A pair of Pilatuses

Heyo! A bit more holiday spam, by way of talking about the two swimsuits I made pre-trip, both using the Opian Pilatus pattern.

I made the one on the right here first as a wearable toile, as I suspected having seen several completed Pilatuses that I’d want to make some fitting and stylistic changes to the pattern. This fabric is a jazzy swim lycra I got as a big cheap remnant from the Manchester Abakhan last time I was up there.

The alterations I made are roughly diagrammed here:

So slimming down the front bodice: swooping the neckline lower, making the straps slimmer by about half, and making the tie area skinnier. I also made the back skimpier – following the slimmer straps from the front, taking the scooped neck lower and raising the scoop beneath too. Conversely, I gave the bottoms much more coverage. I raised the waistline by about two inches and cut the leg openings at the largest size to make them lower cut. I also graded between waist and hip size.

Then I felt all good cutting into my main fabric, a Liberty swim lycra which I bought from Liberty itself although they don’t seem to have it in stock any more: The Fabric Store and Guthrie & Ghani stock some prints. The top is self lined (pretty important as you’ll see the rear on the ties) and the bottoms are lined in some black swim lycra I had lying around. The Liberty fabric is lovely quality as you’d expect: quite firm stretch so it fits a little tighter than the first set I made but in quite a nice secure way!

The pattern was great to work with generally. A nice 11 page PDF that assembled easily, with brief but helpful and well-illustrated instructions. And both suits got a great workout on holiday!

These suits were so comfortable for swimming and lounging in and both fabrics seemed to hold up really well. In fact the only thing I’d change is I think I overdid the coverage on the bottoms and they’d look more balanced if they were cut more like the original design. I felt overdressed on a beach full of Italians in very small two-pieces! But having this suit might even encourage me to hit the local pool a bit more too…

Pietra in Italia

I’ve just got back from a lovely holiday in southern Italy. It was hot, beachy and full of pasta and aperitivos which is quite ideal. I was also really pleased to find I packed a nearly 100% handmade holiday wardrobe without even trying – a lot of which are old makes stretching back to 2015 or so (including the top I’m also wearing here), but these are the only thing I made specifically for the trip: a pair of Closet Case Patterns’ new Pietra Shorts.

Heather kindly sent me the Rome Collection on its release, and while I like all the garments, it was obviously the trousers that drew me in first. I actually made these shorts after making two pairs of the pants version which I am yet to wear or photograph (as it’s been too warm!) so I could apply some learnings about fit and so forth which made these a very fast pre-hol sew.

I made a size 10 blended to 12 at the hip and additionally did full butt and thigh adjustments as I did when I made the pants. Interestingly though, the shorts have a lot more ease at the hip compared to the slim-leg trouser view: this can be seen in the useful finished garment measurement table but I neglected to check the different measurements between the views, so while my pants fit snugly these are actually a bit loose and I took in the side seams about 3/4″ on each side during construction to compensate.

They are still comfortably loose in fit when worn but I do have to do some serious wriggling to get them on and off! Heather suggests if you need to grade up more than two sizes between waist and hip you would probably want to put in a side seam invisible zip for ease of dressing, and I think I will do this in any future pairs – it will stop causing strain on the waistline too so probably help them hold their shape longer. I think for any fellow pears you’d probably want to consider doing the same.

A lot of people have been curious about the back view of this pattern as the back waistline is elasticated (the front is flat and elegantly finished with a facing). I’m pleasantly surprised that the backside view doesn’t look too bunched or unflattering, even in this fabric I used which is the upper limit of weight you’d probably want to use: it’s leftovers from the lightweight crisp New Craft House denim I used for my Yanta Overalls. Heather said she drafted the back waistline a little lower than is traditional in order to hug the small of the back, and while it felt a bit uncomfortable to me at first and I was tempted to increase the back rise (this is a common big butt adjustment to make, too) I do see the benefit as the topstitched elastic does indeed sit smoothly against the back, especially with a blousy half-tucked top kinda vibe.

These were a delight to wear in their namesake country, though I did obviously get them quite grubby scrabbling around on the rocks! I’ll share my pants versions as soon as it’s cool enough to wear them; I don’t think it’ll be the last time I pick up this pattern.

Me-Made May wrap-up

I thought I’d wrap up Me-Made May with another update of some outfits from the second half of the month. After basically only wearing me-made trousers for the first half of the month, I did make a slight deliberate effort to wear some different silhouettes in the later half. This led to digging out some older makes which made me fall back in love with them a bit, like my Ronja dungarees and a Closet Case Fiona sundress, which I made as a wearable toile and is indeed very wearable. The weather also got nicer which meant I could ditch the RTW knitwear and my new jacket was a late-entry winner.

It’s clear to see I stuck well within the colour stratosphere I defined for myself last update:

I’m really glad to have a palette I know I feel great in – however I do miss prints sometimes and would like to find a way for them to edge back in a bit. I also have a good sense of what I want to make next to keep building on this really nice foundation wardrobe I’ve got going. Here are a few things on my to-sew list:

  1. Another pair of McCall 7445 in powder blue needlecord
  2. A couple of Wiksten midi length shift dresses – a solid and a print?
  3. Another pair of TPC12 in sand/tan denim from Cloth House
  4. Silk/cotton summer tops in blue, lilac and white – I love this vintage New Look pattern

As Zoe says in the MMM kickoff post, “Hopefully, by the end of the month, you will have learnt a whole load about yourself, your style, how you feel about your wardrobe, and how best to spend your clothes-making time going forwards.” and I certainly feel like I have this year.

The Water Lily jacket

The idea for this project has been percolating in my head for a while, and finally a pattern came along that kickstarted me to make it come to life. Yes, turns out a pastel lilac spring jacket was exactly what my wardrobe needed and it’s really put a bit more colour and variety into my last few days of me-made May.

So weird confession first: this is one of the very first jackets I’ve both sewn and owned. Being a rare type who doesn’t feel the cold that much, I typically wear a coat for the proper winter months, switch out to a knitwear layer for the in-between-y months, and shrug off all outerwear and go t-shirt-sleeves as soon as it’s reliably above about fifteen degrees. But this spring I felt like challenging my layering-ambivalence and having a go at making a garment that could work on top of a tee, be a useful barrier to my sometimes overly-chilly office and feel a bit more put-together than my usual cardi or sweatshirt.

I swooped on the Lysimaque Patterns’ Nénuphar jacket as soon as I saw it in my Instagram feed. I was mostly taken in by the gorgeous patchworked and colour-blocked sample but also realised that it was just the right simple project to test out my jacket needs in a low-stakes sort of way. It’s a very simple but impactful and practical design. The body is basically square with tapered dropped-shoulder sleeves, a stand-less collar (I also have a weird aversion to collars) and lovely huge pockets with an overlapped little chest pocket just for fun. No plackets, cuffs, linings etc to deal with: this lack of fussy detailing and finishing techniques appealed to both my minimalist and lazy tendencies. Win-win.

I was fairly happy with the pattern itself. I did struggle a bit with alignment of the A4 PDF as there are no page borders or match points which I think led to some seams not matching perfectly. The instructions are supplemented with sketchy illustrations and are translated from French into English. I didn’t find some areas super clear, like hemming the lower edge to get a clean finish at the front and the standless collar attachment method, but mostly figured it out using prior art, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this if you need more hand-holding. (I have given this feedback to Lysimaque’s owner and she is very open to feedback and providing more guidance.)

I cut a size 40 and am quite happy with the fit. The upper back is a bit too broad but I think that’s to be expected in a boxy drop-shoulder style and I wouldn’t want to over-fit it as you’d probably lose some of the range of motion. The sleeves are a touch short and quite narrow at the hem but I like the wristbone length, and the proportion of the body length is spot on for me.

I used a Robert Kaufman Ventana Twill from my stash, bought originally for Lander pants but I actually find this twill too thin and unstructured for Landers. It’s perfect for this jacket though and quickly put paid to my fears of woven jackets feeling more uncomfortable and restrictive than my usual knitwear. 

I finished the jacket with my favourite flat metal buttons from Textile Garden, and did matching copper buttonholes: partly because I thought it’d look nice and partly because my spool of lilac thread ran out just as I was finishing the topstitched hem. I didn’t achieve the neatest finish at the collar-placket meeting point and I’m a bit worried the area feels quite weak and might fray over time. I sewed some bar tacks at the intersection point to try and reinforce it a bit. I chose to faux-flat-fell the other main seams ie overlocked them together then topstitched 5mm from the seam.

I wouldn’t have necessarily selected this lilac colour for a goes-with-everything jacket but weirdly I’m finding it really does pair nicely with large swathes of my wardrobe and I’ve certainly been reaching for it regularly since I finished it. I am unexpectedly keen on it buttoned up as well as loose and I like that it can be worn indoors as well as out as it feels quite shirt-like. I’m not sure I need another one right away but I’m definitely keeping an eye out for a nice forest green or black peached twill for a potential second go.

Me-Made May update

It’s nearly halfway through Me-Made May! I didn’t make a specific pledge but I’m following along sporadically on Instagram and taking it as my usual opportunity to look at my wardrobe and personal style with an analytical eye: What do I really wear? What do I feel my best in? What are gaps that I can fill with a new sewing project?

Well, one obvious answer for a start is I wear 100% me-made trousers…

Week 1: Philippa pants, M7445 pants (twice :D), and Ginger jeans (from 2015!)

Week 2: Trend TPC12, Ninni culottes, Lander pants, Philippa pants

I ‘ve also had one of my big semi-annual wardrobe clear-outs, in particular of my tops which are generally more RTW than me-made. I don’t buy a lot of new clothes or sew as prolifically as I did when I was learning, but things still seem to stack up: generally through items I’ve hung onto for nostalgic reasons or me-mades that didn’t quite work out and I’m on the fence about keeping, altering or recycling.

As I batched my things back onto their matching hangers, it was interesting to see that there are fairly clear groupings around colour theme, both in the hue – I only need five different hanger colours to cover almost all of my tops – and the specific tones within. I started to divide the colours into groups based on frequency in my wardrobe and tangential thoughts about how often I wear each hue and how good I feel when I wear it. I counted up each group and this is what I came up with:

My categories seemed to be:
Neutral: The basics: black, greys and cream/white. Stuff to wear when I don’t feel like deciding what to wear, or as a background to the other colours.
Primary: The colours I wear the most as accents and usually feel great in. I’m pretty sure these are the colours that suit me best and they all happen to work well as crayon-style all-over colour blocks too.
Secondary: A bit of a riff and extension of the primary palette with perhaps slightly quirkier or more fashion-led tones: lilac, chocolate, olive and sky blue.

I then pulled these colours into this little palette, which I think will be a very useful thing to keep pinned to a Pinterest board or even to physically print out and carry with me when I shop for fabric or clothes to guide purchase decisions.

Finally, my friend happened to post this little colour meme on Twitter which I posed on Instagram, and it was interesting and probably non-surprising to see that most of the answers that came through were firmly within the same colour themes: blues, browns and neutrals. Funny!

And, more importantly, all useful info to help me keeping making sure I choose to sew things that have longevity and high likelihood of regular wearing. Is anyone else using Me-Made May as a chance for a bit of wardrobe introspection?