TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers
From scratch, Stash diet/ Scrap revival

No patterns required


    I have nothing against patterns, I swear. It’s just that I’m extremely lazy and I forget easily that it’s more hassle than fun to experiment and hope for the best when it comes to dressmaking. Yet it has become a habit I am not likely to break in the future.

   I can assure you that sewing without patterns will make the fitting process longer, the sewing part more difficult and it will be frustrating. But it’s gonna worth it. If you are ready to challenge yourself, I suggest you grab and roughly copy your favourite RTW garment, cut out and change a pattern randomly (and drastically) or just play around with some fabric.

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

   That’s pretty much what I did with these two pieces. The trousers started out as some palazzo-leg/ paperbag-top pants with pleating on the top. I know it sounds unnecessarily complicated, but it was supposed to be the most comfortable, most flattering pair I could ever imagine. I altered a plain, straight leg trousers pattern from Burdastyle and added a few centimeters on top. I cut and slashed the pattern to make pleats and it kind of worked with the toille, which was made of some pretty stiff cotton. Then I found this black silky fabric in the remnants box at the shop, and that’s obviously where things started to go all wrong… This was my first time cutting “silk” and I cut one leg way smaller, as I lifted the fabric off the table while cutting. Lesson no.1 learned. Even though I adjusted the other leg too, it turned out to be very tight, so it all ended up in the scrap bag (and what remained became the asymmetric dress).

   Then I lost a little weight, summer was approaching, I needed new trousers, so I gave it another go. I decided to ditch the pleats and inserted an elastic band to the waistband at the back. Now I just needed to find find out what to do with the excess fabric in the front. I figured if I pull it to one side, then I’ll have more room at the crotch and it looked pretty modern too, so I was happy with the outcome. Then I made the legs tapered and turned the hems up to make it look more casual, so that I can wear them with le trainers.

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

   Hemming was a nightmare, and I ended up handsewing an elastic band into the turned up hem. This did not turn out to be a permanent solution, but hey, I did it the first time, and I can do it again. And again.

  So the pair of trousers was ready, Me-Made-May rolled in, and I was up for wearing the hell out of it. The only time this happened though, was when I popped down to the shop to test run it… just to realize it was way too tight to do anything else but stand prettily in it. The solution was easy, all I needed was to make it sit on my hip instead of my waist by sewing a second buttonhole on it. This makes it 2-in-1, as I can cycle in it when it sits lower and could just pull it higher up for going out, as it looks more flattering that way. In reality I mostly go with option 1, of course…;)

   The bodysuit was inspired by the plethora of Netties out there, plus I realized I wear bodysuits quite often already. I had some leftover fabric from the piece I used to cover my DIY dressform. You probably know by now that I love wearing anything backless, so when I realized that I don’t have enough fabric, I just lowered the back on the pattern that I roughly copied from a bodysuit that I own. Since the scraps were not big enough, I had to cut up the pattern. I used the largest piece for the front, so that I have no seams there, and  I played around with the scraps at the back. Since this was intended to be a quick scrap-busting project I used some yellow thread that was available instead of a matching one. It’s contrasting, but the difference is not quite visible, so It looks more like a design detail than a distraction (to me).

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

   Since I used a stretch fabric that’s most likely a ponte knit, it was almost like sewing with a woven. The regular straight seams just didn’t look flexible and strong enough, so I decided to sew it with the smallest zig-zag stitch on my machine, which worked really well, but it was a pain to unpick while eliminating fitting issues. And there were a few. The armholes still don’t feel tight enough, and it took a while to get everything flat and snug with the back panels. I could go on about how ugly the homemade snap fastener bit looks, but it does the job very well, this is one of my most comfortable makes and it makes me feel pretty good about myself! I mean dreaming up and making something super flattering for yourself is one little victory. But coming up with resolutions to problems you never knew existed all by yourself, is what will put that smile on your face every time you wear it.

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

TheSecret Costumier - Bodysuit made of scraps & 2-in-1 trousers

From scratch, Refash., Stash diet/ Scrap revival

Sewing, uninterrupted

It’s kind of what I’ve always longed for. 10 days alone at home. The sewing machine constantly set up, the cutting mat covering half of the kitchen floor. There’s a constant flow jazz in the background and there’s no stopping until 3 in the morning.

My mum and sister has abandoned me to visit family in Nigeria, and although I’ve realized that even though I’ve always wanted to live alone, I’m willing to admit that it’s definitely not for me. I might -weirdly- be more organised on my own (if I don’t do the washing up, nobody else will after all…), and I might have all the time in the world to do my own thing, but I painfully miss having someone around to talk to. But enough of the self-pity, I hope they are having the time of their life, and there’s only a couple of days left until they come back, so I’m planning to make the most of the remaining time. In between hosting sleepovers and dinner parties, I came up with a couple of projects to finish until next Tuesday.

TheSecretCostumier - Sewing, uninterrupted2

Set up dressform

I’ve made a dressform guys. Again. This time around I’ll just have to show you how it was done, as there’s so much you can learn about how NOT to make one. I would like to experiment in draping, so I’ll mark the Centre Front, CB, etc. and make a basic bodice block first, to see how close it comes to fitting my real body.

TheSecretCostumier - Sewing, uninterrupted5

Finish Mum’s dress

I’ve found this fabric in Rolls&Rems in the remnants box about a year ago. It’s almost finished, but the waist line is terribly wonky, so it’s the kind of annoying but necessary alteration that keeps a garment  in the cupboard for ages. I’ve already marked the new waistline, so all I need to do is gathering the skirt bit again and attaching to the bodice.

TheSecretCostumier - Sewing, uninterrupted

Make a knit garment

I have quite a bit left from the fabric I used to cover the dressform, and I guess I got the “sewing with knits bug” from seeing all the Netties, Monetas & Mabels springing up, so I decided to join the party. I’m making a bodysuit as well, by copying a RTW garment and altering the pattern so that I can use the smaller fabric pieces.

TheSecretCostumier - Sewing, uninterrupted3

Make toille for the Birthday Dress

My birthday is less than a month away, and even if I don’t end up wearing this, I really want to finish it by then. This is going to be the first time I’m using boning and I can smell a disaster coming, but I’m pretty excited about it at the same time. If I can fit the toille this week, then I assume I could use that as the underlining later.

Upcycle the leather shorts

I found this real leather, dark brown pair of shorts on Brick Lane for about £1.40. It’s a tad too small and very 80’s, but the wrong side of the leather looks really nice. I was going to make a moccasin for myself, or for a colleague’s newborn baby, but I might stick to making something I can actually wear in public, like a skirt, some kind of a top/jacket or a bag inspired by my ever-growing Bags to make board on Pinterest.

TheSecretCostumier - Sewing, uninterrupted1

Make a bra

This is my favourite fabric I’ve ever bought, and although I have about 3 meters of it (remnants box find too!), I haven’t been able to figure out what pattern could do justice to this awesome, but very loud print. To avoid making that decision I keep coming up with small projects to use a piece of it that I cut off when I  got it. I used the flowers for the embellished trainers (still in the making…) and I’m planning on making a triangle bra this time.

 P.S.: Any advice regarding draping on a form, using boning, or making bras is more than welcome! 😉

From scratch

My first infinity dress

…and  not the last!TheSecretCostumier - Infinity dress TheSecretCostumier - Infinity dress TheSecretCostumier - Infinity dress TheSecretCostumier - Infinity dress TheSecretCostumier - Infinity dress

  Do you remember my friend, Kata, who I visited in Copenhagen in May? Well, while I was there she kind of asked me/I sort of offered to make her a bridesmaid dress for a wedding in July. It’s going to be a rather hipster wedding taking place in the countryside, with quite a few bridesmaids in all different kinds of dresses, but with similar headpieces, handmade by the bride. Everybody could pick their own dress, the only restriction is the colour: it has to be either blue or orange.

   As we were looking for the dress for Kata, I realized that even though her usual style is rather global-laid back (she owns beautiful jewellery, scarves, and harem trousers from all over the world and pairs them with good quality modern basics), she was looking for a more traditional bridesmaid dress. I was thinking about making the backless dress I made last summer, but that needs to be fitted on several points of her body, and being thousands of miles away, it was out of question, with most patterns with a fitted bodice. This is why the convertible/infinity dress popped into my mind (apparently not only into my mind, as Etsy is full of infinity bridesmaid dresses).

Image sources: Butter by Nadia, Tart 1, Tart 2, Donna Karan, Lara Miller

All you need for that is the waist measurement and the height really (and it helps if you know how big a bust you are about to cover). So with this information, and help from the 4 most popular tutorials on Pinterest (Sew Like My Mom, Cut out + keep, Rostichery and Knuckle Salad), off I went for fabric hunting.

    I was looking for a silky, 2 or 4 way stretch jersey fabric, that is not lycra and does not cost more than £3-5, as I needed about 4 metres of it. I sent Kata some pictures of the ones I found, and we both picked that cornflowerish/light blue. But when I returned to the shop I realized that it was more like a T-shirt matt jersey, a lot lighter than on picture and was not even cheap, so I decided to look for something on Ebay. I’m pretty sure that I found around 15 shades of blue silky jersey, but none of them were similar to the shade that I agreed on with Kata.  Long story short, my fave fabric shop saved me, as I found two pieces (1.5 m and 2 metres long) of light blue 2 way stretch jersey in the mighty remnants box for £7 altogether. The colour is nice, although I’m afraid a little too light, but in terms of shinyness and the weight of fabric, this is pretty much what I was looking for.

The tutorials I found made the construction look a lot more tricky than it is, but they are helpful for your first attempt. It was done in about 1.5 hours, with cutting and sewing, although I did not hem the skirt, and I had to reinforce the seam, as probably because of tension issues there were some holes in the zig-zag stitching which was visible from the other side.

    What didn’t work out quite as well as I wanted, is the (only) seam actually. Since there is no opening on the dress, the waistline needs to be stretchy enough to go over your top half, so you can’t sew a straight seam (am I right?), and as you can see my twin needle attempt on hemming the waist part was a failed one too, but the zig-zag stitch is not invisible in my case, making the dress a lot less elegant. I would also be happier if I could have found a nice way to hem it invisibly.

Apart from these hiccups, I tried the dress on (like a bad seamstress :p) to see if it works at all, and could not wipe the smile off my face. I would love to make myself a jumpsuit version, a black midi dress, something from those nude/soft pink fabrics I found and maybe a maxi one as well… I think it’s the most flattering, most versatile dress ever, and the short construction time makes it a dream!