It has been a slow start to serious sewing in 2016 for several reasons not least because (a) I have a horrible cold which is making my head pound, (b) I have a new boss so my mind has been extra focused on work and (c) David Bowie died.  He was there throughout my formative teenage years in the 70s and as pictures of him were plastered all over my bedroom wall he was the first thing I saw every morning.  Somehow his death has made me reflect on life – especially the rapid passing of time – which has been rather distracting.

hunky dory

I’ve not been entirely idle and as we finally have some colder weather I decided to get on with shortening the sleeves on two winter coats I found in charity shops.  Alterations like this are something I would never have tackled in the past but I now feel much more confident, which is helpful when you have rather short arms.  As I’m talking about alterations I thought I could get away with the title of this post to fit with the Bowie theme!

The first coat was brand new from a high street chain with the tags still on it.  It wasn’t an amazing bargain but I really like to support the Chestnut Tree which is a local children’s hospice.  I’m already wearing this one and really like the fabric, although I have an aversion to the very large shiny button and need to find something more matt and vintage-looking to replace it.

Next up is a black wool coat I found in Barnardos a while ago.  It is by Cerruti 1881 and made from some seriously lovely wool fabric.  I decided to use the first coat as a practice run as I was more nervous about this one.  I paid £14.95 for it.  I can only find men’s coats by Cerruti online but they are certainly a luxury item at £700+!   I had it dry cleaned straightaway as it looked decidedly grubby but it came up beautifully.

I picked up a few tips to assist with these alterations :

  • Before doing anything run a line of basting stitches around the sleeve (including the lining) at about elbow level.  This will stop the lining twisting inside the sleeve when you are working on it.
  • Work on one sleeve at a time so that you can refer back to the original finish to make sure you match it as far as possible.
  • Keep trying on the garment to be sure that the length is (a) right and (b) the two sleeves match!

I rarely buy ‘proper’ coats and I’ve certainly never had two smart ones at the same time!  I’m properly set up for whatever the rest of this winter throws at us.

Another alteration on the pile is for my mother “as you’ve got your sewing machine out all the time”. We’re back to the 70s theme with these flares! Amazingly she had some almost perfectly matching thread in her collection.  Given how many things she’s sewn/knitted/altered for me over the years I reckon I owe her one.


This weekend I’m hoping to make a start on my Moss Skirt in the very special selvedge denim I bought from the Fabric Godmother.  I had originally intended to try and utilise the selvedge in some visible way but the colour ran slightly into the white stripe when I washed it so that plan has been shelved.  It is still looking pristine in this photo.


I’ve been very good and read through the pattern twice (bit like reading exam questions properly before you launch into answering them) so I’m reasonably clear on what I’m doing and I’m also studying the Colette tutorial (with photographs) on inserting the fly zip.  I think I’ll do a quick toile because I want to get the size right before I cut into the denim.  I have high hopes for this pattern so I hope it works out according to plan.


Seasonal Change

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!