My handmade wardrobe year – November

Nearly at the end of a whole year of only making clothes and not buying any. I am happy to report not a single ready made garment has be purchased!

This month I dug out my stock pile of M&S classic cardies for a bit of upgrading. They are all the same so I wanted to give them some individuality. Nothing to drastic though….



This red one got given the star treatment with some little red star buttons, which actually match better than this photo seems to show!



This burgundy one had a bit more attention, not the most original idea but I do like it and having found little grey heart shaped buttons, adding grey heart shape elbow patches just had to happen!



And this grey one just got a bit more edgy with the addition of these rather special gunmetal skull buttons.



I also got my ‘wooden’ dress finished. I am a fan of subtle tongue in cheek when it comes to clothing, so when I spotted this fabric the idea of a wood print dress quire appealed to me. I really like this dress pattern. Vogue 1348. It is cut really well, however it entails quite a lot of lining and underlining construction as well as lots of hand finishing. All of which was well worth it but it did mean this simple looking dress was quite time consuming. Nevertheless the next one is already cut and partially made. I don’t think this one will be the last either, it is such a simple classic shape it will look great in loads of colours and prints.


The other thing I have been doing this month is playing with pleats. I had a few pieces of fabric that I thought would work as simple pleated skirts. People often ask me about making clothes with no patterns and the one thing that does work well with no pattern is a pleated skirt. I wanted to see if I could work out an equation of how to measure a length of fabric and then pleat it to the correct waist size.

I didn’t exactly give myself an easy job, I made this skirt in mock lightweight leather fabric and used inverted pleats. My equation for the pleats did’t work out right, I got there in the end by trial and error but I still want to work it out because I am pleased with the way the skirt looks. I did opt for a petersham waistband on this one as the fabric couldn’t really be pressed. I decided trying to do a waistband without the iron wasn’t going to work!



Skirt number two…box pleats. This equation worked, no idea why it worked on this skirt but not the inverted pleat skirt, I applied the same principles to both. This one was also tricky as I decided to try and match the pattern at the side seams. Its not perfect matching, but I really like the skirt.


And finally I made this skirt from the pattern in the Great British Sewing Bee book, it has two deep box pleats back and front. I made my waistband narrower than the pattern. This fabric is a heavy weight satin fabric but was reasonable to work with.

All of these garments I hand finished. Hand finished waistbands and hems. I think it is worth the effort  however it does take a long time and several evenings on the sofa to get through this amount of hand finishing!

Lots of new items on my sewing plan list, so I don’t think I will change my new ways at the end of my handmade wardrobe year.

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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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