A Lucky Find

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!

Finally Finished!

At last we have a starfish skirt!  This is the tulip skirt from Sew Over It featured in Simply Sewing magazine and I love it – and so does Doris!

The free pattern accompanied Issue 5 of the magazine and the instructions have been divided into three instalments.  My lack of patience meant that I pressed on regardless.

There are only four pieces to the pattern : front, back, one piece waistband and a pocket.  You may remember that I made a toile which resulted in me raising the pockets by 2.5 inches because I couldn’t reach them!  There are darts at the back and two large pleats on each side at the front which create the tulip shape.  I chose the shorter of the two lengths but realised at the toile stage that this would be way too short and so I added a couple of inches.

The instructions were easy to follow and the skirt came together really quickly.  I’ve never really gone in for pattern matching before but because this was such a big bold pattern I decided that I needed to make an effort to avoid it looking messy at the back.  I’m not sure of the ‘official’ way to do this so I just cut out the left hand back piece,  individually pressed under the seam allowance and then lay it on the remaining fabric, lining up the large starfish.   I then measured across ⅝” to the left, i.e. under the already cut piece, for the other seam allowance, marked this on the fabric and removed the cut piece.  I then reversed the pattern piece, matched up with the markings and cut out the right side.

I’m quite pleased with the result for a first attempt, the large starfish match pretty well across the concealed zip, although the smaller ones are ‘pointless’ in a couple of places.  The zip also went in quite neatly.


I wanted to line the skirt to help support the ‘tulipness’ of the skirt and used a crisp, spotty lawn that I’ve used before and always seems to appear on the remnants table in C & H Fabrics.  As before I used Tilly‘s instructions for inserting a lining with a concealed zip which works like a dream and gives a really lovely finish.

I particularly like the pleats at the front, perfect for helping to conceal any sticking out in the tummy area!


The problem came when I arrived at the hemming stage.  I can only think that I must be an odd shape but the hem dipped down a substantial amount at the front and I just couldn’t get it right.  Cue a visit to my mother to stand on a stool and rotate while she pinned and my sister offered helpful comments.

Finally it was level but this involved a variance of more than an inch from front to back!  I then had to unpick and re-sew part of the hem on the lining, which I had already done in line with Tilly’s instructions, as it was poking out at the front.  I finished the hem with bias binding.


I think it was all worth it.


I do have a confession though.  I was so keen to get started on this skirt that I didn’t wash the fabric first and I just know it is going to shrink – which will be a problem as it is a perfect fit.  I can’t bear to think about it but given that I am the sort of person who can’t wear anything white for more than about five minutes without getting it dirty I could have a problem on my hands.  I may have to resort to dry cleaning, which I really don’t like,  and keep the skirt for special occasions.