A summery summary: my handmade holiday 2017

Hello, sewing friends! Just popping in today to share some of my holiday wardrobe hits and misses! Summer seems to have come and gone in the blink of an eye – I always feel a bit sad at the start of autumn, as I love long days and warm evenings and sunshine (even though that has been in short supply in the UK these last months!) My most-worn items were cropped jeans (a couple of RTW ones, but mostly Morgans but also my Eleonore jeans BEFORE the me-made tragedy I posted on IG recently, shown below in the bottom left photo) and comfy sleeveless tops – one Hey June Handmade Santa Fe top (bottom right), and otherwise various choices from my spiralling-out-of-control range of Dune tops.

The lovely Bridget recently reviewed Dune and set out her criteria for the perfect summer tank top – check out her blog post here and marvel that she managed to get the phrase “moisture-ick” into a sentence without sounding weird (if we’re playing blog bingo, she totally wins!) I agree with her criteria 100%, so it’s no wonder that Dune was my most-worn piece. I mostly wore the tops with cropped jeans as shown above (including a few outings for my sewing fail jeans blogged in my last post!), but I also paired my navy blue one with one of my Margarita skirts, and that was a really comfy outfit.

This Margarita also paired really well with an old white RTW shirt that I found gathering dust in a drawer, and which has made me wonder about making something similar.

I need more solid items in my me-made wardrobe, as although when I used to buy RTW I bought almost exclusively solids in neutral colours, something about sewing my own clothes released a different version of me I hadn’t met before, one who loves COLOUR and FLORALS! But the problem with making everything in colourful florals is that I often don’t have separates that work together! However, what about this little number?

I have waxed lyrical before about this Paparounes fabric by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery Fabrics, but having squeezed a top and a skirt for me plus a skort and a pair of shorties for my daughter out of only 1.5m of fabric, I wasn’t going to buy more to sew another dress in it as my summer wardrobe might start to look a little “same-y”. But when I saw my two separates sitting together in my drawer, I had a “Eureka” moment! What if they could go together to look like a dress? I’m so pleased with this discovery, because now I can have my Paparounes summer “dress” without even having to sew anything new!

Surprisingly, I didn’t wear many “real” dresses this holiday. Well, perhaps not that surprising in that we didn’t exactly have glorious weather, but given that I usually find dresses the easiest thing to wear (a whole outfit without thinking about what goes with what is always a winner, right?) it was unusual for me. I did get one outing for this sundress, which is from the Sew Many Dresses, Sew Little Time book that I’ve mentioned before.

This book is great for getting your perfect-fitting bodice block, and from there you can modify it any way you choose to give you endless possibilities in your wardrobe. I don’t often sew with wovens but when I do I want it to fit properly, so it’s worth getting your fit perfect (I lost count of the number of toiles I made before I got mine, so now I’m never allowed to gain or lose weight because I don’t want to do it again!!) I did feel a little less comfortable in this dress, as it’s so very fitted (and despite my protestation above, I think I’ve gained a couple of pounds since I made it last year) and it made me realise why I reach for comfy knits rather than fitted wovens. But it’s good to learn lessons about my own wardrobe habits, and try to remember them when I make my sewing wish list!

The other dresses I wore were my Dune maxis. My lovely IG friend Maxine posted a picture of her Dune maxi, saying she was going to wear it to travel in on holiday, and I thought that was a great idea! It would never have occurred to me – I always wear my most comfortable jeans to travel in, but it was like a whole new travel wardrobe opened up with Maxine’s comment! Who wouldn’t want to travel swathed in lovely soft jersey? Genius. So my black and white maxi Dune was my travel outfit (pictured at the top of this post with my new M7542 top, as I don’t have any photos from the journeys!) I also made a floral Dune maxi while on holiday – I wasn’t going to sew at all while we were off work, but I made an exception when I got this beautiful plum floral fabric from Maud’s Fabric Finds:

It’s another Art Gallery Fabrics jersey, this time by Maureen Cracknell. I made an alteration to my pattern and kept the size XS all the way through to the waist (normally I grade it between bust and waist) and this was a mistake –it’s just a bit clingier than I would like while on holiday (a time for eating and drinking aplenty, when I need clothes to be forgiving!) but it did have the wow factor with this gorgeous print, so it’ll still get plenty of wear. I also had enough left from offcuts to make my first entry for the Simplicity turns 90 contest last week:

I’ll be doing a full pattern review of this just as soon as I’ve sewn my other entry to the contest, which will be a shirt for Rich!

So, what can we conclude? I still love jeans, but am happy to be wearing mostly me-made ones these days. Knits rule in my wardrobe, and basically the older I get the more I prioritise comfort. And I wear more of our own designs than of anything else, which makes sense as the idea behind Valentine & Stitch has always been to design things I want to wear and hope that others will like them too!

And finally, we just finished the design of our next pattern, Edie. It was always our plan to do a cardigan next, but I literally couldn’t wait to make this as I spent quite a few days on holiday shivering and wishing I had another layer on!

My first version has been a summer one, but I’m eagerly waiting to cut into some sweater knits to make autumn versions… I’ll be back soon to talk about those, I’m sure!

What about you? What are your summer essentials?

13 thoughts on “A summery summary: my handmade holiday 2017

  1. Rachel

    This is so inspiring to see!! I love the idea of having a Capsule Wardrobe, especially for travel! I’m hoping to take out my fall clothes and see where the gaps are for handmade pieces. Thank you for sharing about your experiences!!

    1. Valentine & Stitch Post author

      Thanks Rachel, and I’m so sorry I didn’t see this comment sooner! Anything capsule for me has to be predominantly knit fabrics, I think it’s good to know your own style isn’t it! Good idea to work with the seasons in your wardrobe (I only think in terms of summer and winter, it’s like a mental block! I need some more transitional pieces!!)

  2. Diane G

    You had a fabulous memade Summer! What a lovely selection! I particularly like the Art Gallery Fabrics dress, the maxi Dune and your latest Edie cardigan. I have a rust lacy knit fabric that might be nice in an Edie, but I’m not sure if I have enough fabric 🙁

    1. Valentine & Stitch Post author

      Thanks Diane! And great minds think alike, because those are my favourites too! You may have enough fabric for this length of Edie – we will be offering an option to cut the back piece as a mirrored pair with a centre seam, which is a fabric saver. I haven’t done the fabric requirements yet so I don’t know exactly how much you’ll need, but I had 2 metres of the white fabric, cut the back piece on the fold, AND had some left over, so fingers crossed for your rust lace fabric!!

  3. Kelly

    I love all your makes Helen! My favorite is the plum floral fabric. It’s a wonderful color on you. 🙂 My summer essentials have been your Angelina dress and Dune Maxi – plus I finally got a nice tan on my legs that I feel comfortable wearing dresses this summer. Can’t wait to make a Dune top – I’ll be printing the PDF very soon. 🙂

    1. Valentine & Stitch Post author

      Thanks Kelly! I ordered another 2 metres of that fabric, I love it too much 😳 So happy to hear that Angelina and Dune have been your summer essentials! Hope you love the Dune top too 😘

  4. Beck

    My summer essentials are that I can’t stop myself from sewing dress after dress, even though it’s not at all what my wardrobe needs! The heart wants what the heart wants!! I adore the Edie cardigan!!

    1. Valentine & Stitch Post author

      Haha, you’re so right! I’m about to sew the most impractical coat ever, just because the heart wants it! Could you maybe compromise and sew loads of dresses that are comfy and practical, like your Paparounes one or the Tokyo dress?

  5. Sil

    What a cool summer wardrobe. Very versatile and comfortable pieces, and some that are dressy too! Love the simplicity top on you, it’s a stunner!

    1. Valentine & Stitch Post author

      Thanks Sil! Comfort is definitely the main priority. It’s funny about the Simplicity top, I feel so self-conscious in it. Objectively I can see it looks nice in the photos, but I’m just not used to the style. Maybe I just need to wear it plenty and get over it! 😉

  6. Sarah Smith

    What a lovely holiday wardrobe Helen!!! Oh I know what you mean about the sewist part of you loving print but your wardrobe needing solids – it’s easy to disappear down that rabbit hole isn’t it! I’m loving my Dune by the way!!!!!! I shall post it as soon as my Insta is – hopefully – fixed. Such a great staple pattern! Xxx

    1. Valentine & Stitch Post author

      Thank you Sarah! Yes, I’ve got floral explosion issues! Thankfully I now have 3 (soon to be 4) Edies in solid colours yesterday I ordered 3 solid fabrics for more makes, so hopefully I’ll be balancing the handmade wardrobe out soon 😂 I’m so happy you like Dune and am really excited to see it. Hope you get your Insta issues sorted soon – it’s such a pain and so frustrating for you. I take it that you’re taking fermented grape juice as a remedy?!

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