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…

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 🙂

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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 🙂

Another Simple, Girl’s Skirt

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Pleased with my stash-busting prowess of late, on my day off last week I reorganised my, now pleasingly depleted, fabric drawers. And it’s a good job I did, as I came across this little bargain I picked up in H and M in the sale last Summer. I was drawn to the fabric: a lovely mix of pinky/browny/grey butterflies. At just £3, despite the shapeless design, I knew it was worthy of an upcycling project and another skirt for my daughter seemed the obvious choice, as she was so pleased with the last one 🙂 I think the fabric was wasted on the original, it definitely shows it off more in skirt-form, at least to my eye anyway…

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Using her measurements from last week’s project, but adding two extra inches to the length this time, I measured and cut out, retaining the original hem. I then simply added an elasticated waist and it was as simple as that. I love this on her, it suits her colouring so well and the jersey fabric is really comfy, yet practical. As you can see she was more than ready to do a spot more modelling for me…

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She’s definitely the ‘clown’ in our family, who loves nothing better than making us all laugh 🙂

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She’s also set me another challenge: apparently she’d like a complete Mummy-made outfit to wear for her ‘own clothes day’ at school next week. Looks like I’ll be busy then…