Fashion Revolution plans, crochet makes and embroidered skirt

So how are ye all? I am sure everyone (I know I am) is still reeling in shock at how things can get up-ended so fast, and still changing daily.

In Ireland all changes had been introduced over the course of the last few weeks, from closing schools first then closing pubs, then restaurants to now ‘lockdown’ as of last Friday night, for 2 weeks so as to ‘flatten the curve’. About 10 days ago I developed a tightness in my throat and small cough while on some days off work, so before returning to work (clerical work in a hospital) I checked with the doctor if it was appropriate to do so. I was advised to self isolate for 2 weeks and return after that. On one hand I feel I may have been over-cautious, but on the other, I think it better I don’t bring in any bugs to work. (I am not going to be tested for Covid19 as I don’t have a fever), so the symptoms of whatever I have should have fully passed in the next week.

The absence of traffic (and jams) is both calming and eerie, and the absence of litter is a novelty. It seems the opposite to all the dystopian movies, and to feeling rather guilty knowing we can at least stay at home and not worry so about basics such as food and shelter ….. News is generally overwhelming so I tend to ration TV, radio and online news feed.  Right now I dont have any radio on, but I do think I will look up a podcast of my favourite radio show to sew to ‘Movies and Musicals’ later… its pure escapism for me to balance it all out.

On another note, in the last few months, myself and my friend Cathriona had planned some fashion revolution events which now will be shelved for another time. I had been looking forward to doing a repair cafe, and talk in Galway City Museum, isn’t this flyer great? Cathriona designed that one!

gandi davitt

We also planned an upcycling workshop the following day in another venue, showing how to make the denim patchwork dress as well as the three armhole dress (in the pattern section here). I have now decided I will work on a child’s version of the three armhole dress,  and aim to upload the pattern and photos of the make for April 25/26.

I have been doing some crochet since Christmas as its so handy to do watching TV. I loved the intricate design of this Huldra Sweater which is relatively simple once you get the pattern and went to great lengths to get the yarn as I did not have the quantities in my stash – I like the sweater but did make it twice as had to frog first one as it was too big, I also got a kick out of one colleagues comments, ‘like your sweater, its like something one of those Manson’ chicks would wear…..’ (I think he was referring to the movie ‘Once upon a time in Hollywood).

The second one is  Terra Firma, its a great pattern as you can use any yarn any size once you do a gauge swatch. I had some stash navy which I eeked this out of, the original neckline was a little bit high so I frogged from ‘beginning’ and used the yarn to get another 2 cm at the bottom. I used another same weight navy for all the trim, there is a shade difference but I think it looks well as the full trim is in this 2nd navy. The buttons were from the button box and were chosen in that I had a lot of them and they were the right size, I may yet change them for ‘flat’ style buttons.

terra firma

The second cardi was to ‘go with’ this embroidered skirt, as a layering piece for winter. I finally got around to lining it last week. I was so looking forward to making this and took ages figuring a colour way….. Now that its done, I think I have one or two motif too many, and should have let the front slit without motif – currently the skirt length is about 4 inches below the knee.

The skirt was a plain wool skirt I got in a charity shop some time ago. I really did not need any more skirts but I can never resist beautiful wool and often these skirts are overlooked and just left there…… The embroidery motif was purchased online and lining it up proved fiddly and I think (know) I may have deviated off grain with the embroidery. The waistband was reconstructed from the original pieced one. I am currently wearing it ‘around the house’ to see how it wears and moves as embroidery can make the fabric very stiff, so far its a good fit and the front slit is working as expected (ie not kicking out).

skirt and crochet

Ultimately my highlight of the week was seeing the growth in the garden and the insects all coming back, especially bumblebees which I think work the hardest and are so gentle. The past few years we have had late frosts which killed off a lot of plum blossom but so far it all looks promising there. The thoughts of a ‘silent spring’ gives me the most anxiety of all.

So thats the craic here. When the corona virus started to hit Italy so badly, I came across an article on the Decameron, and then I got lent the book last week….. and I will sit out the next few days on the sofa with this for company.

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Anyone else coming across good books or podcasts…would love to know?

I do hope you are all keeping well, and staying safe.

double denim and other diversions

Hello all, and welcome to new readers to this blog, this post is a bit rambling as when not at work, I seem to be sewing organising sewing room to accommodate new machines, getting some events arranged for fashion revolution week, crocheting, and bruising my hand while chopping wood (a log ricocheted back! but all better now).

I have been sewing some bits and pieces lately – but don’t seem to be getting my 2 main projects going yet (a purple coat remake, and embroidering a wool skirt). My main diversion is trying to figure a ‘perfect blouse’ and mulling through vintage patterns….. I have this one cut out for a year and have yet to actually sew it!

 

In the midst of this I had an idea to make a denim dress so decided to remake my vogue 6368. This dress was always going to get remade as the denim was far too heavy for the dress, and the cut is so generous, I knew it would get re-purposed easily.

I wanted to try a simple denim dress and came across this simplicity 8055 pattern while randomly looking for perfect blouse patterns on ebay….. since I also seem to have gained some inches (don’t know if this is peri-menopause, chocolate, or bad luck) so I went with the simplicity size, which I really shouldn’t have as I had to take it in A LOT.

I was also not crazy about the pleating on the neckline in the pattern – as they seem to add a bulk that I find fussy and slightly matronly, so I changed these to sewn down tucks. I changed the neckline and cut a long bias strip and used this as a fold over collar with a side open it, and finished the inside with pink bias. I  used a scrap piece of acetate lining strip folded over and sewn to make a bow.

Its proved a very useful make and have worn it loads – I am still deliberating on whether to add pockets…..

I used the rest of the denim to eek out this skirt from Burda.

Again I cut to size and still had to take it in at the waist. I dont know if this was that the paper-bag style is not as flattering on me and bunching up too much fabric just wont work. I have worn it a few times and its fine, I thing ultimately I will wear it more in the summer as it seems to work best when worn with a tucked top.

Other Diversions….. these are sewing machines bought on whims, so I sold one machine to make some room.

Machine 1 – Bernina Minimatic

I had a bernina straight stitch but would have liked a bernina with some versitility so sold that one to buy a Bernina Minimatic on ebay. Its a great machine and I am very happy with it. I had wanted a drop feed and have used the darning feature (and cute hoop) to fix some opaque tights. The biggest bonus of the Bernina was the instructions…. the manual has real fabric sewn samples – its so tactile and really shows how to best use the stitches.

Machine 2 – Singer 201

The second machine I got was a singer 201. It came up for sale at the same time as the Bernina on local adverts page in another county. I don’t usually get machines locally as a lot of times they can have rust as Ireland can be so damp and unused machines can be badly stored). This machine seemed in good condition and I prefer this style of 201 over the ‘classic’. So I asked a friend who lives there to pick it up for me to collect later. The machine is in good condition, but the motor wasn’t. It was repaired and now sews well.

I am very pleased with the stitch of the 201 (I have yet to try the fixed drop feed to try and darn on it). The case it was in is a bit battered and the machine did not sit right in it, so I thought I would look for a small sewing table to make for a better sew. Again, went to the local adverts page and got this table complete with a machine. The seller had reduced it to 45euro. The 201 machine was without a lead. The machine was fairly rough but when I used my lead from the other 201 to see how it ran, but the motor on it is perfect so my idea now is to swop the motors and use it the ‘modern’ 201. I will keep the other and may see on cleaning it up.

Machine 3 – Frister Rossman Cub.

I had been on the look out for a starter machine for a teen (I had been asked to recommend some machines) and I ended up seeing this on ebay… and justified  the purchase with a myriad of nonsense reasons. Its a great little machine and does not appear to have been used, just stored away. The handle of the case is broken, but all the original bits are there including an invisible zip foot (which I dont have) and a needle threader (v fiddly to use), and it sews just fine.

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So the next project is definitely to finish the embroidered skirt (as I have finally finished one of the embroidered panels and relieved they line up after 1 full week of stitching).

save it for a rainy day – umbrella and tent upcycling

I had been rather busy with broken umbrellas this summer and autumn.  It really got started after I helped at the Galway repair cafe, and met Cathy from An Mheitheal Rothar (its a community bike workshop which helps repair and service bikes, run on the principals of ‘Meitheal‘ – and I am a huge fan of theirs).

Being such a fan, I suggested to Cathy I could run a free sewing workshop which reused rain gear someway, especially as being in the west of Ireland, there is a shocking amount of umbrellas that become single use items, and she came up with the catchy title ‘save it for a rainy day’. So I was off, gathering umbrellas from anywhere I could. I did pick up some from the street, my sister put a shout out in her workplace and I did a shout out on ‘freecycle’. After all that I got

  • 10-15 umbrellas (mainly black)
  • 2 tents (one had a ripped carry bag now repaired and tent still a tent and the second was donated without poles to Cope Charity Shop so got repurposed)
  • 12 high viz jackets
  • 2 shower curtains
  • 1 rain jacket (already had this from the €1 rail in charity shop)

When I got to working the umbrellas, my main ideas were a backpack cover, shopper and saddle cover and my idea for shower curtains was rain poncho. When I got to working the fabrics, the shower curtains were polyester so soaked and contained water so not much use there, but I did notice the umbrellas shape lent itself well to a kids poncho.

The Play Poncho

The poncho was quick to realise, and I used the black umbrellas to test the pattern. I had to use the high viz jacket to give some ‘interest’ and the reflective strips were reused to make it visible and suitable for safe play. I was quite chuffed with how it worked out and decided to enter it to an upcycle competition in September but wasn’t sure how it would get on as the black appeared a bit dowdy (and I wasn’t going to remake it as I had a load of other ideas to try out). I don’t have many photos of the making as the ones I took ended up in some ‘ether’ as I had computer issues last month. The pattern for the hood and guide to the make are in the pattern section of the blog.

child play poncho image 2

From the other umbrella I made a shopper, which was rather basic and not really anything to write home about so I was on to the tents and other fabrics to see if I could make backpacks.

The Backpacks

Vogue denim lunch-bag

I had been meaning to make some backpacks for a while as I needed a new lunch-bag and also wanted to try and use up smaller pieces of fabric.

The first backpack was from scrap denim and the hardware straps and zips harvested from a ‘stiga’ ping-pong ball bags used in retail ‘point of sale (and would have been discarded when empty except I worked in the store and took it home about 6 years ago).

Its a vogue pattern and not much to say on it except I thought using the pattern would get me making up a bag with detail and save me the hassle of drafting and measuring. It worked out fine but as the instructions became a bit fiddly at the end I took some short cuts to finish! Overall, it was a very useful make and worked well through August and September as my work lunch bag.

Repurposed tent/Japanese Bag Making Book

The second back pack was all tent, which had been donated to Cope charity shop without the tent rods. It took longer than it should as I sewed it twice, or so it felt as I kept sewing the fabric back to front! The other tricky part was the nylon was a fine weave so I had to use a 70 needle so it would not skip stitches (I didn’t have a 70 when I started sewing and took me a while to figure the finer needle would give a better stitch).

japanese bag book

I used a Japanese bag making book pattern as I like the detailing of the 3-way wear. Its a very useful bag (now my current waterproof work lunch bag). The bag made up in a day or so and you can wear 3 ways, as bag, as cross over and as backpack. The zip was from the tent and the red gross-grain had been on a dress and the sliders came from a soon to be upcycled coat, and I gave the bag some reflective strips. The lining is the tent lining.

 

Upcycled rain jacket backpack

The third back pack was the simplest. It is really just 2 rectangles and a zip. I had been meaning to make a bag like this for a while as I did need an ‘overnight’ bag, and had been reluctant to buy one, especially as each time I saw one in a shop the ‘stop shop’ reflex took over (ie don’t buy unless you really have to).

I had a nylon jacket in the sewing room picked up from a discount rail in the charity shop. I don’t have the before photograph due to a tech issue (long story but end result was lots of various data now lost)

I was rather pleased as I got to use all of the jacket (with some velcro tabs and cord stops left over). I did have the bag strap already and as red, it added some colour. The bag is lined with a shirt, and tied with one of those clips which was ‘found’ at home. The d rings came from tent 1. The back of the bag ‘rectangle’ shape is made from sewing the 2 fronts together, and the pockets were left! – To cover the lower seams, I used old brown canvas scrap fabric. As this bag needed some structure, I used heavy sew in vilene as the interlining.

The pattern was really cutting 6 rectangles

  • 2 rectangles from jacket
  • 2 rectangles from shirt
  • 2 rectangles from sew-in vilene

I did add to the outer layer by putting a front pocket, the band to hold the backpack strap and the d-rings, as well as the strip of brown canvas at the base.

Once the rectangles are sewn 3 sides, the corners are then sewn across to make the bag stand up.

I did use 2 strips to bind the top raw edges and also attach the zip.The rectangles are approx 70 cm x 45  and when rolled down the bag measures about 45 cm high. Once the rectangles are sewn, the bag has a depth of approx 15cm (by sewing triangles at the corners).

I put 2 small loops to the side so it can be worn as a ‘record bag’ if needed, and also a d ring at the top in case the bag needs to be filled up and worn cross body with one strap or over shoulder.

The Workshop

After the samples were made (including a bike saddle cover, and produce bags from the linings), I did the workshop with my friend Cathriona in An Mheitheal Rothar, and enjoyed it a lot. There was a mix of age groups and abilities, and a lot of ambition. 2 of the makers did get the play ponchos made, and some tried shopping bags, but the most useful make was the produce bag as it was the better introduction to the sewing machine for beginners, as well as using up some of the tent cord!

The Upcycle Competition

So in the midst of preparing for the workshop, I got a call from the competition, and it turned out the play poncho was selected as one of the 8 prizewinning entries.

Below is a chair made from a redundant whiskey barrel, and a runner up in the peoples choice (these patchworks were amazing)

Anyway….the Play Poncho got the EPA Award in the mywaste.ie competition. I was well pleased, and had to go to an award ceremony at the national museum and hold a very large cheque!

 

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Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and thank you for all your comments and reads over the year. Really looking forward to remaking a wool coat and skirt after all that nylon and hopefully getting to do more posts in 2020

here is this years hand drawn card.

card

 

 

linen remakes

I have been meaning to post this for a few months now – and while technically I do have more making time now that I am working a part week, I am getting distracted by more projects than ever and my latest will be umbrellas (so I have now become the person who takes broken umbrellas out of bins as of 2 weeks ago).

I am still picking up linen trousers on the reduced rail in charity shops. Crazy to see such beautiful fabric trousers reduced to a euro, and these wide leg pants are relatively easy to re-purpose, so I now have a ‘stash’ of these.

This summer I resewed a few pairs of linen pants. One pair was simple enough as I just recut them to remake a pair of cropped pants, and the other sews were to make some summer tops.

I also used Simplicity 1364 to remake in 2 linen tops, one blue and one white for work. The pattern is so useful, and the sew is fast, especially as I sew the sleeves in flat and then sew the side and sleeve seam last.

 

These are such useful ‘basics’. Last year I made one similar but I cut the sleeve on the cross grain, and then made a large cuff, which I still wear but found the layers of linen in the double cuff a bit chunky.

This year I decided to do a sleeve with a seam down the middle and this way I got a longer sleeve and could include a flare. The only other thing to remember is to add the seam allowance to the centre sleeve. I finish the neckline with bias binding and have a one button close at the back.

 

 

I also tried a linen tee-shirt with a split sleeve and overlapping boat neck and used a bodice block with basic bust dart as the base. Its only semi-successful and it will probably be remodelled again later. I adapted a vintage simplicity 2120. The main down-side is it looks like a dentists tunic as it is in white.

 

If I was remaking this style again, I would do tulip sleeves so they blend with the overlapping boatneck and would make the bodice shorter and flare either the bodice or sleeves (or possibly flare both).

Other than that I also took part in Galway’s first ‘repair cafe’ – yay! It was very interesting as I generally sew on my own, in my own space, so sewing in a public space with random repairs was so interesting and great fun, and not without challenges (which my singer was well able for). I even fixed roller blades.

Myself and another maker will be running a workshop soon on upcycling old umbrellas and other bits, so plenty to be busy with, especially as I hope to have additional patterns for bags and rain gear for uploading then.

I don’t know if anyone has seen the recent episode of BBC Click? They did a great show on futures for the fashion industry (youtube clip here on bacterial dying). And they also did add that the best way still to mitigate the effects of fashion on the environment is still ‘buy less’.

Happy Sewing……

 

 

Hannah Dress

I changed jobs recently, going from a five day week to four day week. I was thrilled when the opportunity for change came and while working out my notice, I went a bit crazy buying patterns. The reasons being:

1-I would have more sewing time

2-I ‘needed’ new clothes for my new job

3-I was taking a pay cut by the job change and may not be able to justify buying patterns again for ages and ages (as if….)

So amongst the buys – I bought this 1930s dress pattern after seeing EM Originals make (facebook link here), I got the simplicity dungaree pattern on a whim, I got the Donna Karan dress pattern after seeing Jasika Nicoles make. I really am unsure if I am really going to get to make and wear these, but may yet all the same.

 

 

I also got the hannah dress pattern from Victory Patterns. I had an idea I could make this from upcycling linen trousers but when the pattern was opened up, I realised it would not work out as straight forward as that. I did have some left over white linen and some blue linen (from Ikea, it was supposed to be a made to a roman blind) and made it from there.

 

 

Its a very interesting pattern and quirky dress. I had a hannah dress post from Feature Zip saved for some time and decided to add 2 inches to the length after reading that. I used the multi size to grade out to the larger at my hips. The sew was pretty straightforward, and I was glad I added the 2 inches to the length as it is a better length for me. The placket instruction is really good and very useful, although if I was sewing thicker fabric, I would have done the placket in 2 parts rather than all-in-one, or used a lawn cotton same colour fabric to eliminate bulk. I did not use the bindings from the pattern and used store bought bias binding and did not ease the armholes in so it is a more comfortable fit for me. (there were some comments that the fit at the chest is snug).

 

Delighted to have made the dress, while I have not used it for work (not practical for me), I have worn it lots. The cut is comfortable and the design suitably quirky, and a great wardrobe addition (especially as I feel some of my makes are often rather plain).

FASHION REVOLUTION 2019 – Tee shirt dresses and discussions

As well as making the sweaters and tunic skirts, I made three dress.

They were very enjoyable but took a fair amount of trial and error. Originally my stitch mixes were very ambitious but also very fussy so I crocheted and frogged in equal measure. Figuring colours was also tricky as I wanted to used all the colours but equally didn’t want the look too busy.

tests

The first dress was from an unworn ASOS dress from the charity shop, with bare shoulder detail. I trimmed the sleeves to make a trapeze style dress. The fabric was a viscose mix and a good weight. I trimmed the neckline and armholes with 2 simple lines, and the hem was done with coloured bands of stitch mixes. I used mainly US half-double stitches back loop only or a basic fillet stitch.

pink dress

I had purchased 2 of the same teeshirts from the charity shop, both were XXL cotton teeshirt which had some wear, and still plenty of wear left in them.

Both were cut and I put front and back pleats to take in the excess fabric at the ‘yoke’. I had tried gathering, but did not like the ‘effect’ of this. I could have cut these also to an a-line shape but I wanted to try a different cut to see how it worked.

For Dress 1 – I did a toned colour scheme. I trimmed the bottom of the dress with a series of stitches with coordinating colours ending with a ‘block stitch’. The shoulder band was crocheted separately and attached afterwards. The stitch is a v stitch.

 

For Dress 2 – I used some contrasting shades. I did a mix of stitches and patterns and got a bit more ‘experimental’. I swatched a fair bit for this which took a long time but it was worth it to get the balance in the end.

For the yoke did a simple rectangle shape using v stitch and with lines of different colours.

 

I then finished the armholes with lines of US single crochet and had to also ‘take in’ some of the excess from the armholes with some decreases.

The dresses were donated to Cope Charity Shop for Fashion Revolution week, the idea being that the charity shop could show them in-store to show some upcycle techniques for tee shirts, and I also did a free workshop in the museum to share the techniques from the makes. Luckily Claudia and Angelica from the weekly stitch meet ups (yarn collective galway) and helped show the crochet, so by the time the workshop was done, everyone learned the blanket stitch and crochet stitches.

Cope Charity Shop hosted a discussion for Fashion Revolution Week on the future for sustainable fashion. In ways I am rather surprised that more charity shops dont get involved with Fashion Revolution week – Galway and Ireland have a lot of charity shops and one thing that did come up in the discussion on Sunday in ‘Cope’ was Spain and Estonia do not. When I approached Cope Charity Shop originally last year to ask if they would show my remakes in the shop, they were the only shop I considered. They have high standards in their shop and also have a good outreach with their social media page. They also seemed to me to potentially be open to the idea (and I was so right there). I would love to see more charity shops work with other makers.

I have the links to the Cope Charity Shop Facebook page here – they did some wonderful photos of the makes, and their shop window has all the fashion revolution tips.

 

Again, I really enjoyed the making for the event, as by having to do repeat makes really upped the game and I tried a different take with each make, and experimented a lot more on the theme that I would do on single makes. I also got to make styles that I may not wear but others would (like skimpy beach tops!). I also got to try out some new crochet stitches, and my new favourite stitch is the ‘box stitch’ – thats the turquoise blocks below as I have also started to make a navy version for myself!

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The stitch guide and pattern  will be listed with my patterns in the pattern page here hopefully next week…. once I finish the chart!

Fashion Revolution 2019 – Tee Shirt to dress / skirt / tunic

For this years fashion revolution, I had decided I would like to do a similar project to last years where I donated specific upcycled makes to a local charity shop so they could ‘exhibit’ these and sell in store.

Last years theme was denim, and this years is tee shirts and sweaters.

The reason I chose these items is both are ubiquitous items and heavily donated to charity shops. They are also sold a lot in fast fashion chains and discount stores and often of poor quality and disposed of quickly, so the idea to prolong the wearing of these was particularly appealing.

I had tried a crochet trim on knits before and find it a very useful way of upcycling sweaters and tee shirts. I prefer the ‘look’ of the crochet trim especially on sweaters when worn with tweeds as it seems to add another detail which I think balances with tweed so well. I did a selection of sweaters (see former post ) and also adapted the toast pattern for a heavier knit sweater.

The sweaters below are a mix. The pink sweater is a turtleneck boat neck, and made using ‘toast sweater pattern’. The red sweater is a basic raglan recut and remake trimmed with pink crochet stitches. The blue sweater is a sweater recut and trimmed with 5 chains (skipping 3 sc spaces) for a few lines and the last line is 3 chains to ‘draw’ it in)

For the tee shrits I made a tee shirt tunic which can be worn as a skirt or as a tunic.

fashion rev 19 montage 1

I was especially pleased with this, as I figured a nice trim for the hem which did not take up too much yarn. The tee shirt pictured here too less than a 50g ball of yarn. This 50g ball was used for this tee shirt and also for the neckline and sleeve trim of the cardigan.

There were a few versions made but the approach was the same for them all.

The teeshirt was checked for holes (which could be covered with a crochet motif or pocket teeshirt cut(if you wish), and then trimmed and cut out an a-line shape.

The tie is a foundation crochet length about 160cm/2m long. I chose foundation sc crochet instead of a chain as there is more stretch in foundation crochet and also it would be easier to wear. I finished the ties with beads, and knotted the end.

 

The top and hem are then finished with a blanket stitch and crocheted into. The pattern guide for this can be found in the pattern links section of this blog and also on ravelry which I have linked here.

 

 

 

Depending on the length of the tee-shirt, it can work as a tunic and skirt, or a dress and long skirt. I have made up a few of these and the pattern takes less than a 50g ball of 4 ply yarn. For this one, I used a 50g ball to make the tunic/skirt below and a matching cardigan trim!

sweater tunic twin set

I made some others in varying colours and lengths, if you have a long tee shirt it will wear as a dress, or you can add an alternative length trim.

I also did some dresses, but am still writing up the pattern for that, and should have the post up later in the week.

I will also be doing workshop in these in Galway Museum – which are free and part of fashion revolution week!

Looking forward to seeing the events on this year for Fashion Revolution (and of course MeMadeMay!)

New Coat New Year

I have been working on some upcycled knits for Fashion Revolution week this year, so a lot of sewing is getting put to one side for ‘after April’.

I had been meaning to make a new coat for a while and had a navy 80s ‘Jimmy Hourinan’  (high end Irish clothing brand) coat that I was looking forward to remaking. I had bought the coat 2 years ago in the charity shop. It was a generous 80’s cut and beautiful fabric (wool cashmere – so light and so warm) and sadly it also would have originally been at least 12 inches longer. Someone donated the coat cut to a shorter length and pins still in it!

Its hard to describe the cut and the photograph does not fully show (as I took these photos late evening 2 years ago). The sleeves were a low cut doman/raglan, and there was a generous collar. The front of the coat shaping is a ‘princess seam’. When I took the coat apart and there was less fabric than I had hoped. I had hoped to get a funnel neck coat or asymentric coat (and few contenders), but as the length was no longer there my options were limited.

I always think it is ultimately best to find a pattern with similar lines and work from there.

The Butterick pattern I had seemed to have this as it has a simple cut, raglan sleeve and I could potentially ‘squeeze’ in the neckline. The neckline here is a subtle funnel neck with a nice front detail. The sleeve heads were shorter because of the neckline (and the original sleeves were shorter because of the big cuffs).

I adapted this butterick pattern to include a seam down by moving the ‘french’ dart to a bust dart and then put a seam down from the dart point, and incorporating the coats original seam here.

I graded it out a bit here and there as the fit of the coat is slim. I used the front seam to keep the pockets in-seam as in the previous coat. The pockets are smaller than the original coat as one panel was moved up to accommodate the neckline.

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One the pattern was drafted and cut, it was relatively straightforward, except for

-there was a notch/cut in the previous centre back seam which I did not notice until after so I had to darn it after.

-the sleeves needed a small cuff added to make it longer.

Took these photos of it a month ago on Christmas Day

 

there were five buttonholes and five buttons when I got the coat. I took the coat apart and had everything stored well.

The cut incorporated the original 5 button holes but could only find four buttons!

so I omitted the lower one and I am waiting for it to reappear in my workroom, which I do hope is soon as anytime someone admires the coat I inevitably point out the missing button…. why do we do this!!!

 

Denim jean dress, figs and blackberry cough syrup

I had made one of these dresses for Fashion Revolution to give to Cope Charity Shop to sell in April, and meant to run another for myself, and finally I did in August from some left over denim.

These jean dresses are a quick make. I possibly could have taken my time and worked out where to blend in the bust dart, and maybe sneak some pockets into the seams – but I didn’t…. as worst sewing habit is my race to the finish.

Before I sew denim I prefer to hot wash jeans to get the grain a bit more settled back. For this style dress, I rip the legs up near to the seam along the straight grain (boot cut or straight leg will give most fabric). Iron and trim any long threads, and I over-locked the rectangles. Starting with a triangle, I built up a large patchwork, and then lay my pattern piece for the dress on top. Cut, ironed and flat felled the seams, sewed darts, dress, zip – hem and done! I used a simple A-line shift dress pattern. (I did not take any photos of the making but have drawn a diagram as I had been explaining it before – and referring to log cabin block made not sense to the person as the did not do patchwork.

 

Other than that – I have been doing some drawing, and putting some order in the garden as a lot of plants which were packed already, were even more squished…. so I have split chives, fennel, rhubarb and hydrangea, as well as summer pruning. and wondering what to do with the ever abundant crop of figs!

Growing up the biggest sin in our family home was waste, and this was generally about food, which obviously makes sense. Any wanton waste was viewed with suspicion, and good clothes being unworn or let got to rags without care was either a crime or a sin. Little wonder I see mending as a necessity.

However  I must admit, some clothes were always beyond redemption. When my teeny-tiny aunt mentioned to my father that she had a fitted sheepskin coat she no longer wore and ‘would the girls like it’, my dad was delighted. He brought the coat home not thinking his 2 daughters were now fine strapping girls in their 20s. To my ultimate relief there was no way that coat fitted, and of course by then the bigger dilemma here for my dad was to have to give it back to the aunt defeated or to somehow re-home it, as apparently ‘they (sheepskin coats) are very warm and so expensive. It would be pure criminal to throw out a coat like that’.  (to this day I think my aunt figured it fitted us as I know the wardrobe it languished in later).

So with echos of ‘its a sin to throw that out’ and ‘you cant waste food, sure thats a sin’  I am in a bit of a bind when it comes to these figs and they generally end up in the compost heap. I am not riddled with guilt as such but now determined to find a better use for them than compost.

I planted a Brown Turkey Fig tree as it grows in Ireland, and seems to be the only one sold.  Now after growing them I know they taste bland or wooly regardless of the amount of sunshine in the summer (I was sure this year’s heatwave would do it…but no). I still have to find a recipe that will work for them.

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This years experiment of this fig tart seems a winner. I did a variation of this recipe, where the figs are roasted in honey and orange, and then put into a tart with frangipane poured over. It is the most successful of the recipes tried so far, even though it only uses 6 figs. (The roasted figs on their own do not taste as good and need the additional support of the pastry and frangipane mix). I am still on the look-out for more recipes as this is the only one so far that seemed to work.

If anyone has any recipes or tips for Brown Turkey Figs – please do tell ….. This tree is a seriously heavy cropper!

My best make for August was my Blackberry Cough syrup. I swear by it and did not get a chance to make any last year so had to battle winter sniffles without. I was determined to make it this year, and made a double batch to be sure. I have the recipe below if anyone would like to try it. I take a few teaspoons in boiling water as a night time drink I does smell of vinegar but tastes fine, and so soothing for a sore throat.

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MAKES 1.5pints (the jars above contains 3 pints)
1lb blackberries
1lb honey
8oz sugar
1/2 pint wine vinegar

Cook blackberries over gentle heat until juice runs, then boil to a mush. Sieve out pips (to a separate clean saucepan). Add the honey, sugar, and vinegar and bring to boil again. Skim off any scum and pour into warmed very clean bottles. (lasts for about 2 years…..)

 

hello 1982

This make reminds me so much of the 80s, It was not my intention starting out… it just seemed to turn out like that.  It was also a top similar in style to the ones I did sew for myself in the 80s – where the main considerations were to avoid zips, buttons and sleeve insertions.

I picked up a few bits of fabric recently when I was in Dublin recently getting a second opinion on whether I should get 5 crowns. My dentist thought I should consider getting one on an over-filled back tooth, the ‘crown’ consultant in Galway figured why stop there as I could really do with five. Being faced with such a hefty bill, I decided to get a second opinion from a specialist dental practice I had used to some time ago in Dublin for a root canal (that offer free consultation),  and they pretty much recommended only one crown needed and the inexpensive one (so guess whos opinion I am running with….).

So after this good news , I strolled about town visiting galleries before getting the bus back to Galway, and by way of celebration – I popped into the Cloth Shop off St Stephens Green in Dublin. I don’t often buy fabric, but I do like to have some as its nice to have a sufficient amount to try out a new pattern  now and then rather than being compromised by what an upcycle remake presents. I bought some blue tweed I had noticed there some time back, and the end piece of a viscose knit.

The viscose knit was the perfect weight for top with a bit of structure. I had hoped to make something with a funnel boat neck and kimono sleeve. There was just nearly enough fabric left on the roll – about 70cm.

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I had made up a rough toile in cotton and then used it as a pattern, I did modify the front to add more fabric to the front neckline, but really could have added a bit more.  The collar facing is a continuation up from the neckline in blue and folded over. I did have to patch the sleeve at the back to make the kimono sleeve fit (I have shown the draft here on the fabric to show where I came in ‘short’.) This back seam on the sleeve is fine, as its easier to tell front and back when putting it on!

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and bonus – it matches these sun-glasses