Hello everyone! Thanks for stopping by.

I’ve finally come up with my #makenine2017!

makenine2017

I know a lot of the #makenine2017’s out there have chosen nine sewing patterns, but  I decided to broaden my focus a little bit and include fabrics and projects as well.

Let’s unpack this, shall we? In no particular order:

vintage-pattern

I’ve got all these gorgeous vintage and retro patterns and pattern magazines, but I’ve only made maybe two or three items. So one of my goals for this year is to actually get in there and make at least one. I have even ‘projectised’ a couple of patterns with the fabric I want to use, so I’ve got no excuses!! To see more of the patterns in my library, check out my flikr album.

ufos

The story of sewists everywhere, right? Lately I have been pretty committed and have managed to finish 90% of the projects I’ve started in the last couple of months. (I am a slow sewist, so it’s not a UFO until at least 6 months after commencement, heh heh.) But, seriously, there are a couple of projects hiding out that were started years (or possibly decades) ago. So my aim is to either finish them, recycle the fabric or CHUCK THEM OUT!!

 

maxi-skirt


As I was trawling through my stash the other day, I came across this incredible piece of fabric. So big I had to photograph it hanging on a clothesline! You know the stash is out of control when you find fabric you had forgotten about. Anyway, after racking my brain, I remembered I bought this fabric in  Thailand, on a trip about 3 years ago. It’s a dreamy lightweight silk that feels like, well, really lightweight silk. It’s doubled over in this photo and you can see the print on the other side, so you get the idea. Anyway, there’s quite a bit of it and it’s obvious it needs to be either a maxi skirt or dress. I definitely want to maximise the print, so I’m going to be looking for a pattern with the fewest amount of pieces. I was thinking of the Gabriola Skirt by Sewaholic, but it does have a lot of seamlines in the skirt, so I might have to shop around. If you have any ideas for a pattern that might work, do let me know!

activewear

Okay, if you’ve read any of my blog posts before you will know that I have a deep and abiding passion bit of a thing for sewing activewear. I’m not particularly good at it, but the aim is to improve! I want to try a couple of new patterns and hack some old ones. I have tried making FehrTrade’s PBJam leggings previously, but they were an unmitigated disaster so I definitely need to have another go. If you buy Burdastyle Magazine you’ll know the January 2017 edition had a focus on activewear, so I’m looking forward to getting my hands on that. (It can take a while for Burdastyle to hit Australia, unfortunately!) The Kwik Sew pattern is already on the table – pieces cut for the shorts and top so I can test for fit! And of course the Greenstyle Creations Endurance Bra: while I’m not a fan of zipup bras I want to give this a try, as it looks amazingly supportive.

Which is a nice segue to….

bras

As you know I’ve already had success making bras, so I really want to get into more of it this year. I’ve made the Watson and the BOO3 (from Booby Traps), as well as the Gail which is not pictured here. I also have the Booby Traps Dart Bra and Seamwork’s Florence Bra which haven’t had an outing yet. I’m keen to replace most of my bras with me-made.

moto-jacket

The Evergreen Jacket from Hey June is one I’ve actually had my eye on for quite some time. When I brought that black camo fabric back from my Japan trip last year, I knew exactly what I wanted to make with it! It’s a heavy stretch fabric, somewhere between scuba and ponte. (I’ve no idea what I want to make with the blue camo, though!)

sweater

A patternmaker I’ve been following for a while is the gorgeous Sally from Capital Chic. I started following her blog years ago when she was doing a lot of refashioning, although I don’t think her old blog is available anymore 😦

Her patterns are glamorous, classy and impeccably drafted.  I’ve always had a hankering for the White Russian Sweatshirt. It comes with a cute fox or lion design to quilt onto the front of the sweater. I got this sweet pony fleece on sale sometime last year, and it’s been languishing in my stash ever since. Match made in heaven? I think so!

refashion

OMG you guys. This is my refashion wardrobe. It is literally busting at the seams. I went through a phase a few years ago where 90% of my sewing was refashioning. Some of them were pretty good, too! I bought a lot of garments that I thought had ‘potential’, but sadly I did not have the potential myself to see it through on a lot of them! Of course, there are a couple that I’ve just never been able to bring myself to cut into (did you see the flocked-polka-dot-taffeta dress on my instagram??)

Again we have a neat segue…

blanket-project

See that blanket? I made that. It’s made from recycled suits and skirts, all made of wool. It’s backed with a preloved flannelette sheet (green and white striped, forsooth) and the quilt filler is another flannelette sheet. So it’s not super-thick, but it is totally warm and cosy!

 

That blanket I made for a friend, and let me tell you it turned out so well it was pretty hard to give up. Ever since then I’ve been intending to make one for myself, and have collected a bunch of wool-fabric trousers and skirts from various op shops. On top of that, I have a collection of woolly half-felted jumpers to make into a rug of some kind, plus yet another quilt I want to make for another friend (this one from preloved band t-shirts).  I don’t know that I’ll get all three of them done this year, but I’d like to try for one!!

And, because I want to stay focused, I did this on my sewing room wall:

Yes, my sewing workbench is always this tidy.*

Yes, my sewing room workbench is always this tidy. *

 

And that’s it, folks! My #makenine2017. Have you come up with a makenine list  for 2017? Do you have a different way of planning your sewing for the year? I’d love to hear from you!

 

*Disclaimer: No it’s not, that’s a total lie.

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Self-imposed refashion challenge:

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Aaargh aaargh make it stop!! What is that THING??

It is a square-necked, puffy-sleeved, drop-waisted, pintucked nightmare in pale maroon. Ye gods. It has a button-up back, too. Here’s a closeup of the bodice:

DSCF9162It had a clothing label, but was made on a domestic machine (zig-zagged seam finishes are always a giveaway there!). No fabric identification label though. It’s crisp and lightweight, irons beautifully, crushes easily and has that almost ‘crunchy’ feel that silk gets after being handwashed a bit too much. I did a burn test and the results seemed to match silk, but I guess we believe what we want to believe.

Anyway, I’d had this monstrosity in my refashion pile for some time. Yesterday afternoon I’d been vacillating between projects, unable to settle on what I wanted to make, pulling out patterns and fabric and generally creating additional chaos in my tiny sewing room. Eventually I gave myself a mental slap and yelled (with my inside voice, of course) ‘JUST CHOP IT UP FOR GOODNESS SAKE’.

So I did.

The fullness of the skirt is created by the bodice tucks, um, stopping, and there’s some gathers at the sides too. I cut the skirt off at that line, and cut the sleeves off as well. There were these big under-puff puffer thingies designed to keep the puffy sleeves from loosing their puffiness. Needless to say they are now in the bin. No puff required in this refashion.

DSCF9165New sleeves were cut from the skirt offcut, using the existing hemline as the sleeve hems, because I’m lazy, and this is a refashion. You know, one of the things I love about refashioning is it allows me to be pretty relaxed about finishes and construction. The thing cost me $3; I’m so not worried about the curved bit of hem which created a little ruck on the inside. It’s on the INSIDE!!! No-one can see it!! Press that sucker from the outside – looks the ticket – job done!

Also not too worried about the sleeve fitting, which was a gamble from the start. I just used a basic sleeve pattern, there was no way I was going to spend time drafting a sleeve head to match this armhole. So the fit at the back of the sleeve is a little wonky. Don’t look to hard.

DSCF9166My goal at the moment is to make a few shirts for work now that that weather is getting cooler. I want to have a go at the 2-hour-top by SewDifferent but as usual can’t decide what fabric I want to use. I also caved in and hit StyleArc during their Etsy shop sale and bought the Elita top, which I have fabric for but am dreading tiling the pattern together. I like the slightly boxy-shaped tops that are trending at the moment, and I think I have managed that with this top.

Do you enjoy refashioning? How do you find it compares with from-scratch garment making?

Okay yes so my last post was, er, last year…. I know, I know, I know. I’ve had stuff going on. Stuff like this:

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However, that was back in November, so not really much of an excuse!

Anyway, I may not have been posting, but I haven’t been idle. Here’s a refashion I did back in December. I couldn’t decide what to wear to the office Christmas party, so I made two tops and a pair of pants. See? That’s why I haven’t posted. Too busy makin’ stuff!

Not long ago, the clever girls over at Spit Up & Stilettos had a bit of a pattern giveaway, which I totally took advantage of. (Free patterns? I’m there in a flash!!) One of the ones I snatched was the Isabella Tank, a sleeveless top for woven fabric.

After downloading, printing, slicing, matching up and sticky-taping the pattern, I made a couple of adjustments for my curvy hips and waist, then went to town on this delightful little number.

Pink polka dot top

It’s hot pink. It’s polyester. And it has teeny tiny polka dots. It also had awesome shoulder pads and boring plastic buttons, but I got rid of those quick-smart.

It took a little creative engineering, but I managed this:

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Not enough shirt fabric for the facing, so I used some white silky lining fabric from my stash.

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The front pattern piece came out of the back of the shirt, but the back pattern pieces were slightly too long for the remaining front sections of the shirt. So I thought to myself, if I’m gonna add some length, it’ll look more deliberate if it’s longer. So I gave it a bit of a mullet hi-lo hem.

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And a cute little heart-shaped button for the back neck closure.

The pattern fits really well – the adjustments I mentioned earlier were pretty minor. The instructions were clear and the garment was pretty simple to make up. I’m definately looking forward to trying the other patterns from SpitUp&Stilettos. Has anyone else tried any of their patterns?

Alice&Olivia Copycat

For the first of my 2014 sewing challenges, here’s a copycat refashion to start off.

I found this longline button-up blouse at the op shop for $6.

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Hey, it’s retro Liz Davenport! That’s some designer style, right there.

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It’s a soft, slightly crinkly polyester, with self-fabric cloth buttons. And the first thing I did was remove those bits of velcro, which were no doubt for attaching some highly attractive shoulder pads.

I decided to have a go at this pretty silk blouse from Alice+Olivia.

I cut the sleeves off at the stitching line, then took the side seams in by about 3cm each side. I also sketched in a new armscye curve and trimmed that down.

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I used my patchwork square (it’s so handy) to take a few inches off the head of the sleeve, while still maintaining the curve. I did have to modify it a little by hand as well, to get the curve nice. Then I trimmed that down, sewed a line of basting stitch around the upper curve to gather in the ease, and re-set the sleeves back into the new armholes.

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Then I used another shirt of my own to get the length and created a lower, curved hemline at the back (I’m not sure if the original shirt had that feature, but I like the effect so I did it), trimmed it, turned it under twice and stitched it down.

Then I cut the collar off. Yep, just chopped it right off. No, I lie, I unpicked it. Had ya going there for a second, huh? 😉

I snipped off the top two buttons, and unpicked the top few inches of the button placket. To my delight it was not interfaced, which made it lots easier to fold under at an angle to create my new v-neckline. I had to trim a wee smidge off the inside edge to make it sit flat.

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The inspiration shirt had a much wider and deeper neck opening, but I didn’t want to go down to the next buttonhole as it would have been a bit scandalous. Also, I did try folding it back at a sharper angle, but it just wouldn’t sit right. I wasn’t unhappy with this so I went with it.

I used the neckline to draft a facing pattern. There wasn’t  big enough shirt offcut to make a self-fabric facing, but I had some white lining left from the skirt I used in this project which worked just fine.

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It’s a bit uneven, I know! Not to worry. I attached the facing in the usual way, and hand-stitched it to the inside of the yoke and the button placket.

Then it was time to tackle the cuffs. Because I’d shortened the sleeves from the top, the cuffs were too small to go around my forearms. I used the stitch ripper to remove the cuffs from the sleeves, and the buttons from the cuffs. Then I was able to open out one end of the cuff and add an extension, made from some of the offcut scraps. The newly- extended cuff got sewn back onto the sleeves (after I let some of the gathers out a bit) and the buttons were sewn back on.

At this point I realised I would have enough offcuts to make the pockets – I’d been leaving them til last as I wasn’t sure if the scraps would stretch. It was pretty easy to cut out two squares for the pockets and two rectangles for the pocket flaps. I even managed to cut the pockets from the lower hem offcuts, using the original hem as the pocket opening hem!

I’ll admit though that I totally eyeballed the pocket placement – no tape measures were used in the placement of these pockets! So they might look a smidge skewiff.

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Then at the last minute I decided to add tabs & buttons for sleeve-rolling. I managed to dig up two tiny pearl buttons, and I made a couple of little tabs and hand-sewed them into the sleeves.

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I believe this sleeve is known as ‘bracelet length’. I learned this from watching the Great British Sewing Bee, which I really wish they would do an Australian version of!

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Although this wasn’t a difficult refashion, it was quite fiddly and took a fair amount of time. However, I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and I’m rather looking forward to wearing it. 

I like to think of my refashioning habit as my way of reducing my ‘consumer footprint’. Maybe it makes no difference at all to the amount of water used or pollution created during the mass-production of the world’s clothes, but maybe it does make a difference.

Anyway, I went really green with this one! I found this voluminous skirt at Savers a couple of months ago. As usual, it takes me a while to a) decide what it’s going to be and b) actually get around to making it.

$4.99 from Savers!

 

It is a maxi-length skirt in a large size, made from a polyester knit – not my favourite fabric but I couldn’t go past that print.

I used a batwing-style jumper as a pattern, pinned all around it and then cut out around the pins (leaving a seam allowance).

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My ‘new’ secondhand Huskylock got used for the first time!

Whirr!

Whirr!

I serged up the two side seams, and finished the sleeve openings with a wide binding. Then I cut a curve for the neckline:

Cutting the front neckline

….and did a similar wide binding which ended up looking somewhere between a really short cowl-neck and a really loose turtleneck.

neckline finishing pinned in place

 

I used the serger for those too, and just serged the bottom edge as well. All together, six rows of serging! One of my quickest refashions ever. I love the Huskylock!!!

Excuse my squint! The sun chose to come out just then!

Excuse my squint! The sun chose to come out just then!

I’m really pleased with this one! It was so quick and easy with the overlocker – normally I avoid knits when possible because Ms Janome doesn’t seem to like them very much, but now the possibilities are endless!

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I have a lot of fabric. This bit is just the patchwork fabric I have accumulated. Some are leftovers from projects, others are intended for future projects. (Or, should I say, were intended for future projects, way back when I bought them….)

This is just craft fabric.

Here is a stack of plastic storers featuring some of my fancier fabrics. Silks, satins, chiffons; one box is stuffed with op-shopped men’s silk shirts (it was a phase, okay?). Another is my vintage pillowslip collection. I have a plan for them. Eventually. When I have enough.

Fancy stuff.

I have an awful lot of refashions waiting to happen.

Refashion city.

Then there’s the vintage sheets.

Stack o' sheets

But wait, there’s more…

Tub o' sheets

(I did have a plan for making fancy labels for all my storage tubs. Really, I did. But I’m very proud of the fact that I actually sorted through all my stash and worked out what was in each tub. No, I didn’t write directly on the plastic tubs. Packaging tape is a wonderful thing. )

Of course, then there’s the patterns.

(Insert collective noun here)

That’s a mirrored cabinet, so there’s actually less than it looks. I started a pattern gallery to organise them all, so far I have scanned 153 pattern envelopes. That doesn’t take into account all the patterns I have downloaded, or the Burda magazines on this shelf….

Pattern mania.

Not all Burda mags. Several Stitches, some patchwork & craft mags, a couple of gorgeous vintage Golden Hands, and of course some books too!

Just so you know, that clock goes ‘meow’. I wish there was a real cat in my sewing room, but at the moment there’s just a clock that meows. At 6 minutes to the hour. Don’t ask.

So I have a lot of stuff. Luckily I have a space I can spread it all out in. But I could never have too many vintage suitcases.

Suitcases, part 1.

My theory is, if I’m going to have a ridiculous amount of fabric and sewing supplies, I might as well find a pretty way to store them.

Stack o' suitcases.

Amazingly, all of these big ones were roadside finds! Credit to The Style Consultant, who  found three of them. Well, to be honest, the red one was dumped outside an op-shop, so I did give them money for it. But still, saw it on the sidewalk, so it counts!

Hope you enjoyed this little peek into my stash! I’d love to hear about how you keep your sewing/crafting supplies organised.

A while back, I hit Savers in Footscray for some warm jumpers to help me through the cold Melbourne winter. Specifically, I was looking for one I could refashion into a ‘sweater skirt’, as I had seen so many on various refashioning blogs that I was just itching to give it a try.

So here’s jumper number one – an 80’s-style men’s wool jumper that set me back $8:

 

It was so fugly I just couldn’t leave it behind! I thought it would be perfect for my sweater skirt. However, when I got home I realised that the weave was too loose – I don’t have an overlocker and I had a feeling Ms. Janome’s zig-zag would not be sufficient to prevent the eventual unraveling of the knit. So back into the refashion basket it went, for later consideration.

More recently, I came across Resweater’s gorgeous blog entry about a felted wool bike seat cover. Whilst I didn’t really feel the urge to make a bike seat cover, it did get me thinking about my 80’s jumper. It was certainly big enough to handle some felting. The label said it was wool. Felting would solve my unraveling issue. What did I have to lose?

So I did a bit more research on felting wool jumpers, and finally chucked it in the washing machine on hot and hoped for the best. After the first cycle, there was so much green fluff in the laundry I worried for my washing machine’s drain hose (I did, after all, accidentally felt a jumper whilst trying to dye it in the washing machine – it came out a lovely hot pink but would only have fitted a 10-year-old – plus I clogged up my washing machine in the bargain!) Anyway, it hadn’t really felted as much as I’d have liked. After a bit more time on the good ole’ internet, I put it in a large wash bag, added a tiny bit of wool wash detergent, and put it through again. My laundry smelt like warm damp sheep, but the end result this time was much more felted, and still big enough to make into a skirt. Yay!

Of course I forgot to take a picture of the felted sweater, but here’s one of the sleeves being cut off during the process of refashioning:

You can see that the pattern is more compact but the colours are still really vibrant.

Somewhere along the line, the jumper developed some holes so I had to practice my darning skills – and do you think I could find any black yarn in the house? Nooooo. So I did have to nip down to the op shop to see if I could find any (no black, but a purple that perfectly matched for 50c) where OF COURSE the $2 rack was out…. so I did spend a bit more than 50c that day!

Anyway, back to the refashion. I cut off the sleeves, then cut across the top of the jumper just below the neckline. I realised at this point that the shape would sit better if I turned the hem into the waistband, so upside-down it went. Out of my stash came a piece of greeny-blue stretch satin (also an op-shop score from some time ago!), out of which a rectangle got sewn into a tube to make a lining for the skirt.

Then it was time to ask Ms. Janome to sew through some thick felted wool. She didn’t like it. Not at all. I think I have RSI in my hand from coaxing the balance wheel around every five stitches or so. But eventually we made it through. I didn’t have the energy to finish the hem edge, but with the felting I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

 

What a perfect outfit for opshopping on a cold day!