Shirt to Sunbather

Another quick sew, and my summer sewing seems to be taking shape, a lot of the colours I am using co-ordinate well, and I am using up a lot of what was in the ‘press’.  I had seen a few of these tops on WeSewRetro, and I got the pattern from Etsy.

I used a charity shop shirt, harvested the buttons, and cut out the top gathered piece in 2 pieces, as well as having to divide the pattern piece for the back wraps in two.  I made a grain error (ie cut it off grain) in the end wrap pieces but it makes no difference really.  There is enough shirt left over for a button back version of this!  I used about 5m of store bought bias binding (2euro), and lined it with left over sheeting (its a thin sheet/like flour bag fabric).  My lining was cut the same as the fabric, and sewed to the fabric before the top was constructed.

Very quick make….. however the temperatures here have taken a dive so it may not get worn for a while!

McCalls 7241 – A simple sew

While I have been sewing for years, that doesn’t mean it been anyway consistent, or even improving, if anything, in the in-between times when I was no longer sewing regularly or our of necessity, I had gotten worse, and this fabric was a case in point.  I picked it up some years ago on a whim thinking I would just whip up a tunic and I cut it slightly off grain on one side (slippy fabric)  as well as a less than perfect choice of lining (I cut the lining off a skirt and inserted it……. and only wore it once or twice as it was so badly made

So last year, I unpicked it and starched it, and couldn’t figure what to make, so I put it to one side of a while.  Two weeks ago, I had a particularly  rotten day at work (which to be fair never happens as I only work part time and with nice people) and came home grumpy and decided I needed a treat and got this pattern on a whim ignoring the postage costs vs pattern costs……I am glad I did as it was a quick sew, and a fun piece and while  I could have drafted it, there is something nice about being given all the steps and tested pattern,  and I am shallow enough to be easily swayed by those cute illustrations.

Recutting was a bit of a squeeze and I used pen to mark out (naughty).  Recutting also showed up the original bad cut.  I lined it this time in a fine cotton (its like handkerchief fabric) from the TWI remnant bin and it was perfect as it has woven lines which helped in keeping the hem even.  No facings as the lining does that, the ties are threaded through the top and the bottom is elasticated.  This top would also work well for vintage scarves I think.    I had hoped the pen marks would not be visible after laundering but no such luck…. but I am sure they will go in time!

A very quick sew, and very pleased with top (another style I usually don’t wear), and I have always loved the print on this fabric, and some good came from having a rotten day at work!

Action shots are by number one photographer and roller blade buddy Catriona….



grey skirt to grey dress (and still a grey skirt)

When I was 20 I went inter-railing and had my rucksack packed with stuff, including vintage dresses (3) and floral McHammer style pants (it was the 80s), leggings and lots of teeshirts, plimsoles and sandals…… and a few basics.  We met lots of wonderful people and I loved it all.  I remember meeting one girl, who had a much smaller and simpler rucksack, metal water canteen (like from the army) and who seemed to have a total 2 jersey skirts and 3 tee shirts and each combination looked so effortless, and ready for all occasions….. and funnily enough when I was working on this skirt, and how to make it multi-functional,  I thought of her (and how much I would like to inter-rail again….)


The skirt was in the charity shop, beside a rail of 1euro coats (seriously a whole rail)…. I adored the charcoal shade, and I wasn’t sure what it was, skirt or dress.  Its a bias cut, and had a half bubble effect at the front hem (elastic was sewn inside on the front hem), and there was one belt loop at the back –   I tried it both ways, as a dress and skirt and it seemed to be both.

I had a feeling it was a never-worn-sale-buy, and when I took it apart, sure enough, there was a green sticker that some stores use on the label, and no wear signs at all.  The skirt was a zip to the side, and both side seams sat a bit more towards the front, with the right side more so.  The back had two long darts, and a belt loop over one.

I put it on the mannequin a few ways, and finally decided on

  • taking out the elastic on the front hem, and re-heming the lining, and the front of skirt
  • make one strap which would tie with buttons, and go to a v shape at the front
  • to put a second belt loop on the back, over the other dart
  • to put a button hole under each one
  • to have a loop on the inside middle front of the skirt and to run the straps through this

I took some fabric from the belt (nearly half) and folded it over and sewed to make the strap.  I got the flattest buttons from the button box and used the super buttonhole maker (but still lined up one button-hole slightly off).  I undid the front loop and redid it.  Originally I didn’t like how the stitching showed, but after finishing, I also noticed that sewing the loop to the facing didn’t secure it enough, and also the dress sat up at the front, when I put the dress backwards, it sat level at the hem, so I resewed the loop with more even stitches, as at least its was now to the back!  The waist darts of the skirt, now acting as chest/bust darts!


I have been wearing it as a dress and I love it….I prefer it un-belted but have the option to belt it, and  I am still figuring a top for if I wear it as a skirt (thinking of maybe a white vest or a wrap top?)


I am rather chuffed to have a new summer dress as a few of my summer clothes got re-donated as they don’t really go with grey hair (creamy yellows).  I am finally getting used to the new hair colour as its now evening out and growing longer, as I love the texture of my own hair (dyed hair has the texture of a fake wig) but as I only really see myself in the mirror twice a day, it still takes getting used to seeing photos of myself!


Rachel Trews…. Vogue 1507

I got this pattern as I adored the top made by Sallieoh…. and when I read this post by Erica Bunker, I decided the trousers could be worth a try.  I tend to sew the same shapes (a line dress) and in general I am relatively conservative.  I like it like that, but also figure its good to try a few unknowns now and then.  I had this 1.25m denim linen for a while (probably 4 years) and so in the spirit of use it/lose it – it was sequestered!

The trousers are pretty straightforward.  I traced the pattern to grade out for my size (between a 16 and 18 – and 12 to 14 at waist)  and as it was a multi-size it made it easier.  When I went to sew it I felt like I sewed it twice.  For such a simple sew, I made a load of mistakes – I kept sewing the pockets to the crotch as the single notch in each caught me out (note use a treble notch for pockets?).  Of course I only did it once, but when I went to fix it, I got the wrong leg and moved the pocket to that crotch….. seriously it was sewing Abbot and Costello.  The rest went well until the zip.  There have been comments online about the difficulty of getting a 6inch open end zip, and I was not going to delude myself I would find one in Galway, so I just bought an 18″ and cut it down.  It took me an age to figure the diagram – the zip I understood but the sewing of the tabs I was not so sure of (now that they are done, I cannot remember what the confusion was!)

The trousers are not fully sewn until after the zip, but I had to baste the sides to figure the fit, I should have basted more, as it was only after the zip and sewing the sides and facings that I realised the fit was not going to work.   So they were put aside for the day.  When I went back to fix – it was relatively quick.  I re-angled the zip (chalk line is original, and basted zip is the better fit),took off back facing and did a sway back adjustment at the centre back.  They fitted fine, so I decided to lower the front yoke and alter the back facing.  The original waist in the pattern is above the natural waist, but it really feels a bit too high for me (and I love high waisted anything), so I brought it all down an inch, hemming the front yoke down, and altering/removing and reusing the back-facing.

They are incredibly comfortable pair of trews and a shape I would probably not even try on in a store!   And they feel store bought probably for that reason as well as that I am rather lazy about detailing, so the detailing here is a novelty.  I pretty much wore them straight from the machine….. and took the photos an hour later, and wore them out that evening.  I love them, and the fabric is perfect.  I am wearing a pattern magic toile top with them (still playing around with the pattern but it seems to ‘go’ well with these trousers).   I have yet to make the other top for it….. but should do in the next few weeks….!