The Spotted Ginger

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I almost titled this post ‘Last of the Summer Makes’, as it feels so cold and wet here in the UK at the moment, that my thoughts are definitely turning to more Autumnal projects. However since I bought this fabric at the start of the Summer and who knows, we might just experience some late sun? I thought I’d run it up. The fabric, as usual from Leon’s in Chorlton, might not go with black tights come Winter, but it’s fairly sturdy, somewhere between a denim and a canvas, so fingers crossed it should get a few outings before the weather really turns.

This is my fourth version of Colette’s Ginger skirt. If you’re interested you can see my earlier versions here, here and here. For this version I decided to ring the changes ever so slightly by completing version 1, with the pointed centre waist, rather that the curved band I’d used for my previous Gingers. There isn’t a great difference in the end result though, and it still forms a really flattering, high waist band.

I also couldn’t resist adding a small, lace trim just beneath the waistband. I was trying to resist, as I really need more casual items in my homemade wardrobe, but the colour just matched so perfectly… Maybe next time…

There’s not much to add with regards to this skirt’s construction other than each time I run one of these up, I get an even neater appearance, both inside and out. My only slight niggle is that there’s a slight ‘bump’ just at the bottom of the zip, maybe because it’s a slightly thicker fabric? I’m not sure it’s visible to an untrained eye though, fingers crossed!

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Clearly having problems with the wind in these shots, and believe me these were the ‘best’ of the bunch…

With four Gingers now in my possession, I’m all ready to take part in ‘One Week, One Pattern’ (OWOP) hosted by the lovely Jane over at handmadejane.co.uk. If you’re taking part, which pattern have you decided to use for the event?

‘Making it a lifestyle’

Some of my favourite sections of Tilly Walnes’ ‘Love At First Stitch’ book (after the lovely designs of course) are the ‘Make it a Lifestyle’ sections. With this in mind, coupled with how much insight I gleaned into what I actually wear from taking part in ‘MeMadeMay’ (and how much I enjoyed it 🙂 ), I was determined to incorporate some of my ‘me-makes’ into my holiday wardrobe this Summer.

Problem was, I was also determined to travel pretty light. Because we were planning on going to a quieter part of Rhodes and our only ‘nightlife’ consisted of visiting local tavernas or having BBQs at our villa, I really didn’t require much in the way of smart clothing. I’d also far rather fill my suitcase with good reads- my favourite this year by far was ‘The Goldfinch’ by Donna Tart, brilliant if you haven’t already read it!

These are the ‘me-made’ items I took, and managed to wear…

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First up granted, was more of a ‘me-adjustment’ than a ‘me-make’, which I blogged about here. With its ‘Bon Voyage’ print though, this had to have a place in my suitcase and it was great to be able to wear it again. So pleased I chopped all that length off 🙂

Next up was my Miette skirt, blogged about here, seen below out and about in Rhodes Town. This was perfect holiday wear, I only wished I’d had a couple more lighter weight versions in cheaper fabrics. I don’t go below factor 30 generally as I burn pretty easily, which tends to be pretty thick stuff so I was a bit worried about spoiling the lovely fabric of this one, luckily it’s come out since.

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And of course I wore these, which I blogged about last week, here.

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For travelling there and back I also made use of my first Coco top, blogged about here. I didn’t bother taking photos at the airport though so you’ll have to make do with an old one.

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My daughter packed and wore her Great British Sewing Bee dress, blogged about here, possibly for the last time as it only just about zipped up! Although that could have been all the calamari we ate. I’ve so far avoided wearing anything too fitted since we got back 😉

And lastly I packed these laundry bags (from Cath Kidson’s ‘Sew’ book), unblogged, for their smalls, which I made eons ago but we make good use of whenever we go away.

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I’m pretty pleased that I used all of the above, most several times over. I hate hauling stuff out somewhere, only to haul it all the way back unworn 😦 Next year, if we go on a similar type of holiday, I’ll definitely run up a couple more Miettes. I could also do with a few more casual ‘day’ dresses for days out.

Did you manage to wear any of your me-makes whilst on holiday this year?

Shopping Revelations No 2

Since starting to sew more I’ve definitely found myself buying less. When I do go shopping (I still haven’t weaned myself off totally), I try not to buy things I could make myself, like simple skirts or tops. Although I must admit to a weakness for pretty much anything from Hobbs, especially their NW3 range, and for prints that I know I won’t be able to find anything similar to. And of course there’s a whole host of items that are completely beyond my present skills… But on the whole, one of the upshots of less shopping is that when I do buy things, I feel I can justify spending just a little bit more than I used to.

So prior to our annual, family holiday this year I treated myself to four new bikinis. Last year I ‘made do’ with a few I’d had for years, which had definitely seen better days, further adding to my justification of course ;-). I bought two from the Debenhams’ ‘Floozie by Frost French’ range which come in different cup sizes, great if you’re slightly bigger than average like me (equally if you’re smaller too I’m guessing?). As we went to the Greek Island of Rhodes this year and spent most of our time on the beach or by the pool, I wore these two sets pretty much all day and can highly recommend them as they were so supportive and comfy. I also bought an expensive (for me!) Seafolly one, which was equally successful. My fourth (from another UK department store, John Lewis), wasn’t quite such a hit. It looked lovely and was great for sunbathing horizontally, but jumping in the waves with the kids, certainly had its ‘hazards’ shall we say?

So all in all, money well spent. What I didn’t want to spend my money on however was matching kaftans or sarongs, lovely though many of them are, this was definitely an area I felt I could have a go at making for myself. Most of the RTW ones are so flimsy they seem hardly worth the outlay, and they just get covered in suntan lotion, which is always impossible to wash out fully. The free pattern with last month’s ‘Love Sewing’ magazine, ‘Sewgirl’s Summer Tunic’ fitted the bill perfectly.

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This is was a really simple, beginners’ project, with straightforward instructions (found in the actual magazine, rather than the pattern envelope, which took me a little while to work out, doh!). The only bit I found confusing was stitching and attaching the ‘rouleau’. Because it was such a small, fiddly bit of fabric my machine kept attempting to ‘eat’ it… This also wasn’t helped by leaving finishing these off until the very night before we were due to fly… Hmmm, best laid plans and all that! Anyway, seeing as I had plenty of trimmings to hand I improvised and it all worked out just fine.

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So did I wear them?

Absolutely! Seen here on the beach and by our villa pool.

Were they fit for purpose?

Again, absolutely! The first one was a really light weight, cotton ‘dobby’ fabric (at least I think that’s what it’s called) and was perfect for throwing on over swimwear and slightly sore skin. The second was a cotton / linen mix which was slightly heavier to wear, but gave the style just a little more shape.

And lastly, were they flattering?

Well, in a word NO! As a short, pasty Brit, robbed of her usual armour of heels and pretty structured clothing, quite frankly I need all the help I can get to look even vaguely decent on a beach… And rather than leave these until the night before next year’s holiday I set to work on them straight away, while I could still remember what needed fixing…

So here they are before…

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And after…

Version one:

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For this one I quickly chopped off a good six cm from the length of the sleeves. I felt I was drowning in the original ones! And then copying a beach cover-up I actually felt more ‘myself’ in, I attached a band (lined with interfacing) to convert it into more of an empire line. I then attached two slimmer ties (loosely based on Tilly’s Walnes’ Brigitte scarf pattern) to the back to pull myself in and then sewed the band onto the original. It looks kind of wonky in the above photo, but it is straight, promise! This make such a difference to the fit, I’m really pleased with the edited result. It’s been so cold since we got back on Wednesday that there’s no way I’m trying it on to be photographed. Seriously, I’ve worn socks and boots since we got back AND we’ve had to put the heating on! It is officially Autumn here in the UK 😦

And version two:

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Because this was a more sturdy fabric I ended up simply rolling the sleeves while we were away, so I just sewed up my turn ups to make them more secure. I didn’t think my previous band and ties method would work for this one, as it would just be too bulky at the back. Instead I opted for a simple, loose, tie belt with a couple of belt hoops to secure it. I used Tilly Walnes’ guide (Love At First Stitch) for both for rough guidance, adjusting to my own measurements. The belt hoops were a little fiddly… There’s a reason there’s no close up! But it’s the first time I’ve made any and they anchor the belt just fine. I’m really pleased I’ve taken the time to adjust these before I pack them away until next Summer, which now seems a long way off…