When I first started sewing clothes seriously – a couple of years ago – I wanted to make all the crazy things from all the crazy fabrics and let my imagination run riot ? Sewing sensible things was most definitely NOT on my agenda, and I didn’t understand these people who were spending time sewing their own plain black t-shirts.
Don’t get me wrong, I do still want to make all the crazy things, but I’ll be honest and say that a lot of the awesome dresses I make don’t get a lot of wear. Making them feeds my creative spirit but doesn’t necessarily integrate into my day-to-day wardrobe – my Marvel Comics dress is a prime example of something that only gets worn once or twice a year at most ?
The dress makes me immensely happy to look at and wear, but I didn’t want to sew things that only got worn now and then – I wanted to wear my creations everyday. But how do I mesh such outrageous tastes into an ordinary garment?
In 2017, when I discovered that Me Made May was a thing, I wanted to participate but:
- I hadn’t really made that many things, because I’d only been sewing clothes less than a year (certainly not enough to give me a months worth of outfits, that’s fo sho. In fact I’m not even sure that I could do it now, without struggling or using some SERIOUS wildcards)
- The things I had made so far weren’t things that I could wear ‘everyday’ anyway (see Marvel dress above ☝?)
So after 2017 came and went, and Me Made May 2018 rolled on by (again I didn’t participate, but lurked), I looked at the things people were making/wearing in their everyday lives and tried to figure out how I could partner my crazy tastes in fabrics with my daily wardrobe.
You guys know that I (unfortunately) work a full-time job – in the very sensible finance world, nonetheless – and depending on your workplace, a certain level of (soul-destroying) ‘corporate-ness’ can be required in your appearance.
It’s taken me a few years to reach this point, but I’m now not willing to interview/work at ANY place that will not allow me to be myself. If they have a problem with my hair colour, my tattoo sleeve or my nose ring, then that is most definitely NOT a place that I want to spend my working life. A couple of years ago, a recruiter advised me that for my interview at a national newspaper, I should probably take my nose ring out. ?WARNING SIGN?. I went for the interview anyway, and left the nose ring in. Long story short, I didn’t get the job because of my ‘experience’, but I have a feeling that in truth, I wasn’t boring enough for them.
I have worked in horrifically corporate places before, and I just couldn’t bear it – they wouldn’t allow you to have your own mug (it had to be a corporate branded one), you couldn’t change your desktop wallpaper (again, you had to have the corporate one) and you couldn’t be too ‘weird’. I *might* at a push, be able to look profesh with my clothing for a bit, but eventually my personality is going to come out and shatter the vision.
My current work mug was bought for me by a dear friend, and it sits on my desk with pride.
The profession I’m in doesn’t help matters – when you think ‘finance’, you think grey suits and dull people (sorry to anyone that works in finance, but it’s true. People think that). So I’ll admit I can be a bit of a shock to the system for people when they are trying to reconcile my job title with my appearance – but, well they’ll just have to get over it and accept that times are a-changing ??
I know that for a lot of people, their everyday wardrobe is either chosen for them (by way of a uniform) or subject to certain requirements (shirt/blouse/tie/whatever) which might restrict them a little in their clothing choices. A part of my creative soul cries each time my train stops at Canary Wharf in rush hour and the flood of navy, black and white suits and shift dresses gets on. I mean, COME ON PEOPLE, you’re basically a bunch of clones with your personality stamped out of you for eight hours a day. Eugh.
So I decided that either workplaces took me for who I am, or they didn’t take me at all. Basically.
Corporate rant over.
Back to the sewing.
I’ve been trying to make some work clothing that is not only practical, but is also ‘me’. When I look at what I usually choose to wear for work each day, there’s a hugely obvious theme of jeans and casual top/shirt, with the odd Kielo dress thrown in. I’m working on the ‘jeans’ part (I’m excited to report that the first pair of Safrans IS INDEED IN PROGRESS FINALLY ??) and I think I’m getting there with the top half as well.
The pattern that is quickly becoming the basis of my work wardrobe is the Grainline Scout Tee. I’d heard good things about this pattern and the finished versions I looked at on the ‘gram were good. Not *too* boxy, nice sleeves and you can make it from wovens OR knits. The paper pattern was a little pricey, at £18.99 (???) but at cost-per-make that figure is coming right down, fast. (yes I know I could have PDF’d it, but that was $14 and then I would have had to pay to get it printed so it was just cheaper and easier to fork out for the paper pattern to start with)
It’s a simple, dartless top with short sleeves, but sometimes simple can be best. You can make this pattern with the craziest of prints, and there’s nothing to interrupt it. No darts, buttons, princess seams or plackets. Your fabric pattern can shine in all its undisturbed glory.
It’s also a really quick make, so it’s quite easy to whip one up on the weekend when you realise that you haven’t bothered to do laundry and have nothing to wear to work on Monday.
I actually bought this pattern for the husbeast – he wanted to make me something, and only had a yard of (gorgeous silk) fabric, and asked me to find a pattern. Before he cut in to the good stuff, I wanted to make sure that the pattern suited me, fitted me, and allowed me to actually move my arms (my biggest worry about sewing those sleeves in a woven). What you see here is the very first practice version of the Scout – my totally wearable toile.
As a side note, I never make a toile from scraps/bedsheets/curtains etc. It feels like a waste of time (to me, anyway) to spend time making something there’s ZERO chance of wearing. I tend to go for cheaper fabrics that I *would* wear, so if the item doesn’t fit then I haven’t lost much, and if it does fit – well I have something that will get worn. It’s a gamble I’m willing to take.
I bought this zebra-stripe fabric for £2 per metre from the Cloth House warehouse last summer – I got it with the intention of making a dress, but that never really panned out and half of it has now become this Scout. The other half might become a Melilot, I’m not sure yet. Blue is not a colour I usually wear, so this top represents a deviation from my usual palette – but I feel that the hot pink in it is enough to tie it back to familiar ground for me.
The pattern is a really quick sew, and I french seamed all the inside edges (yes, even the sleeve head) so it looks totes profesh???? I must admit I didn’t read the instructions – I knew how it would all go together so I just did my own thing. I put the sleeves in flat which I not only find easier, but it makes it easier to French seam (clip yo’ curves tho!)
The neckline is finished with bias tape, which does give a lovely finish but there’s some level of technique involved to get it to sit flat against the chest and not stand up away from you. This stable cotton fabric behaved OK, but making this in silk was a different story and required copious amounts of pressing, stay stitching and starching.
The finish on the sleeves and bottom edge is just a simple double-turned hem.
My Scout-count (?) is currently at three-and-a-bit: the one you see here (the trial run), two silk ones (one made by me, one made by the husband – YES! There’s a blog post from him to come on that) and one Liberty one that’s been cut out and is ready to sew. Oh! I forgot that I also cut a jersey one from the leftovers of the Kielo dress shown below. I actually don’t see much chance of Scout production stopping any time soon – there’s genuine danger of this pattern taking over my wardrobe.
But that’s not a bad thing. Out of all the patterns I’ve sewn to date, I’ve maybe discovered a handful that are keepers and I’d happy to sew over and over again (and they are all everyday-wardrobe-friendly!).
The ones that have made the Keepers List so far are:
Kielo dress by Named Patterns (obvs)
Current count: 5 blogged, 2 not yet blogged including one Girl Charlee one that may or may not be a keeper because I tried to line it with stretch lining and it’s all gone a bit wibbly and crap at the neckline.
Deer and Doe Bruyere shirt
Current count: 2, one long sleeve and one short sleeve. Many more to come (once I find the fabric, that is), especially long sleeve versions for the winter.
Vogue/DKNY V1462 shirt
Current count: 5 blogged, but issues with armscye and boob size/FBA that need to be sorted. **Boob issues may be sorted with weight loss – working on that**
Men’s vogue shirt V8759
Current count: 5 blogged, and about three more cut out.
Deer and Doe Melilot shirt
Current count: 1 blogged (that I hated, due to fabric and wrong sizing), 1 not yet blogged and two more cut out. If the long sleeve version works out well, it might replace the Vogue/DKNY pattern as my go-to shirt).
Even though it feels like it’s taken me ages to find my vibe with ‘everyday’ sewing, I feel like I am actually making progress with sewing things that I feel are practical enough to wear day-to-day, but still reflect my personal tastes and style. I could never really find that perfect blend in the shops before I started sewing, so yay! I’m happy.
You never know, I might even participate in Me Made May next year… ?
Coming up next week on the Wanderstitch blog… a little bit of fun with the Mystery Blogger Award ? Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss out!