Self-Stitched-September 2011: A review

Self-Stitched-September has ended. Gone are the mornings of trying to figure out how to wear that skirt again and make it look different this time. Gone is chasing the husband around the flat with a camera at 7.30am shouting ‘Please take my pic now!’/’Don’t make me look fat!’/’That’s terrible – take it again!’ <insert yours here>This was my first attempt at one of these hugely popular events, staged by the fantastic So Zo… When I signed up and hesitantly proudly displayed my pledge on the blog, little did I know what I was letting myself in for. I barely had enough self-stitched clothes to last me a week, never mind thirty days. So most of the first two weeks of September were spent hurriedly pumping out smock tops like a first world sweat shop. (But they stood me in good stead, so thank you smock tops – you were my wardrobe saviours.) My beignets were another gift when it came to putting outfits together – they’re so easy to team with tops. And tights. And bare legs as I discovered at the end of the month when the UK experienced an Indian summer. Infinitely versatile.

What didn’t work so well? Hmm – one of my first attempts at dressmaking – an orange and brown sixties style shift (day 28). I made it by drawing round an outline of an existing dress, cutting two pieces out and sewing them together. Yes, cavewoman stylee. I’m surprised I didn’t drape a cat round my neck for warmth and club my husband for nuptials. Unsurprisingly the dress is shapeless and uncomfortable to wear. But it provides a useful reminder to us all as to why the great seamstress in the sky invented darts. An early Sorbetto (day 20) made me feel and look grey but I did get some great feedback from Portia and Karen on attempting another one now I have some more sewing experience under my belt.

But what did stand out for me during SSS’11 was some of my attitudes to dressing. I like to think  I’m a fairly average 30-something woman when it comes to my wardrobe: I’d like to make more of an effort (but I generally don’t), I have a few body hang ups (who doesn’t?) and high street shops, magazines, TV and celeb culture make me feel like I should always be buying and consuming or else I’m going to miss out. This all combines to make me feel frequently unsatisfied with my wardrobe, often unwilling to take risks in case they backfire and scared of going against the flow and embracing my inner style. So in no particular order of importance, here are my thoughts on SSS’11. “We sure all learned something that September…” etc

It’s ok to wear something that isn’t ‘bang on trend’
I know this sounds silly, and of course we all wear old favourites from our wardrobes without giving a hoot as to whether they’re in Grazia this week or not. But by wearing outfits that are distinctly not purchased as part of an ‘Autumn drop’ at Topshop or churned out by the squillions from H&M, I did feel like I was very much going against prevailing notions of how to dress. In fact, at the beginning of the challenge I was convinced that someone would shriek at me in the street, finger pointing and face aghast ‘You MADE that? And you’re wearing it OUTSIDE??’ You’ll be glad to know that feeling eased off after a while.

It’s ok to plough your own style furrow
Who cares if your style is crazy fifties housewife (gin and G-plan) with a dash of Edwardian glamour. Work it. During the challenge I found there were certain things I really liked that I didn’t realise: nippped in waists with big belts, any print with an animal on it, peter pan collars. I already knew I loved polka dots in a big way but woah – how I do love those polka dots. They just call out ‘oh hai, join us for teh fun times!’ to me. I think there is some ‘inner style’ realisation at work here but it’s yet to fully crystallise into a ‘look’. But that’s half the fun surely?

It’s not ok to think you’re not worth the effort
This is a weird one to try and explain but I’ll have a go. By focusing on a daily outfit and trying to make it look nice and match well with other items, I suppose I started taking a bit more notice of my appearance on a daily basis. It made me realise that most days (pre SSS’11) I just threw on a top, a pair of jeans and scampered out the door. I work in an office but my role is considered ‘creative’ so I get away with wearing whatever I want, which usually equals ‘no effort’ in my book. Sounds great, until you realise that you’ve lived in jeans and converse for so long that you’ve forgotten how to put something else together entirely, and you start to think you don’t suit smarter clothes so there’s no point in even trying. Before you know it you’re in a bit of a slump, not valuing yourself, your own style, and even having body woes (because you’ve forgotten how to wear something that shows you have a waist, you think you don’t have a waist). So whilst I’m not going to be all evangelical about how SSS’11 showed me how to make the most of myself again (that would be an exaggeration) I certainly started to think about making more effort on a daily basis, planning outfits more and just thinking to myself ‘yeh – you are worth it’. Hope that makes sense…

God this has turned into a bit of an essay. And no pics to break it up! Oh alright then – here’s one I made earlier.

Quick check on the cats
Hope those of you who did SSS’11 enjoyed it as much as I did, and perhaps I’ll see you next year…?

SSS’11: And so we face the final curtain…

Oh my god – we’re at the end. The very end.

SSS'11: Day 28

Day twenty-eight: A day off sick due to evil cold

Wearing: A dress I made pre-blog plus cardy cos I was blowing hot and cold all day

Wear again? Oh I don’t think so, due to complete and utter lack of dressmaking skills when I made it. There are no darts; it was basically a dress outline cut out and sewn together. With a peter pan collar thrown in for good measure. I think maybe it could be saved if I add some darts so watch this space. I do like the sixties kitchen sink vibe though. Get down t’factory Vera and knock us up a gusset!

SSS'11: Day 29

Day twenty-nine: Hot in the city

Wearing: Zen-im Beignet 

Wear again? Yay am happy to be wearing the beignet once again before the month is out. Perfect for a hot day in London Town.

SSS'11: Day 30

Day thirty: Final day outfit!!!!!!!!

Wearing: Upcycled Monsoon dress

Wear again? Awh I feel a bit of a cheat since I’m not wearing a full made-from-scratch outfit but it was so HOT and most of my other stuff is fairly robust and not at all suitable for summer. Note I am not wearing tights in this pic – they are footless tights which are much cooler and remove the need to de-hair and tan, so there.

That’s it then. All done. I’ve been penning a bit of a review of the month so far so will pop that up over the weekend. But for now it’s goodbye Self-Stitched-September, thank you Zoe and good night!

Self-Stitched-September: Days 22, 23, 24, 26, 26 and 27

Wow – by rights this should be a massive post – a whole six days to update! But (ahem) it won’t be, because I was a bit remiss over the weekend. All will be revealed…

SSS'11: Day 22

Day twenty-two: Off to the office again

Wearing: Polka dot smock top, modcloth cardy and jeans

Wear again? Considering I’ve worn this at least six times already, yes. Oh yes.

SSS'11: Day 23

Day twenty-three: Outside the Water Rats in Kings Cross for a friend’s gig

Wearing: Bright Eyes smock top and jeans

Wear again? Yep – love this top. I only look slightly embarrassed because I’m posing in public which always feels weird unless you’re a tourist.

Day twenty-four: Confession: I took a trip to Norwich to see the in-laws and had such a busy day on Saturday I clean forgot to take any pics. I promise you I was wearing the upcycled Monsoon dress – honestly.

Day twenty-five: Oops – I never packed a second SSS’11 item for Sunday but I was wearing my robot bag all day so does that count?

SSS'11: Day 26

Day twenty-six: Monday morning back at work

Wearing: Betty Blue Beignet and a polka dot blouse discovered at the back of the wardrobe

Wear again? I swapped the belt I made for the Beignet out for a skinny belt which I hope refreshes it a bit.

SSS'11: Day twenty-seven

Day twenty-seven: Sick, sick, sick…

Wearing: Japanese pyjamas

Wear again? Ooh yes – these jammies are cosy, comfy and although they don’t take a stinking headcold and hacking cough away, they make me feel a wee bit better. Achoooooo!

Self-Stitched-September: Days 17,18,19, 20 & 21

We’re on the home straight now. Only nine days of SSS’11 to go. Without going into too much detail (I’ll do a full review on how I’ve found my first self-stitched month to be at the end) this has been such an experience for me. I’m sure I’ve broken a few psychological barriers in how I dress for myself  on a daily basis, although it’s also highlighted for me how much I’m still constrained by my own notions of dressing, mostly so as not to attract attention to myself. More on that later!
SSS'11: Day 17

Day seventeen: Saturday roast – how very forward of me

Wearing: Bright eyes smock top and a faraway look in my eye from all that meat.

Wear again? Indeed – it allows you to eat half a pig plus potatoes and veg and still hides most of it convincingly. Don’t like that pic though – have developed a wonky fringe and a fat face – ah that’s where the piggy went.  Fail pic, for shame.
SSS'11: Day 18
Day eighteen: Sunday’s girl

Wearing: Brand new, never-seen-before-only-just-finished Betty Blue Beignet, plus my favourite stripey top from Cos (complete with umpteen tiny holes, some of which are fixed some of which aren’t).

Wear again? Of course – will try to mix it up a bit with different belts and tops to see how it looks. Looking forward to wearing it with a black ribbed polo neck when Autumn really sets in.

SSS'11: Day 19

Day nineteen: Monday evening messiness

Wearing: Betty Blue Beignet and polka-dot smock top

Wear again? I couldn’t resist not wearing my new skirt a second day – it’s so cheery!

SSS'11: Day 20
Day twenty: Bah humbug

Wearing: One of my first garment sewing projects from earlier this year (so not written up) – a Sorbetto top from Colette patterns plus jeans and cardy

Wear again? No. I really don’t like this top. The darts are wonky, the bias binding is too thick for the blouse fabric and it’s just… meh. I feel all drained and grey just looking at myself in it. Plus I’m not a big fan of the Sorbetto top in general – the shape doesn’t suit me at all, although I have seen some beautiful versions across other blogs. Not for me. One for the charity shop bag methinks.

SSS'11: Day 21

Day twenty-one: Just another day at the office (I need to get out more midweek)

Wearing: Hooray – first outing for my Slouchy Autumn Berries dress with new purple tights and Modcloth cardy

Wear again? I’m so pleased I tried this one today. I was so afraid it wouldn’t suit but with a little cardy it’s just right for a grey September Wednesday. Really pleased with it – it’s warm, super-comfortable and just the right amount of flattering. Wasn’t sure if I would try this pattern again but I think I’m coming round!

In other news, I been following Casey’s Circle Skirt Sewalong. I caught up last night, cutting out my skirt and inserting the zipper. But gasp, the waist seems very large, despite following all the directions. I’m hoping Casey will reassure me/come to my rescue when it’s time to sew in the waistband.

Self-Stitched September: Days 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16

SSS'11 Day 12

Day twelve: I don’t like Mondays

Wearing: Upcycled thrift polka dot dress, Modcloth cardy

Wear again? I feel like this is a bit of cheat, because all I did was take up the dress a couple of inches, and that was about two years ago so I haven’t got it written up on the blog. But I suppose it does qualify… hey ho! Yes, have worn many times and will wear again.

SSS'11 Day 13

Day thirteen: Early night

Wearing: Self-stitched jammies and Topshop nightgown

Wear again? These jammies are so soft and cosy – love them, despite the bottoms being a bit baggy round the bum. So yes, will wear again… and again… and again…

SSS'11 Day 14

Day fourteen: Bed time… again

Wearing: Pyjamas – again

Wear again? Um so basically I had a slip up on Day 14. I got dressed as normal and went to ask the husband to take a pic. Only then did I realise that the top I was wearing (green Zara polka dot top) was not made by me, but I’d recreated it so many times (three times in fact) I’d gotten confused and thought I had. Has that ever happened to you?  So I had to substitute a pic of the jammies again but to make up for it you also get Keef getting a lovein. Noef noef noef!

SSS'11 Day 15

Day fifteen: A sunny Thursday morn

Wearing: Bright Eyes smock top

Wear again? Definitely – I really like this top – it’s sturdier than the other smock tops as it’s made of a thicker cotton and I really love the peter pan collar and bias binding on the sleeves.

SSS'11 Day 16

Day sixteen: TFI Friday

Wearing:Polka dot smock top and Zen-im Beignet

Wear again? Yay – a whole self-stitched outfit! The resewn buttons are staying put for now and the blouse’s popularity shows no sign of abating. This is one of my faves.

There are at least three items in my wardrobe that qualify but haven’t been worn yet, for various reasons. One of them is my slouchy autumn berries jersey dress. One, I feel like it’s a bit too wintry. Two, I feel like it’s a bit too smart to wear to work. Three, I think it has stretched whilst hanging in the wardrobe because it seems a lot bigger than before. But I will get it out this weekend and try it on and hopefully squeeze it in next week.

Self-Stitched-September’11: Days 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11

Ooof it’s been a long week. I’ve been knackered most days – too many late nights and early starts. Even on the weekend I’ve been setting my alarm which on the whole is pretty horrible a task. But onwards and upwards with SSS’11. I’ve not run out of clothes thanks to my trusty hotpoint but I am getting a little bored with wearing the same polka dot tops all the time, even though I do love them. I’ve also worked out I am rubbish at sewing buttons on Beignets, as I’ve managed to lose one already (and I don’t have any spares – yikes) and another two have just popped off.

Day seven: Robot bag

Day seven: Workaday 

Wearing: Robot bag

Wear again? Bit of a cheat day today; I just couldn’t be bothered so I slipped on a trusty old polka dot dress and let the Robot bag take the strain. But yes, I wear it every day so I WILL wear again. Needs a wash though…

Upcycled Monsoon dress

Day eight: More workaday

Wearing: My upcycled Monsoon dress (I took it up by seven inches and added rick rack) plus a Modcloth cardy and thrifted belt.

Wear again: Love this dress. Love the colour and the shape. Am in danger of wearing it ragged so may have to try and copy it before I do that.

Day nine: Bowery gig

Day nine: Pints and a gig

Wearing: Black polka dot smock top

Wear again? Indeed this is in danger of becoming the most ubiquitous item in my wardrobe during SSS’11. Must try harder…

Day ten: Upcycled cardy

Day ten: Tired and blogging

Wearing: Upcycled thrifted cardigan (added lace trim and made sleeves 3/4 length)

Wear again? Yes but hopefully next time I’ll get some sleep and wear some makeup before I let myself be photographed. Eurgh.

Day eleven: Bright Eyes smock top and Zen-im Beignet

Day eleven: Judy’s Affordable Vintage Fair in Bethnal Green

Wearing: Bright Eyes smock top, Zen-im Beignet and Robot Bag

Wear again? I need to sort the Beignet out – the buttons are popping off all over the place. But yes – it’s a trusty go-to wardrobe staple and I love my little rabbity top so will definitely wear this again.

Self-Stitched-September ’11: Days 3, 4, 5 and 6

A cocktail and a beignet

Day 3 – Cocktails at Crafternoon

Wearing: The Zen-im Beignet

Wear again? Definitely although I need to get more wide belts to mix up the look a bit.

Day 4 of SSS'11

Day 4 – At the bus stop

Wearing: My upcycled charity shop cardy (attached lace trim and reduced sleeves to 3/4 length) using Casey’s tutorial plus the robot bag. Jacket is also thrifted for £6, but is from Jigsaw – bargainous.

Wear again? I’m always wearing this so YES

SSS'11 Day 5

Day 5 – Relaxing at home with the kitties

Wearing: The Whale of a Time blouse… and Keef

Wear again?I love this blouse personally but I always feel a little ‘unusual’ when I’m wearing it as it’s quite individual, so perhaps not suitable for every event. Although I had a meeting at work with a web developer who thought I was referencing the ‘fail whale’ you see on Twitter which made me chuckle!

SSS'11 day 6

Day 6 – Passed my driving test!

Wearing: Polka dot smock top

Wear again: Hell yeh – it’s now my luckiest item of clothing EVER.

How’s everyone else getting on with the challenge? I’m running out of stuff!