One of my favourite purchases from Wilderness was this vintage jacket. I had been very tempted by a mass-produced capelet covered in holographic sequins. Relatively cheap at £25 or so, they were extremely popular at the festival. I held off, aware that such an item would only be useful for fancy dress and very much against my pledge to buy more mindfully this year. When browsing other stalls, I spotted this beaded jacket in one of the vintage tents.
Although it’s not my usual style at all, it really caught my eye. I tried it on and it fit perfectly. It had a lovely drape and weight to it. Another tempting factor was this.
The jacket has no labels in it and I have absolutely no clue about how much vintage beaded items normally cost. Still, the fact that it was reduced piqued the interest of my inner miser. The label also indicated that the jacket had been sent by Goldsmith Vintage (which funnily enough is quite near my work). The little shops around the Portobello area normally have good-quality items.
Anyway, I couldn’t resist and bought the jacket. Out in the Oxfordshire countryside the evenings were much cooler than they have been during the heatwave in London. I wore the jacket every night and it was surprisingly warm.
On my return to London, I had a bit more time to inspect the jacket properly. Being a maker helps one to appreciate fantastic workmanship (or, more likely, workwomanship). The jacket really is exquisitely made and finished. I’m sure the beading must have been done by hand, which would have been an incredible amount of labour. There were quite a few broken threads and I have a feeling that I lost some beads over the course of the weekend.
I looked up a few articles on repairing vintage beading. I couldn’t find much, though this blog post was quite helpful. Since I don’t have any beading stuff, I decided that I would just do what I could to prevent any more beads from getting lost. I inspected the jacket for broken threads. When I found them, I treated them like ends that need to be woven in on a piece of knitting. I knotted the threads underneath sequins and then hid the ends between the jacket and lining.
Of course, I don’t really know if this was exactly the right thing to do but I hope my instinct will help to keep this jacket wearable for a bit longer.
It was a learning process to figure out how to remove the threads without losing more beads, so I had a few sparkly casualties. I’m going to hang onto these beads and sequins since I might try and fill in some of the bare areas at a later time. Reading the article I linked really did get me interested in vintage beading and it might be something I start looking out for when I’m in secondhand shops.
I just love the subtle beading on the back. It reminds me of the night sky.
I spend a good few hours working on the jacket and it’s interesting to have a ‘project’ where the end is almost indistinguishable from the beginning. If it can give this beautiful item a good second life with me, I will consider the time very well-spent indeed.
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.
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.
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.
Pattern: Threadcount 1617 view B size 10
Fabric: 1.5m cotton lawn from Sew Over It
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:
Cloud Lark Stripy Lark Nautical Linden Floral Threadcount 1617 Dotty Linden
- Wink blouse
- Clouds and rockets blouse
- Navy corduroy trousers
- Teal anorak
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.
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.
- 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!
Pattern: Threadcount 1617 view B size 10
Fabric: 1.5m cotton lawn from Sew Over It
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.
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’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.
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)