It seems I am currently stuck in some kind of pale blue linen refashioning loop as the last item I tackled was also pale blue linen.
Inspired by the refashioners 2015 challenge, (refashion a shirt), I went looking for a good condition large size shirt to work on. The challenge had finished already but it had provided lots of fresh ideas.
The shirt cost £3.49 from a Salvation Army shop and was an extra large Marks and Spencer Blue Harbour range item in 100% linen, made in Bangladesh. It looked barely worn and was a nice sky blue colour.
The idea was to make some sort of simple loose linen top.
As it was plain blue, this other shirt in 100% cotton, given to me by my stepson, was going to be used to add interest.
Unfortunately this checked shirt was a small size and had lots of seams all over it. The pockets were also tiny and not much use for anything.
I cut off the arms and shoulders of the main shirt, sewed up the button placket, made new shoulder seams and ‘tried it on’.
Because there was plenty of spare fabric I had already decided just to sew up the button placket and cut it off, but was undecided whether to have the resulting seam at the back or the front. I went for the back ie the shirt would be refashioned with the back at the front, so the pocket had to come off.
Next step was to add a few darts from the neckline for shaping.
Linen is not the most difficult fabric to work with but it is not the easiest either. Its very good at fraying, and you can iron it but 5 minutes later the creases are back. Those darts gave me some trouble getting them even on each side.
I finished the neck with bias binding made from the checked shirt.
Having the back at the front meant the shoulder seams did not sit exactly in the right place but it didn’t look too bad and making the armholes smaller helped a bit.
I was going to add sleeves from the contrast shirt and actually made some, but they didn’t look as good as no sleeves. Bias binding it was then, to finish the armholes.
I made final adjustments to the fit by taking in more fabric at the back seam where the placket still sat, and a bit on the sides as well. When I was happy with it I cut all the excess fabric from the now very thick seams. I try to leave this trimming to the last possible moment in case a mistake has been made.
Finally I reduced the top to the length I wanted. As the top was so simple I made a curved hem at the side seams, using a small plate to draw the curve, but it would have been better if I’d made the curve less rounded. The contrast bias trim balanced the neckline.
Here is the finished top, 30 seconds after ironing.
I haven’t got any more pale blue linen left so my next refashion will have to be something different.
This top is a refashion of a refashion.
Here is the previous transformation:
This was one of my favourite refashions to wear, I liked the linen I liked the blue, I liked the check trim.
On its last pass though the laundry I decided the armpits and rope neckline were too worn to be seen out in public again.
I had an idea to replace those worn out elements with some contrasting pink fabric (also linen but with a slightly closer weave) from my stash, and also set myself the challenge to complete the whole thing in 3 hours which is quick for me.
The first step was to cut off the worn out elements which just left a short hemmed and finished tube.
I sewed on a couple of fabric panels to lengthen the tube roughly the right size to have enough fabric to make a simple straight up and down top.
At this rough and ready stage I ‘tried it on’ get an idea where the join was going to fall, I didn’t want it to be on the bust apex, and to find out where the armpits should be.
I sewed up the sides and top of the pink bits to make rough armholes and a neck, then tried on again. Some unpicking and readjusting was involved to get things in the right place ( I had anticipated this and not backstitched) and I obviously needed to do something to develop the neckline.
For the neck, which was currently much too high, I marked the centre front and cut down a 2 inch slit which was then folded under like so. I re-attached the Superdry label for interest as it seemed to look right with the point of the triangle at the middle of the neckline.
For the back of neck I cut a shorter 1 inch slit but folded under in the same way, creating a sort of diamond shape for the neck. Its a bit rough on the inside but it will do. I considered folding the fabric to the outside to make a collar but this would be more time consuming and more likely to go wrong.
Finally, I hemmed the armholes using a zig sag stitch, took the side seams in a little to make the fit a little snugger and added a few hand stiches in some places to tidy up.
I quite like this experimental method of making by continuous refitting and the whole process was quite quick.
I already like this new version of the old tunic.
I made a new bag for taking to work. As my job is 12 hour night shifts, the bag has to be big enough to fit generous supplies of food, drink, clothing and entertainment in.
The dimensions were based roughly on my old bag, bought new a couple of years ago from a local shop. It looks OK in the photo but has already been subject to a few repairs, has been washed a few times and is looking a bit past it.
I had some fabric in mind bought at a jumble sale last year very cheaply, probably meant for curtains, it is some kind of open fairly thick linen. I got rather excited to see some actual fabric on sale and snapped it up without a plan.
I needed a contrast fabric and this pair of trousers BNWT left behind by a passing girlfriend of my stepson, seemed to work well. They were a similar weight canvas 100% cotton in bright turquoise and the pockets could be used for my signature 2 pockets made into one for the front of the bag.
I cut 5 pieces the sizes and shapes I needed using measurements taken from the old bag.
I haven’t made a bag like this before so it was a learning curve and I wanted to do it properly so heavy duty interfacing was applied to the main pieces .
The interfacing didn’t seem to stick that well so I ended up sewing it in, leading to a visible extra line of stitching that I will have to live with.
There was also going to be a lining.
This used to be a long skirt, previously used to make a top. The original charity shop skirt was the last item of clothing I bought before giving up shopping for a year, I have another 6 months to complete the no shopping year.
The lining fabric was slippery and unpleasant to work with. The top previously made from it …..
doesn’t quite hang right because something went slightly wrong in the cutting out and although I do wear the top, am always aware of its failings.
I remembered a tip about spraying slippery fabrics with spray starch to make them easier to work with. I didn’t have any spray starch but did have hairspray and this worked surprisingly well. I sprayed each piece before sewing and it made quite a difference, and made the pieces smell nice.
I wanted an internal and external pocket and these were sewn on to the relevant pieces first, bearing in mind where their final placement was to be once seams and handles were taken into account
The next stage was to sew up the base and side pieces into one strip, then attach the front and back.
The handles were interfaced and I used a few hand stitches at the internal corners to keep the lining held in place.
I am almost looking forward to going to work to test this bag out.
I had some fun with this simple t-shirt embellishment.
It started with a a plain cotton Marks and Spencer t-shirt, bought last year in a charity shop for £1, intending to tart it up in some way .
Inspiration came from pinterest.
I selected a suitable button from my stash and drew a spider on some tracing-type paper so I could copy it onto the fabric.
The original post involves drawing legs around the button but I wanted to sew them. A patch of interfacing was needed to stabilise the back of the t-shirt where the spider would be sited. My idea was to sew through both paper and t-shirt with a contrasting yellow thread, then rip the paper off and be left with the spider transferred to the t-shirt. It didn’t work that well to be honest, the paper I used was too thick and the yellow thread difficult to get rid of afterwards.
The spider legs involved hand sewing on the basic shape with a running stich then hand sewing at 90 degrees over the legs with small stiches until it looked about right. If this sounds like quite a lot of hand sewing, it was, but I don’t mind hand sewing on this type of project, in fact I find it quite relaxing, also this method produced a sort of spidery hairiness on the legs.
It looks better with the button sewn over the top.
I sewed on some lace from my stash to complete the web on the neckline, again with hand stitches, and finally got the machine out to sew the spider’s thread, finishing off by tying the loose threads in a knot instead of backstitching.
The spider looks like it’s dangling towards the centre, but when being worn it hangs down straight.
Pleased with my efforts I showed it to my husband and he said it looked like a spider was hiding behind a button.
For my entry for the refashioners 2016, when I made a dress from jeans (see earlier blog post), I had made a toile for the bodice and although it was a bit rough and ready, had always intended to continue this to a dress in its own right.
The bodice was made from a pair of 100% cotton trousers by ‘no fear’ which I had bought at the end of a jumble sale when they were just desperate to sell anything and had a ‘fill a bag for a pound’ offer. The binding for the bodice was made from an old pillow case.
I looked through my stash for some suitable fabric to make the skirt and decided to use this the remainder of this long dress.
I bought this dress last year in an independent charity shop, I was attracted by the fabric and the amount of it.
Charity shopping tip: look to the floor
When I’m scanning the rails of any charity shop, it’s sometimes difficult to see everything because the items are tightly packed, so I always cast my eye to the floor to see if there are any long items with good fabrics, and that’s how I picked this out.
These independent shops are always the ones which throw up the best finds. The bigger chains have become quite expensive and the items for sale can be on the bland side. The independents tend to be less discerning about what they put out on sale. In this one I remember a particularly striking lime green leather jacket, which I wish I had photographed.
The dress was too small and revealing for me to wear but I’d bought it for the fabric anyway so I chopped off the top half and just kept the skirt.
I’d already used some of the fabric in an unblogged t-shirt refashion.
I needed a third element to have enough fabric to complete my dress and this time the stash turned up an unworn pair of white cotton trousers.
These trousers were left behind by a former girlfriend of my stepson, I don’t think she’ll be coming back to claim them. They are a good make and maybe I should have taken them to a charity shop instead of cutting them up, but in my experience the shops are full of items in small sizes whereas the buyers tend to be looking for bigger sizes so that’s my justification.
Its funny but various different girlfriends have left items behind, I’ve got a scarf, a jacket and 2 pairs of trousers, and a handbag, so virtually a whole outfit.
I wondered how best to fit the 3 elements together
I made some measurements and there was a difference of 20 inches in the bodice width and the skirt width so I cut 8 panel shapes from the trousers in the right length and shape to fill the gap, basing the length I was aiming for on my denim dress.
At this stage it was going so well I was almost tempted to keep it as a peplum top.
Finally, the tube of skirt fabric was added, and with a small amount of tweaking of the panels to improve the hang (making the front middle seam bigger), it was ready.
I wore this dress in a recent trip to Seville, the red almost looks a bit Spanish?
I was given this dress last year.
It came in a bag of clothing from the nursing home where my daughter works. A member of staff had brought in some clothes ‘in case any of the residents can make use of them’.
Relatives keep an eagle eye on the clothes their family members are wearing because the relatives buy the clothes, and will spot any imposters immediately, making a negative judgement about the standards of care at the home. This is how the dress found its way to me, because despite good intentions it was impossible to give it to anybody. The dress is 100% viscose, no country of manufacture admitted to ( I would guess Bangladesh.) Florence and Fred brand ie cheap to buy originally.
I normally avoid budget brands when I’m charity shopping because I’ve got a bit of a superior attitude, but I’m also unable to resist something for free, which usually triumphs over snobbery.
This dress doesn’t really know what it is meant to be. The lightness of fabric could make it a summer dress but the navy pattern and long sleeves are more evening wear. I am not even sure myself in which direction I am taking it – maybe summer casual evening wear but definitely a better fit.
The bell sleeves are bang on current trend, but not for me. I have tried them before in a previous decade and know they are rubbish. I made an easy chop to make the sleeves elbow length.
The size of this dress is UK 16. I have measured myself against size charts and my body parts are usually 3 different sizes. My bust is size 16, waist size 18 and hips size 14. It is the waist/hips mismatch which causes me the most problems. I have never had a particularly small waist and ageing has not improved the situation, however although this dress fits my bust size, the neck and shoulders are too big, a common problem for me.
I wanted to raise the neckline and add interest by sewing the cut off bell component of the sleeves onto the front of neck. I hoped this would also keep the neck together a bit and prevent it slipping down my shoulders.
I pinned one of the sleeve frills onto the neck and it looked OK
I unpicked the original neck binding and re-sewed it back on to incorporate the sleeve frill, there was enough length of neck binding because I was making the neck smaller.
I unpicked the binding on the keyhole fastening at the back and sewed up the seam, just to bring the neck together a bit more – I could still get the dress over my head quite easily.
The dress did look better and I was pleased with the neckline work, but was still more short and flimsy than I would like, so with another chop it became a tunic length top.
I added side tab openings.
Ideal holiday wear for a recent trip to Seville
I am 4 months into my ‘no new clothes year’ but I missed sewing, you can’t really get that much sewing satisfaction from darning a pair of socks.
The bag was made from things I already had.
I found this tutorial for a Japanese knot bag and it was simple to construct in a few hours.
There’s a great bit of magic at the end when you turn the bag through a small hole on the short strap and it all comes together.
The main fabric was bought a couple of years ago in a local market, 6 yards of the stuff so I was glad to find a project to use some up.
The bag is reversible but I only used an old sheet for one side so that is always going to be the lining.
I added a pocket to both sides, before sewing up. The main pocket used to be a ‘bib’ section of a t-shirt given to me by my daughter, and the inner pocket was cut from a pair of trousers bought at a jumble sale.
I didn’t bother downloading the pattern, you can see what the shapes are and draw your own according to what size bag you want.
The next time I would make the bag shape a bit less round as it would hang better.
I am planning to use my bag on holidays when a handbag isn’t quite big enough.