DIY Denim Shorts

In my fabric stash post, I mentioned that I’d like to make a pair of shorts out of some leftover denim.  Well, during a small wardrobe clear out the other week, I found a pair of knee length denim shorts I had completely forgotten I owned.  And why make a whole new pair when you can hack a pair you already have to pieces?  These were an ‘emergency’ pair of shorts I bought while I was in Florida a couple of years ago.  I realised I’d only taken skirts and dresses with me – not the most practical (or dignified!) of garments for riding roller coasters.  So, I picked them up in Walmart for a few dollars and promptly forgot about them when I got home.  It was mid-January by the time we got back to the UK, so they weren’t going to see the light of day for a long time!  I forgot to get a before shot of these, but I managed to unearth a photo from our time in Florida.  Here’s what I came up with!  😀

I’m really pleased with how they turned out!  I’m sure these were much quicker and far more successful than if I’d made a pair of shorts from scratch.   After all, shorts are just trousers with little legs and I still haven’t quite recovered from my first trouser-making experience.  I’ve given a new lease of life to an unloved garment.  It’s a nice feeling 🙂  I’m really getting into this refashioning thing.  I have a lovely pair of shorts to take on holiday with me and all I had to do was buy a bit of lace trim (which came from my local craft shop, Dainty Supplies).  I think they might look pretty good with my Silk Cami.  Plus, I can now use my leftover denim for another project – a skirt, probably.

How did I do it?  I drew a line across the front of one leg at the length I wanted them to be with chalk.  I did this in front of a mirror while I was wearing them to get a better idea of where the leg would end.  I laid them as flat as possible and chopped along the line through both sides of that leg at once.  After that, I folded the shorts in half and used the already cut leg as a guide for the other.  I wasn’t being particularly precise!  I then did a line of stitching about a centimetre up from the bottom on each leg.  I was always planning to fray the bottoms, but I wanted to try to prevent the fraying from creeping further and further up the leg.  It may or may not work.  I pinned and sewed my lace along that line.  I used zigzag stitch along the long strip at the bottom of the lace, but hand stitched the rest of it – I don’t think I would have been able to machine stitch it without the stitching being visible and messy.  Then came one of the trickiest parts – fraying the denim.  I thought this would be quite easy, but it actually took me a while to figure out a technique that worked for me, and it basically involved doing very dangerous things with scissors!  I really should have looked it up first.  I ended up with a few small cuts, so I really wouldn’t recommend my on-the-fly method.  Anyway, it all worked out in the end 🙂

Sew Over It Silk Cami

When I was raking through my fabric stash last weekend, it occurred to me that I’ve never made a top.  So I fished out all of my top patterns and suitable fabrics and eventually landed on the lovely Sew Over It Silk Cami.

I love my new top!  I will probably wear it tucked into skirts more than I will wear it ‘out’ like this, but I’ll definitely get a lot of use out of it.  😀

It was really easy to construct, with only four pattern pieces and no darts, buttons or zips.  Plus, I learned two very exciting new techniques whilst making this top.  Firstly, I learned how to sew an all on one neckline and armhole facing.  This was magical!  I couldn’t believe it actually worked.  I watched the Sew Over It YouTube video tutorial – brilliantly helpful.  You end up with lovely straps with all your messy seams tucked nicely on the inside of your top.  It’s my new favourite technique – I’ll definitely use this for any other sleeveless garments I make.  It’s incredible!

Secondly, since I was using a slippery, flimsy fabric, I plucked up the courage to try out my rolled hem foot.  I used all the scraps I had to practice on, making sure I tried it on some curves as well as straight edges.  It worked!  I have a couple of wobbly bits (on the back, thankfully), but I think it looks just as neat as if I’d hemmed it another way.

While we’re talking about the fabric, I can’t stress strongly enough how much of a challenge the fabric was.  I do not care for slippery fabrics at all.  This fabric objected to everything!  I almost gave up at the cutting stage, to be honest.  I would get it laid out exactly flat, and then somebody would breathe and it would move.  I’d lie it flat again and by the time I’d go to lay my pattern piece down it would have moved – again!  It didn’t like being cut or pressed or pinned (so I decided not to use French seams as the pattern suggests, just to make my life easier).  Honestly, the only stressful part of this project was the fabric.  And I have some of this stuff in purple – it might take me a while to pluck up the courage to make something with that. I wonder if this top would work in a lawn or something?

I got this lovely (to look at!), floaty, emerald green stuff from Simply Fabrics in Wallsend.  It is pretty much emerald green, I would say, but the colour hasn’t come out very well on a lot of the photos.  I don’t actually know what fabric it is.  It’s a sort of mottled design of emerald and slightly lighter shades of green.  It was one of the bargain bin fabrics I picked up a while back – I think it only cost me a pound!  Practically a giveaway.  I ended up with just shy of a metre, which turned out to be just enough for the Silk Cami pattern.  I did have to split my back piece in half (instead of cutting on the fold) and add a back seam in order to get all of my pattern pieces cut, which is a shame.  The back seam went a bit rippled because my sewing machine didn’t get along with the fabric as well as I’d have liked.  However, this is the first time I’ve made it and it and it’s a very wearable toile 🙂  It will be lovely and light for my holiday later this year.

By the way, these photos were taken on an extremely windy dog walk, so I apologise for my appearance.  I’m just thankful I got a few snaps that didn’t look quite as bad as this!

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Sailor-style jeans

A while back, one of my colleagues hosted a clothes sale at her house on behalf of her friend.  I came across this pair of sailor-style jeans, originally a Marks and Spencer creation.  They were a size too big for me, but to call them a bargain would be an understatement – they only cost me fifty pence!  So, for fifty pence, I thought I would cope with the being a bit big.  The trouble was I couldn’t cope with them being a bit big because they just didn’t sit right. After a quick look at how hard it would be to take them in a bit (quite tricky, it turned out!), I chucked them to the back of the wardrobe and forgot about them.  They resurfaced the other week and I decided I would finally sort them out.

I took them to my sewing bee and asked Dan what the best way to fix them would be.  A bit of um-ing and ah-ingand pinning later, we decided it was best to just take a wedge out of the back seam.  An hour and a half later and ta-da!  A wearable pair of trousers 😀

I forgot to get a before shot, sorry.

In the end, this wasn’t actually all that difficult.  Most of the time was used on unpicking the waistband (just at the back) and its facing.  Once I got to sewing it all back together again it was very quick.  And for fifty pence (and an hour or two of my time) I really can’t complain!

I’m still not entirely convinced this wide leg style is very flattering on me, but I’m going to wear them for a while and see how I warm to them.  I don’t really wear any trousers that aren’t skinny jeans, so I might just need some time to adjust.  Plus, I really love vintage-style, billowing trousers!

Between Delphine, Madeleine and these, I seem to be creating a rather nautical wardrobe!