2018 Make … Four??


I love following Lucky Lucille’s Make Nine challenge, however, last year I only made one on my list of nine. This was mainly because my sewing preferences changed, I stopped wanting to sew with stretch fabric (with the exception of two Monetas that I made last year because I could sew them in my sleep) and most of the sewing projects listed were knit projects. I also completely misjudged how much sweater knitting I would do. So, this year I’ve decided to only list four projects to narrow my focus and hopefully give me a fighting chance to make all of them.

1) Martine Sweater by Julie Hoover. This is sweater knitted in the flat and then seamed together, it’s made in knotted stitch and is for a DK weight cotton yarn. I chose it because it’s designed for a cotton yarn, which I find a lot comfier to wear than wool and because I’ve never sewn a seamed sweater before. I’ve ordered some navy yarn and I’m excited to get started knitting. I’m hoping I can finish it in a few months so I can wear it on cooler spring and summer days, as it’s cotton so it won’t be as warm as wool.

2. Ames Jeans by Cashmerette. I’ve wanted to sew my own jeans for ages because even though I’ve found a ready to wear make of jeans that fit me, the denim they are made of is really thin and always rips within about six months. I’m so excited that Cashmerette have created a jeans pattern and an online course to go with it. I’ve bought some denim for a wearable muslin, but the weather has been so bad here I haven’t been able to pre-wash and dry the denim yet.

3. Kalle Shirt and Shirtdress by Closet Case Patterns. I’ve seen so many variations of the Kalle shirt online and they all look really good, especially now Closet Case Patterns have released a long sleeve expansion. I’d like to make a few long sleeve flannel shirts because they’re so comfy to wear, and also some long shirt dresses that I can wear with leggings.

4. Suki Kimono by Helen’s Closet. I bought this pattern last year when it was on sale but never got round to wearing it. However, I really want to make one in a luxurious cotton lawn for lounging around in the summer. I think it would be such a satisfying make, and so useful as well.


2017 Make Nine


So, I haven’t had any time in the second half of 2016 to blog as I’ve been studying for my Masters in Computing Science. However, I want to look towards 2017 and plan out what I want to sew.

  1. Lane Raglan by Hey June. I already have this pattern and I made a trial t-shirt and it came up way too small, but I still have some sweatshirt knit I want to use so I’m going to print it off again in a larger size and hopefully it will work.
  2. Santa Fe by Hey June. I’d been contemplating buying this pattern since it came out, and I finally got it yesterday. I have some striped jersey and some jersey with cats on which I think would both be perfect for this top.
  3. Lark by Grainline. I know, three jersey tops, but that is basically all I wear most days. I haven’t bought this yet, so it’ll be the last one of these I make, but I’m intrigued by all the sleeve and neckline combinations.
  4. Lush by Tin Can Knits. This year, I’ve seen so many versions of this and they all look lovely so I think I will knit myself one in 2017.
  5. Breathing Space by Veera Valimaki. 
  6. Hooray by 
  7. Turner by Cashmerette. I actually haven’t sewn any Cashmerette patterns yet, which is ridiculous since they should suit my body type. I think the Turner dress will be the perfect one to start with as I’m always on the lookout for nice jersey dress patterns.
  8. M6884 by McCall’s. I have a jersey faux wrap dress which I wear all the time, so I want to make one similar. I would make the Cashmerette wrap dress but I want one which doesn’t have a wrap skirt, so I think this McCall’s pattern will be the one I use.
  9. Upton by Cashmerette. This pattern has everything that scares me with sewing: invisible zips, linings, fitted bodices, gored or pleated skirts. I think once I’ve finished my degree though, it will be a nice project for me, and the Cashmerette sew along looks very thorough.

This list is almost entirely jersey based, but that’s what I like wearing at the moment, and as I’m not going to finish my degree until September I think that will be the majority of what I have time to sew!


Spring Stitching

summertide-shawlIt’s spring… sort of! When we left the house to take these photos it was bright sunshine, and by the time we’d walked to the river it had clouded over and was really cold, I was lucky I had a shawl to wrap around my neck for the rest of the walk to the pub.

This is the Summertide Shawl by Curious Handmade. I really enjoyed knitting it, especially the third clue (the first white part). It’s an old shetland lace stitch which has the same repeats the whole way through, but every eight rows it is offset by four stitches which is why it changes. It’s really soothing to knit and looks really organic, like ears of corn or fronds of a leaf.

The shawl itself isn’t as big as it should be, my finished gauge is way off what it should be. This is partly because it’s cotton, so doesn’t bloom when it is blocked, and partly because I used a size too small needles. I really want to make it again in wool, so you can really see the lacework open up.

plantain-tshirtI also finished another jersey top, this time it is Deer and Doe’s Plantain. I really like how flared the pattern is at the bottom, making it a really easy to wear t-shirt, but I like my necklines a bit higher, even though I already made it higher when I cut it out. I think because the fabric has quite a lot of stretch, and my shoulders are quite sloped, it accentuates how low the neckline is.

Peak stuff and reducing responsibly


With the release of Marie Kondo’s new book and a comment from Ikea that we have reached ‘peak stuff’ there is a lot of discussion, in the British media at least, about consumerism and responsible consumption. For most people in the sewing community this isn’t a new concept, even if it isn’t a motivating factor in the decision to make your own clothes. However, I think this current media outburst comes partly as a reaction to the overindulgence during the holidays, whether of food or consumerism, and partly as a way of ‘detoxing’ in line with many new years resolutions.

I read Marie Kondo’s first book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ last year, and I will admit, I do still fold my underwear according to her rules (it makes storing underwear so much more efficient). Her book hinges on the idea that by throwing away a lot of your possessions and living more minimally, you can bring about change in your life. While I don’t disagree that living more minimally can improve your life, whether it is by changing what you spend money on or by making you appreciate certain objects more, I question whether throwing everything away in one day is responsible.

As with fad diets and resolutions to join the gym*, I wonder whether throwing away will turn into another cycle encouraged by consumerism. If people feel the same rush from throwing things away as they do buying them, that’s just more money to be made. Maybe that’s why Ikea has said we’ve reached peak stuff while simultaneously setting aggressive sales targets for 2020.

And yet I’m still taken in by it! My plan for this weekend is still to purge my house of the irritating things which are still lying about, half used diaries from three years ago, broken phone cases and £1.50 Primark tank tops with holes in. Things I haven’t been able to get rid of because I wish I’d never bought in the first place.

So, for 2016, rather than reduce my possessions or throw away everything that doesn’t make me happy, I’m going to consume responsibly. I want to reduce the volume of my things, not by throwing everything out, but by limiting the amount of things which enter my home. When I create something I want to do it with intention, considering the environmental impact rather than just making something on a whim. Instead of getting a rush from throwing away, I’m going to get a rush from not buying, from opting out of consumerism and setting my own rules for consumption.

This is an interesting podcast about how gyms are constructed to encourage people to take out a membership without actually going.  (Also while I’m recommending podcasts this is an interesting one about the architecture of shopping malls, if you’re interested in that kind of thing.)

Curating my wardrobe

My Current Wardrobe
My current wardrobe – none of these are made by me!

I do have what you could call a capsule wardrobe… if by ‘capsule wardrobe’ you mean I have six t-shirts and two pairs of jeans that I wear to work every day. I don’t, however, have a curated capsule wardrobe, one that suits my lifestyle and contains clothes I enjoy wearing rather than throwing on first thing in the morning. Which is where this section of the blog comes in. One of the reasons for this blog is that I wanted to share my journey from a wardrobe made up of old t-shirts, plain jeans and cardigans with holes in that I wear to work, and about twenty dresses I like but never wear, to a wardrobe that I find inspiring.

Here are the main things I want out of my wardrobe, I think that by outlining this before I start I can make sure any new items fit the criteria.

1) I want my clothes to be comfy, this doesn’t mean I’m going to make an entire wardrobe full of t-shirts and jogging bottoms, it just means that every item has to be something I find comfortable to wear. Firstly, I’m very picky about textures and materials, I can’t stand wearing clothes with tags in them and I still haven’t found a make of tights I don’t mind wearing for a whole day. I tend to stick with natural fibres, and wear a lot of jersey dresses and tops.

2) I want to develop my own style. I’ve never been that interested in fashion, when I was younger I would prefer to sew bookmarks (that my mum framed…) than anything I could wear. I always err on the side of casual when deciding what to wear, but I want to develop a cohesive wardrobe full of smart but easy to style clothes.

3) I want to wear my whole wardrobe, not just the same few pieces over again and again. I think this is the motivating factor for most people who embark on a capsule wardrobe, I think it’s just human nature to have certain pieces you want to wear constantly, and I want to make a whole wardrobe filled with handmade pieces like this.

4) I want to make ethical choices with my wardrobe. It’s so easy to be persuaded by a £3 ready to wear vest from Primark, without thinking about the supply chain involved in making it. I know I won’t be able to make a completely ethically sound wardrobe, but by making my clothes and sourcing my own fabric, I can have far greater control.

These are my motivating reasons behind making a well selected handmade capsule wardrobe. I’m sure there will be many mistakes on the way, but I hope at the end of it I’ll have a wardrobe I’m proud of.

Welcome to Wren and Co.

Hi, I’m Jenny and this is my dressmaking blog. I’ve recently started sewing again and I wanted somewhere to share what I’ve been up to and hopefully make some friends in the process.

My mission is to make clothes I will wear over and over again, I am terrible at buying clothes online which don’t fit me properly, are made out of fabric I don’t like, or just don’t go with the rest of my wardrobe. By making my own clothes I can make sure they fit properly, choose everything about the piece so I’ll wear it over and over again and have a wardrobe that I have fully curated.

I’ve been sewing on and off for most of my life, whether it was going to a Young Embroiderers group as a precocious schoolchild, or making my own, semi-successful, prom dress as a distraction from revising for my A-levels. That doesn’t mean I’m good though, I still consider myself a beginner and I have a lot of techniques I need to learn.

I’ve thought about making my own clothes for a long time, but it’s only recently, with all the great indie patterns available, that I’ve found the motivation to really give it a go. I hope you will join me in my successes and mistakes as I learn new things, make stuff and have fun!