Refashion #3

As previously mentioned, I seem to have become a Refashioning addict and can’t stay away from rails of men’s shirts in charity shops!  This is my third Get Shirty project and will be the last before the deadline for the community challenge, although definitely not the last ever.

I think one of the main benefits of the three projects has been the opportunity to experiment, sometimes successfully and other times not.  There is one pale green linen shirt, sans sleeves, lurking in a corner which has been pinned, re-pinned, generally faffed around with and finally abandoned.  I will use the fabric for something eventually but I don’t want to look at it again for the time being.

For this project I reverted back to the pattern I used the first time round for this top which is a bit unadventurous but this is a shape that I really like and I know I will get use out of it.

I had planned to make something more like a jacket keeping the buttons at the front.  With all three refashions I’ve decided to keep the button band intact because it seems such a waste not to but I need to branch out a bit more!   The jacket plan didn’t work out because the top doesn’t look right unbuttoned.  However, I’ve already worn the refashion twice and after a day in the office I’ve decided that I’m really pleased with it.  It is slightly strange buttoning up the ‘wrong’ way but I can live with that.

Here’s what I started with.  Its a really good quality fabric and I love the colour and the stripes.  It was only £3.99 but I can’t remember where from (I’ll confess to having bought two other shirts on the same day so lost track of locations).  I’d already removed the pocket when I remembered I needed to take a Before photo.  There is a very faint reminder on the fabric of where the pocket was but I’m hoping it will gradually disappear with washing.

The construction was pretty much the same as last time except that I re-traced the pattern as a size 6 for a more fitted shape.  The differences/improvements were :

  • I used French seams throughout.  I don’t think I’ve ever done these on garments before, only shopping bags, and I was so pleased with the result.  I wasn’t sure how they would work for inserting the sleeves but it was easier than I thought.  I had to pin the sleeves on while Doris was wearing the top to make sure I got the wrong sides together first time round.  I love how neat everything looks inside.
  • I made false cuffs on the sleeves.  This is my new favourite thing because it is so quick and effective and works well for ¾ length sleeves.  I don’t like sleeves that get in the way, which they often do because of my short arms!
  • I changed the buttons.  The existing ones were a bit too shiny and plasticy and had the brand name printed on them so I found some stripy ones for £1 (for 8) at The Eternal Maker.
  • The shirt had a different, narrow striped fabric on the inside of the cuffs and yoke and I was able to use this for the back facing.  You can’t see it but I know it’s there!
  • I used the free fabric marking pen from Love Sewing magazine to keep my top stitching neat and ensure that it caught the facing all the way round.  I pinned the facing on the reverse and then drew a line with the white pen on the right side over the pins, took out the pins and then sewed.  Basic stuff but I hate it if I go off piste.  On the subject of sewing magazines, I do seem to have got a bit sucked in lately to buying these each month, I’m so easily tempted by the free patterns etc.  Having just checked the Love Sewing website to make sure I was mentioning the right magazine I found a link to a tutorial for a Japanese style apron from The Hearty Home which I’ve been looking for since spotting this one from Toast.  I might never have found it if I hadn’t bought the magazine!

What I need now is a project to use up discarded shirt pockets!  Any ideas?

Mandy Boat Tee

I’m in the middle of another Refashion at the moment which has not been going according to plan!  There are shreds of linen fabric everywhere and poor Doris feels like she is going through a course of acupuncture, she’s had that many pins stuck in her!  This is what I started with – what I end up with is another matter!  The shirt is 100% linen and was a bargain at £4 so I really don’t want to waste it.

On a more positive sewing note,  I bought some double-sided striped jersey (spots on the reverse) from The Eternal Maker in Chichester during a recent fabric splurge.  It is a really soft fabric made up of two thin layers stitched together.  In fact it is impossible to describe just how lovely this fabric feels when you are wearing it.


I don’t tend to make clothes for lounging around in so to rectify this I wanted to make something oversized and comfortable and remembered that I’d downloaded the free Mandy Boat Tee from Tessuti Fabrics a while ago.  I’d taped all the pieces together, cut out the pattern and filed it away.  I decided to give it a try.


The pattern is one size and as I was looking for something slouchy I just went ahead and cut it out.  The instructions say that the top should be made with a serger/overlocker but I don’t have one so just used my sewing machine with a zig zag/stretch stitch and trimmed the seams.

I made an effort to match the stripes.  I usually pin striped fabric together along the edge with the stripes lined up before laying out the pattern pieces and then use LOTS of pins on each seam before attempting to sew – with varying degrees of success.

It came together really quickly but I did make a mistake early on.  The instruction to join front and back at the shoulder seam didn’t mention a seam allowance so I used ⅝ but all the following instructions stated ⅜.  I should have read everything through first as the instructions advise!  I’m not sure if this was what resulted in me not being able to quite get the “beautiful finish” on the neckline which should be achieved by sewing a small seam (like a dart) from the edge of the neckline across to the shoulder seam.  The picture on the left is from the pattern instructions, mine is on the right (obviously).  In my defence it has been stretched out a bit by Doris’ wide shoulders.  It looks fine on but just not as neat as the original.

I gave the stretch twin needle another go on the neckline, sleeves and hem and it worked pretty well, as did most of the stripe matching.

The finished top is certainly oversized on me but it is perfect for lazing around in.  Doris fills it rather more than I do!  It has dropped shoulders and I really like the effect of the stripes running both ways on the sleeve.  I left my top quite long but  I would probably make a shorter, more boxy version next time.  I’ve rolled one of the sleeves up to just to show the spots but if you wanted to do this as a permanent feature you’d need to sew that section of the sleeve wrong sides together so that the stitching didn’t show when the sleeve was rolled up.  I think that would work?

Hmm – given all my efforts of stripe matching how did I end up with a wonky bit on the hem??  I started to pin it up and by the time I got to to the other end I realised I was going in a spiral!  The more I tried to level it off the worse it got.  A bit like trying to cut your own fringe and ending up with nothing left!


I didn’t really know what to do to rectify this so there is a seriously annoying area on the hem at one side.  Thankfully the floppiness (that word doesn’t look right) of the bottom of the tee does help to disguise this and most people (not the readers of this blog mind you!) probably wouldn’t even notice.

It’s The Fabric Godmother’s Open Day in Hove tomorrow.  Very exciting (and probably expensive!).

Fabric Splurge and a Tulip Toile

Note to self : always make up a toile when trying out a new pattern, it makes all the difference!  I finished one for the Sew Over It tulip skirt from Simply Sewing magazine on Friday evening and discovered the following :

  • I love the shape of the skirt
  • The shorter length is definitely too short
  • The pockets are far too low down for my (short) arms to reach
  • I do not have the patience to wait for the next issue of the magazine for the rest of the instructions so am just going to get on with it

As a result of these discoveries I raised the pockets by 2.5 inches and added a couple of inches to the length of the skirt.

The pattern instructions are very clear and comprehensive,  although I questioned using the same seam allowance for stitching the pocket pieces to the side seams initially and for the main seam allowance.  I decided to do what I’ve done previously, ⅜ for the initial stitching and ⅝ for the main seam.

On to Saturday morning and a visit to The Eternal Maker, (a) because they are out of town and have their own parking and (b) because they have a very nice coffee bar which is an ideal place for W to sit and read the paper while I shop!

I came away with these three …


The blue chambray will be used for the Cynthia Rowley jacket.  It is a really nice weight and I think it will work well.

The double-sided (stripes and spots) jersey is seriously lovely.  It is made up of two thin layers joined together and is incredibly soft.  I’ve not decided what to make with it yet but probably a Coco-type top if I can squeeze it out of the amount I’ve bought.

Yes, those are blue starfish and yes I am making the tulip skirt out of this fabric!  W looked decidedly unsure when I showed it to him in the shop but now it is well on the way to being finished I think he is convinced by the choice.  I love it and think this could end up being one of my favourite makes to date.

I made another zipped purse at the weekend from the Simply Sewing pattern, this one was for a birthday present to hold some fancy lip balm and cuticle cream.  I did make a small piece of bias binding from the spotty fabric for the zip pull but the binding was too wide for the tiny hole and ended up in tatters – hence the pink ric-rac.  The binding attempt was another first – following instructions in Simply Sewing (that magazine really has proved worth the investment) and using a tool I bought ages ago and had never even taken out of the packet.  It is SO easy to do I might have a go at making a longer length.

 The floral fabric was left over from this dress.

The big reveal of the starfish skirt will follow soon.

A new Coco top

I have always had a fondness for anything striped, not just clothing but curtains, cushions, ribbon, wrapping paper, bed linen, just about anything really!

However, after my latest making of a Coco Breton top from Tilly and the Buttons using this fabric from The Eternal Maker in Chichester, I have decided to leave stripes alone for a while.  I think I’ll stick with plains and patterns which are too complicated to worry about matching. All went well until I came to the sleeves. Having already unpicked one sleeve because the stripes didn’t match up well enough on the seam I discovered when I came to hem the sleeves that they didn’t match there either! I couldn’t face any more unpicking but thankfully the pattern includes a cuff. I decided to cut this out with the stripe running in the opposite direction and this was pretty effective at disguising the problem. I had intended to have a funnel neck but I didn’t have quite enough fabric and I’m not convinced by the pattern which suggests just turning the edge under on the neckline.   I’ve had this Liberty binding for ages so I decided to use it to finish off the neckline and the hem which I think worked quite well.

It seems like spring might finally be here and my parents’ garden is overrun with grape hyacinths. I love these little flowers and I see that Winnie from Scruffy Badger Time has printed her own fabric with an image of these from her garden. It looks fabulous and I look forward to seeing what she makes from it.