Christmas Dresses Made For Two

Happy Christmas!

Too early? Well I have no problem with preparing for Christmas in November. In fact I originally planned to make this dress in October but then my fabric took a little while to arrive and then I had tonsillitis. I missed the deadline for the By Hand London's Hackathon but decided to hack-along any way.

So let me start with my dress:

The bodice is the holly jumpsuit bodice pattern. I loved the fit of this pattern on my tartan playsuit, flattering but not too tight and thought it would be perfect with a skirt for Christmas. I lost a little weight when I was ill so it's actually a little looser than I thought but it's pretty good. I probably need the extra space for Christmas Turkey any way.

I have fully lined the bodice, partly because the sequin fabric was quite itchy but also because it was a little see-through. I basically used this method for constructing the dress with the full lining. I lined with the viscose-rayon that I have made the skirt from. I loved working with this fabric, it has a lovely drapey and soft feel and it was pretty easy to work with. I wouldn't recommend it for a total beginner but if you are looking for something to sew with after a bit of practice with cotton it would be a good way to go.

The skirt is a full circle skirt so, of course, it is perfect for spinning:

And my daughter loved the spinning part too. So that brings me to her dress. I only bought 1m of the sequin fabric but it was more than enough to make the bodice and sleeves for mine and a mini bodice for a 3 year old. She has been so excited about this dress and I let her help me cut out the pattern pieces and do some of the sewing. Well I let her press down on the peddle while I guided the fabric through the machine but she thought she had made it all. Every one was happy.

Her dress bodice is from a book on making children's clothes that I've had for ages but not used much. The skirt is a half circle skirt, still good for spinning even if not quite as good as a full circle.

I also added a little flower to the waistband of her dress and hers doesn't have sleeves. I wanted it to be similar but not exactly the same. Now I just need to get her some sparkly shoes to wear with it.

So that is two dresses made ready to wear at Christmas. It was also a goal of mine to make something sparkly after Me-Made-May so I can tick another thing of that list too. 

I have a very small amount of the sequin fabric left and my sons want me to make them sparkly bow ties, what do you think - will it be too much? Well obviously I'll show you if I do. Happy Christmas! Hehe. Zoe x

Capsule Wardrobe Part 4: Sewing For Your Lifestyle

It's all very well thinking through a few style guidelines to do with what shapes look good on your body. But let us be honest here, we aren't all living a lifestyle of a celebrity. One where we one of our main aims with clothes is to look good and extend our personal 'brand' through our fashion choices. Most of us have other factors to consider when we make (or buy) our clothes.

For instance, you're a school teacher. On your feet a lot, bending down regularly and sticky hands follow you around all day. Full skirts maybe your thing but not so good in the workplace.

For instance, you're a stay at home mum who spends most of your time crawling around on the floor playing with your toddler or cleaning up after them. Not to mention needing momentary boob access to feed your screaming baby so dresses are off the list at the moment.

For instance, you have about 5 minutes to get dress in the morning before you rush off to catch a train. The idea of a capsule wardrobe is very appealing and you know that pencil skirts are great for your figure but they just don't allow you to run fast enough to get that train.

Not exactly glamtastic all day every day. But that's life. At least for us normal people.*

So you've got some ideas about what colours to wear and what styles look good but it'd clearly important to think about which clothes will actually be useful in your wardrobe, otherwise you're talking about making a bunch of stuff that never gets worn which defeats the point of what we were aiming for.

Have a think about your lifestyle. Are you outside all day? Do you need to look smart for work? Do you do lots of physical activity in your typical day? Do you mostly dress in casual clothes?

For me life should all be about the casual. To be honest I don't really enjoy wearing really casual clothes. Jeans, t-shirt and jumper just don't really do it for me. I try to smarten it up a little by either wearing a skirt with my t-shirt or a slightly more fancy top with my jeans. This is actually a great way to approach the capsule wardrobe. Lot's of separates, some smart and some casual, some plain and some patterned so you can mix them all up to get a casual outfit when you fancy and a smarter one when you need it.

Does your lifestyle require more casual or smart? This is the crux of the matter when we talk about sewing for your lifestyle. Take a look at your colour palette and your shape guidelines and see if you need to tweak it at all to make it more or less smart. Or simply make a note of how often you think you can keep it casual and how often you need to make more of an effort. This ratio should help you work out what ratio of clothes to sew.

Next Tuesday I am going to go through what I have in my capsule wardrobe already and what I plan on sewing next. I'll also be talking about some ideas for staples for your wardrobe and some ideas for how to fancy it up and make it more interesting.

Plus I've been making a christmas dress and it's ready to show you so keep your eyes peeled for that. Zoe xx

*I just want to point out that obviously celebrities are normal people. The important thing to remember is that we shouldn't compare ourselves to people that have stylists making them look good whenever they're making a public appearance. I have never had a stylist in my life.

Creating a Capsule Wardrobe Part 3 // Sewing for Your Shape

There is nothing more deflating than when finishing sewing up a garment and trying it on it just doesn't look right. A similar feeling is when you have seen something on a friend/model/manikin in a shop window, you love it so try it on but when you look in the mirror it doesn't look the same on you as you imagined and hoped. Of course this is because we are all different. Very few of us have the same figure as a typical model or a manikin on the high street. While it is more likely that you might wear the same size as some of your friends its very unlikely that you actually have the same shape body.

This is a good thing. Variety is the spice of life after all. But it presents us with a challenge when we choose what we are going to sew and wear- What will look good on me? If you want to create a capsule wardrobe it's incredibly helpful to have a few guidelines for which clothes look good on your body and crucially make you feel good in. But let me stress these are just guidelines!

So to work out which sort of shapes work well for you have a think about these things:

Which Areas Do You Love?
Which parts of your body do you always feel confident about? Maybe you've got some killer shoulders and you love to show them off. Perhaps your waist is teeny tiny (even if other parts are not so teeny tiny). Brilliant boobs? Bootilicious bottom? Long long legs? Delicate ankles? Amazing arms? Every body has some good bits! Don't fool yourself into thinking that you don't because you absolutely most definitely one hundred percent do! Write down a list of these good areas - it can be as long as you like!!
My list it this: waist, shoulders and legs.

Which Areas Are You More Inclined To Hide?
Sadly we all also have some areas which we aren't so keen on (well if you haven't good for you!). You might find this list easier to write than the list above but I encourage you try to keep this list as short as possible and definitely keep it shorter than you 'love list'. If you think of more things you want to add then you should come up with some more loves too! My list is my upper arms and my muffin top.

Which Clothes Do I Feel Confident In?
Make a list of 5 items of clothing that you feel really good in when you wear them. Try to work out what they have in common? Do they exaggerate your good bits and disguise your not so good? If you are struggling with this have a look at this website. There you can read about all the different body shapes, answer a quick quiz to figure out your own shape (without measuring yourself) and then have a look at their ideas for what looks good on a shape like yours. This website is really helpful figuring all this stuff out. Plus if you fall between two body types (I'm an hourglass/pear) you can look at the tips on both sections.

Use your answers to the questions to figure out a list of guidelines. Try not to over complicate your list but have a few things to look for and a few things to avoid. When you are armed with this list you'll find it much easier to figure out which sewing patterns will look good and which won't work for you. My list looks something like this: Look for scoop necklines, sleeves, fitted waists and not too much detail around the tummy. Avoid high necklines and pointy shoes.

So now you know what looks great, it's probably worth having a think about what actually works for your lifestyle. I could use my guidelines to sew 30 dresses, fitted at the waist, with sleeves and full skirts or pencil skirts. I could, but it would be terrible impractical for my day-to-day cleaning the house, kneeling on the floor to play with my children, going on the school run lifestyle. This needs to play a big part in our decision making for what to sew next. We will talk about this more next week when we will go though what could actually be in a capsule wardrobe. So come back next Tuesday to find out more. Zoe x
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