From scratch

Those Delpozo trousers

…otherwise known as my final project for the “Pattern Cutting for Beginners: Trousers” course at Morley College.

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You would normally make a toille for a standard pattern size in class, but I braved drafting a block in my own size and modifying it into this pair (without testing the block first #foreverlazy). After getting some help from Linda, our fab teacher, it was a fairly straightforward process to end up with something that resembles the original Delpozo number below.

Image sources: 1, 2

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After careful inspection, now I can see that the ruffles are inserted into a cut on the front of the trousers, while I drafted the front of the trousers as two separate pattern pieces. Where the center front runs I drew a curve, connecting the two legs, almost reaching the top edge of the trousers.

The ruffles are made of a straight piece of fabric that has been folded in half and turned inside out. Matching the two pieces at the top was a total nightmare, as after about 6 tries they were still off by a millimeter or two.

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My fabric choice was not the best, as for some reason I thought the trousers were supposed to be really fitted and I went with a very crisp, presumably some kind of a cotton blend fabric, with zero stretch. Because I drafted a fitted pair of trousers and made it up in a non-stretchy fabric, AND I made sure to keep the ease to a minimum (since it was gonna be fitted, you know!), this is the least comfortable pair I own, to put it lightly… 🙂

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They are pretty hard to be worn casually too, and I’ve kind of given up on that idea already, yet I was pleasantly surprised by being able to cycle to Frank’s in Peckham to take these photos, when my original idea (to photograph le pants at the Chanel x i-D x Es Devlin’s exhibition a few steps away) fell through, due to the 2 hour queuing time…

So. I don’t hate it as much as I did at first, when I wasn’t even sure whether I should finish it or not, and I may make a looser version of it, but I suspect it will not be on regular rotation… Oh well, moving on to the next one! 🙂

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Me-Made-May 2016, Ready & waiting

Me-Made-May 2016: The summary

The first week of June is already gone. I also can’t wait to show you all the new me-mades, but I kind of want to do this right, and figure out what I take away from a month of only wearing clothes made by my own two hands…

I wore 19 me-made garments during the 27 days I managed to keep up with the challenge:

  • 7 dresses;
  • 3 skirts;
  • 3 trousers;
  • 6 tops;
  • and 3 bags (1, 2, 3).

I decided to take a look at what I enjoyed wearing, as well as to look at the thoughts I had after last year’s Me-Made-May.

Dresses

In 2015 I wrote: “I think I have enough dresses at the moment, although I tend to wear them a lot, so I will allow myself to make more if I feel like it. I might also give that jumpsuit idea a go this year.”

Since 2015: I have made a total of 5 new dresses since this time last year, no jumpsuits still. Unfortunately none of those 5 dresses are really suitable for everyday wear, which is why they haven’t really made an appearance during MMMay.

Now I need: Everyday, comfortable dresses that I can wear in all (London) weather conditions.

Skirts

In 2015 I wrote: “I think I wouldn’t mind having a few pencil skirts that allow me to cycle in them, but to be honest I am not in urgent need of any new skirts.”

Since 2015: I made one new skirt that I don’t particularly like, but I’m cool with that since I didn’t think I needed any more anyway…

Now I need: I really enjoyed wearing the lime green A-line skirt this year, and I would like to make a few similar ones of lighter materials for summer.

Trousers

In 2015 I needed: “More of the comfy summery kind. It’s a shame that I am so scared of making trousers, as they are the best option for summer cycling and not that hard to make at all.”

Since 2015: I have not made any new trousers. I have also decided to get rid of the ill-fitting black one that I made using an experimental, self-drafted pattern.

Now I need: More trousers!!! I am taking a pattern cutting course at Morley College again, now learning about the trousers block, so hopefully I will be able to improve on this soon.

Tops

In 2015 I needed: “More tops, obviously. Sleeveless ones for summer, a few more crop tops, another shirt, the perfect white T, and maybe some woven basic tops. I just need more tops. Simple and wearable ones!”

Since 2015: I have made two camisoles that I quite like in theory, but they aren’t the obvious choice to wear in most occasions. I have also just finished a shirt which I am very pleased with.

Now I need: More tops! I probably need to go back to the Wardrobe Architect project and finish it, before I start making things that don’t work with the rest of the wardrobe. I have a few ideas already though, and after the trials and tribulations of making my second shirt, I think I enjoyed the process just as much as I enjoy wearing it, so I’m up for making more!


Last year the aim was to not only wear one me-made item/day, but to wear them head-to-toe, and I am pretty happy about managing to do it. The plan now, is to do a deep clean in my wardrobe, ideally by the end of summer, and get rid of all the clothes that I don’t look forward to wearing for some reason.

If I manage to do that and streamline my collection of clothes so that I only have comfortable, good looking and versatile garments that I enjoy wearing, then I will definitely wear only me-mades in May next year again… 😉

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Me-Made-May 2016

Me-Made-May 2016: Week 3

Week 3 has been and gone. It was one busy week! On Monday (Day 16) I went to work straight from the train station, so I was wearing pretty much what I wore to Paris. By this time I obviously couldn’t wait to get the stuff off me, otherwise those pants are made for long days! Unlike Saturday’s (Day 21) black, experimental silky pair…I am so getting rid of those. For getting snacks from the shop next door it’s just alright, but I am in constant fear of ripping them, they pull at places  and there is that weird flap on the front. It’s everything I don’t want my clothes to be.

Wearing the kimono dress with the military jacket on a great day out on Brick Lane yesterday, was one of those things that remind me why I’m sewing in the first place. 🙂

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Day 16

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Day 17

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Day 18

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Day 19

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Day 20

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Day 21

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Day 22

  • Dress: The kimono dress (self drafted)
  • Coat: The military jacket (refashioned)

As I am getting closer to finish Me-Made-May I started wondering what I should do with the clothes I did not pick up  to wear, or those that don’t fit me quite right.

Do you give up your unworn me-mades for charity, sell them or  recycle them?

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

No patterns required

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    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

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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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TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect
Wardrobe Architect

Week 3 & 4: Exploring shapes & Building silhouettes

First I found this task from the Wardrobe Architect project very challenging, as I could not ignore the designs of clothes and only focus on the shapes, but once I got past that it was easy! I do have a kind of uniform for fall/winter and I am happy to expand on that, however this is not exactly the case with hot weather outfits. Below I collected silhouettes according to seasons.

Fall/Winter

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 1

Silhouette #1: I must admit I only chose this dress because of the amazing pattern, although I have a polkadot one from H&M in this same shape and that must be one of my most worn garments. I didn’t want to bore you with numerous incarnations of the same silhouette, but this is my uniform between September and May. A dress that’s cinched in at the waist+black tights+short jacket. It can be dressed up with boots and a blazer or dressed down with trainers and a motorcycle jacket.

Silhouette  #2: This is basically the more casual version of the first silhouette. By wearing separates, I can keep things balanced by pairing an everyday fabric like jersey or denim with something more luxurious like velvet or silk.

Silhouette  #3: This is something I wouldn’t normally wear, but I loved this skirt, I have a similar suede one  and there is a Burdastyle pattern that has this same kind of old school feel about it and I’m dying to make. The only problem with it? Not good for cycling!

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 5

Silhouette  #4: I usually feel sloppy when I’m wearing something loose on top AND bottom, but for some reason I almost always wear my beaded skirt with a loose knit top. I guess this is what kids must feel like while doing the grocery shopping (with their parents, obviously) and wearing their princess dresses and regular raincoats . The idea here is to make more fancy skirts, obviously. 😉

Silhouette  #5: This must be my favourite silhouette right now. Probably because I haven’t tried it yet! I bought a very similar pair of trousers last summer and enjoyed wearing it, but now I would like to make some for Fall and wear it with (you’ve guessed it right!) black tights. I like the fact that it’s high-waisted, loose enough to be uber comfortable and shows off your ankle. What might not work after all is the length, as at 5’5″ or 166cm I am not exactly tall, and it might make me look short, wide and too boyish…

 Spring/Summer

Shilouette  #6: This is for those cool and sunny days outside of work, and for popping out to Tesco’s, or else I wear this whenever I don’t feel like making ANY effort at all. I already own every piece from this silhouette and it is not a priority to sew basic knit tops, although you really can’t ever have enough breton tops.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 7

Shilouette  #6: This would be my idea of dressing up the Levi’s 501, but to be honest I’m still struggling with the fit of the jeans. I bought them when the local vintage shop closed down for £9 and love them, but I’m still debating whether taking it in at the waist and turning it into a high-waisted pair would be a better idea than leaving it all loose and boyfriendish. If I go with the alteration it would make it great to wear with silk blouses and sometimes heels too.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 8

Silhouette  #8: I love crop tops, bodies and full skirts. They all accentuate the waist which happens to be an area that I am actually happy to show off. I have tried the summery culottes already (the same shape I’ll try for Fall), but I would love to make some in more basic colors, as the one I own is in pastel yellow.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 9

Silhouette  #9: Here we go again with the evil trouser. So I attempted to draft my own pants pattern, then took it in until I couldn’t sit down in it and had to modify it so that it can be used for cycling and sitting OR standing and looking pretty. I might show you the result if I don’t go all mad and cut it up into tiny pieces… The gingham (or patterned) trousers would be made with a high waist, but I’m not sure if I can master making something so fitted that does not feel too tight, although there’s only one way to find this out…

I will definitely make at least one more shirt as I love working with light weight fabrics and it has loads of details where you can use some fine techniques (I mean topstitching. I love topstitching.). I would also love to make a camisole as it is also all about the details, it’s usually crazy expensive in stores considering the amount of fabric used, and it just looks simple, sultry, and elegant.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 10

Silhouette  #10: I own a pair of similar striped trousers and I love the boldness of it in theory, but it needs to be altered to be comfortable and I am not sure if I can ever not feel a little bit like a clown while wearing them. The other trousers are high-waisted and wide legged which I must make at least 2 of. I already have one and it’s perfect for summer, especially because it can be paired with cute and relatively easy to make crop tops.

TheSecretCostumier - Wardrobe Architect - Silhoutette 11

Silhouette  #11: I basically lived in my black maxi skirt when I was in Nigeria last year, which easily qualifies it for summer wear. I do feel a little too comfy looking while wearing it with loose tops, but usually when I have to grab this outfit I have better things to think about, like how to swipe the sweat off my face in the most sophisticated way possible.

The last silhouette is something I probably could never pull off, but as you can see on my Pinterest board I am pretty obsessed with jumpsuits at the moment. I think during Summer they could be what dresses are during Fall to me. I mean they look put together and they provide the same kind of coverage as opaque tights, so I can freely move around.

Next time I’ll be looking at the colors that I am drawn to , as well as try to define where to use solids and prints. To be honest I am getting a little skeptical about the success of this process for me, as I feel like I am sewing because I don’t want to have simple garments in my wardrobe. On the other hand, I feel like putting this all down plus the Me-Made-May might help me steer towards sewing stuff that I want to wear everyday and not just things that I like the idea of. Has anyone started the Wardrobe Architect project AND finished it already? Any luck with creating a capsule collection?

All images can be found on Polyvore among My Items.

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