Rain Stops Play

My sewing activity has been somewhat curtailed due to the horrendous rain we had recently.  Our conservatory sprang a leak and before I realised it the long (and thankfully cheap and cheerful) table that I use for cutting out fabric was completely soaked.  It is now drying out but sadly the laminate finish is peeling off.   The table is currently lying on its side and there is a bucket in its place waiting for the next downpour.  Discussions are in hand as to where to go from here (I’m hoping major improvements!) but in the meantime the conservatory is a chilly, damp and slightly mouldy place that isn’t conducive to creative activities.  I’m not posting a photograph as it’s a rather depressing sight!

As a result I’ve been sticking to smaller projects that I can cut out on my sewing table without having to move everything off it.  I’d been wanting to make another Anya Bag, this time for me, with the leftovers from my mustard denim Brumby Skirt.  There was JUST enough fabric, although I had to adapt the straps slightly.  The instructions are to fold the fabric strip into the centre along the long edges and then fold in half again before stitching along each side.  I just folded in the edges about 1cm and then folded in half but the fabric is sufficiently robust for this not to be an issue.

I had hoped to line the bag with the lovely fabric that was part of my #stitchingsanta gift but there wasn’t quite enough.

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As an alternative I used some fabric my mother gave me during a recent clear out.  It was originally used years ago to make a dress for a rag doll and I think it works quite well here.  I love making this bag.

I was going to use the bag today but I decided that matching your bag to your skirt was probably going a bit too far!

I’ve recently started following Jen from My Make Do and Mend Life.  Jen’s journey began when she decided that she and her family would spend a year buying nothing new and she is now committed to lessening their impact on the planet.  Having recently watched Trust Me I’m a Doctor and heard about the scary chemicals that lurk in off-the-shelf cleaning products (including some eco ones) I’ve been researching the possibility of making my own and Jen is something of an expert.  She’s even made her own dishwasher tablets!  I’ve also been trying to further reduce waste in our house since watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s programmes.  I was horrified to see what some people chuck out!

Where is this leading ….?   I’ve managed to avoid buying new RTW clothing for quite a while now but one thing I’ve missed is knitwear.  I can knit but I always struggle when it comes to following patterns, shaping and anything fiddly.  There is a half finished cardigan hidden in my sewing room that is testament to this.

I decided to combine two projects, reducing waste and kick-starting my knitting, by making a dishcloth!  I found a sweet pattern on Ericka Eckles blog and produced this.

I’ve now sewn the ends in and just have to bring myself to ditch the disposable blue cloths and actually use it!  I bought two balls of cotton yarn so I’m now working on another pattern I found here.

 

I’m really enjoying it and it is a lovely cosy thing to do on chilly evenings.  My mother is always horrified when she sees me knit because I don’t hold the needles properly and she is determined to change this.  Previous attempts have resulted in me wailing in despair because I just can’t get it right but perhaps now is the time to try a bit harder!

Associated with reducing waste I also did a spot of refashioning.  For several years I’ve had a favourite striped dress from a well-known online retailer which had gradually shrunk until it was no longer wearable!  I love the fabric so decided to chop off the restricting top half and turn it into a skirt with an elasticated waist.  I looked up various tutorials for adding the elastic but when I tried this I just couldn’t get this wide elastic to stretch as I sewed.  In the end I just joined the elastic in a loop, gathered the cut edge of the fabric using the dental floss trick and sewed the elastic on with the join at the back.  It was already hemmed so this was a very quick project.   I’ve worn it a couple of times and it seems to have worked.  It is SO comfortable!  Not sure what I can do with the leftover top half?

I will get that Moss Skirt cut out eventually but in the meantime at least I’m not sitting idle.  Mention of the Moss Skirt has reminded me that as a result of my following Jen on IG – @makeandmendlife – I connected with @vintage_charity and we met for lunch this week.  It was just lovely.  We had already discovered so much in common (including these shoes) and then she mentioned that her next sewing project was this very skirt!  At the rate I’m going I think she’ll get there first.

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The First Refashion

I have finished my first “Get Shirty” Refashion.  I really enjoyed making it and there is a real sense of satisfaction to be had from creating something new from something discarded.   This was the shirt I started with, bought from a Chichester charity shop.

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As a virgin Refashioner I decided to stick with what I know and adapt this pattern to incorporate the button band at the back.

Simplicity Pattern

Simplicity Pattern

This is what I did ………

  • Cut up the side and sleeve seams and removed the collar to release all the fabric. I also removed the pocket.  The fabric is a really good quality.
  • Traced off new pattern pieces in a size 8 to take account of the fact that I wouldn’t have to pull the top over my head.  I had previously cut out the 10 to allow for wriggle room.
  • Traced the back pattern piece as one piece so I didn’t need to cut the back fabric on the fold (the buttons would have made this tricky).
  • Cut the back facing in two separate pieces and extended the centre edge by ⅝ to allow for turning under when finishing the facing.
  • To make sure I got the top button in the right place I measured up ⅝ plus a fraction from the top of the third button hole down and placed the top of the pattern at this point.  I had to start further down than I had originally planned to ensure that the pattern piece fitted on the fabric.  I then lined up the centre of the back pattern piece with the centre of the buttons.
  • Cut the front from the back of the shirt and the facings from the tails.

I was amazed how little fabric was left at the end.  I had to throw the collar away because it was a bit creepy all on its own – like a severed head!

From here I constructed the top according to the pattern with a bit of fiddling around at the top of the button band when I realised that folding this under to the wrong side would cover up the back of the top button hole making it unusable!  I ended up cutting it off, binding the edge with a zig zag stitch and turning a tiny machine sewn hem. Not perfect and definitely room for improvement but it doesn’t shown when it’s on.

It all came together very nicely after that and I decided to finish the hem and sleeves using a twin needle.  I’ve only used this once before and was halfway round the hem when I realised I was using the stretch version but I couldn’t face re-threading it.  I think the trick is to go slowly because speeding up seems to make the threads tangle.

Here’s the result.  Next time I’ll do the top stitching at the neckline with the twin needle too!  I should have thought of that at the time.  I did think about sewing the existing pocket on the front but I wasn’t sure and now I’m wearing it I’m glad I didn’t.

I went off to buy another shirt for my next Refashion but my purchase (£5) from the St Wilfrid’s Hospice shop was just too nice and W insisted on changing into it before we even got home.  If you were in the Market Avenue car park in Chichester on Saturday morning while the changing process took place I can only apologise!

After bumping into two lots of friends who complimented him on his lovely shirt there was no way I could cut it up so I’m still searching for a new Get Shirty candidate.