Sewing with less fabric

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When you sew it’s only a matter of time before you own some sort of fabric collection and some of these lengths will be smaller than required to sew up a garment.

There are 3 basic ways a fabric can end up in my stash, not having been bought for a specific project.

  1. I may have gone into a cute little fabric shop in a pretty town and wanted to buy something to support the owner .
  2. I saw some fabric, any fabric, in a charity shop and bought it.
  3. I have bought for a song or been given someone else’s fabric collection for free – I am unable to say no to any offers of this nature.

My pattern collection is mostly made up of ‘free patterns’ from magazines, in fact my whole sewing practice is quite chaotic and unplanned and I like it like that, but as my experience grows, order and satisfaction is emerging from chaos. With a now pretty decent collection of both fabric and patterns, the garments I sew may be driven by either, but often when I chose a fabric and a pattern from my stash to go together, there will not be the required yardage. I have stopped worrying about this because whatever yardage is available it can usually be made to work .

Once I have settled on the main fabric for a garment, I will make fit adjustments to the pattern pieces like shortening the length (I am 5ft 3in so this is a usual adjustment for me), lay the main pieces out on the fabric to see what will fit and cut these pieces out. The main pieces will be the largest ones on the front of the garment so shirt fronts, skirt fronts, dress bodices, front trouser legs, and as long as 2 or 3 of these main pieces will fit I am good to go. Sleeves, pockets, collars and belts are OK on the cross grain if the print is non directional.

Denim A line skirt with yolk waistband

Most recent make is this skirt for which stated the fabric required was 1.95 square metres. I only had 1.2 square meters of this black stretch denim, and the width was an unuseful 110cm which would only accommodate 3 of the 4 panels of this A line skirt. I cut the 2 back panels exactly as required by the pattern and then re-assessed the situation. Instead of cutting one front panel whole, I made a seam about a quarter of the way up from the hem of the front pattern piece and cut the front 2 pieces of the skirt in 4 parts. The reason I chose to do this on the front and not the back was because I planned to cover the seam line with some sort of trim which would sit better at the front than the back.

The remaining pieces were the yolk style waist band and pockets, which were completed with co-ordinating similar weight small pieces of stash fabric.

I’ve shown the skirt here with the top tucked in so you can see the waistband and pockets but this is only for pictures and I would not normally style it like this.

I didn’t cover the extra front seam with a trim as the final garment didn’t look as if it would be improved by it.

Of course I had chosen this pattern in the first place because the 4 panel construction meant the pattern pieces were smaller.

Cotton shirt M6436

I didn’t make a note of how much of this cotton fabric I had but knew it was less than the pattern requirements for McCalls shirt 6436

The sleeve for this pattern is made of 2 pieces so I cut what I could from the main fabric then selected a contrasting but similar weight cotton for one sleeve back, pocket and button band. I am pleased with the result which enabled me to make a garment from 2 small fabric pieces. I knew finding a small piece to go with the main fabric would be no problem because I have a lot of these in quilting type cotton and the sleeve being in 2 pieces was a bonus.

M8379 Wrap dress in stretch jersey

Things started out well with this vogue wrap dress V8379 with the skirt and front bodice pieces coming out of the fabric whole and as designed.

I did have at least 2 metres of 150cm wide fabric but this dress uses a lot. The sleeves were shortened and cut on the cross grain but then things began to get tricky. There was virtually nothing left for the back bodice, belt and collar. I slept on it and hoped that inspiration would come, and it did.

I raided my fabric stash and found some skinny rib fabric in black which was sufficient for the belt and collar then gritted my teeth and cut the back bodice from 4 small pieces, breaking all grainline rules but with the polka dot design you can’t tell that much.

The collar and belt work well with the main fabric and I think I can just about get away with the back bodice being pieced together, which seemed a better option than using a contrast fabric on this occasion.

Its become almost a challenge for me to sew this way and part of the reason I do it is to use up my smaller pieces and be left with fewer new ones from each sewing project.

MiY Kelham skirt from vintage Welsh wool

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As a child in the 60’s and 70’s summer holidays were spent in the beautiful Welsh countryside. If it rained we might walk around a small town and there would be some kind of woollen mill shop. Looking round these shops was a part of the holidays I really enjoyed and remember various purses and skirts mum bought over the years. At the time I probably thought these items were a bit naff but when I look back on my teenage choices of clothes a lot of them were of dubious taste too ( and actually my current and previous purses are made from Welsh wool fabric)

This Welsh woollen fabric ‘superior quality tweed’ from Afonwen Woollen Mill in North Wales was in my mum’s things. I estimate it’s at least 40 years old. Sold as a skirt length to make yourself (although there is the option to have it made up) mum never got round to sewing it. The piece is quite small, only 80cm long in a 137 cm width, meant to make a straight, A line or knife pleat skirt. I decided to make the A line Kelham skirt from MiY patterns. The wool packaging claims it’s enough fabric for up to 44 inch hips in this style but with only 1 inch of ease at the hips. My hips are 42 inches and I would consider such a small amount of ease very tight. I have made this skirt pattern before Kelham Skirt with pleat and pockets in a stretch twill but there was only enough wool here for an unpleated version.

Just recently I have been questioning myself about why do I keep adding to my fabric stash when I already have plenty (but most of what I add is second hand and given to me for free) and why do I keep sewing more clothes when I already have plenty to wear. I considered this length of wool to be an exception. It belonged to my mother, I should be the one to sew it up.

The Kelham skirt is a simple A line design with a back zip, optional pleats pockets and length options. I was making the short skirt, which is knee length on me, with front pockets. The available fabric was only enough for the main pieces so I went to my box of small pieces and chose alternative fabric for the pockets and waistband. In this case I had no choice but to do this due to shortage of main fabric, but I’ve already decided to use fabric from my small pieces stash for small pattern pieces in future even if there is enough of the main fabric available. This is because I want to use up small pieces and because I also like pattern mixing.

I was about to start cutting out when it occurred to me that the fabric had not been washed. I’ve washed all kinds of stuff in the machine on my normal cycle before with no harm done, and my proximity to the kitchen during this thought process encouraged me to bung the stuff straight in on a short cycle at low temperature. I wish I hadn’t done this because the shrinkage was like nothing I’ve seen before. If went from 80cm to 64cm, a full 20%, and there was some felting. I was never going to be taking it to the dry cleaner but do wish I had hand washed or not washed instead of rushing to the machine. After a lot of pulling and tugging I managed to stretch it back to 70cm but there it stubbornly stayed, and there was still just enough to cut out the main pieces but no room for error.

The pattern is cut like that at the hem because I thought I would have to shorten it but there was just enough for the main pieces

I have heard several experienced and couture end sewists say that wool is their favourite fabric to work with. When I started cutting out the Welsh wool I began to understand why. It was like cutting into a delicious buttery fudge, with a luscious feel and a thick and perfect edge with no fraying.

This skirt comes together very quickly and was finished in a couple of hours. I used a reclaimed jeans zip and some vintage bias binding for the hem.

Now I know wool should be lined and this does feel scratchy, but I’m going to wear it a couple of times, review the situation, and try and see if I can get away without lining.

Here is the finished skirt:

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.

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.

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?

Helen’s closet Arden Pants

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I wanted a new pair of summer trousers and picked this pattern because it was Helen’s closet and have been pleased with her products so far.

I often choose the most simple version of a pattern and did so again here, with view A which is no drawstring or ankle cuffs. I added 3 cm to the length at the shorten / lengthen line not because I am tall but because I wanted full length trousers and these are designed as above ankle length.

I find that with sewing, the main time consumption comes with assembly of the pattern and then the angst over what fit modifications to make.

The actual making can be quite quick and easy, and this was certainly the case with these Ardens.

This fabric was from stash. It had come from the charity shop where I was a volunteer and would quickly hoover up any actual fabric donations coming in (there weren’t many). The design looks like ankara but it doesn’t feel like it. The weave is quite loose and a bit like a linen/cotton mix. I liked the colours and the bacterial nature of the pattern.

While I know that making a toile is the gold standard for getting the fit right, I’m not keen, seems like a waste of fabric, so I normally go for measuring the pattern pieces and comparing them to my measurements and other similar items in my wardrobe to come up with the necessary adjustments.

Helen suggests choosing a size based on waist but as my waist is 2 sizes bigger than my hips I used my hip measurements, grading up at the waist.

I haven’t yet achieved the perfect fit in trousers (the main problem is a saggy bum) and decided to go for it with a couple of other adjustments. The pattern is drafted for a 5′ 6″ woman and I am 5′ 3″ so I removed 1cm from the rise at both back and front. This meant taking the same amount out of the front pocket pieces so they still match.

My crotch length is 2 inches longer at the back than the front, but this pattern had a 4 inch difference, so I took another 1 inch out of the curved side of the back pieces as a sort of flat bum adjustment, a second FBA to add to my collection.

At this point I thought the pattern had been messed with enough and went ahead and cut the pieces out. With 0.5m less fabric than the pattern suggestion, by cutting the front pocket pieces on the cross grain was able to fit it all on, and there was very little waste.

There’s an obsessive amount of top stitching suggested in the instructions and went along with it for a while but then used flat felled seams where possible instead. I haven’t used this method very often up to now but may do so more in the future as it is easier than a French seam with a similar effect.

I came unstuck when sewing flat felled seams on the outside edge of the trousers which was just about doable within the width of the legs but involved some contortions under the machine foot.

Note to self is to research pros and cons of French versus flat felled seams.

I bought the right width waist elastic but it was a tight fit to get it into the casing, I’d probably use a slightly smaller seam allowance next time.

I bound the waistband edge for neatness and the loose weave fabric being prone to fray.

Overall these trousers are a success, the fit is probably my best trouser fit achievement yet, they are super comfortable and the pockets are a good size. Fabric choice is questionable because it is very light and unlikely to be hard wearing. I may live in constant fear of a wardrobe malfunction.