UFO Showdown #February Challenge

This month’s challenge over at The Monthly Stitch was UFOs. As I didn’t actually have any (though believe me I commit a whole array of other sewing crimes), I’d been forcing myself to work through my mending pile. Boring, but useful! I was making steady progress when a much more interesting idea came to mind that was in a similar vein. This beautiful skirt (top right) was originally purchased when I was at sixth form (I’m 43 now so suffice to say a very long time ago…). It’s from one of the very first issues of The Next Directory when it was an exciting, new concept. It may have just been my perceptions at the time but the designs were more designer-y and special, with the prices to match. Even the old labels (see below) were far more luxurious. Now, it’s a fairly common place venue that I rarely step into (although they do do great children’s wear).

Quite where I was intending to wear such a dressy item is quite beyond me now! But it was the 90s when I was rarely out of my DM boots and my Dad’s old cardigans, so I presume I dressed it down 😉 Anyhow this has resided at my parents’ house for a fair few years, before they forced me to come and claim or get rid. And it’s been lingering in my wardrobe ever since which is quite impressive in itself. I think it was the fabric that was holding me back from chucking it, or maybe just nostalgia? As it no longer fitted, being a good two inches too narrow to fasten at the waist (proof indeed that vanity sizing exists as I still wear this size or even the one below today, mmm… This feels to be more like a 6 in today’s sizing), drastic action was needed.

First off, I cut off the waistband, but managed to free the original zip and waist ties. I then cut it in half carefully in order to place and cut out my new pattern pieces (New Look K6217). Constructing the new skirt was relatively simple and sewing with this fabric (I think a single, very sheer, gauzy crepe) was just lovely. I attempted to improvise with the original lining, cutting it off below the original zip. I finished the waist with some lovely, matching brown grosgrain ribbon and was delighted with my efforts. On the hanger it looked fantastic…

But then I tried it on.. Let’s just say the fit was bad: too long, the outer skirt far too big and the lining ridiculously tight, grrr! Needless to say it sat loveless for a good week or so, before spurred on by this challenge I picked up my unpicked and set to work. To cut a very long story short I released the lining and discarded it, took the side seam in by a good inch and a half, reattached both the waistband and the ties, before finally chopping an additional nch off the length. I may well add a lining in at some point, but for now a RTW under slip will have to do.

So was it worth it? To be honest the jury’s out! While I can at least now wear it and I’m pretty pleased with the finished design, it was a LOT of effort for such a still-very-dressy skirt. Mmmm… I guess only time will tell…


The Seamworks Akita

I’ve decided to try to make one, new Seamworks pattern a month to justify my subscription more, (although in busy months I might let myself off with a repeat, such as my recent Oslo Cardigan). The Akita is a simple, t-shirt design cut from one piece. It takes just one yard of fabric and can be made up in a variety of light-weight fabrics, so I also thought it would be a useful design to add to my repertoire. I struggle with tops during MeMadeMay every year too, so I’m well aware I need to get a few made up between now and then to make life easier.


I had this lovely grey/green (think the fashion world named it griege at one point) pear fabric in my stash, and not having sewn with wovens for a while, it was calling out to me 🙂 The pattern, like most of the Seamworks designs I’ve attempted was super easy, so would suit beginners well. The only bit of the pattern that took me a little thought was making my own bias binding, which I’ve pretty much avoided doing up to now. But as it’s pretty frustrating having to get to the shops every time you need some, I figured it was about time I learnt this skill. Armed with my newly purchased bias binder maker, which I haven’t quite mastered but I can already see makes the job easier, I didn’t make too bad a job of this. More practice needed but I’m really pleased with the neat outcome it results in.


I’ve worn the finished result ‘out’ for these photos to show the design more clearly, but I think it will be a lot more flattering tucked in on my figure. I do really like the side slits though, so having the option to wear it loose is nice for the weekends. I also like the kimono sleeves on this, which kind of prettily frill out, although there’s still frost on the ground here, so it might be a while yet until I get to wear it on its own… Love how it matches my Oslo cardigan perfectly too 🙂

The only slight fit issue appears to be the neckline not sitting quite right. Not sure if this is my bias binding’s fault or the result of needing a FBA. Any ideas? I know I need to give the FBA a go, but those of you who have mastered this, what kind of pattern would be the best to make a first stab at this? Would it work on this or a more fitted bodice best? All those triangle diagrams quite frankly scare me! In the mean time I think making this in a lighter fabric, or even a knit would eliminate this problem. Avoidance, moi? 😉

Pattern: Seamworks Akita Blouse

Size: 4

New Skills: making my own bias binding 🙂

Estimated time: 1 hour

Actual time: 1 1/2 hours (making the bias binding…)

Adjustments: none so far…

Soundtrack: Radio 4



Holey Cashmere!

This week’s theme over at The Monthly Stitch is WIPs. Now I may be guilty of a lot of sewing sins, but funnily enough this really isn’t one of them. I love finishing projects, because then you get to wear them! Anyhow, while I was mulling this over and thinking how I could contribute (one of my sewing resolutions was to join in more), I thought I’d tackle my rather large pile of fixing jobs which is kind of in the same spirit. I’ve been trying to fix one thing from the pile before I allow myself to start a new project, which I’ve mostly stuck to… Most of these jobs seriously only involve a few stitches.

In amongst the pile was this ancient, cashmere jumper. I’m really not sure what happened to this, but somewhere along the line it developed a series of small holes, which I’ve patched up again and again, but they keep coming. It’s too nice to chuck, so I’ve been wearing it over pjs at the weekends. But maybe something more radical was required? Flicking through a copy of Sew magazine, I found the pattern and templates above, so thought I’d give it a try.

While it’s not my proudest make by a long shot, I actually liked making these slowly inbetween bigger projects. Hand sewing is not my favourite activity, but working through each of these I really could feel myself improving each time. I forgot to split my silks on the first one (the rabbit), hence the face is too ‘heavy’ (and too dark). The stuffing isn’t great on it either. But the second one is much better (the cat). I realised that I could use up the off-cuts to stuff it with and therefore make it softer (and no waste). I’m really pleased with how the sleeve ribbing became his ‘trousers’. By right the third should have been the neatest, but I think the second is better. Oh well! This was essentially a totally free project, which is always nice. And my daughter is delighted with them, here they are in situ with some knitted cats in their bed 🙂


Pattern: Sew Magazine Cashmere Plushies

Adjustments: plenty of room for improvisation built into this project but I was pleased that I had some tiny, Liberty scraps to use as they recommended.

New Skills: plenty of hand sewing practice, which I clearly needed

Soundtrack: soundtracks from The Secret Garden & The Jungle Book (daughter in charge) and I dare anyone to listen to the latter without joining in and doing a daft dance or two 🙂