Falling Blocks T-shirt


The Falling Blocks t-shir refashion

The Falling Blocks t-shirt refashion

This is a t-shirt refashion that has been dictated by sloppy eating habits, and an unshiftable grease-spot right in the middle of the chest. It has been languishing in the UFO pile for at least a year and a half, probably longer.

I was starting with a basic lavender Primark t-shirt, and some black jersey fabric from a pair of cheap leggings which had finally worn so much at the thigh that they were way past saving. My initial plan way back then was to make a sort of flutter effect appliqué and I cut out a load of rectangles in the black jersey intending to machine them onto the neckline. I got started and immediately hated it. Maybe I should have powered through, but I didn’t have any major vision to pursue, so it went into a bag with all the bits, and sat in my UFO pile, just staying there, gathering dust and making me feel guilty.

So when I was working out what UFOs I actually had, for the purposes of stashwatching, this one came out of hiding, and looked hopefully at me. I took it out of the bag, to see what was there, and unpicked all the sewing I’d already done, and put aside in disgust. I was wondering if I should try some other kind of technique to mask the spot, and then realised I could easily use the black rectangles I’d already cut, but apply them flat. I aimed for a falling blocks design, keeping it random, and mostly trying to zig-zag the blocks and slightly overlap them with each other. I pinned all the pieces on, then repinned all the ones I’d pinned with the wrong side of the jersey showing. A quick mirror check indicated the placement looked ok, and didn’t create any unfortunate boob-frames, so I went ahead and tacked everything down. It reminded me of those Alabama Chanin appliqués, which in turn reminded me that I really want to try that some time.

Alabama Tackin’

Then I started machining all the blocks into place, using a zigzag stitch. I think I must have been tired because I had two mishaps in one evening. Firstly, I managed for the first time ever, to do something so stupid, and such a childhood fear of mine, that I can’t believe it actually happened – I sewed through the side of one of my fingers! There was quite a bit of blood but it was only a flesh wound, no actual damage. After recovering from that, I started again, only for the second disaster to befall, catching the fabric in the feed-dogs, and ripping it when I at last got it out. At that point, I decided to stop machining, tacked an additional block into place to hide the rip, and put it away for the night. A few days later I managed to finish the rest of the sewing with no further injuries or accidents.

Looks better on!

It looks better on!

It looked a bit rough and ready, so I’ve trimmed some of the gnarliest edges, but it’s all going to stretch out in actual wear, and I wasn’t going for geometric exactitude.

I’m very happy that I’ve managed to retrieve an unwearable garment, that I’ve finally finished this long-standing UFO, and that I’m moving forward in my Stashwatch plans to fix/mend/refashion things.

And talking of appliqués, on the day I took these pictures, my dad posted this picture of me and my sisters on Facebook:

Ah, the seventies...

Ah, the seventies…

The second one on the right with the patched up jeans is me. Yes, it’s another garment upcycle involving appliqués!

The Under The Sea Dress

I’ve had this post ready in draft form since the beginning of June, but it’s been too awful to go out and do some photographing. But at last there is a proper set of pics to choose from, so here goes.


I thought I’d try the classic Looking Out Into The Wide Blue Yonder blog photo pose

This dress is the first thing I made in my sewing classes. We had started off by drafting a tunic top, but actually, I didn’t find that the top we were likely to produce was a thing I would actually wear, and I was blowed if I was going to expend a lot more time, trouble and fabric over a thing I wouldn’t actually be wearing. It was enough that I did two toiles. So I suggested to my tutor that rather than making the top, I’d prefer to make the top a bit shorter, add a skirt to it, and have a dress instead.

I’d bought this fabric a couple of years ago, and it looked perfect for a summer sundress. I made the bodice first, being as frugal with my cutting as I possibly could, so as to keep plenty of yardage for the skirt. The neckline is a bit higher than I’d probably normally go for, but that’s ok, it’s work appropriate. It was very easy to put together – making two toiles will ensure one is quite familiar with the construction order of a piece!

I was able to use the overlocker in class to neaten edges, which was my first time using one. I do love the finish you get from it, and one day I will treat myself to my own. But I still find it hella scary, because of the blade cutting fabric away. I can see how horribly easy it would be to slice through the wrong bit of fabric by mistake! So I had to go super-carefully, to keep my nerve.

When it was time to think about the skirt, I knew I wanted fullness, and the easiest thing seemed to be to cut the remaining length of fabric into four quarters, stitch them together into a big tube, and gather the top into the base of the bodice. The thought of gathering nearly 5 metres by hand definitely swayed me in favour of doing the gathering by machine. I was initially a bit wary about it, because I didn’t think that the machine stitch would gather well, but it was fine.

The next interesting thing was the zip. I was all geared up for a straightforward lapped zip. But then my tutor gave me the instruction sheet on how to add a back placket to protect my delicate skin. I’d never have thought to do that, but it was actually quite easy and I’ll use that idea again some time.


There’s a lovely lapped zip, with a placket underneath

And then the dress sat in my UFO pile for three weeks, because I couldn’t face the thought of hemming 5m by hand…

… Until Me Made May gave me the impetus to actually finish the thing. One evening’s work (a long late evening) and I was able to wear it on Day 30.

Day 30

It’s comfortable and easy to wear, for the summer, because it’s loose and it’s cotton. I can feel it’s going to be a Summer Holiday favourite. I don’t know whether I’ll be using this tunic/bodice pattern again, but I’ll hang onto it, just in case. If I do use it, I’ll tweak the neckline because a sundress needs a bit more skin on show. And I won’t worry about a zip.

What’s my favourite thing about this dress? The print is just adorable!

One last pic

Pink Polka Dots

I do love this skirt! It’s the product of my Summer Term in sewing class. I drafted the pattern myself, and did a toile, even though my teacher would have let me try without it, but the toile actually did its job, in that it made me alter my pattern slightly.

Pink Polka Dot Skirt

Bonkersly Pink Outfit!

There were three things I learned from making this skirt:

Vent opening in the back seam. I’ve done vents before, they’re an easy thing to do, but I learned, in particular, to add iron-on interfacing to make the vent opening really clean and stable. I’m definitely going to use this technique again.



Invisible zip – I will treasure Gail’s instruction sheet forever, because it’s the clearest, most straightforward guide to how invisible zips go in that I’ve seen. It inspires me with confidence that I can do this again. I’ll need to get a few more invisible zips into my stash to get more practice in.

Zip close up

Zip close up – the bottom bit is slightly ropey, but at least 3/4 of it is beautiful!


Curved Petersham to support the facing. I’ve done skirt facings before, no problem, but the addition of the curved petersham tape has made it so much more stable. Just to remind myself of the construction order (because I know my memory is fallible), and to help anyone who’s interested in trying it out for themselves:

  1. Sew the facing to the skirt top.
  2. Sew the curved petersham along the top of the facing, on the wrong side of the fabric, with the shorter side of the tape nudged right up close to the seam with the skirt top.
  3. With the skirt seam allowance and the facing seam allowance together, understitch the facing.
  4. Stitch the facing to the skirt at the zip edges, and also at the seams and darts, to stop it flapping about, because flappy facings are a right nuisance.

While I’m feeling very confident that this is a straight skirt pattern I can rely on, I’ve got two more skirts planned that will test this premise, because I’m aware that patterns can sometimes turn out differently.

Tragic Rear View

The Tragic Rear View

The gigantic elephant in the room is how my pattern matching is non-existent. I attempted to get the dots to be approximately in line, but that’s as far as it went. I am forgiving myself for it, because that was never one of my targets for this skirt, it was all about the invisible zip and the vent. So it’s there, and I’ve acknowledged it, but it’s not going to bother me. Much.

But let’s finish on a more positive note – I wanted to keep the skirt as long as I could, so I added bias binding to the bottom to hem it. The only one I had in stash was black, which makes a good contrast, and it’s satin, so it feels lovely and smooth on my legs.

What I love about this skirt?

How learny it was! The construction process really upped my game.

Also it is bonkersly pink! Perfect!


Stashwatch Update


On Monday it’s the Final of the Great British Sewing Bee for 2016, and I’ll be up in London, watching it with the lovely Ana of Cocowawa Crafts & Elena of Sew it with Love, and all the rest of the GBSB group. If you want to come along, check out the Doodle link in this post.

The evening will include, amongst other, as yet unknown, delights, a fabric swap, so I’ve been going through my stash, to see what to take along. It’s not quite so easy because I offloaded four pieces last month and most of what’s left I’ve got plans for. But I’ve unearthed a couple more bits that are substantial enough to pass on. And I remembered my mahoosive collection of long white zips.

Stash to be swapped

So while I was a-rummaging, I decided to take stock, work out what I want to do with everything, and think about my next bits of sewing.

I’ve got 3 WIPs/UFOs, two of which only need hemming, so I’m hoping to get at least one of them done and dusted tonight, and the third is a skirt which is cut out, but needs a bit of thinking about. I’m hoping to get three shell tops and two skirts cut out this coming week.

So how does this all affect my 2016 Stashwatch Pledge? Well, my aims for the year were:

  • to catalogue the stash (tick!),
  • to use 10 pieces of stash fabric, of which 5 would be used *up* (I’ve used 6 so far, with 4 of them using up the whole piece, I’m feeling very positive about this one),
  • to fix/mend/refashion 10 items (not doing so well on this one, I’ve only done 1 refashion so far, I need to up my game).
  • to not buy any new fabric until I’d used at least 5 stash items (done, but I did hit Goldhawk Road as soon as I achieved this!)

I’m hoping to come home from the swap with up to three usable pieces which will mean stash neutrality. Once that’s done, I’m going to go back on the stash diet for a while. I’m not attempting to reduce my stash to zero, just to keep it to manageable proportions.

We’re half way through the year, so I’ll need to get my patootie in gear to meet the rest of those aims.


Sewmance by the Sea

I had a lovely Saturday at the Sewmance festival in Brighton. It held in the rather quirky Tempest Inn on the seafront, but to be honest, I didn’t get to see much of the actual sea. It was quite a grey day, so we were far better off indoors with a load of lovely sewing goodness to keep us occupied.

The day started well, I suppose. As I left Brighton railway station, I was greeted by a man on a bench with a can of something alcoholic, who told me “I like your style, miss!” (I was wearing my hong kong top). Well, I’ll take that, thank you.

I got to the venue, and started to find my way around the Tempest Inn, which was very quirky and all nooks and crannies. The first stall I saw was Cocowawa Crafts and it was lovely to chat with Ana, as I hadn’t had much chance to do that when I saw her at the Fabric Swap three weeks ago. She was due to do a talk, later, so I promised I would support her there. I was immediately taken by the t-shirt yarn she sells, and the white one with small dots really called out to me, and that was the first thing to find its way into my shopping bag.

Sewmance Haul

Sewmance Haul

The rest of the haul came from the Fabric Godmother, and again, it was a highly instinctive purchase. When I first saw her fabrics, this black & white floral ticked two of my personal style boxes, because if there’s two things I like, it’s black and whites, and florals. Technically it’s ivory rather than white, but that’s definitely close enough. I’m thinking this would work as a really simple sheath dress or shift dress, something that will allow the beautiful fabric to speak for itself. What you can’t tell from the picture is how soft and tactile this sateen is. I can well imagine that as soon as I’ve made this up into a dress, I’ll spend all my wearing time just stroking it. I’ve also bought the Colette Moneta pattern, so that I can have a go at it, since Me Made May showed me so many lovely versions.

I took  a workshop, with Sarah of Sew Retro, to make a make-up bag. I was so impressed that she had us all completing gorgeous bags in such a short time. I feel like making a million of these now!

Sew Retro bag - so sweet!

Sew Retro bag – so sweet!

And I also made a brooch, with the ladies of Saltdean Crafters. It was lovely and relaxed, sitting and sewing, companionably. I ended up going for a floral theme, because florals. Although that was the overriding theme, based on the fabric I started with, I didn’t have a specific plan in mind, and it just developed organically as I was going along. I’m pretty chuffed with the results.



So all in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable and highly productive day.  I met a whole load of lovely sewers and crafters, including the fabulous Zoe of So Zo, What do you know? (my all time favourite sewing blogger!), and of course Stacie Madden of the Brighton Sewing Bee, who organised the whole kit and caboodle. And we saw the Sewing Stories documentary which was beautiful and told such inspiring stories. It will hopefully go up on YouTube some time, so I’ll try to update this with the vid, if & when that happens.

There’s going to be a November Sewmance, so I’m very much looking forward to that, and it will go into the diary as soon as the date is confirmed.

Going home afterwards I was surprisingly tired! But very happy!

Day trip to London

The fabric swap last weekend was FAB fun!

I decided to go up a bit early, and pay a visit to Goldhawk Road, ahead of the designated meeting time. While I knew there would be fabric a-plenty later in the day, that was going to be serendipity. I wanted to be sure of getting some fabric to deal with the specific makes that I wanted to add specifically to my wardrobe, as a result of my MMM considerations. I realised that my fabric stash doesn’t include enough plains. I’m not going to say there are too many patterns, because there’s no such thing as too many patterns. But there was definitely not enough plains.

Well there are now!

All the Plains


I’ve invested in some plain white cotton dobby, with gorgeous little spots (from Orya Textiles), a heavy-ish peach-skin in navy, undoubtedly a man-made fibre, but with a lovely flow to it (from A-One Fabrics), and two much lighter weight pieces with a similar drapy quality, in black and chartreuse (because while I am aiming to use mostly neutral colours with these plains, I couldn’t bring myself to pass up this glorious green – these two were from A to Z Fabrics). I limited myself to one top’s worth of each.

I also popped around the corner to Shepherds Bush Market to get a couple of invisible zips. Because I *will* master the invisible zip.

And then I set off for the meet-up. I was initially flummoxed by the proposed pub being swathed in scaffolding and looking very closed, but when I had a chance to check my phone, I found out that the pub had moved us to their sister pub around the corner. When I got there, I met Kristy of Scientific Sewing, who’d organised it all (what a star!), and a whole host of lovely sewing people, including Gabby from Gabberdashery and Alex from GBSB#3.

We were all holding back initially to make sure late-comers stood a decent chance. But once the actual swapping part of it got started it was quite intense – we were in a very small space, with terrible lighting, and it was very warm. It was quite hard work to manoeuvre yourself into a position where you could have a big old rummage. But it was all very friendly and good-humoured.

I came away with less than I took, which is good for my stash management. The first piece I seized upon was this beautiful border print, which is destined to become a pleated skirt, I think. Or possibly a jiffy dress. I’m not committing yet! But it was far too beautiful to pass up, and it’s a giant floral print, so it’s right up my personal style alley.

Isn’t that gorgeous?

The second piece I got was a viscose-like drapey fabric, in a dark colour with a pretty cloud-like print. I couldn’t tell whether it was black or navy until we got out into natural daylight – turned out it’s black! Either would have been fine, though. There’s enough for a top there.


Clouds? Or islands?

Once everyone had picked everything they wanted to keep, Kristy googled to find a nearby charity shop, and all the leftover fabrics and patterns were bundled into bags to take there. We all set off to find it, and kudos to those who were actually carrying it all! We were all feeling quite hungry  by then, so having dropped the bundles off at Oxfam, we found a Pret, which fortunately had a large enough seating space to fit us all. Although the group had dwindled by then, there were still maybe 12 or 14 of us, and plenty of chatting to be done.

It was really great to meet so many lovely people, and I’ve got a whole new set of blogs and instagrams to follow now.

And on my way back to the tube, I walked past Angels and Berman, and saw their window displays, which were delightful!



The final #MMMay16 post

I feel quite proud of myself this year. I met my pledge (apart from one RTW top in extremis), and I also met my personal aim which was to photodocument each day. I will freely admit that quite a lot of the photos were frankly rubbish, but they are there, and that was the point. I posted on Flickr and on Instagram, and I spent ludicrous amounts of time trawling through the MMMay16 hashtags, to see what everyone else was posting!

I’ll do the reflections on my MMM first, then the final outfits.

What I have learned from my participation in Me Made May 2016

The photo-journalling definitely enhanced my experience of this month, because it meant I was engaging with other sewers online and felt like part of the greater community of sewers. It encouraged me to post my photos, because I felt like it’s only fair, if I’m adding my likes and comments on the profiles of others, to put my pics up for the same treatment. That leads in turn to acquiring a whole load more blogs to peruse, and instagram profiles to follow now that MMM is over.

This month has been a particular inspiration for me to get my sewing act together, with three UFOs finally F’ed, and a top embellished. I am all fired up to create some new skirts and tops, in my sewing class and at home.

I did feel like my me-made wardrobe was somewhat jaded, and I was reliant on a lot of old stuff that has been seen before. Even if other people didn’t know that it was so much old stuff, I did. Also, I already wear my me-mades a lot throughout the year anyway, so I felt quite meh about my outfits. I know MMM isn’t supposed to be all about brand new shiny, but I would have felt happier to have at least some new stuff. Last year was such a dud year for my sewing that there just wasn’t much to add to the mix this time round. But it is what it is, and I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Instead I will use this post as a reminder and inspiration for the next year, to get my sew-jo on, in the run up to MMM17.

I’ve got my colour palette well sussed. Things go with things, although in my ordinary clothes-wearing life I have a range of RTW items that create more links, more options than this month has shown. I’ve got no wardrobe orphans. I could probably use some more cardigans, though, especially in colours other than black!

It made me appreciate all over again some classic patterns that I could very happily reuse, because they are already graded and ready to go.

I’m also getting the feeling that the universe wants me to make a Colette Moneta dress. I saw so many lovely versions on other people and it’s a style which calls out to me, incorporating both prettiness and comfort. So that’s one of my aims for myself for the next year.

And that’s it, Me Made May 2016 is all done & dusted. It’s been fun, and exhausting (spending hours, literally hours, trawling through the IG feed, late at night!), and it’s really jump-started a whole new set of internet connections, some of which I hope will turn into real life connections, so as ever, I send out my massive thanks to Zoe, for another great MMM!


And finally, here are the outfits for the last 9 days of May, for those who have managed to stick through to the bitter end!

Days 23 to 31 - the blogging slacked off, evidently

Days 23 to 31 – the blogging slacked off, evidently

I’ll whiz through, because there was an awful lot of repetition going on.

Day 23 – the Cairo top with the aubergine skirt, both blogged here.

Day 24 – I was feeling ill, but managed to drag myself to teach dance, wearing a refashioned t-shirt also blogged here (it was a bit of a catch up post!), refashioned leggings and a me-made hip skirt thingy.

Day 25 – the aubergine skirt again, and the two become one top.

Day 26 – the rose tinted black denim skirt and the beaded Christmas top.

Day 27 – it was a Friday Theme day – Polka Dot Parade – I went for stealth polka dots, namely the bias binding hemming tape on the Counterintuitive Black Birds skirt. Paired with the crystal t-shirt top.

Day 28 – the Dress of Many Colours

Day 29 – the Cadfael & Cats Belcarra Blouse, along with a zebra print skirt that has been sitting, unloved, in the wardrobe. It’s in a very thin lycra jersey, much too thin to wear out much, but I do love a zebra print (black and white is always classy, right?). I made it maybe three or four years ago. But wearing it made me realise I love that zebra print too much to not wear it, so I’m going to have to make a proper version some time. Because I don’t have enough projects in my head already.

Day 30 – the brand new, just finished the night before, Under the Sea dress, which I need to photograph, so that I can blog it, but it’s going to need the weather to be a sight nicer than it’s been this week for that to happen.

Day 31 – and with a final flourish, the brand new, just finished the night before, Big Floral Circle Skirt, worn with the beaded Christmas top, because I’d run out of tops that might possibly go with it.


This entry was posted on 3 June, 2016. 4 Comments