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.

Bum bag

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I am going to the women’s world cup (football) soon and I know at these big venues they are over picky about bag size, so decided to make a bum bag which surely could cause no objection.

I visited my stash and picked out the required ingredients, a zip, a heavy weight fabric for the back and a lighter fabric for the front and some heavyweight elastic for the belt.

This zip was cut out from a pair of work trousers. I was too lazy to actually unpick it at the time and this has now paid off because I will sew the remaining fabric surrounding the zip to the fabric to the front section of the bag – I would never to be able to insert a zip as neatly as the professional already had.

I used some red jeans for the rear bag section and some left over fabric from a wall hanging for the front of the bag.

For the belt I used some elastic taken from some RTW trousers which I wear for work. The trousers from Uniqlo. They are ponte Roma and while a good fit on the hips they were too tight on the waist so I replaced the waist elastic with a more comfortable piece of fabric as shown below, keeping the elastic to use for later.

These trousers used to have the thick elastic as a waistband

All sewn together here is the bum bag, just about large enough to hold some basic essentials. It was a quick and easy make only took a couple of hours and used up scraps and notions I already had.

Rucksack replicated

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I’ve had a lot of use out of this rucksack.  It’s travelled many miles with me but after 2 repairs already is now coming to the end.

I decided to sew a new one, which would make a good project for using stash items.

I made some pattern pieces from drawing and measuring round the old rucksack.


I am a fan of denim and something of a denim hoarder,  finding it hard to pass by a good looking pair of jeans in a bin for instance, so denim was always going to feature, including my signature double pocket pocket.  The other main fabric was a thinner synthetic zebra print from a weird coat dress.

It became a stash busting fest, as I also used some Dutch wax for lining, an old felted jumper for padding the back and straps, and a checked shirt for bias binding.


The only new item was the zip as I didn’t have one sturdy and long enough.  I really should have used the zip from the old rucksack but didn’t want to be in a no rucksack at all situation.

The design was simplified by making only one compartment, and by making fixed straps. I tried the rucksack on with and without a jumper and the fit seemed good.

My walking foot was essential for sewing through several thick layers of fabric, which it managed to do quite impressively.


Unusually for me I decided to tidy up the bag interior by bias binding the seams, and it did improve the look.


I did prepare a carrying handle but haven’t added this yet, partly because I saw someone with a 2 handled version on my way to work which looked good and I was going to copy that but now am not sure and will try the bag without a hanging strap – it was mainly the dangling adjustable straps that got in the way of carrying my old one by the shoulder straps and as this bag doesn’t have them, carrying by the shoulder straps may be a better experience.

Refashioned Denim top with pocket

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Denim is one of my favourite fabrics to refashion.  It improves with age, and jeans have pockets and other details which can come in so useful.  Denim also goes well with almost any other fabric, in fact it looks better when combined with other colours and patterns.

I have no before photos for the above top but really I just used the before items as fabric.  The front came from 2 pairs of jeans, obviously, both fairly lightweight denim with 2% elastane .  In fact I made a mistake with the pattern and forgot to flip it over when cutting out the second half, I had intended to use only one pair of jeans.

The sleeves were made from erm.. a girl’s dress which I found in the street. People here often leave things spread out on their garden walls as free stuff for others to take  –  its a stretchy knitted fabric. Other items that were left out were mainly toys.  They would probably be surprised if they knew the eventual fate of the dress!

The back of the top actually was fabric, 100% cotton bought from a local market.

The top was based on this pattern which I have used before


Bonus feature:

I was delighted to see some vintage linens feature in the Turner prize this year.


This entry by Helen Marten was the eventual winner.