Category Archives: Sewing

Drapey Coco top

close up coco topI told you another Coco was on the cards! Pretty much as soon as the last hem was finished on my green Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress I was cutting out my next. I purchased this remnant of drapey jersey from Abakhan Fabrics in Manchester because I thought it was enough to make a top, and I was right! There’s a little bit left but there definitely wasn’t enough for a dress version.

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This fabric was much more lightweight than the sturdy medium weight jersey I used for my first Coco, and that did make it a bit trickier to sew. That being said, it’s a pretty forgiving pattern and unlike the first one I didn’t take any in from the sides, which made it even more forgiving! If there are curvy seams anywhere here it’s basically impossible to tell…

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I am pleased with this addition to my wardrobe, I always saying that I don’t have enough handmade tops to go with my handmade skirts and culottes, and this feels so suitable for the coming autumn. Here I am looking cool in the Northern Quarter in Manchester, but I can see this top styled with a mustard a-line skirt for a slightly different look. Now I just have to make said skirt.

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Oh also, I realised I didn’t really mention on here that I changed my hair colour rather drastically… I mean you could probably tell but yeah, it’s pink now. I love it even more than the last time I was pink, which was 2014. Here’s a bonus photo of me back then-

#mmmay14 self drafted dress for Bowie night!

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I think I’m maintaining it a lot better this time too. Mainly, this is because I’m not a struggling student, which means I can afford to buy pink friendly shampoo. Also Michael was a dab hand at the bleach! Who knew. that being said, I did forget to add any wax on the day these photos were taken, so you have to enjoy a reasonable amount of hair fluffiness here.

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Green Coco Dress

Coco Green Profile

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The Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress must have been one of the first patterns I purchased. It was back when I had pink hair for the first time, and that song by Iggy Azalea was playing everywhere. I bought this green medium weight jersey from Ebay at the same time, and promptly didn’t do anything with these two items… Until now!

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As everyone who has ever made this pattern will attest, this is a super quick and easy pattern, it almost feels like cheating! I decided this would make a good autumny dress, so I decided to go for the quarter length sleeves. I omitted the funnel neck and cuffs to make it easier to wear jumpers and cardigans over it.

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There isn’t much to say about this pattern, as it’s only four pattern pieces. I graded between sizes as I have a bigger bum than patterns usually expect. I think for me Tilly’s patterns come out a little large, which it’s worth me remembering, because as with this pattern I ended up taking in quite a lot to make it fit in a way which is a bit more me.

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Like with my Ready to Sew Jazz, it felt a bit strange not having a defined waistline putting this on for the first time, but I got into it. I really like the neckline, and I’m keen on this bright colour and the comfy but cool retro shape, another Tilly and the Buttons success! More coco to come very soon…Green coco fountainGreen coco with coat

An Unfortunate Costume

Minor ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ spoilers ahead!

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Because my friends are the best, I was recently invited to a fancy dress party. The theme was ‘Villains/ antagonists from literature’, and we had a bit of a book swap at the bar too.

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If you know me at all you know that I am a big Lemony Snicket fan, particularly of his A Series of Unfortunate Events books. I decided to go as Esmé Gigi Genevive Squalor, the city’s sixth most important financial adviser and terrible person.

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There have yet to be any filmed depictions of Esmé squalor, except for this easter egg at the end of the first Netflix Series. Feathers are iiinnnn, apparently. I wanted to combine this with one of my favourite and most rude outfits, the one she wears in The Carnivorous Carnival to persuade a group of ‘freaks’ to commit an awful crime. Here’s an illustration from the book-

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Now, according to the written description the dress was white, however I was already set on the monochrome idea, plus I felt like everyone would think I was a bride villain if I went down that route. Ooh, are there any good bride villains from literature, that sounds fun?

I went to Thrift Manchester and got me a large velvet dress. As it was a stretch dress I could quite easily adjust it to my fit, and then onto the decorations.

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The main decoration was the sashes, which I made from some lining fabric folded in half and sewn into a tube. I then tried to sew them on with my machine, realised I physically couldn’t do that without taking apart the whole dress, decided I did not want to do that, and hand sewed them on instead.

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Next was the lettering. I’m no calligrapher, but I think I did a reasonably good job of replicating the writing. It’s painted with fabric paint.

Lastly, I glued some s**t on it. I wanted the costume to look a bit more snazzy and what says snazzy more than red sequins and feathers? Don’t answer that.

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I used UHU textile glue and I would recommend to a friend, it stuck down very 3-D feathers with no problem and they lasted the whole night!

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Lastly, Michael found a cloche hat and cigarette holder at a fancy dress shop, so I glued a large feather to the hat to tie it into the dress, and the costume was complete! I really enjoyed making and especially wearing Esmé’s garb. Mainly, it’s got me extremely excited for the next season, and especially meeting the most fashionable villain of them all.

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Pattern Testing Jazz by Ready To Sew

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I’m not sure about any of the expressions I gave in any of these photos… It’s me again! I’ve had a lot of exciting opportunities recently which is great, but does mean a lot less time for the old blog. That being said, I have a new make to show you all!

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It is my great pleasure to introduce to you Jazz, the new pattern from french pattern company Ready to Sew. They contacted me to ask if I would pattern test and I jumped at the chance. It’s a loose fitting dress or jumpsuit and has sleeve and length options, and I have to admit the design isn’t necessarily something I would have gone for without prompting. When I was sent some photos, however, I saw a black sleeveless jumpsuit version, and I realised that actually my wardrobe could definitely benefit from an easy breezy outfit like that.

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I went for a navy viscose from Abakhan Fabrics. It was my first time with viscose but this specific fabric, while drapey, still had a bit of weight to it which I think probably helped. My cutting could have been a lot better, but sewing it didn’t present too many challenges as long as I went slowly.

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I was sent this pattern to test the instructions and constructions, which I’m not going to detail here. I don’t think it would be very fair to talk about negatives which might not even be in the final draft. This is an intermediate pattern and I definitely feel that in the instructions. Ready to Sew does have a nice feature in their instructions where they have links to tutorials on how to do certain steps such as the invisible zip, if you’re concerned it might have some new construction techniques for you.

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I’m happy to wear this jumpsuit, but as I had to make it quite quickly (see above business, coupled with a temporary loss of sewing space in the flat) I did make a few irritating mistakes which I’d like to rectify next time I make it. One great thing about this pattern is that on the cutting layouts there is a guide showing you which edges you need to serge, which I’ve never seen before but love.

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I enthusiastically zig zagged the required edges, but in my eagerness I didn’t really take much care in ensuring the stitches would actually be caught in the seam allowance. A few zig zags do poke out onto the front of the fabric as a result, oops. Also, I’m beginning to think the sewing foot I thought was for invisible zips is actually only for normal zips, as I have yet to use it successfully.

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As I said earlier, I originally wasn’t sure how this jumpsuit would fit into my style and wardrobe. I very rarely wear or make clothes without a waist, having a look at my choices over Me Made May shows that for certain! I think I’ve got it into my head that because I’m petite and have short hair, I want to show some kind of curve of the body at all times.

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This is, of course, ridiculous. Gender is performative and ultimately irrelevant to clothing, so who cares if I don’t look ‘femme’ one day, or don’t create an hourglass silhouette in a corseted style every day? Choosing to do or not do these things is both completely fine, of course, and any variation in between. Please, wear things you want to wear. I took a look at myself and realised I hadn’t critically evaluated why I wanted to always cinch in my waist, which needed rectifying. This jumpsuit was a nice way of showing the internal criticisms that I am still valid and cute and stylish in something loose fitting. And I like it! It’s really comfy, super effortless and I can eat as much as I want without worrying my food baby will press against the waistband!

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I also like it with a belt, and apparently want to sneeze if this photo is anything to go by. As I don’t often need to define my waist further, plus the fact that I rarely wear accessories (so don’t own many), I didn’t have an exact matching belt to try with this. I had a waist tie from a top I no longer own which, while black and so not exactly matching, did a good job.

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I am already planning my next one, I’m thinking for going for a brighter colour, or maybe a khaki to look like some kind of french fashion style army person who wants no part in the war, and only wants to look cool.

Disclaimer: This pattern was given to my by Ready to Sew free as a pattern tester. All views are my own.

Butterick 4872 Culottes

DSC01509This pattern was originally my Mum’s from the past (I think the 80’s), and it has variations for culottes at different lengths, skirts and trousers. That’s pretty much all the types of clothing you can have on your bum! This pattern could be all you need. It’s an easy pattern, with minimal pieces. It’s pretty voluminous, but there are some darts on the back and front pleats which keep it in some sort of shape. All of the pieces were in here except the waistband, so I just ‘drafted’ my own by cutting a big rectangle of fabric and using that! It worked out fine.

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A game changer in this make was the addition of my pattern marking pen. I am so glad I bought this people! No pins breaking the paper, I just weighed the pattern pieces down, and drew the lines directly onto the fabric. This also made pleats and darts way easier than using the thread method, which is a bit fiddly for my liking. I definitely cut out neater pattern pieces than I usually do as a result and I am very ok with that.

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The smallest size in this envelope was ‘12’ (although that’s pretty arbitrary, since this is a retro pattern the sizes are all different and funny) which was a smidge too big for me, so I eyeballed and made the pleats about an inch deeper on each side. They aren’t perfectly even, but that’s our little secret, k?

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Making these up were pretty easy. I forgot how bland and to the point commercial pattern instructions were, which threw me a little. These were my first seamed pockets and while they confused me for a bit were actually pretty simple. They look so good too! I’m definitely keen to make more things with this pocket type.

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The main sticking point was really near the end, when I was stitching in the ditch for the waistband. I got overconfident, and managed to snap my needle on the zip! This was irritating, but became even more so when I realised I didn’t have any regular needles left except what felt like the thicket, bluntest needle which ever crawled out of the needle tin. I hated using it, it was a terrible time. On the plus side, it made me very quick on those last steps! Don’t worry guys, I have ordered new needles… Sorry bad needle.

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When I started putting the pieces together, I was kind of unsure about how these would turn out. I love this chambray (denim? Not sure! It’s quite lightweight but still has a good amount of body), but was I setting myself up for a fail by combining with this very unashamedly 80’s pattern? I was wondering if I should have tried it with something more floaty, but actually one it was made and I brought it in to fit around my natural waist I got on board with the idea. They’re kind of weird and maybe a little ugly, but they’re cool and comfortable and I like this outfit. I also think they’ll work year ‘round which is a definite plus, seasonal wardrobes can be restrictive for me.

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Restyling Exchange 2017

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IMG20170603191525I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t Lottie, how did her hair grow that quickly? To that, I would say ‘What are you talking about? Of course this isn’t me, this is clearly another woman.’ Welcome to my Restyling Exchange entry! This was my first time participating in a challenge of this type; sending things to (sort of) strangers, and making clothing you weren’t allowed to wear, no matter how much you liked it! Organised by Pilar Bear and Amy Nicole, we each sent out an item, and we all received one to restyle and then send back. Fun!

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I was sent this top from Rachel. Isn’t that a lovely print? She liked the fit but not the way the pleated lining fell. I had a think about options and reasonably quickly fell on this-

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Can you see a statement sleeve in the making already? I garnered some ideas from instagram, and decided to add sheer sleeves with the pleats as the cuff. Once I started unpicking I also decided it would balance it out to add a sheer yoke.

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I made a pattern piece for the sleeves from a shirt I had with a similar silkiness, and it seemed to work out ok! Sleeves are definitely a lot less daunting than I used to think they are, and usually a little more forgiving than they pretend to be. Stuck up sleeves, thinking they’re better than me. I MADE you.

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The original top had a pleat at the neckline, but the lining didn’t, which meant that the outer fabric front piece was slightly larger than the lining. I basically just drew a line to create the yoke, so I needed to find a way of making the outer fabric match up. I didn’t want to take anything off the sides because I didn’t want to make it too tight by accident, so I did a veeery subtle gather on it.

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There are a couple of bits I wish I was slightly more skilled at- my seams were a little messy, especially in the sleeves, and I don’t know if I finished the raw edges well enough. However, I’m still really happy with the end result. I came out just as I envisaged it, and this is definitely the most advanced thing I have made for someone else! Wowsers, making stuff for other people is stressful, I was so nervous when unpicking mistakes. I sewed a sleeve in the wrong way around and it was tense getting the dark stitches out of that dark fabric…

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Rachel very kindly let me use these photos for this post, look how great it looks on her!

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Check out the #RestylingExchange2017 on Instagram for more lovely refashioning projects!

My First Foray into Lingerie

I hate bra shopping. I mean, I’m not super keen on clothes shopping in general, but bras are stressful. Boobs are not grown in set cup sizes, and also are not symmetrical, unless you payed for them to be I guess. I wonder if buying bras is easier after a boob job? Anyway, in this frustration I realised it might be time for me to give making a bra a go.

Following this excellent tutorial by Annika Victoria, I used a scrap of stretch lace left over from this dress refashion, and I mean scrap. I squeezed the pieces out and hoped they were close enough to correct first time.

I basically followed the tutorial to the letter. Next time I’d like to add some more length on the bottom though, I think I measured a little short. Also, since I’m making these on my own measurements, I think I should make two sets of pattern pieces for each boob, to properly tailor the bra to me.

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Annika uses normal elastic for her bralette, but I had a load of fold over elastic I purchased for using in underwear one day. I didn’t really know how to use it (and clearly wasn’t feeling researching it for some reason), so I just kind of treated it like bias binding, sewing it into place wrong sides together, then folding it over and sewing it down. It’s fine for this make, but I feel like i could look a bit more polished so I’ll work on that next time.

There will definitely be a next time because this was a lot of fun, and a very quick project, getting everything done in one evening. I made the straps cross over at the back which I really like. The fit isn’t perfect but it’s a perfectly wearable first go. Plus, since it doesn’t have any wires it’s very comfortable regardless.

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I don’t have any photos of me wearing this bralette from the front because… well… it’s a black lace bralette with no lining. I do, however, have this photo from the back-

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Cute! Ignoring the extremely crumpled skirt, which is not so cute…

Striped Turtle Neck Refashion

I’m pretty pleased with this one! I know I say that about all of my makes… I made this in something of a fever at about midnight one weekend. I wasn’t ready for bed y’all! Some go clubbing, I go sewing. Both equally valid btw, no judgement here.

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Anyway, my partner had a big clear out and I grabbed this top because I love me some monochrome stripes. My thought from the beginning was to replicate a top I already owned, with some improvements. I have this turtleneck crop top, but it irritates me that I always have to wear a tank top underneath. I’m not going to wear it as a crop top, it’s long sleeved. My tummy gets just as cold as my arms people!

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This is a pretty rough and ready ‘tutorial’ coming up here- remember how I said I made this at midnight?

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Lay your top over the top to be refashioned. Draw around, adding seam allowance, with a fabric pen.

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Unpick the sleeves at the shoulder sleeves and down to the cuff.

I then cut around the top pattern I had drawn onto the top, having tried the top on to see if the lines seem about right. Remember that the shapes for the fronts and backs of the armholes and neck hole will be different.

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Sew the shoulder seams together, right sides together. All of my seams were sewn with a zigzag stitch. I like how I cut through the label as if it were the fabric, it means I have a cool half label reminding which bit is the back. I also like the idea that someone will find this top in years to come and be super confused about this top Next made.

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Open up the top right side up, and pin the sleeves to the armholes. By doing it now you can shape the sleeve to fit around the armhole without having to work out how to cut them. It’s a much more forgiving order than constructing once the sides are attached. Just be careful to not stretch the fabrics as you do this.

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Fold the sides and sleeves to right sides together, and sew in one long line. Here you’ll catch any extra fabric on the sleeves in the seam. Don’t forget to trim this down after.

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Now, for the collar. I basically just sewed two of the side pieces I had left from taking in the top, sewed them together to make a long strip, and used that. Be a better person than me, and make sure the rectangle you’ve made is even. I ended up with a wonky collar. It’s fine, I evened it up enough so you largely can’t notice, but I believe you can do better. I measured around my neck how big the collar should be to look deliberate, but can also fit over my head. I then basically followed this tutorial for the neck which explains it better than I probably could-

Since I used a top for this, I didn’t have to hem the sleeves or bottom as that was already done for me. Hooray! I am really keen on this look. It doesn’t come across in these photos enough, maybe because I’d had a busy day at work and a lot of food before taking them, but it’s a very chic top. I definitely want to make more, especially since it was so fast!

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Vintage Fabric, New Skirt

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It’s been busy couple of weeks so this is coming a little later than I expected. However, I am resisting the urge to apologize because it’s my blog and that means I don’t have to apologise for not writing this sooner.

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My mum was having a clear out and I managed to score a load of fabrics and notions out of it. This fabric went top of the pile because the print is absolutely gorgeous. It’s I believe an 80’s cotton, and I thought it would make a lovely skirt.

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I traced a pattern from a mid length skirt from my wardrobe which I love- it was payment for helping out at a vintage sale a couple of years back and I think it was handmade for a theatre costume. To save time and tracing paper I used the same piece for front and back of the skirt. I wanted a centre back seam for the zip to be inserted into, so I simply drew that piece on the fold, adding seam allowance around the edges. I then added another line with seam allowance on the centre seam. Cut out one piece on the fold, and two with the extra seam allowance for the back.

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I really had to squeeze this skirt out of the fabric, as I didn’t have very much fabric. Pattern matching be damned! However, I managed to get all the pieces which was a relief, including one waistband piece. I added a couple of inches extra to the length, in order to create an overlap for a button fastening. This was a feature I really liked in my original skirt.

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I love this skirt, and it was so quick to make. I am anticipating at least another one of these in my future! I wear this style a lot all week long, because it’s a really versatile piece in my wardrobe. Plus, I have the pattern piece ready and waiting now…

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I wore this to the cat cafe in Manchester last weekend and the combination of new vintage skirt and cat stroking times became very exciting to me-

We went to a cat cafe today and I think we're still giddy about it 😺😻😺

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Plus, it’s nearly Me Made May time! Please do come over to Instagram to follow my pledge and join in the party. It’s such a lovely time for the sewing community to come together and celebrate the fact that we made our own clothes!

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Me Made May 2017- My Pledge

It’s that time of year again! May is on its way which for the sewing community can mean only one thing-

‘I, Lottie of losori.wordpress.com (@lottieoflosori on instagram), sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’17. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade or refashioned item each day for the duration of May 2017’

Every year Zoe of So Zo What Do You Know runs a month long challenge to encourage makers to make the most of their handmade wardrobe. You can make your own pledge according to what would be the right level of challenge for you. Last year I was in a very corporate job, which is not something I sew much for, and so I went for wearing handmade over the weekends. You can find last year’s Me Made May on my Instagram or on the mmmay16 tag on the blog. However, new year, new city, new job, new pledge! Life in your twenties, amirite?

I am anticipating that I may be featuring a number of repeats this month, which is ok. About 30% of clothing in our wardrobes went unworn last year, and so it would be good to ensure I get good use from the items I have made. Similarly, it will help me identify where the gaps in my handmade wardrobe lie, in order to make clever choices in the future.

I will be posting every day on Instagram, but I am still to decide about the blog. I will definitely write a blog post at the end of the month about my thoughts, but would it be interesting to put the photos on here at the end of the week? If anyone has any strong opinions let me know, otherwise I’ll just make an executive decision.

If I am really struggling or my laundry grew too fast, I will count mended garments for a day, but I wouldn’t count them as part of my handmade wardrobe, as that’s just a way for me to prolong the life of my purchases.

You can follow my month over on my Instagram which you can find here, and I look forward to seeing everyone’s handmade creations!