A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Category Archives: Sewing

The latest step in my quest to reduce my reliance on single-use plastics has been to make some cloth bags to carry with me. I mainly intend to take them when I shop at the Source, but I also think they will be very useful just to keep in my various bags for incidental purchases. I always try to keep a clean empty container with me, but I still get caught out quite often.

I used this tutorial as a jumping-off point. I accidentally got given an extra length of the cotton I bought to make a summer blouse, meaning that I had a little over half a metre left over. Since I have learnt to my cost that white is a terrible colour for facings, I decided to put it to use here.

I cut the fabric to various sizes. My only criteria were to have the print the correct way up, have bags that seemed of a sensible size (given that I don’t use them yet, so I don’t really have a sense of which sizes will be most useful) and waste as little fabric as possible.

I experimented a little with the construction because I wanted to use French seams on the inside of the bags. I found a way but I imagine there’s a better method so I won’t bother posting pics of how I did it. This is how the inside ended up.

Love me a French seam.

You can see that the top right corner looks a bit weird due to the way I botched constructed the drawstring opening. They lie flat when right-sides out so I’m not bothered by that.

A fun aspect of this project was that I felt very free to make mistakes. On the second bag I sewed the seams on the top incorrectly, so that the channel for the drawstring was on the right side rather than the wrong side. I considered unpicking the overcast stitches before realising that it really didn’t matter which side the channel is on.

I used shoelaces as the closures. I took part in a colour run nearly four years ago and took a load of the laces they were giving out. I’m quite relieved to have finally found a use for them!

I have a rough colour-coded system to differentiate the sizes.

Blue = big

Pink = petite

Y = yeah, I couldn’t think of one for that colour

I am now aware of just how white this fabric is. I am planning to make a second set of produce bags so that one can go in the white wash and the other in the coloured wash. Being in your thirties is so boring and domestic at times.

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I finished my latest summer top in short order after my last post, which meant that I met my target to wear it in Florence.

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Fortunately the tight armholes are not too much of a problem.

However, I definitely need a full bust adjustment and possibly a back adjustment too. I see people talking about swayback adjustment quite a bit so maybe that?

For a top made in the wrong type of fabric, I’m fairly satisfied with it. I find the mandarin collar a little constricting around my throat, but I can’t really see myself wearing this buttoned all the way up so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

This picture was taken on the way to my first commentary spot at the 2018 quidditch world cup. Calling and analysing the matches was a lot of fun, and it was nice to realise how much my understanding of the game has increased in the past two years.

Details

Pattern: Threadcount 1617 view B size 10

Fabric: 1.5m cotton lawn from Sew Over It

Fabric: £19.50

Notions: Around £8

Pattern: £3.22 (second use)

Total cost: Around £27.50


Since we’re over halfway though the year, I thought I would review where I am with my sewing for the year. I have completed five items so far.

It’s interesting for me to note that, just like last year, my plans have changed hugely in the six short months since I made them. Here’s what I thought I might make:

  • Cloud Lark
  • Stripy Lark
  • Ultimate shirt in Liberty fabric
  • Third day dress in viscose
  • Wearable toile- copy of the perfect pencil skirt I have
  • Threadcount 1617– I think I will start out with a toile using a viscose remnant I have.
  • I also have my eye on some beautiful viscose with a monstera (my favourite leaf) print for a second version. I won a £20 voucher from Sew Over It’s #SOIshowoff competition, which would buy 1.5m
  • Teal anorak
  • Dotty Linden

Now I’m thinking that I’m more likely to end up with this:

I’ve written a little about this before, but I would still like to get better at making pre-planned projects. Lots of the items on the first list are things that I would like to make and would be useful but somehow they don’t grab me. The shirt in particular has been on there for 18 months and remains no closer to being cut out. In contrast, my wink blouse went from twinkle in the eye to wearable item in five days. At the same time as wanting to plan, I don’t want to (and perhaps can’t) put reins on my creativity. I’m realising that sudden inspiration and feverish spurts of making are part of my process.

I’ve been thinking in therapy about how I find it difficult to know what I want in life. Often I see myself as a plastic bag blowing around in the breeze, Making is one of the few spaces I have where I know precisely what I want and then make time to work tirelessly until I have it.


When I was planning going support some friends at the Quidditch World Cup in Florence, I thought it would be fun to make some supporters’ stash. One of our friends is famous for sharking (flirting/trying to get people into the sport) so I wanted a shark hat to wear in the crowd. I was going to crochet one until someone pointed out how hot that would be in the Italian summer.

Lots of brands sell shark baseball hats for babies, but finding something similar for adults was a struggle.

I managed to find this hat on eBay. I showed a selfie to a fellow supporter, who asked if I had made it. I do have a history of customising baseball caps. From looking at the hat, I thought that I could make something equally good or better, so I decided that I would make another one for her as a surprise. Within twenty-four hours, I had purchased the materials.

You will need

  • Plain baseball cap
  • Fabric paint in black and white
  • Paintbrushes
  • Felt/fabric that matches the baseball cap
  • A small amount of stuffing- you can use fabric scraps for this if you don’t want to buy
  • I also used some scrap red corduroy for the heart eyes

Choose your design

Because I’ll be wearing this hat to support a cute and loving shark, I thought it would be fun to give her heart eyes. I played around sketching some initial designs.

Decide how you want to apply your design

I bought fabric paint in black, white and red, but then I thought it might be fun to add some mixed media elements. In particular, to either applique or use buttons for the heart eyes. Another advantage of appliqueing the eyes was that they covered the vents in the hat.

Because I knew that corduroy frays, I tested out ways of finishing the edges. I decided to slap on a liberal coat of fray check and then use blanket stitch to apply the patches.

I very roughly sketched some lines on the hat with a pencil. I decided to eyeball most of the painting and I think that was the right decision- the texture of the hat affected my painting and it was easier to adjust on the fly.

I did the teeth first, building up layers of white paint until it was opaque.

I did the black next. I had to use a fine brush for all the parts near the teeth.

Again I did a second coat of black to make sure the paint was even.

Finally, I added the grey section. Once it dried, it looked a bit dark so I added a second coat of grey with more white in it.

Don’t forget to iron your design if you want it to be weather proof. Use a pressing cloth to protect your iron.

Next, I glued on my corduroy heart eyes with fabric adhesive. I then blanket-stitched around. I couldn’t find my embroidery thread so I just used ordinary sewing cotton.

For the fin, I cut out a rough fin shape on the fold.

I then stitched it right sides together and added some stuffing.

Finally, I hand stitched it onto the top of the hat. I tucked the raw edges of the fin under, pressed and then stitched along the pressed line. I was in a rush so I didn’t photograph this step.

And you’re done!

Here you can see the difference between using a snapback (with a flat brim) and a baseball cap (curved brim). For me, it’s a matter of preference.


Another upcoming holiday, another garment made up in the preceding week. I spent around 15 straight hours working on my second version of the Threadcount 1617 blouse in this cute cotton print.

I was a victim of the Sew Over It new fabrics newsletter once again! I really must unsubscribe. I actually fell in love with a different fabric in the newsletter and make the hour-long pilgrimage to the new Islington store. Once there, I realised that the fabric wasn’t quite perfect, but I felt that this one was.

Even though I was very proud of myself for managing to make my first version of this top (on a technical level), the finished garment has issues. It feels a little too big in the shoulders and the forward shoulder seams have a very annoying habit of slipping back. But I don’t have another pattern for a sleeveless blouse so I forged ahead. Pattern recommendations will be very gratefully received.

I made few changes to the pattern as written. I took a lot of time over attempting to pattern match. I used the burrito method for the first time and it worked really well.

I decided to size down for the present project, which in hindsight was an error.

Notes:

  • Armholes are a little tight
  • If  I make this pattern again, I must use an FBA
  • Mashed up hemline shortened by 10cm

This project is a helpful reminder about the dangers of cotton. I’ve been very good about avoiding cotton but got sucked in by a lovely print. While I like the print, this fabric really is not ideal for this project because it lacks drape. I’m glad to have received this reminder because I very nearly purchased a dress-quantity of another cotton and I’m glad that I held off. I am pretty fussy about drape.

Update: I remain a sucker. Went in to Liberty to choose buttons for this top and accidentally bought 1.5m of cotton lawn in the sale.

Since it’s so hot in London, I’ve realised that my wardrobe has a complete dearth of summer tops. Liberty tana lawn is so gorgeous against the skin and has a little drape because it’s so fine. I’m still not totally sold on TC1617 so I’m going to try making a sleeveless version of the Sew Over It ultimate shirt. Wish me luck!

Details

Pattern: Threadcount 1617 view B size 10

Fabric: 1.5m cotton lawn from Sew Over It

Fabric: £19.50

Notions: Around £8

Pattern: £3.22 (second use)


Me-made May has come to an end. I managed to wear something hand sewn every day with no cheating (of which I may or may not have been guilty last year).

I found taking the pictures more of a challenge this year. I’ve been trying to make my Instagram posts more colourful since seeing this infographic of the most used colours in my grid. In non-May months, I don’t take a picture every time I wear something I’ve made myself. This month, feeling under pressure to find different colourful backgrounds suitable for a photo was really difficult.

I was surprised by how overwhelmingly neutral my grid was

Another thing I noticed was that my posts got a lot less engagement than they did last year. I try not to worry too much about things like that, especially because I’m not a business, but I think it’s noteworthy. I wonder if it’s due to the changes in the Instagram algorithm since there has been little change to my content.

Some takeaways from the month:

  • Neither of my Bettine dresses (raindrop, striped) featured. Even though this was one of the patterns than inspired me to start sewing, elasticated waists are just not for me.
  • I would like to focus a little bit more on wardrobe planning rather than only making items spontaneously. However, this is a real challenge for me. What I enjoy is being inspired and then feeling highly motivated by a project. I find it harder to make the time for more planned out projects.
  • I still don’t make enough plain things or dresses

I’m glad that I looked back on my last me-made May roundup (linked above). I felt like I hadn’t learnt much last May, but actually I’ve acted on many of the outcomes. I’ve started making my second pair of Cigarette Pants, I’ve started repurposing unloved sweaters from early in my knitting career and I’m going to donate some old makes as part of my house move.

I tried to be strict with the clothes I decide to take with me. I donated several makes where I am not totally in love with them, such as my autumn leaves skirt and unicorn top.

I’ve never read anything by Marie Kondo (though perhaps I should, given how much stuff I have!) but I did listen to a podcast that talked about her philosophy that you should only keep items that bring you joy. I tried to take this approach when assessing whether to keep or donate my handmades.

My Elfe and Rolling Rock sweaters finally bit the dust.

I considered repurposing the raw materials from these items, but in the end I know I would rather spend my limited making time creating something new. Where garments are in good nick, I hope that they will bring happiness to new owners.


I managed to finish my second Linden sweater using the beautiful Atelier Brunette fabric I bought at the Knitting and Stitching show. Overall I’m pretty happy with my first attempt at sewing with sweatshirting. I was able to finish this project in time to take it on a mini break to Barcelona.

I was so glad to have an extra layer since it was a surprisingly chilly weekend in Spain. It would not have been my first choice of item to wear at the quidditch tournament I was playing at, but it was a welcome addition.

I think Linden brought us some luck because we won! I got a gold medal to match the golden flecks on the fabric.

I had hoped to get to a sewing cafe to use an overlocker for this project, but I didn’t have time in the end. I think an overlocker would have produced a better result. However, I did make a mistake with the neckband (put the seam at the centre front), which would have been harder to rectify if I had used an overlocker. I didn’t have the time to fix the neckband at the time, but I will replace it in future if it bothers me.

I don’t think it was a good idea to cut the sleeves on the cross-grain so I wouldn’t do that again. I don’t think the sleeves being on the cross is causing any huge issues, but still. On the plus side, I now have enough fabric left to make a colour-blocked version.

Details and costs

Fabric: 1.7m Atelier Brunette terry- £38.25

Pattern: Linden by the Grainline Studio- £14.90 (second use)