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.

a floral blouse from floral pants – Simplicity 1278

I have been steadily sewing since the new year, but super lazy in not writing or photographing much. Its been a mix of crochet, experiments in embroidery and a ruthless run at the ‘use it or lose it’ stack of clothes, and one piece has already gone to the charity shop when I thought of a use for it!

This pair of floral pants was not under any threat as I love the print.  I think the intensity and balance are captivating, in general I am drawn to print, but rarely wear it as it always feels busy. 

I also wanted to try out Simplicity 1278 for a while as I liked the look of the tucks, and it looked like there would be enough fabric.
I used the modern reprint, and traced my size out, using version b with longer sleeves.


The construction was straightforward, a lot more careful that I needed to be with the pleats and tucks, and tacked the markings.  Its a nice use of fabric the few tucks are so effective, and very subtle.

The only real compromise in the cut was the sleeve, I could get the sleeve to below elbow and added a cuff.  I was able to get a sleeve and front of the trouser fronts, the blouse back from the remaining two leg pieces, and the cuffs and facings from the lower leg with very little left over, and also a zip!

I used two buttons from the button box to close  I cannot remember what they were taken from but they are rather cute, they are clear faceted plastic.

It was a relatively quick sew, and while I do like it and I will wear it, I am beginning to figure out that while I like prints, I feel a bit overwhelmed wearing some of them.   I don’t really have many blouses, and mainly wear sweaters in winter, and summer tops in the warmer weather,  I have not worn this as such yet, and in ways made it to expand the styles of clothes I wear in both style, and pattern.  It does feel a bit busy, I had thought it would look well with jeans, but think its more for trousers, and the weather here is still rather cold so it may be a while before I wear it.  

I would like to try the pattern again in a plain fabric, as the tuck detail is rather lost in the floral fabric, but rather impressed that I got a full blouse out of the trousers – inspired in no small part by Linda in Remake Remodel.


fancy pants – recutting wool cashmere trousers

My ruthless ‘use it or lose it’ continues, which is just as well as these trousers have been in my wardrobe an-embarrassingly-long-time, and on a to-do list for the same length….. Some years ago, I did a wardrobe clear-out, and sold some dresses on ebay, and ended up buying some cashmere jumpers (we had just moved to a freezing house, and these wool/cashmere burberry trousers).  I probably shouldn’t have as a strange vanity got the better of me,  but I did, and I really should have known they would not fit right and they didn’t.  And for some or other reason, I could not/would not give them away, resell or donate……

The trousers fitted at the hips but huge on the waist, and while I loved the wide leg, I looked ‘a-bit-of-a-pudding’ in them.  I took them in at the back to wear around the house and see how much I liked them.  I was rather nervous of re-cutting them – in case I would render them unwearable, but I had to bite the bullet sometime, so  I took the trousers apart, and to keep an eye on the location of the grain, I basted the crease and lightly pressed it out, and half way thru taking them apart, I was thinking I should have just given them away as I was still having a lot of work to do.  As it turned out, I was wrong.

I had got this Clare Shaeffer pattern especially as I figured such a swanky fabric needed the Shaeffer touch (I bought it on etsy after reading Lynn’s post), and I also had the Balmain pattern out to see what the detailing would be.  The Balmain was quickly put back when I measured the leg width (same as trousers).  The trousers were taken apart, pattern laid on top….. and no way was it going to work

Balmain vs Shaeffer
Shaeffer pattern

Plan B was to draft a trouser block and adapt to the Shaeffer….. and it was still not going to work, but the trouser block fitted on the trousers fine, so I laid the block over and chalked the seam allowances and widened the leg of the block on the fabric (I was getting a bit tired or tracing and figured I would just go for it).  Ultimately I did the simplest which was a basic re-cut using my pattern, and a resew in the same way of the originals.


It was a straightforward sew, but done over a few days which also allowed the wool fabric to rest in-between..  I was in two minds to replace the belt loops but decided to leave as is – as I thought them a bit fussy.  So five years on…………..I have a rather nice pair of slacks! (and I know I will wear them lots as I have already….)

And I had to check the length of this sweater from last year with them as I have another sweater remake (blue) which I may do a similar job on…..

use it or lose it – trousers to Astoria top

I have started this month with a tidy up…. of everywhere….. and trying to figure what to do next.

I did a check (again) of all fabrics and charity shop buys….. to figure a plan.
The plan is start using these up or donate back to the charity shop, which means to get trying the patterns I keep meaning to ‘try out’ and to stop shelving other projects to the back of the queue.

My sewing has taken a slow down due  I had pretty much stopped buying at charity shops some time back, as I found I was getting more than I could sew and was borderline hoarding!   My sewing slowed down a bit for a few reasons
was busy making the dance dress

  • I seem to have sufficient in my wardrobe (yup seriously and I love my new makes)
  • my soon to be grey hair has me wondering on whether is is worth making anything in yellow (my hair is currently in transition, with graduated roots in thanks to thoughtful cut by hairdresser kept it looking okay till christmas -however the roots are now just plain half and half)
the trousers
I bought these purple trousers sometime in the summer – for some reason on that day I bought three purple items from the euro rail and have yet to use them.  They are a 2 way stretch (barely) and a size 16 polyester.  I had thought to try a draft a pattern for a sleeveless shift, but then thought I could try the astoria pattern from Seamwork, and hope the fabric would work.  I had wanted to try this pattern for a while as there are some lovely results online (this being one)
the layout

As it turned out, there was enough fabric for the full sleeve (I thought I would have to do a two part sleeve)  All other pieces did have to be seamed!  I left the creases in place for the cut as they were my straight grain guide, and I ironed them flat with vinegar solution after cutting and left them to rest overnight.

The astoria is a one-hour sew, which would be right, except for I sewed a sleeve in wrong side out which I am part blaming on the shocking amount of Italian sweets I have been gorging….

The top is nicely fitted.  I find it slightly too fitted for what I wear but this is also probably due to the fabric is not a 4 way stretch (its not a great 2 way stretch either).   I am glad to have it as reference for a cardigan I am going to upcycle as the sleeve fitting of the Astoria is really lovely, it sits just right, so I am hoping it will work for a slightly thicker knit/actual knit.

As I seemed to be on a bit of a go slow with crochet this January, I got some gumshoe books from the library – there were about 10 curse words in the book I just finished and some previous reader blacked out each one! strange……..but even more unexpected was the first result back on a google search on ‘defaced library books’ (I was wondering if there was a actual term for it, and it turns out there is –  6 months…)