Tag Archive | make something every month

A spot of hand sewing

This is a top which I stopped wearing because it was a bit too clingy and uncomfortable around the neck. The fabric is quite lycra-fied, and I’m a bit funny about things around my throat- they have to be just right or I feel all constricted and panicky. So when I came across it in a tidy up of my t-shirts & tops drawer, I decided I had to get rid of the roll-neck.

That roll-neck has to go!

That roll-neck has to go!

So I lopped it off! I tried it on to check how far I wanted the neckline to come down, and measured and folded to make sure it would all be even and symmetrical.

My original idea had been to use some plain black jersey to make a binding for the neckline, but as soon as I saw the bit of roll-neck that I’d just cut off, it immediately made me change my plans, and go for the Waste Not Want Not option instead. I knew I wouldn’t need this binding to be on the bias particularly, so I just cut into it, going slightly diagonally, so that I ended up with one long continuous strip. I pinned it into place, trying (despite all the lycra bounce) to keep it flat.

All pinned into place

All pinned into place

I had also decided I wanted to go slightly Alabama Chanin with this. I sewed the binding on by hand, using an embroidery cotton, so that it would stand out. I used a herringbone stitch, because it’s got a nice bit of stretch to it.


A little bit of detail on the herringbone stitching

Did it while Strictly was on, and Bob’s your uncle, Fanny’s your aunt! A perfectly wearable top saved from being thrown in the bin.

Tada! A neckline I feel comfortable with!

Tada! A neckline I feel comfortable with!

The button belt gets an outing

I finished the button belt a while ago, and it got an outing two or three weekends back, when I was seeing my sisters, but I signally failed to photodocument that outing. And given that I’m at work during daylight hours, it’s more office photography!



I have got a How I Made This post all ready to go, and I will put that up very shortly.

I have also cut a couple of skirts out. They’re not very seasonal, but I wanted to set myself up with something quick & easy, so I’m hoping I can be getting on with one of them tonight, after I get home from teaching.


The All-Nighter Dress

OK, it wasn’t technically an “all-nighter”, but it was definitely a night-made dress. As I mentioned in my last post, I made this at the last possible opportunity on Wednesday night last week, just before swanning up to Haverfordwest to see my Dad getting wed, and I did the finishing on the night before the ceremony. Thinking about it, this pattern of last-minuteness is a reflection of most of my Sewing For Weddings experiences. I finished the hemming on my own wedding dress the night before the ceremony. When I was matron of honour for my next-one-down sister, and we made all her four bridesmaid dresses, my skirt in the bridesmaid fabric didn’t get hemmed until the morning of the wedding when we realised that each of us thought the other one was doing it, and it had to be wundawebbed. So it seemed kind of fitting that this dress should turn out to be another last-minuter.

I fully intended to photograph the makings, originally, but given the lateness of the make and the speed I had to work at, that just didn’t happen.

The dress was made from a gorgeous stretch sateen, given to me by the lovely Stevie of Beebee’s Handmade Dress. I couldn’t believe how perfectly me those colours were. It’s a gorgeous mix of lilac, pink, teal, navy and cream. I’m not sure whether it’s dud lighting that’s making it look so blue in the photos, or whether that’s an accurate rendition of the overall net effect.

I was using my trusty Belcarra pattern, and hacking it by adding a skirt. I only had about 2.5 metres so I didn’t have so much fabric to make a full skirt for it, so I put in two box pleats, front & back, and made the sides slightly A-line. I was using my experience on the Dress Of Many Colours, to inform this make. I shortened the length of the blouse a little, so that I had a drop waist, but wasn’t dropping it too far. I took a lot more care over the hemming of the skirt, because I wanted it to be right. The skirt is my standard length. but I was measuring it from my natural waistline, so I had to mark my natural waistline on the bodice first, and then measure down from that mark. I think it came out ok.

It seemed churlish to insist on getting nice photos of me & my dress at Dad & Hazel’s wedding, particularly as it was a very small wedding, and any “all about meeeeeeee” would have stood out a mile. So I wore the dress to work today, to get some pictures, in the glamorous confines of my office.

'Scuse the mess... There's never enough storage space in our office.

‘Scuse the mess… There’s never enough storage space in our office. And I appear to be colour-co-ordinated with our files.

I used some bought bias binding for the neckline, rather than using a self binding, like I have with all my other Belcarra makes. I didn’t want to waste fabric, because I wasn’t sure I’d have enough for the skirt, and the bias strip in the pattern is a bit of a fabric hog, and I didn’t have time to faff about piecing a strip together from the scraps. As chance would have it, I had some leftover bias in a perfect lilac satin from when I made the You Mean I’m Wearing Orange?! Skirt. Working within a limited colour palette really does pay dividends!

I was a bit worried that it would be a bit too cold for short sleeves, but actually it was perfect- although there was a spot of rain (and frankly, if you visit Wales without expecting a spot of rain, you’re deluding yourself), it was sunny and mild, lovely for short sleeves.

I have ganked this photo from sister’s Facebook account, showing my lovely sisters and my lovely Dad.

(Also my lovely shoes)

The What Could Possibly Go Wrong?! Belcarra

Day six of One Week, One Pattern, and onto my next Belcarra blouse.

These are turning out to be good stashbusters. This one is using up a metre of some unknown black material that was originally bought to make a skirt with, until I realised how ludicrously many black skirts I’ve got. It was a bit drapey, so I thought I could use it for another Belcarra. I had to shorten the body by about 3cms, and I didn’t have quite enough fabric to do the sleeves as well as the body, but this pattern seems to be *made* for colour-blocking, so back to the stash I went.

This was my pinspiration:

Bodycon dress with mesh sleeves- sorry I can’t get pinterest to link to the original properly, because of a redirect loop, so I can’t credit it as I would like to.

It’s nothing like what I was actually sewing of course, but the Inspiration Fairy is a wily little so-and-so. She gets ideas sparking off other ideas. I thought mesh sleeves would be an interesting feature, and ever so slightly edgy. I had some white mesh that I had originally bought for the Elsa cloak, before I knew I could get pale blue mesh from White Tree Fabrics. So that sorted out my not having enough fabric for sleeves problem.

What could possibly go wrong?!

Well, pretty much everything. First off, this black fabric frays like a *#$!@~!!! Second, it’s bouncy- it doesn’t take ironing at all well, it’s a man-made fibre of some sort, so I had to keep the iron temperature down, and it’s just not as malleable as I’d have liked. Third, the mesh is stretchy. So all in all, a pretty stupid idea. But I was convinced it was going to end up looking good. Anything black & white is automatically cool, right?

I started this one on Friday night, and decided to give myself a break when I’d knocked my box of pins over for the third time. I had reached the tricky Adding the Bias Binding stage, and I felt it was best to approach that with a full night’s sleep behind me, and daylight, so that I could actually see what I was sewing.

I gave it another go on Saturday, and I was still not feeling the love. I can only imagine that this fabric just doesn’t like being sewn. So I was treating the whole process as an exercise in Zen Sewing, Being In The Moment and You’ve Got All Night, There’s No Need To Hurry. It was horrendously fiddly, and I’m just glad that I’ve used this fabric right up, so I don’t ever have to sew with it again. It turned out a bit tight in the body, because this is thicker fabric than any other I’ve used for the Belcarra, but also because I’d shaved rather too much off the hip flare. But I thought it would be ok, and I could go ahead and wear it.

On Tuesday, I was all set to wear this top to work, tried it on and decided it wasn’t right after all. I really wasn’t comfortable with it being that snug in the body, and it was really a smidge too short. So I changed to the Imperfect Polka Dots version, which I’d just finished, and spent the work day asking myself “What could I do to turn this into a wearable piece?” Add a bit more mesh to the bottom, that’s what.  It gave me the extra length I needed, and allowed me to split the side seams a little, so that it wasn’t so tight around the abdomen. It’s one of those Design Features that is born of necessity, but actually works pretty well!

Don't ask me why I've got that face on - I've no idea, but at least this photo shows the top properly

Don’t ask me why I’ve got that face on – I’ve no idea, but at least this photo shows the top properly

So altogether, I made a couple of very minor changes to the pattern – I didn’t add the cuffs, and used bias binding made from the black fabric instead, using the same for the neckline, to give the top structure as the mesh would be too floppy there. I wanted the colour contrast too. I did reduce the hip flare, but having mucked it up, I probably would go much more gently with that another time. I used French seams to make sure there would be no raw edges available to fray in future (which did make it that teensy bit harder to do the split on the sides). And of course, I added about 12cm of mesh to the bottom, to claw back some length, so it’s longer than the original pattern.

This was not a pleasure to sew. Not at all. But now that it is finished, I can be less grumpy about it, because it has indeed turned out pretty cool. I’m enjoying wearing it today, and I think it’s going to be a useful addition to my wardrobe. Looking on the bright side, I’m fairly sure it’s never going to need ironing, because it’s so resistant, and not having to iron a thing is always good in my book.

The Imperfect Polka Dots Belcarra

This weekend was mostly spent making Belcarra tops, as you can tell. This one was cut out on Friday and sewn on Sunday (mostly- I finished the hem this morning before work). I wasn’t going to wear it till tomorrow, or later in the week, but I tried on the black & white top I’d finished on Sunday, and decided it needed fettling, because it wasn’t right as it is. So that’s my job for tonight, though I’m off for dinner with a friend, so it’s my job for this late part of the afternoon, and when I get home later.

So, a little earlier than expected, tada! Day 4 of OWOP and a new Belcarra blouse! Soz for the lack of make up and the far from glamorous photoshoot location!  This is not *my* filing.

The Imperfect Polka Dot Belcarra

The Imperfect Polka Dot Belcarra

I used my imperfect polka dot fabric. Well it was a shame to let it languish in the stash.

I’d printed a very simple red spot border, and I wanted that border to be at the hem of the blouse. I was hoping I could find another way of getting the polka dots onto the blouse somehow, but I didn’t have that much left over after cutting the main body pieces, and I’d used up the best bits (the ones where I had managed *not* to splatter red paint over the white fabric like a particularly gory murder), and the obvious accent points, collar & cuffs, are cut on the bias, so the print wouldn’t work for those. Hey ho, never mind. Keeping it simple is good too.

This one was supposed to be easy. And it was, but I made stupid mistakes, like sewing pieces the wrong way round, like sewing the bindings on the wrong side (actually, that one only got as far as pinning, so it wasn’t too bad). But aside from that it was a doddle.

I made it about 10cms longer than usual, to get it more to tunic length, and I gave it little side splits, which you can’t really see from the photo.

And then I went to lunch with the girls from my other job, at Wagamama. I deliberately ordered something that didn’t look too liquid-y from the menu description, because you really can’t take me anywhere- spillages and droppages *will* happen, and we all know that white tops are a tomato sauce magnet. Even so my rice dish came dangerously smothered in some sort of soupy liquid, and before I knew it, there was sauce down the front. Cue emergency dash to the ladies, to get the spot out before it stains and much crouching under the hand dryer to dry off my top, so that I didn’t look too much like I’d entered a Miss Wet T-Shirt contest. The prompt washing seems to have done the trick thankfully, and there’s no sign of any mark. Lucky escape there!

I’m liking this top. I think it’s cool that I’m wearing a fabric I printed myself, even it’s scarcely more sophisticated than a primary school potato print. I like that it’s going to be an easy top to wear, either loose or tucked in, and that tucking in will mean the red disappears, making this an even more useful neutral. The cotton is medium weight, so it will be useful as a transitional piece for the autumn (hmmm, so long as I have a couple of nice cardigans to wear with it). So although I’m not head-over-heels in love with it, I think it’s a useful make.

OWOP14 – Bring it on

I’m ready. Well, ready-ish. Here is what I had available, as at first thing this morning.

Three and a half Belcarras

Three and a half Belcarras

You’ll have seen the Watermelon blouse and the Dress Of Many Colours. The third is the one I’m wearing today- the Cadfael & Cats blouse. Number four, the black & white on top there, is mid-make, and I’m hoping to get it finished today.

It's actually much greener than this picture is showing!

It’s actually much greener than this picture is showing!

I have gone uncharacteristically plain with the make. This blouse is unpatterned & unadorned. That isn’t to say it doesn’t have an element of frivolity- it is chartreuse green, for heaven’s sake, verging on fluoro lime. So this is not a garment that will be conducive to hiding my light under a bushel. This is very much a garment that screams “Notice meeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!”. But I figured it’s going to be hard enough teaming this with bottom halves, without bringing pattern into the equation, so it’s staying plain.

I got this cotton from Ebay (ohsewcraftycouk, in case you’re interested), it’s a medium-weight cotton that’s quite slubby and has a linen look. It’s beautifully crisp and although I originally bought it purely for the colour, I could happily get more of it in other colours. It was very easy sewing with it.

I’m feeling very confident with the Belcarra pattern now! This was my third go with it, and I didn’t even bother to look at my own notes on construction, never mind the formal pattern instructions. I didn’t make any new alterations, other than to make the sleeve cuffs about one centimetre longer. I’ve found the cuffs a tiny bit snug on the Watermelon blouse, and I figured that if I’d cut them too big this time round, I could cut them down again. But it did the trick, so I think I’ll add that extra length onto my traced pattern piece.

I’m going to shave the hip flare down a bit on future versions. I don’t have very wide hips, so I don’t need it. I’ve worn the Watermelon blouse tucked in mostly, so it’s not a major issue,  really,  but since I’ve got plans for way more of these so I can afford the time/effort to refine it. As you can see, I’m working on a black & white version, and there’s another one cut out & ready to go. I’m on a roll!

But back to this one. This got cut out last weekend and then sewn up on Thursday night. As ever, I did a fair bit of hand sewing, to catch the neck binding & cuffs and hem the blouse. Since I did all of that while watching Cadfael, and 8 Out of 10 Cats, this has become the Cadfael & Cats top. I styled it with my Counterintuitive Black Birds skirt, and wore it to one of our annual tutor meetings. (Working on a Saturday? I’m so dedicated!)

I have no idea where that expression came from.

I have no idea where that expression came from.

I was slightly stymied this afternoon, in trying to photograph this outfit. The little light post, where I usually rest my camera for taking selfies, has had its nice flat just-the-right-height-for-the-camera top knocked off. So those photos were taken with my camera resting precariously in the middle of a bush. You’re lucky you’re not seeing the one with the leaves showing as a rather fetching lower border! But as I was in the middle of my photography, my lovely neighbour was passing and offered to take a couple for me. So this one is courtesy of Dan.

He was getting all pro-photographer, telling me which way to turn and everything!

He was getting all pro-photographer, telling me which way to turn and everything!

And because nobody wants to see me posting every single day, I think I’ll bunch all the OWOP selfies into one single post at the end, and only post separately if I’m wearing a new make. Now, on to the next Belcarra on the production line.

Good luck to all the OWOPpers!

FO – Littlest Niece’s cloak

I am back from the France portion of my hols.

This is my great grandmother's house. This section of it belongs to Littlest Niece's mother. It is, I'm not kidding, a minute's walk from the beach.

This is my great grandmother’s house. This section of it belongs to Littlest Niece’s mother. It is, I’m not kidding, a minute’s walk from the beach.


Lunch! This is the life!

Tomorrow I shall be onto the Penzance portion of the hols. I’m afraid I did try to persuade the Gentleman Friend to join me in France so that we could have the second week there (instead of Penzance) as I was *loving* it there. But he likes Cornwall, and didn’t want to drag himself across the channel. So today I drove seven hours across France to the Eurotunnel, and then got stuck in a ghastly traffic jam on the M25I – I thought it’d be clear on a Sunday night…

Anyway. I spent my holiday time profitably, finishing the Elsa cloak for Littlest Niece. I’ve left it in the flat (I was borrowing her mum’s flat this week), and they’ll be going out there next weekend, so she’ll have a hopefully nice surprise.

The cloak was made strictly to her specifications. It was made extra long so it would trail on the floor. It is covered in sequin and crystal snowflakes. I tried to make all the snowflakes unique. There are a couple of duplicates of the smaller ones, but on the whole they’re mostly different. I gave myself a headache on a couple of days, trying to do the beading in the sunshine, because the sequins and crystals were so gosh-darn SHINY! This cloak is definitely Well Bling. I’d say I’m pretty much in touch with my inner 5 year old Princess, and if I got presented with this cloak, I would believe it was properly princessy.

I’ve tried to make it as play-proof as I can. I am firmly of the opinion that however much time I may have invested in this garment, it is hers to play in, and I will not get precious about how she chooses to look after it or not. It’s not like I’ve got any control over that anyway!

I’m hoping that her mum will send a photo of a happy LN modelling the cloak, but for now it’s all off body shots (click through for bigger versions):

The back

The back

Some details

Some details


Some more details

It’s quite a relief to have it finished, and it will be even more of a relief when I hear that LN likes it.

The plan for Penzance craftiness is to finish knitting the Blackcurrant Sorbet Hetty cardigan. It has been on the Naughty Step for the last few weeks as I was having trouble with the sleeves. I’m hoping that coming to it fresh will make them come out alright! I may possibly take elements of a sewing project, in case the knitting doesn’t quite go as planned. It depends how optimistic I’m feeling tomorrow when I’m packing!

The Watermelon Belcarra and a quick OWOP update

Yesterday, I sewed my first Sewaholics pattern. And I wore it to work today. And I’ll be taking it on holiday. It’s so cool and easy to wear. That’s partly to do with the pattern which is nice and loose on the body, not clingy, and partly to do with the fabric I used, which is a very loose-woven cotton, almost muslin-ish.

Watermelon Belcarra

Watermelon Belcarra

It’s the Watermelon, just because of the colours.

What can I say about the process? I had to grade up the pattern, of course, but it was pretty straightforward. I also did an FBA, which was pretty easy. While I’m not the archetypal Sewaholic pear-shape at all, with those adjustments the pattern works fine for me.

I didn’t use French seams, despite originally thinking I would, so the seams are just straightforward sew it up & turn the edges under to neaten. The neatening isn’t exactly neat! It’s functional, in that it will prevent the fabric from fraying, but it’s not a thing of beauty. I slip-stitched the neckline binding by hand, rather than machine-stitching it in place, because I wanted a smooth finish. I also sewed the cuffs on as though they were giant bias-binding, rather than using the technique outlined in the pattern. Again, that was hand sewing, rather than machining.

I haven’t done anything to prettify it. It doesn’t need anything extra- it’s got great big hippy flowers all over it, so I don’t know what I could add!

There is one thing I did that was different to how I usually work, I suppose- I cut the fabric out on a different day than I started the sewing. It was because I was cutting out at a time when I knew I wouldn’t have time to start any sewing. And actually it was definitely helpful. It meant that when I was cutting, I didn’t feel an urge to get straight on with the sewing, so I could take my time and do a good job of it. And when it came to the sewing, I had a really good psychological start, because I’d already got the “boring” job of cutting out and marking up out of the way. I’ll definitely have to try that again.

What do I love about this make? It’s so Summery! It’s a quick easy make, I’m definitely going to be making more of these. I also feel more encouraged to try the Renfrew and Cambie patterns.

However… It’s not going to be my OWOP pattern- I’ve decided on the McCalls straight skirt. I can see them as being a bit more versatile for the potentially transitional weather conditions of early September. I’ll be making one more in readiness, maybe two if I find the time/urge. I’ve posted publicly on Handmade Jane’s sign-up post, so there’s no going back. Anyone else thinking about it?

The Crazy Swirly Skirt

Tada! Here’s the Didn’t Quite Make It To Me Made May make! My new Crazy Swirly Skirt. It’s a straightforward circle skirt, made in two pieces because the fabric wasn’t wide enough for me to do it as a full seamless circle.

I wanted you to see how it matches the shoes perfectly

I wanted you to see how it matches the shoes perfectly



Eek, it was a bit blowy!

Eek, it was a bit blowy!

I had to tinker around with the light and colour levels on that second pic, and the black top has not fared well out of that process, but the skirt *has*, and that’s the important part of the photo, right?

I was going to bang on here about how this is one of my more ropey makes, but actually, there’s only one element of it that’s a bit disappointing, the rest of it is fine and dandy.

Firstly, I got the maths right and the waist circle is the right size, there was no need to do any gathering to make it work. Secondly, it’s got a great zip insertion (a hand-picked lapped zip, my favourite). Thirdly, the hem is looking pretty damn good. I used this tutorial from Coletterie, for machine hemming a curved hem. The only thing letting the side down is the waistband, which is not one of my finest hours. I am trying to use what I’ve got in the stash, so I used a length of petersham that I had, I thought that would be perfect. And it should have been, but I was lazy/impatient/stupid about how I put it in, and although it’s fully functional, and it’s neat inside & out, I wouldn’t want anyone who understands anything about sewing to look too closely at it!  It’s not terrible, and it’s certainly not bad enough for me to want to rip it out and do it again. It’s just not “perfect”.

Having said that, I still love this skirt. I fell for the print big-time last summer, when I was shopping for the Fall For Cotton challenge (I hear it will be back again in the Autumn, so I’m mentally readying myself for that) and when I was thinking of what to make next, it leapt into my consciousness. I think it will be a useful addition to my collection of me-made skirts, and will go with my gazillion black t-shirt tops. It’s also a brilliant colour match for the Slouchy Teal Cardigan, and the When Two Become One refashioned t-shirt. So plenty of styling options. I’ve still got a metre and a half of the fabric left over, and I’m even thinking I could use it for a matching top, then I could wear them together like a dress.

What else do I love? That it’s so twirly-whirly! Yay for little flirty circle skirts!

Pretty Summer Splodges Skirt

I finished hemming the skirt last night. Hooray, another thing for Me Made May!

The Pretty Summer Splodges skirt

The Pretty Summer Splodges skirt

And another shot, because I like it

And another shot, because I like it


I hadn’t realised when I bought this fabric, that it’s got a bit of stretch. Not that it made any difference to what I wanted to do with it- the fabric shouldn’t get any significant stretch-age in use. It did mean that where the shopkeeper ripped the fabric along the grain to cut off my bit of it, it had puckered a bit, but I don’t think it affected what I was doing.

This skirt is “self-drafted”, as I don’t exactly need a pattern to cut fabric in half lengthways, sew the sides together, put in a zip, gather the top and whack on a waistband.

It did involve a ridiculous amount of hand sewing. I hand-picked the zip, because I like the control that it gives me. I did the gathering by hand and I finished the waistband off by hand, because I haven’t mastered stitching in the ditch convincingly. And of course, I sewed on the hook and bar by hand. And then I hemmed it all by hand. I went for a deepish hem, as I wanted the skirt to be a bit short and summery, and I like the weight that a deeper hem gives (all the better for twirling!). I used invisible thread, to avoid the wrong colour showing through, and I’m happy with the results. I did find the threading of needles and tying knots were a bit of a challenge though, with my appalling eyesight!

While I was sewing, I was thinking about how I could style this skirt. I knew this grey top would go with it perfectly and I think I’ve got a couple of pink t-shirts that would tie in with the pink elements. But I can see a need for a couple of plain white tops to go with this now. Or red maybe.

I do love this skirt! It’s so pretty! And Twirly!


How do you get twirly skirt shots to not be blurry?


In other Makey news… I finished the Teal Cardigan. It’s lovely and toasty, but not really a thing of beauty. It’s a bit shapeless and not particularly flattering. It’s quite tight-fitting in the sleeves, but it’s unshaped in the torso, which doesn’t really do much for my body shape. It will be very snug and warm for the Winter. Not much use to me in May. Since it’s the first jumper I’ve knitted in at least 20 years (baby clothes don’t count) I’m treating it as a getting-back-into-it exercise. I’ll have to find a way of wearing it that doesn’t make me look like a sack of potatoes.

And this morning, I received a Parcel Of Joy! I was lucky enough to win SewMuch2Learn‘s Ultimate Blog Challenge Celebratory Giveaway. I won the pretty chambray with coloured dots. When I opened the parcel it was even prettier than her photo. It’s a beautiful cloudy bluey grey and its SO soft to the touch! I’m going to be making something with it very soon, because I don’t want it to simply shift from one person’s stash to another- it needs using and wearing and enjoying and being seen.

Beautiful chambray

Beautiful chambray

And now I have to crack on with the selfless sewing for littlest niece.