I had a really successful tour of Chichester’s charity shops last week. The first discovery was a boiled wool cardigan/jacket by Edina Ronay from the Cat Protection League. I managed to see past the hideous (in my view) embroidered butterfly in the front executed in thick black wool. I forgot to take a photograph I was so keen to unpick it! Thankfully the holes left behind disappeared when it was washed.
Next up was a Ralph Lauren cotton cable knit from Oxfam. According to the ticket this was shortly destined for their textile recycling centre and I’m assuming this was because the sleeve seam on one arm had come apart. It took a couple of minutes to fix!
The final find was in the Cancer Research shop. I was pretty sure from the start that this wasn’t going to fit me but I just couldn’t leave it behind! It’s a (hopefully genuine) Vivienne Westwood Anglomania blouse in a crisp striped cotton with a nice collar and an interesting sleeve construction with ties. It has washed and pressed nicely. The size appears to have been cut out of it but I guess it’s an 8. The top half fits me but once we get down to the fifth button it is somewhat corset-like making breathing/eating/sitting out of the question. If I had a rib or two removed it would be fine! I’d love it to go to a good home so if it would fit you or someone you know just leave a comment below by midnight on Wednesday 3 February and the winner will be picked out of the hat on Thursday morning.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been packing away my summer clothes to make room for autumn/winter wear. This activity has made me realise that only two new RTW items have been added to my wardrobe since the beginning of the season when I signed up to this year’s Me-Made-May. It was pretty satisfying to see how many me-made clothes I was putting in my bag when we went away recently.
In case you were wondering, the little handmade lavender bag on the right is a prototype. There are more to be made.
One of the two RTW items was a lightweight cream cotton sweater which I have made a lot of use of but the first time I wore it a seagull landed an enormous poo on the sleeve!! I think it must have been a sign!
On reflection I don’t think I actually made a conscious decision to change my shopping habits, I’ve just gradually realised that I feel much more comfortable wearing things I’ve made myself. I often find myself rejecting outfits when I realise they don’t contain anything me-made. I do still buy underwear (I’ve not yet attempted me-made underpinnings yet) and shoes (apart from my handmade espadrilles).
My venture into refashioning as a result of this year’s Refashioners meant that I started spending more time in charity shops looking for suitable men’s shirts to dismantle and this has led to some great finds – and not just shirts. These have mostly been for W but I have just acquired a Cerruti 1881 black coat (100% wool) in great condition which has avoided an expensive investment in a new winter coat. Doris looks great in it, I just need to turn the sleeves up.
I have more than enough fabric in stock to make clothes to see me through this winter, although strangely I don’t seem to have quite the same level of self-control in fabric shops as I do in ones selling clothes! Online offerings are also a huge temptation. Over the last few days almost every glance at Instagram leads me astray and I ordered this lovely Japanese Selvedge Denim from The Fabric Godmother. It really is gorgeous. I have to confess I didn’t really know what selvedge denim was and bought it because I really liked the slub finish. Now I’ve read all about it I shall have to see how best to incorporate the selvedge into whatever I make.
Given the earlier reference to autumn I thought I’d finish with a collage of some of the pictures I took in the Cotswolds recently focusing on that theme. It seemed a shame not to make use of them!
We have always trawled charity shops for reading material and rarely splash out on new books, although one recent exception was a signed copy of Patrick Gale’s latest novel, A Town Called Winter, which W bought for me at a festival. I’m over halfway through and really enjoying it, although I think Notes from an Exhibition will still be my favourite.
Some of our favourite charity shop finds include :
- A poster from a 1970s Matisse exhibition.
- A companion for the little ceramic hare by Felicity Lloyd Coombes we bought on the Arundel Gallery Trail.
- A fancy pure wool boating blazer in immaculate condition for W – he looks particularly dashing in it! Even better than Doris.
Despite all this, I’ve never really looked at clothing for myself. All that has changed since the start of The Refashioners 2015! Although my current focus is men’s shirts, on a recent visit to the British Heart Foundation shop something caught my eye. The fabric was really striking and the angled pocket appealed to me. On closer inspection I spotted the Guy Laroche label and decided that at £2.50 (reduced from £4.99) it was definitely worth buying just for the fabric. It was labelled as a size 12 but it was more like an age 12! The first time I tried it on was after a curry, some chocolate and a glass or two of wine and even breathing in very deeply was not enough to make the zip close. The next morning I did manage to squeeze into it but that was before breakfast.
Apart from being too small it was also too long and there was some damage to the fabric where the side split had ripped. Here’s what I did :
- Unpicked the waistband.
- Removed the zip – it was a lapped zip so that released a centimetre or so of fabric – and inserted a concealed zip. A concealed zip wasn’t really necessary as the zip is completely hidden but I like the practice.
- Unpicked the side seams and the seam on the longer side of the ‘wraparound’ section. The seam allowances were very generous.
- Re-stitched these seams with a ⅜ seam allowance.
- Extended the waistband with a piece of fabric from the hemline.
- Sewed the waistband back on.
- Shortened the skirt.
- Moved the button securing the end of the wraparound section to take account of the increased waist size.
There are still two small tears near one of the side seams. I’ve ironed some fusible interfacing behind them to try and stop the fabric fraying any further. I now need to find some thread which is a good match with the background colour so I can try out the so far unused darning stitch on my sewing machine.
Here’s the final result. There are a couple of places which don’t bear close inspection (and that hem needs a proper press) but hopefully the bold fabric will distract the eye.
Not bad for £2.50 and the cost of a new zip. I think this is definitely a holiday skirt. All I need now is a holiday!