How are we doing? A self made wardrobe retrospective......

This is probably not the most exciting post, but I was thinking last week whilst getting dressed (and putting on a self-made item that was wearing very badly) that a follow-up posts of some of my self made items might be slightly useful, both to myself as a reminder of what (and what not!) to do, and to others making the patterns for the first time. I suspect most sewing bloggers do what I do - excitedly finish something, try to photograph and post soon after finishing, and rarely follow up with how an item is wearing - except for periods like Me Made May. Most of my self made items are worn on the weekend, but occasionally I do wear them to work. My recent trip to NYC was the first opportunity I have had to wear a lot of self made things back-to-back, and it was a good lesson on fabric choice and the consequences of altering patterns.

And so, to my list of recaps of some hits and misses! Feel free to tune out now - it's turned out to be a bit of a long yammering post but hopefully improves my fabric and construction choices (and maybe yours) in the future!

Self drafted/rubbed singlets (blogged here):
These have been great - mostly I think because they are a simple design, but also good fabric choice - good quality firm knits with a bit of lycra. They are wearing well, and since making them my knit finishing techniques have improved even more, so future versions are definitely going to keep happening.

Various versions of B5211 (blogged here and here and here):
The main lesson from this pattern is that light weight drapey fabrics work the best. The multicoloured top is made from a heavier cotton and its maybe a bit too crisp. Also I should have made belt loops for the dress version (but can retrospectively do this, and shall be very soon!)

Various Colette Laurels (blogged here and here and here):

This pattern has had mixed success. The yellow wearable muslin blouse has held up the best. I only pinked the armscye seams, and it has been the most comfortable. The others weirdly tightened up once machine neatened and trimmed. The Liberty dress (wool cotton blend, gorgeous, expensive) was wearing well until (sob) my love put it through the washing machine on a long hot cycle. I have worn it once since, but am convinced it has shrunk in both length and around the armholes making them even tighter. I haven't tried it on again for weeks. The bottom blouse I have never worn.....I think I need the tiniest FBA on a lot of fitted bodice patterns including this one to try to avoid diagonal pull lines and tightness in the armscye, and intend to try another Laurel blouse to test my theory.

Colette Iris shorts (blogged here and here):
These have been winners - great fit, good fabric choice. The denim ones are a lightweight denim, and as the pattern has a reasonable amount of ease in them the fabric is holding up well. I wore these a lot in NYC, but realised I needed another shorts pattern that is a little more sleek on my lower half - because these are quite wide in profile I can only wear slim-fitting tops to balance them out. Future pairs will need slightly more room in the crotch depth but otherwise I think the fit is pretty much spot on. I have some left over stretch cotton fabric that I will make into shorts this summer but see the below Clover post regarding waistbands etc...

Colette Clover trousers (blogged here and here):
Wearable version 1 (brown check) is buried deep in my ironing/mending/refashioning basket as an emergency pair of work pants. They've been ok but the fabric (a polyester blend of some sort) started to ball within one day of wearing them, and they aren't fab. Version 2 (floral) I have worn a few times, but the fabric has started let them down sadly. After a few hours the waistband stretches a lot and the fabric is starting to ball on the bum and thighs. I have read recently about sewing twill tape into the waistband seams of trousers and skirts to prevent them stretching out, especially when the waistband is cut on the curve, and if I make the Clovers again I will do this. If the florals were otherwise perfect I'd feel motivated to unpick all the waistband and redo it, but they aren't so I won't be! They're ok, but probably wont have a long life. The moral of this story is that the fabric choice plays a huge part in the success of these pants - not only with the longevity but the basic sizing - I have made 3 versions all up, all with slightly different stretch and the outcome/sizing variation was huge!

Colette Peony (final post blogged here):
Oh this pattern gave me grief! I think by the time I had finished it I was so over it, it didn't get the love it deserved. I wore this recently in NYC and felt great in it! I'd forgotten how much care I'd taken to finish it well, and fit the bodice so well. I think I could even be convinced to make it again, and try the sleeves again. The only negative was that the armscye is cut just a little too high, so when its very hot it does feel a bit 'armpitty'. It really wouldn't take that long to unpick the sleeve binding, and trim them a little lower! I do need to take more care when altering sleeved patterns to be sleeveless. Which brings me to my next one.....

Banksia - various versions (blogged here and here):
The main issue with both of these makes is I used base patterns that were designed to have sleeves and I failed to make the armscye low enough in both versions when I left the sleeves off. I took them both to NYC, and wore the knit version for less than an hour - the armscyes were just too high, and was way too uncomfortable in the sticky heat. The woven blue version was not quite as bad. This weekend I unpicked the bindings off both garments and will take the time to trim them down, and rebind them. I have some RTW tops that I can trace a better lower armscye from - hopefully an hour or so of work and they will be perfect for our upcoming summer!

Various Renfrews (all to be found via here):

This pattern is a winner - my main issue has been fabric choice. The problem with knit fabrics I have learned, is that it is really hard to assess the long term quality. My first Renfrew was the top right grey scoop, in a beautiful cotton wool blend. It wasn't cheap (maybe $16.95/m?) and it was the garment that inspired this post. It has shrunk and balled so awfully that it really is only suitable as a spencer now. The cowl neck versions are holding up ok, especially the black wool, and the boat neck is still ok too. Other knit tops I have made have shrunk quite a bit too, despite prewashing the fabric, or gone a bit baggy if made from an interlock knit. I'm not sure how to try to prevent this - samples are probably too small to wash several times to test how the fabric ages, and I'm probably too impatient to do this too! I think in the future with knit purchase I will just stick to cotton knits with a little lycra or pure wool. One thing I have steered away from with the Renfrew is finishing with the bands, particularly the hem band. It might just be my machine/skill level, but I feel my band seams are a little wiggly, and they don't look super professional. I've perfected my twin needle technique on my machine, and so I think I will make my future Renfrews lengthened and hemmed (unless I deliberately want a contrast band or use it as a feature).

Simplicity 2451 and Charlotte denim skirts - (Charlotte blogged here and 2451 here):
Two denim skirts, very different patterns and very different denims, but ultimately the fabric choice I made with these has determined their wearability and longevity. The Charlotte was made from a very stiff denim with a little stretch. I should have picked up on the stiffness at the fabric store, but didn't think it would impact the outcome of the skirt. It wasn't cheap fabric, especially for denim. I haven't worn it a lot because it does ride up a bit, and is quite restrictive for getting around (walking, in and out of cars). I'm still hoping it will soften with time. 2451 was made with the same denim of my Iris shorts above, and I wore it a lot on NYC. I'm really happy with the fit, but unfortunately the denim is not holding up very well on the seams, particularly the centre back seam. It is lightweight and has a fairly open weave. I have a RTW skirt made of a similar denim and the same thing has happened to it - the fabric weave starts to separate at the seam and the white threads of the weft (or maybe warp - who knows!) become more obvious, ultimately weakening and splitting. I think it is because it is under the most strain when I sit. I don't know what I could have done to prevent it - maybe a strip of interfacing would have helped. But really this fabric would be more suited to a skirt that has a lot of wearing ease around the seams such as the Megan Nielsen Kelly Skirt (and it just so happens I plan to make a lightweight denim version for summer!). Future versions of the 2451 will be more sturdy fabric, and I think I will add just a little more room around the hip/seat area to take the pressure of the fabric. Lining it might help too. This first version will probably be around for this summer, but it won't surprise me if it dies after that! 

Now I'm off to work on my love's new t-shirt, and my new corduroy Beignet! Have a great day :).


  1. This is so interesting to hear how your garments have worn. Great idea. One of my tops has started to fall apart so going back to see what I had and hadn't done would be helpful for future sewing. :)

    1. Hi Jacinta, glad you thought it was interesting!

  2. Thanks for posting this!
    I've often thought I should go pack through my pile of handmade stuff and assess things to help myself and others.
    But I'm lazy.
    So I'm glad you did it!

    1. Great I'm glad it wasn't too dull! :)

  3. This is such a great post - you're right, you rarely hear how garments hold up over time. And some of the ones you've mentioned here are patterns that I've got (or are planning to get...) but haven't made up yet, so it's fantastic to get some tips on fabric choice. Thanks!

  4. Great idea! I love seeing how things are wearing. I cried for you reading the story about your liberty dress *sob*

    1. Sigh - I know. I looked at it last night getting ready to go to the Monet exhibition. It would have been perfect to wear. I don't know what I can do with it :(

  5. Thank you for the recap! SO much useful information. So many times I buy fabric because I like the look or feel of it, it's hard to think about the long term relationship with our fabric choices. Also, I was inspired by your denim pencil skirt. I'm definitely considering making one for fall. Thanks again for getting into the details of your handmade wardrobe.

    1. Hi Brenna! Thanks for coming by! I'm glad it was of some use for you. I'm a bit the same (but trying to change) with my fabric choices - totally sucked in by look and feel!


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