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 🙂

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!


Stashbusting Sewalong 2015 – I’m in!

Stashbusting Sewalong Challenge Button 2015.pngOkay, I KNOW I said I wouldn’t be making any New Year’s resolutions or anything like that, but when I read about EmSewCrazy’s Stashbusting Sewalong on Béa’s blog this week, I couldn’t resist!  I’m as much of a fabric junkie as the next girl, despite my meagre budget and attempts to keep my hoarding under control.  So this is the PERFECT challenge for me!

Given how spectacularly I failed to rise to the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge last year (I sewed NO vintage patterns and ONE vintage fabric), I’m wary of setting my bar too high this time.  I’d really like to actually complete this challenge: not only to ‘clear the decks’ of fabrics that I’ve had for ages, but also because I do pretty much LOVE all the fabrics in my stash and would be so happy to be wearing them instead of sighing over them!

So, here’s my pledge: “I, Sarah Star, commit to using at least 5 fabrics from my stash for dressmaking projects in 2015, and I also commit to not buying any new fabrics until I’ve completed at least 2 projects”  

Anyone else joining in? – Would love to hear your plans! 🙂

WhooHoo! 70s Sweetheart Sundress

front1Yes, Auntie Janis has been at it again!  It’s Gertie’s Sweetheart Sundress (from her New Book for Better Sewing), made with a vintage 1970s terylene that some of you may remember from my Vintage Pattern pledge post.label The fabric came from a local charity shop and was quite faded and worn in places – so much so that I never thought I’d be able to use it for anything except a lining.  But when I saw the Sweetheart Sundress pattern, I thought it might be possible to squeeze this out of the best bits.  So before you ask, yes, it was a sheet, and yes, it had gone a bit off-grain: so as well as having to jigsaw my pattern pieces around the fabric, I also had to do the old ‘thread pull’ technique in order to find a straight-ish edge to use as a grainline guide! grainlines2Overall, it came out rather well and I’m particularly pleased with my pattern-matching efforts on the back – not easy with a pattern repeat of this size, I can tell you!  As the front was ruched I didn’t bother trying to match it, and there was only enough fabric to match one seam on the skirt, so I chose the back one.  Didn’t get it quite right in the final sew, but check out my bodice-skirt alignment, not bad?!patternmatching The lining is also made from cotton sheeting, which gives the terylene a nice bit of body and feels wonderfully cool.  I don’t normally bother lining my summer dresses, but as it was such a fab vintage fabric I really wanted to make something that would be lovely to wear and last a long time. lining Gertie’s pattern came together like a dream, I am SO impressed with her book, not only are the patterns simple to use but the instructions are bang on.  One thing I will take with me for next time, if she tells you to do something a particular way (eg, ‘machine baste the skirt to the bodice’), I reckon it’s because she’s made this for herself and worked out that this is the best and easiest way to do it.  So PAY ATTENTION – Gertie knows best!

Anyway I was so thrilled that for once I didn’t have to worry about altering bust darts and armholes – yay!! – that I didn’t even bother making a toile.  MISTAKE?? – Well, not if I’d thought it through a bit better maybe!  I knew I’d lost a teeny bit of weight since I last took my measurements, but stupidly didn’t re-do them and made the dress (lining and all) using ones I took in January.  Result? – Potential obscenity charges for displaying unseemly amounts of both bra & contents!  For the moment, I’ve just put a tuck in either side at the top and will need to shorten the straps a little, so there’s a bit of ‘tweaking’ still to do. back1 However, that hasn’t stopped me from wearing it out not once but TWICE already, I absolutely love this crazy fabric paired with the retro-style pattern 🙂 sillypose So when I’ve quite finished striking silly poses, I may well make another!

June Delights

towerhouseCrickWell I wished for a sunny solstice month, and for once we really did get one, didn’t we?!  I don’t know about you, but I do find that my energy increases when there’s plenty of sunshine around, so it’s been a good month for me…

…finally cutting into some of my vintage fabric stash to make myself a summer dress (more soon!)…70sSundressWIP …NEW SHOES!!!  OK, not that exciting for most people, I know, but the last time I had anything other than replacing-essentials-that-have-worn-out shoes (ie winter boots & wellies) was THREE YEARS ago, so excuse me for getting just a little bit excited! newshoes …just THE most magical, wonderful solstice weekend party at my lovely friend Jas’s place…solsticeparty …followed by a couple of days ‘glamping’ near the Usk Valley…cwmduglamping1mandala madness!mandalamadness   …which inspired a funky new house number for my front door, finally, after losing the outside one to the big storm back in February…4ontheDoor Lovely, sunshiney, energising June.  Now for a glorious July!


Vintage Sewing Pattern (and fabric!) Pledge

Vintage sewing pattern pledgeThis month, the super-talented Marie over at A Stitching Odyssey has thrown down an irresistible challenge to all us vintage sewing pattern lovers – to make 2014 the year we get those patterns out of the stash and turn them into finished projects!

So I am pledging not only to make at least three of my vintage patterns this year, but also to use at least three of my vintage fabrics (not necessarily on the same projects, though).  My first picks will most likely be these Simplicity dresses from the 60s and 70s, given to me by my mum.  Luckily we’re the same size, so no major pattern redrafting required!70s simplicityAnother pattern I’d love to make up is this funky pant suit, very similar in fact to one my mum had in a deep plum worsted wool back in the early 70s.  Cool or what??70s PracticalAnd then there’s this baby, which belonged to my gran.  I found out recently it’s quite a famous Vogue original from 1964 – and yes, that really is Jean Shrimpton modelling.  I’ve had it for maaaany years, so maybe it’s about time I got it out of the envelope and gave it a go!50s VogueDo you like my 70s floral cotton/terylene in the background there??  Sadly it’s a bit faded but I’m thinking of using it to line a dress, hmm, not sure if that counts towards my pledge though!  How about this, a small piece of psychedelic synthetic jersey from the 70s?  I thought I’d use it to make the front panel of this 90s lace-up dress.  (Anything early 90s is now officially ‘vintage’, by the way – see this post from Gertie.  I’m not sure how I feel about that, myself!)70s silky with patternI also have this fabulous 70s soft cotton lawn that I’ve been wanting to make up for ages.  I only have a scant 2 ¾ yards though – I’d love to make my mum’s maxi dress with it but it’s only 35” wide, too narrow for the skirt.  Any suggestions or ingenious solutions gratefully received!70s green paisley with patternAnd finally I thought I’d leave you with my ultimate 70s fabric gem, gifted to me by my lovely friend Helen.70s pixie fabricand just to prove I’m not all talk, this really did become a (fancy) dress…pixie party dressAre any of you joining in with the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge this year?  I’d love to hear about your ideas for makes!