch in it as the jeggings navy stretch twill which completely explains why, after I graded my existing pattern up a size for the jeggings, I ended up taking most of the extra width out again from the side seam. Agh! Anyway, aside from them being pretty tight, they look DAMN good!

As with the jeggings, I have evaded the pain of making a fly front by making a concealed side zip fastening. There are patch pockets on the butt and small patch pockets in the same shape on the front. Oh, and they are great for dancing in deserted metro stations in the early hours of the morning (please bring in exhibit A):

Wednesday 2 December 2009

At Colette Patterns this week: 'Colour inspiration: Antique Tiles'

Well, it's been quite a week over at Colette Patterns. FINALLY the long awaited new range of patterns have been unveiled! I was anitcipating this with such fervour that I had it written down in my diary. Charmingly, these lovely designs are named after different types of tea, which would explain why all of a sudden I can say that I, an English tea-hater, love Ceylon!

So whether you're racking your brains for vintage colour ideas to make up these beautiful new patterns, or you simply enjoy having a gander some pretty antique things, pop over and check out this weeks post loving crafted by yours truly.

Sunday 29 November 2009

In the Navy

Winter has come a’ knocking and I could do with some comfy layers pronto; time to get my stretch on! After the relative successes of my summer stretch-capades (see what I did there?), I was ready to get back in the ring.
First up is a navy long sleeved T-shirt with gathered sleeve heads. The pattern was an adaption of my striped version, but made longer to prevent unpleasant midriff drafts, and the sides shaped to skim over my hips without being too clingy. I created a ruffle inspired by the Coffee Date dress, which worked out really well. I finished the neck hole in the same way as the striped one, zigzag stitching thin elastic to the raw edge to provide both the ability to stretch and easily recover its initial shape.

For the record, I frikkin love this t-shirt. I have worn it heaps since its creation last week. The win spurred me on to immediately attack this next navy blue project.

I bought 3m of this thick knit fabric in the sale for €3 a metre, but it’s ridiculously narrow width (60cms! Why?) prevented it from being any good for my initial dress making scheme. Adapting the pattern further against an existing nice fitting jumper, it has set in sleeves and (another) ruffle detail idea that I stole from a beautiful jumper my mate Anna recently bought. For this neck hole, I zigzagged sewing tape to the raw edge to keep the shape. I have to say that this top looked nice before I washed it, it’s gone a bit fuzzy, but I need to fabric condition the itchiness out of it before its debut.

It’s a pretty plain style, which was proven by the fact that I wore it a whole day without my boy noticing it as something new. BUT that’s a GOOD thing! It means I’ve made something normal!
There is a further significance. With my whole ‘not buying new clothes’ thing, and my present inability to knit, making these cut and sew knitted garments means I am no longer solely reliant on existing items in my wardrobe (which are frankly getting pretty tatty) or what the charity shop gods provide to keep me toasty from here on out! Halleluiah!

Friday 27 November 2009


To be honest, I have some politico-philosophical work to do. As damaging and negligent as ‘fast fashion’ is, I do see fashion trends as the relevant social and cultural barometers that they are. Innovators and creative peops who act as conduits to the zeitgeist play, and have always played, an important role in teaching us about our times, and some of these do so through the medium of clothing. Inevitably, this gets replicated, filtered and digested by clothing manufacturers who mass produce some of these resultant looks for anyone who wishes to partake. The speed and low price points at which the high street versions appear can be dizzying.

I guess my personal crux lies thus: I enjoy checking out the magazines, and hitting up Oxford Street when I’m back in London. I want to know what is happening in the society that I am a product of, even if I choose to opt out of some of it’s ‘trappings’, and desire to see it’s values significantly altered. But I can’t abide the route that these trends take to get to the magazines and high street stores. I know how I can experience new and current flavours, trends and styles (mainly by heading to Brick Lane on a Sunday) and how people could purchase more responsibly the manifestations of these trends (buying from ‘edgy’ independant designer/makers through market stalls, etsy, etc.) but I can’t see how the ‘trickle down’ effect to the high street, with it’s emphasis on turnover and profit, is anything but inevitable. Plus, aside from it's phenomenonaly rapid and cheap turnover, the high street is sometimes also capable of interpreting and developing some really interesting and desireable items. I hate myself for saying it, but sometimes I find the high street a real source of inspiration. Personal contradictions abound. If anyone has anything to contribute to these concerns, my moral wellfare would be very grateful for any input.

All of which is my funny way of introducing a recent creation: the jeggings! As you may know, I’m a fan of loose tops, smocks and tunics. They are cute, super-comfy and permit a big dinner! But to balance this silhouette out, I feel skinnier leg wear must be deployed. Tight jeans can feel restrictive, especially if you are wearing them all day. I’m not much of a fan of leggings since my involvement with them as an under-ten year old. Please enter the third option: Jeggings!

I spent a long time researching jeggings in shops and on the internet. There seem to be many varieties within this sub-section of bottoms. Some are effectively just leggings, with no fastening, elasticated waistbands and fake topstitched pockets and fly fronts. Others work much like jeans, with functioning fly fronts and pockets, but have been fashioned from extra stretchy fabric. Oh, and fear not, I have waited way long enough to jump on this trend band wagon to be in fear of actually being trendy, as this pair I found in the children’s section of Zara proves!

I decided to use some more of the navy stretch fabric I used for my first version of Ruby shorts (I really can’t remember how or why I ended up with so much of this particular fabric), and apply massive amounts of jeans-style topstitching to evoke a denimwear feel. I based the pattern on an existing one I traced at a clothing company I used to work for, but graded it up a size due to the sad outcome the last time I attempted to make this pattern. I was too lazy to attempt a fly front, but was sceptical that the fabric had enough stretch accommodate a simple elasticated waistband, so I opted for a concealed side zip with a fabric panel behind to prevent the zip rubbing against my skin.

They have patch pockets for the back, non-functioning fake front pockets, and a fly front ‘ruse’ created simply by topstitching the fly shape. I also made a fake lap-seam effect on the outside leg with yet more topstitching, which didn’t go well near the concealed zip (who would have thought) and I ended up breaking two needles and holding up proceedings until more could be purchased.

The half-time fitting showed that they were inexplicably too big and required taking in. I also spent approximately a thousand hours altering and re-altering the leg shape to get the desired skinny look but without the constricting feeling that would prevent all day wear.
Then end result is marred only by the cheapness of the fabric, and its inability to retain the garment’s shape for more than one wear. But in general I’m happy, and thankful I mustered up enough patience to mark all the alterations I made onto the pattern, so I have a good basic tight trouser pattern to work from in the future. I may not be any closer to the answers, but at least now I have some new trousers in which to ponder my philosophical quandaries.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

At Colette Patterns this week: 'Sew and Save!!!'

Sewing can get pretty expensive at times, what with nice patterns, gorgeous fabric, pretty buttons and all the less exciting things like mock-up fabric, thread, lining, zips blah blah blah that usually go into our creations. So, is sewing a passtime only to be indulged in when you’re feeling flush? HELL NO it isn't!!! If you're looking for ideas of how to keep your costs down, then you'd do worse than to check out my post this week over at Colette Patterns.

Sunday 22 November 2009

Make Do and Shift

Although this blog largely provides evidence to the contrary, I am actually aware that there are other people out there who make and do interesting things. There are so many awesome sites, blogs and bloggers out there who are committed to discovering and reporting on them in intelligent and humorous ways who catch on a thousand times quicker than I do, that generally I let them get on with it.

However, one such person who makes and does interesting things that I really would like to discuss is Vancouver based Natalie Purschwitz: designer/maker of a small clothing line called Hunt & Gather, and more importantly for the purposes of this post, the creator of a quite frankly fascinating project called Makeshift, which is best described in her own words:

"MakeShift is an art and research project that examines the relationships between 'making', 'clothing' and 'living'. The basic premise for the project is that for a period of one year starting on September 1st, 2009, I will only wear things that I have made myself. Initially this may seem like a reasonable task, but it will include all of my clothes, socks, shoes, underwear, coats, jackets, hats, bathing suits, accessories and anything else I might need to protect my body from the elements while trying to lead a fulfilling life."

Arguably it could be viewed as ‘I see your Wardrobe Refashion pledge, match it and raise you actually making EVERYTHING from scratch’! But where the Makeshift project differs from WR, is that it seems to be grounded in an art based investigation of culture and personal development. She explains “I hope to gain some understanding of the limitations of clothing and how they affect the development of ideology. Ultimately, I would like to examine the role of clothing as a form of cultural production”.

It is not a community project like WR, Makeshift is a personal “attempt to take responsibility for one of the three basic human needs - food, clothing and shelter”, but I’ll be very surprised if she doesn’t inspire others to attempt something similar. WR’s focus is largely to reuse what has already been produced, thus keeping it out of the landfill AND not adding to the demand for more environmentally damaging (and often sweatshop produced) clothing. Although reusing materials is not Makeshift’s primary concern, she does address the issue thus:

“I am trying to use materials that I already have (I have a lot) as well as re-purposed materials, found materials and materials that people have given to me (my favourite). I am conscientious about my materials and am considering where they come from as part of my larger agenda of critically questioning the roles of clothing and being clothed. I hope you will also view this as valid approach to materials”

AMEN! For ages now I’ve struggled with whether it’s ok or not to buy new fabric and I think her approach is the most balanced and a good manifesto for home sewing.
Natalie decided to do the Makeshift project in first place since “I noticed that I was often wearing at least one thing that I'd made myself. It made me wonder....hmmmm.... Could I??? Would I???”. As time passes and my wardrobe’s mass manufactured garments slowly become replaced with handmade items, like Natalie I too increasingly find myself out and about in homemade togs. So the natural question is: could I personally follow such rules as she? I must admit the challenge and ‘extremity’ does appeal. It would be such a massive learning curve in terms of skill acquisition. The production of underwear, knitwear, outerwear and in particular footwear interests, thrills and terrifies me, but these are achievements and discoveries I want to take my time over. Also, putting aside mass-manufactured garments I already own from ‘before’ seems a little pointless if attempting to adopt these rules for anything more than an experiment existing within a limited time frame.

I am enthralled to hear Natalie’s further thoughts and revelations as she continues this experiment. Already she has begun to consider her wardrobe almost like a survival kit, and as she determines new requirements and produces them, her 'kit' continues to grow. Makeshift highlights so many thoughts, contemplations and debates for everyone disposed to questioning their consumption, and in further ways, for those who choose to produce or make additions to their wardrobe using their own fair hands. For me, one of the most interesting elements of this experiment is how her thoughts and practices will have altered, or not, once the year is up, and I do hope she continues to record these online to contribute further to these debates.

Friday 20 November 2009

Ignoring Lessons

Do you remember when you were young and you were anxiously trying to get your important (probably only to you) point across, and the (usually older) person you were speaking to interjected with something really profound and apparently wise, to which you nodded politely but glossed over because you were so desperate to say what was on your mind? And then later, possibly even years later, you go through heaps of hassle and annoyance by creating a load of mistakes that really could have been avoided if you’d actually heeded what it was that that person was trying to tell you after all?

OR, maybe you have acquired yourself an honestly earned set of experiences that become relevant when faced with a new situation, that you gut is urging you consider but you doubt them and forge ahead with the course that you are being instructed to take anyway?

OR, you know that you really should investigate and begin to apply methods that have been deployed by many generations before you, but in the heat of passion that fuels the initiation of a new project, you can’t bring yourself to hit the pause button and get yourself learned, to the detriment of your project? A bit like sticking your fingers in your ears and saying ‘La la laaaaa’ loudly, hoping all will be well anyway?

Well, who knew that taking on this vintage shift dress pattern would touch upon all (and more) of the above of life’s anomalies?! Not I! And yet....

Something that I’m pretty sure I have heard roughly 347 times before via my mum and other wise dressmaker owls, but that I had to discover for myself, the more simple a garment appears, the more difficult it is to create a good fit. When a style has pleats and tucks and frufru all over the shop to distract the eye, the less important it is to create a well balanced garment. I thought this pattern, of unknown date (though I’m guessing maybe 1973?), which I scored for very little from ebay would be a doddle to run up. Despite this, I managed to stave off boldly attacking my fabric and rustled up enough patience to lay the pattern out before hand and compare it to both my beloved Simplicty 3835 AND my own personal bust measurement. I gleaned the comparative information and then promptly threw it out of the window, perhaps in the odd belief that the pattern makers working approximately four decades ago knew more about my body shape and desired fit than me. I guess I find it hard to trust my own, limited but relevant, experience.

To cut a long story short, a fair amount of unpicking, recutting and restitching occurred, resulting in this flawed but wearable outcome. I love the fabric which I pounced on when I saw it. It’s some type of synthetic blend that my mumma got me when she came to visit. It was nice to work with, and has a certain amount of stretch which I think was a mixed blessing. Aside from the general shape, I think the main flaw is the sleeve, as they don’t sit in the armholes very cleanly. Now I reckon this could either be due to A) the fabric having more ‘give’ in it than most wovens, B) something strange I did either setting in the sleeve or when recutting the armholes closer in to improve the garment fit, C) the sleeve pattern includes too much ease, or D) the instructions which tell you to ease in the excess between the front sleeve head notch to back sleeve head notch, rather than from two points much closer like I’ve come to expect. Or a combination of the above. Answers on a postcard. On both the front and back of the sleeves, strange pulls or bulges are visible, but seeing as I’m not sure what the fault lies, I can’t approach correcting them, so tend to squint when looking at those bits. I find squinting makes things less visible. Sometimes they pretty much disappear altogether. Try it sometime.

On the plus side, the shape of the sleeves is a departure for me and is pretty cute. The awesome (vintage?) buttons were a recent birthday gift from my amazing homegirl Silvia, which I applied to create a mock bib effect, and I think they add a really cute and unexpected element to the dress. The dress itself is very comfy (I wore it all day last Sunday. I cannot ABIDE wearing anything on a Sunday that doesn’t have a high level of comfort). Plus, it is plain enough to be rocked with any of my gradually expanding range of colourful opaque tights.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

At Colette Patterns this week: 'Get the Notions'

My second post for the Colette Patterns blog is a sneaky peek at the fascinating and often antiquated Haberdashers here in Barcelona. My experience of the these simultaneously intimidating and alluring establishments can be read here, should you fancy a gander.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

At Colette Patterns last week: ‘Martí’s Method’: Pattern Making in 1929

My first post for the Colette Patterns blog was published last week. The post features a fantastic pattern cutting book which was published in Barcelona in 1929, that had been saved from the jaws of death. We also listen to what the self-appointed pattern guru/author has to tell us about the pattern cutting's state of play in the late 1920's, and have a squiz at some of the beautiful illustrations. Just so you know.

Monday 16 November 2009

Zoe ♥'s Colette

I know I've previously mentioned how much I love the independent dress pattern company Colette Patterns, but in case you forgot, I love it masses. It’s not only because they produce patterns for beautiful garment styles that exude a subtle vintage feel. Or simply because the booklets and patterns themselves have been painstakingly created from scratch by a real person who’s clearly put their heart into each step of the process. Or that the whole shebang perpetuates the concept of an anti-corporation based economy (well it does to me). Or because they have a stunning website that is crafted and maintained by the creator of the actual patterns, which makes the whole thing really personal (unlike the monolithic faceless and unapproachable pattern companies we are used to dealing with). Or EVEN because the website has a fabulous blog which oozes inspiration through posts related to sewing, fabric and style. It is a combination of the above.

Ok, so now that that’s clarified, let me tell you about two of my favourite elements of the blog. Firstly I really like the posts where they show real sewers’ interpretations of the Colette patterns. It’s so interesting to see people’s different visions that result in such different looking garments which are essentially the same style. My version of the Beignet skirt was featured in this post. I also love this version of the Macaron dress, and this version of the Parfait dress.

Secondly, I really like that I am now a guest blogger on the Colette Patterns blog! Yes indeed, I will be contributing one post a week. I’ll add a link from my blog here each week to keep anyone who’s interested up to speed. I really like my introduction here which I may adopt as my personal mission statement/manifesto!

Sunday 15 November 2009

Brokeback Balcony

Just because I haven’t touched upon the subject yet here on my blog, don’t go thinking I don’t have much of stance on men’s style. Personally, I generally prefer guys in casual attire. As a rule I am left untouched (so to speak!) by your stereotypically appealing men in uniforms, or the suited and booted types. One of the looks I really like for guys is Western shirts, of the type modelled above by the boys from the band Calexio. Thanks guys, lookin’ good there!

With my then forth coming Pin-up/50’s Rockabilly birthday party planned, I decided to extend my sewing reach into menswear and make my boy a Western inspired shirt. I love this black shirt with white contrasting topstitching combo featured in the picture above. I used the Jakob men’s shirt pattern on Burdastyle as a base, encouraged by some of the fantastic variations made by other members, particularly the short sleeved interpretations. Matching up one of his existing shirts, I decided to make the smallest size of the pattern.

I drafted a new Western style yoke piece with the obligatory points on the back and front. Altered patch pockets with pointy pocket flaps were also the order of the day. Then basically it was topstitch-ageddon! Luckily my vintage button stash provided me with some pearl effect buttons which, although not actual authentic Western-style poppers/snaps, look damn near the same and really brought the whole garment together.

Result: the fit was pretty good but still ended up a little bigger than I intended. I’d like to make a closer fitting version in the future. Also, the sleeves could have been a little smaller. I’ll try and address that next time too. But I was really pleased with the overall outcome and will definitely make some more versions of this pattern in the future. My boy loved it and looked awesome with his matching handle bar moustache, his inner Rockabilly sufficiently outted!
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