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
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