Makes & mends

Aloha!  It’s been a busy couple of weeks in my craft room, with several small projects going on as well as the long-haul Mending Challenge.  One of these ‘small projects’ has turned out bigger than expected so I think I’ll give it a post all to itself at some point!  But here are some of my recent activities…A belly dance coin headdress for my dancing pal L. who wanted something in red and gold.  I’ll be honest, when this coin trim arrived from eBay I was not overly impressed.  It looked VERY cheap and plastic-y and wouldn’t really hang the way I wanted it to.  However with a bit of fraffing around I got it looking OK.  Happily once on the wearer the overall effect is pretty good and L. was pleased, so all’s well that ends well.  (But I shan’t be buying any more!)I made myself a pin cushion!  I loved the last one so much that I decided I deserved one of my very ownI’ve found the felt-ball chimney is handy for keeping my needles from disappearing whilst I’m sewingThe flowers still look a bit triffid-like mind you, but check out the funky wheel arches!  I confess that the Mending Pile hasn’t had much attention these last couple of weeks, except for doing a make-over on a charity shop shirt I found a while back.  Someone somewhere had added this rather hideous lace cuff to it; part of a costume for an AmDram production of The Crucible, perhaps??Meanwhile the manufacturers hadn’t helped by attaching a panel of dirty-looking lace along the button band (on the left in the pic).  Offending lace removed (as shown on the right), it’s actually a rather fine, Channel-your-Inner-Stevie-Nicks-type shirt and I look forward to wearing it when things warm up a little.  Job’s a good ‘un!And speaking of charity shops, if you live in the Hereford area or are visiting, I can recommend a trip to the fabulous Rose Tinted Rags, run by local charity Echo and packed full of fabrics, trims, threads, patterns, you name it – it’s a sewist’s dream!  A friend and I went recently and I bagged 3.5m of Liberty lawn for £5 & various other bits including some beautiful space-dyed perle cotton embroidery threads for just 75p each.  (Don’t tell everyone though…!)Wishing you all a very colourful & creative weekend 🙂

More Mending: silk harem pants

If my first week of Project Mending was all about Quick Hits, then last week was definitely the complete opposite!This is one of two big, frayed, worn-through-fabric rips in THE most gorgeous pair of vintage silk harem pants, given to me by my lovely friend J. with the words ‘you might be able to do something with them or use the fabric’.  I think you can probably guess which rather vital four-way seam we are looking at here… yes: Oh Dear.  But folks, this garment is TOO fabulous to be cut up.  I had to at least have a go at repairing it!

First job was to trim away all those frayed edges on the main rip to see what’s going on.  The silk is fairly worn in places and it’s quite fine anyway, so there’s nothing much to get your needle into. Next I tested some scraps of iron-on interfacing in different weights on the inside of the pockets to find one that wouldn’t affect the drape too much.  I found a very lightweight vilene did the job, and even small pieces stayed fused to the fabric. There were also a few holes here and there in the fabric as well as the tears.  Some little squares of interfacing ironed on underneath the small holes stopped them from getting any worse and allowed me to sew them up without making huge puckers in the fabric

The finished result isn’t perfect when you look close up, but on a pair of baggy silk pants it really doesn’t notice too much!For the bigger tears,  I cut strips of interfacing about 1/2″ wide and ironed them one piece at a time along each of the ripped edges, with some scrap fabric underneath to protect my ironing board cover.  This was rather painstaking I have to say, and if I didn’t LoVE these pants so much I’m not sure I’d have had the patience!I did consider using the sewing machine to do the seam, but it was one of those tears that kind of travels out into the fabric and I decided it would look much neater if I did the whole thing by hand.  First I did some tiny backstitches on the inside to re-attach the fabric to the original seam allowanceThen for the seam itself and its ‘travel-out’ tear I worked from the right side and used a little catch-stitch to close up the torn edges.  Working into the interfacing gave me something stable to sew into, and also prevented the fabric from fraying any further.A bit of a press and some steam, and Ta-Dah!I’m not claiming this to be a ‘couture’ repair, nor that my method is the best; there are some bits of white interfacing visible if you look close, and the mend has puckered the fabric a little.  But y’know what? – I’m OK with that.  You can’t really see any of it once the pants are on.  I had to alter the bottom cuffs as well, and I’m toying with the idea of dropping the waistband as my [ahem] Repaired Seam Area is still rather low.  So it’s been quite a bit of work, but overall I  have to say it’s been worth it. ‘cos getting to wear these instead of consigning them to the scrap bag makes me REALLY HAPPY!!Wishing you all a vibrantly silky kinda week 🙂

Mending my ways

There’s something lurking in the corner of my sewing room… something big and scary, that just keeps on growing… readers of a nervous disposition, look away now!That, dear friends, is my Mending & Alterations pile.  I know. But hey, I’m not alone in this, right?  I mean, who wants to replace zips and take up hems when you could be making felt caravans, or crocheting a funky cardie, or, or… doing the dishes…. anything else, really!

However: last week I put on my Brave Head and actually sorted through this humungous pile.  Some of my very favourite old clothes emerged, as well as some lovely things that have been passed on by friends, most just needing a bit of attention and then WhooHoo, I could be wearing them!  So in order to kick-start my Sew-Jo this year I’ve decided to get down to it and CLEAR THE PILE, one thing at a time.  I shall post my progress here to celebrate, and if you too are scared to look at your M&A Pile then I hope it will encourage you to take heart, join with me, and get stuck in!

So this first week I have tackled the ‘quick-hits’.  I figured it would be encouraging to start with simple jobs where it was obvious what needed doing and not too time-consuming to do it, then I could enjoy the reward of seeing things come off the pile and into my wardrobe…

This beautiful soft viscose skirt was passed on by a friend and just needed a few inches chopping off the bottom to make it me-sized.  It had a raw-edge finish rather than a hem originally, so a double round of zig-zag stitching was all it took and ta-dah – New skirt!

One of my very fave winter skirts, this black corduroy number suffered during my ‘Illness Expansion’ when I ripped the fabric around the zip trying to get into it.  A couple of strips of fusible interfacing and a bit of hand-sewing (and yes, a certain amount of weight loss since then!) and I’m so happy to be wearing it again.I picked up this T-shirt in a chazza because I loved the colour & the neckline, but it was too long on me.  I did a chop and thought I’d use Cosmic Lulu’s trusty decorative stretch stitch to turn up the hem (as seen here and here).  Alas, not all jerseys are created equal and it stretched out of shape horribly.  I switched to an overlock stitch but the damage was done and no amount of steam could save her…  Ah well: it cost £2 and it’s still wearable!Now for this week’s brain-teaser.  I love wearing this summer tunic/dress (bought years ago from Machynlleth’s premier chazza, affectionately known locally as ‘the Dog Shop’); however, due to the obscenely low neckline, it can only be worn with something underneath it.  Which means I seldom wear it, because who needs a vest when it’s actually warm, and who wants a summer top when it’s cold enought to need a vest??  You see my dilemma?  Also it has these weird unflattering ties that sit right under the bust.Solution: Cut the ties off, chop off the widest parts of them at each end & sew these together to make a fairly stable ‘modesty panel’, then catch-stitch this by hand to the base of the neckline.  It’s still low-cut but you can no longer see what make of bra I wear.  Result!What a great start – four things off the pile in an afternoon, and I’ve already worn two of them!  Not so scary after all, huh?

Wishing you all a ‘To Boldy Sew’ kinda weekend 🙂

Two-for-One T-shirt Dress Makeover

maxidressHello there!  How’s your summer progressing? – Mine was going well, til I came down with a hideous cold and missed most of June!  But in between coughing fits and unspeakable snottiness, I’ve been sewing like a DEMON and I’ve got loads to share with you!  Starting with this, a rather-too-maxi T-shirt dress that I picked up in a charity shop for just £3.  As well as being tripoverly long for yours truly, the weight of that skirt made this cotton jersey pull around the least flattering parts of my middle.  So I set to work on it with Cosmic LuludressThat’s better!  All I did was chop it off at a length that still allowed me to bend down and do up my sandals decently, then turn up the hem and use one of the stretch stitches around the bottom.  I actually went for the same decorative stitch that I used on the purple ponte skater rather than the twin needle.  This stitch has a lot of stretch in it, and finishes the edge off neatly without the need for overlocking, etc.  Great for lazy sewists like me who can’t be bothered to change the needle!

And speaking of lazy… how’s this for a simple way to transform the chopped-off length into a skirt?  You will need: one elasticated waistband from a worn-out pair of PJ bottoms; lots of pins; five minutes or so of overlocking, and a puff of steam:CaptureWhoo-Hoo!  Funky little stretch mini-skirt!  Probably my ‘Most worn’ garment this last week as it seems to go with every T-shirt I own.skirt

Even for a slow-sewin’ gal like me this only took an afternoon and I’m very pleased to have two quick, cheapie wardrobe additions.  Just goes to show, sometimes the old ‘don’t throw that out, it might come in useful’ approach really does reap rewards!

Wishing you all a double-whammy kinda week  🙂

 

Day Trip to Fabric Heaven!

goodiebag

Last year, my friend Mary and I planned to go on an indulgent, fabric-lovers day trip to Birmingham to visit the famous Rag Market and The Fancy Silk Store…. and it didn’t happen, for various reasons.

This year – IT DID!!!  Last weekend, we boarded the train with our sewing plans and yardage requirements and off we went!

Seriously, if you’ve never visited the Fancy Silk Store and you have even the slightest inkling of a Fabric Addiction, I urge you to go.  It is literally floor-to-cieling stacked with fabrics, on every floor!

Ooh, SO hard to resist going crazy and doubling my fabric stash in an afternoon!  But, I had a budget, I had specific projects in mind, and I DID manage to be fairly restrained.  I swooned over the batiks though, and first up was this soft, lightweight beauty, destined (I hope) to become the Kate & Rose Giselle Dressgreen&yellowbatikBut I couldn’t stop there…. this one has a bit more body and I think will make a nice strappy sundress.  (Possibly with shirring, if I’m feeling ambitious?)purplebatikThen over the road in the Rag Market, while M. was off buying gorgeous curtaining for her new pad, I spotted this fabulous, 70s-wallpaper-print pin cord.  Aha!  The very thing I’ve been waiting for to make this vintage 70s overdress for the winter.  See? – it’s all part of the plan, honest…cordAll in all it was a Grand Day Out and I think we may have to make this into an annual pilgramage.  And did I stay within my budget?  Weeellll… so hard to be restrained, plus y’know the Giselle dress requires elastic, so I had to buy a metre which put me over budget by….stashtastic…25p!

Wishing you all a Fabric-tastic Friday 🙂

 

Cosmic Lulu has landed!

cosmic luluSOooooo…. remember how I reported a while back that my trusty ancient Singer, Auntie Janis, was really beginning to feel her age?  – People, I bought myself a NEW SEWING MACHINE!!!  Say hello to the Viking Husqvarna E20, my new best friend!  She can do overlocking!  She has a range of stretch stitches!  She even has a built-in needle threader!  And yes OK I know, these things come as standard on today’s basic machines, but for me even being able to turn the stitch length adjuster and have something happen is a revelation!  And I thought ‘tension’ was just something you felt when you were top-stitching a neckline and your thread snapped for the third time…

I wanted a sewing machine that would be funky and versatile and just keep on going.  After much research, I opted for the Viking over a Singer and so far she’s been awesome, so I have named her in honour of Komet Lulu, the uber-cool bass player with Electric Moon!  I have it on good authority from a friend who’s seen them live that Lulu can throw out a mind-altering bass line with one hand whilst rolling an herbal cigarette with the other: ‘Nuff said.

I’ve been making patchwork!  And applique! And yes that is another Lady Skater dress you can see in the background!  All to soon be revealed, once BT fix my bloomin’ internet connection…

Wishing you a very cosmic week! 🙂

Yes, I’m wearing a sheet

and the last time I had my photo taken in one, it had holes cut out for eyes and I was probably about seven (and there may have been a pumpkin lantern involved as well)!Sheet2

But after a bit of fiddling, I managed to sort out the fit of the sleeves on the Simplicity 2174 and I must say, I’m rather pleased.  I’m particularly happy with the fit of the skirt, I was a bit dubious about the pockets (with my tum I don’t need any extra bulk in that area!) but I think they look pretty good.  In fact I’ve grown quite attached to my ‘Charity Shop Blue’ sheet version, even though it’s only machine basted together and there are some wrinkly seams here and there.  I think you can see where…    Sheet1

So yesterday, I started working on the dress itself!  I spent hours jiggling the pattern pieces around my scanty length of fabric, but after making some sacrifices to the Goddess of Sleeves (again!),ShortSleeve I have my pieces cut out and am ready to start stitching.  I’m very excited to be finally making a dress from this fabric, I absolutely LOVE it and the contrast fabric I’ve used for the facings (which you might recognise from here) goes with it perfectly.  It’s all looking very pink in the sewing room at the moment!CuttingTimeRight, that’s enough for today, I’m off to watch the Sewing Bee prelude show now – Yay!

 

First sew of the year

For the past week I’ve been getting stuck in to making a muslin for my first sewing project of 2015, the Simplicity 2174 ‘Amazing Fit’ dress, which I’m planning to make as part of my Stashbusting Sewalong pledge.pattern&fabric

I’ve had this gorgeous piece of Jenean Morrison fabric for almost FOUR years, and always thought it wold make a fabulous smart-casual dress.  Originally I was going to go for the Colette Laurel, but shift dresses are proving a pain to fit on me since my weight gain and body-shape changes, and after two frustratingly disastrous muslins last year I gave up and the fabric went back in the stash!  It’s been there so long, I actually forgot I only had 2½ yards (WHY didn’t I buy more??), so I’m going to have to be a bit creative with my fabric layout if I want to squeeze this dress out of it!  But never fear!  I have some lovely pink remnants in my stash that I can use for the facings and pockets, haha!triallayout

Now, I’ve been reading good things about these Amazing Fit patterns over at the Curvy Sewing Collective lately, so I thought I’d give this one a go.  I must say that up until today, I was REALLY pleased with the way the fit was going.  I graded the D-sized bodice pieces from a 16 at the neck/shoulders to a 20 at the waist and have only made a few minor alterations.  I took out a small amount at the top of the side seams (so as not to repeat my Sweetheart Sundress issues!), took ½” out of the bodice length and dropped the bust apex by 3/4″.  Overall I was very happy with the fit of the bodice, and the skirt fit beautifully out of the packet, with no alterations needed – whoohoo!  I was almost beginning to think I could dispense with those pesky 1″ seam allowances when I cut the actual dress from my skimpy bit of fabric.

HOWEVER.  Today was Sleeve Day.  Oh dear.  Everything was going so well…  I always have problems with sleeves!  Too tight all round, too much gathering (which is meant to be ‘ease’) at the top, and now my amazing-fit bodice pulls across the top of the chest.  Sigh.  Tomorrow’s another day…sleevesArgh

I’m not sure I can face re-drafting and cutting another bodice for the muslin, so I’m going to try to fiddle with the seam allowances and see if I can make a bit more room in the armscye that way.  But those sleeves will have to be wider when I make the real thing!

Wish me luck 🙂  I’ll let you know how I get on soon!