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My bike greeted me with a flat tyre when I came out of the office so I found myself sitting waiting for a bus with no knitting, no book & no music; no entertainment. Time to write one of the many over due blog posts so!!!

One of the things I enjoy most about creating my own clothes is that I can dream up an idea and then make it happen. If you’ve been here before you probably already know that I also love to draft my own patterns. Usually I spend so much time thinking about it and going through both the drafting and the construction in my head that I then run out of time and suddenly the event I planned on wearing my new clothes to is looming and I rush the toiling, changing things on the fly and foregoing nice finishes. This is something I want to change and this shirt is one of the first of my new leaf!

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A few years ago Carolyn posted a triple collar sleeve/shoulderless shirt and the sleeve/shoulderlessness stayed with me. I’m a fan of exposed shoulders and like the juxtaposition of a halter type view from the front with a smart collar sitting on top! This shirt is the first of a few, I made a couple of toiles beforehand and this one is totally workable but the pattern hasn’t reached it’s final iteration yet.

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For now though it serves me well. The shoulder action, breezy boxiness and preppy collar all add up to a happy Louise! Oh and I discovered that the wrong side of a lovely floral cotton I didn’t quite know what to do with makes a lovely subtle biasbinding which I used to finish the armholes and the curved hem.

Cheers to my sis for the use of her lil sewing machine while mine was in getting serviced and to my dad for the impromptu photography session! (Which, by the way, is also why you’re seeing my slightly rumpled and worn out & about for a day, impromptu doesn’t really allow for freshly ironed!)

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I’m sure you’re probably already aware of paprika Patterns formerly known as Lisa from Small Things! She of yellow hoody and folded mini fame?! Lisa is the process of developing pattern(s?) for release, the first of which is a further development of her folded mini’s, the Jade Skirt, which includes a longer length variation. When Lisa asked if I would test her pattern I was delighted to help. After some pondering about making it in a woven rather than knit/stretch and an email discussion regarding ease/negative ease as the case may be, I got to work on the pattern as written, using the recommended stretch jersey/knit, not woven. Although I love a mini length I went with the longer one because I figured it could multi-task as a work skirt. I actually made this skirt in July 2013, and the photos are from April 2014 so you can see it’s holding up well, anyone who saw the flood of self “portraits” that was my Me Made May will have also seen that this skirt gets lots of wear. I love it equally for casual or work and is perfect for when both occur without time to change in between!

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The making was a bit of a puzzle at first, those folds took a bit to “click” in my head but once they did and I could see what I was doing it was plain sailing from there. I have all of the folds machine stitched down in place which gives a nice structure to the skirt. Also, if you think my seams are looking a bit bulky I admit that I didn’t trim before stitching closed and I had pulled the side seams in a bit to get the fit I wanted.

The double thickness of fabric is a super welcome feature in the winter, it’s a result of the all encasing construction method that leaves you with no exposed seams on the inside, as I type this it has just occurred to me that it also saves you from hemming your skirt and the will it won’t it wave rollercoaster that hemming knits can be.

I didn’t want a self-fabric waistband, partly because I just didn’t trust that it would do the job so I went for an exposed elastic waistband instead, a super simple finish but one I really like the look of. I know other people may sneer at elastic waistbands but I like ‘em, particularly when it’s just a nice thick length of elastic, no bunch-y fabric casing… there’s something satisfyingly urban about it.

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The pattern isn’t quite ready yet as far as I know but you can sign up for their newsletter here to be alerted re developments!

I realise now that these pics don’t actually show the elastic waistband that I’ve just waxed lyrical about so for the time being you’ll just have to trust me on that score… I’ll come back and update the post with evidence at some point!

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This dress didn’t make an appearance during me-made-may but that was for lack of an occasion rather than any other reason. The one out of my two planned wedding guest dresses that got made, and in fact got worn for one of the intended weddings, a fortieth birthday and another unexpected wedding (as in the invitation was unexpected, not the occasion!). These photos were taken at the last wedding, on a sneaky wander around the grounds while the bridal party got their photos taken. It was cold & damp & I make stupid faces by talking to my “official photographer” so no photo dump overload here!!!

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The fabric is a wool mix I picked up in Murphy Sheehys, there’s definitely some acrylic in there because it dries super quick (both out of the washing machine and when people tip surplus guinness over me!!). The full dress is lined with a nothing in particular lining, it’s navy and I think actually the same as the grey stuff that I lined my minoru with back in the day.

I drafted the pattern for this myself, which is something I love to do. It’s really great to follow an idea through from a picture in your head, to lots of lines on a flat page, to a finished garment. I actually snapped some pics while I was in the process of drafting the pattern with the intention of doing a series of posts from inspiration to pattern to dress because someone said they’d be interested in the process but it’s been so long now I’m sure they’ve long forgotten that and I don’t have access to all my photos at the moment because my MacBook went to the Big Apple Store in the Sky *sob*.

Back to the dress; I folded out the shoulder darts so it’d be fitted through the shoulders but without the line of the dart, cut away the shoulders by coming in a sharp line from the armhole (and I must say I’m pretty happy with the shape of them and the faux collar piece), added an upper back bodice panel and a centre back pleat (for no other reason than I felt like it!) and sliced up from the hem into the bodice to spread and add lots of flare.

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There’s a major flaw with this dress which I’m going to go back and fix… the sh1tty plasticky horsehair braid that I ordered online because I’ve never come across it here in Dublin, that has got to come out, I’ve been putting off posting these pictures because the hem galls me so much!

Other than that I love the sweeping wide hem and the asymmetric buttons and plan on bringing dress into my winter wardrobe as part of a boots, tights & blazer combo. Also of note, this is incredibly fun to cheesy dance to, so much hem movement!

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Is work in progress the right phrase when you haven’t done any work on something for a few months?! I went to a quilting class over a number of weeks earlier this year. The final week clashed with a wedding I was attending at the end of March and I seem to have not gone back to my quilt to finish it off. It’s so big that I need to clear room on my kitchen floor to spread it out and tack the layers together in prep for the actual quilting. My machine has been giving me a bit of gip so I may wait until after I get it serviced before I tackle this one. So really this is more a reminder to get back to this, I definitely want it finished and hanging neatly over the back of my couch for when the weather turns cold…

Technology and life have meant I have been elsewhere than here, but I’m still around and still making and have lots to share. In the meantime I was thinking about this today…my picture of myself is not always the same as what you see. I don’t go all out vintage or have anything particularly defining about my style, but at the same time there is something distinctive enough to lead to comments of “that’s so you Louise”.

So I think I like a modern-leaning-towards-edgy-with-a-hint-of-retro look…could that sound any more pretentious?! I also have quite the grá for a gúna with a short &/ swingy Modish silhouette. And a decade-crossing fondness for little jackets. I don’t want all my clothes to be fitted, a good voluminous hemline or an airy back is good with me. That’s not to say taking the ease out doesn’t have a place. It very much does and I’ve spent most of the day dreaming about a fitted red ponte dress that I washed fabric for overnight.

Sometimes fitting the actual me and my wardrobe to the me in my head and the corresponding mental wardrobe (not all of which exists at this point in time) is a question of proportion. For example yesterday I was wearing one of my scout tees, a vest, jeans and shoes. My hair was un-brushed and dried au natural (read a scraggly affair!) and as is the norm for me a lot of the time, I’d no make up on. I popped into a big department store on my way through town to see if I could try on some boots that I had seen online (incidentally the answer to that was no and you’re not worth giving the time of day to so we’re not even going to come back and answer your question) and in doing so caught sight of myself in a mirror in a sea of tango’d, face painted, ladies. I looked a state. But not because of the lack of grooming. Granted it didn’t help, but the elements of my outfit just weren’t working together. My vest was too long and too pale. My top was sitting awkwardly because it was a home-dec fabric experiment, my jeans are old and on the way out and look better tucked inside knee high boots and my shoes were too slight. If I’d been wearing either boots or a bulkier pair of shoes the whole thing would’ve been pulled together better.

That’s what I mean about it being a matter of proportion. My shoes were too soft, too slight, they emphasised the narrow hem of my jeans in a way that made the upper half of them look awful. I was out of kilter rather than balanced.

Another example springs to mind in two recent makes which haven’t made it blog-ward yet; the Hey Jane Lane Raglan Tee that I made in sweatshirt fabric. I made the first one as per pattern, the second I took the pieces and drastically shortened the length through the body and the width of the waist, cuff and neck bands. The result is a shorter, snappier, more like a retro sweatshirt shape…more me!

Finding the time to make the as yet still mental parts of my wardrobe is an ongoing challenge but this just reminds me that the drape of a fabric, the shape of a garment and the weight of shoe/boot can be as vital as the clothes themselves in making the me in my head a reality for all to see.

 

favourite outfit, favourite outtake

favourite outfit, favourite outtake

May is over and with it me-made-may and the flood of pictures of me on my instagram feed. I had pledged to wear me-mades with the exception of tights, underwear and sports gear and for the most part that’s what I did. I had to wear a non-me-made jacket in Barcelona because I was expecting sun and hadn’t packed anything suitable for torrential downpour… and I had excluded sportswear because I needed it for training (the little that I did!). The exception to the exception was that I would make an item of sportswear and wear it for the Lough Cútra Triathlon. This did indeed happen and I’ll post about that top separately.

I uploaded my daily pictures onto instagram and also flickr. I must admit I found the flickr pool totally overwhelming in size but that made it all the better when I’d spot some of my favourite faces from previous challenges. I didn’t find the picture taking as much hassle as previous years but I also went for a more take a quick snap  on the phone approach rather than trying to get pictures that I thought looked decent, instead I embraced dark mirror shots and roped my “official photographer” as he calls himself into taking a picture for me if I was with him, and then gave my sister the job while we were away in Barcelona over the last few days of the month.

Me Made May covered multiple activities, travelled to different counties and even different countries, but the big question is am I happier with my clothes? The short answer is yes. I wear my me-mades all the time, they are in normal rotation, they’re not treated specially. But, taking out the RTW from the mix makes me so proud. Yea I still have the same gaps that I had already identified, and yea I think I could do with updating some pieces, but over all, I made it all and that shit makes me happy. I don’t depend on highstreet, or any other street, clothes shops, I’m rarely in them, and I’m happy to cut a chunk of that system out of my world.

I find there’s a lot of talk about “repeats” during me-made-may. A quick flick through my outfit snaps and you’ll quickly realise that I am not in the no-repeats camp. Quite frankly, it’s not a camp I believe in. I don’t have a need for 31 different outfits over the course of a month. Yea, I get that it’s good to think more about what you wear so you might combine your clothes in different combinations but as a whole, for me, less is more when it comes to shopping or wardrobing. A small well curated wardrobe is far more enviable than an overflowing but nothing to wear because nothing goes with each other and are all disparate styles wardrobe.

The other discovery of the month was that I’m a total Grainline Studios fangirl. I have 1 tiny pocket tank (still to be blogged), 2 archer shirts, and 4 scout tees (2 of which are still to be blogged), which were probably all worn more than once. The pic up top features two Grainline makes – the tank is underneath the shirt. That’s also a collage of my favourite outfit and my favourite outtake, there were only seconds between the two being taken!

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