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

The Black Wool Jacket

This little black number had no premeditated design. I got to the studio one Saturday morning and thought right what can I quilt today. Standing proud in front of me was a giant pot plant and I thought okay then, lets try some still life embroidery! Sometimes the clothes I make are deep and meaningful reflections on life and sometimes they are random experiments. This jacket was one of those experimental numbers! I’m not totally sure how I feel about the finished garment but hey sometimes you just gotta take what’s in front of you and roll with it.

The Black Wool Jacket by Made My Wardrobe

The Yellow Silk Lingerie

 

The sunshine yellow raw silk in this set was gifted to my studio - the Bristol Textile Quarter a couple of months ago. For along time I had been wanting to make some lingerie that included the colours of Klimt ‘The Kiss.’ So I combined that bright yellow, with a deep gold ochre, a dusty pink and a light silver. The lines and shapes in the corset come from my love of art deco architecture and interiors. I think I'll wear it more as an outer garment over trousers and jumpsuits as in the image below!

The Yellow Silk Lingerie by Made My Wardrobe

The Grey Silk Camisole

Sometimes I get to the studio on a sunday and its like I've used all my sewjo mojo up earlier on in the week. So I decide to make something simple like this slate grey camisole to sooth my brain. After all, I'll need some basics in my wardrobe at the end of the year... alas I can't wear embroidered corsets all the time.

The Grey Silk Camisole by Made My Wardrobe

The Black Cotton & Silk Trousers

This is what you get when you put 24 pleats into 4.5 metres of fabric, add a tie-die waistband and throw in a couple of deep pockets for good measure. The fabric is a jet black mix of 50% cotton and 50% silk. It is a total dream boat to work with and to wear. I'm pretty convinced they are the comfiest trousers ever. And tres chic non?

The Black Cotton & Silk Trousers by Made My Wardrobe

The Red Silk Skirt

 

I love designing clothes when I’m on long train journeys. There is something special about the momentum of the train and looking out across landscapes whizzing past that works for me. I often find myself putting my headphones in and suddenly a dancer will appear in my head moving to the music. I can then adorn this imaginary moving figure with clothes and wham bam a new design is born. I find it much easier to become inspired by fabric, cut, shape, fit and form when I imagine clothes being danced in. I suppose its sort of like my antidote to designing on a static mannequin. 

This skirt came to life for me in Carriage D of a First Great Western from London to Bristol. I was listening to the Amelie soundtrack at the time. Time to go for a dance i think...

The Red Silk Skirt by Made My Wardrobe

The Pink Silk Jacket

 

This little number combines my two favourite types of jacket, the kimono and the bomber! I used vintage japanese kimono silk and cut a pattern for a classic cropped bomber...

I'm going to let you in on a little seamstress secret. Vintage kimono jackets are one of the best sources of beautiful heavyweight printed silk fabric out there. I would never have been able to buy silk of this quality and print in fabric shops. And even if I had been able too it would have cost a bomb! Kimonos are made using large rectangular strips of fabric cut on the straight grain, often only lightly hand tacked together, meaning they are super easy to dismantle into lovely neat runs of fabric. I managed to get this entire bomber jacket out of just the sleeves and shoulders of the kimono jacket. And I have enough fabric to make another so if you would like to commission one, get in touch! I'll make it specially to your measurements. Made to fit. Made to last.

The Pink Silk Jacket by Made My Wardrobe

The Red Silk Lingerie

 

Oh what a saint!  The 14th feb gave me the perfect excuse to buy some red silk and be my own Valentine. I began with the waist corset. Whenever I'm making corsets my feminist instinct pipes up to stick up for the woman who is wearing the damn thing. So for this one I decided to really listen to that instinct and make my idea of a feminist corset. Most importantly this garment is made to fit my actual figure rather than attempting to contort it. As always the pattern is created to my exact measurements, following natural curves and lines of the body. What is incredible about the abdomen is that with every single breath its shape changes. My rib cage expands by at least 2 inches as I breathe in, so I added a stretch silk satin to the areas where the lungs need that room. To finish off the set I made a soft cup vintage style bra, and another pair of my favourite silk boxers in oxblood red. Game, set, match! 

The Red Silk Lingerie by Made My Wardrobe

The Ochre & Pink Silk Bodice

 

Oh man this one made my brain ache. The idea was to use corsetry techniques to create a beautifully simple structured bodice top, but what it turned into was a little more than that.

I decided to cord the bodice to create shape and structure. This technique is done by top stitching the layers of your bodice together and then threading cord through the channels to provide lines of raised definition. Unfortunately, I think I used a dodgy interlining because these charming cellulite-esque lumps appeared on the bust. No matter how much I ironed and steamed, they could not be convinced to disappear. Maybe I should have just sucked this up and rocked the bumby boob look, I hear its gonna be a big trend in 2016.

But then I thought ahaaaa if I embroidered the front it would disguise the lumps. So I got my favorite metallic threads out, hammered away at my machine (for two days) and wham bam thank you mam the bumps were gone!

Ohhh but then, I find these beautiful little vintage embroidered flower motifs that are the perfect colour match, and I think they would just finish it off a treat, so I stitched them on. What I thought was going to be a simple one day day bodice turned into a week long trial, but I learnt a whole lot doing it. I find that so often in sewing when you make a mistake or something goes wrong, it pushes you to be more creative with your design. I guess that is why I love it so. 

The Ochre and Pink Silk Bodice by Made My Wardrobe

The Cream Silk Jumper

I love using quilting techniques in clothing. It is a great way of making lightweight fabrics thick and warm. Here, I used this delicious mushroom coloured silk, which cameras just don't do justice to. I quilted the front and back panels freestyle maaan! Who wants to spend hours marking out designs when you could just doodle your heart out. It is one of the few techniques in sewing that allows total spontaneity, which makes it such a release!

The Cream Silk Jumper by Made My Wardrobe

Ps. Naomi sorry I missed your birthday because I was making this...Hope your having an amazing time in Columbia. When can I come visit? Love you x

The Ochre and Navy Cashmere Trousers

All I really need to say about these trousers is that they are made of navy blue cashmere baby!!! Yeah that's right cashmere trousers! So warm, so soft, so comfortable. SOOO don't find these on the high street. Especially not with a gold silk stripe thrown in for good measure! Ok truth be told it really was for good measure. I didn't have enough cashmere to get all the way round the leg in the shape I wanted, so I thought how can I add an extra couple of centimeters...oh hello gold silk! I feel like it is my lucky sew faster stripe. I'll wear these trousers on those days when I need to ride my machine like the wind...so that's everyday then!

The Ochre and Navy Cashmere Trousers by Made My Wardrobe

The Burgundy Wool Coat

 

I usually try not to think about the price of fabric before I cut into it, but at £40 a metre this is one of the most expensive fabrics I've worked with and the full skirt meant that I needed 3.5 metres of the stuff. You do the maths...oh and then add another £24 for the lining, £30 for the interlining, £18 for threads, £12 for beads and £1.50 for the entire pack of needles I broke doing the embroidery. Don't let anyone try and convince you sewing is a way to save money.

The work on the back took two days. It is done using a technique I love called free machine embroidery. To do this you must use your machine in completely the opposite way it was designed to be used (hence all the broken needles.) If you take the foot off your machine and drop the teeth you allow the needle to hammer away in all directions, essentially drawing totally free form with the thread. I then appliqued the beautiful black and gold vintage hand embroidery onto the design and finished it off with some beading.

A few months ago my sister Hannah asked me to come and live with her. This piece is all about our paths coming together and nesting here in Bristol. She is my cultural compass and my guardian angel. 

The Burgundy Wool Coat by Made My Wardrobe

The Turquoise Silk Bra and Boxers

It seemed fitting to begin this project with underwear, because it is the first thing we put on in the morning and also where my love of sewing began. Many moons ago I did a one day lingerie sewing course. I then spent a month up in my attic room, experimenting with fabric, form and fit. Sewing lingerie is like no other sewing! I would say it is more akin to architecture. In fact I think you should spend 5 years training to do it! You definitely shouldn't do a one day course and then tell all your friends you are going to be a lingerie designer! What can I say a girl can dream.

Luckily, this little set sewed up without a hitch. The bra contains no metal boning, because I hate both sewing and wearing boning. However, I'm kept supported by the density of free machine embroidery I worked into the lace below the bust. It gives the layers of fabric strength and shape to curve around my rib cage. If I had a way with words I would think of a good line here about stitching supporting a whole lot more than just my bust in life...

The pants are generously cut for a fuller coverage because bikini waxes and wedgies are two things I could happily live without. The set is dedicated to my mum because this particular shade of turquoise blue always reminds me of her and because she was the woman who sat me in front of a sewing machine when I was little girl and showed me what's what.

The Turquoise Silk Bra and Boxers by Made My Wardrobe