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 bought this long skirt because I was attracted to the large amount of fabric and attractive border and it cost me £3.49, which was 10% of the original, still attached, price tag of £35.
The fabric was 100% polyester and there was a short gauzy white underskirt which I ended up using for facings.
My plan was to make a top, using a pattern given to me by a friend, incorporating the border of the skirt and the original hem.
The fabric was very light and floaty and the brand was ‘Glamorous’, one I had never heard of. I looked it up and it appears to be an online shop of the type that claims to offer massive discounts. I don’t think that glamorous would have been my first choice of description for the original skirt though.
When I started cutting the pattern pieces out, it became obvious that this fabric was trouble. It slipped and frayed all over the place, even after weighing it down in every place possible.
My newly and expensively purchased ‘walking foot’ did help in the actual sewing though.
Here is the finished top. It will be good for travelling light because it takes up only the space of a light scarf and doesn’t really crease.
Bonus feature: Refashionables in Modern Art
On a recent trip to Tate Liverpool I was drawn to the above exhibit by Michelangelo Pistoletto entitled ‘Venus of the rags’ . The description describes the mound of clothes as ‘the detritus of modern society’ but I was thinking ‘that looks like a rather nice vintage scarf’
Rather guiltily I went into my local Traid as they were having a sale (again). I think they were trying to get rid of all their summer stuff.
Why the guilt? Because to be honest, I already have enough clothes and could probably afford go a year or two without buying anything at all, but the trouble is I like making things so am now regarding refashioning as a fairly harmless hobby but nevertheless gave myself strict orders that I could only buy one thing.
My eye was drawn to this skirt. I liked the pale turquoise colour and also the fabric was a nice light scuba jersey knit, quite with a sort of shiny finish. This fabric was excellent to work with and scuba is certainly something I will be on the look out for in the future.
The amazing thing about this skirt was the teeny size of the waist. It was 22 inches (I measured it later). I don’t know anyone with a waist that small, and clearly there was no great demand for skirts in that size because it was brand new with labels.
This was the only way I could wear it.
I could see that despite the small waist size, the large pleats meant there was actually a decent amount of fabric in there, enough to make a top anyway. The sales assistant gave me a funny look as I handed over £3.
I gave this skirt a wash using my usual cycle before attempting a refashion, it seemed to survive OK. The wash was also necessary because there were a couple of dusty footprints on the skirt. It had obviously fallen off the hanger a few times and been trodden on.
I removed the offending waistband to reveal a 56 inch wide tube of fabric.
There was also a nice organza lining in a matching colour.
I downloaded the 2 hour top pattern from sewdifferent. This is a simple pattern with just 2 pieces to make a raglan top
Actually wordpress, the link does work.
I took the precaution of making a toile from a sheet to check the fit – I wouldn’t want to go wasting a £3 charity shop skirt now would I?
The fit was good but I added a couple of inches to the body length and removed an inch or so from the sleeve length.
Sadly there wasn’t really enough fabric to make the whole thing from the skirt. I could have compromised a bit on the along the grain layout and patched a bit to make it fit, but I decided to instead use a contrast fabric for the sleeves.
I bought this lovely fabric on a recent trip to Norway when finding myself with about £12 in Kroner left over, and thinking that it was unlikely I would return to Norway anytime soon – no offence intended to Norway, I was just being realistic, I went into a fabric shop to see what I could buy with that sort of money. It was also jersey and a similar weight to the skirt fabric.
I think it looks like some kind of background wallpaper photo on a phone.
I made binding for the neckline from the skirt remains. The stretch in the fabric meant I could cut a less than 45 degree angle, and make sufficient binding with less fabric, and bound the hem with the contrast fabric.
The fabrics were a stretch jersey so I used a narrow zig zag stitch throughout, as I don’t have a serger. This worked surprisingly well.
The pattern instructions don’t tell you that there are no seam allowances included so it is up to you to work out where these are needed (everywhere except neck and hem) and add your chosen allowance accordingly when cutting out.
I only discovered this when reading the comments on the blog about the pattern.
Now a word about scuba fabric, which I have read up about since making this top It behaves very well under the needle and drapes smoothly. It also, apparently does not fray at all and when I made this top I thought it would look very nice without any hem but wasn’t quite brave enough to leave it like that. Information I have also found says that scuba does not breathe at all … UH OH. I will have to see how sweaty this fabric is IRL as a top.
Although I was only supposed to be buying one item in Traid, I was amazed to find this beautifully hand crafted unworn dress.
It was originally priced at £18.99 but was now reduced to £3.
Someone had put hours of work into this dress, it was lined and had these lovely bows on the front and then they had donated it, why would they do that? and all their hard work was being sold for £3. I had to rescue it.
I have no idea what I am going to do with this dress but will try and find something to do it justice.
This project started off as one thing (the bottom of a top) and ended up as something completely different (the top of a bottom)
When making my Refashioners denim dress I made a toile for the bodice.
It seemed a shame not to make a wearable garment out of this bodice so I headed to my stash for a suitable fabric partner and this is what I came up with.
This piece has a bit of a back story. I inherited it in a case of household linens from my great aunt. The fringe at only one end suggests to me that its some form of antimacassar .
I wouldn’t normally go using old pieces of fabric in a refashion, because I know this will speed up its demise, but this woven piece had some damage already.
Consequently I decided to use it with the underside to the front, as its woven it still looks good this way round, just an inverse of the front.
This item has been stuck away in a cupboard since 1993 and before that I don’t ever remember my aunt having this thing in use. I honestly don’t think she would have objected to the refashion.
I removed the fringe, which interestingly, had been added before the hem, cut the piece in half lengthways, and made a tube. The edges had been machine sewn with a long stitch. It was just the right width to attach to my bodice, give or take a couple of darts at the back and a bit of shaping.
This could have been left as a top at this stage but I decided to continue and make a dress because as a top it was a little too short and the stiffness of the antimacassar made it stick out a bit.
I cut some wedge shapes from the legs of 2 pairs of similar brown corduroy trousers I had in my stash.
The length of the wedges was limited by the knee to hem length of the trousers.
This pair was one I had been keeping as a sort of diet ‘target’ pair. They used to be comfortable about 10 years ago.
I laid out the panels under the bodice then stitched all the wedges together to make a skirt piece and pinned it to the top.
Unfortunately it looked OK on the table but when being worn, the antimacassar just didn’t seem to sit in the right place, and also seemed a bit too stiff.
As I had now cut up this old piece of fabric I had a responsibility to it, so the bodice will have to wait for another day and plan B was a skirt.
I unpicked the antimacassar from the bodice and sewed it onto the cord panels, having first adjusted the cord panels to fit the right size to fit the antimacassar.
This looked better but was not long enough for a skirt. I decided to add a yoga type waistband to both increase the length and make the skirt super comfy and also I would not then need to add a zip.
I cut a long tube from a t-shirt donated to me by my daughter, shaping the tube with a waist in the middle so it was designed to be folded over.
I cut this tube a tight fit so it would be stretched and keep the skirt up – that’s the theory anyway. I am always going to be wearing a top to cover the waistband, it isn’t designed to be on show.
Finally, I didn’t want to take any length off the cord panel section for a hem, so made some bias binding from a pillowcase to bind the hem.
Here is the finished skirt.
It has only taken, one antique antimacassar, 2 pairs of trousers, one t-shirt and one pillowcase to make so I hope I get some wear out of it.