From scratch

The red dress

On Monday I decided to check out the Notting Hill Carnival for the third time since I’ve been a Londoner. For the first time I actually had some fun. 🙂 I wore a dress that I made at the very beginning of summer, but have had no chance to wear it until now.

The Secret Costumier - The red dress4

It’s pretty much a replica of a dress by Reformation that I spotted a few months ago. I didn’t have a pattern, so I just had to work it out while sewing it, but I think it does the job.

Image source: Reformation Carson dress

There is only one seam at the back, the top bit is lined with the same fabric, and the edges are bound with a bias binding, also made of the red knit. Luckily you can’t really see that the lining is slightly smaller, so the fabric is kind of gathering around the armholes. It was supposed to be a very simple sew, but binding knits is not my specialty, to put it mildly…

The Secret Costumier - The red dress1

The dress turned out to be a really comfortable wear, even cycling was fine in it. The only reason why it won’t be my go to summer dress is the combination of being skin-tight AND backless, but if you’ve seen photos of the Carnival, you can imagine that it was just the right choice for the occasion. 😉

The Secret Costumier - The red dress2

 

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Me-Made-May 2016, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May: Week 2

I’m not the kind of person who stands in front of the wardrobe in the morning for ages, trying to figure out what to wear. I usually find a few pieces that I really enjoy wearing and stick with them for as long as the season allows me.

However, having to choose from a very different set of clothes this month makes me totally clueless some mornings, and whenever the weather gets unexpectedly cold and rainy, like this past week, or when I need to dress for a special occasion (going out, travelling, etc), I find myself really challenged to get dressed without being absurdly late for work.

I have spent the weekend in Paris with my sister, where the weather was supposed to be 15 °C degrees, mostly cloudy with some sunshine. Otherwise known as that time you are unsure whether you’ll be boiling after walking a few minutes if you put on too many layers, or you’ll wish you took your winter coat. I am really embracing spring right now and feel like wearing bright colours all the time, so I decided to keep it simple and wear my favourite red trousers for the whole weekend. They are comfy, surprisingly versatile and I managed to dress them up for a night out too. So apart from wearing the aforementioned red pants for what feels like eternity, this is what I wore last week.

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Day 8

  • Top: Self drafted bodysuit
  • Leggings: Self drafted, favourite/would-not-wear-it-outside-the house leggings 🙂

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Day 9

  • Dress: Backless dress, modified Burdastyle pattern
  • Top: Cut-off RTW top (this is the only piece I am allowing myself to wear that I have not made from scratch)

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Day 10

  • Skirt: Infinity dress (made of cotton), worn as a skirt
  • Shirt: Burdastyle pattern, oversized shirt

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Day 11

  • Top: same as above
  • Skirt: same as above

We had a parents’ evening that day, the weather was really unpredictable, so I chose to go with pieces that worked earlier that week.

TheSecretCostumier - MeMadeMayDay12

Day 12

  • Dress: Backless dress, modified Burdastyle pattern, almost the same as the blue above
  • Kimono: Vintage Japanese, got ripped on the side, then handsewn back that same day…

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Day 13

  • Dress: Wrap dress, Burdastyle pattern-slightly modified
  • Jumper: Ready-to-wear

My favourite outfit of the week! 🙂

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Day 14

  • Top: (not visible) camisole+ RTW sweater
  • Trousers: Modified Burdastyle pattern

Day 15

  • Top: Camisole-self drafted/copied from RTW + RTW jumper
  • Trousers: As above

 

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Me-Made-May 2014, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May-2014: The Summary

   This was my first Me-Made-May ever, and ever since I’ve started sewing about 3 years ago. I pledged to wear something handmade for at least 4 days a week for the entire month, and I managed to do this on 25 days, with some outfit changes wearing a total of 29 outfits including a Me-Made garment. I made one new item (the peplum top) and finished 3 UFOs (pink shirt, silky trousers, asymmetric dress). I took exactly 901 photos, mostly with the help of my sister, and discovered probably over 50 like-minded bloggers I did not know before, doing just the same. It was a bit of a hassle at times, but pretty much the most exciting May of my life so far.

   I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, that I think Me-Made-May is a fantastic idea (thank you Zoe!), it really makes you focus on the usefulness of what you make and gears you towards updating your sewing goals. What I have learned about my style and ways of using garments for more than what they were intended for, will be extremely helpful when I finally get to design a capsule wardrobe for myself as part of the Wardrobe Architect project.

   Reading through other bloggers’ summaries made me realize that we have pretty much all gone through the same challenges: changing weather, changing taste, changing bodies and the lack of certain types of garments (not enough or too much separates/dresses) and I can report on having the exact same issues. But I won’t.

   Just kidding. 🙂 I will of course, even if you are all done with reading these, I feel like putting this all down to  use it later as a reference for when I’m just about to start making something beautiful, that I could wear every 5 years to a friend’s wedding… So here are all the outfits, and if you feel like it, check out the conclusion below the images.

   I pretty much stayed true to the tried and tested silhouettes that I’ve collected for Week 3&4 (Wardrobe Architect project), but I did try out a few silhouettes that I rarely wear. Such was the figure hugging skirt + A-line top combo, or the asymmetric dress, and they both hide my waist and bring attention my legs, so even if I didn’t feel as uncomfortable as I thought I would, I would still avoid making those types in the future. Plus they just don’t work with le bike. From looking over the pictures above, I identified what I need more of and what works already:

Dresses

The third most popular item, the backless dress proved to be extremely versatile, and I always feel a little sexy wearing it, even if it’s layered under tops and jumpers. The wrap dress was made in no time and I really love wearing it, although it does need to be shortened. As for the Kimono dress and the “Dior one”, I only wore them to make Me-Made-May a bit more interesting, otherwise they don’t quite fit into my everyday wardrobe, not even for date nights,  if I’m being honest. I still need to figure out if I just didn’t make them comfy enough, or the fabric is too fancy to pull it off with trainers…

I need: At least one more backless dress, simple dresses in solid colours. Wrap dresses, and dresses made of knit fabrics. I don’t own any jumpsuits yet, but they should be a great alternative to dresses for summer, so I am planning to give them a try.

Skirts

I only have few handmade skirts, but the they got the most use throughout the month. The most successful ones were the pleated faux leather one, probably because of the basic black colour and the interesting texture gives. The other often worn skirt was the simplest item I have in my wardrobe, the burnt orange/rust coloured velvet circle skirt, which ticks all my boxes regarding shape, length, colour and the ability to be dressed up or down.

I need: More simple skirts in solid colours, from interesting fabrics.

Trousers

As for trousers, it looks like fit is everything. The pink ones used to be high-waisted and I liked them like that. Now that I’ve lost some weight they are hanging somewhere between my waist and hip, and the fabric isn’t the best either. The black silky one would have been a good idea, but I really need to take my time to test patterns when it comes to trousers, as a gaping neckline is really annoying, but not being able to sit down in something is really the deal breaker.

I need: Well fitting comfortable trousers that work for summer. Try a palazzo style and a slim fitting one.

Tops

I can’t believe I could wear something handmade for almost every day for an entire month with having only 3 (4 with the refashion) Me-Made tops in my wardrobe. Out of those 4, 3 only work with high-waisted trousers or skirts, and the one shirt I made is a bit less than perfect, as well as pretty hard to pair with anything, due to its baby pink colour. Although I am pretty happy with my basic RTW T-shirts, there is definitely room for improvement in this section.

I need: More tops, obviously. Sleeveless ones for summer, a few more crop tops, another shirt, the perfect white T, and maybe some woven basic tops. 

Well, we are almost in the middle of June and all that documenting somewhat kept me from actually sewing stuff, so I am planning to jump back into it again. Kath, from Bernie and I, had a brilliant idea to keep us all going, by suggesting to make 1 project per week for an entire month. I was going to do it in June, but guess what, I’m running late with finishing the first #1ppw already, but as long as I have 4 finished pieces by the end of June, I will call this a success, so bear with me…

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Me-Made-May 2014, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May 2014: Week 5

    This is it. The last week of my first ever Me-Made-May. In many ways this was the hardest, yet most exciting week of all, and I managed to wear 7 outfits including a Me-Made item during the week (one of which is not photographed). The big discovery this week was the fact that I can take pictures by using a voice command on my phone. Oh my God guys! I’ve spent the most hilarious 30 minutes playing dressing up, as I had to repeatedly shout “cheese” or “shoot”. Obviously it does not work all the time, so I had to concentrate on pronouncing it right, trying to make my mouth look as if it was shut, sucking the belly in, keeping my back straight, trying not to cross my legs ALL THE TIME…oh, and smile! I failed miserably 99 times out of 100, often running for shelter when a neighbour walked by our window, but I only needed one photo of each outfit anyway… 🙂

    I’m not sure if my subconscious was influenced by seeing all the lovely Netties appearing everywhere, but I brought my RTW versions out of the wardrobe a few times too, as you can see I’m a lover of the bodysuit (wearing one on Day 26, Day 29, Day 31).

    My favourite attire this week was probably the one I was wearing on Day 27. I love wearing monochrome outfits, although it looked more cool and less lazy in my head. 🙂

    My least favourite was the one with the self drafted disaster that resembles a pair of silk jogging trousers. It’s everything I wanted: high-waisted, kind of snug around my bum and loose on my calves, with rolled up hems and all, but it started off as something totally different and ended up being too tight to be the comfy pants you can just throw on and still look kind of chic. I’ll take some better photos of it one day, as I have not declared it unwearable as of yet, since you know… I’ve worked my ass off making them, plus I kind of invented a way to wear the same trousers with high and low waist. Yeey!

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Me-Mades this week:

In a few days time I’m planning on wrapping this little baby called Me-Made-May up, drawing conclusions, identifying gaps, connecting ideas to the Wardrobe Architect project, you know, just the things one does after a month like this…

 

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Me-Made-May 2014, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May: Week 4

    I kind of hope that some of you missed my Me Made post from the beginning of the week. I have never gotten this close to being consistent with blogging, and I blame the weather for this minor delay. Sunday was way too sunny to stay indoors and photograph the 7!!! outfits for last week (I wore two different ones on Thursday), so I put it off until I felt so bad about not doing it, that I did what I had to…took photos of myself. Sorry about the lifeless expressions, but I am practically in pain during these sessions, as:

  • I don’t have a tripod, but use some pillows and books to put the phone to the right height,
  • I don’t have a remote control, so I run back and forth between two shots,
  • and I don’t particularly enjoy the neighbourly stares either.

But. I do love this blog, I love seeing other people’s creations and I honestly love the whole Me-Made-May project, so it is still worth it!

    Last week I wore Me Mades 6 days of the week, but I’ve only included 5 outfits here, as I could not possibly take photos of the remaining 2 (see agony above), and I also decided to wear them again this week. While I’m more than happy to repeat outfits, it’s just boring to show them more than once, isn’t it?

    My favourite ensemble this week was what I wore on Day 22, as I felt really confident and modern in the trousers (borrowed from the Sis’), short-sleeved blazer, trainers combo. Day 23’s attire is a very close second though, as I felt clever for using the backless dress as a top and underskirt. Not so much when I was riding and it was impossible to tie the bulky skirts up to avoid getting it between the wheels while cycling…

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    What I really enjoyed this week was the way I reused garments. For example wearing the draped dress or the backless dress as a top, reminded me of the Uniform Project, and how you realise that clothes can do double duty, once you are forced to step out of your comfort zone and make the most of what you have. I must admit I kind of feel like a child wrapped in a blanket, playing dress up, but I guess that’s how I discovered sewing in the first place…

Me-Mades this week:

PS: If someone from a trainers company happens to read this blog, and you are desperately looking for a volunteer to test drive some shoes, similar to the ones pictured above, then don’t be shy, send them over to me. As you can see I’d be doing a pretty good job promoting them. 😉

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Me-Made-May 2014, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May 2014: Week 3

   I can’t believe the 3rd week of May is gone already! I also can’t believe that there is 2 more to go…Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy getting creative and wearing things differently, but they don’t call it a challenge for nothing! It’s funny how for me it’s hard to get all summery in this sudden hot weather with my mostly autumn appropriate me made wardrobe, while for others it’s exactly the opposite. We all make it work somehow, don’t we? 🙂

TheSecretCostumier - Me Made May - Day 13

    On Monday the fear of repeating outfits made me go into panic mode, and I made a top before dinner out of scrap fabric (Day 13 Velvet top). Yeeey.  My favorite outfit this week was probably the Friday outfit (Day 16) which looked professional enough at work, was fun to have dinner in, and was I little braver, I could have taken my shirt off and dance in the bustier at night too. I wasn’t though, but the top’s been in the making since August last year, and I just had to wear it out. The same goes for the Kimono dress. Tied up and dressed down, it finally made it out of my home and into the streets of London. What a glorious day it was! 😉 (Except for the realization that it is either not silk or it was pretty damn hot in London on Sunday!)

Me-Mades this week:

 

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Me-Made-May 2014, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May 2014: I’m in!!!

    Have you heard of Me Made May? If you are already sewing then you most definitely have. If you aren’t, then chances are you’ll stumble upon the #MMMay14 hashtag on one of the social media sites, as well as on Pinterest, and see ladies and gents proudly showing off their handmade garments. The idea, which comes from Zoe, is to encourage people who sew (knit, crochet, etc…) clothes for themselves, to actually make a little effort and wear them as many times as possible for an entire month. This is the first ever sewing challenge I am taking part of and I’m loving it already! My original pledge is this:

‘I, Etemi of The Secret Costumier, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear something handmade at least 4 days each week for the duration of May 2014.’

    So far it’s going pretty well! The biggest challenge is dressing appropriately for the weather, as I have mainly been sewing skirts and dresses, while I usually wear trousers and tops during warmer months. As for most people taking part in Me Made May, this is an awesome opportunity for me to see what I need to make more of (hello Wardrobe Architect project!), as well as to find out which pieces are actually comfortable enough for daily wear. Like the black dress from Day 4. It’s perfectly fine to walk and stand pretty in, but cycling? Impossible. (Without swearing and a jumper around your bum. 😉 )

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   Where is Day 3, you ask? Well, on the 3rd of May I was mostly finishing off some pieces (including the pink shirt) while wearing the pink shirt from Day 5,  and since nobody saw me wearing it, it felt a bit like cheating to include it here.

     I am planning on taking photos (with the help of my Sister – hence the change of poses!) during the weekends, but if you just can’t live without seeing my little struggle to put together outfits using my limited handmade wardrobe, then you can follow me on Instagram. By the way, it’s only been 6 days and I’ve already discovered more jaw-droppingly good sewing blogs through the  #MMMay14 hashtag (and it’s numerous versions), than in the past 3 years altogether!

Me-Mades this week:

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