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How do you decide what to sew next?

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So Sewists how do you decide out of all the patterns you already own and all the fabric you already own and all the new stuff out there what you are going to make next?

For myself it’s a combination of pattern, fabric stash, wardrobe gaps and season and thoughts going round in my head all coming together.

The pattern in question here is M6436, shown on the right above – a McCall’s button down shirt pattern with sleeve, pocket and cup size options, owned because it was ‘free’ with ‘Love Sewing’ magazine which I have on subscription.

I have read some opinion about free patterns with magazines, whether or not they should be included, for example, with the #frugalfrocks2021 challenge.

I probably buy the magazine mostly for the free patterns, it’s a win win situation because if I like the patterns I ‘ll keep them and if I don’t I will sell them on ebay and this will probably cover the price of the magazine. In defence of the magazine there are always 2 or 3 PDF patterns included as well so you have 5 or so patterns each month for your subscription price and surely are going to like at least 2?

Anyway, onto the fabric stash element…. I bought 2 1970’s era Marks and Spencer double sheets 50% poly cotton, some time last year in my local Salvation army shop priced £2.99 for both

Attracted to them because the design screamed 1970’s plus the price, plus there were 2 of them, these sheets were too small for my bed as the mattress was too thick, but I bought them for the fabric.

At home it was difficult to see what could be made out of them – conclusion was a shirt would probably be OK, and this idea fermented away in my brain and gradually popped up as the thing to make next. I am a sequential maker, don’t have garments cut out and not sewn up, only think one or two makes ahead, usually only make one thing per month.

As to wardrobe gaps and season, well I don’t honestly have any wardrobe gaps at all. Making my own clothes is something I do for me and is not really driven by actual need, but it is my main hobby, I use a lot of 2nd hand fabric, and that’s how I justify it.

When making a new pattern it’s a headache to decide what size to cut with the shoulder, armholes, bust, waist and length to consider. My experience with McCall’s tells me to cut a size 14 shoulders and sleeves and size 16 everything else, even though my body measurements would place me in a size 16 & 18.

This is my first time of using a pattern with cup sizes and from my measurements I should have cut a D cup, that dart was extraordinarily huge on the pattern piece so decided to go for the C because after all I saw this garment as a toile. Unusually for me I went for the most complicated version with full shirt collar and stand, pleated pockets and full sleeves.

Other regular adjustments were to lower the bust apex by 1 inch and take 1 inch out of the length of both body and sleeves.

As you can see from the photo above I just re-draw the dart pointing to my actual apex which is much easier but has implications for the side seam which bothers me because to square up it involves taking out a bit of the extra bust room which you’ve added in from the larger dart. One day I will learn to do this properly and move the dart en masse.

This time I also curved the dart in a little at the point to avoid a conical effect and it did look better but was then covered up by the pocket so could not be seen.

My sheet was thicker and less willing to take a crease than most sheets you would buy today. The cuffs, collar and pocket tabs required sewn in interfacing and I just used another piece of sheet for this which worked fine.

Whenever you sew something there are inevitably small pieces of fabric left over, too big to throw out but too small to make any garment from. I keep these pieces in a shoebox but recently the shoe box is getting a bit difficult to close so I decided to use these small pieces of fabric for small pattern pieces whenever I make something, regardless of whether I had enough main fabric to complete the garment or not. Hence I used for the button band and pocket flaps, some navy and orange 100% cotton poplin fabric with a fox pattern which I had previously used for a Helen’s Closet Suki Robe.

As I said, the sheet was quite thick and reluctant to respond to pressing. The fox fabric pressed like a dream. The instructions for this pattern were easy but I made a mistake and followed the instructions for view A which just has a collar stand and no collar, instead of view C which meant I sewed up the collar stand when it should have been left open to attach to the collar. I covered up this mistake with some bias binding although I did have plenty of sheet left and probably should have cut another piece and sewed it properly.

This pattern uses 2 interfaced plackets and in the finished garment this seemed a bit bulky. Next time I will just interface the buttonhole placket and not the button placket which seems to be the standard with a button down shirt anyway.

I started working on this shirt at 10am and apart from a few meal and exercise breaks did not finish until 10pm. Once I got started I just didn’t want to stop.

The fit is pretty good, it could go an inch or 2 shorter but is still OK at this length, therefore a success as a toile but does it look obviously home made and like a sheet? Does that bother me?… well not much. I am not aiming for a RTW look I’m aiming to make something that fits me using supplies I already own and I like this shirt more every time I put it on. It was meant to be a toile but every sewist hopes a toile will be wearable don’t they? The shirt (sheet) fabric is quite thick and warm so I think it’s going to be good across 3 seasons. The flowery pattern makes it more difficult to find something it goes with but as I don’t make many plain garments (should make more) that’s not a unique problem for me.

I still have another full sheet left but that’s a make for another day. However, plans for a version in a different non- sheet fabric are already afoot.

Coat from a curtain

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Some time last year I was offered curtains which were being thrown out and obviously said yes please.

There were 3 different types and although not keen on the brown ones, took them all because I think that’s the best thing to do all round. If you go through the bag picking out some things and rejecting others its like criticizing someone’s taste who is trying to do you a favour, and if you don’t take everything you are not helping them as much because they still have stuff to get rid of.

I put all of them up in my loft for a while waiting for inspiration to strike – and before long it did, but for the disliked brown ones.

A few years ago I found myself away from home and having misjudged the weather, in need of a coat. This was an annoying situation for me because I don’t like to make unplanned clothing purchases and in this case bought a value coat from a supermarket – it was a hip length duvet type coat:

I have given this coat a chance and worn it quite a lot – I washed it and some of the padding clumped together, so now its time was up and it wasn’t that warm anyway – enter the brown curtains, which I pre-washed on my normal cycle. I had already removed the lining and used it to line some other curtains.

The curtains were going to be a Helen’s closet Pona jacket – the longer version, and be lined. I am fast becoming a walking advert for this pattern company having recently made 4 x Arden pants, 4 x Suki robe and now 2 x Pona Jacket, note to self, diversify more.

I am not sure what to say the curtain fabric type was but will attempt to describe it – there is a chenille element and a silky element and one side is the shadow of the other.

The warp (grainline) thread, seen here on the left is a thin brown cotton type which holds it all together. There are 2 weft threads, a silky turquoise one which only appears on one side of the fabric to make up the leaves and is hidden in the warp the rest of the time, and a chenille type brown one which appears on one side of the fabric or the other to make up the flowers. The right side of the curtains was the silky side but I decided to use the chenille side as I thought it looked less curtainy. The previous owners of these curtains also owned a cat which had spent some time scratching the silky side.

It was a luxury to have so much fabric, normally I select a fabric piece for my project which is smaller than the recommended size and do tetris to reduce waste, but with this jacket I had plenty and abandoned my normal fabric frugality.

Fraying was a big issue, so much so that even though I was going to line the jacket I started by zig zagging every piece.

The jacket came together well and as I have previously made the shorter view from some old jeans, Helen’s closet Pona jacket from upcycled jeans I was familiar with the instructions. The curtain was thick but my walking foot coped well with it. There is a blog post on Helen’s closet website taking you through the steps needed to line the jacket which I had planned and also needed to do due to the fraying. The lining fabric was some from stash left over some trousers made last year More Arden pants. I struggled with the hem part of the lining instructions and ended up sewing the lining on to the jacket by hand at the hem.

I like the way the other side of the fabric shows on the lapel and am enjoying the oversized pockets. I had to topstitch every edge because this curtain did not respond to pressing. Here is the coat on a hanger

And on my daughter – its not for her, I just used her for photos, then realised I couldn’t then tag sewover50.

The coat is very snuggly and warm but I am going to end up putting some sort of fasten on it as I just think its needed on a coat of this nature.

Bonus feature

I had a message from my daughter that some 2XL scrubs were needed at the nursing home at which she works so sewed up these ones from a duvet cover using a sewdifferent pattern found online.

Vintage fabric and thread purchases

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I recently had 2 sewing shopping experiences that dreams are made of.

Exploring a nearby village with my daughter we saw a few charity shops. I love charity shops and second hand items generally. There’s the thrill of the chase, the bargains and the variety and unpredictable nature of items on offer for sale which appeals to me. Plus, I feel as if I am giving older items the respect they deserve, they get another chance to be useful and avoid landfill for a few more years.

At one particular charity shop there were some sewing notions for sale – a pincushion and some thread, some curtain tape etc. I bought them for a total of £11 asked if they had any fabric for sale. The sales assistant told me that there was some upstairs and she would go and look. I was expecting a few small pieces, not 3 carrier bags full of wonderful vintage fabric. I could see that one of them was suiting which I am unlikely to use, and rejected that one but said I would buy the other 2 bags, suggested price (from her) was £5. I hadn’t properly looked through the bags but could tell that this price was too cheap and gave her £10.

I couldn’t wait to get home and get a proper look at what was there but could not have anticipated how good the contents were, most likely the fabric stash of a lady who had died. I wish I could have known her and heard her sewing stories. There was a good number of larger pieces, 3m seems to have been her go to length, including what I believe is vintage liberty cotton lawn – I bought some Liberty lawn from the shop last year and this fruity fabric has the same look and feel.

There was 3m of this sheerish blue fabric from 1981 – its probably my favourite of the lot but I haven’t got a plan for it yet.

And 5m of monochrome of a narrower width – this ones a bit slippery.

and so much more…… some pieces look like the 1m you sometimes have left over or maybe remnants but the bag also included some Ikea bedding type fabric from 2007. Most of the fabric was woven but there were some smaller sized knits as well.

At the bottom of one of the bags was a box full of threads, notions and trim, some were very old.

There was some rick rack wrapped up in a 1962 newspaper

Some fancy trim

And some India tape, which I had to look up what it actually was, (its a kind of stabilising tape) made in Manchester with very old styling on the package. There is a lot of this India tape and I doubt I can use all of it it but will absolutely keep and cherish it.

There were also a lot of sets of buttons like this

It was the best ever charity shop find possibly never to be repeated. I will treat this find with respect, for me its not about getting a bargain but about enjoying these treasures.

As luck would have it the next day I was browsing face book market place and near to me someone was selling a box of thread. I went to buy it and the box was a very mixed bag.

There were several overlocker spools and again some very old thread.

Some mending wool – didn’t know that was a thing.

Plenty of older wooden spools, although the owner of this box did seem to like winding new thread onto old bobbins as the dark smoke one is actually yellow.

Look at this war Issue thread – I don’t even know if I should use this as its so old.

There was also an assortment of overlocker threads, some of which were dirty at the edges but I’ll still use them.

It’s official, I now have thread beyond life expectancy, but looking through my fabric and thread is almost a hobby in itself, and I know that if similar treasures presented themselves to me tomorrow I would buy them again.

A Christmas Wilder gown

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This is the 4th Wilder gown or top I have made and probably the last.

Here is the first gown and top

This year I moved away from London and the day before I left I got the urge to go into Brixton market one last time for a souvenir, and what better one to choose than some fabric.

I was not interested in Ankara, that has too many issues, not the least of which is that you often have to buy 6 yards of the stuff, so I chose some drapey olive green viscose with cream flowers and a paisley print. It was the last of the bolt which was about 2.7 metres, and at the time of buying there was no particular plan for it.

After my previous Wilder I made a note to increase the bodice length by 2cm, in line with a 2cm FBA. Although the 2.7m I had is quite a lot of fabric, it is not the recommended amount for a full length wilder so I made the panels slightly shorter (would have done that anyway as I am short) and as wide as I could with the fabric available – the first tier has less gathering than the bottom tier.

The Wilder gown involves a lot of gathering, and I decided to try the dental floss and zig zag stitch method which is basically sewing a zig zag stitch over some dental floss, pulling on the floss to achieve gathering, then sewing down the gathers with a straight stitch. I did a practice piece, it seemed straight forward. For the first layer I used a zig zag width of 3 but increased it to 3.5 for the second layer just to make things easier for myself.

On the second layer I must have been a bit casual about stitching my straight stitch beneath the zig zag because annoyingly it bit of it shows though if you look carefully.

I am not sure if extending the bodice by 1 inch was a good idea either, it seems a bit too long now especially when sitting down. Its still a good dress ready to wear on Christmas day.

Bonus feature: foray into knitting

I do knit but am not particularly frequent or adventurous.

I had a bag of various odd balls of wool and decided to knit them up into a cardigan, using round needles to knit the whole bodice so I could just carry on knitting until the balls ran out and always have consistent stripes. This made for a very long row.

I didn’t have a pattern and this make almost felt like a sewing and refashioning exercise, just made a boxy bodice with dropped sleeves.

The bodice turned out too wide so I used some buttons to wrap it around and fasten it down.

Somehow I still seem to have just as much wool left as I bought a few extra because not all the ones I already had were the right thickness or colour.

Charity shop behind the scenes

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I have been a life long charity shopper and prefer to use 2nd hand items wherever possible.

This is for several reasons, probably the least important of which is cost. I have always disliked waste, it upsets me, and view buying second hand items as reducing waste.

I prefer the shopping environment in a charity shop, no pushy and snooty assistants.

You never know what you might find and there’s always the possibility of finding something unique that probably only you will really treasure.

Anyway, I’ve recently starting volunteering and here are my behind the scenes experiences.

I know some writers focus on gross and disgusting stuff which they have found amongst donations but my experience is that most people are well meaning and donate what they consider to be quality items.

My shop is in a fairly poor area of London but there are some more wealthy customers and donators as well. We are situated next to a supermarket which is to our advantage as people pop in for a look without having to make a special trip.

The main fact to be swallowed is that supply of donations far exceeds demand from customers. This means that the vast majority of donated items can not be sold in the shop. Even if something makes it to the shop floor it may not be sold, but replaced after a few weeks by some other item.

In our society most people already own everything that they need so to buy more stuff either means they must clutter up their small properties or get rid of things that are not yet beyond use. Most people do the latter, assuaging their guilt by donating.

Here are some facts about donations we receive, and this is specific to the shop I work in which is part of a small local chain.

1. People donate loads of stuff at a time, typically a bin bag or more full.

2. The quality of the bag is usually quite homogenous ie all good or all poor.

3. Our typical bag would consist of cheap womens’ clothing from Primark or H&M in a small size barely worn ie bought and quickly discarded by the very demographic which is supposed to care most about the environment. These items are largely unsellable, or go in the 50p bin.

4. Men donate more clothes than women but buy less. I say if you donate you should buy a few items as well.

5. Anything dirty, broken or stained can not be sold. This sometimes causes dilemmas when we receive a designer item which needs a wash.

6. Some people are incredibly generous and donate high value items, for example today we received a brand new mens’ suit with a tag of £300. In the same bag was a jacket which had been newly dry cleaned.

7. What applies to clothes also applies to books.

8. Electrical goods should go to specialist centres that can test them before sale.

9. Staff don’t like donations right at the end of the day and your donation is more likely to make it to the shop floor if given early morning midweek.

10. All staff take some things home, especially things that can’t be sold such as slightly damaged goods or partly used toiletries.

11. We still get ‘rag’ money from unsaleable clothes, currently £4 per bin bag full, so its still worth taking unsaleable clothes to donate, just tell the staff they are rags.

12 . Most of the purchases are not from poor people buying essentials they would not otherwise be able to afford, the typical customer is buying more things they don’t actually need to clutter their homes with – how do I know this? because they return weekly and buy large volumes of the same type of stuff. The regular customer however, is out lifeblood and we are always pleased to see them.

13. Generally we have oversupply in all areas except mens’ trousers, cutlery and vinyl records.

Finally please, please buy. If you buy an item second hand and only use it a few times the charity will have got some money and you will have made the shop staff very happy – they have sales targets and get stressed out if they are not met. Chances are if you did not buy, the item destiation was landfill.

You can have fast fashion the charity shop way – buy, wear a few times then re-donate, and help a good cause at the same time.

More Arden pants

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This is my second pair of these ultimate comfort trousers, Helen’s closet Arden pants. Having perfected the fit on my first pair (grade up at the waist, reduce rear crotch curve) it made sense to make the most of these adjustments by making another pair.

I like the large pockets and general relaxed style but wanted to use a plain fabric to go with my many patterned tops.

The main fabric is some petrol viscose bought on a fabric shopping trip to Walthamstow for only £2 per metre which was obviously a huge bargain.

As my stash of small pieces of fabric keeps growing I am always looking for ways to use it up and consequently decided to cut all the smaller parts from a small piece of Ankara which was given to me, so the trousers are not completely plain as the waistband and pockets are rather loud.

This was a quick make due to familiarity with how the pattern goes together. I used a flat felled seam for the crotch curve and did about half of the suggested top stitching.

The viscose was very thin and slippery, so I was glad to have the easier fabric for the pockets and waistband.

Although I cut these Arden’s the same length as my previous ones, they turned out a bit long and I had to re-visit them and take 3cm off the hem. I can only put this down to the very drapey nature of the fabric.

I had the opposite of this effect with some linen trousers once, because even though the same length as some trousers which were right for me, the linen ones ended up a bit short which I attributed to all the creases which you inevitably get with linen, taking up some of the length.

Bonus feature:

I use a vintage sewing box as my bedside table and had some fun re-covering the lid with some fabric, a button and ribbon.

Vogue V8379 wrap dress

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Fabric and style choices

On a recent trip to Walthamstow I saw this bottle green polka dot knit fabric for the bargain price of £3 per metre and purchased 2 metres.

V8379 was released in 2008 and is still in production. Nothing lasts the course like that without having some merit.

It’s for knit fabrics with moderate stretch (35%), the waist tie passes through a hole in the side seam and some bust shaping is provided by 2 pleats at the waist.

There are 2 views, with and without long sleeves, cuffs and collar. I chose to make long sleeves and collar but no cuffs in size 14 but grading larger at the waist.

There was loads of internet help available about how to sew this dress up, but as expected from its popularity, most sewers reported a positive experience.

Internet suggestions I followed were:

The neck facings tend to roll out, omit them and just turn the seam allowances under, adding clear elastic to stop stretching out.

The belt is too short, add some length – I cut the size 22 belt.

Stabilise the shoulder seams with interfacing

Size adjustments and cutting out

I haven’t made a wrap dress before so didn’t have pattern pieces available to compare the size with – normally comparing pattern pieces with something I have already sewed and know the fit of would be the first part of my planning process – I dug out a RTW dress and the sleeve pieces seemed OK in a straight 14.

Some sewists reported making a straight size without their normal adjustments and it had worked out fine due to the style and stretch fabric but I decided to go with my usual adjustments of bust one size bigger and waist 2 sizes bigger. There is a FBA out there online which basically involves adding an extra waist pleat.

The pattern sheets come in size 8 – 14 and 16 – 22 which made grading up more fuss. The front bodice pieces are strange shapes because of the pleats and there are a lot of pattern markings to transfer – some are only needed for the collar and cuffs or one side of the bodice.

Fabric requirements are 2.75 yards so I was clearly some way short but I never worry about these things, confident it can be made to work somehow. I laid my fabric out and all the big pieces seemed to fit and I was not cutting the neck facings and sleeve cuffs anyway.

The skirt and front bodice pieces were all fine, cut from single layer fabric and all were on grain. The sleeves had to go on the cross grain but that was also fine, then things started getting tricky as there were only small pieces remaining to get the back bodice out of. The back bodice ended up bit of a dogs dinner TBH and there was still the long belt and the collar to cut and this was all the fabric I had left.

How was I going to cut the long belt and collar pieces out of this?

I slept on it and in the morning raided my stash and found some black rib fabric which had been a very small dress I had saved from the charity shop (at which I volunteer) rag bag for another project but not used. I cut the collar and belt out of this black rib and sighed with relief – the whole cutting out process felt like a project in itself all before I’d even threaded a needle.

Sewing the dress together

Starting off with a ballpoint needle for a test seam it kept skipping – I thought this was supposed to be what happened if you don’t use a ballpoint needle, and its not the first time I’ve had this experience, so I reverted to a universal needle which was fine. I don’t know what’s going wrong with the ballpoint.

A narrow zig zag seemed to work better than lightning stitch (I don’t have an overlocker) but the uppermost fabric did want to stretch out a bit while sewing. When no stretch was needed such as the shoulder, skirt and sleeve seams, I put the walking foot on and this was much better.

Not fond of interfacing and also trying to use up small pieces of fabric in my stash, some cotton gingham became my interfacing to stabilise the collar and shoulder seams.

The dress construction was quite straight forward – sew the bodice together, sew the skirt together, attach bodice to skirt, attach sleeves to bodice but I stopped following the instructions half way through because I didn’t have neck facings, just turning the neck edge seam allowances under and tucking in some clear elastic as suggested by the internet. I didn’t know whether to stretch the clear elastic or not or if so my how much, and after trying on did stretch it by a marginal amount as I sewed it in.

Collar meets turned under seam allowance at the neckline

Because there was no facing I had to snip the seam allowance where it met the collar, and hand sew it down, same where it met the waist.

Finished result

The dress fits well and is comfortable, the neck doesn’t gape. I don’t think it’s obvious the back bodice is pieced together.

The big skirt does make it feel bottom heavy on the hanger and when putting it on, as reported by other sewers, but overall its also been a positive experience for me. I have some more expensive jersey fabric with the same amount of stretch in my stash which may be turned into one of these dresses thus making this polka dot version that common item beloved of most sewers ie a wearable toile.

Skirt re-fashion

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Its a bit of an exaggeration to call this a refashion as its so simple.

I was given this skirt by my daughter ‘for the fabric’ . It’s a half circle skirt in a medium weight 94% cotton 6% elastane originally from Top Shop, made in Turkey.

I tried it on and liked the length but the waist was too small, by 3 or 4 inches.

The plan was to cut a small band of fabric from the top of the skirt, therefore increasing the waist size, and add some fabric onto the hemline to maintain the length – but I didn’t need to. The half circle design means the waist is cut on the bias, and after removing the interfaced waistband, like some miracle the skirt actually fit, I just needed to make a new, longer waistband.

After toying with the idea of using wide bias tape as a waistband, I instead cut a strip of fabric and sewed it on from the wrong side first with a straight stitch, then on the right side with 3 step zig zag. This stitch offered a better chance of catching all of the underside seam than stitching in the ditch would have done, and I quite like the look of 3 step zig zag.

I was lazy and didn’t change the thread on my machine from the previous project because I am never going to wear this skirt with a tucked in top, but I’ve included a tucked in photo here.

Being so simple this was a super quick fix.

Any flared or A-line skirt could be made bigger by this method and I was lucky that the bias cut in stretch fabric was so flexible. I probably made the new waistband a bit big and it does tend to flare out a bit because the main skirt fabric is a bit stretched but its a wearable item.

How many times do you wear your clothes?

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Here is my wardrobe

Looks like I don’t have many clothes doesn’t it? but there are also these 2 full containers of clothes not in current rotation.

Actually I am still virtue signalling and don’t think I have that many compared to other wardrobes I have seen.

I have been sewing since 2015 and regard this as my main hobby which has opened up the online sewing community to me. I enjoy very much reading about other peoples makes and learning from them. Most of what I know has been learned for free by their kindness and generosity.

Something bothered and puzzled me. I read common phrases like ‘this garment has/will get a lot of wears’ or ‘is in constant rotation’ but then I see that the same sewists will publish multiple makes each month and I wonder how many wears do their garments actually get and how do they know?

I have plenty to wear but still make one garment a month because I want to.

Last year I decided to keep a record of what I wore each day. I normally wear the same thing all day. I have also recently transferred it to a spreadsheet. This led me to discover I have 32 tops/cardigans and 10 – 12 each of trousers, dresses and skirts.

Here is a sample page from my record book. The number of the left of the page refers to the wear number of each item. For anyone thinking this must be a terrible chore, it isn’t, and it has enhanced my enjoyment of my clothes.

Once each item has been worn 10 times it gets washed and not worn again for at least one month. Once each item has been worn 20 times, I don’t wear it again until all other items in that category have been worn 20 times as well. Some items are seasonal, around 35%.

I learned that I have too many tops and should avoid making more, haven’t yet been able to wear each of them 10 times in a year.

Dresses, trousers and skirts have all been worn 10 or 20 times.

Documenting my wears made me change my dressing habits, and I now have around 4 outfits on the go at any one time. I look forward to getting to wear number 10 from each item and always consider in advance what I will bring into rotation next, and this is a fun thing to do!

The exercise has got me wearing all of my wardrobe and not just a selection of it, and I have found that familiarity brings comfort. By this I mean that I began to like things I was initially less keen on, once I had worn them 3 or 4 times.

Here are some examples of things I wanted to wear more :

denim skirt made April 2019
Betty dress, made Sept 2019
Arden pants, made August 2020

Clothes I was reluctant to start wearing:

Early refashion dress from 2015 made from t-shirt and skirt
Top made from palazzo pants and gifted ankara fabric ( poor fit on bust)
Purple/pink shapes skirt (charity shop buy with waist made bigger to fit)

So, sewing community, thank you for all I have learned from you but want to challenge you by asking you these questions

How many times do you wear your clothes and how do you know your answer is correct?

Is this enough and could you do better?

Dress to apron refashion

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This blog post is more about the dress than the apron.

I bought this dress in my local traid shop in their sale for £4. I don’t know how many items they sell with their regular prices but this charity shop is undoubtedly 10 x more busy when there is a sale on.

The full price tag for my dress was £18.99, which explains why no-one had bought it, but the high quality fabric and colours were what attracted me.

With this dress in my hand it was obviously made by someone who was much better at sewing than myself, so despite being not my style or size I bought it because I couldn’t risk this lovely expertly sewn dress ending up in the rag bag. I didn’t have any plan, just a rescue mission.

That was in September 2016 and I’ve looked at the dress many times since to admire the workmanship. It’s some kind of test garment with huge seam allowances and fully lined with thin gauze.

There are these 2 superb bows on the front of the bodice.

Considerable style and fit adjustments had already been made. I trawled some London pattern companies looking for similar dresses but nothing came to light.

I undid the large seam allowances and darts but it still wouldn’t fit me and still wasn’t my style. The panel design meant I couldn’t even harvest the quality fabric for another project.

Inspiration finally came when I wanted to make a new apron. I could preserve the front of the dress as an apron.

First stage was to rip the side seams apart and also remove the arms.

The arm pieces looked like, sewn together, they would make a decent full width pocket. (At this point I noticed that one of the sleeves had been pieced together)

I salvaged the long centre back, perfectly concealed zip and put in my stash.

Some purple velvet ribbon, another long term stash resident, made the waist ties, and the neck loop was made from the back piece of the dress.

I had to add some small bust darts to avoid weird bodice gaping.

So here I have the fanciest fully lined apron, with princess seams, bust darts, bows and ribbons.

My sincere apologies to whoever made the dress. I bought it with the best of intentions, I wanted to save your work. What were you even thinking donating it to a charity shop?