4 Goals for 2015

I know you have probably seen posts like this popping up all over the net this week. It's possible you're bored of them (I know that feeling too) but for me as a goal-orientated person this is an important part of setting goals, sharing them with some one else. You lucky people! Last year I did the same and I found it so helpful. I didn't keep to all of them as well as I would have liked but I am really proud of what I did achieve in 2014 so I am starting 2015 with the same mindset. Here are my goals for the upcoming 12 months:

Sew More Basics
Last year I set the goal to sew 1 item of clothing per month, I easily achieved this and more and I plan to continue sewing at a similar rate. However I made quite a few fun items and not so many practical ones. In December I tried to work out the gaps in my wardrobe and shared some tips for doing the same. In order to actually make these items I plan to make 2 'every day' items for every 'special' item I sew. The aim is balance and I hope this ratio will be about right.

Sew More For Others
Until near the end of 2014 I hadn't really made any clothes for others. Then I made my daughter her sparkly christmas dress and was really pleased with it. It cost almost nothing since I was using fabric I had already and was quick and easy to put together. I'd like to sew more clothes for her and possibly my sons too. My goal here is to make at least one thing for someone else per month.

Blog Once Per Week
In my goals for 2014 I planned to blog 2-3 times per week. For the first few months this was easy. Then I started a new job so had to settle for 2 each week. By the Autumn though I was struggling with this number and only managed once in many of those weeks. Since I want to keep the blog interested and avoid posting for posting sake I aim to this year post once per week unless there is something extra special I want to squeeze in.

Cook 1 New Recipe Per Week
I've also found over the last couple of years I have become very lazy when it comes to cooking. I cook fairly healthily for my family but I tend to stick to the same 10 or so recipes. This year I want to go back to trying a few new things and introducing new flavours to my children. I won't be blogging about this regularly but I may occasionally share pictures on my favourite new recipe finds on instagram. So if you are interested follow me there.

I also want to say a big thank you to those of you who have been reading Tadpegs this year. I love sharing about my makes but it is extra special to know that people are reading it, commenting, sharing and enjoying it too. Here's to a fun and busy 2015! Zoe

A Gingerbread Village

When it comes to Christmas time one of my favourite things to do is make a Gingerbread house. You can see last years 'Stitched up' house here and two other houses I made here. Each year I like to try something a little different. This year I went a step further and made an entire gingerbread street. Although you could argue that this is actually a much easier approach because it skips the 'construction' step which is where most people fail.

Each 'house' is decorated with piped royal icing, silver ball and some holly and berry sprinkles. I like to go with the flow once I start piping and each house is a little different to the one before. Once I had piped each house we displayed them on a shelf in the living room. We are planning to redecorate in the living room any way next year so I took everything off a shelf and spray painted it white (this again is something I was going to do any way, I wouldn't repaint furniture just for a gingerbread house, I'm not THAT crazy.) It made the perfect setting for the scene.

The ginger bread houses on their own were really cute but I decided to add some colour with the paper trees. Then I thought I'd go all out and made the snowflake and pom pom garlands to make it a perfect white Christmas. It's a great addition to the Christmas decor and hardly cost me anything, we had the ingredients int he cupboards already, I used yarn and paper we already had for the garlands and even the spray paint had been sitting around waiting to paint these shelves for about a year. The only thing I bought was the holly and berry decorations. Bargain.

Now I know I said that I would share last week some capsule wardrobe outfit ideas but I came across 2 problems with this. Firstly I was distracted by all the christmas activity going on and I would be lying if I said this gingerbread street wasn't part of that. Secondly when I was writing the post it was really boring. I mean so boring I didn't even know what to say. Nobody wants to read boring blogs so I decided to give up on that post idea. I will be writing more about capsule wardrobes in the new year but for now I will just be doing a couple of christmassy posts and taking it easy for a few weeks.

I hope you're starting to feel the good Christmassy vibes too. Do you do a gingerbread house? I'd love to see. Zoe xx

Ooo-la-la Its Another Plantain Tee

If you've been following along with my capsule wardrobe series you'll know what I am in need of a few more basic tops. I have already got a stripy plantain tee and a stripy plantain dress (made from the same fabric) but I just couldn't help but make another. Firstly I had some fabric left over so it was basically free. Secondly I love the simplicity of this pattern. Thirdly the pattern is free too so its a totally free top. Winner.

I also fancied looking a little stereotypically french. Well actually that is just a by-product of wearing stripes and red lipstick with my new haircut. I only had it chopped 6 days ago and it already looks like it has grown an inch, my crazy hair.

So any way, there you have it, one more stripy plantain tee. See you next time, Zoe x

Capsule Wardrobe Part 5 // What Should I Sew Next?

Welcome back to the capsule wardrobe series, we are nearly there! We've had a think about what works well on your body, what colours you like and which clothes fit your lifestyle. Now it is time to take stock of what you've already got and figure out the gaps in your wardrobe.

Make a List
I have made a visual list of all the things that I consider part of my capsule wardrobe already. I had lots of fun making this collage of them for you too! But obviously you can achieve the same goal by just writing a list of what you have. It is probably a good idea when you do this to split your list into a few groups - it will make it easier to work out where your gaps are. Tops and bottoms should go into separate groups and have another group for dresses (and playsuits and jumpsuits can squeeze into this group too). Then you can have other groups of accessories, shoes, outer layers etc as necessary.

I have included 3 items that are not handmade, I don't see the point in excluding 'ready to wear' clothes that fit perfectly into your capsule wardrobe. We don't want to be wasteful just for the sake of it, plus most of these ideas apply to RTW clothes just as much as handmade ones. When they get to a stage where they don't fit, have too many holes or are unwearable for some other reason though I probably will replace them by making a new version. That said I can't knit (yet) so all my cardigans will be bought from the shop for the foreseeable future. This is what I have so far:

Stripey Plantain Tee*
Gingham Peplum Top
Mini Cherry Mimi Blouse
Chambray Shirt (RTW)*
Red Cardigan (RTW)*

Tartan Circle Skirt
Denim Delphine Skirt*
Red Circle Skirt
Jeans (RTW)*

Dresses (and a playsuit)
Tartan Lilou Dress
Tartan Holly Playsuit
Stripey Plantain Dress*

I have a couple of other handmade items I could add into the mix (i.e my chambray dress and my half circle skirt) but if I am truthful I don't wear these very often because they need ironing every 5 minutes. They're still in my wardrobe for now but mostly go unworn. This is something to think about when you choose your fabrics.

Pattern vs Plain
For a capsule wardrobe to work we need to have a good mix of pattern and plain. I have starred all the items on my list that I consider to be a basic, i.e they're made from a plain or relatively plain pattern. About half of my list is in this category so this works well for doing lot's of mixing and matching. Have a look at your list and see what you have, lots of pattern? All plain? Maybe only few 'basics'? Think about what you need more of.

What do you need more of?
Now that you have written your list, grouped them and figured out if you need more pattern or plain it is much easier to see where the gaps in your wardrobe are. My groups are fairly even (I've been working on this for a while) and I have quite a few basics and non-basics to add some interest. But I know for sure that I need some more tops. I normally only wear a top once before washing it but my bottoms I will wear a couple of times so they last much longer (this is normal right?). So for now I need to make a few more tops and then maybe a basic dress or two. What about you? What do you need to make next?

Next week I'll have a look at some ways to mix and match what you have got to make new outfits. See you then. Zoe

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

Creating A Capsule Wardrobe Part 2 // Choosing a Colour Palette

I love colour. In fact I have had almost every colour of the rainbow painted on the walls in my house at some stage. (I also love to decorate but thats a tale for a another time). Having such a huge variety of colours results in something a little messy and not very relaxing. On the other hand I have been in houses where every single wall, every piece of furniture and all the art on the walls is black and white, it may be very stylish for some but to me it's a little boring. The trick is to find a nice balance of colour and neutral. The same applies to the colours we wear.

If you're hoping to create a capsule wardrobe (read about that here) then choosing the colour palette is a very important step. By colour palette I mean a few colours that you know work well on you and with your other clothes. The colours in your palette should all work together and they can include any colour you like.

This post will look at some things to think about for your own colour palette. The idea is to write down your answers to each question and then compare them to see which ones occur often. I'll also work through an example (my own).

Question To Ask When Choosing a Colour Palette that is Right For You
When choosing a colour palette there are serveal things to consider. In the following questions I'll get you to write down some things about yourself in order to choose the right colours for you. Try to be specific but not too specific. For example if you want to write down 'blue' as an answer, try to narrow it down a little; light or dark? Just blue or is it slightly green or slightly purple? But try not to write down 'shade 630 from the pantone colour range', we are thinking more general than that. But if you answer is 'all the blues' than that's ok too.

Which Colours Do I Love
Most people have some colours they love, the ones that make them feel good when they see them or they will choose each time. They will also have some colours that they dislike or would never choose, the colours that make them think something is ugly (even if it's not). This should be a one of the main factors when you choose your colour palette. Are you always drawn to white or pale fresh colours? Do you prefer a deep shade of red or green? Do you love all the pastels? Do you hate a particular colour? Do you get a kick out of brights, neons, earth tones? Write down a list of colours you love and other colours you hate. It is ok to write down colours you love but would never wear on your 'love list'. Then put this list aside before you move on. Try to think with a clean slate before you answer the next questions.

Example: I love blue, red, green, orange, yellow and white. For all these colours I like a good bold and rich tone and for blue I love all the blues.

Which Colours Suit Me
You probably have a few colours that you know suit your complexion. You probably also have a few colours that aways make you look ill. To work this out if you don't know already think about your favour items of clothing, make a list of them and what colour they are. You may notice that your favourite items all fall into a similar category of colours. This might be in part because they are your favourite colours too but probably has something to do with what looks good on. If you can't see a theme then pop into a clothing shop and hold up a range of different coloured items near to your face. Do some make you look good and other not so much? Try not to just experiment with the colours that you like but also with colours that you wouldn't usually try. You might be surprised that some of them suit you when you wouldn't normally wear them. After you have thought this through, write down a list of the colours that look good and another list of colours that look bad. Keep this list with your 'Colours I Love List'.

Example: Black, red, blue, white and brown all look good on me, particularly navy and teal from the blue spectrum.

Which colours do I already own
Another important thing to consider is which colours do you already own. Have a look in your wardrobe and write down all the colours you can see. Then tally up the ones that occur often. You might see a theme emerging here. If you can't see a common theme try this: for the clothes that you know you wear often add an extra tick on your tally.

Example: In my wardrobe I have many colours. Blue, red, orange, white, green, yellow, pink, purple, grey and black. You name it I've probably got it. However I have more of navy blue, black, white and red in my wardrobe than any other colours and a fair bit of dark green.

At this point you can compare the lists that you have. You probably have some overlapping colours, if you have a colour on every list then this is probably a good place to start. Group your colours into 3 groups, one that has only the colours in all three groups, one that has colours that occur in two groups and a third for those you have only written down once.

Group 1: Red, Navy Blue, White
Group 2: Black, Green, Yellow, Light Blue
Group 3: Pink, Purple, Brown, Grey, Teal, Orange

Now to have a varied enough wardrobe without going wild its a good idea to have around 5-6 colours in your palette. Have a think about what the colours in group 1 (and 2 if you need more) have in common. Are they all pastel tones? Are they primary colours? Perhaps their 'earth tones'. Maybe you're all about the neons. I'll be writing a post with some examples soon so you can have a look to get some ideas.

Also think about whether they work together well, you might have a few that clash so play around with the ones you have and remove a couple that don't work. If you start with a limited colour palette now you can always add more colours in later once you have a working wardrobe.

Whatever colours you have chosen you can always add white, black and grey as these are total neutrals and go with anything.

Example: From my list I knew I wanted red, white and navy blue and light blue. I also added in black because I needed some more neutral colours. I consider these 5 colours to be my 'main palette' but I also use dark green in the Autumn/Winter and yellow in the Spring/Summer. Plus the light blue in the summer would be a much brighter more 'teal' shade. So if you cover over the two left most colours you'll see the summer palette, or cover over the two right most colours to see the winter palette. Cover over both to see the 'main palette.'

So do you have a chosen colour palette? Maybe now is the time to think about creating one so you can have a more meaningful wardrobe. If you have any questions or ideas you can leave a comment and start a discussion or head over to our community page. Speak soon, Zoe x

A Capsule Wardrobe Community

Wanna sew a capsule wardrobe too? Or perhaps you just enjoy drooling over others capsule wardrobe ideas. Then I have just the place for you to go. Check out the 'Sew a Capsule Wardrobe' community on Google+. Well so far there are just 3 of us, but I would love to make an actual community out of it.

If you aren't familiar with Google+ communities then you should definitely check them out. You sign up to Google+. You may have done this a few years ago and then never actually used it, but you should because it's a really great way of meeting like-minded individuals across the globe. I am in several communities on there to do with sewing, craft and baking and I love them. Then you can search for communities and ask permission to join them. Then you can write a post, share photos, share links and start discussion about the topic of the community.

So far it is just me posting in this community but I would love to see others who are interested join and make conversation. Share your ideas and goals and seek out others working on their own version of a capsule wardrobe.

So what do you think? If you are interested head over there now and sign up, I'll approve your membership and then you can start posting too. Plus you should absolutely start using google+ because it is a very well thought out and easy to use social network. It gets my vote any way. Looking forward to seeing you there. Zoe x

Creating A Capsule Wardrobe // Part 1

creating a capsule wardrobe

The biggest draw back to making your clothes instead of buying them is losing the chance to try something on before you buy. When I go clothes shopping I do a fair bit of trying before buying. I look at the item on the hanger a few times, check the price tag, hold it up to my face to see if the colour is right, try it on in two sizes for comparison, think about what else it goes with that I already own, recheck the price tag and then only buy it if I am happy it has met all my requirements.

This is clearly much harder to do when you don't have a garment in front of you. How do you know the style will be right? Is the colour something that will suit? How much will the finished garment cost? Which size will be best? All these questions are much harder to answer when you have to make the clothes and you can't see them right in front of you.

Sadly quite a few of my earlier makes now don't get worn. It isn't that my taste has changed or that they no longer fit. I just wasn't sewing the right clothes - I didn't have a clear idea of what I would to wear. During Me-Made-May last year I realised I needed to make a few changed and plan a little more if I wanted to make my own clothes rather than buy them. I needed to be a little more selective about the fabrics I bought and the patterns I sewed. I wanted to make clothes that I felt good in, looked good on and went with clothes I already owned. I decided to think of my new wardrobe as a 'capsule wardrobe'.

creating a capsule wardrobe- ways to wear stripes

Now I know that a capsule wardrobe isn't a new concept. For those of your who are unfamiliar with the idea the aim is to have items in your wardrobe that can all mix and match together and that are all flattering to your body shape so that on any given day you can pick out a couple of items and they'll work together and make you look and feel good.

Over the next few weeks I am going to share some ideas for choosing your own colour palette and for working out some style rules for the types of items to sew. I'll be doing it particularly with a handmade wardrobe in mind but the principles will work for any one who is thinking of creating their own capsule wardrobe. Here are just a few reasons why you might like to start your own capsule wardrobe:

A Capsule Wardrobe Saves Space
I live in a house where I have room for one wardrobe and one chest of drawers. This is plenty of space to fit all the clothes one person needs. But if I want to maximise this space to its full potential I need all my clothes to work well with each other and for them all to be things that I would wear.

A Capsule Wardrobe Saves Time
If all your clothes go together with each other then you will save time dressing each day. Plus if you have a set of guidelines for what to add to your wardrobe then it saves time on shopping too, you know which items will work and which items simply won't go with anything.

A Capsule Wardrobe Saves Money
In a similar way to 'saving time' have a set of guidelines for what you should wear will help you save money too. You'll be much less likely to make something you would never wear or waste money on something that doesn't go with other things you own.

A Capsule Wardrobe looks Good
Whenever I have seen people with a capsule wardrobe before, it makes me think they have a 'signature style'. It certainly doesn't have to be boring either, lot's of people assume capsule wardrobe means lot's of neutrals and no colour but this couldn't be further form the truth. It just means you always wear clothes that work well together but we can talk more about this in the next post.

If you, like me, find you don't wear all the clothes you own but still don't know what to wear each day then maybe creating a capsule wardrobe it a good idea. Follow along with me over the next few weeks to pick up some ideas of where to start. Zoe x

5 Ways To Wear A Holly Playsuit

Let's face it, some items of clothing are trickier to wear than others. A Playsuit probably falls into this category but I love this one so much (read more about it here) I wanted to invent as many ways to wear it as possible to prevent it from being left at the back of the wardrobe. The By Hand London ladies claim that the Holly Jumpsuit is their most versatile pattern, it has two very different bodice variations to sew up with either shorts or trousers, plus you can just make a trouser version with the waistband pattern provided. That already sounds like quite a versatile pattern to me. Well today I going to prove that even if you have only made 1 version it can be a very versatile little number indeed. So without further ado, here are 5 ways to wear the Holly Playsuit.

As A Playsuit, no frills attatched.
The most obvious way to wear a playsuit is as it come. If yours (like mine) is a Autumnal one you can pop on some tights with it and you're good to go. Don't overlook this simple way to wear it.

With a Mismatching Jacket
A bold way to wear your playsuit could be with a mismatching jacket. Wearing a fabric that is similar but different might not be to everyones taste but I think it is my favourite of these 5 options. This tartan has a similar 'tone' to the tartan of the playsuit and a similar size check which is why it works well. You can apply these same principles when mismatching patterns on any outfit. For example matching black and white stripes with black and white spots; or matching spring florals with similar size flowers.

With a Woolly Knit
Wearing a playsuit with a wooly knit can totally change the look of the outfit. It looks like I am wearing shorts and a jumper. Let's hope I don't need a wee in a hurry in this outfit though! You could easily swap the woolly knit for a lighter jumper or cardi depending on the weather. Or you could just use the Holly jumpsuit pattern to make shorts in the first place.

With a Matching Skirt
After you have finished your playsuit you can use the leftover fabric to make a matching skirt. You can wear this separately obviously but you can also wear it over your playsuit to give it a more traditional dress look. This skirt is a full circle mini skirt but any skirt pattern will do.

With a Plain Skirt
But if you don't have any matching fabric left you could also wear your playsuit with a simple denim skirt, like this denim delphine. In fact any plain skirt would work with it, or even a patterned one if you fancied trying even more mismatching boldness.

Other ideas I had were to wear the playsuit with a leather jacket or a chambray shirt to show off the shorts more. When I make my summer floral one I will def be wearing it with a chambray shirt on many occasions. Can you think of any other ways to wear it? Zoe x

Tartan Circle Mini Skirt

Tartan mini circle skirt
I have a secret to tell you. I have a huge girl crush on Jenna-Lousie Coleman aka Clara Oswald the Doctors companion. When I saw her wearing a red tartan skirt a while back I knew that I was going to have to make one for myself. So I did. I had enough fabric left over from my tartan playsuit that I could make myself a circle skirt.

Tartan mini circle skirt mid swoosh
I bought a little extra fabric on purpose in case I ended up having to recut some of the pattern pieces if I totally got the sizing wrong. Luckily I did not and had enough for a full circle skirt. These are my favourite because they are extra swooshy (see awkward photo above- it is very difficult to get a photo of the skirt mid swoosh). I am more into a midi skirt to be honest but I thought the tartan would look a bit frumpy if it was too long so mini works out perfectly for this fabric.

Tartan mini circle skirt
Once again I used the By Hand London circle skirt app (the BHL ladies are my other girl crush). I will make many more of these super flattering, lovely swooshy and amazingly quick to sew up skirts. If you have never made one I don't know what you are waiting for. I even hand stitched the hem on this one (this part wasn't quick) but the project still only took one evening. I love tartan, I love circle skirts and I love Jenna- Louise Coleman. It's been good to get that off my chest. Whew. Zoe x

Let's All Jump For The Holly Jumpsuit!

Holly Jumpsuit in Tartan

Holly Jumpsuit in Tartan
I am so excited about this pattern I have literally been jumping about it. Well actually more like dorky dancing but still the sentiment is there. Of course it's the Holly jumpsuit form By Hand London. You may have noticed that I am huge fan of these ladies (not quite a stalker but not a million miles off). The patterns come in the most adorable packaging. They're DEFINITELY worth the extra pennies over some pdf patterns out there for this gorgeous design.

I made variation 1, the button up playsuit, and I haven't made a single alteration to the pattern. I patiently waited through their sew along to see if I would need to but decided to just go with a straight size 10/14 in the end. Technically I should have added a half centimetre to both sides of the crotch length, but decided 1/2 a cm wasn't worth the effort. (Gentlemen please avert your gaze while we discuss).

Holly Jumpsuit in Tartan

It fits just right around my bottom. Comfortable but not too baggy. Perfect.

Holly Jumpsuit in Tartan
I was pretty careful about pattern matching because I knew that it would be obvious with this tartan if I didn't. It's not quite perfect but it is close.

The invisible zip is perfect though, it is actually invisible. However the pattern matching along the side seams is pretty much non existent so don't look at this part too long.

Holly Jumpsuit in Tartan
I actually love the pattern. The shaping around the waist in the bodice and trouser is gorgeous. The ladies at By Hand London were claiming it is their most versatile pattern yet and I think they are 100% right. I am really looking forward to a few pattern hacks with it, and I will certainly be making a jumpsuit version (you know with the trouser length legs) at some point. I know the tartan is a more Autumn/Winter style but I thought it would be too much in full length. Ironically I plan to make a floral full length one for Spring/Summer.

Holly Jumpsuit in Tartan

My biggest concern came when I stitched the shorts to the bodice and tried it on. It looked like I had made myself some pyjamas. I decided to take a couple of inches off the short length and then tried it on with tights and it looked much better. At least I don't think it looks like I am about to catch some z's any more. What do you think?

To prove the BHL ladies right I am planning another 'ways to wear it' post about this playsuit to share with you soon. Better stop jumping around now and start some real work. Ciao. Zoe x

Favourite Fabrics for Autumn

The weather around here has taken a sharp turn towards Autumn this week. Lot's of rain and a sudden temperature drop have made me think about all the snuggly clothes I need to start sewing for the season. When the sun shines it is beautiful and warm still so I can wear my summer clothes for a little longer but soon it will be all about the comfy knits, the thick tights and the warm autumn colours.

Above is very small selection of some of the fabrics I am dreaming about at the moment. Clockwise from top left: Tartan Flannel, Knit and Purl Jersey in Red, Black Gingham, Yellow Tweed and White Cats in a Row Cotton. Have you found anything inspiring to sew from? Let me know in the comments what you're dreaming of right now. Zoe x

Denim Delphine

I've been sticking with the wardrobe staples this week and I made myself a little denim Delphine (from love at first stitch). This is my second delphine, my first was a chambray version which is more suited to spring/summer.

The denim version is that little bit warmer. When the temperature outside drops a little further I think it will be fun to wear this one with bright colours tights. So far the weather here as been playing tricks on us. It's jolly cold in the mornings but by lunch time it's take your cardi off, change to your sandals, wish I was wearing a skirt fantastic.

I don't have much to add with comments about the pattern, it is still simple and easy to whip up (took me less than an hour). The pattern is probably more suited to this thicker fabric than the chambray though. I will get loads of wear out of this item.

The one thing I did change was to use an exposed zip instead of an invisible one:

I felt like it made the skirt just a teensy bit more interesting, but it is very tricky to get it to stay all the way done up! Even when I take it off and do it up it keeps coming undone at the top. Since this was my first try at this sort of zip (apart from one that opens all the way in my Elisalex) I don't mind to much that it isn't 100% perfect. There is always next time.

I have been sewing up so many 'staples' recently that I am really enjoying my current project. It's a Holly Playsuit! Exciting stuff. I'll obviously show you that when it's done. Are you making one? If so can I see? Zoe x

A Guide To Buying Your First Sewing Machine

A while back I posted about what you need to learn to sew no matter how small your budget. I suggested that when you first start it's pretty easy to borrow a sewing machine. That is still true. But you can't borrow something indefinitely. At some point you reach the stage where you need to actually invest in a sewing machine yourself. So I thought I would write a little guide about what to look for when you want to make that investment.

First of all I want you to know that I think your investment will be worth every penny. It may seem like a big outlay at the moment but if you choose wisely you will have a piece of equipment that you can use for decades to come. You will probably end up saving money in the long run, especially if you start to make your own furnishings and clothes, but even if your goal is to just break even you will also have hours of fun ahead of you.

Work Out Your Budget 
The first and most important part of making any purchase is working out your budget. Maybe you don't have to worry too much about this, you know that on your next pay day you'll have a few hundred pounds ready to spend or it might even already be in your bank account. Well if you're like me then this probably isn't the case. Buying a sewing machine might require a few months of saving, maybe some birthday/Christmas money too. Have a realistic think about how much you can afford to spend or how much you can save over the next few weeks and months and set yourself a maximum budget. This figure should be your top amount and you should be stubborn about sticking to it. However bare in mind that this is a longer term investment too, if your savings over the next couple of weeks will only get you the cheapest machine then it is probably worth saving for a bit longer. Aim to spend at least £100 and you'll be able to find a decent machine. If you can afford more you'll be able to be a little more choosy about the make and model you purchase.

Choose a Brand
Choosing the brand of your sewing machine is half the battle. Once you have made this decision you will only have a few sewing machines that match your budget to choose from. There are several big brand names for sewing machine to consider. Singer, Janome and Brother are 3 of the most famous but there are others to consider. Most of these can all offer similar quality machines so there isn't much in it. I suggest you ask yourself these questions about the brands your considering:

Which brand can I buy locally?
If you can shop locally for your machine then this is a great bonus. You'll be able to see the actual machine before you purchase it, if you have any problems with it you know where to go and its much quicker and easier than sending it off somewhere and you'll be supporting a local business.

Which brand do I know?
If you have been learning to sew chances are you already have an affinity to one particular manufacturer. Ask yourself what you like about this brand and what you aren't so keen on. It might be that these things are unique to that make or model, or it might be that every brand has them in common. Do a little bit of research into what the other brands offer before you decide but you may find you have all your need with the one you know.

Which brands have I been recommended?
You might know some one who sew often and has tried about a few machine, give them a quickly call and ask them about what they use and why. It might they have just always stuck with the same thing but they might be able to offer you some insight that you hadn't thought of before. Plus reading review online is all very well but that tends to be only a very small sample of the people who actually use it and you don't know them. Asking someone you know and trust is always a good idea.

Make a List of Your Minimum Requirements
Once you've chosen a brand you can start making your lists. Write down what you think are the absolute essentials for a sewing machine. Depending on the type of sewing you will be doing this list will be quite different. This would be my recommended list of what you will need your sewing machine to do:

Sew straight and zigzag stitch
Sew a button hole
Have a standard foot, zipper foot and be able to attach other feet that you can purchase later

And that is really it. Then you can think about what other accessories are important to what you're planning to make. After the next step (making a wish list) you might bump up a few of those onto your essentials list.

Make a Wish List
This is where you can start to think about what you'd sew if you could do anything. Maybe you desperately want to start sewing with leather in which case you'd need a more heavy duty machine. Perhaps you love the idea of sewing lots of pretty blouses then maybe looking for some fancy decorative stitches will be useful. You might have in mind that you want to sew while you watch TV or while your kids are sleeping so you'd like a quieter model. Whatever you are hoping for write it all down. Everything you can think of is important.

Then once you have your wish list work out which of these things is the MOST important and which are the least important. If you can put them in the right order. You might realise that some of these things are so important to you that you want to bump them up the the essentials list. Then you'll have one list of essentials and one list of 'nice to haves' ready to have with you when you go shopping.

Ask Lot's of Questions
This is easier to do if you are going into an actual shop but don't be afraid to ask questions. Tell the shop keeper your essentials and some of your wish list and share your budget with them (maybe say a little less than your actual budget). Ask questions like "How often to people have to have these machines repaired?"; "How much does a service cost?"; "How much do the extra footers cost?" and "How many layers of Denim can it handle?" Or any other question you come up with. Read some review too and see what other people think. If you can try it out and see if you like the feel of it.

Remember that if you are in a shop the shopkeeper will be trying to get the best sale he can out of you though, he might be trying to get you to buy a machine that's £20 more than one that will be perfect for you. You don't have to spend your entire budget just because you have it, you can spend your change on fabric if you have some!

Take Your Time
If you are borrowing a machine then there is absolutely no reason that you need to buy your machine TODAY. I know the feeling of saving up and having the money burning a hole in your pocket but I would suggest once you've had a good look around think on it for a couple of days (at least) before actually making your purchase. Then you'll be sure you buy the right machine for you.

I love my sewing machine (by the way its a Singer Confidence) and I don't know what I would do without it. I hope you can use this list to find a machine that you learn to love too. Once you do I would be delighted if you wrote in the comments section what you chose and why and then others can learn from your shopping decisions too. Happy shopping. Zoe x

High Waisted Skinny Jeans

I actually made myself some jeans! Woop. As I have mention before this has been a goal of mine for some time and I finally finished it. I started looking for some high waisted skinny jeans about 6 months ago. Where ever I looked I could only find some that had a zip fly (I personally like button flies on high waisted trousers) or they cost an arm and a leg and were way out of my budget. I slowly came to the realisation that if I wanted some I was going to have to make them myself.

The trouble was I couldn't find a pattern for high waisted skinny jeans any where. So instead I went on the hunt for a pattern that had a high waist that I could 'skinify' once I have made them. I used the Burdastyle 'Bella' pattern 6011 which I really liked the waist of. I then followed the instructions carefully and just made the legs skinny instead of wide.

The big drawback to this was the pockets. The pockets in the original pattern are pleated to make space for hips and with the loose leg trousers they work perfectly. However on my skinny version they are very gapey and make my hips look huge.

Apart from the pockets I am pleased with how they turned out, they are a good fit around my bottom and down my legs. The denim is 5% lycra but if I were to make some again I probably would up the lycra a little as these are quite restrictive and tricky to get on. They're definitely wearable though (although not in this weather, I was sweating like mad when taking these photos).

When the Autumn/Winter kicks in for real I will be wearing them lots. Admittedly I will probably wear my top untucked to cover the hips up most of the time, so maybe next time I should just stick to normal skinny jeans instead of the high waisted variety!

I have been crazy busy these last few weeks so I'll be posting a little less often over the next couple of months so I can catch up again. You can expect to hear from me 1-2 times a week still though so I won't be too far away. Zoe x
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