"" The girl who makes things: February 2015

Monday, 23 February 2015

Getting back on the (sewing) horse with Brigitte

Ola! Tudo bem? How are you all today? I have some good news to share with you: I made a dress! Yes, I've finally broken through my sewing drought and and got back into the swing o' things. What pushed me? Well, the BF and I went on a mini break to Porto last weekend and the extended time off work got me thinking about things. I've been really quite stressed at work recently. Not just a bit stressed, I mean heart racingly, breathlessly, breathing into a paper bag kind of stressed. It's been rather unpleasant. While we were in Porto I decided to reflect on things and work out some strategies for managing my stress. I thought of three changes I could make: exercise more, eat well and do more creative activities, ie sewing. I remember reading an article a while ago about how important it is to give yourself time to be creative, especially when your feeling under pressure. So with that in mind, I gave myself the deadline of last Friday to get started on all three. Well, the first two are a work in progress (I'm working on them though - honestly!) but I succeeded in the last point and spent all of Friday playing with my sewing machine. The result is Brigitte.

I wanted to make a simple, easy to sew, easy to wear dress. Something that I could easily complete in a day - no stress involved. I found the Brigitte Dress PDF after perusing Pinterest for free patterns. I saw a couple of versions that other bloggers had made, all of which looked gorgeous, so I downloaded the pattern and got started.

This pattern is really easy. It's a basic 60s shift with bust darts at the front and darts at the back for shape. I chose to sew with a ponte knit which I picked up from Feira dos Tecidos in Rossio. I cut a size 8 at the top and graded out to 10 at the waist and hips. There was no need for any fitting adjustments (thank god for knit fabric!) but I did have a few concerns about the bust darts which seemed a little too high. I changed my mind about them five times, but in the end I decided to stick with the pattern and I think it worked out ok.

I decided to forgo the zip, which the pattern suggests, as I could easily slip the dress on and off over my head. I hand picked the sleeve and skirt edges as I've never been able to successfully machine hem knit fabrics - they always end up wavy. Besides, hand sewing in front of the TV on Friday night is soooooo therapeutic. 

I love this dress already. I can wear it almost anywhere; at work, at home, on a night out. It's so comfortable. I'll see how I feel about making her again, I have a few other projects in mind, but I might just have enough space for another Brigitte in my life. Maybe a stripy one.

I've really enjoyed getting back into sewing and so far, I'm feeling a lot calmer! I'm also glad to be able to share some snaps of my 'hood with you. You see that tiling behind me? Isn't it pretty? Buildings are covered with tiles like that all over the city. Now that I'm back on the sewing horse, I hope to be able to show you more pictures of this beautiful city, as well as my handmades.  Here's a pic of Lisbon to finish:

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Work life

As I've already lamented in previous posts, I haven't had enough time to sew since moving to Portugal. Actually, I lie, I've had enough time but not much energy or inclination. Despite the closer proximity to the equator, Lisbon is still pretty cold in February and the thought of crawling around on the hard, cold floor cutting out pieces of fabric is not appealing. So this post is actually about the last thing I made before I left the UK: a work skirt.

The pattern is New Look 6128 and the fabric is a thick, twill weave black cotton from B&M fabrics in Leeds Market. This is a good staple skirt and I'm kind of glad that I'm posting about it six months after making it. It's given me a chance to get some wear out of it and decide on my likes and dislikes.

Likes: I love the simplicity of this pattern and the fact that it's a slight twist on the pencil skirt shape. I love the big pleats at the front and the pockets make a nice, practical addition. And of course it's black so, well, it goes with everything.

Dislikes: Unless you want to spend your mornings with an iron in hand, don't make a work skirt out of natural fibre fabric. In case you haven't noticed, this skirt creases. If I made this project again I'd use a lighter, synthetic fabric and ditch the iron.

Overall, the pattern went together well, with minor fitting adjustments from what I can remember. I'd like to make this skirt again, once I'm out of this creative funk and back on the seawing horse again, but hey, I'm happy with it for now.

So that's the latest sewing news from me. Not a great harvest, but still something. Like I said, this move has taken a lot out of me and I haven't been able to blog and make things as much as I want to. When there's a lot going on it's difficult to gather your faculties together and find the mental space and time to really focus on creating something. But I wouldn't be me if I didn't make things, so now that I'm a little more settled, I'm going to try a bit harder  to reconnect with my creative side. Lisbon has a lot to offer inspiration wise and I feel like I'm well placed to keep going.