My latest creations...

It has been 7 months since I wrote my last blog post. It's quite hard to know where to pick up from how I left off but I really want to try. Writing this blog has helped me process everything that fizzes around my head when I'm sewing in the studio. Since publishing my last blog post in January, Made My Wardrobe has travelled further than I could have possibly imagined so I've added a new press section to my website, feel free to have a browse if you would like to see some of the places I've been sharing my journey.

The highlights have included being interviewed for Elle UK, guest blogging for Fashion Revolution, writing a feature for The Sunday Times Style magazine, being interviewed for Stance podcast, writing a story for Oh Comely magazine, being interviewed for Broadly, being interviewed for Culturised and writing a feature for Typical Girls magazine.

I'm incredibly humbled and full of gratitude when editors get in touch to see if I would like to share Made My Wardrobe with their readers and listeners. This project has meant the world to me and every time I write about why, it helps me understand it a little deeper. When I started this blog, it was really just a way to share what I had been making with my friends and family, so that they could see why I was spending such a crazy amount of time sewing in my studio. Realising that this project has also resonated with total strangers has made me feel incredibly supported and inspired to keep at it. So thank you for finding me here, when I needed you most.

The last few months has also seen the launch of my workshops. Teaching them has filled my heart with joy. Before each workshops starts, I always have that nervous feeling you get before throwing a party, wondering if anyone will turn up. Then suddenly the whole studio is buzzing with new faces driving sewing machines like there is no tomorrow. To all of you who have joined me on these workshops, thank you for giving me the honour of sharing the thing I love most in the world with your heads, hearts and hands. I am planning to have lots more dates in the diary for September, so watch this space and give me a follow on Instagram if you would like to be the first to know. I would love to hear from you, what you would most like to learn to make. So far I have done lingerie, bomber jackets and corsets because they are three of my favourite processes, but I'm always keen to hear what you guys dream of sewing? I would also love to know where in the world you are because I'm planning a teaching tour in the winter, so if you let me know, I can come to you!

In the mean time here are a few things I have been making in the last few months, does learning to make any of these take your fancy?

Every woman needs a black silk jumpsuit in their wardrobe. Amiright? It's the ultimate ladyboss garment.

This next dress I made in London whilst on an awesome workshop with the lovely folk from Offset Warehouse. They sell beautiful ethical and sustainable fabrics and Charlie their founder designed this gorgeous zero-waste dress. When we cut it out not a single scrap was left on the cutting room floor, we used every last bit in the dress...

...even if it did mean I had to add double pockets, but who doesn't love double pockets?

I have literally been dreaming about making this next shirt for about 5 years. A friend gave me whole heap of beautiful vintage bed linen and table cloths which have been waiting patiently in my fabric stash for all this time. Sometimes I just need a little time to let an idea brew. I've been wearing the shirt from bed to work and back since I made it. I'm trying to get a suntan through the holes on the back to give me a big beautiful back tattoo.

My buttonhole machine broke down so I decided to used the holes in this beautiful heavy lace to thread my buttons through, which has worked a dream! I'm never going back to buttonholes again, this way is so much prettier.

I think now felt like the right time to make this shirt because the motif on the back makes me think of my two year old nephew and I dancing around the kitchen. I've been looking after Solomon two days a week for the last year. I've just had to give it up because I have so many sewing commissions on, but this shirt is a celebration of the ridiculous amount of time we spent just the two of us, being best buddies.

This shirt dress has no deeper meaning, I just thought the colour of the silk was beautiful.

That's all the new creations I have to share for now, thanks for stopping by. Writing for this blog again, feels like coming home after a long adventure. I promise I won't leave it so long next time x

How do you measure a year?

In the last 12 months I've spent over 1,000 hours designing, draping, cutting, sewing, pressing and fitting garments to become my dream wardrobe. 

I've used almost 200 metres of fabric, broken 12 needles and threaded up my sewing machines more times than I could possibly count in order to create over 60 garments.

My wardrobe is now made up of 16 pairs of knickers, 5 bras, 3 corsets, 11 tops, 6 jumpers, 2 jackets, 2 coats, 1 gilet, 4 skirts, 10 pairs of trousers, 3 pairs of leggings, 2 playsuits and 1 jumpsuit.

The last few weeks turned into a wild sprint to finish line. I wanted to make sure I completed all the things I had half-started and abandoned earlier on in the year. I was on such a mission I didn't have time to update the blog with each garment individually, as I normally would, so here is a bumper run down of what's been missed...

...lots of lace knickers made from gorgeous delicate laces I have been collecting for years

...two more super simple silk t-shirts in stone and sunshine tones

...a pair of dark floral cord trousers and a rusty red jumper

...two raglan sleeve cashmere and velvet jumpers

...a pair of black wool tailored trousers and a grey jumper

...a gold embroidered velvet furry gilet

...a faux fur lined embroidered grey coat with blue pompoms and a giant pink velvet hood

...and for my very last outfit of the year, yoga leggings and sports bra made from fabric designed by my gorgeous friend Ellen Calvert. She turned all the things I love into starry constellations and created this beautiful cosmic print, which I totally adore.

I drew the line at socks, gloves, scarves and hats, because they are mostly knitted not sewn, and I don't knit. Oh and I've also kept my waterproofs and wetsuit, but other than that, every other item of clothing I had previously bought from shops has been given away. 

I'm over the moon.

I can't quite believe I was able to find the time and energy to make this many garments in between all of my other freelance work as a designer. I guess deep down I just knew this was really important to me. The thing that I have not been able to express until now, is that this project was never just about clothes. It was about reclaiming my body. If I hadn't really needed to do that, I would never have been able to make this commitment.

Almost five years ago, in a very beautiful land a long way from home my body was taken from me. The house where I was living was broken into by a gang of robbers, who stripped me at gun point and sexually assaulted me. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. As I lay there face down, naked on the floor with the end of a gun pressed into my back, my mind completely disconnected from my physical form.  
 
That moment replays over and over in my head. Last year I decided enough was enough, I needed to do something to help me process what had happened. Rather than just relive it, I needed to move through it. I needed to face the fear I had of being forced to give up my body. So I set myself this challenge, to give away all of my clothes. It may sound crazy but it made sense to me that if I could reclaim my body being stripped bare, I would be able to redress myself with a new set of healing armour. I wanted to make my entire wardrobe from scratch; because I thought if I can do that, then I don’t need to be afraid any more. I would have skills and strength which I can always rely on.

This creative mission has made me feel strong and alive. My mind and soul have reconnected with the way my body feels, moves and expresses itself. I suppose this is my small way of fighting back five years later. I’ve allowed my brain to bask in creativity, logic, skill and beauty which makes my head finally feel like it has had some justice for the confused pain it had to drown in, desperately trying to process the trauma of what happened.

Don't get me wrong. This year hasn't fixed everything, I still get shaken up by what happened but the difference is, it no longer holds the same power over me. In a funny sort of way I feel like I have restarted my life, as me. Rather than as someone trying to escape me, which is what I've been doing for the last half a decade. Wearing clothes I have made is the most honest way I have of being in the world and I imagine I'll never go back to buying from shops. In that sense, this project is far from over. I still have a list as long as my arm of things I want to make, including a 3 piece suit, dungarees, a bikini and pyjamas to name a few. But for now I need to step back and take a deep breath, to work on some very exciting commissions.

I have always believed that creativity is a cosmic force which we channel as humans. It is infinite and all we need to do is commit ourselves to delivering it from the divine. This project was really just about connecting with the cosmic in an effort to shine as much light into the darkness as possible. 

 

 

My Christmas Gift Guide Celebrating Ethical and Sustainable Fashion & Textiles, Made in Bristol

As the dust settles on Black Friday and Cyber Monday I feel inspired to write a piece on why the fast fashion being flogged in these sales is screwing all of us. Firstly, because it is conning us into buying poor quality clothing we don't really want, need or love, just because it appears a 'bargain'. And secondly, because cheap fast fashion comes at huge human and environmental cost. If you havn't yet seen it, I massively encourage you to watch the documentary 'The True Cost' which came out a couple of years ago and is now up on Netflix. It sheds a whole lot of light on the complex issues which surround fast fashion and why it is so detrimental to everyone involved. Here are some harsh facts from that film which can't be forgotten:

1. The fashion industry is the world's second-largest polluter.

Right behind the oil industry!

2. The world now consumes a staggering 80 billion pieces of clothing each year.

This is up 400% from two decades ago.

3. One-in-six people work in the global fashion industry.

A majority of these workers are women earning less than $3 per day.

4. 250,000 Indian cotton farmers have killed themselves in the last 15 years.

Partly as a result of going into debt to buy genetically modified cotton seeds, courtesy of Monsanto.

5. Only 10% of the clothes people donate to charity or thrift stores get sold.

The rest end up in landfills or flooding markets in developing countries where they are bought by the box and kill the local industry.

These are big problems. My very small way of fighting back against fast fashion was by avoiding buying into this screwed up system and making all of my own clothes. But that personal protest isn't a global solution. So I'm here to recommend some brands which have found ways to address these problems by using ethical and sustainable practices.  I want to introduce you to some of the small businesses I share the Bristol Textile Quarter with. Our busy little studio in Old Market, Bristol is now bursting at the seams (excuse the pun) with incredible designers, makers and entrepreneurs, who are creating beautiful clothing and accessories to fall in love with and keep forever.  And that is the key here, buy less, but what you do buy, buy from people you can trust to care about products, people and the planet. Buy things you love, that are made to last and look after them.

OK lesson over, now for the fun bit. Lets me introduce you to some very special friends.... 

ANTIFORM

www.antiformonline.co.uk

Antiform is a sustainable fashion brand run by Lizzie and Kate. They create beautiful clothes and accessories that are all made in England from 100% reclaimed fabric. Think colour-rich leggings, thick fisherman knit jumpers and winter party dresses. These ladies know how to create garments so comfortable, yet so beautiful. They sell online and through independent boutiques across Europe, but if you are local to Bristol you can find their garments in the newely opened Old Market cocktail bar and shop 'To The Moon,' which has become our favourite after work drinks spot.

TAMAY & ME

www.tamayandme.com

Tamay & Me was co-founded by Hannah in Bristol and Tamay in Vietnam. They specialise in indigo dyed jackets, embellished with exquisite hand stitched embroidery. These garments are 100% ethically produced using homegrown cloth and ancient embroidery techniques. The detail in them is unlike anything you can buy on the high street and worth treasuring. You can buy the jackets online, or if you would like to come down to the studio a try them on for size don't hesitate to drop Hannah a line on me@tamayandme.com 

BAGS OF HOPE

www.instagram.com/bags.of.hope

Hope makes beautiful leather bags using fairtrade embroidery from Thailand. She uses recycled leather and lovingly stitches every bag together right here in Bristol. Her website is coming soon but for now check out her gorgeous instagram. Bristolians you will find her bags on sale in the Bristol Bazaar pop-up shop opening on December 6th in The Island on Nelson Street.

THE LAZY JELLYFISH

www.cargocollective.com/thelazyjellyfish

The Lazy Jellyfish was founded in Barcelona by Bego, she has since moved to Bristol and now runs her toys and kids clothing company from here. Her collection uses organic cotton and colourful gender neutral prints to give children clothes and toys they can have fun with. What more could your cheeky little niece or nephew want for Christmas?!

A PECULIAR GRACE

www.apeculiargrace.com

At BTQ we aren't only about fashion, we have members working in interiors too. Mel is our new studio manager and when she isn't making sure everything in the studio is running smoothly, she makes beautiful chairs. Her upholstery business, A Peculiar Grace specialises in using natural, vintage, luxury fabrics to bring modern and antique furniture out of the doldrums and give every piece distinctive flair and attitude. Mel mainly works on a commission basis, so if you have a special project in mind don't hesitate to get in touch.

OTTOWIN

www.ottowinfootwear.co.uk

Ottowin Footwear was founded by couple Lucy and Oliver in 2016. They aren't in our studio but are just round the corner and I am so in love with their shoes I had to include them in this list. Their handmade unisex boots, shoes and sandals keep traditional shoe making techniques alive in small scale U.K manufacturing. You will find these guys doing markets across the South West but you can also order their shoes through their website. Every pair is made to order, with the greatest of care, creating as little wastage as possible. These boots are made for walking, will age beautifully and can be resoled by the makers when needed.

 

So there you have it, if you bought something dirt cheap on the high street in the last week you should find the receipt, march your ass right back into the shop this week and return it. Once you have gotten your hard earned cash back, I'd encourage you to invest it wisely in a gift for your most cherished loved one, which you can give with pride knowing that your consumer choices supported ethical and sustainable small businesses, based in Bristol. 

Big Love,

Lx


 

 

The Pink Leaf Jumpsuit

This little number was a piece I made for my sister. She was off to a friends wedding in Portugal and wanted something extra special to wear. Luckily we live together so I can borrow it anytime. I'm totally in love with how comfy it is yet how sophisticated it looks. 

 © Naomi Wood | www.naomi-wood.com

The fabric for the top half came from another old vintage kimono and I think I will have just enough left to make a bomber jacket out of it. But first I need to make myself one of these jumpsuits! I would love to try and use velvet for the trousers but its the hardest fabric of all to sew with so if anyone has any top tips I would love to hear them. 

The Pink Leaf Jumpsuit by Made My Wardrobe

The Olympic Silk Tracksuit

September has got me feeling all sporty. Fresh off the back of the Olympics in Rio I felt inspired to turn my hand to some sportswear. So here is the result. A black silk bomber jacket with matching tracksuit trousers.

 © Naomi Wood | www.naomi-wood.com

I'll admit the fabric is a little unconventional for sportswear, but silk is always my first choice no matter what I'm doing. It gives this two-piece a luxurious leisure wear feel, that has meant I've barely taken it off since I finished the last stitch. 

Now i finally have something I've made to wear to my yoga and capoeira classes! 

 © Naomi Wood | www.naomi-wood.com

The Butterfly Silk Playsuit

I love all in one garments, that you can just throw on. Especially in the summer when you want to be able to breeze about. I'm never quite sure what ridiculous name to give these kind of garments; onesie, romper, playsuit, jumpsuit, boilersuit? I've gone with playsuit for this one because it just feels like such fun!

I took this incredible printed butterfly silk from a very unflattering and ill fitting vintage two piece. I spend a lot of my summer buzzing around the city on my bike and so I wanted to turn this summer print into a garment that would be good for cycling, hence the long shorts! I'm dead pleased with the result and have barely taken it off since I finished the final stitch.

The Butterfly Silk Playsuit by Made My Wardrobe

The Sunshine Silk Skirt

This is the speediest garment I have made so far for Made My Wardrobe, so I'll follow suit with a speedy blog post about it. For this little beauty I cut some yellow silk into a strip long enough the wrap around my waist and overlap a little at the front. I then popped some nice deep pockets in and attached an elasticated drawstring waistband. It was all wrapped up in one morning which meant I could take the afternoon off, wearing it out in the sun. In summer you gotta be a speedy seamstress with simple designs If you're gonna get a chance to enjoy any of the sunshine ;)

The Sunshine Silk Skirt by Made My Wardrobe

The Coral Silk Jumpsuit

This is the kinda commission I dream of, teaming up with the absolute lady boss that is Lou Gardiner. She is a contemporary embroidery master and the woman who first made me realise how incredible it would be to make a living using a sewing machine.

Lou and I met about 4 years ago. At the time I was a complete mess, living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, about to drop out of University and in the middle of a brutal break up.

When I first saw Lou's embroidery work it took my breath away and inspired me to make a big embroidered quilt for my bed. I was a bit of an insomniac at this stage in my life and thought it might help me sleep. Making that quilt taught me how to drive a sewing machine with creative force. Once I had finished the quilt I took a picture and emailed it to Lou to share how much her work had inspired me. Since then she has been a real mentor in my life. Whenever she has a big embroidery commission on I head up north to her beautiful farm studio just outside Manchester and do whatever I can to help! I've also worked for Lou at various exhibitions and art fairs which always turns into sherry-fueled fun. You will find us at the London Design Fair in the Old Truman Brewery in September doing just that, so pop by and so hello if you happen to be there.

So now you have the Lydia and Lou backstory, here are the fruits of our labour! Two bespoke silk jumpsuits made using Lou's beautiful coral silk fabric.

To give you an idea how this incredible fabric is made, it starts life as one of Lou's big embroidered artworks...

The embroidery is then photographed and printed on to silk up in Manchester. Lou then popped down to my studio in the Bristol Textile Quarter and together we designed a dream jumpsuit which I created a pattern for. It was totally terrifying cutting into fabric which feels like an art work in itself.

When I first tried the jumpsuits on they sort of blew my mind. I've never worn something so comfortable yet so luxurious and expressive. I feel super excited about working with more of Lou's prints and seeing what other beautiful madness we can come up with! If you would like to wrap yourself up in Lou's gorgeous coral print you can find her incredible scarves for sale on her website here. Or if you would like to order a bespoke jumpsuit please contact Lou directly on louise@lougardiner.co.uk, prices start from  £360.

The Botanical Silk Skirt

Wow, what a wonderful few weeks it has been over at Made My Wardrobe HQ. The open studios we had in the Bristol Textile Quarter was incredible! Over a hundred people popped by to see what we are up to and chat about how we can keep the fashion and textile industry alive in Bristol. It made me think I should spice things up on Made My Wardrobe with some collaborations! So here is the first of those...

Botanical Inks is an Bristol based natural dye company. They run beautiful workshops teaching people to forage for local colour- producing plants and use a variety of non-toxic dye and print processes to colour locally grown and woven wool and organic peace silk. Babs Behan who is the brains behind the operation has been running evening workshops in our studio which look like such fun! So, having seen the beautiful fabrics she can make, I asked her if she had any scraps I could buy. She produced this beautiful piece of silk, dyed using cornflowers, rose petals and madder. I decided to drape it with some plain grey silk to create this gathered skirt. Possibly my favourite garment to date, thanks Botanical Inks!

The Botanical Silk Skirt by Made My Wardrobe

Bristol Textile Quarter Open Studio!

As part of Bristol Textile Quarter's open doors event I will be opening up my studio, exhibiting some of my favourite pieces from the archive, and giving live demonstrations.

There will also be a series of talks about how the fashion and textile industry is ethically and sustainably being kept alive in the west of England by the incredible fashion and textile businesses that work in the Bristol Textile Quarter and surrounding studios. Would love to pour you all a gin & tonic from 6pm this Tuesday 17th May, Bristol Textile Quarter, 1a Barton Road, BS2 0LF...

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bristol-textile-house-opens-its-doors-tickets-22910667423

The Green Silk Playsuit

Just the other week I went to an incredible sale at Clifton Hill Textiles and Haberdashery, which is a great Bristol shop bursting with vintage clothes, costume and fabrics. They have the biggest antique button collection I have ever seen! There, I found this little scrap of vintage hand embroidery with the perfect green in it for this playsuit I had been making.

I had left a diamond of skin exposed over the heart on the playsuit pattern and this embroidery covered half of it snugly. It finished off the garment as though the whole piece had been planned around it! I love the randomness of coming across beautiful things to use in my creations. Before I added the embroidery I imagined this little number would be my pyjamas but now I think I'll wear it with skirts in the daytime too. Especially, when I'm at the beach!

The Green Silk Playsuit by Made My Wardrobe

The Navy Crepe Jumpsuit

Ok so the first jumpsuit I tried to make ended up getting cut in half because it was just a bit wild trying to cover my entire body in silver silk (see post below). But having made 4 different jumpsuit patterns in the last week for a private commission I was dying to sew one up for myself. So I popped down to the fabric shop and bought this lovely navy crepe fabric. And here we have it!

I'm gonna put it out there, this might just be my favourite garment to date. It makes me feel like I could do anything! I especially love wearing it to work, there is something about its simplicity that soothes my brain. My only reservation is that it's a bit of a pain in the ass to go to the loo in, you basically end up sitting there naked, with it all bundled up on the floor around your ankles, but hey ho whats a girl to do!

The Navy Crepe Jumpsuit by Made My Wardrobe

The Silver Silk Shirt

I tried really hard this month to make simple wearable garms that I can just throw on in the morning. To be honest I've said that since the beginning but then my inner costumier takes over and I just want to embellish everything to the max!

 © Naomi Wood | www.naomi-wood.com

This shirt started life out as a jumpsuit. Somehow in my head a silver silk jumpsuit was a simple, wearable thing I could just throw on! I was half way through sewing it up, when I had a moment of clarity and realised that silver jumpsuits are in fact only really suitable for flying to the moon. So I cut it in half and turned the top into a little cropped shirt. Don't worry, the bottom half wont be wasted it will become some smart trousers soon. But until then I'm pretty chuffed with the shirt, it has a proper button placket and everything!

 © Naomi Wood | www.naomi-wood.com

The Silver Silk Shirt by Made My Wardrobe

The Green Silk Lingerie

I'm constantly on the look out for lingerie inspiration. I've been making mood boards of beautiful bras and pants since I first became addicted to sewing. But recently so much of what  I'm seeing coming out of the lingerie industry feels painfully outdated. Can we please move on from the porn star-esque images of doughy-eyed women dressed up for the titillating pleasure of men? The same clichéd fantasies being rehashed season after season, it's 2016 for crying out loud. I see your regurgitated lips pouted, ass jacked advertising and I am angry. Angry at the simplification of women into seductive objects but also angry at your lack of creativity in an art form that I adore.

I have a theory that women actually wear luxurious lingerie for their OWN pleasure, shocking I know! They want their most intimate flesh to be caressed all day by beautifully crafted soft fabrics because it makes THEM feel damn good! I spend hours making beautiful lingerie to cocoon the parts of me that need protecting, nourishing, respecting and comforting, in my own vision, rather than anyone else's projected ideals.

 © Naomi Wood | www.naomi-wood.com

I want to big up the rise of small independent lingerie designers I've seen doing their thing all over instagram, etsy and pinterest recently, setting the balance straight by diversifying the options available to us. Women have many intricacies and our lingerie should be allowed reflect that.

 © Naomi Wood | www.naomi-wood.com

The Green Silk Lingerie by Made My Wardrobe

The Blue Denim Jeans

Holy smokes I made my first pair of jeans! Hip-huggin, high-waisted, boot-legged jeans! Damn it feels good to finally own a pair made to measure. None of this digging in at the hips or too long at the ankles malarkey I usually battle with on shop bought pairs.

My only beef with these trousers is that I used cheap denim...I guess I got scared in the fabric shop thinking there was I high chance these bad boys wouldn't work out so nice. The problemo is cheap denim equals wrinkly knees, where the fabric doesn't stretch back very well. For my next pair I'll invest in the good stuff.

I'm also wearing a fresh from the cutting room floor silk camisole! I ran this little number up using a tiny scrap that had been giving me the old 'when are you finally going to make me into something beautiful' guilt for weeks.

The Bronze Silk Camisole and Blue Denim Jeans by Made My Wardrobe

100 days and counting...

Today, I realised I've been doing this for 100 days. I've made my first century! My plan had been to spend the day in my studio making a pair of jeans, but then something about the rain outside made me just want to curl up in bed and take a morning away from my needle and thread to reflect on the last 14 weeks.  

Made My Wardrobe, began on 1st January 2016, I woke up at the crack of dawn and cycled to the studio as the sun rose over Bristol's colourful houses. My route speeds down what is known as the Bristol to Bath cycle path. It runs along where the old railway tracks used to be and is lined with trees, allotments, abandoned buildings and parks. I can cycle all the way to the studio without seeing a car or stopping at a red light. It's a pretty dreamy commute and has become a part of my life I really treasure. Of course at that time on new years day it was deserted, almost eerily quiet, but it felt totally exhilarating to be zooming along into what would be my first day on this one woman mission. 

Before I began, I had no real idea how many items I would be able to create each month whilst still making a living doing freelance work and you know, other life essentials such as sleeping. I also had no clue how I would go about recording my journey, but from that very first day I've kept a log of a few key stats, so 100 days in, this is where I'm at...

438 hours have been spent in the studio designing, draping, cutting, sewing, pressing and fitting.

52 metres of fabric have been used.

28 different coloured spools have have been threaded up on my machine.

14 bleeding fingers have needed to be kissed better after being stabbed with pins.

5 needles have been broken.

3 jars of nutella have been consumed whilst working late into the night.

And from all of that..

3 pairs of pants, 3 bras, 2 corsets, 3 tops, 3 pairs of trousers, 2 skirts, 1 jumper, 2 jackets, 1 coat, 1 bracelet, 1 earring and 1 headpiece have been created.

I think I'll have a cheeky whisky sour with lunch celebrate!

Here's to the next 100 days...it's stopped raining so I better get down to the studio and crack on with those jeans this afternoon. 

1 wardrobe is well on its way to being made!

The Pink Silk Top

I think this was the first bodice pattern I ever drafted to my own measurements. I must have been about 17. It’s a simple little top with princess seams over the bust and a zip up the centre back. I found the pattern the other day whilst searching for an entirely different one, and thought hey, lets see if it still fits?! It did, just, but there was no room for breathing or eating which are two things I really enjoy doing, so I added what I think might become my trade mark; the gold side stripe. This special stripe basically appears when I fuck up on sizing or run out of fabric (as in the navy cashmere trousers from January). It is sort of my equivalent of Kintsugi. You know the ancient Japanese tradition of repairing broken ceramics with gold leaf? It highlights the cracks rather than trying to hide them, and makes the piece all the more valuable and beautiful in the process.

First rule of sewing: do not fear mistakes.

Second rule of sewing: always have a stash of emergency gold silk close to hand.

Third rule of sewing: if in doubt add some embroidery for good measure. 

I remember after one particularly frustrating day during my tailoring apprenticeship, calling my brother three finger Pete for a pep talk. He is a bespoke carpenter and wooden boat builder whose apprenticeship years made mine look like a pyjama party. He told me this, ‘you never stop making mistakes, you just get better at fixing them.’ He’s a wise dude. I owe my gold stripes to him.

The Pink Silk Top by Made My Wardrobe

The Grey Silk Trouser

These are the kind of trousers I would wear if I worked in some swanky office in the city. They are made from beautiful printed silk which has been ever so lightly dip dyed meaning it gradually fades from grey to white as you move up the leg. This subtle ombre is contrasted by the bold two tone waistband.

 As I was giving them a finishing press, I thought I had achieved the ultimate in tailored trouser alchemy, in the same instant, I managed to burn them with the iron. Oh man, I felt like such a dick, after spending all day making them perfect. I pulled the iron off as soon as a heard it sizzle and plunged the trousers into cold water, meaning the stain is pretty light, but still! I really had to remind myself there is no use crying over burnt silk. Sewing is a bit like snowboarding in that sense, bare with me on this one... It's as though as soon as you think you are getting really good and start cockily sitting in cruise control mode, the forces that be have a little giggle and wipe you out, leaving you face down in the snow, or in this case with a scorched ass!

The Grey Silk Trouser by Made My Wardrobe

The Stone Silk Skirt

OK I have to air my dirty laundry or the guilt will tear me apart. The premise of this project was that I would make all my clothes in one year. Well this skirt was in fact part of my prom dress which I made when I was 16. I’m a cheat what can I say. But before you condemn me let me state my defence.

Making that dress served a very important purpose in my life, a right of passage far more significant than prom... It gave me a reason to take my maiden voyage to Berwick Street!!! For non sewcialists, Berwick Street is a strip of soho dedicated to the finest fabric shops in the land. I discovered the mothership at that tender age and she has held me close ever since. The damn fine silk I bought that day has the right to be worn for more than three hours. Let's imagine I am a surgeon of silk, it would be in my code of conduct to give the silk a new life. So 8 years later I operate with some minor surgery, unpick the top half of the dress, and leave the beautiful skirt free to swing again. Case closed!

The Stone Silk Skirt by Made My Wardrobe