Sewing

Sewing: McCall’s M7948

Pattern: McCall’s 7948, View D
Fabric: 100% Linen
Size Made: 14, with modifications

This is the second time I’ve made this dress, with a few modifications based on the first. It’s a really straightforward project to sew, with the only fiddly bits being setting in the sleeves, and the back keyhole in the neckline (which I eliminated this time!).

I made several changes to the front and back bodice. I lowered the neckline so it would fit over my head without the need for the keyhole opening, and finished it all around with bias binding made from my main fabric. I used the neckline from my all-time favourite dress: View P from Formal & Little Black Dress by Yoshiko Tsukiori. I also narrowed the bodice pieces to match this dress, as the upper body in the McCall’s pattern was a little wide for me.

According to the pattern, view D does not have pockets, but pockets are included for views A and B. I used these the first time I made the dress, but found the openings were longer than the side seams of the skirt’s top tier, making them a bit awkward-looking. This time I used smaller, self-drafted inseam pockets that I add to any dress or skirt that doesn’t have them. They worked a treat!

Overall, a very happy sewing project that I’ve barely taken off since finishing. Extremely comfortable, practical and easy to make.

Sewing

Sewing: Dino Pyjamas

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PYJAMA TOP
Pattern: Simplicity 8376, View 1
Fabric: 95% Cotton 5% Spandex jersey with Triceratops print, and 100% cotton jersey for neckband
Size Made: M

PYJAMA BOTTOM
Pattern: Burda 6659, View A
Fabric: 95% Cotton 5% Spandex jersey with Triceratops print, and 100% cotton jersey for waistband and cuffs
Size Made: 44

This project was an unexpected success! I’d had this dinosaur jersey sitting around for some time, intending to get to grips with my overlocker which I still haven’t done. Instead, I sewed these pyjamas entirely using the zig zag stitch on my normal sewing machine. They were a surprisingly quick and easy make, with very satisfying results.

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I made the bottoms first, with very few modifications from the pattern. The only change I planned to make was to not include a drawstring at the waist. However, when it came to fitting the waistband I didn’t have any narrow elastic handy, so instead of two bands of narrow elastic I opted for a single band of wide. Otherwise I made no changes and I’m frankly astounded by how well these fit!

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With the top, I changed the shape of the front and back pieces, which tapered in at the waist and out again at the hip. I simplified the shape by drawing a straight line from underarm to hem, more like a standard t shirt. I’m really happy with the finished shape and I’d make it exactly the same again.

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The Burda pattern (trousers) was labelled ‘easy’, and it certainly was, but the instructions were very brief and so I don’t think the pattern would be suitable for a beginner without any support. The Simplicity pattern, however, was quite detailed and more accessible, and I think would make quite a good first jersey sewing project.

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I’ve pretty much not taken these pyjamas off since finishing them. They’re incredibly comfortable, I’m pleased with the fit and I definitely plan to make more. They feel like the right clothes for 2020.

Sewing

Sewing: The Paule Jumpsuit

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Pattern: Paule by Republique du Chiffon
Fabric: Pistachio 100% Linen
Size Made: 38 on top graded to 44 on the bottom

My search continues for the perfect jumpsuit. I picked this pattern to try because I love the tie details on the shoulders, and the interesting seam construction that joins the top and bottom of the jumpsuit on the diagonal rather than a traditional waistband. I enjoyed making it; the instructions were clear and I found it quite simple to sew given that there are no fastenings to handle. Just a lot of bias binding!

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Drafting between sizes was relatively straightforward, though I will say the size range available for this project is not extensive. I drew a curve from size 38 at the top out to size 44 at the bottom of the front and back top pieces. For the trousers, I made size 44 without alteration.

Even though I chose the correct size for my bust, the fit was very wide in the shoulders and kept falling off. You’ll see that I’ve added a small box pleat to the front and back neckline: this brings the straps closer together and makes a better fit, but I also like how it looks and I’ll definitely include this detail if I make another version of this jumpsuit.

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Because I was feeling annoyed about this being yet another pattern where my the standardised sizes didn’t represent my body (do they ever represent anyone?!), I added a F*CK SIZES label in the waist seam. These are made by Stitch Collective and I purchased mine from Craft & Thrift Shop.

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Overall, I wasn’t thrilled with this garment when I finished it, BUT it has been incredibly comfortable to move about in during the recent spell of hot weather. I think it might be a win after all!

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Crafting, Drawing, Knitting, Thoughts, Work In Progress

My Maker’s Year

Penguin in Progress

Knitting

In thinking about what to prioritise creatively for the year ahead, I’ve been particularly inspired by Kate of A Playful Day . Her project for 2016, The Maker’s Year, first caught my attention on instagram. Her goals include time to reflect on all aspects of daily making, and what I connected with especially was her phrase, “in a way the nourishes, not weighs down.”

This really strikes a chord with what I’ve really been grappling with personally for the last year or so. I chose my particular direction in life because I delight in making things, and yet so often I feel pressures and burdens that make it anything but fun. Most often, those pressures and burdens are self-induced.

One example of this is the idea I’ve held that I need to ‘be professional’, since my book Lighter Than My Shadow was published. You have no idea how much this nonsense has held me back. Another aspect of Kate’s Maker’s Year, which you can read about on her blog, is that it’s “not about driving further divisions between the words making, crafting or art but instead allowing a simple act of creativity the room to grow without hangup or uncertainty.” For me, that means not about sidelining certain aspects of my creativity because I’m worried they don’t fit. I’m seeking a sustainable way forward that feels more whole and honest, for my work’s sake and especially for my mental health.

Recovery is...

What does this mean in practical terms? Well let’s take knitting. I have knitted since I was about seven years old, but I really took to it about two years ago. In the aftermath of Lighter Than My Shadow’s publication, I relocated from Bristol, left my therapist of eight years and was not in a good place mental health wise. Knitting became a powerful resource in those months, and has remained so, but something else has also happened: I have become obsessed. I knit every day, I think about it almost constantly. When I visit a new city, it’s to the yarn shop I gravitate first, before the comic shop. I can no longer deny what an important part of my creative life this craft is becoming. Until now, I’ve held back on blogging about it because I’ve worried that it doesn’t ‘fit’ with my identity as an illustrator. But is that creative identity even appropriate any more?

Things I made in 2015

The more I think about the Maker’s Year, the more I relish the opportunity to acknowledge and respect these other aspects of creativity. Last year I learned to sew garments, a craft I’m really excited to explore more. I made toys, something that I featured often in early issues of The Green Bean but have not revisited since. I also learned how to tat lace, and how to weave. And what about the daily, small acts of creativity that are so easily taken for granted? The food I prepare, the decoration and care of our home? Why shouldn’t my blog also honour these things?

So thanks, Kate, for the wonderful idea and inspiration. I’m excited to explore what 2016 #themakersyear brings, and to learn from what it brings for others too.