Fabric Shopping

We have a pretty good choice of fabric shops here where I live in Chichester.

  • C & H Fabrics is a chain based in the South and South East of England and stocks fabric, patterns, yarn and haberdashery.
  • Clothkits are based in The Hornet in a converted pub and if you don’t know about the company the website is worth a look to learn about their story. As well as fabric, yarns and haberdashery they run regular courses and the shop is home to Maria Pulley who is a brilliant dress designer. I’ve done a machine embroidery course and another entitled Professional Techniques for Dressmakers run by Maria. I really enjoyed both. I was very enthusiastic about continuing at home with the machine embroidery but the specially purchased darning foot has never been out of the packet. Another challenge for the list.
  • The Eternal Maker is based in Terminus Road, an industrial estate near the railway station. Their cavernous premises houses a very large collection of fabrics, patterns, yarn, haberdashery and a lot of buttons – they also run The Button Company. Their coffee shop serves really good cakes!

Although I do prefer to buy fabric in a shop where I can see and feel exactly what it’s like, I do also buy online and have had recent successes with purchases from Clothspot, Tissu Fabrics (huge range of jersey fabrics) and Raystitch.

I spotted this denim top on Net-a-Porter. I don’t buy clothes from them, I was just idly browsing the web to try and re-stock the fake tan my sister bought me for my birthday last year and it was the only place that had it! I have to say their packaging is gorgeous if rather extravagant. Back to the point, I decided the outrageously expensive top was not dissimilar to this Cynthia Rowley pattern for Simplicity which I have made up before so mounted a search for denim/chambray fabric and came across Sherwoods Fabrics for the first time. They have an amazing range of denim as well as a good selection of other fabrics. Definitely worth a look, although I’ve not ordered anything yet.

Simplicity 2192

Kyrie of kyrie_in_kalamityland has just bought some lovely dark blue gabardine from Calico Laine for £5.99 a metre and it looks like there are some very reasonably priced fabrics on there.

I am also hankering after this fabric from the Village Haberdashery when it comes back into stock and, having checked up on current availability (still Coming Soon), I found this double gauze which I think looks rather fun. I’ve just been working with this type of fabric so I know it makes up well despite its tendency to fray.

Have a great weekend!


One fabric … two projects

I had already drafted this post in my head when I read this one from Lesley King where she explains at the end how she likes to wear clothes to work that match the theme of her meetings. It sounds like she has the perfect job for this and her meetings certainly sound more interesting than the ones I go to!

Having said that, one of my many work activities involves racing yachts. Not actually racing them myself as I know pretty much nothing about actual sailing (other than it makes me feel a bit queasy) but I do know a lot about sailing regattas and organising groups of sailors to crew the yachts! Getting them all together in the same place at the same time with the right kit is always a challenge (like herding cats someone once suggested).

I spotted this fabric in C & H Fabrics in Chichester and decided it was a perfect choice. When I showed it to my boss his response was that it would “make nice cushions” so I decided to make him some. I’m not entirely sure whether he thought the fabric wasn’t suitable for a skirt but he won’t be wearing it so it doesn’t really matter!

Boat fabric

I was going to try it out with Tilly’s Delphine pattern but decided that I didn’t want to break the pattern up too much with a waistband so went for something very simple and stuck with the tried and tested McCall’s 3830 which I remembered to cut a bit longer than last time. For a bit of a change I decided to add in-seam pockets which I’ve only ever tried once before on a dress which turned out to be a disastrous sack-like shape and was never worn. I do love pockets!

McCalls 3830

I traced off a pocket pattern from an existing skirt but having sewn them in I realised they were far too big.  Rather than unpick everything I managed to reduce the size in situ with some careful cutting and re-stitching. I used the skirt fabric for the pocket bags because I didn’t have enough of the spotty lining fabric but next time I think I will try using a lighter weight fabric. I’ll also move the pockets up a tiny bit to take account of my short arms! I wish I’d used a more robust interfacing in the skirt facing as it tends to fold over and crease at the waist but it’s not a major issue.  I used bias binding for the hem again as I enjoyed the process last time.  It was great to have something new Me-Made to wear yesterday.

As for the cushions, I kept them very simple with an envelope back. This does use up a bit more fabric but avoids the need for a zip. The main problem here was that the boats appear on the fabric the right way up, sideways and upside down (the last two are not ideal positions for a boat).  Because I decided to squeeze three cushions out of the fabric one of them only has capsized boats on the front!


I washed the fabric before using it for the skirt. It did fade slightly in places but I managed to use that area up in the pocket bags. I didn’t bother with pre-washing for the cushion covers.

Morsbag 16

The Morsbag Challenge has been a bit neglected recently so last night I made number 16 which leaves four more to make. These are all going to be from another striped fabric which was an IKEA purchase destined to make a long cushion for a garden chair which never came to be. Two of the bags are already allocated so I will just have three more to give away (including the one above – unless I decide to keep it for myself).


Bank Holiday Sewing Fest

As I had the house to myself over the Bank Holiday weekend I spent some lovely uninterrupted time at the sewing machine.

The spotty skirt is finished.  I’m very glad I decided to line it because it has given it more body and it now hangs much better.  I always find that sitting at my desk all day in a skirt lined with a satin-type fabric seems to put too much strain on the back seam and the fabric starts to pull at the stitches.  On the last couple of skirts I have added a strip of satin ribbon, stitched along either side of the seam line, and this has definitely ‘spread the load’ and made a difference.  I’ve done it again on this skirt just to be on the safe side.

I also decided to finish the hem with bias binding partly because I had cut it slightly too short and partly because the fabric had a tendency to fray rather drastically.  I used this tutorial which was very helpful because I’ve never been sure how to finish the ends on bias binding and this worked perfectly.  I know the grey lining and binding don’t really match the fabric but the lining was already cut out for another project so it saved a lot of time.  I find it is much easier to hand sew the hem using the binding and it does give a really neat finish.  The two layer construction of the fabric meant that I could just catch the inner layer so no stitching shows on the outside.

Next up was yet another Coco top.  I mentioned the fabric in a previous post – a ponte Roma from Clothspot.  When I came to use it it was a lot thinner than I had realised so I decided against the funnel neck and just went for the round neck version.  I’m not crazy about the fabric and the stretch is minimal so it is a bit of a wriggle to get out of it!  I’m sure it will be a useful basic though.

Black Coco

Last, but most definitely not least, the Brighton Pavilion dress (Butterick See & Sew B5447) is finished!  It took no time at all once I got on with it and I absolutely love it.  I’ve just noticed this photograph makes the hem look like it slants but it definitely doesn’t.  The princess seams which are just visible in the first picture have blended in pretty well and the dress is lined in a lovely fine lawn which is really comfortable to wear.  We have a party to go to on the 30th and this will be the perfect party frock!  I’m so glad I’ll get a chance to wear it during Me-Made-May.

I’ve nearly finished another skirt with a nautical theme but that will be the subject of a separate post.

The Torture That Is Unpicking

I always avoid unpicking as I absolutely hate doing it so why I embarked on what I am about to describe I do not know!

Some while ago I made a Coco top in an unsuitable (but lovely and soft) jersey fabric from Ditto in Brighton. It was far too thin and floppy and the funnel neck just wouldn’t stand up in the proper fashion.  Although it doesn’t look too bad in the photograph below it drooped within five minutes of putting it on.

I’d put it away in a drawer because I couldn’t bear to send it to the charity shop and last night I decided I would try and remove the funnel piece and re-sew the neckline. This involved unpicking not only the seam but an additional line of topstitching – all in a miniscule stretch stitch which had embedded itself in the fabric! Halfway through I wished I’d never started but by then I was at the point of no return. After what seemed like hours I achieved my aim, although there were a couple of tiny holes where I’d gone through the fabric rather than the thread.

Thankfully I hadn’t trimmed the seam originally so I was able to turn under a reasonable amount in order to hide the holes and create a new neckline.

From the outside it looks reasonably OK, although I’d forgotten how thin the fabric is and an appropriate underwear choice is essential. I think it might be more suitable for layering.

 Before After

Although the intensive unpicking activity has made the already annoying pain in my neck and shoulder worse at least it gives me an additional item for Me-Made-May as I’m beginning to run out of options! W is off to the HowTheLightGets In festival at Hay-on-Wye today so, although I’ll miss him, I’ve got a free weekend to spend at the sewing machine!

Glittering Prizes

W has been on a winning streak recently. Last week he responded to a competition on Twitter resulting in two tickets to see The Rehearsal at the Chichester Festival Theatre (very good) and on Saturday night we finally enjoyed the benefits of his successful raffle ticket purchase at the Transitions Chichester  Fair last year – a dinner for six prepared and delivered to our door by the chefs, Anita and Julia.  The menu for the evening was :

Spinach, pea and mint soup with bread rolls

Lamb tagine

Vegetable tagine

Spicy chickpeas

Couscous with lemon and raisins

Rhubarb crumble with vanilla custard


Everything was locally sourced and delicious. The flour for the bread rolls came from the mill at the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum. All I had to do was lay the table, heat up the soup and put the crumble in the oven!  Oh, and buy the Prosecco! It was a real treat.

We kept with the local theme and invited our neighbours to share the meal which was lovely. There was so much food the leftovers are being served up tonight.

I had intended to finish the spotty skirt to wear on Saturday night but thankfully saw sense at about 6.00 pm and despite my previous decision to restrict the wearing of too many bright colours together I went for this combination!

Spotty Skirt New Outfit

Spots did make an appearance at the theatre. I made this skirt a while ago with fabric from Clothkits in Chichester. It has a lovely red lining to match the stag’s specs but I made it far too short for daytime wear so it is restricted to evenings with black tights!  This fabric has featured on Tilly and the Buttons but I did make mine first!

Stag Skirt Stag Fabric

Looking at Tilly’s version has reminded me that I had planned to try her Delphine pattern from Love at First Stitch. Maybe with this needlecord?

IMG_1886 IMG_1887

It is Kyrie from kyrie_in_kalamityland’s birthday today. One of her early birthday presents was a sewing machine and she’s already made a Coco top! I’d planned to buy her Love at First Stitch but she beat me to it so I have given her Fashion with Fabric from the Great British Sewing Bee to add to her sewing book library.

Kyrie's Present

Cup cake themed gift wrapping!

Zip Perfection

This week’s make is progressing well and after the last rather poorly executed concealed zip insertion this one went in reasonably well. However, compared with Karen from didyoumakethat?, my efforts are nothing! The care and attention to detail she has put into the zip insertion for her beautiful red lace dress are pretty impressive.

Spotty Skirt Spots

The spotty double gauze fabric from Clothkits tends to fray a lot so I’ve been finishing the seams off quite carefully by folding the edges under and using a zig zag to hold everything together. I might post a photo of the inside at the end if it looks presentable enough! The fabric isn’t as see-through as I originally thought but I’m still going with a lining because I think the gauzy nature of the fabric will catch on tights and stop the skirt from moving freely. A happy discovery was that I already had a lining cut out from this pattern which I hadn’t used so that will save some time. I experimented with pinning up the hem last night because I cut the pattern a bit shorter than I meant to so needed to be sure that it was going to be wearable and decent!

I’m still on course with my Me-Made-May pledge. Before the temperature plummeted today I was able to wear this dress. It is the same pattern as the infamous Brighton Pavilion frock but is showing signs of wear having been a favourite for several summers. The fabric came from C & H Fabrics in Chichester and is not a typical choice for me but it is very pretty and goes well with several of my cardigans which makes it quite versatile.

Floral Dress Floral Dress detail

C & H Fabrics currently have a window display showcasing some fabrics by our local famous dress designer and founder of Red or Dead, Wayne Hemingway. The images on their website really don’t do the fabrics justice and the Tulip design is very tempting. I shall have to buy some so I can post a decent image of it.

My latest fabric purchase is from Raystitch. I found this organic cotton denim on their site a while ago but it was out of stock.  I was keen to make another denim skirt in a neutral colour and discovered it was available again. It is lovely and soft but seems very robust. I’m thinking of trying a new pattern as an alternative to the last denim skirt – perhaps this one from Hot Patterns – but may end up sticking with what I know works. I think this is another fabric that needs to be washed before use in case of shrinkage.

No more Morsbags created over the last few days.  I’d like to get another couple finished by the weekend as I have potential recipients in mind.

Life Laundry Weekend

I was distracted from sewing this weekend by some cupboard tidying. My linen cupboard is now so organised that I was almost tempted to take a photograph of the lovely neat pile of towels and sheets! I also cleared out half the book cupboard and now have three black sacks of paperbacks to donate to the charity shop. I’ve been hanging onto them for years but I know I will never read them again and it is great to have cleared a space.

This led me on to a quick tidy up in my sewing room. Nothing got thrown away but I did discover this spotty fabric which I had completely forgotten about. It came from Clothkits in Chichester and is a block printed double gauze fabric. It is very lightweight and also very see-through so I will definitely be lining it.

The actual fabric is a bit blotchier than it looks on the website and there are some unprinted areas which will need to be avoided. I’m not really sure why I bought it but at that price I’m not wasting it!

I will be making a very simple skirt to show off the spots to best advantage and this McCall’s pattern is a favourite because it can be made up very quickly. In fact after the first ever episode of The Great British Sewing Bee I actually timed myself making this skirt to see if I could do it within the time limit they were given to complete an A-line skirt – it think it was two hours. I did manage it, without a lining, and it was wearable. However, it did make me realise that I would never want to take part in any competitive sewing!

This is my Me-Made-May item today. It is the above pattern in striped linen which is lined but unfortunately this makes no difference to the amount it scrunches up after a day at my desk. I was also somewhat optimistic about the weather today and ditched the tights – which I’m rather regretting now.

 McCalls 3830 Striped Linen Skirt

One more Morsebag (number 15) made last thing yesterday because I felt bad about not sewing anything all weekend. It isn’t really this tiny, just folded up, but I thought a small version could be rather fun.

 Morsbag 15

Thanks for the lovely and encouraging comments about the unfinished Brighton Pavilion dress. I won’t let you down.


Blog Envy

I follow quite a few other craft, sewing and food blogs and I often see things that make me realise how limited my skills are! This bag from Trish Stitched is absolutely fabulous. She is so talented. I really love the clock fabric lining.

You should also check out Tilly’s polka dot version of her new Arielle skirt if you haven’t seen it already. I really like the way the lining is incorporated in this pattern.

My new denim skirt is finished and I am wearing it today with this shirt from Topshop. I’m only showing the shirt because looking at its construction has convinced me that I could make something similar from the stretch shirting I bought the other day.  I was disappointed because the concealed zip in the skirt didn’t go in as well as previous ones but it is amazing what some serious pressing and steaming can achieve and hopefully most people don’t study one’s rear end too closely! I was going to line the skirt but decided to try it without as I can always add one later. So far it is proving very comfortable so I think I’ll leave it as it is.

So far I’m ahead of my Me-Made-May pledge as I’ve worn something handmade every day and the above denim skirt is my make for this week. I wore the grey, part cashmere, top yesterday and I am very pleased with it. Another comfortable make.

Grey Top Finished

I also managed to make four more Morsbags on Tuesday evening (and very early morning on Wednesday) so I was able to give them away that day. Only six more to go.  Here’s the latest batch.

Morsbags 11, 12, 13 & 14

All this is really a distraction activity to avoid having to finish the Brighton Pavilion dress ……

Unfinished Dress

I think I might be more inspired if the weather warmed up.

Too Bright for Comfort!

So far I’ve stuck with my Me-Made-May pledge.  I’m not planning to photograph every outfit (and certainly not me wearing them!) but I will mention the highlights and the less successful ones.

I was very happy in the newly repurposed top with the patch pockets mentioned in a previous post and ended up wearing this on Saturday and Sunday which was rather lazy.   It is very comfortable despite the slightly too-tight sleeves which I think are a result of me forgetting halfway through making it that the seam allowance on Hot Patterns is only ⅜ rather than ⅝.


Yesterday was a different story. The sun came out so I decided to pair the new bright green Coco with a floral skirt (Simplicity 2655). Far too much colour all in one go for me and I couldn’t wait to get home and change. This Coco top has not been an entirely happy make. The fabric is a very ‘springy’ jersey which kept curling up at the edges and I don’t really like the feel of it. I had decided to omit the side slits which was a mistake and it just wasn’t the right length. Despite the horrors of unpicking the microscopic stretch stitch that my machine produces I decided to take the plunge so the top is now shorter with side splits (tricky having already trimmed the seams). I think it will be OK in future without the floral accompaniment!

I am playing it safer today with an old favourite from Simplicity 2192. I love this shape and the fabric is a stretch shirting (not suggested on the list of recommended fabrics) which is really comfortable. I did try making it in white linen but somehow it resembled something a dentist might wear so that went to the charity shop!

I showed this next top in its unfinished state in my last post and it was completed on Saturday.   Another unpicking session took place, this time on the sleeves due to less than straight stitching, which resulted in a tiny hole. I was going to try and repair it but in the end I just chopped off the sleeve hem and started again and in fact the new sleeve length is better.  It does look a bit boring on the hanger but I’m looking forward to wearing it because the fabric is so lovely and soft.

 Grey Top Finished

My skirt today is another old favourite (Simplicity 2343 minus the frilly edge to the pockets) which is showing signs of wear so last night I cut out a new version. I don’t normally wash fabric before I use it but I wanted to be sure this denim from Clothspot didn’t shrink or fade too much.  It was fine, just not quite as crisp as it was originally.

I had an unplanned visit to West Dean at the weekend. W, my partner, went out on his bike while I was visiting my parents and decided to implement his Fort Knox security measures on the front door. I had swapped bags and failed to transfer all the necessary keys and was therefore locked out! We agreed that I would drive up to meet him and this gave me the opportunity to visit the Visual Arts students’ selling exhibition to help fund their Summer Show. They were only taking cash so I was restricted to one purchase which was this lovely image by Cathy Griffiths. There was also some beautiful jewellery by Julia Tauber from the Metals Conservation Department.

Finally, one more Morsbag given away and one more made. I’d like to try and finish three more tonight as I have an ideal opportunity to give away four tomorrow which would take my total to 14 given away and only six more to make.


I did it! I signed up for Me-Made-May. This is my pledge :

I, Jane of janemakes.wordpress.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’15. I endeavour to make better use of all my hand sewn garments and aim to wear at least one Me-Made item for five days each week for the duration of May 2015. I also challenge myself to make one new garment every week during May to add to my collection.

I decided that I just don’t have enough suitable outfits to provide enough variation to commit to one item every day of the week but I’ll see how I go. I hope the weather warms up soon because a lot of my clothes are definitely summer-orientated.

Today is the first of May and I am wearing my olive striped Coco top with a denim skirt. I always worry when I first wash a handmade item because I tend not to wash fabric before cutting out and I dread things emerging from the washing machine shrunk to half their original size. Mind you, when I made my first ‘proper’ skirt a few years ago I fully expected it to disintegrate into its separate pieces the first time I wore it!

I have been reviewing the limited number of hand sewn garments in my wardrobe and there have been a few minor repairs to undertake. I noticed a small mark on a favourite striped top which no amount of stain remover would shift do I decided to add pockets to disguise it. I had none of the original fabric left so I used some grey knit fabric (more about this below) and fashioned some patch pockets. This fabric is very thin so I used a double layer and I’m quite pleased with the result.

PocketsThis pattern is from Hot Patterns – the Plain & Simple Fitted T Redux. It has a back seam which gives a nice fit, although it does mean extra care when using stripes. I started another top from the same pattern last night in a plain grey knit fabric and it is well on the way to being finished. I bought this fabric some while ago in Lewes but I can’t remember where from. It has some cashmere in it and is lovely and soft. I was a bit nervous about using it because I thought it would be difficult to handle but it has been quite well behaved so far. I spent a long time attaching the neck band because it looked like it wasn’t going to fit but I was very determined. I did top stitch it because the fabric tends to curl up a lot at the edges and this has done the trick.

The bright green Coco is finished.   I left the side splits off this one. Here’s a possible outfit for Me-Made-May!

New Outfit

I have several other projects lined up. I bought some fabric from Clothspot the other day. I discovered the site when searching for stretch cotton shirting and bought a remnant for £7.50 (2 metres). I’ve never even thought about making a shirt but this is a lovely crisp fabric with a slight stretch and if I can overcome my fear of buttonholes I’ll give it a go. The other two fabrics in the pile are a fairly robust denim (to become a skirt) and a black ponte roma which will probably become a Coco top with a funnel neck to replace a favourite Cos top which accidentally ended up in a hot wash with a pile of towels.

New Fabric

Have a great Bank Holiday weekend.