Showing posts with label clothes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label clothes. Show all posts

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Cardigan upcycled from a skirt!

This week has been a slow sewing week for me - filled with good intentions after a lovely birthday weekend I came down with a cold and resigned myself to making it through work and settling on the sofa when I was at home.  That said I did continue to work on the project using my Grandmas' old skirt.
 She didn't want it anymore and kindly gave it to me to use as fabric.  I loved the swirls and the general print and originally thought I would just make it into a skirt that fitted me.  But then I saw someone sporting a fabulous jacket made from a similar pattern and was immediately inspired.

I lay out my fabric - trimming the edges and the waist band to see how much use-able fabric I had left.  Despite my grand ambitions to do something structured I realised fast that I needed to change that plan because skirts actually aren't that big.

I decided instead to go for a smaller version of the slouch cardigan that you can check out here

I followed the pattern from my original cardigan but made it about 25" by 35".  Once I tried it on I realised I needed to take out some of the length because the sleeves had way too much fabric in them for being such a cropped cardigan.  I snipped away and ended up with this!

So easy - so slouchy and so comfy - which if I am really honest is super important for me when it comes to clothes.  I've already worn it to work, out for a coffee and just as a quick throw on jacket as I head out the door when the suns out.

This is why I love upcycling - an old skirt that is no longer wanted and doesn't fit turned into something useful, wearable and funky.  

Next project has to be something more ambitious but I have to fearing ruining some of my gorgeous fabric.  Watch this space to see what happens next . . .

Saturday, 2 May 2015

The shirt dress

So after posting a dress out of a old shirt that I made on facebook a lot of people commented so I thought I'd share the process.  The idea came from seeing a similar picture on the page below.

So I started off with a mans shirt - this idea works great for recycling as all the parts of a shirt that wear and look old like neck and sleeves you cut off leaving behind perfectly good fabric.  As I'm quite tall (5ft8")  I would wear mine as a tunic rather than a full dress so you want to ensure the shirt you choose is a size that means it is as long as you want it.  If its too long that's easy as you just turn it up but too short is harder to fix!

For this you will need a shirt, a measuring tape, pins, thread, scissors and a sewing machine/needle.  A machine will make it a lot quicker but there is no reason why you can't do this by hand.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Slouch cardigan

A lovely afternoon spent wandering resulted in me discovering some fantastically blue fabric in a charity shop.  It was reduced to only a pound so I went for it and began to plan the fabulous things I would make from it.  Pinterest to the ready and off I went.  I found this fantastic pattern for a super comfy slouch cardigan. If you decide you fancy giving it a go you can find the pattern here from True Bias.

The pattern seemed pretty straight forward so off I went - 2 simple rectangles, a bit of shaping and I find myself already at the sewing machine.

It really was nice to just have to cut this much out before sewing.
As I got to work I realised how much this fabric would fray and actually a much more complex pattern might have been a nightmare to work with.  This is what my overlocker looked like after a few seams being done. Super fluffy!

Sunday, 19 April 2015

First pair of trousers!!!

Finally I found some lovely light fabric that  I could use to create a pair of trousers.  Now I have to be honest trousers are kinda scary for me.  Skirts are so easily adjustable - tops can be fitted or loose and flowing but trousers have all sorts of funny complexities that have scared me off for a long time.

I decided to follow a pattern because although I love the idea of folding a pair of trousers I love in half and going from there I just wasn't convinced that my understanding of trouser construction was solid enough to go with that method.  I used the March Prima pattern which was for a loose pair of culotte style trousers.  I used to own a pair of denim ones and lived in them so happily set to cutting and pinning.

I found that once I had cut all of the pieces out everything made a lot more sense - when I look at the paper pattern it is hard for me to envisage how it will fit together - once in fabric I can see it much more clearly.  I was actually surprised by how simply I found the whole pattern.  Don't get me wrong my finished product is not perfect but in terms of understanding what I was doing the majority of making trousers is about matching seams and sewing neatly.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Kimono Top

I am continuing to love the crochet but this weekend had a bit of free time and was given some patterns.  I had a good look through and saw a kimono style top.

I have always stuck to quite plain tops leaning towards brighter patterns in skirts.  Recently though I am travelling around mainly via scooter so find myself in jeans.  This has left me feeling a bit dull in the clothes that I wear.  Jeans and plain-ish tops are the style for me at the minute so a cute kimono top might just brighten things up a little bit.

I had some bright peachy-orange fabric that was the under side from a reclaimed duvet cover I was gifted.  The top side was used to make this funky dress.
Now the underside is being used to make a jacket.  It actually excites me when I find a way to use up some fabric that otherwise might have gone to waste.  Plus when I make something out of the fabric I already own without buying anything I get an extra buzz!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Funky dress - upcycled of course

It has become a bit of a habit around birthdays for me to have a chat with my sister to consider what I want/need and eventually revert back to fabric.  She is a star and pops along to local charity shops and hunts till she finds me some fabulous fabric that I can upcycle for myself.  Yay - permission to indulge absoloutely granted.
This year was no different so I was presented with this fantastic polka dot fabric!  I love it!

I wasn't too sure what to make but then decided to go for a completely random approach and chuck it onto the mannequin and just see where I ended up (as demonstrated below - clearly very technical!)

I don't really do well with patterns - possibly because I don't really do that well with being told what to do - and tend to go off pattern all the time anyway!  So I just went with what felt right.  I decided the larger dots at the bottom decreasing as it went up worker well and with the amount of fabric it had to be a dress.  Once I started adding shape by pinning in some darts I had begun to get an idea of how the dress would look.

I would absolutely recommend having a go at something like this!  First of all it gives you absolute freedom to do whatever you want, second you don't have to buy a pattern and if you use upcycled fabric it is likely to be cheap and cheerful and if you end up with a disaster then you haven't lost too much!
 This dress started off as a duvet cover and with some snipping, pinning and tweaking turned into a dress that I will absolutely be wearing!  What do you think?

A bit of a dark picture there but an idea of the shape of the dress. I'm really happy with the way the sleeves worked so well even on a mannequin - I have to admit to being a bit afraid of sleeves so going off pattern was a bit nervy but they seem to have worked well!

It is so comfy and I love the neutral colours that can be dressed up with a fun, bright necklace or bracelet.
What a great birthday gift!  The fun of opening it to find gorgeous fabric, the dreaming up of a project perfect for the fabric, the sewing and now the wearing!  Talk about the gift that just keeps on giving!

Have you made any clothes by using a mannequin?  Do send them over so I can share them too!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Mens Shirt to Cute Skirt

My husband just gave me a pile of shirts that have become surplus to his requirements because they are looking too old - usually round the collar or sleeves or have been stained somehow.  They are a perfect upcycling resource so I thought I would do a tutorial on how I took an old shirt and turned it into a cute and 100% usable skirt!

SO here goes...

You will need
A mans shirt
thread to match
I used a sewing machine but you could do it with a needle and thread
Tape Measure

1. I started off by measuring how long I wanted the skirt to be - I worked from my hips as I knew I was going to do a wide waist band.  Then I marked this line onto the shirt and cut along this line

2.Next I took the bottom piece of the skirt and sewed about 1cm away from the top edge all the way round from button to button hole.  This stitch is going to be gathered so if you are using a machine set it to the longest stitch length that you can and leave about 10cm thread on each end. 

3. Now take the bottom thread and gently pull - the fabric should start to gather and you can start to tease the gathers through the fabric until it matches your waist measurement.  It already looks quite cute right!

4. Now I need a waist band.  I wanted a nice line running down the skirt of the buttons so decided to use the front of the shirt as the waist band.  I cut out the front along all the seams therefore cutting the collar and sleeves off and then repeated for the back.

5. I then folded the fabric in half to create a neat top of the skirt.  I did this so that the two button holes matched exactly on each half.  I then removed the spare buttons and folded each fabric to match the first one.  I then trimmed the excess off to leave a neat rectangle.

6. I measured my waist and pinned the pieces of the waist band together at the sides.  This needs to be done right sides together.  If you have a mannequin use this to help you out. Simply pin it onto the mannequin to get the right size and then take it off and pin right sides together while the fabric is flat.  Sew along that line.

7. Now lay the waist band flat inside the skirt.  Put the right side of the waist band facing the inner side of the skirt and pin all along.  You must make sure that you line up the buttons at this point and this is also a great time to even up your gathers.  Sew just below your line of gathering stitch.

8. Now remove the pins and bring the waist band up.  Re-fold it over so that your button holes match exactly and then fold the raw edge upwards so that you have a neat fold over the top of your raw gathered edge.  At this point if you try it on your mannequin or you then you will see that having such a large waist band means it needs to come in again.  Take the centre back point and then fold in from each side of that point as if creating a pleat.  Pin.

9. Now sew all along your fold at the bottom of your waist band - be super straight as this is a top stitch that will show!  Then return to the pleat and sew the top of this.  It should look like this.

10.  Now trim your loose edges and there you have it a cute skirt - plus even though it has loads of buttons all you have had to do is straight line stitching - no button holes and no hand sewing on of buttons!  

I hope you have fun making yours - as always send me a picture and I'll give it a share!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Pink love!

I seem to have been super busy in the last couple of weeks - I can't exactly work out what has been keeping me busy but as you can see from the silence on my blog it certainly wasn't blogging!  My sewing machine had been sitting a little bit abandoned too so when a friend asked me to make her the clothes to wear with her saree I jumped at the chance.  The project forced me to prioritize stitching time and plus got to have a good old natter with her while I finished it off!
 I love saree fabrics - the bright and beautiful colours fresh from warmer climates fills me with hope for the summer (she says while listening to the rain pour down on the conservatory roof).  
 Chloe returned from India with the most beautiful saree that suited her so well!  It was filled with pinks and purples and some absolutely gorgeous embroidery and of course sparkle!
 I worked with a lining fabric to make a simple wrap around under skirt which is used to tuck the saree fabric into.  I had a little play around with darts and think I got them pressed out neatly and very evenly (the sewing bee judges would be proud!).
 I then started to work on the top.  I used another top that Chloe had made while she was in India as a guide.  I made this out of a thin purple and gold woven fabric.  It was pretty tricky to get used to working with - the weave meant that often the fabric would catch in the needle and the work was definitely slow and steady.  In the end I got used to how to work with this fabric and got going and it turned out pretty well!  Due to the scratchyness of the weave once we did the fitting I attached the lining fabric top into the woven top so that it was much more comfortable for wearing plus a bit warmer too!
 And here it is - didn't she look absolutely gorgeous!

 If you look closely you can see the gorgeous pendant that Chloe made - its filled with beads and carefully embroidered on!  If you love that kind of thing Chloe is busy beading and teaching workshops so pop over to see what she is up to on her website - you can always find her on facebook too!

  I loved doing something different, working with such beautiful fabric and making some clothes again - it definitely inspired me to start stitching more clothes!  I really enjoy it and the more I practice the happier I get with the outcome.  My aim is to make a pair of trousers in the next few weeks - I'm just looking for some fabric that I like!  I'll keep you posted!

Friday, 28 February 2014

Tablecloth skirt

I bought this table cloth from a charity shop a week or so ago for £3.50.  More than perhaps I would like to spend on a tablecloth 2nd hand but I couldn't leave it behind!  I love those yellow flowers too much!  I knew immediately what I would be doing with it so as soon as I had a spare evening I got going!

 To start I folded the circular cloth into half and repeated until it was folded in 8ths.  I measured how long I would like the skirt to be and then cut the point off so the cloth equaled to this length allowing 1.5cm seam allowance.  This cloth was already edged at what will become the bottom of the skirt so no extra seam allowance needed here!

Now I have a large circular piece with a whole in the middle.  I cut where I wanted the back seam to be and then measured the length of the fabric.  It was 80cm and I needed to half it.

I set about pinning my gathers.  I used 8cm per gather and folded it so that the 8cm became 4cm therefore by the time I had finished my skirt is half the length of when I started.  I used the same gathering as I did here so click on the link to get the full tutorial.  Once you have pinned your pleats run a line of straight stitching to hold them in place and press firmly.

 I then overlocked the raw edges which can be done with a zig zag stitch if you don't have an overlocker and ran a straight stitch down the back seam to join the skirt.  Laying the zip onto the seam I stitched that in and then opened the seam with an unpicker where the zip will do up.
 Now I added a bias binding waist band.  This can be made as thick or thin as you like - I really liked the little band on this skirt so I went for it.
 And here you have it the finished skirt.
 And the skirt on me . . .
 And with a little shake of the hips you see the full swing-y-ness of this skirt and the reason why I was so happy to find such a lovely circular fabric.  This is a skirt to go dancing in!  Today it shall simply accompany me to a lunch date with a friend but one day I shall take it for a proper spin!

I'm pretty happy with the result - 1.5hours work(if you can call it that as for me sewing is an absolute pleasure) and £3.50 later I have a fab new skirt - plus I can say - Yes I did make that :)
Have a great weekend!

Monday, 17 February 2014


 In my bid to buy ethically I went on an internet hunt for ethically produced knickers.  There are a fair few companies out there making some fabulous things but when I looked at the prices I knew it was just too much for me to spend on underwear.  Most pairs started at about £18 each so a weeks worth would cost me £126! Ouch!  know that fair trade is always going to cost more but what do you do when that more is just that bit too much for you to afford?

Well I have been doing a bit of a trial on making my own - I know crazy right!  My impression was that it would be incredibly fiddly and technical and generally an absolute nightmare!  Well apparently not - the hardest part about making knickers was the fact that my machine broke about every line of stitching I did!

I did a bit of a pinterest search and found this fab instruction sight from drumbellina.

So I set about chopping and stitching - I have some t-shirt fabric that I have not used up completely yet so thought I would do a bit of a trial run with that before I advance to more fancy fabric.

I changed the instructions slightly and instead of using pinking shears to edge I used my overlocker.  So here are my very rough test pair!

You can see on the top stitching where my machine is jumping a bit at the minute which doesn't give the greatest finish - but in general I'm happy with the result.  Although I am unlikely to use these and will keep them as a sample I did try them on and I have to say - super duper comfy!
The experiment has certainly inspired me to look out for some nice fabrics and finishes to add into the next lot that I make.  
Have any of you tried making underwear?  I'm definitely not about to start sewing bras just yet but am getting going in designing some funky knickers to start stitching!  Send me your pics of what you have sewn!
Hope you are all surviving the weather!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Tunic top

This week after a little review of my wardrobe I decided it was time to invest some time making some clothes for me.  I have this fantastic floral fabric I bought from a charity shop and have already used some of it to make a bag.  It is really 60's so I decided to go with a light - easy - breezy tunic.  Tunics are so simple to make and I love them.  They look great, they are comfortable to wear and if your using bright fabric they can really make a statement.

I didn't have a pattern so I used another top to get the sizing right.

I drew round this top adding some extra fabric to create a shoulder and also allowing about 1.5cm for a seam allowance.  I also flattened the neck line out at the back.
These were the pieces I had for the top part.  One for the front and two for the back.  Really simple to shape as I just relied on the outline of my last top.

I cut out sleeves from another pattern I had (I have never been great at doing my own sleeves - something to work on) and then set to work.  Using an overlocker to bind the seams I sewed shoulder to shoulder together and then the side seams before adding the sleeves.  I added a small gather to each sleeve which works really well but I actually added it in because I didn't quite measure out right and ended up with sleeves a bit bigger than the arm hole.  The finished effect I am pleased with though.  
I then used bias binding the edge the top.

I curved the back to create a neat edging and then finished the bias binding about half way down before closing the seam up.

Then I cut two more pieces the same size as each other.  I decided on my length, added 1.5cm for seam allowance and then took my top measurement and multiplied it by 1.5.
I gathered the two pieces so the width now matched the width of the top, sewed the side seams and then overlocked the top piece and bottom piece together.

Then I just added some bias binding to divide the top a little bit and a cute button to finish the top.

I closed off my seams and I was done - here you have it.

I wore it out today and felt really comfortable in it - I plan to make a few more tunics in the next few weeks.  While making this one I found a fab old pattern that used to belong to my Mum which is for some great tunics with sailor tops and some fabulous flares so I might get onto them!
Watch this space for how I continue to funk up my wardrobe!  This new tunic probably cost me £1.50 as I still have half the fabric left and it cost me £3 to buy.  What a bargain plus the pleasure of making it included in that price!
Do share the things you make for yourself in the next few weeks!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Tunic top

Today I had some unexpected free time - glorious right!  I did some cleaning - made a few bits for selling and then decided I really needed to make something fun for me!
 I was given some gorgeous Nigerian fabric by a friend of mine a little while ago and it has been sitting in my fabric stash being sadly neglected.  So I decided to have a pinterest search for some inspiration.  I have a board on there called stitchspiration and seem to pin many things on there but not actually create any of them.  I set to work making this fab tunic top which I have had on there a while back.  The picture on pinterest looked super easy and it really did take me only about an hour to complete.
 Here is the link so do pop across and like, follow or comment on this blog it is fab!

Here is my finished project

What do you think?  I like the shape and the fit is good but there are a few things I would change for me.  I think I will adapt the sleeves on this top as they feel a little big to me - I will probably just create more of a defined sleeve.  The other thing I will do if I make this again is make the bottom flare out a bit more into a bit of a dress style.  Those things really are just personal preference though!  This is definitely a pattern I would recommend - especially if you are new to making clothes it is so simple!

Send me your pictures of how you get on!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Pillow case to skirt

My love of making clothes/bags/gifts or anything really out of other abandoned things came more from a love of beautiful and unusual fabric than anything else.  My passion grew into a desire to see less waste and a choice to try to dress in more ethically sourced clothes.  On a tight budget and working for a small agency having just returned to the UK from a few years away I began to find treasures tucked in charity shops.  I realized what great outfits could be conjured up from a scrap of fabric, an old bed sheet or a discarded dress being sold off extra cheap because of the gaping hole in the shoulder.  And so my love of colours, sewing, fabric and clothes grew – and I spent many a weekend  nestled away cutting, pinning, gathering and sewing to make all sorts of creations.

So today I’m setting you a challenge.  Delve into the depths of your linen cupboard, head to your nans to rummage through hers or go on a charity shop/jumble/car boot sale rummage in search of the funkiest pillow case you can find.  I usually find you can pick one up for about 50p sometimes a bit more for a pair.   Today I found a matching pair for 60p – bargain!

And out of this you’re going to make a cute, gathered skirt!

What you need . . .
  • A pillowcase (2 for sizes more than UK14) in a pattern you love
  • A plain pillowcase or piece of fabric of similar size for the waistband (because I am using a pair I used the other side of the pillowcase)
  • A ribbon or strip of fabric that is about 15cm wide and 30cm longer than your hip measurement
  • Dressmakers pins
  • A sewing machine or a needle
  • Thread
  • An un-picker (not essential but helpful in any task involving salvaging fabric)

Measure around your hips (or waist if you prefer to wear your skirts there)
Take that number and make a note of it.  We will call that number X.  Now follow the formula below.
X ÷2 = Y
Y + X = T or the total length of fabric you will need
T ÷ 2 = F or the length your two pieces from step 2 need to be.

So let's go . . .

1. U npick the stitches that are holding the pillowcase together and pull
out all loose threads. Trim the edges that are unusable from
 previous stitching but try to only cut off what you have to.

4. Now set your machine (if you’re using one) so it is set to sew the longest stitch.  Using this setting sew along the top of the fabric two parallel lines ensuring they do not touch and are around 1 cm apart.  Ensure you leave threads at the start and end of your line of stitching that you will be able to get hold of. 

6. Now you have your gathering you need to take the measurement you took earlier-figure X - and ease out the fabric to equal that measurement.  Leave 4cm extra as this is where you will sew your seam.  Use your fingers to spread the gathering out so that it is even and the correct size for you.

9.  Now choose your fastening – I have done mine with a tie at the top to finish and a zip but you can add a button, zip or hook and eye – whichever suits you.  If you choose a tie just extend the waistband to a length that means you can tie a cute bow.
Take the open seam and put right sides together – do a straight stitch right up to where your fastening is.  If you have put in a zip this is where you would add it.  I will add a tutorial on how to insert a zip next week.

So there you have it a skirt sewn from a pair of pillow cases for only 60p!  Plus a happy day spent sewing!

Next week I'll do a tutorial on how to add in a zip so that if anyone chose this to be their fastening there won't be any confusion!

Happy sewing :)