Monday, November 10, 2014

An exercise in futility

I thought it would be a good idea to make a dog bed for Buster. I used some opshop bits and pieces of heavy-duty, furnishing fabric. Here's Kai modelling it:

 We thought we were being very clever reusing the old frame of the kiddy pool (pool liner long since dead):

Buster wasn't too keen on it when he first saw it. 

He had to be encouraged on there...

And sat for approximately 2.5 seconds, 

Before showing me what he thought of it.

Oh no, wait. That's the wrong picture. THIS is what he really thought of it, less than 24 hours later....

It was so tragic, all I could do was shake my head and laugh. Oh, and tell Buster that he could sleep on the ground from now on...!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Old wool skirt + obi offcut = new apron

I bought a lovely lined, red woollen skirt for $1 at the Holbrook op shop about a year ago (no before picture). It was far too big but I thought I could easily cut it down to size.

It had other plans. After I cut too much off the sides, I thought I'd then add a blue panel from an obi offcut, off centre, to add the extra width back on before resewing the side seams.

Nope, that didn't work either! So to save balling it up and chucking it in the rag pile, I thought "Aha! I could do with a new apron." Et voila!

(Note; the girly looking legs in the photo actually belong to Hector. I thought he looked good with an apron in front of him so I left 'em in the photo).

I made the ties from the offcuts of the skirt sides where I had originally cut too much off. Added them either side of the original waistband, then simply hemmed the sides and bottom. 

Because the wool was a bit itchy I thought I would keep the lining intact. Who am I kidding, I just couldn't be bothered to trim it off!

So here it is in-situ (below). We all need a fully lined, woollen apron at least once in our lives, I figure (?) It's a shame really that I didn't make it work as a skirt, because looking at it in the photo below, it would be a pretty nice skirt! 

As an aside, those pants you can't see much of in the photo, are also 'something new from something old'... a red op shop sheet that I made up using my favourite drawstring pants pattern. I actually made them as pyjamas, but am currently short of long pants, so I renamed them 'long pants'. Oh dear, I need to get on to some serious clothes sewing! But am in the middle of a quilt for sister-in-law's 50th b'day so clothes are on hold...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Burda top, finally

I borrowed a pattern for this Burda top (below) from my friend Pat a few years ago now, it feels. (Thanks, Pat). It's been at the front of my sewing queue since then but always gets pushed back. At last - it's done!

I picked view B, as I'm not much fussed on collars and the skinny ties at the back of A put me off. I made a dress with all those ties back in 1996 and I still remember the faffing and fiddling around. Although what I remember most about that particular dress, though, is dropping my cigarette (bad old days) on my lap the first and only time I wore it, at a wedding. Hello, embarrassing burn hole. Goodbye, dress.

Back to this project: I even did a muslin to check the size first. How good is that? I wasn't going to show the photo but Vanessa insisted, so here you go: complete with bed sheet bodice and sleeve made with leftovers from the Washi top I blogged about here.

Stylish, no? I decided it fit ok but was a bit tight right down the bottom, so I graded it out to the next size up at the hemline. Otherwise no alterations.

I mostly used this fabric below; I think it came from one of the Goulburn op shops. It's a woven dark grey with pinstripes. Not all cotton, as it doesn't wrinkle much (and melts easily when you iron it, which I found out while making the top, ouch).

There wasn't quite enough for the whole top, so I was going to use a beige linen for the contrast panels down the side fronts. I even went as far as cutting out the front from that linen before realising that in fact they are NOT contrast panels at all and that the front panel is only topstitched on - the bottom part of the front is the same fabric as the sides. Confused? I was. In below picture of finished top, you can see what I mean.

After the beige option was pinned together (no photo) and modelled in front of my Thursday night sewing group I was kinda shouted down. 'Don't do it Kath!!' was the general consensus. So I acceded (well, they were right, it looked like crap). And recut a new front in black. 

The black is not preloved, I must admit - its linen/cotton I bought in Vietnam 6 years ago to make a pair of trousers for Hector. Oops. Sorry dear, no pants for you.

Here's a back view. The sleeves were way too long (or maybe my arms are short). I had to hem them double the depth stated on the pattern.

 And a couple of side shots:

I don't look too impressed in this last picture. Actually, unless you suck it in a bit, this design has a tendency to make one look about six months gone. Which I am not, though some of the side-on photos that didn't make the cut certainly suggested I was.

Conclusion? I actually really, really like it. It's easy to put on, super comfy and feels nice. I suspect that the back ties might be a bit annoying sitting in the car. And I'm glad I went with black and didn't have enough of the pinstripe to do the whole thing; I love the contrast and it gives it a Japanese-ish feel. 

What do you think? If you'd like to comment, I'd love to hear from you. Note: if you have subscribed to this blog as an email, which I think everyone has, then you have to visit the blog website to comment :) 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sew simple leggings

I love wearing my black boots, tights/leggings and skirts. But it's hard to find non-black leggings that are not hideously expensive, so I was interested to try this "Sew Simple" pattern for leggings. (Also because it was only $2.95 - bargain!)

I had some stretch pink/reddish knit fabric from an op shop that I was going to use for a long sleeve top, but decided to try the leggings pattern out on. So here they are (not with black boots, but with my next-favourite boots!)

True to its name the pattern was super simple. It only took about half an hour to make up. The waist is a little high and I'd lower it next time, plus I used too long a length of elastic, so I have to fold it over about 4 times to keep them up! But even so they are eminently wearable. Even though I have absolutely nothing in my wardrobe that goes with them, other than this dress (from Yass Vinnies, spotted by Kahli, thank you!). 

The same pattern website also has some good-looking free patterns. I downloaded the wrap dress. I think it could look very nice and it might be my next knit fabric project...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Two offcuts = a Renfrew top

Been a while between blog posts - kind of reflects the time between completed sewing projects. Have a few things in the pipeline, patterns cut out and the like, but haven't got to the point of actually finishing anything! Maybe it's a winter thing - I have been avoiding the cold of the sewing room lately in the evenings.

Here's one thing I did manage. I bought the Renfrew pattern from Sewaholic patterns a while ago - has been very popular on other sewing blogs for quite a while. If you google Renfrew top images you'll see about a million of them. 

I had found these two lengths of knit fabric in recent op-shop visits to the usual Yass and Goulburn haunts. The first is kind of beigey with blue graffiti-looking graphics on it. Almost 80s but not completely.

The second is just a plain blue knit with greyish overtones. Really nice and soft. Both pieces were about 1.5m long and I think only about $1 each.

The pattern comes in round neck, cowl neck and v neck options, and short, 3/4 or long sleeves. Pretty simple pattern and very easy to make up. Here's the front view: it's a bit overexposed so the colours are not quite right. It turned out mostly ok, though I think I could live without the hip/waist band. It looked good on the pattern envelope, of course, but I don't think it's terribly flattering on me!

I didn't test it as I was going along, and it was pretty obvious from the following pics that that I didn't check the sleeve length: it wrinkles up a lot when the cuff is at the right place.

Then when I pull it all the way down  it's about two inches at least too long. 

Overall I'm calling it a pyjama top - the colour combo makes it look like one. Here's the back view, in which you can see that either my posture sucks, or I am displaying a bit of inherited scoliosis....! 
I seriously thought I was standing dead straight. 

The hip band looks fine from the back but really not happy with it at the front. I would like to try the pattern again but I'll shorten the sleeves and maybe either leave the hip band off, or use the same colour as the body. I perhaps took the colour blocking theory a little far this time! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The doona cover that keeps on giving

Last time I mentioned a doona cover that I had made a few things out of. I found it in one of the Goulburn op shops. Here's a picture of most of it: I'd already cut up a bit of it for a top. It was almost brand new and for $6 for metres and metres of fabric it was a steal!

Combined with an opshopped pillowcase, I turned the missing part into a top called a Scout Tee, which is basically a woven  tshirt pattern. Here's a pic - accessorised with the season's latest hats as made by Ellie and I for our local school fete ;) Are we stylish or what!

The top part is the pillowcase. It has a weird wavy pattern on it that would seriously hurt your eyes if it wasn't a light beige colour. Just the bottom part was from the doona. It's a very simple pattern to make up; no darts, no facings, just a bias binding edge on the neckline. It's not terribly flattering, since it's not at all fitted, but it is nice and cool to wear in summer. 

The back is also partly pillowcase and partly doona cover, but cut from the plain beige section. I wanted to have the whole back as the pillowcase fabric, but it didn't stretch to that. So the plain beige was a compromise.

Although it is very comfy to wear, I felt like it was a bit on the large size. So, I made up a second one the next size down using some floral fabric pinched off my Mum and some red broderie anglaise that I had bought to make Ellie something as a baby and never got around to it. So not really recycled, but at least repurposed!

I think this second version is a bit nicer than the first one. Unfortunately the red colour ran badly in the wash. I haven't let that stop me wearing it a lot. Taking these photos was tricky as it seems that every time I go out to do so, a big wind picks up. Nearly every photo looks like the one below, which I kept just for a laugh. I really have to pick my moment and use a fast shutter speed to take a picture that is usable.

The other thing I've made so far from the doona cover is a pair of drawstring pants. I love this pattern and have used it about a million times. It's Simplicity 7229 and I picked up the pattern in the Yass op shop a few years ago for 20 cents. I don't know if it's still in print, but I would highly recommend it for an easy pair of pants, shorts or A line skirt that is super comfortable. 

The reason it is so comfy is the yoke/waistband, which is cut on the bias. The pattern says just to add a drawstring but I use a piece of thin elastic and sew two shorter drawstrings to each end. This makes it much more comfy around the waist. I mostly made these pants to do my Tai Chi in - they are perfect for that. 

I liked how the pattern placement worked out. But the first person to see me wearing them laughed (not unkindly) and said that from a distance they looked like I had a pair of old fashioned lacy undies on.... 

I guess they kind of do. But I don't care. I still love them! 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Lots of op shop fabric = jackets for me and my girl

On a visit to Albury recently I scored a few lengths of knit fabric from the Vinnies in the centre of town. I have been frequenting that op shop since I was in Year 11 and 12 (that's 1987-88) - it's a good one!
So I found some white, and some black:

And some blue.

The black and white, I turned into a hoodie for myself. I've had this pattern cut out for a while, waiting to find the right fabric.

My friend Ankemaria told me to get over being camera shy and start putting photos of me actually wearing my creations, instead of just on a coathanger. So, here it is: The Sol Hoodie by Jamie Christina.

The white fabric was pretty thin, so I decided to use two layers of it. Made for some very thick pain-in-the-butt seams, especially around the pockets and the neckline, but it was worth it. It's warm enough for our unseasonably warmish winter days, though it wouldn't cut it on a proper June day. 

The fabric lining the hood used to be a top belonging to my friend Georgina. She gave it to me one day when she decided to get rid of it, and remembered that I had admired the fabric one day. Thanks G! The fabric on the band is patchwork fabric I flogged off my Mum a few years ago. Apart from the zip, it's the only non-recycled part of the jacket.

Here's how it looks with the hood up. The pattern calls for buttonholes in the hood band and a drawstring. I made the buttonholes but then thought it didn't really need a drawstring. Next time I wouldn't bother.

You may not have noticed in the first picture, but one of the things I liked about this pattern when I saw it on other sewing blogs was the funky cuffs - they are quite long and have a hole for your thumb. So cute!

Unfortunately...making a design feature like this in white fabric is a bit of a faux pas. I have only worn this twice and I've already unpicked the cuff - it has become filthily feral, just from driving and generally hanging out. I'm going to replace them with black ones, so they last a bit longer than two wears without becoming yuck! 

I'd recommend the pattern, I think it's a really nice hoodie. I know you can pick them up in the shops for next to nothing these days, but not like this one ;) 

So, as soon as Ellie spotted the cuffs on my hoodie, she immediately requested one herself. Enter the blue fabric, combined with a cloud-printed op shop singlet hijacked for the pockets:

Don't you love that rock star bed hair look? 

She didn't want a hoodie though, just a jacket. I used a Kwiksew pattern for kid's pyjamas/tracksuits that I have used a million times in the past 18 years. (The first use for my then 2-year-old niece Brianna, who just turned 20!).  I also made the pyjama pants, but can't claim that as recycled fabric - they're super soft minke fabric I couldn't resist last week in Goulburn. 


Last picture, I promise: Ellie wanted me to put this on my blog. It's a potpourri 'amulet' she made (she also made the potpourri, and then ate all the cinnamon bark out of it - kids are hilarious, aren't they?). 

It even counts as upcycled, as the fabric is from an op-shop doona cover. I have actually made several things out of that doona cover. I willl show you next time...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Two little things...

After more than eight or nine years, I had been thinking that it was finally time to make a new oven glove. The previous one was so feral I didn't even like to touch it! Inspired by a recycled grey woollen blanket that my friend Kahli bought on one of our regular op shop visits to make an ottoman from, I thought we could use some of it as a lining for new oven gloves. We both made one at our Thursday night craft group. 

Spoiler alert though, the funky red fabric is not secondhand in any way. I bought it off the internet one night for absolutely no reason other than I thought it was way cool. I rarely do this, and I am still counting it as something new from something old, because the interior blanket, the binding and the backing were all recycled.

Here's the whole view:

The back is some old curtain fabric I found at a garage sale near Goulburn. The navy binding I made using the bias binding maker (How I love that thing!) from some op shop linen fabric. It frayed like nuts when I was sewing it on but is so much nicer than that god-awful polycotton binding you can buy in the shops.

The second little thing is also not really 'recycled', unless you count fabric that somebody else gave you either from their stash or as a gift. I'm counting it, because it's cute and I want to share it with you! 

It's an iPad cover I made for my Mum's birthday. Funnily enough, two of the fabrics were originally hers :) The third fabric was a gift from my Tai Chi teacher. I added some velvet ribbon from my box of random ribbon offcuts to tie it up.If I'd thought about it beforehand I'd have sewn the ribbon into the seam, but I didn't, of course, so it's just hand-sewn on afterwards. Hopefully it lasts for a while.


It's a very simple bag pattern from a little book of bags that I have. It's called a messenger bag and is meant to have a handle, but I didn't think it really needed one. There's one layer of quilt wadding inside to provide some cushioning. Happy birthday Mum!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Baby Charlotte's change mat

A new baby in town is a reasonably rare event, given the population of about 101. Oddly enough, three baby girls were born within a few weeks of each other a month or so ago. One of them is Charlotte, who lives just over the back laneway from us. 

I had some fun putting together a bunch of pink remains (that sounds gruesome!) - perhaps I mean pink leftovers - to whip up a quick change mat for Charlotte. Given Ellie's complete abhorrence for anything pink, all the bits I had collected to make girly things for her had basically remained unused. 

It's a bit of a conglomeration - in there are pillowcases and offcuts from the op shop, part of a fat quarter from one of my sewing friends, and a few bits that I did actually buy new, many moons ago. 

The binding was put together from a whole load of strips cut from scraps, I took little note of colour and just chucked it all together. Looked a bit ordinary as a pile of strips, but came out fine as a thin binding. The little tiny green section at the bottom, in between the two brownish sections, is a couple of the last remaining inches of my Nana's leftover dressmaking fabric from the 80's. She used to get most of her dresses made by a local lady in Holbrook. 

 The inside layer is an old towel for soaking up all those sticky baby drools pee and god knows what else. The backing is a bit of black flannel from the op shop in Yass, so it can be put on any surface and dirt won't be too obvious!

Charlotte's mum was very happy to receive the change mat. Best of all she said it might inspire her to take up sewing or something else crafty - I hope she does!