Print on print on print

Yesterday I took a trip to sunny Antwerp for a pretty fantastic fabric expo. Deets here if you want ’em.
I came away with pretty much everything on my list plus a couple of extras. Including this one! I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It was a pre cut panel consisting of three mis-matched prints, two palm leaf type ones and then another white and green line drawing of a very nice looking lady making wine. I’ve actually looked it up and found that it’s a fabric produced by Knippie which is the kids version of the Dutch pattern magazine Knipmode. It’s also selling for more on the website than I paid. Phew.

I’m always up for strange fabric so I paid up €8 for the panel.
I loved how the prints clashed so I decided to keep it pretty much intact and just make a very simple skirt.
My initial idea was for it to be pleated but it wasn’t quite wide enough so I just gathered it instead.
You know how it goes – three rows of basting stitches gathered to a strip of fabric a bit bigger than your waist measurement. Waistband attached and the bit bigger becomes the overlap. Stick on a podcast and if you’re feeling fancy, finish the inside of the waistband by hand. I did just that, not because I was feeling fancy but because it was sunny on the balcony and who doesn’t love to sew and tan at the same time.

Normally I’m not a fan of this style on me because I think it tends to accentuate my hips and bum but also because I often feel too girly for comfort. This isn’t too bad though. Not too poofy.

28 degrees C today, I can cope with that!

Especially if I’m in a wood.

I’m wearing it here with a heavily modified Grainline Hemlock t-shirt in non-descript grey jersey. It actually started off as a maxi dress, then I lopped a chunk off to make a nightdress and today I chopped another few inches off as well as the sleeves and made it into a t-shirt.

In my haste to make the skirt in time for going out for lunch I forgot to interface the waistband so made do with stay tape around the top.

One admission though. I didn’t prewash the fabric. I know, I know. You’re going to put dog poo in my letter box aren’t you. I’m just crossing my fingers that it doesn’t shrink too much.

If those trees were palm trees then I would be completely invisible.


A yawn is a silent shout

Here’s the thing about sewing. It takes time, it takes effort and it takes money.
Admittedly I am likely to try to get away with the minimum of all those three, but still.
Sometimes you just need clothes, you know? Yes, sometimes I want to sew something ridiculously difficult and time consuming using every gadget I own but sometimes I just need

For me it’s both a hobby and a lifestyle. Yes, I do it because I enjoy it but I also do it because I made a pact with myself (about 18 months ago I think) not to buy any new clothes. Therefore when I do need a plain white top (and I realise the word ‘need’ is subjective here) I can’t just spend ten minutes on ASOS on my lunchbreak and carry on with my life. It takes time – to find a pattern, to trace/cut/print and cut it, to make adjustments, to actually sew the sodding thing. It takes effort to, you know, learn how to do all that in the first place and it takes money to buy the fabric, the pattern, the sewing machine, the needles, the thread and the fancy bias binding maker that actually takes longer than not using one but makes you feel ‘proper’.
So here’s a plain white top, because I needed one.

I already had the pattern traced (past me for the win!) and I had this remnant of cool crepe-like fabric that a stall holder at the market gave me because he thought I was flirting with him. I wasn’t, I promise. I just thought it was sweet that he praised my French skills – in English.

About twenty minutes into sewing it I was congratulating myself on coming across such a cool fabric with its subtle teardrop shape that is a useful solid colour but is interesting too.

About forty-five minutes into sewing it I realised the fabric reminded me of something.

About an hour into sewing it I realised what it reminded me of.

Now I like it even more.

Here’s to (very little) time, money and effort. And to making a top covered in covert poo emojis. I have rarely felt more of a millennial.

(Oh, it’s a Burda 105 1/2016. Size 38 graded to a 42 and with a little extra length because I think it looks cooler. Also without the little modesty panel bit because I’ve never been one to let Burda dictate my modesty.)

Vintage by kilo haul

I’ve just come back from a ‘vintage by kilo’ event. Basically you fill up a bag with whatever you want and then pay by weight at the till. I know I’ve said before that the word ‘vintage’ puts me off but it’s more the styling that I have issue with. The principle is right on with me – old clothes being given a new lease of life.
Here’s my haul!

Skirt no. 1.

My Gran used to wear skirts like this. She would have wanted me to wear it with a matching cardi. I won’t! I intend to cut it apart and make a nice woven tee shirt that’ll be easy to throw on for work.

Skirt no. 2.

Its another Gran skirt!
These pleats might take a bit of steaming out but I’m up for the challenge. I fancy making this into some shorts.

The colours are really vivid.

Dress no. 1.
Hey it’s like a deck chair on my body!

I know they’re kind of weird but I really like this colour combination. This dress is clearly handmade and the seam allowance is more than 1 inch wide!

Imagine how long it would have taken to finish those seam allowances by hand? Crazy.
I don’t really have a plan for this one, maybe a breezy summery top.

Dress no. 2.

This one is handmade as well. The fabric is really slippery and really fun.

I can see this as a really useful camisole but there should be plenty left over so I’ll have to think of something else as well!

Shirt no. 1.

Come on, is this not hilarious?!

There’s almost enough fabric in that sleeve for a skirt as it is!

Shirts no 2. and 3.
These are fairly standard men’s shirts. I’ll just adjust them to fit me.

And last but not least, a final dress!
Probably the most flattering thing I’ve bought.

I have very little use for a full length taffeta evening dress though so I’ll just be using the bottom section for something new! Once I’ve finished playing with it.

The bottom fabric is really interesting

So I reckon I’ve done pretty well! This whole lot cost me about 30 euros which I’m really pleased with, especially when you factor in all the linings, zips and buttons that are salvageable as well.
I’m now going to settle in for an evening with my seam ripper!

A very necessary card wallet 

My wallet was stolen on Monday. Argh. Really annoying and inconvenient. I feel pretty stupid since I was even semi aware that it was happening at the time. Folks, keep your bag closed and your wallet shoved right to the bottom. Mine was clearly much too accessible. *sigh*

So I really needed something to tide me over until I have a chance to find a proper new wallet. I have to carry around my ID (which thankfully was not in the wallet that was nicked!) and I tend to also have my travel card with me too. Clearly I have fewer bank cards than I did a few days ago but I do have the temporary one the bank issued me!

So, long story short this is a shout out to this post which helped me out in my hour of need.

The pattern is for a rounded zipper wallet with a card slots and the feature that ‘sold’ it to me (it was free) was the gusset bit in the middle. It seemed more involved and interesting than some other options I was scrolling through.

This is more quilting cotton from America and lined with yet more quilting cotton from America and an orange zip from the drawer of salvaged zips that’s bursting with of all sorts of stuff. If I had one of those cool Pinterest-y type sewing rooms I would have them all arranged by colour, material and size. But nah, where’s the fun in that? I prefer to just stick my hand in there and pull out whatever I can from its depths. 

The tutorial is pretty good. I like that there are actual pattern pieces rather than just measurements. Having said that I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not used to sewing zips. It’s a bit fiddly to get it around that curve neatly.

The quilting cotton is supposed to be interfaced with iron on interfacing but I only had the lightweight stuff  so instead I just spray basted on some decent weight scraps. I love that use of using up rubbish fabric. I once bought a curtain in a charity shop for 50p that was incredibly ugly but I used it as sew in interfacing (or spray basted) for years and I think I might still have more lurking somewhere. Think outside the sewing box!

*side note* I found myself very grateful to have the necessary materials and knowledge to make myself a wallet when I needed one. If, for instance, I’d have stuck with the piano instead of spending my spare time at the sewing machine then I would have had to give up hours of free time to get to a shopping district, go from place to place and eventually spend too much money on something to do the job. Even if I liked it I would have had the ethical dilemma of wondering who made it and how they were treated (yes, don’t ever go shopping with me!) Or I could have bought it online but waited it for it to arrive only to find out that it’s not the right size or poor quality. Instead I found a tutorial, downloaded the pattern and made this while the bath was running. I do get that it’s all about your priorities and clearly some people would love the opportunity to go shopping but this is just me, being grateful that ‘past me’ gave up on the piano at age 17.

Anyway, the moral of the story here is that if you’re in a bar in the Place de la Monnaie area and see a young ish woman with long dark hair lurking around your table in a strange way, grab your wallet. Or let her have it and make yourself a new one. 

**update** I now have found myself a ‘proper’ wallet for actual money and stuff. Really pleased with it so wanted to shout out to the company where I got it – they’re called Paguro upcycle (not affiliate link) and I got a belt made from inner tube as well as my wallet made from recycled tyre and pet food packaging! I’m keeping my handmade wallet for my travelcard and ID though. I’ve learnt that it’s sensible not to keep all your eggs in one basket!

Sad shirt to happy shirt

The good thing about people knowing that you sew is that you sometimes get free stuff.

This shirt was one of them. My mother in law left it behind after a visit as it had ended its useful life with her and she thought I might make use of it. Obviously she was right.

Admittedly it is looking a little sad. It had various discolourations and the embroidery was coming apart in several places. Given that she’s a woman after my own heart, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she had it second hand herself. Anyway, even in its tired form I was determined to make use of it.
Step one – dye the heck out of it.

I stuck it in a machine wash with some other bits and pieces and some Dylon. Never underestimate the power of fabric dye. It extends the life, changes the look and covers up the stains in your clothes. Yes, those are socks there as well. I don’t know, I just felt like throwing them in with the rest of the batch.

Step two – research the brand “Pinstripe” and then give up because it’s pretty much ungoogleable. Any ideas?

Step three – cut off stray embroidery threads

Step four – cut off the sleeves and use the excess fabric to make bias binding for the armholes

Step five – go for a glass of wine outside a bar from 1587 and try to look normal for photos

Step six – fail and go elsewhere instead

If I was brave, and ever found myself at the beach, I would wear this over a bikini or swimming costume. This’ll do for now though.

Call it upcycling, call it refashioning, call it make do and mend. Whatever it was, it was satisfying, quick and cheap.

Thanks MiL! You can come again

Tea towel chic

Do you ever get that thing where you know a fabric is kind of silly but you buy it anyway? Of course you do. I bought this fabric – in the form of a second hand scarf – that looks exactly like a tea towel I own. However I could kind of see it working and the scarf was only 80 cents so.. obviously I bought it.
Right from the beginning I knew I wanted to make another Casa Crafty cine tank.
As I was cutting it out I realised that the top is fairly close fitting (on me at least) and this fabric doesn’t have a massive amount of stretch anyway so I decided to do a bit of hacking.
You know when you have a vision? I had a vision of a very floaty top being caught in the wind and worn with denim cut offs and accessorised with tan sandals and a Greek island…
My sunny balcony will do in the mean time

Real life moment – washing hanging out to dry! That’s the European Parliament behind me. Happy 60th birthday, EU!
So anyway, to give the floaty effect I had been thinking of, I cut two panels about 20cm wide and sewed them between the front and back panels. I then made an inverted pleat in the top – under the arm – so it didn’t gape.

I also levelled off the bottom as in my previous Cine I wasn’t too keen on the low front

The whole thing (once cut out) took 57 minutes, even with ad lib-ing the side panels. That’s the kind of fast fashion I can get on board with. Yeah I mean it’s not my most beautiful sewing job ever but I wasn’t going to waste time inside on a gorgeous day like today.

I love racer backs. That white bit at the top is my underwear. Soz.
This photo shows that the top does kind of catch the wind like I wanted it to:

I love having a balcony, it’s such a sun trap and I can’t wait for it to warm up even more so I can fall asleep in the sunshine out here.
Happy Spring! Go forth and spend 57 minutes on fulfilling a vision of yours.

** in the wild** 

Took the top for a spin to Perranporth, Cornwall in glorious heat and with my Dad smashing it in his shades. That carrier bag is holding a charity shop purchase, natch. 

Bad boys and khaki

I had this amazing khaki green fabric from Minerva crafts and planned to make a pair of culottes. However they went disastrously wrong and I was very, very grumpy for about half an hour thinking that I had wasted some perfectly good fabric. I’m blaming Burda but I can’t quite face going back to the pattern yet to see if it really was their fault or mine. I’ll work up the courage sooner or later. Anyway, once I had stewed for a bit I decided to use the remaining fabric on a well used pattern of mine – Simplicity 1782.

I’ve made this three or four times but only the short version and never quite as instructed! The skirt is patterned for a lapped zip but I don’t really like them so have always obnoxiously gone my own way. This time I ignored the zip entirely as the fabric has a decent amount of stretch. It’s such a good fabric – enough stretch to be comfortable and friendly while being stable enough to use as a woven. There are loads more colours here and I can’t help thinking that the blue and black would be incredibly useful.
You know when you’re so proud of your neat topstitching but then you realise that the thread colour match is so good that you can barely see it? Yeah.

One day I will go to the pattern and adjust it to take the gathers at the front and back. They’re fine but I’d like to see what it looks like in a more pared back style.

Just seen there are my trusty Seamwork Manila leggings. I still only have one pair because it’s so blinking hard to find plain black jersey with four way stretch. I’m sure it exists but when you look online, it isn’t always stated. One day I’ll find my plain black jersey unicorn.

By the way, don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t get decent clothes in second hand shops. I got this brand new Bershka t-shirt and Moncler jacket in Le Petit Rien for less than €20 – the Moncler jacket alone would normally retail for €350!!!!

Anyway, back to the skirt. I really like khaki – I think it’s a colour that goes with loads of things: cream, white, Breton stripe, black…

It’s handy to have a little help to tell the front from the back:

So I still do want the culottes I was originally planning and I’ve got some more sewing time today. Let’s see if I have let given myself enough of a chance to heal…