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!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

and bonus – it matches these sun-glasses

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Nehalem pants – a job for a featherweight

I got this Nehalem pants pattern last year and spent an afternoon taping pages together, and then, couldn’t figure a fabric.  I got this 1.5m of this light cotton (I think, has a linen quality but dont think its rame) in a market in Leeds in May and thought to finally sew them.

nehalem pants (8)

They sew up so fast – an afternoon, and the only adjustment I made was to place the tie an inch lower (hollow back).  They are very practical (pockets and front seam which acts as a fold guide).  I find I prefer to wear them with the waistband folded over, and if I was to wear the other way, I think I would make thicker ties for it.  The only real issue I had was that the tops I had didn’t really seem to work with it – I was wearing the gathered sleeve t from the last post, but then I remembered my ‘smocky’.  Its a top I bought when I was 15, and I have photos of me wearing it for the next 10 years and some.   I think it retired to my sewing basket in 1996 as there is a tiny hole in it and I was going to repair it and yet never did/could.  So happy to wear it again.

Looking at the photos just there unsure how come I am squinting into the light – I look asleep…..and it wasn’t even that bright this morning…

And the Nehalems were sewn on a featherweight! I have acquired one and can so see the appeal of them now.

featheweight

Some months ago I was in a local charity shop and got talking to the manager Aileen.  We were talking sewing and she asked me to look at some donated machines for their value and to see if they worked.  I looked at 2 and cleaned them and got one working and then she brought in this case….. and it was a featherweight a bit worse for wear.  Cracked lacquer, damaged case, rust on the tray but luckily none on machine – the chrome on the needle plate is damaged.  There was an issue with the bobbin which would be expensive to fix.  I explained (too much – her eyes glazed over) to Aileen that it was a lovely machine but as it would be expensive to fix I could not offer her much -she was happy to take 30 and I kept telling her she should really advertise it for more money (how pathetic am I!).  So I brought it home.  Cleaned and tidied case as much as I could.

  • which was using metal polish on the spare bobbins as well as some attachments and the tray to clean off the rust (some attachements were in a box and they were fine)
  • Metal cleaner on the latches etc of case – one latch is a bit buckled but it does have a key
  • PVA on the case where the vinyl was torn and bubbling
  • oiled everything – which in turn made the cracked lacquer less obvious
  • cleaned bobbin case as it had dirt preventing the bobbin sitting in

and justified getting it fixed by Morgan as there were a few things still off with it (crack in the bobbin case holder and tension spring gone) for 160euro incl parts –  and I was also rather chuffed that Morgan was enthusiastic about its repair (he kept telling me normally he would never give repair advice but did I know these were a really good machine….and told me about a matching iron they made for them….) and when I got sewing on it….it sews a charm – and I can see why the fan club exists for this machine.  The stitch is like the elna (technically the elna may be slightly better), and the machine has a lovely noise/rhythm – it reminds me of my favourite GIF (both sooo cute)

giphy

 

Its also very portable.  I have started to bring it to the community sew room for me to sew on if there are not enough machines as its light enough to put in a bag. (less bulk that way).  I also justified spending 160euro on the fix as I had taken a second job, and I was going to sell the 99k (now sold).  However, since I also had to drop one of my jobs, as I was working 2 part time jobs spread over 7 days a week and getting very tired, so I have now changed jobs from retail(job 1), back to clerical work (job 2 which is temping part-time).  The change is good overall, and now I have time to start on the new irish dance dress……….which technically will be my main job for the next few weeks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick remakes – T and Shirt

I was asked to help with a workshop a youth group was running locally.  The ‘summer camp’ was going to try and combine fashion along with eco-sensibility – by both discussing the negative environmental and social aspects of fast fashion as well as facilitating the attendees to make their own fashion by handing over a fiver and getting them to go to the charity shops and find some clothes that they would wear or upcycle!

I thought I better do some quick sews to show them pieces that can be done with very little sewing and cutting.  I found a shirt and tee in the sewing room box (a lot of unsaleable pieces from the attached charity shop end up here so some have holes some have stains….).  The big T had some small holes and the design was badly faded, the shirt had a stain to the front.

The T

grey tee shirt cut out

The front print on this was faded but was not as noticeable on the wrong side – which I used as the right side,

  • I cut it up and rough cut a tee-shirt shape from the front and back and shortened the tee shirt
  • cut a slight curved arm-scythe. I used one of my own tee’s as a guide.
  • I sewed the shoulder seams together
  • I trimmed the sleeves into as long a rectangle shape, and joined each to a rectangle made from the front and back trim from the bottom of the tee – with the original hems left intact so they became the finished edge of the new sleeve – I gathered the sleeves and inserted them flat
  • and over-locked the sides together and twin needled the neckline and hem.

grey tee after (1)

The hem and neckline were turned over and finished with a twin needle!  The sleeves in this are very dramatic, but its a great tee, and I have since tried another with smaller sleeves.  The sleeves here were made from the 2 rectangles cut from the bottom of the tee-shirt only.

G Star T upcycleG star t upcycle

The shirt

There are a few upcycles around for this style of gypsy shirt, but I wanted to show shirring as I find it so useful, effective and fast.

shirred shirt upcycle to summer top

So for this I cut the shirt above cuff and placket, and around the neckline (which was just under the yoke of the shirt at the back, and over-locked all edges.

I then did 3 lines of shirring…. which equated to one bobbin full!  I later put in some at the hem.

Both took less than an hour each.

The workshop was last week and it was so interesting and so hectic – I did 3 afternoon sessions of about 2.5 hours and it was non-stop.  There were 7 attendees and a great mix of ages and fashion styles, and they were all incredibly enthusiastic.

Few had really sewn before and the nice bit about the making were all were happy with making in general and setting a realistic standard (I think sometimes teaching adults to sew is more difficult as some expect to have a store bought finish and feel defeated when it comes out otherwise.)  Anyway this was just as well as they all seems to have picked up very tricky fashion fabrics at the charity shops.

 

pfaff 91 and quick run up

A few years ago I was teaching sewing and if attendees wished, they could bring in their own sewing machines – which was useful as some had machines they could not use.  Most times its mainly that the machines were family (mother/grandmother) machines and they ended up having them, or the machine was bought with the intention of learning to sew.   One woman had the most gorgeous Pfaff which was over 60 years old.  She was unable to use it, so she brought it along to find out how to use it.  It really was such an advanced machine, and considering its age, it must have been the rolls royce of its day, it had a wonderful sound, and a load of decorative stitches and still managed to look understated.  Anytime I was setting up the machine to show her anything on it, I was loathed to stop sewing on it!

So when I was browsing machines, this caught my eye.  It was not quite like the other pfaff, much simpler, but the look of it was so simple and I thought the simple finish rather appealing and ‘what the hell’ I bought it!  I was also taken by the year of purchase, 1967 – I have a special interest in machines of this time as its my birth year, and subconsciously I am thinking, look how well this machine looks for its age, look how well it works……..The machine had this cute case, like air hostess luggage, and the attachments and original book and receipt.

When it arrived, the plastic pieces had cracked.  – however, as old plastic can be brittle and its only the front plate and button (in the back of my mind I figure it could ultimately be 3d printed and interm fixed with sugru) so I overlooked these as the mechanics were ‘the thing’.  So off to test – and the feed dogs were half frozen – they moved back and forwards, but not up and down.  (I did get a partial refund from seller when I send a video of the feed in action).  I got it serviced (I did look at the mechanism but did not want to mess about with it myself too much) and now its working well.

Its a good machine and the big appeal here was the free arm, as I like the idea of using this one for a lot of sewing.   I have done a few jobs on it and its good.  I am getting used to it, and the only think I am noticing is the feed, while its perfectly fine, its fractionally less than my other machines.  Its a tiny tiny issue, and its really still me getting a feel for the machine, but if I was to compare it the the Elna, the Elna wins re stitch and feed, but then again if I was to compare it to my own Singer Excell that I have had since 1989 they are on a par (the feed of the Excell can be a bit ‘clampy’ whereas the pfaff is a bit light – and Morgan who serviced the machine said he raised the feed dogs slightly so it must have been lighter again).

I really do like the look of this machine (shallow I know), the extension tray is very handy, and although I prefer a top loading bobbin, this one is not fiddly to change so that’s great.  Interestingly it also has a plate that can be turned upside down for darning (ie it covers the feed-dogs)   It doesn’t have a seam guide but I have put some tape there.

One project I did run up on it was this blouse (its a free download).  I had to go to a ‘thing’ last week and it was a bit formal so I wore my grey wool trousers, a yellow cardigan (reworked a few months ago) and figured what would work well with it – would be a white blouse.  I was under a bit of time pressure (needed it the next day) so I figured I would try fabric shop, charity shop, regular shop in that order.  In the fabric shop there was this white fabric and it was perfect (I even bought extra once I found out it was on sale) and ran this one up.  Its a lovely pattern and useful top and I felt rather smug that sewing this took less time than wandering around shops trying stuff on.  The fabric has great weight, but also has a small percentage of spandex which give some softness.

The yellow cardigan was an upcycle I have been messing about with since December and finished last month and worn loads since.  It is a mans knit which I got and used wear (while all the time trying to figure a more flattering cut).  I recut to a round neck cardi with a tie at the neck, and I half lined it – there was the intention to so some beading or embroidery but I as I still seem to favour plain, I left it for the while.  The ties could have been made a bit longer, and I still have fabric, so am wearing as is for the while.  The ties this length are less fussy so I like them this way.  I attached the bands at the front in a slightly clunky way at the neck – as I changed my approach half way.  Its a little off and I think in only a way I would notice, but as its a first time try out with this pattern I am pleased and the main change I would make in the next is to have the back side seams 1cm in.

so thats what SWAP means –

Bitty plans have never been a favourite place of mine, and currently my work room is full of them – the chaos annoys me.  The embroidery machine is set up as I am planning an Irish dancing waistcoat for my nephew and trying to figure how to get the design digitised.  My nieces class costume (‘traditional’ Irish dance dress that is worn in group dances) had to be altered and now done and sits at the back of the door – it was an interesting one as the dress has been through a lot of dancers and altered each time (one side seam is an inch out), however it is still hanging in there, and my lengthening of the skirt is just another in the chain.   A half finished coat sits on the mannequin with the paper pattern for the lining pinned on top.  The work table has an upcycle embroidery idea for a one-euro top (photo finish below), and I have a  plaid skirt taken apart and knit cardigan project sitting waiting to start……..

class-costume

The Irish dancing waistcoat did throw things off a bit as it was a recent ask, and I want it out of the way so I can focus on the other pieces.  However, as I pulled the embroidery machine extension out, it was a good time to stitch up other samples as I want to add some embellishment to a few pieces .

While trying to see if I could get a textured black and or black velvet in the charity shops for the waistcoat and embroidery sampling, I did get this little black top for a euro in the ‘clearance’.  I was going to use it for the waistcoat sampling but the pile is not that deep and as the cut of it is rather cute, I thought I would do some embroidery on it…….and I am rather fascinated by Susanne Bisovsky so I did this motif

embroidery4

So admist the chaos – I have also put my sewing ‘plan’ on the wall (I also just figured with the help of google what this SWAP is in sewing blogs today……………..) – so once the Irish dancing stuff is ‘one the way’ I can get around to including these………….(edit – SWAP Sewing with a Plan….. )

winter 2016 sewing plans

  1.  the red coat – it will be a basic re-cut of a raglan sleeve coat
  2. black bobble a-line dress – this will be made from a cardigan coat – which I hope sews according to plan
  3. vogue top and cigarette pants – I will see if I can pick up black pants in the charity shop to re-cut using my pattern as I have gotten so much wear from the denim ones
  4. purple tunic and skirt – I will remake these from a purple suit…. not in a hurry to make these for a while – these have moved to bottom of list for the moment
  5. sew house seven sweater and plaid skirts – I have a sweater dress and hope to make the toasty sew house seven sweater – and some plaid which I embroidering
  6. vogue blouse 7789 peasant style – I hope I have sufficient fabric for this
  7. a crochet sweater…….I have a pattern
  8. another crochet sweater without a pattern

Now I wonder how much of this plan will go accordingly………………….

 

 

 

 

 

a floral blouse from floral pants – Simplicity 1278

I have been steadily sewing since the new year, but super lazy in not writing or photographing much. Its been a mix of crochet, experiments in embroidery and a ruthless run at the ‘use it or lose it’ stack of clothes, and one piece has already gone to the charity shop when I thought of a use for it!


This pair of floral pants was not under any threat as I love the print.  I think the intensity and balance are captivating, in general I am drawn to print, but rarely wear it as it always feels busy. 

I also wanted to try out Simplicity 1278 for a while as I liked the look of the tucks, and it looked like there would be enough fabric.
I used the modern reprint, and traced my size out, using version b with longer sleeves.








 



The construction was straightforward, a lot more careful that I needed to be with the pleats and tucks, and tacked the markings.  Its a nice use of fabric the few tucks are so effective, and very subtle.

The only real compromise in the cut was the sleeve, I could get the sleeve to below elbow and added a cuff.  I was able to get a sleeve and front of the trouser fronts, the blouse back from the remaining two leg pieces, and the cuffs and facings from the lower leg with very little left over, and also a zip!

I used two buttons from the button box to close  I cannot remember what they were taken from but they are rather cute, they are clear faceted plastic.




It was a relatively quick sew, and while I do like it and I will wear it, I am beginning to figure out that while I like prints, I feel a bit overwhelmed wearing some of them.   I don’t really have many blouses, and mainly wear sweaters in winter, and summer tops in the warmer weather,  I have not worn this as such yet, and in ways made it to expand the styles of clothes I wear in both style, and pattern.  It does feel a bit busy, I had thought it would look well with jeans, but think its more for trousers, and the weather here is still rather cold so it may be a while before I wear it.  

I would like to try the pattern again in a plain fabric, as the tuck detail is rather lost in the floral fabric, but rather impressed that I got a full blouse out of the trousers – inspired in no small part by Linda in Remake Remodel.


 

Sweater Remake


I got this sweater at the euro rail – its one of the few things I bought in a charity shop this year.  I am trying to get through what I have here – but I seem to make an exception for the euro rail – I often think these are the ‘no hope-ers’ and bound for landfill.  I love this colour, the fabric is cotton knit/ jersey.  The sweater colour is uneven due to wear and laundry, but to me this was part of the appeal as the colour now looked slightly textured,For the remake, I used the Astoria initially and also my own block.  It was all straight forward.  I added 5 inches to the length, and made the sleeves as long as I could.  I sewed it using the overcast stitch on the ‘new’ machine.  (so handy)

Cut out

 

Cutting Sleeve – I use bulldog clips to keep the two layers together, and it stops the fabric rolling back in.

I was unsure about the neck finish, and luckily I had some of the same shade in yarn, left
over from a previous project!  (its a colour I like).  I turned the edges and machine basted them, and blanket stitched them.  The trim is a mix of double and treble (uk) stitches.

Inside….

 

Outside…..

Love how it turned out -I cannot believe how quick and easy these types of sweater remakes are, (and the corresponding amount of sweaters on the men’s rail in charity shops).  I have a few more sweaters to remake soon, but I am hoping to try a few different finishes, like embroidered hems and embroidered embellishments….

 

use it or lose it – trousers to Astoria top

I have started this month with a tidy up…. of everywhere….. and trying to figure what to do next.



I did a check (again) of all fabrics and charity shop buys….. to figure a plan.
The plan is start using these up or donate back to the charity shop, which means to get trying the patterns I keep meaning to ‘try out’ and to stop shelving other projects to the back of the queue.

My sewing has taken a slow down due  I had pretty much stopped buying at charity shops some time back, as I found I was getting more than I could sew and was borderline hoarding!   My sewing slowed down a bit for a few reasons
was busy making the dance dress

  • I seem to have sufficient in my wardrobe (yup seriously and I love my new makes)
  • my soon to be grey hair has me wondering on whether is is worth making anything in yellow (my hair is currently in transition, with graduated roots in thanks to thoughtful cut by hairdresser kept it looking okay till christmas -however the roots are now just plain half and half)
the trousers
I bought these purple trousers sometime in the summer – for some reason on that day I bought three purple items from the euro rail and have yet to use them.  They are a 2 way stretch (barely) and a size 16 polyester.  I had thought to try a draft a pattern for a sleeveless shift, but then thought I could try the astoria pattern from Seamwork, and hope the fabric would work.  I had wanted to try this pattern for a while as there are some lovely results online (this being one)
the layout



As it turned out, there was enough fabric for the full sleeve (I thought I would have to do a two part sleeve)  All other pieces did have to be seamed!  I left the creases in place for the cut as they were my straight grain guide, and I ironed them flat with vinegar solution after cutting and left them to rest overnight.

The astoria is a one-hour sew, which would be right, except for I sewed a sleeve in wrong side out which I am part blaming on the shocking amount of Italian sweets I have been gorging….

The top is nicely fitted.  I find it slightly too fitted for what I wear but this is also probably due to the fabric is not a 4 way stretch (its not a great 2 way stretch either).   I am glad to have it as reference for a cardigan I am going to upcycle as the sleeve fitting of the Astoria is really lovely, it sits just right, so I am hoping it will work for a slightly thicker knit/actual knit.




As I seemed to be on a bit of a go slow with crochet this January, I got some gumshoe books from the library – there were about 10 curse words in the book I just finished and some previous reader blacked out each one! strange……..but even more unexpected was the first result back on a google search on ‘defaced library books’ (I was wondering if there was a actual term for it, and it turns out there is –  6 months…)
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/oct/14/joe-orton-defaced-library-books


marfy blouse – uaine on the bias

This poor skirt was sitting on the euro rail last year – I got it as I like green, and its a viscose linen.  As a bias skirt – I wouldn’t be able to wear it, bias enhances any potential curve (I think bias skirts are to be avoided at all costs  for pear-me ……) but as a top it could work out quite well indeed – I probably should have ironed the skirt before photographing as the creases do it no favours.  

refashion skirt to top restyle upcycle


I had come across a few versions of this marfy top online, and I was also curious about their patterns as there was a discussion on them somewhere on fb – so as this pattern was free, it was one way to find out.  I cut for a size 44 and did french seams.  I double checked on seam allowances before cut, and there are none so I added 1.5 all round, and as there would be no hem allowance, I decided to use the frill as the hem (which turned out to be an excellent decision).  

I ironed a crease at the centre front and centre back of skirt pieces to get the true bias, before laying the pattern over each.  In the pattern layout photo, the pattern is laid on the fold and then the side seam hem edge is at the skirt frill join on both, so that worked as my ‘marker’ or notch when I went to sew, I then marked 1.5cm seam allowances at the sides, armholes, and neck.   I put a small facing on the back for the opening, and then sewed the top, gathered the front and then bound the edges.  I decided not to use the neck band as I had seen one version without and liked that, and when I went to cut I may not have had sufficient fabric for the bands (judging from what was left over).  The top was quick enough to run up, and probably quicker for anyone else as I tend to hand hem bindings (my machining of them is rough at best), but in all I think it was 2 or 3 hours (I took apart a dress in-between).

upcycle skirt to top


I am incredibly delighted with the top.  This marfy pattern was easy to use but I don’t know how true this is for their other patterns as they seem to give limited instruction from what I gather on their site – but then again, early vintage patterns don’t give too many clues at the best of times either!.  

refashion skirt to top


Uaine (wen-ya), is an old Irish word for green – it is specific to something being coloured green as opposed to naturally green, and this month is going to be a Uaine month!  In January I did a bit of a rethink of what I was at with all this sewing and cutting, – and I am still without a master plan but now have a modus operandi!!!!  I had to find some focus, as I seemed to have lots of ideas, and projects started all over the house.  So now I am doing projects by the month and by general colour or theme as when I went through everything it turned out that there is currently enough charity shop buys to see me to the next 5 months of making! (its far too easy when things are 1 and 2 euro)  So I divided them into colour and drew up some plans for each, and also catalogued my small stash, so now I am only working a month at a time to stop me flitting from project to project, and have a bag with the next 4, but no more…………….