My handmade wardrobe year – April

Wow where did April just disappear to?

End of month four of not buying any clothes, only making them! I would say I am really proud of myself because I have not bought a single item of clothing, but I haven’t even felt tempted. The change in weather has got me looking for more seasonally appropriate items in my wardrobe and plans for a few new items are in the pipeline.

I have had one single mission since my last wardrobe post and that was to make a dress for my new event Sew Sociable, coming up 15th May. I bought a few patterns in an online sale in March and have been busy making toiles this month. This is the first month when I have no finished items to show you. The reason for this is I have had to re-work my toiles a couple of times to get the right fit. I don’t have a good body shape for dresses and have rarely been able to buy them off the peg. The decision to entirely make my own wardrobe has actually opened the doors to more possibilities and I am enjoying setting myself a challenge.

As I am not much of a dress wearer I decided to opt for making three in the hope of being happy with fit and style of at least one. I am optimistic though I think they will all work out and I am quite looking forward to wearing dresses.

I also bought three pieces of fabric at Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC in March with dresses in mind.



This style seemed like a nice classic shape. On receiving the pattern I found it had an unusual wrap around bodice, fastened at the front and back. This is probably not the best for my shape. I dramatically re cut this pattern to make it work for my body shape and re-toiled three times. I am least sure whether this one will work because of the wrap around styling which means there are no actual side seams, and therefore less structure to the shape, I am not sure this is good for my body shape. I also re-shaped the neckline to a slightly boat neck shape which I think might be more flattering for me.


I love this fabric bought from Shuttle at Sewing for Pleasure.


I only made a toile of the top part as the skirt was so full. Proportion wise I think I will prefer a slightly shorter skirt but I left the length as the pattern stated in case I need to adapt and change  into a skirt or play around with the style again.


This pattern is the most similar to the only dresses I own, but the ones I own are made in jersey. This style needed the least alterations of  all three, so I am hoping I will be happy with the outcome! I am making the 3/4 sleeve straight version without the collar.


This fabric was from Eternal maker, I love it, possibly my favorite. I was hoping to find the duck egg blue colour for the lining as its one of my favorite colours but I didn’t manage that so I went for plain grey.


Again I only made a toile of the top as I think the skirt will only need tweaking if anything.


I am a fan of pleats and this simple shape with the addition of pleats at neck and waist makes a lovely style. I really like the print its made up in on the photograph as well.


This fabric was also from Shuttle at the Sewing for pleasure show and was reminiscent of the fabric in the picture so I decided to use this for the style.


I had to do a massive amount of restructure and re toiled this 3 times before being happy with the fit. My new pattern piece for the front doesn’t look much like the original. I really love this shape and fabric combo so I am working on this dress first.

The month ahead, I am hoping to complete all three dress before starting any other projects. Then a new list is beginning……


I have an idea for scraps and leftover bits that I want to try. I collected together these tonal blue bits and pieces to try my idea out, more details to follow………


This is my grey linen from Stuart on Leicester market, I showed the toile for a wrap back tunic dress in February post my pattern is ready for this so I am keen to try this out. The style for this has potential of being a mummy and child size project for my classes and my handmade clothing range.


Now on the radar is a real desire for some new tops, my grey and black ‘uniform’ is starting to feel very boring and I would love to inject some colour (although gently) into my wardrobe especially tops. I bought this gorgeous Liberty print last year at the Sewing for pleasure and I would love to make it into a simple t-shirt shape. I started working on the pattern a few months ago but was not satisfied with the sleeve head so I need to re-tweak.

Once the sleeve head is sorted I am hoping to use this basic shape block to work simple style adaptations from. I have in mind a course with this idea, where you could come and learn to fit the basic top shape, adapt the pattern and then create your own design from the block.

Its been great to hear from people that have been inspired to make more items of clothing for themselves, I love to hear your thoughts and comments.

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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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