I picked up a pair of jeans recently. They were new jeans with fake ageing. I have to say I am generally not a fan of such techniques, but they fit really well and I was in need of a quick fix. This doesn’t exactly fits with my ideals, but hey ho.
I knew that the knees would go pretty quickly as the ageing made them pretty weak and so a hole quickly emerged. Of course, cool people leave such holes, but I just can’t. I see creative possibilities and I just can’t leave them.
I have been wanting to try some more complex Sashiko for a while and these jeans presented an opportunity to experiment.
A few months ago I visited the Craft and Quilt Fair in Sydney, not exactly my bag, but worth a trip to meet Jane MacDonald, the owner of Bebe Bold, a local Sashiko supplier and teacher. It was crazy busy but she chatted to us for a while and helped me choose some thread and impart some of her vast knowledge. I bought some lovely pieces, three Olympus threads, long Sashiko needles and some Kogin fabric. Jane also gave me instructions for a pin cushion, the Hitomezashi Hydrangea pattern.
I have been dying to try it for a while but it looked frightening complicated so I have been sitting on it. Time to bite the bullet.
Here’s what I did;
I am not the neatest hand sewer, even with the dots to help me out. But it’s quite lovely all the same.
Boring mending? Definitely not. Enjoyable mending? Most definitely.
I loved sitting down with the kids, I rarely do it. They watched ‘The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ while I stitched away.
I was asked by Maaike of MaaiDesign to join her blog tour to showcase the new range of See You at Six fabrics. Joy of joy, I just can’t resist such requests!
I joined her first blog tour back in March, way before we ever met. Although, recently I had the pleasure when Maaike popped into our little studio to say hello. The conversation was something along the lines of “Oh my! you’re so TALL!” (me to Maaike) and “Oh my! you’re so SMALL!” (Maaike to me). It’s funny how you don’t get a sense of perspective on instagram and on blogs. Subsequently, I made her sit on the low stool in the studio.
So I had a choice to make, some lovely fabrics in soft drapey rayon. These were my top 4. Decision making is not really my forte, it took a while.
There are some beautiful colours and patterns in this collection; pastels, mint green, pale pinks and some lovely florals but I was drawn to the darker colours. After much ‘umming’ and ‘ahhhing’, I decided on the black and white drops. The randomness of the pattern is appealing to me. I like polka dots but don’t often wear them but this had a more contemporary edge to the design.
Rayon isn’t a fabric I use very often, mainly because I wear more boxy shapes which require structured fabrics. But I was excited by this challenge and really, it’s so lovely to touch! Now to find a pattern.
I had spotted this dress on my Pinterest page which was just what I was looking for. I had a starting point. I put it out to the ‘oracles of sewing’ (Sydney IG crew) for suggestions. Vintage patterns seemed to hold the answer. As you know I am a big supporter of the independent pattern designer, this is usually the direction I travel, but I decided to strike out and raid my vintage pattern collection. My vintage pattern collection, I might add, is vast!
After a lengthy search I found it. A blouse (I love that word!) McCalls 8528 from 1983. The size was pretty good as it’s quite a ‘blousey’ blouse, all I had to do was hack it into a dress. I chose view D as I wanted the mandarin collar and the short sleeves with the cuffs. It also had the required kimono sleeves and the front gathering on the shoulders.
Ok, so let me just say that I am not a fan of gathering. The gathering may look minimal on the front but the back was a little more frightening. It seemed to have a lot of volume. I decided to trace it off and make a toile.
When adding the length to this blouse I literally draw it out as straight as I could, a slight A-line in shape but not too much. The toile was successful, although I prefer a little more room around my hips and so added a little extra to the back seam instead of the side seams. This gave me the room I needed. The top part fitted perfectly. It’s always a little frightening making a toile from calico, the gathering looked vast and rather comical. But I am glad I did or I would have been unhappy with the fit around my hips.
The first challenge was cutting the rayon. Luckily I have an expert on hand to help me. Emily (In the Folds) suggested I use her pattern cutting paper beneath the rayon. Firstly, I pinned the rayon together at the selvedges, then pinned it to the paper (using the guides on the paper as markers). I then went nuts with the pins and then added my pattern pieces. Here is a picture of some pieces so you get the idea. The result is crisp, perfectly cut pieces. It’s a pattern piece sandwich!
After that part, it was a fairly easy sew. I am surprised as I always image rayon to be a slipper sucker. It wasn’t, it was easy. I interfacing the front plackets and collar, put a 60/8 needle into my machine and away I went.
The biggest bugbear I had was with the yoke. Based on the instructions, this was the finishing on the inside. I just couldn’t live with that. I am not a perfectionist by a long stretch, but I think it would have bugged me forever so I decided to face it. I hand stitched it in place. I think it’s a much better result.
The final steps were the buttons and buttonholes. I actually tried to pretend it wasn’t happening for about a week before I worked up the courage to tackle them. I have done many in the past but I have never been happy with the results.
My machine has a buttonhole attachment so I did about 10 samples on the fabric. I even got my instruction book out and went through each step methodically. I just needed to get the balance right on either side of the hole (who knew this was a thing)? The results were fine but it does make me realise a superior machine may have reaped superior results, food for thought!
The button colour was another choice I was stuck on. I pinned a few options to the dress to get an idea. When Emily suggested I used all of them I went with it. The result is far superior for it. What do you think?
So here is the final result. I hope you like it as much as I do.
Lucky ducks! MaaiDesign is offering a 10% discount on the See You At Six collection from 12th – 30th September 2016. Just use the code: seeyouatsix.
For more inspiration check out these blogging chicks, ROCKIN’ THE RAYON!
The theme is Jeans only: (Not denim jackets, skirts, shirts etc) Because the specific challenge with this is the scarcity of fabric and all the hardware and heavy seaming you’ll need to work around. The majority of your finished project must have come from the source garment (ie your jeans). Other than that anything goes. Use additional fabric and haberdashery to your hearts content, as long as you turn them from something you don’t wear, into something you do wear…or use, ok?!
If you don’t know about this challenge then I suggest you hop over and have a read. To kick start this challenge, Portia enlists a bunch of uber talented sewers to give it ‘there all.’ You will see a wide variety of designs, a cool and eclectic mix, from wiggle dresses and kimonos to tops and jackets. There are some brilliant pieces, but my favourite has to be Joost’s project, err yes, Joost is a man. Quite a brilliant and talented man at that. He had me at ‘hello’.
So, to cut up a pair of jeans is a big thing. From an environmental perspective they are a huge consumer of water (among other things). Something we must be really mindful of, especially those of us here in Australia. My thinking was, if I can’t wear them then surely someone else can! So I set out to find ‘unwearable’ jeans.
My first thought was to talk to my mother-in-law, Chris. She works for a charity shop in the UK. I asked her if they had a scrap bin of ‘unwearables’. She told me to come and hunt. Luckily, I was in the UK recently so we met up and searched. I came away empty handed. There was nothing in the scrap bin.
So then I checked online, surely there was something in Australia. Nope, another blank. If I want scrap pieces of jeans I have to spend a fortune on postage from the US. I had no choice, time poor as always, I bite the bullet and found the most unattractive pair of jeans I could find in my local charity store. I put it down to saving someone from a fashion crime. It was the best I could do.
I decided to use only 1 pair of jeans and pre-loved pieces. I was gifted the pre-loved pieces by Emily. She gave me one jean leg offcut in light blue stonewash with a random square of fabric missing and two denim pockets from a early Rushcutter dress sample.
The final decision of what to make was easy. Make something that I would wear A LOT. Jeans are an everyday item. It had to be very wearable, something that I COULD wear as much as jeans. So there you have it, one word: SWEATSHIRT.
A sweatshirt is not normally made from heavy woven cotton but I did spy some inspiration on my Pinterest page and my idea came together from there.
The sleeves are always the main issue when refashioning. You need so much more fabric than you think, so I had to be savvy. I decided to hack up a previous pattern into bite size pieces. I used the pattern from my previous make, A synthetic dream. It’s a raglan sleeve dress hacked into a top from Japanese pattern book, Stylish Party Dresses. It’s a simple pattern which is what I needed. It’s also slimmer than the inspiration above, I needed to reduce the volume. If you panel it out, you will be able to make more use of the strange shapes of fabric that you have.
My thinking was to deconstruct the sleeve by adding an underarm piece and a shoulder panel. Then, add side panels to the front and back. I had seen this fabulous Dries Van Noten dress which had given me the idea. Obviously my version is way less complex.
The centre panel of the sleeves are made from the original jeans. You can see I removed the back pocket, I just have the shadow left. I incorporated the side seam with the lovely bar tack. This sits about elbow level. The side panels are from the Rushcutter pockets sliced together. The sleeves are identical.
I overlocked all the seams, pressed them like crazy and then top stitched them all down. The piece sits much flatter for it.
My main concern was getting the front/back side panel and the sleeve panels to sit at perfect right angles. Every seam matched except one. I couldn’t leave it, it just had to be right so I fixed it up and now it matches. You can see the before and after shots above.
The front and back centre panels are cut by opening up the inner leg seam and flattening it out. I didn’t insert that centre front seam, that’s the original side seam of the jeans.
Final step was adding the neckband, cuffs and waistband. I used some heavy duty ribbing from Neotrims on Ebay. It was a ribbing I had originally bought to make a jacket many moons ago. It had been cut, so I had to do a patch-up job to make it fit the sweatshirt. The ribbing gives it a touch of 70’s ‘American High School’, which I am not unhappy about!
So here it is in it’s full glory.
Successful refashion? I think so, yes!
Did it meet my expectations? Yes, it exceeded them infact.
Last week I was in the UK. A flying visit for my friend’s wedding. An amazing wedding with lots of old school friends, some of which I haven’t seen since I was yawning my way through A-level geography.
I always like to make myself a little something for my trips (apart from the obvious wedding attire that is!) so I decided on a top. I wanted something I could wear with jeans and that wouldn’t crease. I had the perfect fabric!
I had recently stumbled into Tessuti and raided the remnants table. I came out with a marvellous 1m piece of monochrome nylon mesh. Lets just say creasing would not be an issue. It’s a synthetic dream!
Surprisingly enough I reached for my Japanese pattern book collection, choosing the Stylish Party Dresses book.
I decided to hack this dress pattern, the raglan sleeve dress, into a top. Of course, I wanted to add a little interest and make the shoulder panels again. I know, I know, I do this all the time, but I just love it!!
I made a minor tweak to the pattern by lowering the neckline a little, this meant I could dispense with the closure at the back. I cropped the top quite short. It’s shorter than I would normally wear but I think it works well with this style.
The shoulder panels are made from the reverse of the fabric.
It was a quick sew and a surprisingly easy fabric to work with. It does have lots of ‘bounce’ so pressing wasn’t all that effective and I didn’t persevere as I was scared it might melt.
I did spend a little extra time in the finishing. I hand stitched the binding on the inside so there are no visible hems, cuffs or neckline stitching. It worked a treat.
I have worn it A LOT, it was perfect for the UK climate too as we had surprisingly good weather. It also took me back to the joys of 80’s synthetic clothing. Thank god there wasn’t a naked flame in sight!
I am sure it will be no surprise to anyone that I will be teaching stretch! Having made so many sweatshirts in the past I am no stranger to an overlocker and not scared of a piece of stretchy fabric.
Although as the summer roles in, I think the Brightside Shrug is the perfect choice for this class. It is such a quick and easy sew for beginners. Did you see the version my 11 year old student made? Super cool.
Check out the retreat website for more information, I am one of many teachers attending. So if you want to learn how to make lingerie, try fabric painting, understand Japanese sewing patterns, make a tote bag or make a pattern block, check out the details.
It’s finally here, after the Sydney storms put a stop to our last event, we have rescheduled for this weekend. I am super excited. There has already been a lot of interest and the Manly Daily did us proud this morning by writing a lovely little story about this event (they even used my ugly mug!)
If you fancy doing some mending and fixing, come along, details below;
Fulwood and Brightside are suburbs in Sheffield, my hometown. They are also the names of 2 patterns I have recently made.
I love the idea of naming a pattern after somewhere so familiar to me. It certainly drew me in. I have many happy memories of Fulwood. My besties still live there. Every Friday night we would get ‘ready’ (a 2 hour process) at Sara’s place, we would get the bus down Crimicar Lane, stop off at The West End pub, collecting Katie, Lou and Faye along the way and ending up at the Leadmill. I am never sure why we would spend so long getting ready, we looked complete wrecks as we poured out of the Leadmill at 2am and headed back to Fulwood. Ah, the joys of youth. I loved being 18 in Sheffield, it was so much fun.
Fulwood and Brightside are also patterns designed by Wendy Ward, designer, sewing teacher and author. Wendy is from Sheffield, I should have known really. I love her aesthetic, it’s monochrome, it’s stripes and it’s cracking tattoos. It’s my idea of minimal cool.
THE FULWOOD DRESS
She has loads of great patterns but I was really keen to try the Fulwood dress and the Brightside shrug. The Fulwood dress is basically a loose fitting shift dress, it has a variety of options including roll collar or boat neck, inseam pockets and pleats, it’s also easy to hack into a top. It’s aimed at beginners and I do like a simple sew. Loose and boxy and easy, that’s my kind of dress.
I used a blue cotton/linen mix I bought from Fabric Cave, so it’s preloved. I love the colour and the texture of the fabric is so soft and fluid. I was quite short on fabric but I worked out I could make a dress if I was crafty so I just about managed it. I had to leave off the roll collar which is a shame as I really fancied that option. I also decided to remove the pleat option and make the dress one piece. This is the good thing about this frock, it’s easy to hack, add and subtract as you go.
In the instructions there is a section with hacking suggestions. So I folded the pleat out and then taped the skirt piece to the top piece. In hindsight I should have added a couple of extra centimetres around my hips (as Wendy suggests). It fits perfectly well, but I prefer a slightly looser fit. I will grade the skirt section out next time.
I didn’t have quite enough fabric for the sleeve cuffs so I decided to put some bias binding around the edges (I also did this on the neckline). Homemade binding of course, in grey and white stripes, the fabric was from Margie’s stash. You do get the odd flash of this now and again.
I am super pleased with it. It’s easy to wear and simple, things that are often lacking in my wardrobe. I know I will get tons of use out of it. I was shivering as I was shooting this dress for my blog, it’s cold here. I will be wearing this with lots of layers until the warm weather comes back again!
THE BRIGHTSIDE SHRUG
The Brightside shrug is intriguing. It’s such a funny shaped pattern piece, like wearable origami.
I loved the grey marl version on Wendy’s website and as they say ‘imitations is the sincerest form of flattery’, I basically ripped it off!
I already had such lovely grey jersey that I had bought at The Cloth House in Melbourne, it was a match made in heaven. I think it took me just over an hour to make. I was even studious enough to do the hand tacking that Wendy suggests. I am glad I did, I enjoyed the process and it really did make for a better finish.
One of my 11 year old students was quite keen to try this pattern. I am not generally keen on teaching stretch unless they have a bit of experience, not sure why really as it’s not that difficult. I asked her to buy ponte. I think that’s always a safer option, it’s just a more forgiving fabric and easy to handle. So when she turned up with this fabric I did a little involuntary squeal of delight. Can you believe how good this is? She is 11!! Yes, 11.
We sewed the seams on the sewing machine and added the cuffs and neckband using the overlocker. She loved the overlocker, thought it was great fun and enjoyed putting her foot down. I also insisted on hand tacking it all in place. She was a good sport about that, even though kids often find it tedious and don’t have the patience for it. We used fluoro orange tacking thread, for a bit of fun. I am happy to say she removed it all too.
Such great patterns, they are both really easy to make, with clear and simple instructions. I would recommend these to beginners for sure. It was also a lovely little walk down memory lane, making patterns named after places so close to my heart. I am excited to say that I will be back in Sheffield in a few weeks time, for a wedding. I look forward to a night out on the tiles with the girls, although I think my Leadmill days are well and truly behind me.
I have a pile of sewing to do. Not ‘fun’ sewing like cute dresses or kimonos or sashiko-style mending but the practical kind. I mean things like sewing on Cub Scout badges, fixing holes in the kids uniform, hemming my pants and sewing my hubby’s swimming badges onto his sweatshirt (don’t ask!)
This is the kind of sewing that I shove on a pile and leave for a rainy day, which in Sydney isn’t that often. It’s not creative (like visible mending, my favourite mending of all time!) that’s why I don’t enjoy it but I think it’s time to change my attitude. Sewing is a practical skill and not only should we enjoy it for the loveliness it brings but we should also sew for a practical need.
Many years ago, while try to survive my life as a new Mum, I remember reading Buddhism for Mothers. I didn’t get that far into it, read the first few chapters and got the basic idea. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, mainly because I was too tired to read for about 5 years. But what stuck with me was the being ‘in the moment’ with the housework and chores and not taking them on with a ‘get through it’ attitude. Yes, I can see that, it’s hard to do but it’s worth a try and I often think about this when I am folding 12 tons of washing.
So I am going to apply this ‘in the moment’ idea to my practical sewing and enjoy every stitch of adding the Scout ‘fishing badge’, so proudly earned, to my sons shirt and the WWW (that’s Winter Without Wetsuit) badge to my husbands sweater!
It also means I need to make a few ‘boring’ items for me and the kids. I need some pyjama pants and Bertie needs some trousers. I yawned at the idea. But then I really surprised myself by how much I enjoyed the process. They were quick, a quick sew has been few and far between of late.
The first ‘practical’ item was my pyjama pants. I used the Tilly & The Buttons, Margot Pyjama pants pattern from her book, Love At First Stitch. This is the first pattern I have used from this book. Super easy and super quick. I cut a size 4, they are comfy and loose. I made the process easier by adding elastic to the waistband instead of a drawstring, which in my opinion is ‘faff’.
The fabric I used was a charity shop find, bought about 6 months ago. I had about 2.5m, luckily, as it was not very wide. It’s a cotton mix paisley number, cost all of about $3.
The second ‘practical’ item was a pair of trousers for Bertie. He is growing at an alarming rate (god knows how as he eats like a sparrow) and having already made two pairs of Mini Hudson Pants in the last month, something else was called for.
I made Parsley Pants by Made by Rae. I am no stranger to this pattern, I have made it many times over, I even wrote a post about my love for them here. It’s super easy and with only two pieces (the front & back are one piece), it’s a doddle to cut and sew. I thought I might add some pouch pockets as he always needs somewhere to stuff his lego minifigures or his cars.
The fabric I used was another charity shop find, I bought it last week. It’s a yummy, thick, olive green cord. It cost $4. It is a fairly thick fabric with a little stretch. I was originally going to add knee patches but the thickness was just too much. The pockets are a little clunky. I changed the direction of the cord on the pockets, if we are going to see them, then lets see them, I say! I lined them with some green duck cloth scraps left over from a previous make.
I am thrilled to have spent only $7 to get two fantastic pairs of pants. Both pairs are cosy, both pairs are comfy and both pairs are necessary and dare I say, they are both ‘practical’! OK, procrastination over, pass me those Scout badges someone….Hooray for practical sewing.
A couple of months ago I received an email from my friend’s mum, Margie. She said, and I quote,
“I have been having a clean up at home (mainly to save the kids if I die!) I have quite a lot of good fabric, no rubbish (Liberty etc) and if you could use it I would be delighted to give it to you.”
You can imagine my response (apart from snorting with laughter at her text!) AHHHH, yes I would love it! I have to show just a few pieces here. Some really gorgeous fabric, and this is only some of it.
Once I had got over the shock of such a wonderful and generous gift, I started to think of a way to thank her. I can say, Margie expected nothing from this but I really wanted to give her something so she would totally get my thrill at receiving such a stash.
I know Margie loves a bit of Japanese design, she has a very unique style herself and wears really beautiful clothes. We had both done an amazing Shibori workshop and we were just about to embark on a Slow Stitching workshop so this was a good jumping off point.
I settled on a kimono.
I found a lovely tencel in Spotlight which was perfect for the project, it had a hint of Shibori about it with it’s random pattern and colour. I used the pattern I had drafted for myself recently, see my punk kimono. We are similar in size so I knew it would fit.
Of course, I had to line it with some Liberty, it seemed fitting and the darker tones of the Liberty fabric worked really well with the tencel.
I had to try it on, of course! I am really pleased with the result. It’s a much lighter fabric than my denim version. It sits a lot better for it.
I gave it to Margie yesterday at her granddaughters birthday party (of which I was running one of my sewing parties). Over a glass of champers I handed it over, a little nervous to be honest. She told me that it was so unexpected and that it was very special to her because of the effort and thought that I had put into it (lump in throat). Ah, that makes it worth every stitch, don’t you think?