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 🙂

2017: Unblogged!

It’s a fact: 2017 was not a year full of blogging for me.  But that happened for the Best Kind of Reasons!  Because as my health began to improve last year, I suddenly had Choices.

Back when I began this blog, staying home and crocheting on the sofa or maybe doing a short stint of sewing were very often my only choices.  Reading my favourite bloggers and creating a blog of my own was a way for me to still feel connected to the world and part of a community at a time when I was unable to work or socialise, or even go out much at all.  Gradually, as I learned to pace myself and manage my condition it became possible to factor in a few more activities, but I still had many, many days when ‘from the sofa’ was all I could do.

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But lots of things happened last year that helped me move from Illness to Recovery, and I began to find I had the energy to go out and Do Stuff again, without having to spend quite so much time on the sofa in between.  So, YAY – I have been DOING, and Enjoying, but this has often been an ‘either/or’ choice – either I spend my energy crocheting and sewing and blogging, or I spend it going out & doing stuff then resting and not doing anything whilst I recover.  It has been an amazing 12 months for me and I’ve done things that I’d begun to think would never be possible again –  not just the Big Stuff like moving house, but ordinary, day-to-day things like going on a shopping trip or to an evening class.

But I’ve missed sharing my Adventures here with you all and feeling part of this lovely blogging community that we have.  So now that I feel well enough to Do Stuff and write about it, I’d like to start the year by celebrating some of the Wonders I experienced in 2017 that didn’t make it on to the blog!  Beginning with…

BELLY DANCE!  Folks, I have ALWAYS wanted to be a belly dancer, ever since I was a little girl.  I started going to a local class toward the end of 2016, even though at that time I needed someone to drive me there & back and often had to sit out for a lot of the class, then spend 2 or even 3 days In Recovery afterwards.  But I absolutely LOVE it, I have made so many wonderful friends, had SO much fun, and discovered my Inner Dancing Diva!  Not only that but it gives me an excuse to make costumes and dress up: I mean, what’s not to love??  I’ve surprised myself by getting up in public and performing with our troupe and finding that I actually really enjoy it!

Rocking my me-made costume (Top row, far left) at my first ever performance :

In action, performing at an outdoor show last summer

Posing (far right) at our Monday night dance class (pics by Harry Mason, Alanya BellyDance)From Belly Dance to Barefoot dance.  I still need a chauffeur to help me here but I’ve been going to this magical Five Rhythms-inspired dance event most months, and what an amazing crowd of people I’ve met!  (Oh yeah, and I get to dress up some more)Our local weekly Meet & Make Craft group is just the warmest, most fun gang to be in and I couldn’t wish for a more supportive and creative group of friends, I feel SO lucky that this happens right here in our tiny town.YARNDALE!! Yes, I finally got to go, and I met my Crochet SHero Lucy from Attic 24 and visited the famous studio!  Again this was totally thanks to my lovely friends A. and H. (Stars of the Quilt Festival 2016) who looked after me all weekend and made it SO.MUCH.FUN.  Love you gals <3Headdresses!  I have been learning so much about felting, appliqué, and embroidery this last year and making headdresses has given me a platform with which to play with all these different techniques and incorporate all sorts of materials.  I have blogged a few of my finished ‘for sale’ makes, but not really shared the experimental ones I have had so much fun making (and wearing!) for myself along the way.I had a proper, whole week’s holiday in my beloved Glastonbury.  I got to go walking, met up with a friend for the day, visited the Tor and the Chalice Well Gardens, went dancing and even went out to an evening event (I never usually have any energy left by the evening!).  Absolute Magic. Kington Art & Craft Market stall with my lovely pal Delia!  It’s a LONG day and very tiring, but the camaraderie of our fellow stall-holders and the locals who visit us keeps us going, and I am so proud of the fact that we did this.  Another thing that felt impossible just 18 months ago.Crochet clothes!  This has been a Revelation to me – I’ve always envied folk who can knit because I love the idea of me-made jumpers and cardies.  From my first purple alpaca jumper, I was hooked!  I’m still learning as I go along and some things have turned out better than others, but I’ve already completed my first commissioned cardie and my winter wardrobe is looking much funkier this year.L-R: emerald merino jumper, lacy wool/sparkle mix shrug, lacy emerald top with hand-swen beaded fringe Yep, it’s been a wonderful year for me, and I’m feeling hopeful that my health has stabilised enough now that I will be able to continue to take on new projects and be even more creative in 2018.  And write about it all!  Thank you, as always for sharing my Adventures…

Wishing you all a very joyful, amazing year ahead – can’t wait to see what it brings 🙂

Shirred Duvet Sundress

skirtyBehold, the final dress from my recent Makeathon!  If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll already be familiar with my propensity for wearing bedlinen (evidenced here and here) long before the recent Sewing Bee challenge!  I’ve had this single duvet cover – £2 from a charity shop – in my stash for a while, originally thinking I’d use it for a quilt backing.  It’s a reversible job, and I only liked the brown side and didn’t think there would be enough of it to make anything to wear.duvetWhen I saw this fab shirred sundress by Leila of Where The Orchids Grow though, I fancied having a go.  I thought this might be the very thing for the purple batik bought on my recent Birmingham trip, but I wanted to make a practice version first.  When I’d done my measurements, I realised I could cut the brown side of the duvet in half and match up the flowery band from the top and bottom to make a ‘border’ print.sideshot2I didn’t do too badly matching up the pattern on this side, but sadly there wasn’t enough to do the same on the other!

I’ve never done shirring before but it was easy-peasey on Cosmic Lulu.  I soon had the bodice shirred down to the recommended length, a couple of inches above the waistline.  HOWEVER… my duvet cover was made of a cotton/terylene mix, and therefore quite crisp.  When I tried the dress on, the gathered fabric stuck straight out in front of my already-quite-substantial middle, making it look like it was time to Call the Midwife!sideshotAfter much re-thinking, I decided the answer was to keep shirring the bodice until I had the gathers in a more flattering place.  I ended up with 30 lines of shirring all the way around, plus a further 4 along the front only that I tapered in at the side seams to adjust for my sway back.

I also had to make one strap 1/4″ shorter than the other on account of my sloping left shoulder, and then I still needed velcro on the insides to stop them from slipping off!  Although I am much happier with the final dress than the first version, I must admit it’s still not the most flattering shape for me and I don’t think I’ll make another.  That said, it IS a very cool, comfortable, easy dress to wear.  So I’ll definitely be taking it on my hols, just in case the sun should decide to shine.  Plus, I won’t need to take a duvet cover, haha!frontshotWishing you all a sunny 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  🙂