26 Jun 2017

Me Made May 2017

Last month I took part in Me Made May over on Instagram - a pledge to wear at least one handmade item everyday in May. I had attempted to join in last year but quickly realised I had not made enough items. This year though, I did it! Okay, yes, I did double up a few times and I've counted two handmade items not made by me but, to be honest, this just highlighted two things I already know and want to change about my handmade wardrobe.

Lessons learned:
1. I do not have enough basics (particularly jersey knit tees!)
This is partly because I've not really got the hang of sewing with knit fabric. To date, I have made two Grainline studio Lark tees and a self-drafted pencil skirt, all of which I like, but they're not my best bits of sewing by a long way. Cotton is just so easy to work with and comes in so many amazing prints, I'm like a moth to the flame! Plus, I don't own an overlocker (nor have I ever used one) which means the finish on the knit items isn't great. I definitely want to try a few more jersey knit patterns, Colette's Moneta seems like a good bet.

2. I'm lacking cooler weather options
So it turns out mine is handmade wardrobe made with fine weather in mind (which is pretty funny given that I live in England where even summer is not guaranteed). About 80% of my stuff is suited for warm weather which, on reflection, makes a lot of sense; I tend to spend the autumn and winter months crocheting or knitting, and spring/summer is my sewing time. It's a crazy craft timetable which left me slightly screwed at the beginning of May when the weather was decidedly autumnal in London, and I quickly ran out of weather appropriate handmade items to wear! Luckily, there's lots of great patterns out there that are perfect for layering in cooler weather (Tilly and the Button's Cleo dress and Grainline studio 's Farrow dress to name a couple).

Most worn pattern: See Kate Sew's Zippy Top - I now have 6, plus I wore two of them twice - so yeah, my Me Made May would've been buggered without the Zippy Top.

Newest pattern: Style Arc's Blaire shirt. I love shirts but up until last month I'd never tried making one (mostly because they looked too complicated - collar, button holes - yeesh). I spotted lots of lovely Blaires on instagram - such a great boxy shape - and thought I'd be a great pattern to ease me into shirt making. Turned out that I couldn't have been more wrong! The succinct instructions (seriously, I've written more detailed shopping lists) were baffling. Luckily, some sewing bloggers had encountered the same problem and written some helpful tips on constructing Blaire. One blogger also pointed out that the Blaire shirt was not the best pattern to attempt if you'd never made a shirt before - I'm with her on that! Once I had the collar and collar stand under control, the rest was fairly straightforward; struggles aside I really do love this pattern. So much so that I started making a second shirt straight after I finished the first, and they're now both in heavy rotation in my wardrobe. I even plan on having a go at the dress version this week :) I've got my eye on a couple of other shirt patterns too - ByHandLondon's Sarah shirt and the Alder shirt dress by Grainline studio.

Aside from the challenge itself, Me Made May was also an excellent opportunity to connect with the wider sewing community. I've certainly started following a few new accounts on Instagram and the wealth of inspiration out there, all thanks to that one little hashtag, is crazy! People make some truly awesome things, my 'to make' list has grown exponentially! Seeing what people are able to achieve, making (what seem to me) difficult items - coats, bras, swimming costumes - gives me hope that, one day, I won't want for anything and that I'll be able to attempt such things myself. Grand plans coming from someone who struggles with jersey knit fabric but hey, 4 years ago I couldn't sew at all, all it takes is practice, time and patience :)

2 Jun 2017

I ❤ manchester

At 6:15 am on Tuesday morning, I found myself on a train to Manchester for a work event (namely, the UK Space Conference). Although I spent the majority of my time in Manchester Central convention centre, I did manage to get to see some of this brilliant city in the evenings. Two things stood out: firstly, the excellent food and drink options. The first night we descended upon the curry mile (surprisingly enough) for delicious curry at Mughli; and on the Wednesday night we spent four hours in the awesome Albert Schloss - home of beer, bratwurst and Baby Grand Slam (1 stage, 2 pianos, endless requests).

The second stand out thing about Manchester is it's spirit and I'm not just referring to the city coming together in the aftermath of the horrific events last Monday (although I did go to see the hundreds of flowers laid out in St Anne's square in rememberance of the victims of the bomb attack - it was very moving and heart-achingly sad). Perhaps because it is smaller than London, there really did feel like a community spirit in the city, all the people I encountered were so friendly and helpful, the vibe is effortlessly cool and positive.

I had been to Manchester for another work trip two years ago where I managed to see the stunning John Rylands library and a wander around Afflecks. This visit has only confirmed what I felt the last time: this is one cool city, I need to come back :)

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