Colour analysis with House of Colour

13 Apr

So, this isn’t strictly a sewing post, but I hope you’ll find it interesting nonetheless. It sort of ties in with the Wardrobe Architect posts that Colette have been running recently (and which I mean to work through as soon as I have a bit more time!).

A few months ago, I got a call from my sister at lunchtime, saying that she’d had an idea of what we could get our mum for Christmas. Her idea, and it was a brilliant one, was for the three of us to go to a colour analysis session together. The owner of a salon my sister used to work at had talked to her about it before, and recommended a consultant to her, and I remember my dad saying on a number of occasions how my granny had had it done years ago, and he thought that she always looked great when she wore the colours that she should. A friend of mine had also had a mini session recently, and raved about it, so I thought it would be a great thing to have done.

house of colour colour wheel

The House of Colour colour wheel. Source

Since I’ve started sewing, I’ve started thinking a lot more about style, and what sort of things suit me, so I was hoping this would add to that. Knowing what colours I should be looking for when I’m buying fabric would be really helpful, and also probably cut down on the amount of fabric I buy just because I like it, when it might not actually particularly suit me.


The consultant who had been recommended to my sister was Lisa Whiteside, a House of Colour consultant who happens to be based near Oxford. So we booked in for the three of us to go along for a colour analysis class in January. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pics throughout the session – I really wish I had, but I think my sister would probably have disowned me had I dare to put a photo of her without make up on on my blog!


Number 5 (musk pink) was one of the colours which looked especially good in. The double starred colours are the best ones – the ones that you could wear head to toe and look great in.

For those of you who aren’t aware, the idea behind colour analysis is that everyone has unique skin tone and eye colour, and this affects which colours look great on you, and which don’t look so hot. House of Colour explain it in more detail here. The colour spectrum is split into four ‘seasons’, and the consultant will work out which season works best for you, and then classify the colours within the season to tell you which ones work best.


Some of the Summer palette

Establishing which season you are is done by using a number of coloured drapes. You need to do it with no make up on, and your hair and top will be covered up with white as well, so that you’re essentially a blank slate, and it’s easier to see how the colours work. While you’re sitting in front of a mirror, the consultant will stand behind you, so she can wrap the drapes round your neck. They start with a couple of ‘base’ colours, which will determine if the more blue based colours (winter and summer), or the yellow based colours (autumn and spring) work best with you.


The drapes that are used. Source

Once they’ve established which half of the colour wheel you fall into, they then use the drapes in pairs, using two very similar shades, but one from each of the two different seasons in your half of the wheel. She will put one on you, then the other, and decide which one looks best of the two, viewing each a few times if necessary. It’s fascinating watching it done on someone else, as it really is obvious which ones look best on them. It’s much easier to see it on someone else than it is to see it on yourself. You might not have noticed that a particular colour works really well on them, but when you see it next to one that doesn’t work so well, I was surprised at how noticeable it was.


Number 12 (delph) is another of my best colours, with 9 (dark blue grey) and 11 (airforce blue) also rating highly

My sister went first, and she fell into the yellow half of the spectrum. She turned out to be an autumn, and the olive green and rust and coral colours really did look absolutely stunning on her. With a few of those draped round her neck, you could really see how well they not only went together, but how much they suited her as well.


For the sake of comparison, my sister. Who will probably hate me for including this photo, sorry Roz!

Next up was my mum, who fell into the other half of the spectrum, with the blue based colours looking better on her. After going through the draping process with her, we established that she was a summer. The summer colours are the more muted of the blue-based colours; the winter colours are much more vibrant. Again, we were all amazed at the difference it made, and how good some of these colours looked on her.


16 (cornflower) and 19 (sea green) also come into my top colours; 15 (sky blue), 17 (hyacinth) and 20 (jade) also come in high

Finally it was my turn. Often, you will share the same season as family members, so it was going to be interesting to see if I matched either of the other two. As seems to be my style, I turned out to be a bit more of a challenge, and it look Lisa a little longer to establish whether I looked better in the blue- or the yellow-based colours. Eventually we settled on the blue-based ones, and went through the draping process again. I turned out to be a summer as well, taking after my mum.


22 (duck egg) and 23 (pastel aqua) – some of my favourite colours to wear – I’m glad they are in my palette!

After we’d all had our seasons established, we also looked at some of the make up that suited our colours, and then moved on to look at the colours in more detail. In this part, Lisa again held up each of the drapes in our season against us, and rated them, depending on which she thought looked best. And again, I was surprised at how easy it was to see what she meant. A colour that had looked great when you were comparing it to one from a different season suddenly didn’t look quite so great when you compared it to one that really did look amazing. She went through each of the 30-odd drapes, giving us a rating for each one, and whether it was a colour we should wear an entire outfit of, or one that was better as just a top, or just worn below the waist.


Another top colour with 26 (plum), 25 (smoked grape) also coming in high, and 27 (amethyst) being one that would be great to wear making up 75% of my outfit – e.g. a coat in this colour but with a different coloured scarf, or a suit, but with a different coloured top

This section was interesting as, although my mum and I had come out the same season, the colours that looked the absolute best on each of us differed – the paler of the summer shades looked best on my mum, while some of the darker ones suited me better.


As you can see, most of my top rated ones tended to be the darker shades, like 31 (burgundy). 32 (cherry) also came in pretty highly.

You get a wallet to take home, which contains 36 swatches of the colours of your season. They are quick to point out though that your colours aren’t just those 36 colours, but a quarter of all colours – when buying clothes (or fabric!) you don’t have to stick just to those colours in your wallet, but should be looking for colours which fit into that colour palette.


34 (rose madder) is another top colour of mine

I found the whole day really interesting and enlightening, and we all really enjoyed it. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone. It’s certainly made me think more about the colours I wear, and has made me pause before buying clothes or fabric. It makes you suddenly realise why an item of clothing you love on someone else and go out a buy might leave you feeling disappointed when you put it on yourself. I still need to go through my wardrobe and sort that out into things which are ‘my’ colours, and things that are not, and then eventually get rid of most of the things that are not, but that is a challenge that I’m not quite ready to take on yet. One of the most challenging things will be cutting out black (winter is the only season in which true black appears), and replacing it with other neutrals such as navy and grey. Not because I love wearing black, but just because it’s so readily available, whereas other colours might not be so much. I think that this is where being a sewist will come in really handy – as people who make our own clothes, we’re not restricted by what colours the fashion industry decides are ‘in season’ and limited to those when we shop. I’m pretty sure I could go out at any given time and pick up more than enough fabrics that are in my colour palette.

It’s also made me realise which colours I don’t wear much of, and probably ought to try a bit more often – I don’t wear a lot of pink at all. I don’t know why. I was never really a ‘pink’ kind of girl, and it’s often deemed as such a girly colour, that because I didn’t love it, I just tended to avoid it completely. But there are a lot of different shades of pink in the summer palette, some of which looked great on me, so I’m definitely going to try and include it in my wardrobe more.


Definitely need to start including these colours in my wardrobe more. Both 28 (cyclamen) and 29 (clover) were rated very highly for me to wear as 50% of an outfit (e.g. a top, jacket, skirt or trousers)

I have made some changes already though – I have ditched my black eyeliner and mascara in favour of navy, and, on the first day I wore those, about 3 people commented on my make up looking nice, so it does seem to work! I am certainly thinking more carefully about what I wear now, and I just need to start sewing myself up a wardrobe in my correct colours!

Some By Hand London Anna dress fitting issues

9 Apr

I have today off work, and was planning on using the time to try and make some headway on my Sew Dolly Clackett dress, for which I’m making a By Hand London Anna. I’ve made an Anna before, and although I love it, I did not get the fit right. Nothing drastic – it could definitely have done with an FBA, but other than that there weren’t really any issues.


I decided that, this time round, I was going to try and get the fit right. I initially thought I’d need to do an FBA, but then I looked again at the measurements, and thought that maybe I could get away without. Last time I made the dress I made US10/UK14, which fitted my measurements – 37 inch bust and 30 inch waist. But at the time, my upper bust measurement was only 34 inches, so I should probably have made a US6/UK10, with an FBA.


But just to complicate matters, I’ve lost quite a bit of weight since then – I now have a 34 inch bust, 27 inch waist, and 33 inch high bust. So, looking at the measurements, and with only an inch difference between my bust and high bust measurements, I thought that a straight US6/UK10 might actually fit. So I traced off the pattern and sewed up a toile. And I’m not really sure what to do with the results.

On first glance, it doesn’t look too bad…fit under and across the bust looks ok:



But there actually seems to be quite a lot of excess fabric across my upper chest:



I can pinch a good couple of inches out to the front:


I’m not sure why this is – it’s not a problem that I noticed having on my last version. I just don’t know where the extra fabric is coming from – if I’d chosen the size based on my upper bust measurement and done an FBA, I’d only have made one size smaller. When I did the fitting course with fit2sew, I didn’t have any issues with needing a hollow/scoop chest adjustment, although maybe that could have changed since I’ve lost weight?

The pleats aren’t sitting exactly where I think they should under my bust either. Ignore my right hand side in this pic, as they seems to have risen up a little, but if you look at where my hand is on the left, my middle finger is at the top of the pleat stitching, and my thumb is on the bottom of my bra, right underneath my bust. I don’t think there should be that much of a gap.


It certainly feels like a better fit when I pull the bodice up slightly so that the pleats sit directly under my bust, but then there’s a good  inch or so excess above my shoulders, although it’s not amazingly clear in this pic. Bizarrely, I’ve also had the same issue recently with two RTW dresses – they’ve always been fine before, but I wore them both recently and spent the whole day each time pulling the dress up at the front, to save from flashing my bra at everyone, but when I did that, the dresses were way too long in the upper bust area. It’s almost like the space between my shoulders and my bust has shrunk!


So, with all the excess fabric across my upper chest, is an FBA what I need? The bodice is quite a good fit across my bust, and under my bust as well. When I’ve realised in the past that I’ve needed an FBA, it’s been when the dress has fitted across my bust, but been too big under my bust, and I’ve had to take in loads of excess at the centre back. The back doesn’t feel too bad on this, but looking at the top picture, maybe there is a bit of excess there:



Those pics also demonstrate another issue in that the shoulder seams are sitting too far back, but that should be easily fixed with a forward shoulder adjustment. The side seams however, do line up ok down my side:


So i’m just trying to work out where I should go from here, and any advice or guidance anyone can give would be much appreciated. do I need an FBA after all? And if so, does anyone have a good method for an FBA on an Anna? I don’t like the idea of adding a bust dart like the FBA BHL did in their sewalong. I was going to try using Alison’s tutorial, although she does say that’s for adding 1.5 inches or more, not sure if it would work for a smaller FBA?  Or do I not need an FBA at all? Is there something else I’m missing?

I’ve decided that I really want to conquer the fit on this. I have to admit, even though I’d decided to fit it properly, and gone to the effort of making a toile, I was half tempted just to say ‘it’s good enough’ and sew it up anyway. Mainly out of lazyness and lack of time and just wanting to get something sewn up. But I know that I wouldn’t be happy with it, and I’m much better off taking my time and doing a proper job, especially as I want to make more versions of this dress, so having a well-fitting pattern will be invaluable. But sometimes I find it hard to make myself slow down and actually take the time to get the fit right, especially when I’m making something as part of a sewalong and therefore have a deadline for getting it finished. But you know what, if I don’t get it finished in time, so what? I’ll still get the dress at some point, and I’ll be much happier if I take the time to make it fit properly. So instead i’m going to turn the fitting into a challenge, and I am determined to conquer it!

A rather special tie

31 Mar

Wahay, a timely blog post! That’s a bit of a rarity around here these days! But I am so chuffed with this latest make that I can’t wait to show you. This post is being fuelled by the latest batch of Marcus’ homemade wine, so if I get a little rambly by the end of it, you know why!

It’s my grandad’s 90th birthday on Wednesday, and he, my parents, my sister and her boyfriend all came up to visit us on Sunday. My sister and my grandad hadn’t yet seen the house (which my grandad was very excited about seeing, he did help me buy it…), and what with it being mothers’ day, and his birthday, we thought it would be a good excuse to all get together at our place. It was a lovely day, so we decided to have our first barbeque as well, and it all went down a storm. Marcus was the master of the BBQ and did an excellent job of keeping everyone well fed! Marcus’ mum came over and joined us as well, and it was the first time our parents had met, but that all went well too :) all in all, a very successful day!

Homemade tie


Master of the BBQ, keeping us all well fed

Master of the BBQ, keeping us all well fed

But it had got to Friday, and I didn’t have anything to give my grandad for his birthday. Not that he really expects anything much, but it’s his 90th, and getting to that age is quite an achievement, so I really wanted to mark the occasion. I wanted to make him something, to make it a bit more special, but I wasn’t entirely sure what. I made him some napkins for Christmas (still unblogged, see what I mean about timely blogging!) and wasn’t sure what else he would find useful. I was discussing this with my colleagues on Friday when one of them suggested that I make him a tie. This had, briefly, crossed my mind before, but for some reason didn’t stick. It was the obvious thing really – he almost always wears a tie, so I knew it would get used, and he takes great pleasure in wearing the one I gave him a couple of Christmases ago when he knows he is going to see me.


I did a quick google, and came across this pattern from Puking Pastilles, which looked great. Although I wasn’t feeling well on Friday, and I had the browser window sitting open for a while, and every time I saw the title of the page, it made me feel very queasy! The pattern looked pretty straightforward, I was just hoping I could get it made in time given that I knew I was busy for pretty much all of Saturday.


I also had the perfect fabric for it in my stash. I bought this fabric when I visited Goldhawk Road with Claire, Daniela and Jenny a few weeks ago. I bought the fabric to make a Zinnia skirt, and wanted 2.5m. But there was 4m left on the bolt and the shopkeeper refused to sell me 2.5. It was £5 a metre and in the end we settled on me paying for 3.5m. But now it seems it was good fortune that I ended up buying more than I needed, as I don’t think I’d have had anything else at home that would have worked as well. The fabric is a Chinese brocade and it’s really silky, fairly thing, and has gorgeous colours that change in the light – it’s green from one direction and pink from another. It also frays like anything and is pretty delicate, so I tried not to handle it more than I had to.


There were just three pattern pieces, and you need one of each in main fabric, lining fabric and lightweight interfacing. All of the pieces are cut on the bias, so choosing a pattern is quite important. The fact that it’s cut on the bias was the one thing that made this make a little tricky – the fabric pieces didn’t hold their shape very well once they were cut, and distorted a bit. I cut the main fabric first, and made sure to line up each of the edges of the pattern pieces along one of the diagonal lines on the fabric. Unfortunately, what I didn’t realise until after I’d cut it was that I actually cut the largest of the three pattern pieces on the bias in the other direction – the grainline arrow was on the crosswise grain rather than the straight grain. This means that the pattern runs in a different direction on this piece, but given that the join between this piece and the next is way up round your neck when you wear it, I figured it didn’t matter too much.


I then cut out the lining, and the interfacing. It wasn’t until I was just cutting out the last piece of interfacing and wondering how, when the lining had distorted slightly from being on the bias, I was going to manage to iron the interfacing to the lining without getting it stuck to something, that I thought that it would have been much more sensible to iron a piece of interfacing onto the fabric before I cut the pieces out. Not only would that have saved my interfacing problem, but it would have saved my fabric from becoming misshapen, and I’d have only had to cut the pattern pieces out once. Lessons for next time!


The tie is constructed by sewing each set of three pieces together, and then sewing the lining to the main fabric at the top and bottom edges. You then turn it right sides out and baste down the long edges, which you then fold in. Due to the now slightly different shapes of my fabric pieces, the basting as a little tricky. My middle pattern piece section ended up quite a bit narrower in one of the fabrics, so I was trying to guide the basting stitches in, while still keeping them in a vaguely straight line. After basting the second side, I realised that the main fabric wasn’t sitting flat, it was slightly off and had ripples in it. So I took out stitching down one of the sides, which took me FORTY MINUTES! To unpick one (admittedly pretty long) row of stitching! Seriously?! There must be a quicker way? Because my main fabric was pretty delicate, and because I didn’t want the edges to fray any more, as then I’d have to make the tie narrower, I had to go very carefully, but even so, that seems like an inordinate amount of time. It took me a whole 3 minutes to re-stitch it, and this time I managed (with a lot more pins) to get it lying flat. I then pressed over the edge of one of the sides, folded the other to the middle, laid the folded over edge over it, pressed it carefully, pinned it a lot, and then used a slipstitch to hand sew the back.


I have to say, the end result looks even better than I thought it would, I’m so pleased with how it turned out! It’s a pretty long tie, despite the fact that the pattern warned that it was quite a short one – I think that must have been my fabric stretching – but other than that, it’s pretty perfect. As a finishing touch, I added a strip of ribbon on the back to tuck the end into. Although that did entail a panicked phone call to my mum first thing on Sunday morning asking if she could bring up some ribbon in the right colour as I realised I didn’t have any that matched. As always, she came through for me :)


So the tie, and the day were a roaring success. The sun shone, everyone approved the house, my parents were impressed with how tidy it was (and with fewer boxes) compared to last time they were here, and my grandad loved the tie and wore it for the rest of the day :) and if I look that good when I get to 90…well, I’ll be delighted!



chinelo bally

Dressmaker| Blogger| Freehand cutter


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