Monday, 22 May 2017

Happy #MMMay17! Sewbox Giveaway

Here's the second and final #MMMay17 celebration giveaway, and it's a really good one!!! Susan from has been insanely generous in offering up a £50 voucher to be spent on her site, with free postage included worldwide! £50?! You know what £50 will get you? LOADS. Sooooo annoyed I can't enter....

Well, if it wasn't unethical to enter my own giveaway and I won, do you want to know what I would pick? Probably some of this Liberty Tana Lawn pictured above. Because I recently discovered this French sewing blog and she makes lots of beautiful stuff from the Liberty Betsy print. 

And I'd further my trouser-making investigations with this lovely-looking Hot Patterns slim cut pants pattern. Plus, I'd probably get some other bits I'd need for the project, like the zip and thread. Job done.

If you are a Me-Made-May'17 participant and would like to enter this awesome giveaway, please let us know in the comments for this post what YOU would choose from the site. Don't worry, if you win you will be allowed to change your mind if you wish! Make sure that you've entered by midnight GMT on 28th May, and please include your email address in your comment if it can't easily be found within two clicks of my mouse. Good luck! 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Great Dribble Bib Swap!!! Are You In?

So, right now many of us are currently knee-deep in our Me-Made-May challenges. If you are, I hope you're having a fun and illuminating time. I'm not wishing the month away, but I must admit that each year, when May comes to an end and the challenge is over, I always feel some loss, mostly for the connections and community that are created during May. Well, this year I've decided to try something new-to-me, something that also might fill that Me-Made void when June rolls around: I'm hosting a sewing swap!

This swap is aimed at new or expecting parents, or the friends, siblings, colleagues etc. of new or expecting parents, who are up for sewing and then posting a baby's dribble bib, and to receive one made by someone else in return.

Why dribble bibs? Well, it seems like there are a lot of sewing bloggers and Instagramers around the world who have either recently had a baby (mine is seven months old now but I view anything up to a year as 'recent'!), or have one on the way. I thought this might be a nice way to connect with each other, reaching out in sleepless solidarity by sending each other a low-energy little project. Obviously, new parents or about-to-be-new parents don't have heaps of time to sew, but finding a scrap of time to do so can be really beneficial to mental health (I've found), so this might be a great motivation to find that spec of time! But this sewing swap really is open to anyone, not just parents, who has a baby in their life, or is about to.

If you would like to take part, then please email me (sozoblog at g mail dot com) with your name, address (this is a global swap) and whether you require a bib for a boy, girl or unisex (if your expecting and don't know the gender) by 30th May. I'll then email you the details of who you'll be making a bib for by 1st June. You will have the entire month to create a dribble bib (as opposed to a bib for protecting clothes when eating) and pop it in the post by the end of the month. I'll use a random number generator to assign who will send a bib to whom, so it'll be nice if you include your name when you send the bib so the recipient will know who made it.

Aside from being assigned a gender/gender-neutral, the style or design is totally up to you, but please make it big enough to fit a baby up to year old or thereabouts. If you are stuck for inspiration, then I've collated some ideas on this Pinterest board, which also includes links to some free bib patterns and tutorials (and you can find my dribble bib tutorial here).

Frankie has recently pushed out all four front teeth AT THE SAME TIME, so it's dribble aplenty round these parts. I really hope that some lovely sewers/sewists take me up on this so we can send each other some awesome dribble catchers! Oh, and I'm totally new to hosting a swap like this, so if there's something you think I've missed then please let me know.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Happy #MMMay17! Miss Maude Giveaway

This Me-Made-May, we've got two awesome giveaways for participants to enter by way of celebration. This first is being hosted by Jennifer Lauren Handmade, and the prize has kindly been donated by the incredibly well-curated, NZ based online sewing emporium, Miss Maude. Emma, Miss Maude's owner, has generously offered the winner their choice of one sewing pattern and two metres of fabric, PLUS a surprise piece of haberdashery thrown in for good measure, AND includes shipping worldwide.

If you're asking me what I'd choose (and I know you were just about to!), I'd probably go for some of this delicious looking organic cotton gingham woven in India (pictured above). How chic and grown-up would it look made up as an I am Patterns Pan Tee?! But that's just me. 

Head over to Jennifer's blog post to find out the full details on how to enter, but do so quick because the giveaway closes this Sunday (14th May). 

Friday, 5 May 2017

Refashion Friday: Primark Maxi Dress to Striped Scout Tee

When you find a well-fitting, quick-to-make sewing pattern, like Grainline's Scout tee, you'd be crazy not to make another, amirite? I'm so pleased that I held back from cutting into this charity shop score maxi dress until after I had the chance to try out that pattern for myself. 

'Before' garment:

Whenever I pop into a charity shop, I check out the dress section for both larger sizes and maxi styles, as you can sometimes get a good amount of fabric for your money in those items. I was particularly elated when I found this treasure because: A) it was in one of the cheaper charity shops in Hastings so, for once, the fabric I wanted to reuse didn't cost me more than if I'd bought something similar on the roll in a fabric shop, B) it's a Primark garment, and as one of the biggest 'disposable fashion' offenders here in the UK, I take extra pleasure in giving new life to something that started its life on their racks, and C) navy and cream stripes. 

Initially, I considered leaving fairly well alone and simply hacking off the bottom. My thoughts being that it's existing shape is similar to the April Rhodes Staple dress pattern, and I have worn the living hell out of my version. But where's the fun in that?! Also, I'm not a massive dress wearer, even when I'm not breastfeeding, so I decided to go with a remake that would see LOTS of use. 


Having toiled and made up this pattern before, I knew which size to start with (i.e. a size smaller than my measurements would have suggested I cut), and also what issues to look out for. I found that the sleeve head/shoulder seam on my safety pin version sat a touch too far off my shoulders. But I feared that grading to a smaller size for the top part would make this top too tight across my shoulder blades to get on and off or feel comfortable. What I ended up doing was to slightly redraw the armhole shape to simply scoop away a little from the shoulder line so the sleeve heads sat where I wanted them to. That seems to have corrected the issue nicely without reducing the width across the back at all. Boom. 

The only other change I made was to create little side splits, mainly because I like the way they look, but also because I found with my safety pin version that it's a bit of a stress point with all the yanking up for 'access' that all my tops currently receive. The side splits meant that I couldn't do French seams on this version but I was happy with that as I think it made the side-seam pattern matching a bit easier.  


So I'd say that I've now completely nailed the fit of this pattern on me, until I go and change size/shape, of course. If I were being the pickiest pernickerty of all time, I would, however, point out that I should have used cream bias to finish the neckline rather than making self-bias from the dress fabric. You can see a tiny bit of shadow where a navy bit of the bias can be seen through the cream bit of the neckline at the front. But I'm going to chalk that up as a lesson learnt and move the hell on.

Whilst I was figuring out how to position the Scout tee pattern pieces on this dress, I discovered some nail varnish along the hem. Perhaps the former owner was painting her toe nails on holiday before a night on the razzle. I think there's a bit of it still inside the turn up on the hem of my top! I think that's as close to going out on the razzle as this top is going to see, but you never know...


Pattern: $12 in PDF form (approx. £9.86)
Dress: £3.50 from Oxfam in Hastings 
Total: £8.43, as per my own rules, if I use a pattern more than once I calculate the total with the pattern's cost-per-use (in this case, by dividing it by two) rather than the original pattern price 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

My #MMMay17 Pledge

'I, Zoe of 'So, Zo...' blog and @sozoblog, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '17. I endeavour to wear all me-made clothing (excluding bras, socks, tights and footwear) each day for the duration of May 2017'

It's that time again my friends: for all of us who want to take part in the the Me-Made-May challenge to take stock of what's going on in our lives, and think about how we hope to improve our relationships with our handmade wardrobes. Or something like that.

For me personally, this Me-Made-May will be my first as a full-time mum of two little people, and probably my last with a baby hanging around the place. That means needing to wear intensely comfortable and practical things in outfit combos that take NO TIME to put together, with regular breastfeeding access a necessity. That all may sound a bit constraining, but I'm actually feeling really good with what I have, and have to, wear these days. Plus, I'm feeling a real freedom, both practically-speaking in the comfortable clothes I'm wearing, and conceptually by not needing to 'dress to impress' anyone at the moment.

I've accepted pretty fully where I am currently at with my lifestyle/wardrobe needs, so much so that I had a major clear out a few weeks ago. I bagged up and donated at least a third of my wardrobe. I guess, there's nothing like an expanding family to shift and refocus your priorities. That said, I've also been feeling for a year or so that my personal style and influences were shifting somewhat, but being pregnant for most of last year meant that exploring that was put on hold. Now I'm not pregnant, and I have a fairly clean slate in the form of my dramatically thinned out clothing selection, I'm free to add to my wardrobe slowly and mindfully, which I'm really excited about.

But back to Me-Made-May. Although my pledge this year is the same as it has been for previous years (including the first in 2010!), this year will be different for me in that I've decided not to attempt daily documentation photos. Taking photos is, of course, NOT the point of the challenge, but it has always been something I've liked to do (however much of a struggle it can sometimes be) as I've found it really informative and useful. But I just can't see how I'll be able to keep up with that this year, whilst dealing with two tiny scamps with their various and different needs. Plus, Mr So Zo is studying hard at the moment on top of his full time job and childcare duties, so it doesn't seem fair to rope him into daily mini-photoshoots as well. Also, with my current limited clothing selection, I'm expecting lots of outfit repetition, so there's not much point in taking pics of the same thing over and over again.

Instead, I plan to write down what I wear each day, so I can analyse at the end which items get worn the most, and therefore which types of things I should focus my future sewing activities on making. I will take some outfit shots here and there, perhaps when I'm feeling particularly pleased with an outfit, or more likely, when I randomly get the chance!

If you plan to challenge yourself during Me-Made-May, I hope that coming up with a useful pledge wasn't too tricky. I wish everyone heaps of fun throughout the month, and hope that you learn lots of useful lessons along the way.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Rainbow Bright Pyjamas

Whilst I deliberate both my current trouser fitting issues and the specifics of my own #MMMay17 challenge, I'm going to share with you a cute little project I completed for Dolores a few weeks back. 


This project came about by acquiring the fabric first and then figuring out what to do with it, rather than finding a pattern I wanted to make and sourcing suitable fabric for it. I saw this crazy rainbow-stars-and-spots knit on one of Girl Charlee's new-stock announcements and my internal WANT alarm sounded loud and clear. It looked so fun and cartoony, and I knew Dolores would love it (in no small part due to it being predominantly pink). 

Mark at Girl Charlee was generous enough to send me 1.2m for free (thanks Mark!), and when it arrived I found it most intriguing. Firstly, because I rarely pay attention to such things even though it is clearly displayed on their site, I didn't realise that the print was on such a large scale. I love how that makes this fabric even bolder. And secondly, it was much thinner than I anticipated, slightly see-through in fact, so my considerations for another Corfou dress went out the window. This fine, light weight knit fabric with an unusual waffle texture was, in my opinion, therefore destined to be summer pyjamas (although I'd love to hear what else you'd make from it). 


My decision to make summer pyjamas gave me the perfect opportunity to test out Brindille & Twig's recently released free Ringer tee pattern (as previously mentioned in this post about my favourite free children's sewing patterns). I actually ended up making two of them. Initially I used the size 3-4 (Dolores is three and a half now) but it came out massive, so I tried again using the size 2-3 and removed an extra 5cm of length from the front and back pieces and the fit was much better for this forthcoming summer. What I really like about this pattern (aside from the price! Thanks Melissa, creator of Brindille & Twig, for your generosity), is that the neckline, sleeves and bottom edge are all finished with bands of fabric so you don't need to do any fiddly hemming. Trying to hem a thin, textured fabric like this would have been quite a headache I reckon. The pants pattern was from Ottobre magazine, which I used last year for the monsters-and-snacks pair. That pattern also deploys bands of fabric to finish the edges, removing the need for hemming. 


Even though the temperature at night hasn't really been warm enough yet, Dolores has insisted on wearing these several times. She would not be persuaded to keep them until summertime; I wish I had that problem with all the things I sew for her (check out the grey bubble shorts on my Instagram feed (@sozoblog) for example)! The only issue with this pyjama set is that I have to go back and insert some elastic around the top of the pyjama pants as this fabric is 100% cotton and therefore doesn't have sufficient stretch and recovery to act as a waistband. Once again, the information was clearly there if I'd looked for it... If I'd seen this fabric last summer, I would have made myself a Cordelia maternity camisole out of it, which would have both cheered me up and cooled me down during the uncomfortable last part of my pregnancy. BTW, this rainbow fabric is currently on sale, so if you or your scamps need some summer jammies, or another type of garment I failed to consider for this fabric, you can bag some for just £3.98 a metre. 

Friday, 14 April 2017

Trousers Fitting Quest: Update and Please Help!

Please, for the love of god, help me. A combination of being woken up at least four times every night and my quest for nice fitting trousers is driving me insane. I'm hoping that some lovely blog readers could help me with the latter? (Or the former, if you're lactating and fancy looking after Frankie for the night?!) So, the story so far....

If you've read this blog for a while then you probably know that I've been going on and on about wanting to finally nail trouser fitting since 2015. So now that I'm no longer pregnant (YAY) and the shape and size of my body seemed to have more or less stabilised, I decided to pick up where I left off. 

I went back to Sew Over It's Ultimate Trousers pattern as it looks like a good, basic, no frills style with the slim legged look that I'm after. I traced off the pattern, blending between sizes as my measurements suggested I would need to, and made a toile (muslin). Generally, the fit looked pretty good, particularly from the front, but the back definitely needed some tweaking as there seemed to be too much fabric from the bum downwards. I tried bringing in the back inside leg seam at the top, which took away some of the excess fabric, but not all. I then tried taking in the same amount from the back inside leg seam the whole way down, not just at the top, and this seemed to work well. There were more waistline tweaks but I can't remember what they were and I don't think the are relevant to my main dramas. 

With these tweaks made to the pattern, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself so I made them up in some awesome blue stretch denim from Fabric Godmother. The resulting pair of trousers looked pretty good (IMO) and felt really comfy. So, although I know they weren't perfect, I was pleased that I'd made a wearable pair of trousers. But after some wears and washes, I realised that I was only happy with the fit when I wore them when they were tightest, straight out of the wash, rather than a wear or two later. 

So I went back to my pattern and skimmed 0.5cm off both side seams (removing 2cm in total) and tried making them again in some beyond-perfect black stretch denim, also from Fabric Godmother (sadly no longer available, *crying face*). I also shortened the length of the back darts because they looked crazy-long on the blue pair. 

The result of the black ones seemed pretty good: the slim fit I was hoping for in the nicest denim I have ever seen. And then Pat (Mr So Zo) took these pictures. WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME THEY LOOK SO SHITE FROM THE BACK?!?! The front view doesn't look great in these photos but I promise IRL they look ok. But the back? After some interrogation Pat confirmed that they really do look like this at the back. UGH! And now that I've got him to take pics of the blue ones too, I can see that they aren't all that either...

Correct me if I'm wrong (please please do!), but what I'm seeing here is a too-tight bum and a whole world of wrinkles under said bum. My mum, who is great help to talk with about fitting issues, came to visit and we tried to work out what to do about it whilst armed with Pants for Real People. However, that book didn't appear to address the issues my trousers seemed to be throwing up. And having thought about it since then, the style of trousers in that book aren't what I'm aiming for anyhow: slim legged styles don't seem to really be addressed at all, and I'm not sure if fitting/pattern tweaks for classic trousers would be the same as fitting/pattern tweaks for slim legged fits anyhow. 

Anyways, my mum suggested pinching out the under-bum wrinkles (kind of like this), but after some deliberation I'm not sure that that's the way forward. My hunch is that those under-bum wrinkles are the symptom of the problem, rather than the problem itself, if you know what I mean; that perhaps those wrinkles are a pooling of fabric caused by some other issue. Perhaps the shape and/or length of the rise on this pattern is wrong for my body? Memories of stuff I'd seen online and in Winifred Aldrich's Metric Pattern Cutting book lead me to develop...

Theory 1:

If I'm aiming for a slim, more jeans-like fit, then perhaps I need a more diagonal, straighter, jeans-like rise? Some participants in this extensive and rabbit-whole like thread would suggest so. Also, this blog post by Sew Chic Patterns says that this increasing of the angle of the back rise is advised for owners of a full butt. I'm wondering if that's my issue? It's a label that was applicable to me a number of years ago, but I thought that many many hours sat underneath feeding and sleeping infants had alleviated me of that 'problem', although maybe that extra junk just got redistributed a bit rather than disappearing. If this is my issue, then I'm assuming I can address it using this method

(image source: Sew Chic Pattern)

HOWEVER.... That Sew Chic Patterns post also suggests that a full bum requires some 'scooping out' of the rise (ouch) as pictured above. Surely scooping out means to remove fabric, so why would you remove fabric if you are trying to accommodate a full bum? And how are you meant to know how much slash-and-flaring to extend the back rise angle and/or 'scooping' out one needs to do? Or is it just trial and error?

(image source: Cation Design)

Theory 2: 

Further internet research lead me to reconsider the under-bum wrinkles issue. What if they are the problem, and their solution (the weird fish-eye dart extraction as generously and cleverly outlined in this Cation Design blog post) also results in the benefit of some 'scooping' out of the back rise/crotch curve (see below), as we discussed in Theory 1? Does this also extend the rise somewhat?

(image source: Cation Design)

In short: what the hell?! If any one can shed any light on these trouser fitting issues PUH-LEASE leave a comment below. I will of course need to do some more toiling and experimentation, but I really feel I need some more knowledge and advise before I know which path to go down. Many many thanks in advance...

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