Before going on a recent holiday, I sat down and had a proper look at my zebra shorts. These might actually be my favourite garment that I have made. Buying shorts ready-to-wear is a complete nightmare. It’s almost impossible to get anything in between booty shorts and knee-length. I have a couple of pairs of short shorts and I really don’t feel comfortable in them. My zebra shorts are perfect for me; short but with absolutely no risk of my arse being unexpectedly exposed.
Because I love these shorts so much, I have worn them loads over the past eighteen months. I wear my clothes HARD and they have stood up remarkably well.
Since I made them from a fabric that is not really fit for purpose, they are starting to show signs of wear. The fabric is fading, which doesn’t really bother me. But something weird was going on with the turned-up hems. Since I didn’t really have time to repair the shorts before I left, I just re-pressed the hems as best I could and made a note to work on them upon my return.
The first thing I did was take out the little stitches tacking down the turn-ups and then put them in the wash. I pressed the shorts and you can really see how the fabric has worn in different areas.
I added some fusible interfacing to try and reinforce the turn-ups. I think the cotton wasn’t really strong enough to hold them so hopefully they will stay looking tidy for a bit longer now.
I simply cut 2″ strips (enough to cover the whole turn-up and then some) and ironed on. I had a few weights of iron-on interfacing in my stash and went for the heaviest woven one.
It probably would have been better to unpick the side seams before adding the interfacing but I was constrained by time for this mend.
Although I did it by hand before, I made the hem on my machine this time. Since the shorts have turn-ups, it will be hidden anyway. I also have a funny feeling that the tiny hand stitches were causing more wear in this high-stress area of the shorts, where the hem had come loose on the backs of both legs. My mum taught me that when making an invisible hem you should try to catch only one thread of the fabric with each stitch. This looks great but can create pulls in the fabric over time.
I have come to realise that I loathe a bar as a trouser closure. I think people use it because it is considered neater than a button. Because I have narrow hips, I need my waistband to be tight to prevent my trousers from falling down, which means it is easy for the bar to come out or make a hole in the facing fabric. On my Cigarette Pants that are actually pants and not shorts, I have already had to patch the waistband and add a buttonhole because the bar destroyed the delicate facing fabric.
An easy repair was replacing the bar with a button. If I had had time, I would have gone out and bought a shiny new button but I just used one I already had in the house.
All in all, these repairs took around 2-3 hours.
Because of the inappropriate fabric choice, I am not sure how long of a lifespan these shorts will have. These repairs should at least keep them in rotation for another summer. I find myself keeping an eye out for some snazzy denim for a second iteration. I do have some denim in my stash left over from my denim day dress. I know I should really use this up rather than buying new fabric. I have plenty of patches I could use to jazz the shorts up. Or- heaven forfend- I could have something plain in my wardrobe.
I hope people don’t find these mend posts boring. I am partly writing them because I want to view mending as a creative process in the same way as making. I’m still trying to create a smallish wardrobe of thoughtfully made items rather than ending up with the handmade equivalent of fast fashion. And perhaps someone else has some tatty shorts out there and might get some ideas on how to spruce them up.
After all the effort that went into finishing my Macaron, I nearly destroyed the dress on its second outing. I was climbing over a fence to get out of a park and decided to show off by jumping down. I managed to catch the skirt on one of the spikes, popping most of the side seam (which looked great for the rest of the evening) and also tearing the fabric.
After deciding not to chuck the dress in the bin, I thought that a patch was the best solution. It wouldn’t interrupt the floral pattern and it would also serve as a permanent memorial to my ongoing foolishness.
I bought a few patches in India that I thought might do the job. However, when searching through my craft stash for something else, I found a patch that I bought from Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes. The colour palette complements my Macaron pretty well, and it was just big enough to cover the tear.
I started by loosely stitching up the rip.
I used my embroidery hoop because my aim was to make sure the fabric was hanging true before patching.
The fact that I had an iron-on patch made my job nice and easy. I could perfectly position the patch before securing with stitches.
I used the embroidery hoop again because the fabric is so light.
I didn’t do anything fancier than some small running stitches hidden in the white border. The patch is only just bigger than the hole in the fabric but I hope the glue will hold the fibres together. Also, the back of the skirt isn’t a high-stress area on the dress (unless you are doing questionable activities while wearing it.)
Overall, I found it surprisingly enjoyable to mend my dress. Even though I’m not totally in love with it, I think Macaron is a great pattern that looks really nice on, and I always get nice compliments when I wear it.
(Sorry not sorry for the cheesy pic)
I finished sewing my Macaron dress!
Sewing projects always trick me into thinking there’s hardly any work left. When I wrote my previous post about this dress, I basically thought I was done as I had constructed the bodice, skirt and sleeves. I hadn’t factored easing in the sleeves, lots of seam finishing (a step I was initially planning to skip), joining the pieces, inserting the zip and finishing the hem.
In between the two phases of making the dress, I had my sewing lesson to help me fit the bodice. Turned out that it was a fairly straightforward fix of reducing length in the back. We took a curved line out of the upper bodice so as not to disturb the style line of the pink fabric. Apparently, this is an alteration that is commonly needed if you have a larger bust and an upright posture. In fact, I have had issues with the back bodice in other dresses, so this is definitely a hot tip for future makes.
Things I’ve learnt for my next Macaron:
- Be careful to transfer all markings from pattern to fabric
- Be precise when sewing bodice seams so the pieces match at the sides
I don’t know what it is about this pattern, but it really emphasises the waist, which I absolutely love. I’m confident that I will be able to wear my dress to parties without foundation garments, eat and dance all I like, and it’ll still be flattering.
I’m really looking forward to starting work on my second iteration of this pattern. After being inspired by a dress on Pinterest, I’m on the look-out for some lace to complement the Liberty fabric. I do love a challenge!
Pattern: Macaron by Colette Patterns
Fabric: Under 2m pink rayon from Indonesia. Contrast fabric from Goldhawk Road, used less than 1m
I’ve got to admit that after my final class, I was worried that I would never finish sewing my Ultimate Shirt. The remaining tasks seemed very daunting for me to tackle on my own. But I went for it, and I’m glad I did!
Here’s how the shirt looks with my specially made tulip skirt. I re-did the hem, which I put off for months because I knew how dull it would be. I was right, it was boring and took two hours, but it looks much better. Having a steam iron (thanks dad!) also makes a big difference, although looking at these pics makes me realise it STILL needs more pressing.
I think this shirt is really only wearable tucked in, but shirt tucked into skirt worn on the waist is a look I rock at work a lot, so that’s fine.
Notes on steps taken after third class
Hand-stitching the cuff facing seemed okay as I had already used the same technique on the collar stand. Emboldened by my success, I attached the second cuff.
I next spent about an hour pressing and pinning the hem. Like my unicorn top, the hem looks shit in places, but I don’t want to redo it so I think this is something I will live with for now. I will mostly be wearing this shirt tucked in anyway. Looks like I have found my sewing nemesis- shaped hems.
The next step was scary. Buttonholes. I spent ages thinking about which colour thread to use, which turned out to be a bit of a waste of time. I don’t think I’ve ever machine sewn a buttonhole before because my mum lost the foot for her machine years ago.
I did something I normally never do- consulted the handbook of my machine for advice. I then used some scrap fabric to practice, and the resulting holes looked pretty good.
It was time. I tried on the shirt to ensure that a button would cover the fullest part of my bust, to reduce the risk of gaping. I then measured and marked each buttonhole, which worked out at every 7cm.
I did manage to make one really stupid mistake. I accidentally started one of the buttonholes on the ‘top’ mark instead of the ‘bottom’, meaning that it was about 2cm out. Next time I mark buttonholes, I will use different colours for the top and bottom marks to avoid this happening again.
Since my buttons are fluorescent pink, I knew this error would be very obvious. It was time to do something I had never wanted to do on such a light cotton voile. Unpicking. I practiced unpicking one of my practice buttonholes and managed not to break any of the threads in the fabric. Heart in mouth, I unpicked the errant hole on my blouse. I won’t keep you in suspense, dear reader. I survived, and I don’t think my silly mistake is too noticeable.
I’ve got to say, I absolutely love this outfit! Go me. I’m hoping to engage with Me Made May a lot more this year, and I think this outfit will be a key player.
I wanted to join in with the Pussyhat Project, but I knew I couldn’t make the march, and I missed the postal deadline for donating hats. SO I decided instead to use this pink yarn I was given as a secret Santa present to make some mini cat hats.
- A small amount of fingering weight pink yarn
- 2.75mm DPNs/circular needles
- 3mm DPNs/circular needles
1. Using smaller needles, CO 40 sts. Join to work in the round
2. K1P1 rib 6rnds
3. Change to larger needles. Work in stocking stitch for around 18 rounds, until total piece measures around 5.5cm/2 1/4in
4. Rearrange stitches onto two straight needles and Kitchener together
I’ve finished my holiday shorts!
The cutting out and machine sewing took about fifteen hours. I’m a bit baffled by the sizing on these shorts. My original cigarette trousers, a 10, are quite big, but these shorts are on the small size despite only being an 8 at the waist, and grading up to a 10. I also forgot that there is an error in the waistband piece of the pattern, which nearly caused me a big problem as I didn’t have any leftover fabric to cut out a spare.
Here I am trying them on. I had to let out the crotch and side seams a little. At first, I was stressed out because the waist looks a bit crap, but then I pulled my t-shirt down and remembered that the waistband will never be on show. It can be hard to maintain perspective when you have spent hours and hours working on something.
Overall I would say that I am very happy with this make, which, sadly, is unusual. The fabric only cost £12.20 including delivery, so the total cost of the materials was well under £20. And I think it’s safe to say that I am the only person in Rio strutting about in hot pink zebra pants.
Pattern: Cigarette Pants by Sew Over It
Fabric: 93x112cm remnant of cotton, plus about 0.5m of contrast fabric
I was idly scrolling on some full website the other day when BAM! I spotted a remnant of hot pink fabric printed with zebras. I had to have it. And not just because I wanted to write fuchsia some more.
I’m going on holiday soon, and I am seriously lacking in the shorts department. It’s so hard to buy anything other than hot pants, which I just feel uncomfortable wearing without tights. So the obvious solution was an exquisitely tailored pair of pink zebra shorts. Easy.
These wil be Shark Shorts 2.0. Although Yikes! is probably my favourite fabric print on earth, the shorts have some issues. They were winged based on the Ultimate Trousers pattern, and I think the end result has some issues. I prefer a more meticulous approach to craft.
This time, I am using the Sew Over It Cigarette Pants pattern. My original trousers aren’t a perfect fit, and I think the problem is the waistband, so this time I cut the waistband in a size 8, grading out to a 10 in the rest of the trousers. Since I have only just over a metre of fabric and little time, I decided not to attempt pattern matching at all. I hope this won’t come to bite me in the zebra-clad arse.
I’m using the leftover double gauze from my Unicorn Cami as my lining fabric. Loving how the two prints look together.
Even though this is meant to be a quick make, I couldn’t resist finishing the edges of my pocket facings with black bias binding. You’re meant to overlock, and I didn’t want ugly zigzagging showing. I think it looks really cute.
This is my progress after an intense five hour sewing session, having come home from work to find the fabric waiting for me.
Sewing is such an interesting experience for me. I find it totally immersive and addictive. I almost forget to breathe as I am so focused on the task at hand.