Paddington Top – Scarf Upcycle

Whenever I see random gloves on the street, I tend to pick them up and put on a nearby ledge in case the owner comes back…. I don’t know if they do, but at this stage its now a habit. Some weeks ago, I was walking home from work and I saw a scarf on the street which looked like it just fell from someones bag…. So I tied it to the nearby railing. At the time, I thought ‘what a pity’ ‘this scarf looks new’…… The next day when I was passing again, the scarf was still there…. And this time I just put it in my bag and brought it home. When I got home the cat sniffed it so much, (ick) so straight into washing machine.

I had thought it could be useful to try Peppermint Paddington Top, but when I went to cut it, the scarf was far tatty-ier, full of pulled threads and also piling. It was also very sheer.

I lined it with some left over muslin fabric, and cut out. The front had to have a front seam which did not look right when sewn up, so I did a panel strip to break up obvious symmetry and think it functions better.

 The pattern is straight forward and instructions thorough so it was an easy quick sew. I think in all it took a few hours including the cut out time for both fabrics.

The elastic used for the sleeves is taken from old bra straps (ultimate upcycle). I had put buttons (from button tin) in the back as per pattern, but they are not at all necessary. The neck finish is white bias ribbon and the hem was finished with a bias strip of left over scarf…. And in the end all that was left of the scarf were tiny scraps.

Summer’s over

I so love my morning read of other peoples blogs, it really sets me up for the day, and I also find the connectivity to other makers so rewarding – and inspiring. I set up this blog to both record my little project and to be part of an on-line sewing community (as I see it). And yet…. I am rather slow at updating my own!

My summer wardrobe is mainly made up of older makes, and I do enjoy unpacking them each easter as all my me-made, and me-altered clothes are so comfortable and -‘so-me’- and the same goes for my winter wear .Hence my must-make list is rather short, as I prefer to keep a limited amount of clothes in my wardrobe so everything gets worn.

I did find this summer, that I was short on summer dresses for hot days. We had 2 heatwaves here this summer, and while temperatures of 27C plus (up to mid 30s) were lovely at times, prolonged temperatures like this are not at all usual for the west of Ireland, and another indicator of climate change which is always an alarming prospect. How-and-ever…… I was sweltering in work ….. so I thought to make another crochet trimmed dress. The dress was one of those ‘cold shoulder’ designs, and rather short, but its cotton and the fabric is gathered so not clingy.

I did a basic trim at the hem with some 4 ply cotton, from left over bits from the fashion revolution project some years ago. I was actually glad to use the plum and purple shades as they didnt seem ever to fit anywhere else! For the neckline, I cut of the lace and straps on the dress, gathered the dress at front and back to bring it in, and then crochet trimmed with a few decreases here and there. The dress is unbelievably comfortable so I was well happy!

Other makes of the summer were this aysymetric skirt. I had been toying with a pattern here but wasnt happy with the fall of it. I spotted this one on Etsy, and liked the fact it was an all-in-one or could be divided, and while not exactly like what I had been working on, it was sufficinetly similar. I had some long left over panels of suiting fabric (sadly a polyester fabric not wool), so used this to try out the pattern. It was a quick make, and I didnt line it (which I may do later). I may make a small top (vest) to wear with it for this winter as there are tiny scraps left. I am also thinking of adapting the pattern with the pattern I drafted to make the style that was originally in my mind.

So now we are nearly October, and I will have to spend an afternoon or two in the garden. I tend not to do too much gardening and only weed/tidy about 3 times a year, but the passion flower climber will be moved to a different as it pretty much took over this year (as in background photos above – there is a small apple tree under that!)….. The frog pond I dug last year (as the site beside us where they had been living was built on so no frog home left) – the pond became the new home to a lot of tadpoles, which are now tiny froglets. I do have to figure a short term autumn cover for it this year as there are two large beech trees over head which will shed shortly! I tried a wire mesh cover last year which did not really work, and this year thinking of a tent type structure for the months of Oct and Nov….. so if anyone has done anything similar, do please share…. dreging out the leaves is a tricky business I have found!

My other big plan this year is – very slow sewing as I have started back doing embroidery…. so hope to have some makes to show by Christmas!

Happy making!

Singer table – before and after

I was a bit embarassed asking my brother in law to collect this table (and hand over 45euro) until I could come and collect it (and pay back the money) – as it was really in a sorry state. I had seen the table on ‘’, and thought it would be perfect for my 201 machine, as well as being useful having a machine table combo. While it was not as interesting looking as the bigger singer tables with side drawers, I liked the modest lines, and smaller ‘footprint’ of this table.

Tidy and all as the table is, my workroom space was getting rather crowded lately as it now has to double up as my home office and last weekend was the weekend to reorganise (bank holiday).

The weather has been rather good (dry) lately so it was a good time to bring the table to the yard, and apply some stripper. I stripped the varnish/finish off, and then sanded it. I wasn’t sure of the finish underneath and for a moment I thought the wood was potentially the same – as the colour of the table was uniform. Once striped, the table looked so different – I think the legs are pine or some composite and the veneer was much darker, so if I revarnished/sealed it would look like a patch work.

I decided to paint the table with a waterbased satin wood (cheapest in diy store) – and oil the table top. I dithered for a while on paint colour and chose black as it seemed the simplest choice. The sanding and stripping took a few hours, and the painting and oiling took about an hour each time – so in the end it was a rather quick job.

So very happy with the table. Ironically the first sew I did was to put the bernina on it and get some jeans darning done (the bernina has the ‘free arm’). I did use the 201 after to do a zip fix!

yea for crochet – 2 new tanks

Crochet is the perfect go to for me right now, especially sitting in the evenings as tv gets very tired very quickly! I have always found it very calming, all you ever have to think about is one stitch at a time.

After making the pillar to post shawl/poncho last september, I had my eureka moment and decided to make a tank. I had found it tricky to dress for work in the hospital (in winter) as its a warmer office environment than I had been used to in previous jobs. My wool sweaters were too warm and cardigans were fine, but I needed something to keep my neck warm!

It really wasnt much of a eureka as the pillar to post stitch I used in the poncho, originally came from a tank pattern. The eureka moment was probably making a detatchable cowl collar. The first collar I did was just a basic rib, and the second style was one with a bit of a hem so it would sit better tucked in (I now think I should have made the hem longer an as I have red yarn left, I will get to it.

I was doubly pleased as the sirdar harrap yarn (although a synthetic mix) I picked up locally was a perfect match for my favourite ever pair of trousers (gorgeous wool, picked up at a charity shop some years back and only needed mimimum alteration).

Of course why make one, when you can make 2 so I made a 2nd in navy, using a beautiful tweed wool (and 2 different collars). in all the tanks and collars used about 750 metres of dk yarn and I used a 4 and 5 hook.

For me – the proof will always be in how quickly any new piece integrates with my wardrobe and both of these were worn straight away and lots since. Even though I am working from home since January, they are still worn plenty, as they work well with a cardigans.

Hope everyone is keeping well and staying safe!

christmas sewing

I gave up on sewing ‘for christmas’ some time ago…. when I got sense!! I used try and make some pressents and also a ‘christmas outfit’, and while most got done it was always with compromises (omitted details, and dodgy hems) – I pretty much stopped doing a lot of it in the last 15 years, and just doing a christmas card drawing as my christmas effort.

Most of my sewing plans for the year remained undone. To be honest, I have been doing less sewing as realistically my wardrobe has enough clothes, and I like and wear them all (except for the ones that mysteriously have become too small) so it all seems complete. The re-sews now are a bit more contemplated and much slower – and also this year was fairly distracting with everyday seeming the same with a consistant wary-ness – I even think the reason I started wearing scent the last few months was to have something different….. I have also started wearing earings again (I think I am trying to distract myself with shiny things), and I changed roles in work, to a 5 day week in the hospital (I miss my 4 day week but there is a new roof to be put on our house, and again, I think there may have been an underlying desire for change) .

I was strangly relieved/glad when the shops opened again here after the last lockdown even though I am not an avid shopper – again, I think is the distraction, seeing as cinemas are closed or when open very little is showing, and travelling to other towns to galleries if open is off the cards. At least I can still meet a friend for walks and chats weather permitting – and as of tomorrow we are in a level 5 again (ie lockdown).

The day before the October lockdown, I had popped by a charity shop and saw a nice large womens herringbone tweed suit. I only had so much change in my purse and was 2 euro short of the price tag so I figured I could get it when the shop opened again – and sure enough I called to the shop about 3 days after the reopening in December, and it was not there! But I did find a man’s wool trousers marked 5 euro in the womens section.

The waist size meant I would have enough fabric for my hips, and the wool was a lovely quality. I am always surprised by how big the pockets are in mens trousers. I place a pattern on top to check if there would be enough fabric, and there was for slim cut ‘ankle grazer’ – Burda trousers from the September issue.

The cut was fairly straigh forward, I decided to go for a side zip, and kept the back pockets as well as the small ‘watch pocket’ to the front as my ‘dumb phone’ fits nicely in it. I reused the front lining in the same way as well as the zip and the hook closure. I have photos below of the cut.

I was unsure what to do for the waist, but decided to keep with the original pattern and have a waistband. I rarely use waistband, preferring a faced waist but as I could not introduce additional darts at the back, due to the back pockets already being in place. I ended up easing the trousers into the waistband and then using the steam iron to flatten the ease into place, and shrink in the wool – below photos are before steaming…… wool is the most agreeable fabric to work with!

so it all sewed up fairly quickly. I was even happier when I picked up a perfect blouse in the charity shop a week before christmas, so all set. Its a nice simple cut – and interesting fabric of black chiffon like discs sewn on to similar fabric. Its probably to be worn with less underneath as only the front has a layer of lining, but works very well with a black base layer (and sensible warm) as well as the super new-used boots.

By the time christmas morning came, I was in two minds on whether I should just spend it in pyjamas seeing as christmas visits would not be happening this year, but I parked that idea – and happily spent christmas morning listening to some old tunes, and new tunes (Brian Eno LP for Christmas), and started into a new book – while the dinner roasted away in the oven.

Wishing everyone the very best for 2021 and a brighter new year.

Plaid remade – finally

I had to look at my old blog to find the photo of this skirt ‘before’ – I got it about 2014, and had been trying to figure what to make on and off since. My denim Anna Sui dress may now be too small (I live in hope) so I figured I could make a new one, and should I suddenly shrink (unlikely) I could take it in (dream on).

I started making the dress at the end of summer and finally getting to blog about it just coming on to Christmas ….. its a funny thing Covid, time seems to stretch out and then its gone in a flash.

I had to size up – and am feeling pretty cheated. I hadn’t realised there would be such a body change with perimenopause (which can only make me wonder whats next…but best not to over think it!). Figured in the end that something that fits is better than a dress that rides up when walking!

I put the strongest plaid lines to the centre front and worked out from there. I cut the yoke on the bias, and only when I saw it cut figured it would look better with a ‘mirror’ cut so had to so a small scrap sew to get the full cut. I miscalculated the back forgetting about the button overlap, but figured it would be concealed in part with buttons so perhaps it would not be so bad – then again, the shoulder seams match so well it. As the fabric is a loose-ish weave with different sized strands (by comparisson to a tweed for instance), I cuut the lining and basted to each piece (rather than making each separate). I omitted pockets as the jeet pockets seemed like a waste if the fabric was to be reused in the future, and the patch pockets felt fussy.

There is a comfortable amount of ease, and in all I am very happy with the dress. Its a well designed pattern – and its great to wear. I am glad I interlined it, and also glad I maanged to pick up a pair of square toe leather boots in the charity shop a few wees ago which work well with it!

The next project was a 3 way shawl (pillar to post pattern in the pattern links). It works well with the dress and for work (as the hospital can be rather warm, but I still need a cardigan to layer with my coat when I go outside).

My other charity shop find was this 2euro black coat. It was rather tired and the lining was badly ripped. I think it was longer once as the hem looked altered and there was a strange collar on it which was roughly done. The buttons were frayed, and also hanging off. The plus was, it had a great generous cut and wonderful weight (v warm) as well as a true vintage look. As it was impossible to fully revive it without recutting a lining, and try to recover the buttons etc, I figured I should just repair as best I could, and wear as the vintage piece it is. I trimmed the frays on the buttons and reattached – patched the interlining, and patched over the large tear on the inside. I took off the collar and steamed it in the steam cabinet about three times to fully revive the fabric. It looks so much fresher now.

Sewing was going rather slow for most of this year, and yet I seemed to spend a huge amount of time doing ficticious online shopping! or pinning new recipes on pinterest. I can only figure it was from shops being closed and my routine browsing of charity shops was being missed. We are now out of our ‘level 5’ lockdown and I have a few charity shop pieces picked up, and some christmas time off and a renewed sewing plan……

Hoping you are all keeping well and keeping safe – Wishing everyone a very happy christmas and a tonne of real hugs in the new year (sketch below of this years christmas card)


a machine for miss martha (and the frances blouse)

Hopfully everyone is keeping well and staying safe……..I hadnt realised the last post I did here was the 29th March…… and now in July. In my head I am still in April, or it could be September, and only for there are still strawberries in the garden do I know it is still summer. I am enjoying seeing all the making that is going on in lockdowns…. one such inspiration is my friends daughter Martha aged 10, who lives in the opposite side of the country.

Martha has been sewing a lot more lately (mainly for her teddies and dolls), and her mom was sending me pics of various projects, and I was sending on any tips or diy patterns I thought may be of interest. One tip I sent was to old odd socks for doll clothes as they had a tube stretchy construction, and wouldnt fray. So Martha acted immediately (seemingly before breakfast) and by the afternoon the collection was complete, and photographed.

Martha uses a hand crank machine, but I was thinking if I came across a small electric, she would have a bit more freedom as she could use both hands (My own sewing started on a hand crank). I also knew of one which was unused in the resource centre where I had been teaching sewing, which I arranged a trade with them for it.

The machine is an 1980s Singer Featherweigh 324 and it is seen as a childs machine, which was why it was probably not used in the centre. The featherweight 324 gets mixed reviews. It is nothing like the classic Feather weight 221, but it is a handy little machine all the same. It comes in a useful carry basket and is super light and small. it has 2 speeds, fast or slow so useful for r juniobeginners! The other quirks are the threading is different to other singers and the foot is very light and this does give it a dinky feel, however, it can do zig zag and a few other decorative stitches as well as having a free arm. I was happy with how it worked on testing it and figured better sew a full project on it to make sure it was worthy of such a talented and busy maker as Martha.

The project I used to do a full sew on the small singer, was the Frances Blouse (its free), and it is exactly what I needed in my wardrobe, ie a white casual top. I had some white linen ends from lord-knows-when and scrap elastic so off I sewed! The construction is so straight forward and I think I cut it out and had it sewn in 2-3 hours. I have since made another from a silk dress (bought in charity shop for €3.50. I am always surprised that so many party dresses end up in charity shops and often with very few wears. I made the neckline smaller on the silk Frances. I have worn both tops a few times already, and anticipate wearing both a lot more. Its a very versitile top and super quick make.

Other sews of the summer include, updating a short sleeve pink knit tee (favourite Mean Girls quote), embroidering sleeves on a navy dress, trying out a hat pattern (elsewhen Joan), and plenty of masks…. the first ones I did were practical plain navys and blacks and I have since broadened the range to include off cuts of silk and chintz (masks now mandatory here, so may as well make them interesting). I have also started back sewing classes in the community sew room and we are doing masks – its turned out to be a very useful way of teaching sewing to beginners, as well as making something useful and as we are using old fabrics for the masks it really feels like sustainable sewing at its best!

stay safe, and happy sewing

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.


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.


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 competition. I was well pleased, and had to go to an award ceremony at the national museum and hold a very large cheque!



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.