save it for a rainy day – umbrella and tent upcycling

I had been rather busy with broken umbrellas this summer and autumn.  It really got started after I helped at the Galway repair cafe, and met Cathy from An Mheitheal Rothar (its a community bike workshop which helps repair and service bikes, run on the principals of ‘Meitheal‘ – and I am a huge fan of theirs).

Being such a fan, I suggested to Cathy I could run a free sewing workshop which reused rain gear someway, especially as being in the west of Ireland, there is a shocking amount of umbrellas that become single use items, and she came up with the catchy title ‘save it for a rainy day’. So I was off, gathering umbrellas from anywhere I could. I did pick up some from the street, my sister put a shout out in her workplace and I did a shout out on ‘freecycle’. After all that I got

  • 10-15 umbrellas (mainly black)
  • 2 tents (one had a ripped carry bag now repaired and tent still a tent and the second was donated without poles to Cope Charity Shop so got repurposed)
  • 12 high viz jackets
  • 2 shower curtains
  • 1 rain jacket (already had this from the €1 rail in charity shop)

When I got to working the umbrellas, my main ideas were a backpack cover, shopper and saddle cover and my idea for shower curtains was rain poncho. When I got to working the fabrics, the shower curtains were polyester so soaked and contained water so not much use there, but I did notice the umbrellas shape lent itself well to a kids poncho.

The Play Poncho

The poncho was quick to realise, and I used the black umbrellas to test the pattern. I had to use the high viz jacket to give some ‘interest’ and the reflective strips were reused to make it visible and suitable for safe play. I was quite chuffed with how it worked out and decided to enter it to an upcycle competition in September but wasn’t sure how it would get on as the black appeared a bit dowdy (and I wasn’t going to remake it as I had a load of other ideas to try out). I don’t have many photos of the making as the ones I took ended up in some ‘ether’ as I had computer issues last month. The pattern for the hood and guide to the make are in the pattern section of the blog.

child play poncho image 2

From the other umbrella I made a shopper, which was rather basic and not really anything to write home about so I was on to the tents and other fabrics to see if I could make backpacks.

The Backpacks

Vogue denim lunch-bag

I had been meaning to make some backpacks for a while as I needed a new lunch-bag and also wanted to try and use up smaller pieces of fabric.

The first backpack was from scrap denim and the hardware straps and zips harvested from a ‘stiga’ ping-pong ball bags used in retail ‘point of sale (and would have been discarded when empty except I worked in the store and took it home about 6 years ago).

Its a vogue pattern and not much to say on it except I thought using the pattern would get me making up a bag with detail and save me the hassle of drafting and measuring. It worked out fine but as the instructions became a bit fiddly at the end I took some short cuts to finish! Overall, it was a very useful make and worked well through August and September as my work lunch bag.

Repurposed tent/Japanese Bag Making Book

The second back pack was all tent, which had been donated to Cope charity shop without the tent rods. It took longer than it should as I sewed it twice, or so it felt as I kept sewing the fabric back to front! The other tricky part was the nylon was a fine weave so I had to use a 70 needle so it would not skip stitches (I didn’t have a 70 when I started sewing and took me a while to figure the finer needle would give a better stitch).

japanese bag book

I used a Japanese bag making book pattern as I like the detailing of the 3-way wear. Its a very useful bag (now my current waterproof work lunch bag). The bag made up in a day or so and you can wear 3 ways, as bag, as cross over and as backpack. The zip was from the tent and the red gross-grain had been on a dress and the sliders came from a soon to be upcycled coat, and I gave the bag some reflective strips. The lining is the tent lining.

 

Upcycled rain jacket backpack

The third back pack was the simplest. It is really just 2 rectangles and a zip. I had been meaning to make a bag like this for a while as I did need an ‘overnight’ bag, and had been reluctant to buy one, especially as each time I saw one in a shop the ‘stop shop’ reflex took over (ie don’t buy unless you really have to).

I had a nylon jacket in the sewing room picked up from a discount rail in the charity shop. I don’t have the before photograph due to a tech issue (long story but end result was lots of various data now lost)

I was rather pleased as I got to use all of the jacket (with some velcro tabs and cord stops left over). I did have the bag strap already and as red, it added some colour. The bag is lined with a shirt, and tied with one of those clips which was ‘found’ at home. The d rings came from tent 1. The back of the bag ‘rectangle’ shape is made from sewing the 2 fronts together, and the pockets were left! – To cover the lower seams, I used old brown canvas scrap fabric. As this bag needed some structure, I used heavy sew in vilene as the interlining.

The pattern was really cutting 6 rectangles

  • 2 rectangles from jacket
  • 2 rectangles from shirt
  • 2 rectangles from sew-in vilene

I did add to the outer layer by putting a front pocket, the band to hold the backpack strap and the d-rings, as well as the strip of brown canvas at the base.

Once the rectangles are sewn 3 sides, the corners are then sewn across to make the bag stand up.

I did use 2 strips to bind the top raw edges and also attach the zip.The rectangles are approx 70 cm x 45  and when rolled down the bag measures about 45 cm high. Once the rectangles are sewn, the bag has a depth of approx 15cm (by sewing triangles at the corners).

I put 2 small loops to the side so it can be worn as a ‘record bag’ if needed, and also a d ring at the top in case the bag needs to be filled up and worn cross body with one strap or over shoulder.

The Workshop

After the samples were made (including a bike saddle cover, and produce bags from the linings), I did the workshop with my friend Cathriona in An Mheitheal Rothar, and enjoyed it a lot. There was a mix of age groups and abilities, and a lot of ambition. 2 of the makers did get the play ponchos made, and some tried shopping bags, but the most useful make was the produce bag as it was the better introduction to the sewing machine for beginners, as well as using up some of the tent cord!

The Upcycle Competition

So in the midst of preparing for the workshop, I got a call from the competition, and it turned out the play poncho was selected as one of the 8 prizewinning entries.

Below is a chair made from a redundant whiskey barrel, and a runner up in the peoples choice (these patchworks were amazing)

Anyway….the Play Poncho got the EPA Award in the mywaste.ie competition. I was well pleased, and had to go to an award ceremony at the national museum and hold a very large cheque!

 

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Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and thank you for all your comments and reads over the year. Really looking forward to remaking a wool coat and skirt after all that nylon and hopefully getting to do more posts in 2020

here is this years hand drawn card.

card

 

 

linen remakes

I have been meaning to post this for a few months now – and while technically I do have more making time now that I am working a part week, I am getting distracted by more projects than ever and my latest will be umbrellas (so I have now become the person who takes broken umbrellas out of bins as of 2 weeks ago).

I am still picking up linen trousers on the reduced rail in charity shops. Crazy to see such beautiful fabric trousers reduced to a euro, and these wide leg pants are relatively easy to re-purpose, so I now have a ‘stash’ of these.

This summer I resewed a few pairs of linen pants. One pair was simple enough as I just recut them to remake a pair of cropped pants, and the other sews were to make some summer tops.

I also used Simplicity 1364 to remake in 2 linen tops, one blue and one white for work. The pattern is so useful, and the sew is fast, especially as I sew the sleeves in flat and then sew the side and sleeve seam last.

 

These are such useful ‘basics’. Last year I made one similar but I cut the sleeve on the cross grain, and then made a large cuff, which I still wear but found the layers of linen in the double cuff a bit chunky.

This year I decided to do a sleeve with a seam down the middle and this way I got a longer sleeve and could include a flare. The only other thing to remember is to add the seam allowance to the centre sleeve. I finish the neckline with bias binding and have a one button close at the back.

 

 

I also tried a linen tee-shirt with a split sleeve and overlapping boat neck and used a bodice block with basic bust dart as the base. Its only semi-successful and it will probably be remodelled again later. I adapted a vintage simplicity 2120. The main down-side is it looks like a dentists tunic as it is in white.

 

If I was remaking this style again, I would do tulip sleeves so they blend with the overlapping boatneck and would make the bodice shorter and flare either the bodice or sleeves (or possibly flare both).

Other than that I also took part in Galway’s first ‘repair cafe’ – yay! It was very interesting as I generally sew on my own, in my own space, so sewing in a public space with random repairs was so interesting and great fun, and not without challenges (which my singer was well able for). I even fixed roller blades.

Myself and another maker will be running a workshop soon on upcycling old umbrellas and other bits, so plenty to be busy with, especially as I hope to have additional patterns for bags and rain gear for uploading then.

I don’t know if anyone has seen the recent episode of BBC Click? They did a great show on futures for the fashion industry (youtube clip here on bacterial dying). And they also did add that the best way still to mitigate the effects of fashion on the environment is still ‘buy less’.

Happy Sewing……

 

 

Hannah Dress

I changed jobs recently, going from a five day week to four day week. I was thrilled when the opportunity for change came and while working out my notice, I went a bit crazy buying patterns. The reasons being:

1-I would have more sewing time

2-I ‘needed’ new clothes for my new job

3-I was taking a pay cut by the job change and may not be able to justify buying patterns again for ages and ages (as if….)

So amongst the buys – I bought this 1930s dress pattern after seeing EM Originals make (facebook link here), I got the simplicity dungaree pattern on a whim, I got the Donna Karan dress pattern after seeing Jasika Nicoles make. I really am unsure if I am really going to get to make and wear these, but may yet all the same.

 

 

I also got the hannah dress pattern from Victory Patterns. I had an idea I could make this from upcycling linen trousers but when the pattern was opened up, I realised it would not work out as straight forward as that. I did have some left over white linen and some blue linen (from Ikea, it was supposed to be a made to a roman blind) and made it from there.

 

 

Its a very interesting pattern and quirky dress. I had a hannah dress post from Feature Zip saved for some time and decided to add 2 inches to the length after reading that. I used the multi size to grade out to the larger at my hips. The sew was pretty straightforward, and I was glad I added the 2 inches to the length as it is a better length for me. The placket instruction is really good and very useful, although if I was sewing thicker fabric, I would have done the placket in 2 parts rather than all-in-one, or used a lawn cotton same colour fabric to eliminate bulk. I did not use the bindings from the pattern and used store bought bias binding and did not ease the armholes in so it is a more comfortable fit for me. (there were some comments that the fit at the chest is snug).

 

Delighted to have made the dress, while I have not used it for work (not practical for me), I have worn it lots. The cut is comfortable and the design suitably quirky, and a great wardrobe addition (especially as I feel some of my makes are often rather plain).

FASHION REVOLUTION 2019 – Tee shirt dresses and discussions

As well as making the sweaters and tunic skirts, I made three dress.

They were very enjoyable but took a fair amount of trial and error. Originally my stitch mixes were very ambitious but also very fussy so I crocheted and frogged in equal measure. Figuring colours was also tricky as I wanted to used all the colours but equally didn’t want the look too busy.

tests

The first dress was from an unworn ASOS dress from the charity shop, with bare shoulder detail. I trimmed the sleeves to make a trapeze style dress. The fabric was a viscose mix and a good weight. I trimmed the neckline and armholes with 2 simple lines, and the hem was done with coloured bands of stitch mixes. I used mainly US half-double stitches back loop only or a basic fillet stitch.

pink dress

I had purchased 2 of the same teeshirts from the charity shop, both were XXL cotton teeshirt which had some wear, and still plenty of wear left in them.

Both were cut and I put front and back pleats to take in the excess fabric at the ‘yoke’. I had tried gathering, but did not like the ‘effect’ of this. I could have cut these also to an a-line shape but I wanted to try a different cut to see how it worked.

For Dress 1 – I did a toned colour scheme. I trimmed the bottom of the dress with a series of stitches with coordinating colours ending with a ‘block stitch’. The shoulder band was crocheted separately and attached afterwards. The stitch is a v stitch.

 

For Dress 2 – I used some contrasting shades. I did a mix of stitches and patterns and got a bit more ‘experimental’. I swatched a fair bit for this which took a long time but it was worth it to get the balance in the end.

For the yoke did a simple rectangle shape using v stitch and with lines of different colours.

 

I then finished the armholes with lines of US single crochet and had to also ‘take in’ some of the excess from the armholes with some decreases.

The dresses were donated to Cope Charity Shop for Fashion Revolution week, the idea being that the charity shop could show them in-store to show some upcycle techniques for tee shirts, and I also did a free workshop in the museum to share the techniques from the makes. Luckily Claudia and Angelica from the weekly stitch meet ups (yarn collective galway) and helped show the crochet, so by the time the workshop was done, everyone learned the blanket stitch and crochet stitches.

Cope Charity Shop hosted a discussion for Fashion Revolution Week on the future for sustainable fashion. In ways I am rather surprised that more charity shops dont get involved with Fashion Revolution week – Galway and Ireland have a lot of charity shops and one thing that did come up in the discussion on Sunday in ‘Cope’ was Spain and Estonia do not. When I approached Cope Charity Shop originally last year to ask if they would show my remakes in the shop, they were the only shop I considered. They have high standards in their shop and also have a good outreach with their social media page. They also seemed to me to potentially be open to the idea (and I was so right there). I would love to see more charity shops work with other makers.

I have the links to the Cope Charity Shop Facebook page here – they did some wonderful photos of the makes, and their shop window has all the fashion revolution tips.

 

Again, I really enjoyed the making for the event, as by having to do repeat makes really upped the game and I tried a different take with each make, and experimented a lot more on the theme that I would do on single makes. I also got to make styles that I may not wear but others would (like skimpy beach tops!). I also got to try out some new crochet stitches, and my new favourite stitch is the ‘box stitch’ – thats the turquoise blocks below as I have also started to make a navy version for myself!

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The stitch guide and pattern  will be listed with my patterns in the pattern page here hopefully next week…. once I finish the chart!

Fashion Revolution 2019 – Tee Shirt to dress / skirt / tunic

For this years fashion revolution, I had decided I would like to do a similar project to last years where I donated specific upcycled makes to a local charity shop so they could ‘exhibit’ these and sell in store.

Last years theme was denim, and this years is tee shirts and sweaters.

The reason I chose these items is both are ubiquitous items and heavily donated to charity shops. They are also sold a lot in fast fashion chains and discount stores and often of poor quality and disposed of quickly, so the idea to prolong the wearing of these was particularly appealing.

I had tried a crochet trim on knits before and find it a very useful way of upcycling sweaters and tee shirts. I prefer the ‘look’ of the crochet trim especially on sweaters when worn with tweeds as it seems to add another detail which I think balances with tweed so well. I did a selection of sweaters (see former post ) and also adapted the toast pattern for a heavier knit sweater.

The sweaters below are a mix. The pink sweater is a turtleneck boat neck, and made using ‘toast sweater pattern’. The red sweater is a basic raglan recut and remake trimmed with pink crochet stitches. The blue sweater is a sweater recut and trimmed with 5 chains (skipping 3 sc spaces) for a few lines and the last line is 3 chains to ‘draw’ it in)

For the tee shrits I made a tee shirt tunic which can be worn as a skirt or as a tunic.

fashion rev 19 montage 1

I was especially pleased with this, as I figured a nice trim for the hem which did not take up too much yarn. The tee shirt pictured here too less than a 50g ball of yarn. This 50g ball was used for this tee shirt and also for the neckline and sleeve trim of the cardigan.

There were a few versions made but the approach was the same for them all.

The teeshirt was checked for holes (which could be covered with a crochet motif or pocket teeshirt cut(if you wish), and then trimmed and cut out an a-line shape.

The tie is a foundation crochet length about 160cm/2m long. I chose foundation sc crochet instead of a chain as there is more stretch in foundation crochet and also it would be easier to wear. I finished the ties with beads, and knotted the end.

 

The top and hem are then finished with a blanket stitch and crocheted into. The pattern guide for this can be found in the pattern links section of this blog and also on ravelry which I have linked here.

 

 

 

Depending on the length of the tee-shirt, it can work as a tunic and skirt, or a dress and long skirt. I have made up a few of these and the pattern takes less than a 50g ball of 4 ply yarn. For this one, I used a 50g ball to make the tunic/skirt below and a matching cardigan trim!

sweater tunic twin set

I made some others in varying colours and lengths, if you have a long tee shirt it will wear as a dress, or you can add an alternative length trim.

I also did some dresses, but am still writing up the pattern for that, and should have the post up later in the week.

I will also be doing workshop in these in Galway Museum – which are free and part of fashion revolution week!

Looking forward to seeing the events on this year for Fashion Revolution (and of course MeMadeMay!)

New Coat New Year

I have been working on some upcycled knits for Fashion Revolution week this year, so a lot of sewing is getting put to one side for ‘after April’.

I had been meaning to make a new coat for a while and had a navy 80s ‘Jimmy Hourinan’  (high end Irish clothing brand) coat that I was looking forward to remaking. I had bought the coat 2 years ago in the charity shop. It was a generous 80’s cut and beautiful fabric (wool cashmere – so light and so warm) and sadly it also would have originally been at least 12 inches longer. Someone donated the coat cut to a shorter length and pins still in it!

Its hard to describe the cut and the photograph does not fully show (as I took these photos late evening 2 years ago). The sleeves were a low cut doman/raglan, and there was a generous collar. The front of the coat shaping is a ‘princess seam’. When I took the coat apart and there was less fabric than I had hoped. I had hoped to get a funnel neck coat or asymentric coat (and few contenders), but as the length was no longer there my options were limited.

I always think it is ultimately best to find a pattern with similar lines and work from there.

The Butterick pattern I had seemed to have this as it has a simple cut, raglan sleeve and I could potentially ‘squeeze’ in the neckline. The neckline here is a subtle funnel neck with a nice front detail. The sleeve heads were shorter because of the neckline (and the original sleeves were shorter because of the big cuffs).

I adapted this butterick pattern to include a seam down by moving the ‘french’ dart to a bust dart and then put a seam down from the dart point, and incorporating the coats original seam here.

I graded it out a bit here and there as the fit of the coat is slim. I used the front seam to keep the pockets in-seam as in the previous coat. The pockets are smaller than the original coat as one panel was moved up to accommodate the neckline.

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One the pattern was drafted and cut, it was relatively straightforward, except for

-there was a notch/cut in the previous centre back seam which I did not notice until after so I had to darn it after.

-the sleeves needed a small cuff added to make it longer.

Took these photos of it a month ago on Christmas Day

 

there were five buttonholes and five buttons when I got the coat. I took the coat apart and had everything stored well.

The cut incorporated the original 5 button holes but could only find four buttons!

so I omitted the lower one and I am waiting for it to reappear in my workroom, which I do hope is soon as anytime someone admires the coat I inevitably point out the missing button…. why do we do this!!!

 

Denim jean dress, figs and blackberry cough syrup

I had made one of these dresses for Fashion Revolution to give to Cope Charity Shop to sell in April, and meant to run another for myself, and finally I did in August from some left over denim.

These jean dresses are a quick make. I possibly could have taken my time and worked out where to blend in the bust dart, and maybe sneak some pockets into the seams – but I didn’t…. as worst sewing habit is my race to the finish.

Before I sew denim I prefer to hot wash jeans to get the grain a bit more settled back. For this style dress, I rip the legs up near to the seam along the straight grain (boot cut or straight leg will give most fabric). Iron and trim any long threads, and I over-locked the rectangles. Starting with a triangle, I built up a large patchwork, and then lay my pattern piece for the dress on top. Cut, ironed and flat felled the seams, sewed darts, dress, zip – hem and done! I used a simple A-line shift dress pattern. (I did not take any photos of the making but have drawn a diagram as I had been explaining it before – and referring to log cabin block made not sense to the person as the did not do patchwork.

 

Other than that – I have been doing some drawing, and putting some order in the garden as a lot of plants which were packed already, were even more squished…. so I have split chives, fennel, rhubarb and hydrangea, as well as summer pruning. and wondering what to do with the ever abundant crop of figs!

Growing up the biggest sin in our family home was waste, and this was generally about food, which obviously makes sense. Any wanton waste was viewed with suspicion, and good clothes being unworn or let got to rags without care was either a crime or a sin. Little wonder I see mending as a necessity.

However  I must admit, some clothes were always beyond redemption. When my teeny-tiny aunt mentioned to my father that she had a fitted sheepskin coat she no longer wore and ‘would the girls like it’, my dad was delighted. He brought the coat home not thinking his 2 daughters were now fine strapping girls in their 20s. To my ultimate relief there was no way that coat fitted, and of course by then the bigger dilemma here for my dad was to have to give it back to the aunt defeated or to somehow re-home it, as apparently ‘they (sheepskin coats) are very warm and so expensive. It would be pure criminal to throw out a coat like that’.  (to this day I think my aunt figured it fitted us as I know the wardrobe it languished in later).

So with echos of ‘its a sin to throw that out’ and ‘you cant waste food, sure thats a sin’  I am in a bit of a bind when it comes to these figs and they generally end up in the compost heap. I am not riddled with guilt as such but now determined to find a better use for them than compost.

I planted a Brown Turkey Fig tree as it grows in Ireland, and seems to be the only one sold.  Now after growing them I know they taste bland or wooly regardless of the amount of sunshine in the summer (I was sure this year’s heatwave would do it…but no). I still have to find a recipe that will work for them.

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This years experiment of this fig tart seems a winner. I did a variation of this recipe, where the figs are roasted in honey and orange, and then put into a tart with frangipane poured over. It is the most successful of the recipes tried so far, even though it only uses 6 figs. (The roasted figs on their own do not taste as good and need the additional support of the pastry and frangipane mix). I am still on the look-out for more recipes as this is the only one so far that seemed to work.

If anyone has any recipes or tips for Brown Turkey Figs – please do tell ….. This tree is a seriously heavy cropper!

My best make for August was my Blackberry Cough syrup. I swear by it and did not get a chance to make any last year so had to battle winter sniffles without. I was determined to make it this year, and made a double batch to be sure. I have the recipe below if anyone would like to try it. I take a few teaspoons in boiling water as a night time drink I does smell of vinegar but tastes fine, and so soothing for a sore throat.

WIN_20180821_20_55_24_ProBlackberry Cough Syrup

MAKES 1.5pints (the jars above contains 3 pints)
1lb blackberries
1lb honey
8oz sugar
1/2 pint wine vinegar

Cook blackberries over gentle heat until juice runs, then boil to a mush. Sieve out pips (to a separate clean saucepan). Add the honey, sugar, and vinegar and bring to boil again. Skim off any scum and pour into warmed very clean bottles. (lasts for about 2 years…..)

 

hello 1982

This make reminds me so much of the 80s, It was not my intention starting out… it just seemed to turn out like that.  It was also a top similar in style to the ones I did sew for myself in the 80s – where the main considerations were to avoid zips, buttons and sleeve insertions.

I picked up a few bits of fabric recently when I was in Dublin recently getting a second opinion on whether I should get 5 crowns. My dentist thought I should consider getting one on an over-filled back tooth, the ‘crown’ consultant in Galway figured why stop there as I could really do with five. Being faced with such a hefty bill, I decided to get a second opinion from a specialist dental practice I had used to some time ago in Dublin for a root canal (that offer free consultation),  and they pretty much recommended only one crown needed and the inexpensive one (so guess whos opinion I am running with….).

So after this good news , I strolled about town visiting galleries before getting the bus back to Galway, and by way of celebration – I popped into the Cloth Shop off St Stephens Green in Dublin. I don’t often buy fabric, but I do like to have some as its nice to have a sufficient amount to try out a new pattern  now and then rather than being compromised by what an upcycle remake presents. I bought some blue tweed I had noticed there some time back, and the end piece of a viscose knit.

The viscose knit was the perfect weight for top with a bit of structure. I had hoped to make something with a funnel boat neck and kimono sleeve. There was just nearly enough fabric left on the roll – about 70cm.

1982 top draft.jpg

I had made up a rough toile in cotton and then used it as a pattern, I did modify the front to add more fabric to the front neckline, but really could have added a bit more.  The collar facing is a continuation up from the neckline in blue and folded over. I did have to patch the sleeve at the back to make the kimono sleeve fit (I have shown the draft here on the fabric to show where I came in ‘short’.) This back seam on the sleeve is fine, as its easier to tell front and back when putting it on!

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and bonus – it matches these sun-glasses

Sewing and Sanding

so after the last few months of being house obsessed – I now have my workroom nearly back and the house stuff that was stored there is making its way back to the rooms of the house, and I am finding it rather slow to get back sewing again as I am still trying to figure on sanding doors and tables. I have given up on wall painting as my shoulder got rather sore from ceilings so after 3 rooms fully painted and 3 small rooms and hall to finish (they are all primed) we have decided to leave them for a while.

 

I had hand hem finished  a silk top while the renovations were going on. It was a pattern I was gifted and for a raw-silk fishtail skirt, it made a lovely blouse.

The main piece that takes up the most fabric with this piece is the bias collar, and the fishtail was a long bias piece so perfect for the collar. The cut was relatively simple. I had to seam a piece near the shoulder to get the full piece, and it doesn’t detract from the fabric, and there were pieces left over for the now ‘fictitious’ patchwork and applique I have deluded myself into thinking I may actually make!

The fit of the top is rather cute, and I think would make a nice evening piece, but ultimately I was more interested in trying out the pattern so it may not get worn till Christmas.

Its also a shame that these types of wedding/occasion silk and satin skirts end up in the charity shops. They really are a one wear item, so its nice to think they can make up into other more ‘functional’ pieces.

The other pattern I got to try out was a Vogue Blouse. I really liked the cut, the neckline and those sleeves. I made 2, one from some black cotton left-overs to the actual size of the pattern which was a snug fit, and the sleeves about 2 inches shorter. I had a white end piece of fabric, and cut another and gave a more generous seam allowance (rather than grading) and longer sleeves. I did not do the waist darts, as realistically my waist is widening, and it would have been a bit too tailored for a summer blouse.

I love the sleeves of this. There is a bit of drama to them. The blouse needs a fabric with a bit of structure, but this in turn means ironing and making it in white, means more laundering (I seem to attract more stains when I wear anything white…..) so its a high-maintenance piece! but one the first wear it got a few ‘did you make that’ and I think its possibly the quirky cut to the neckline as it does feel unusual. Its a comfortable piece, and if I were to make it again, I would make the sleeves longer again (so in total lengthen by at least 5 inches).

I have not done as much sewing this year with building works and returning to work full time (to pay for said works). I have a few projects in the pipeline which I will get to working on.

My new favourite toy is a hand sander and I managed to sand an old dining room table top (there was a broken dining table in the house for the last few years held together with some bolts and bits) which got sanded back. I have also stripped and sanded some doors here (still to be painted) and got rather ambitious with a chair (still to be finished).

 

 

Fashion Revolution, Chevron Patch Skirt

It has been rather hectic the past 2 months, sewing, working and home renovations.

Back in January, I had been wondering what to do with my sample sews and had considered taking a stall again at the market. I also wanted to do something for Fashion Revolution week. I find fashion revolution week (when viewed in the context of sewing)  rather poignant as there was a time when sewing and sewing machines represented a type of freedom for women as they got their own machines and worked as home sew-ers, and now these sewing machines ‘enslave’ so many other women ( With fast fashion you trap a generation of young women into poverty. 75 million people are making our clothes today. 80% is made by women who are only 18 – 24 years old. – forbes)

So I thought I would approach one of the shops I frequent, Cope Charity Shop.

Cope Charity Shop is really beautifully presented, and you have to remind yourself you are in a charity shop as it is laid out so well, it really has a boutique-shop feel, and they take great care in the shop with the displays, I always admire how fancy it always looks. They also have a reduced rail (€1 rail) where I buy a lot of clothes from, and I asked if they would like to have these makes and sell them in fashion revolution week.

Luckily, Allison Currah, the manager, liked the idea. I gave her the general idea of what I had (mainly blue and white makes). Allison kindly arranged everything else including the display and the publicity,  and arranged some great photos of the makes. This is one of the press releases here. Cope Charity Shop have also been doing daily tips this week for fashion revolution – which I think is great as I think the fashion revolution message is a rather dour message in the face of so many bright cheap clothes.

Allison had previously offered un-sale-able denims, which I originally was reluctant to take (they were the ‘synthetic’ indigo and cheaper forms), but ended up re-evaluating this, and though using this denim would be a good challenge and also a more realistic upcycle that the choicer pieces in wool that I normally nab at the charity shop.

So I drafted up a patchwork skirt. I originally planned a few different types but thought in the end to stick to one and make a few.  I adapted a skirt block by moving some darts to make equal size panels and then adding a 45 degree cut. As its denim the bias angle is stable, and I like these skirts made up either as a high contrast sew, or a tonal.

I made 6 extra denim pieces for the event, although I had planned about 12! 4 patch skirts, one Anna Sui Vogue and a Chevron dress. I also was time poor and with builders on the way to renovate our home so in the end.

The pattern for this is on craftsy for free download, with the sewing instructions. I did not get to take many photos of the process but I do hope the ones I have with the directions are clear enough to follow. The pattern does not have seam allowance in it, and have each panel on an A4 sheet so it will be easier to download, size and add seam allowance (I hope).

front and back 1

Its a nice sew (I think) as it was a tidy cut as each piece is small, and it lends itself to being sewn in stages, which is rather handy as I was distracted by all building works

Home Renovations – Not too much to say on this, except someone who lives in this house and is not me, who thought it a good idea to live in a house while builders were in excavating, and putting up steel and tearing out bathrooms and kitchen leaving a fine layer of dust everywhere (including my lungs) . I now feel like Lady Macbeth constantly cleaning my hands any chance I get.

Most of it has been fine but there were a few shockers (bathroom joists were failing fast –  The builder did comment, that it was most unusual, and he never saw one so rotted through, like all the way rotted……, and from his tone, I  don’t believe this was seen as an achievement in any shape or form.)

Now its all coming away, I am distracted by the wallpaper underneath…. and I do hope in 2 weeks time it will be hot and cold water, and no more takeaways…….