For my Halloween outfit this year, I’m going to be dressing up as Columbia from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
A fancy dress shop provided me with the basics for the outfit (sequin bow tie, hat, fishnets and a wig). I already had a sequin jacket, but oddly enough I didn’t have a pair of rainbow shorts in my wardrobe.
To make the shorts, I decided to recycle some rainbow fabric that I had left over after I altered a vintage dress. It had been sitting in my fabric stash for a while – I knew I was saving it for something special! I then had an ‘ah-ha’ moment and decided to use it to make the shorts from my Fifi pattern.
Here they are, the little hot patootie hot pants! Aren’t they great!
To make a sparkly top I recycled this old skirt by cutting it in half and adding some thin elastic to the top edge.
Here’s the finished outfit – my handmade interpretation of the fabulous Columbia outfit!
Happy Halloween to you all, have fun and if you have made your own home-made outfits, please share! I’d love to see them.
I’ve decided to take a short break from making new garments and try to tackle the huge pile I have for alterations and repairs.
Today’s consumerist society has us believe that it’s perfectly acceptable to dispose of our wardrobes every season and replace them with the high street’s dictated ‘trends’. Investing in a few staple longevity garments is essential, but why should we willingly part with our hard-earned cash every time the wind changes?
Don’t get me wrong, if something is gathering dust for any longer than six months and you’re really not going to wear it, it’s probably time to take it to a charity shop. However, if you’ve been holding on to a quality or sentimental garment, but you’re not wearing it because it doesn’t quite fit or needs repairing, why not consider giving it a new lease of life?
Remember Marge’s class struggle? She found a bargain quality suit and wore the hell out of it, adjusting it for variation:
Sadly I discovered it didn’t fit too well up top. So, I decided to turn it into a skirt! Here’s what I did:
Cut a strip of thick elastic about 10cm smaller than my waist
Stitched it together securely to form the waistband, reinforcing the seam
Marked four equidistant points around the waistband with pins
Cut the skirt part off the dress and marked four equidistant points with pins
Matched up the pins and prepared to stitch
The next part was a little tricky. I changed my machine setting to a small zigzag stitch and sewed a few stitches at the first pin point to begin. I then stretched out the elastic to the next pin point, matched the width of the skirt fabric, fed the fabric through the machine and stitched close to the bottom of the waistband.
When released, the elastic shrinks back to normal size and the skirt fabric forms a nice gather. I repeated this step between all pin points, and that’s all there was to it.
The news of my sewing skills is travelling fast, and my friends are catching on that I can help them out with adjustments. Here’s one I did for the lovely Nic, who decided that this gorgeous floor length dress wasn’t for her.
Has anyone else made any wardrobe transformations? I’d love to see your ideas.
My to do list:
Sew the pocket back on a pair of jeans and tighten the legs
Repair and revamp a VERY retro vintage dress that I’ve been given
Replace the zip in a dress
Let’s continue to say no to this throwaway culture!
I hope you are all enjoying your weekend. I celebrated Valentine’s Day early by attending a charity Venetian Masquerade Ball last night, hosted by Event Results at the stunning Manchester Monastery. I was lucky enough to win the tickets via Pocket Manchester for the fundraising event in aid of the Rainbow Trust children’s charity. It was a beautiful evening and we were treated to a three course meal, comedy, music and dancing. More importantly, we helped to raise much-needed funds by participating in the charity auctions and raffle. I intend to continue supporting the trust by running the Great Manchester Run for them in May, so I’d better dig out my trainers!
In other news, I’ve moved into a beautiful new flat and somehow almost all the of the textiles I’ve bought for it are blue. For those of you that know me well, this will come as no surprise at all.
It’s a converted late 19th century building with salvaged antique features, sash windows and high ceilings. This made finding curtains in the right size and shape a little tricky. Naturally, I chose blue ones. I found some by DKNY in TK Maxx that weren’t the perfect fit, but I knew I’d be able to adjust them to make them work for the windows in my bedroom.
They came as a pair of two long(ish) curtains, but I needed two narrow sets: one super-long and one quite short. In a nutshell, this is what I did:
Cut the required length off one curtain
Sewed the excess length to the other curtain
Cut both curtains in half to create two sets
Re-sewed the new hems and seams.
Skip to the end and this is what I ended up with:
Now I’m off to enjoy the rest of my weekend in my blue flat, starting with a cup of tea in my blue mug.
I hope you are all having a good year so far and that your resolutions are going well! One of mine was to commit to my blog more, which of course goes hand in hand with working on more craft projects.
I can always rely on my sewing idol Tilly to provide me with some inspiration. I decided to create a sweatshirt dress using her Coco pattern with a little help from one of her recent blog posts ‘Emergency Winter Sewing‘.
This is my first Coco creation and my use of sweatshirt fabric has been a bit controversial. Personally I love it, but others have commented on my ‘unusual’ fabric choice. It is not too thick and the light fleece lining inside is just perfect for this time of the year, so who cares if it looks a bit bulky.
I followed Tilly’s advice and adjusted the foldable parts to account for the fabric’s shrinkable nature. I also decided to taper the shape of the skirt, as initially it looked triangular and frankly a bit too Star Trek-esque for my liking…
So here is the finished version, displayed in the form of two awkward selfies that hopefully depict the exaggerated 60s neckline and the tapered fit of the dress.
I really would recommend making one of these; I’m sat here snug and smug in the office, and the air conditioning is no longer a source of annoyance 🙂
Next up: a knitting post featuring my new favourite accessory; the turband! (turban headband).
It has been très longtemps since I last made something, but I have been very busy finishing off my Masters and learning how to drive again so please forgive me.
As the cold weather creeps in, what better accessory to wear than a faux fur collar? I made this beauty using a free pattern from Tilly and the Buttons and some beautiful bargain fabrics from Abakhans.
The faux fur is so deliciously soft and expensive-looking that I fail to understand why anyone would ever chose to wear real fur?! Do your bit for PETA and innocent animals everywhere please.
The instructions in Tilly’s tutorial were pretty easy to follow, but if you want to be extra careful and avoid making a scruffy version like my first attempt (see tip 2 below) then please follow my additional steps:
Attach an interfacing to the lining to add structure and to avoid it slipping around when you are stitching it to the fur. I used a medium fusible interfacing and that worked just fine.
Use lots and lots of pins! The different textures of the two fabrics and the thickness of the fur make them extremely prone to slipping around whilst stitching them together. Don’t learn the hard way folks! First time around, my lining ended up baggy and twisted – hardly haute couture!
Consider using a walking foot (if you have one). I bought a universal one for my Singer from eBay for about a tenner. It was the first time I used it actually; although it looks scary it was easy to use and very effective. It stops the two fabrics from sliding by pushing them together as you stitch.
Et voilà, c’est tout. I chose to add a hook and eye to fasten my collar. I considered adding ribbon but I thought it might go with more outfits without it.
I hope you like it and feel inspired to make yourself one too. If you know me well then Santa just might leave one of these in your Christmas stocking…
Who has been watching This Old Thing? The lovely Dawn O’Porter has really inspired me to rekindle my love for vintage clothes, so I thought I’d share a few of my experiences with you.
A few years ago I bought a dress advertised as a ‘vintage black lace prom dress’ on eBay. I didn’t pay too much attention to the details (naughty!) as I was too excited about finding the dress and it being in my size and it being a bargain! When it arrived, I tried it on and it was down to my ankles; it looked more ‘Bride of Dracula’ than the 50s prom dress I had in mind. Consequently, the poor dress was shoved to the back of my wardrobe for a very long time.
A few years down the line I had a sewing machine and I needed something fabulous to wear for my New Year’s Eve party. I remembered the dress and thought maybe I could do something with it. I imagined it being shorter and wasted no time hacking about 20 inches of the bottom. The original hem was very simple; it had just been turned up and secured in place with a neat row of stitches on both the lace overlay and the lining underneath. I replicated this at just below knee-length, added a super fluffy petticoat et voilà:
I felt like a million dollars and so very smug with myself because nobody else in the world would have the same outfit as me.
After watching This Old Thing, I was inspired to recreate that moment of turning a treasure-chest bargain find into something that worked for me…
Yesterday had a night out planned with the girls and I panicked in the morning when I realised I didn’t have a stitch to wear. On my way to the shops for an emergency shopping spree, I though it wouldn’t hurt to pop in a few vintage shops just in case there was something amazing before resigning myself to the high street (boring!).
My boyfriend was nearly sick when I took it off the rail (it’s a rainbow skirt maxi dress with a velvet top). It screamed 80s (I think), but I saw the potential in it and defiantly tried it on. It fit so nicely at the top but the length was too dated. I imagined it knee-length and hooray I had a dress! (and avoided the overcrowded high street shops on a Saturday afternoon – phew!).
I hurried home, chopped 17 inches off the bottom of the skirt, did a quick 1cm hem (again just replicating the original)…
did an awkward pose…
…and I was all set! My friends were pretty impressed with my efforts too:
Now I’m hooked on vintage again and this little bad boy is on the top of my reading list:
I can’t remember what material the fabric is, but I picked it up from the remnants section from Abakhan, Manchester. It’s a beautifully soft navy and white silk blend or satin. I should have tested the fabric with my walking foot before constructing the scarf; but, I was too excited and just went ahead and sewed it with a regular needle and sewing foot.
I did find it tricky to work with such a delicate and slippery fabric. It dragged slightly under the pressure of the needle; but, luckily it turned out alright when I made a bit of tension by pulling it slightly as I guided it through. You live and learn!
A great tip is to invests in a mini iron and ironing board so that you can quickly press your seams as you go along without having to leave your sewing desk. Do test the heat though, and maybe use a cloth to protect your fabric if needed. Yes, I learned the hard way (I melted my first attempt – oops!).
I followed Tilly’s clear instructions from start to finish, and once I got over a few hiccups I was on my way to having a beautiful handmade accessory. The final step was to add a neat row of stitching to the opening after turning it inside out and giving it a good press:
So here is the finished scarf, looking slightly less glamorous on my head than it would on Brigitte Bardot:
Lessons learned from this make:
Use quality thread
Use a fine needle
Maybe use a walking foot next time
Test the heat of your iron to avoid melting beautiful fabric
Do you have any other tips for working with delicate fabrics?
This post is all about creating an inspiring and organised sewing space to keep you motivated and to avoid frustration during your projects.
Here’s what my ‘sewing area’ used to look like in my crowded little flat…
(…it’s the tiny desk in the corner by the blinds if you are struggling to see it through the mass of Christmas shopping on the floor).
I did manage to make some nice pieces (see below) despite the lack of space, but the finishing wasn’t as neat as it could have been and the perfectionist in me won’t let me wear them anymore until they are just right. For example, I rushed my first attempt at bias binding and hemming, and the result was a bit wonky.
In a nutshell, my previous attempts at making beautiful garments were hindered by an inadequate sewing space, my tendency to rush by setting myself unachievable deadlines, and attempting patterns that were (if I’m honest) just too advanced for me. It got to a point when sewing felt more like a chore than a hobby.
As soon as I admitted all this to myself I instantly felt better about sewing again. I also felt inspired to rekindle my love for sewing after reading Love at First Stitch by Tilly Walnes.
“Whether you’re sewing on the kitchen table or in your very own craft room, you’ll want to make your space both practical and pretty. Having easy access to your tools, keeping things organised and having a beautiful space that inspires you to create can make a huge difference to your sewing productivity.” Tilly Walnes.
By this point my boyfriend and I had moved in with his parents to save up for a house, which meant I had even less space to play around with! I decided to follow Tilly’s advice and also go back to basics, always measure twice and cut once, and vow to never again set myself a silly deadline.
We invested in a suitable desk from Ikea to house my machine and other equipment, and a storage unit to keep my fabric organised. Here’s the finished setup:
So now I’m all set and ready to make beautiful clothes again. I’m going to start by making some key wardrobe pieces from Love at First Stitch so keep an eye out for more posts soon. If you have any sewing storage tips then please do share. Feel free to ask any questions you might have about my sewing equipment and thank you for reading.