Thursday, 27 September 2018

Sew Different

 My Minerva make this month had some ups and downs. I was really taken with a Sew Different pattern called The Essential Denim Dress. It showed so much potential for using up spare bits of fabric.

I was equally keen when the Linen Look Polyester blue and beige fabric arrived. I knew I had piece of grey denim from a bag project to throw into the mix and the thought of mixing and matching excited me. 

My skin tone is not great with beige against it so I opted to place those on the side panels. I placed the blue nearer my face. I started to have a wobble when I saw the size of the yoke piece because I was getting worried it was going to have 'sack appeal'.

On sewing, the top was indeed huge and the dart was nowhere near my breast, I tried it in three different places before I realised that it looked better without it altogether but also retained a nice shape. Strange. I took quite a bit off the side seams too. Maybe I just chose the wrong size in the first instance?

It is ridiculous to say but I pinched out another 1 1/2 inches out of the shoulders from the original seam line. If you make this pattern I recommend a muslin/toile to find the best fit or size choice for you. At this bodging stage, I was losing hope it would ever be a dress that would get any air time but on completion, I loved it.

My friend gave me this jacket at the start of Summer in her wardrobe clear out however I doubted I would ever wear it but it felt such good quality and here it is making a perfect match for me. I think this garment will have a double life as a work dress and a casual tunic. There are not any zips or fastenings so this is as shapely as it can be whilst enabling me to get it on and off.

The pocket is excellent and if I made it again I might even consider adding two. 

The fabric is light but dense which makes it perfect for Autumn/winter.I wore it to teach today, in fact this is me at home in the evening after a full days wear, and it doesn't hold a crease in the underarm keeping it smart all day. It was really comfortable and easy to move around in. I wore this same outfit to a Christening too.

 This project started off on a high, dipped in the middle during fitting and ended with a triumphant finish. 

Jo xxx

Friday, 21 September 2018

Harris Tweed Refashion

Thank you for your kind comments on my last post, it was great to hear your memories. It's a bit of a strange one today. I have refashioned a mans jacket into a womans coat. It is hard to photograph and explain the process but anyway here goes.

This is the jacket before the hack... a hacking jacket if you will. It is a Harris Tweed vintage jacket of my late fathers. His wife wanted to know if I could make it fit her so that she could wear it as a coat - I like a challenge.

I pinned out the back seam and took deeper darts on the front to give it some waist shaping. 

The trickier part is a tailoring technique called raising the shoulders which alters the neck to shoulder measurement. 
I am not an expert but I learnt how to do it two years ago from a mate who is a bridal and alterations seamstress. I used to do some alterations for her in the summer when she was busy with wedding dresses to keep her other customers ticking over so I knew what to do.

Sometimes this alteration just flies off the machine and other times it can be a real pig of a job to avoid getting tiny tucks on the new shoulder seam. 

Firstly, you find a point of entry. If you look closely on the inside of a jacket there will be a place that is sewn from the outside where the jacket was 'birthed' on turning it right side out on making. You have to unpick this and wrestle about to get to the inside of the jacket. 

This jacket was particularly well made and there were a lot of gubbings inside. Firstly, I did the darts and back seam which gave an instant new female shape.

Next I unpicked some of the shoulder seam lining to expose the shoulders. I cut out some of the padding and unpicked the tweed shoulder seam and made a new seam line. I checked for puckers (only one on my first attempt) then cut off the excess leaving enough bulk to support the top of the sleeve. Here is the new and old seamline. I trimmed about half way between the two.


This is what happens to the shoulders. You get a softer more womanly shape.

Finally, I removed the two buttons on the bottom of the sleeves and used them to make a new profile on the front. I made two new button holes and steam pressed the collar to make a new shape. The buttons were beautiful leather football style ones actually made from leather not the plastic repro ones which you get on old mans cardigans!

Tah da! a new coat. I hand stitched all the linings back down around the shoulders and at the point of entry. It is for Chantal's birthday present, she loved it. I made her a brooch to add to the lapel too although my photo is a little out of focus.

What do you think? Jo xxx

Monday, 17 September 2018

Miniature Vintage Sew

What a find, a vintage 1960's Barbie doll pattern.

My big girl wanted to do some sewing and rooted this out of my Vintage pattern stash pile, I did actually buy it for her but it was a bit too difficult at the time of buying but I felt she would be ready now. 

The joy, or indeed curse, of these patterns is that they require all the dressmaking knowledge and skills you would need to make real clothes therefore they are by no means easy. I encouraged her to actually follow the pattern to absorb some of the sewing lingo.

She made darts and learnt to sew them from the outer edge of fabric to the tip. She learnt that you do not go forwards and back at the tip otherwise you will get a tough nipple; much 11 year old giggling ensued. Finally she learnt that you need to cut a hepburn collar on the bias so that it has stretch and can stand straight without a twisted edge.

The skirt that went with it actually had full pleats with dashed pleat lines to bring together on the pattern which was a skill too far for her today. It was a positive experience but quite intense so I happily watched her bodge together a stretch velvet skirt with no hem to go with it. 

Making dolls clothes brings back happy memories for me, I used to do it when I was about 10. Any happy memories for you? 

Jo xxx

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Autumnal Florals

 NEWLOOK 6217 has made many a visit to my handmade wardrobe. 3/4 length capri trousers were made earlier this year and I wore them a lot: cool but smart.

I wanted to make another pair for Autumn because I am struggling to get into my jeans at the moment...Ahem. I ordered some stretch cotton sateen from a company called Sherwood fabrics. I visit this website about twice a year for a treat and always find a bargain. The fabric arrives wrapped in tissue which always makes me feel kind of special, shallow I know.

I used the Newlook pattern as a base but made some modifications: the usual wider rear crotch seam to eliminate the baggy bit I always get in the waistband along with a little elastic tab to hold it close to my lower back, like here.


 I also made them full length and then fitted them to myself closely to get a skinny jean style. I always see this style on the Boden website (Richmond trousers) but they are £70 plus! My modification of adding two invisible zips has worked a treat to get the smooth leg shape and still be able to get them over my ankles. 

This modification means I can wear ankle boots with them to take me into the sock wearing months. Lots of colours go with these trousers so they should get plenty of wear because I can both sit down at a desk and teach in them comfortably.

I love them!

Thanks for dropping by. Jo x

Sunday, 9 September 2018


Making - A purple cardigan.

Buying - Some new wool

Wondering - What to knit next with it!

Eating - A lot of vegetarian food. Potato and spinach Galette and roasted veg calzone made with tortillas. 

Growing - courgettes and raspberries. Picking wild blackberries. My mum has grown cucamelons: a small cucumber with a citrus taste.

Building - Watching some skilled stone masons build the front of our house. It is going to be incredible but a long time.

Thinking - About our new house a lot.

Fixing - New knobs on the big girls sewing desk - I knew the right ones would come along, they have buttons inset. There was much hilarity in the knobs and knockers shop.

Loving -  The message she chose to create in her light box.

Getting - Back into family scrap booking. I have discovered lots of new photos and documents in my dad's oak chest. This is Little M and me at about the same age: my mum knit my cardigan - funny that!

Watching - Our girls return to school.

Disliking - The shorter days.

Considering - How many 10cm squares I will need for a postage stamp quilt but generally just filling the cake tin.

Enjoying - Our visit to the Zoo

Deciding - How many events to say yes to, lots on the horizon.

Wanting - nothing really, just world peace as ever.

Feeling - Proud to be asked to be a godparent this month.

Jo xxxx

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Easy Crochet Vest - Three ways

It is called the easy V-neck Vest but as easy as it was, I ended up making three. I couldn't estimate the size very well for a couple of baby boys I wanted to make presents for. 

With similarities to the story of the three bears: one felt too big, one felt too small and one felt just right but by then I was running out of boy coloured wool so the last one ended up being stripey! The beige one also has the wrong stitch pattern on the top half but I already knew it was too small by then so I used it as a practice one to roughly follow the pattern.

I bought the soft, jersey knit lined shirts to go underneath them to make two Christening presents. One boy is older than the other so I think they will at least not be too small. 

The pattern is free on ravelry and they only took a couple of evenings to make each one. They all vary slightly because I didn't follow the pattern exactly until the last one. I will definitely keep it in my library for another time. It is in US crochet terms and uses about one 50g ball .

Hope you are all keeping well. Thank you for your comments as ever.

Jo xxxx

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Self drafted PJ's

Hoorah! A new branch of Abakhans has opened in my nearby town of Shrewsbury, 20 mins walk from my workplace. We went for a visit - I'm lying, we went to buy stuff - last week. Big girl wanted to make some new pyjamas. She has grown three inches in the leg but nothing in the waist in the last nine months.

I can't hide it but I was nervous about the pricing. Abakhans is a remnant company and fabric is sold by the kilo so I had no idea how much my purchases would cost until I got to the till for the weigh in. I was mightily surprised because this piece, about 1.5m was only £3.72. I was also surprised to find we could make a top and trousers out of it. Bonus.

We used her current bottoms to draft a new pair and just added length. To make a top we used another Sleep Tee which was going to be the partner to the bottoms but it turned out we could be all posh and have a matching set. I marked a back and front to get a smooth neckline and made a grown on sleeve with sleeve tabs (just like the Stevie dress)instead of the inset sleeves of this top.

It worked a treat. My serger is out of action so the whole set was made on my normal machine with a 3 way stretch zig zag to finish the edges.

 She did some of the sewing herself and I did the tricky bits like the elasticated waist and the neck binding. It was a team effort. 

She also chose some lovely jersey with little rabbits on to make a long sleeved set which should then last her for the Autumn and winter. 

I bought some ponte roma for myself too but more on that later. 

Thanks for dropping in. Jo xxx