Monthly Archives: May 2016

Me Made May 2016


I have also signed up to participate in Me Made May this year. I thought that its no use making myself a lovely home-sewn wardrobe if I’m not gong to take pride in the things I have sewn.

In the spirit in which the event is intended I’m not going to be frantically be making something new all month. I’m going to get some of the things I have already made out of the wardrobe, and take pride in the fact I have made them. I will be posting pictures on my Instagram and my Twitter feeds. I wont be taking photos every day as I hate selfies but I will be posting things to keep myself going.

‘I, Mel Keable of MelMakesMelBakes, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’16. I endeavour to wear at least one home-made item or item with significant alterations made by me each day for the duration of May 2016’

Here are the offerings from day one and two!


A variation on Gertie’s “Pin Up Sweater” (to be blogged later this week) and a panelled half circle skirt.


The finished Portrait Blouse (Quest for a cotton Blouse – part 1 and 2) and a simple pencil skirt.

The Quest for a Cotton Blouse – Part 1

I am well aware that most off the shelf patterns will not fit me. In the past I have sewn primarily with jersey and stretch fabrics to allow greater ease of fitting over my curves. I fear lawn cottons and making successful Full Bust Adjustments and moving darts to get a cotton blouse to fit. However, I decided it was time to face my fears!


I chose the “Portrait Blouse” from Gerties New Book For Better Sewing to be my first project. I decided this was a good starting point as the construction is quite simple, with bust darts and waist tucks. The fit is also quite loose and flowing allowing some leeway in the fitting process.

I started with the size 14 pattern included with the book. This was the best fit for my waist measurement and high bust measurement. I followed the The Curvey Sewing Collective guide to a FBA. After some research and hunting around online I found this the clearest and easiest to understand guide.

I added a 1″ FBA in order to grade it up to an E/F cup size. This looked a reasonable size when the pattern paper was pinned to the dressmaking dummy. However when I put the calico toile on its easy to see that this hasn’t solved my problems at all!

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As you can see from this picture on the dummy, the adjustment is actually too large! I think Gertie’s pattern allows more boob room than it gives itself credit for. The first step was to redo the FBA but at 1/2″ this time.

It can also be seen from the toile that the bust darts actually sit very low on my bust, not at the widest point. Therefore I need to rotate the dart and raise the point by 1″ so the bust apex of the pattern sits on my natural bust apex. I also raised the centre/end point of the waist tucks/darts by 1″ as well in order to accommodate the new high bust apex.


Here’s the new pattern piece with adjusted bust apex, rotated dart tip, 1/2″ FBA and adjusted waist tucks. I’m hoping this will actually result in a shirt that fits. I have never before noticed that the bust apex was part of the problem. I have just always struggled with repeatedly trying different sized FBAs and still not managing to make the patterns fit.

Pledges, Pledges, Pledges

Right added sewing motivation time!


Firstly after careful consideration its time to make my Vintage Pledge 2016 my Vintage Pledge 2016

During 2016, I, Melanie Keable pledge to work towards sewing a vintage inspired wardrobe. As part of this I will sew 6 blouses from vintage or reproduction vintage patterns, and a vintage or repro vintage jacket.

I think these are the key items I am worried about making for my new wardrobe. I think making the pledge will give me some added incentive to work on this. The fist shirt pattern I will be looking to work with is simplicity 1590 retro 40s blouse featured in my last post.


I am also planning on taking part in the big vintage sew along hosted by the McCall pattern company. I have selected McCalls 7086 1960s dress. I really like the silhouette options, and the gathered details across the front waistband. I think this is a vintage style pattern I would wear on a regular basis. The temptation to go through a buy lots of the patterns selected for the vintage sew along is huge! However, I’m going to resist until after this one is made.

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Patterns Patterns Patterns – Planning a new wardrobe

IMAG0059Now that I have a nice mostly empty wardrobe its time to start planning what to sew! I have been trying to come up with a look that’s mine, something that makes me feel good. In order to do that I need to set some basic ground rules. Here’s what I have been thinking so far:

1/. Select a mix of bright jewel colours paired with darks and neutrals. Mostly black, navy, grey, burgundy with yellows, deep greens and reds. This way I will be able to unsure that items of clothing I am making will go with other things in the wardrobe. I often wear a lot of dark colours so introducing some light patterns and brighter colours into my wardrobe will be refreshing.

2/.  Select classic silhouettes with a nod to the 40s, 50s and early 60s. These classic styles with high nipped in waists, flared and wiggles skirts emphasis my curves and make me feel elegant. High waisted skinny jeans will always be more flattering than hipster fitting jeans that cut me off at my widest point. The point is not to create a costume, but instead select styles that don’t easily date and which look elegant and refined. Dressing for my body shape.

3/. Casual but classy. Pairing Jersey wrap dresses and full circle skirts with jackets and smart brogues. High waisted jeans with light cotton blouses and cardigans.

4/. Elegant work wear. Wiggle skirts with light cotton blouses. Fitted cotton dresses with tailored jackets.

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I have been looking through the patterns I have in stock and have come up with some key items that I think will help me with this. Along with Gertie’s books and some other patterns I have lurking I think I have the foundations of a good wardrobe.


Trousers and shirts:

Between the classic cigarette pants and these jeans by Gertie for Butterick I think I should have the foundations to allow several different variations of trousers once I have a basic sloper fitted. I have a few collections of 50s and 40s style shirts I picked up in various pattern sales recently. These offer a range of style adjustments and options. I think that once I have conquered my fears of Full Bust Adjustments (FBA) and dart manipulation I will love having these to wear.

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Classic styles like the shirt waist dress are still  popular today. A combination of full circle skirts and pencil skirts (like the one on the Loretta Jewel Neck pattern) will fit perfectly into what I have in mind.

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Coats and Jackets

A difficult one this – these are items of clothing I hate shopping for as I can never find fitted flattering styles that fit well. Time to remedy that with home sewing I suppose! I have a fitted jacket and coat pattern along with looser fitting 60s and 50s style short jackets. I think these will work well when teamed with trousers, skirts or over some of the dresses mentioned above.