About Me

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I am starting this blog to document my journey to a completely ( or almost) hand made wardrobe. I am aiming to make 100 garments though not necessarily all for me. I live in the UK. I also grow nearly everything we eat in 2 and a half allotments. I make soap. I also make all sorts of cakes, chutneys and vegan food and I am intending to start to share some of these here on this blog. As well as anecdotes and anything else that may come along. I hope you enjoy reading and that some of what I write will be of some use to other people.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

69: upcycled black velvet pencil skirt

This skirt started out as a £5 dress made from cheap stretch velvet bought from Asda in a Christmas/January sale. As a cheapo going out dress for New Year it was ok when I had nothing to wear but is far from comfortable and never fitted well. Chop the top off though and it becomes a wearable pencil skirt for very little effort. I am getting into upcycling things into velvet skirts at the moment it seems. You can see the last one here: 67: Upcylced velvet skirt.
They make for a very fast easy addition to my wardrobe and I am slowly getting rid of badly fitting RTW and either throwing it out ( in the direction of charity shops) or if the fabric is nice upcycling into new stuff I actually like to wear. I love the term upcycling! A few years ago now when I was younger people looked down on using old clothing to make something new. I am so glad the world has moved on because it is and always has been a complete waste to throw clothing away.  And why not change something you do not want into something you love especially when it is fast and easy to do?

 You can see the join in the eleastic which I placed at one side in the left photo.

All I really did was chop the top off my very basic vest dress, sew some wide elastic together in a circle to fit my waist and then overlock my elastic to the cut edge of the skirt.
I think possibly I should have made the waist elastic a little smaller but it is very comfortable as it is so I am happy with it.

I was toying with adding a stretch lace edge to the hem but I seem to have been adding black lace to everything recently so managed to resist. I may yet add it later though!

I really like this skirt and have found it very wearable. Possibly that is down to it being black velvet and a pencil skirt as well so kind of classic.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

68: Joe Browns inspired Upcycled tunic or top

I have had these swing dresses in my wardrobe for about 3 years now. Originally from AX Paris online ( you can see them below). I bought them in a sale (The most expensive was around £6) and they never fitted very well. They are too tight accross the shoulders. Having measured the sleeves on a variety of patterns that fit me I can see why. They are tiny next to normal sized clothing. Interestingly they are actually a size larger than I usually need to buy in RTW. I went up a size thinking they would definitely fit then since I was unable to try on before buying due to being bought off the internet. I decided to keep them because you have to pay return postage with AX Paris so I would never buy off them again as it happens. Or not online anyway. In fact I kept one which I do not even like because it was cheaper to keep it than send it back! That one I have not yet cut up because it does not go well with these being as it is made from velour. These are similar to activity/performance fabric.

These dresses have gone into my charity shop bag so many times but I keep rescuing them. Last time was right outside the shop before I donated everything else in the bag. I just like the fabric and the patterns so much that I need to make something I can really wear from them rather than just keep them in my wardrobe in the hope one day they might really fit me.

Excuse my decorating it is still ongoing after I started to strip off the paper and half the paster fell off:

I cut up the zigzag striped dress before I thought to take a photo of it but it is exactly the same as the other three. I just cut each one appart at the seams so I could lay my pattern pieces on top of each bit.

The thing about these dresses is they are all a similar fabric which is a polyester/lycra blend and they are all really nice patterns. If I had known I was going to do this though I would have bought the largest sizes available rather than what I thought would fit me.

Still I thought then that I would like them!

The dresses when laid out are shown below and are simple A-line swing dresses.

So I took the decision to cut them up but what to make from them?

I really love the Joe Browns look and their multi fabric mixed up tunics and dresses about at £28 upwards I simply cannot afford them. I get a leaflet sent to me every season. No idea why because I never ever bought off them or signed up to receive the leaflet but I usually keep it because it inspires me to make things. Currently thes new season tops and dresses look like these:

Winter Warmer Dress: Go Anywhere TunicSassy Suedette DressMixing rich knitted fabrics in beautiful tones of purples, this sweet little dress is an essential for the colder months. Simply pair it with our basic leggings for an instant autumnal outfit. Approx Length: 90cm Our model is: 5'8"

There are even more similar designs saved to my pinterest page here:
I spent ages trawling through online pattern companies - why I do not really know because my pattern collection has grown so big it is a problem storing it. I then decided there were no patterns exactly like I wanted  even after sitting for two evenings scrutinizing my Burda collections so what to do? In theory I can pattern hack but I am not confident drafting a new pattern so would rather start with a ready made pattern. I ended up going back to my old favourite free raglan pattern from Its Always Autumn

First I cut my dresses apart as shown above. Then I cut two front pieces and two back pieces from my back pieces from my cut-apart dresses. I did not put the CF or CB on a fold but instead added a seam allowance and cut them as two halves. This gave me 4 pieces which I sewed at CF and CB. Then I cut the sleeves. As already stated the original sleeves were tiny so I used the back dress pieces for this. I deliberately widened the sleeves so as to waste as little of the fabric as possible. I also wanted to have flared elbow length sleeves. It worked surprisingly well. I aligned each sleeve on the fold and cut with an extra "flare " to give wider hems or "witchy" style sleeves. Well Halloween is very close and I was just inspired to make the best use of my fabric and cut as little off as possible.

Once the top was sewn up I decided it lacked something. I never took a photo here so will explain as best I can. I needed to make my front CF seam look more "made" rather than just bits of different fabrics sewn together so I decided to cut it appart again - it was overlocked so no unpicking here especially since I was not sure anything would eventually come of this project. I cut up CF and then cut a rough triangle of a different fabric to the two front halves and inserted this and overlocked it back together again. Now I have a top but wanted a long tunic or dress. Going by a few of Joe Browns tops I then cut two frills for the bottom edge. The bottom frill is made of several bits from the wider bottom edge of the original dresses. However whilst playing around with the fabric I decided I did not want two frills so in the end only used the one which I angled so its a slight high low hem with a dip at the back. It looks offset on the pictures but is actually longest at dead centre back.

Then to finish all the edges I decided to use black stretch lace. First I sewed with twin needles two rows on each side of my front insert. Then I overlocked all the edges including the neckline with stretch lace. However this did not lie as flat as I wanted so I then twin needle stitched it down. It is not perfect and there is some tunnelling. I also ran out of both overlocker thread half way through and then the top bobbin thread when twin needle stitching due to not paying enough attention to my threads rather than concentrating on my new top which was by now evolving into something surprisingly wearable.

this is my frill made form offcuts of the hem of the original dresses

One things for sure I like it much better than the dresses I cut up and I have enough fabric left to make at least 3 more tops especially if I mix a different fabric in with it like maybe black lace or fishnet which I have some of both left from other projects. 

Thanks for reading and for visiting my blog and feel free to comment or send me an email.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

67: Upcylced velvet skirt

I made this very simple skirt from a quite old velvet slip dress. I never wear the dress but have kept it because I love the fabric. I was attempting to make space in my wardrobe when I came accross this and a few other items which I keep but never wear so decided rather than throw it away I should really do something to make this a bit more wearable. All I did really was chop it off and attach the skirt to wide elastic. It was all serged so a very easy project. The end result a short velvet/ velour skirt I will actually wear. It looks great with a basic grey sweatshirt as well as with the bright orange top I made here.

Having made this with something that has been hanging around possibly for about ten years I intend to have a serious wardrobe clearout now and see what else can be altered to become more wearable.
Of course that does not actually make any wardrobe space but I do get some "new" clothes for very little effort!

Thanks for visiting my blog

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

66: Finishing the UFOs - waterproof jacket

I started this jacket for my partner back in June with the idea we were going to take it on a day trip at the start of July. When it came to our day trip it was very hot and there was no sign of rain which was good because I never finished making this.

The fabric is a ripstop waterproof, probably nylon. I do not remember to be honest. I bought it from Ebay so was relatively cheap.  I think around £5 but cannot remember exactly. I have loads more left for a second jacket.

The jacket is based loosely on a hoody pattern:

New Look Pattern 6142 Misses' & Men's Separates:
 The lining is navy mesh - I will add a picture later since forgot to take but its just a nylon mesh fabric meant for sportswear linings.

I added pocket flaps to keep the rain out and closures with blue velcro:

 The velcro is from Amazon and was £7 for 25m.
I found it very easy to sew the fluffy side but really difficult to sew the gripper bit. The needle just refused to sew at all and my machine said it was too thick fabric so I swapped to a leather needle. It sewed better with this but still kept missing stitches. I eventually got it all sewed on but it was very difficult and frustrating.
 I added a piece under and over the zip to hopefully keep the rain out and added extra fabric around the hood edge to hold a cord.

This made the hood large which apparently is like "Assassins Creed - Almost" according to my other half! He likes it anyway.

 The front has velcro at the bottom which I have to say looks far from professional here:

This is the main problem area because I did ask him if he wanted the pull cord to have eyelets (buttonholes) but he said no so when it is finally finished the cord now needs stoppers since the two ends do not meet up when the bottom velcro is closed. One end of the cord is on the inside and the other outside. Hopefuly that makes sense.

I made a mistake with one pocket shown here. I had to decide which would show least the top or bottom so I have a pucker at the top where it does not quite fit. I sewed the pocket flap ends down so hopefully they keep the water out and my partner's phone, keys etc safe with the velcro fastenings. He has a habit of losing phones in the sea. I know I never take my phone when paddling but he does!

I decided better to live with this pucker rather than unpick since if I unpick there will then be lots of tiny holes and it IS meant to be waterproof. Other half does not seem to even see it despite my pointing it out to him!

To make the sleeves long enough I added wristbands with an adjuster bit based on a  RTW jacket I already own.

 The wrists are closed with velcro since my other half did not want elastic wrists.

This jacket took me well outside my comfort zone and is I think, if I am honest, well above my skill level hence the problem areas such as the pocket flap being puckered. I needed to be quite inventive since the pattern originally has no lining and is meant to be a reasonably fitted hoody rather than a waterproof jacket. I had to invent extra bits to try and make the water remain outside in a downpour. Having said that though it is a good prototype and in interesting experiment. I also had no actual pattern pieces for bits like the front flaps that go under and over the zips, the cuffs, pocket flaps and hood cord channel or the hem band. All sound reasonably easy to add but when I came to do this getting them perfect was very difficult.

 We have yet to see how successful this jacket will be. I will let you know once its been seriously tested. We are off to Cornwall for a few days soon so that should show if it is actually waterproof. I suspect everywhere I had to restitch due to skipped stitches it is going to leak. We also never glued any of the seams so in a heavy downpour I think the water will just come in. We will see. If it turns out reasonably successful I will make a second jacket What I really need is some kind of, preferably mens, waterproof activity jacket but I have not been able to find a pattern anywhere so if anyone reading this knows of one please comment or email me and let me know.

Here are some pictures of close-ups of the lining and zip etc :

Thanks for visiting and see you again soon,

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

knitting update - Time to finish the UFOs

I started this bat wing jumper back in february I think.18: Wonderful people and easy knitting bat wing sleeved jumper or sweater

I had half knitted it when I made the MeMade May challenge
I need to make a confession here that I never achieved my challenge and this still remains unfinished. I did wear something MeMade every day in May and often several items at once but I said I would finish it as part of Me Made May by the end of May which at the time seemed an easy task. Then I just never seemed to finish it. The yarn is kind of fluffy mohair type and it got too hot this summer to knit it ( excuses excuses!).  I made loads of sewed clothing but never managed to get back into this. Then a couple of evenings ago I picked it up and dropped half the stitches. I have picked them all back up again now and am finally on the second half.

 This is one side with front and sleeves as one piece so it should really be an easy make.

I think realistically I need to finish this now because its got to the stage it is stopping me from finishing other projects and also I could do with this for autumn so my challenge for the next week or so - I am not a fast knitter even when I get dedicated - is to finish this jumper so I can actually wear it and maybe to begin a different one. 

This is what I have knitted so far of side two. I am just increasing along the sleeve to make the bat wings. It gets very big so to be honest if it was in a heavier weight yarn I would find it hard to knit it but because its light fluffy stuff its actually ok.

This is the 1980s pattern the jumper is knitted from. To be quite honest though, and despite my good intentions to stick to the pattern, I started to ab-lib about one third of the way accross the first half so its not the same as what I have knitted. The increases and decreases and stitch numbers are of course the same but maybe it is my colour choice but I found I did not want to continue with the pattern colours as they are meant to be  so I started mixing them up a bit. Made for a more interesting knit and also original. I suspect it is very unlikely I will ever meet anyone wearing a jumper made from this pattern because it is early 1980s, and cut from some magazine I do not even remember the name of,  but by changing the stripes and blocks a bit I make dead certain this will be completely original. Also because on the original pattern the front and back are different to each other ( and look good) it does not matter if they are different here so really there is absolutely no more excuses I can find to prevent me from knitting this and until I do I am only going to sew UFOs. I have a few of them still sitting waiting as well. So for September at least, and possibly also October I am going to clear out my UFOs and not take on any proper challenges. Of course it could just be if I am lucky that one of my UFOs will fit into a challenge.

Thanks for visiting