I made a hat. And went on a march. And before that I made a skirt.

I haven't really been sure how to write this post. I absolutely want to tell all the lovely people who relate when I say sewing keeps me sane, and come here to read about fabric and stitching about the sumptuous velvet skirt I made (see details below). But, also, given that the majority of lovely people who do come here are women, I have to mention the stunningly powerful thing women all around the world did last weekend. The Women's March.

I knit a Pussy Hat and I got on caravan of buses and I went to DC. To show that I am not prepared to accept the archaic, bigoted and dangerous policies of the new administration. To show solidarity. To stand with the millions of other women, and men, who feel that basic human rights and equality are at stake.

I have always seen myself as a well-informed, liberal person who is not afraid to stand up to defend myself when required. But mostly, as a white middle-class woman, there aren't so many times that is required. I protest vehemently on Facebook (to other mostly white, middle-class people), I've marched a couple of times for things that matter to me and I always exercise my right to vote, but I've never actually "needed" to be politically active. 

And then I went to DC and I realised that whether I need things or not, is not the point. I am a woman, so I should help defend the rights of all women. I am an immigrant, a privileged, white immigrant, so I should be helping defend the rights of all immigrants, especially those who don't have the "benefit" of my skin colour or background. I have never had an abortion but I know many women who have and I should defend their right to do with their body what they choose with the same ferocity I defend my own right to choose what happens to my body. I have children who I was lucky enough to carry and give birth to in a country where pre-natal care is free, non-judgmental and available to all (that being the UK not the US). So I should speak up so that others have that right no matter where they live or who they are. 

Somebody enabled me to have all of those things. They didn't just happen. People, women, protested, sacrificed and were well aware that the changes they achieved might not happen in their lifetime; but they did it because it was right. 

For the first time in my life I understand that it's not enough to just nod and agree and talk. If I believe in true equality for everyone; believe in the fact that a human being can not be illegal; believe in keeping others' minds and hands off my and my daughter's bodies, then I have to DO something.

And so I'll be doing. And when I'm not I'll be sewing. (Because I'm a woman and we can do and be anything and everything.)

Here's the pretty skirt (details at the bottom):

The Sewing Stuff:

  • Top is a modified Named Clothing Inari Tee - I used the V neckline from Papercut Patterns Sway dress as the template for the neck. I made a facing to correspond to that and omitted the sleeve cuffs.
  • The sandy black silk charmeuse is from Mood Fabrics.
  • The absolutely beautiful fluid, shiny, mushroom grey silk velvet for the skirt is from Chic Fabrics, which I believe is sadly closing. It was only $15 / yard.
  • The pattern is adapted from a 1970s shirt dress pattern (Vogue French Boutique 1860 from the Renata line) that was my mums and I also used for the skirt of this dress.
  • I added a 1 inch elastic waistband, stretching and serging the elastic to the waistband and skirt fabric, before folding the waistband in on itself to create even gathers.
  • The pockets are lined with dark grey cotton voile.
  • I finger pressed all the seams and steamed them with the iron and catch stitched the hem.

I hope my political enlightenment wasn't too much for a sewing blog and to see you soon. xx

 

Happy New Year Helmut!

New year, new me, new resolutions, new positivity ... really? Happy New Year!

Do you break yourself in gently to the new year? Do you take time to recover from the previous year, wrap yourself up and slowly put your head above the parapet of the new year to see what might be out there?

Or are you an all guns blazing, let's grab this year by the balls and start as we mean to go on type; resolutions, new projects already underway, clear action list, the previous year dusted off your shoulders like dandruff and a bright shiny face looking to all the possibility that awaits over the next 12 months?

I am keen to be in the latter camp, but find myself firmly in the former. By mid-way through December I'm usually desperate for a new year, to feel energised and find a new productivity. I'm trying very hard, but the shocks of 2016 linger and as I can't and don't want to break the continual loop of 'Listen without Prejudice' on Spotify, it's proving a little hard to be all go for 2017.

I haven't sewn a stitch in 2017 so far, but that's ok, I'm trying not to give myself a hard time but instead to enjoy the fruits of my pre-Christmas sewing extravaganza and slowly working up the energy to get sewing the things I planned in the autumn.

I may also have fallen down a huge Gilmore Girls rabbit hole. All seven seasons in six weeks. In my defense there were a few days of flu-induced all day TV sessions in there but I still think it merits some kind of sad medal. Now I have overcome that addiction I can move on and embrace 2017.

Anyway let's get to the sewing. This coat is my favourite item from the Pre-Christmas Sewing Bonanza. It's my take on a $1,200 Helmut Lang pale pink cashmere coat that I tried on in Saks a while ago; wryly smiling when the assistant asked if she should put it on hold for me; brain jumping straight to pattern and fabric options to recreate it.

It took a while to hunt down some fabric but I eventually saw Lauren from Guthrie & Ghani's Clare Coat made in the perfect not quite blush, not quite pink, not brown wool melton and after an agonizing (because fabric of course induces such intense emotions) wait to see if they could source any more - they had sold out by the time I got round to checking out their site - I was the proud owner of two large remnants for a tenth of the cost of the Helmut Lang beauty. Not cheap but coats aren't and wool shouldn't be. 

As an aside, I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Suzann, and this post about how her clothes are priced and the pricing of clothing in general is 100% on point.

I used The Maker's Atelier Raw Edged Unlined Coat pattern as the base for Helmut, adding a total of 8 inches width across the back by slashing and spreading from shoulder seam to hem. I added an inch to the collar depth, 4 inches to the sleeve width at the cuff (I could definitely have added more - although as it is I keep getting the sleeves caught on door handles ... ) and then taking the five inches off the hem that I added to my previous iteration to balance out the volume. I also made larger pockets, using the pattern piece from my beloved Burda coatigan affairs and contrast topstitching finished it off.

It was an easy make from a lovely and very adaptable pattern. I absolutely love the result and feel beyond stylish wearing it.

Annoyingly, my timing as always is rubbish as clearly it is now far too cold in NYC to wear an unlined coat, but over Christmas in a milder England, it was perfect. I took to wearing a RTW scuba bomber jacket underneath it which definitely helps make it more wearable in the cold. I have plans to recreate the stunning petrol blue velvet bomber I saw on The Maker's Atelier Instagram feed to wear under it as well. The colour combination would make my heart so happy.

This is about the fifth coat or jacket I've made in the last year or so. I have at least two more planned. I'm not really sure why. I have a ridiculous amount of coats, but there is something so satisfying about making them - not least I think due to the lack of detailed fitting involved and the sheer amount of wear they get. 

But the ultimate coat I want to make needs to be a beast as NYC for the next few months will be perishing. I have sub-standard circulation and get super cold which I hate, but I also hate the ubiquitous black quilted down jacket that I have taken to wearing. Why when it's this cold does style have to go out of the window? Is it possible to create a coat with the warmth and practicality of the dowdy down affair but with the style created by coats such as Helmut?

I have a dream of a notched collared, furry woolen, dark blue teal, just-above-ankle length coat that is secretly underlined with down and lined with fake fur. Or something.

We shall see.

In the meantime, I will be loving on Helmut at every above-freezing opportunity.

I hope the start to 2017 has been good for you, more productive than mine and that the year brings much happiness.

See you soon x

Outfit (admittedly an amalgamation of the mass production of US and UK stores - which I'm not über-thrilled about):

  • Jeans: Gap
  • Shirt: Cos
  • Boots: M&S