I love a good refashion.  I love the idea of taking something unloved and turning it into something wearable again.  So when I heard about the Big Stitch campaign from the British Heart Foundation, I hopped straight on the makers’ train!

The Big Stitch is an awareness campaign, encouraging crafters to create unique additions to their wardrobes using items purchased in British Heart Foundation Shops.  A bit of fun for a great cause.  Here’s what I came up with.

I’ve said it before, but for me, refashioning isn’t about creating jaw-dropping pieces – it’s about making something you will wear.  What is the point in spending all that time and effort making something if you don’t intend to wear it?  So, after much deliberation, I decided to make myself a neutral top.  It’s the most grown up thing I’ve made in a long while.

The fabric
My starting point was two men’s shirts – one being 100% cotton and the other a cotton linen blend.  They both had a similar texture and drape though, which is what I was after.  I used the black check shirt for the bodice and the plain black for the collar and facings.

The pattern
I used my very first Seamwork pattern.  I have been a subscriber to Seamwork for ages, but rather shamefully, haven’t made anything until this.  It’s the Addison top.  It was a very easy pattern to follow, but I still got to try out a couple of new techniques.

  1. I have never sewn a v-neck before.  Now, if I’m being totally honest, I found this part to be really fiddly and difficult.  However, I confess to not having done any research into the ins and outs of v-necks before sewing – I just jumped in.  Next time, I will most definitely look into it in more detail because I must have been doing something wrong.  It’s still a bit funky and I’m not 100% happy with it, but it’s hidden by the bow so I’m not getting too bent out of shape about it.
  2. The way the facings and side seams come together is really interesting and completely new to me.  It’s hard to explain how it’s done, but I’m wondering whether it’s the ‘burrito’ method I’ve heard about?  Whatever it was, it worked!

I did the pussy bow hack provided by Seamwork as an members’ extra.  I thought it would make the most of a contrast collar and waste less fabric.  Although the pattern doesn’t have a button band, my shirt did, so I kept it for a bit more interest.  It is sewn closed at the top so it is a purely decorative feature.  I switched out the boring shirt buttons for prettier ones from my stash (which were rescued from a holey cardigan).  I also reused the hems on the shirt as a time saver, so the shape of my Addison is slightly different to that of the pattern.

I love this top, and I really like the fit.  However, if I had traced and cut my pattern according to the body measurements, as suggested, it would have been huge.  I ended up going two sizes down, after looking at the finished garment measurements and realising that there is rather a lot of ease involved.  I would definitely advise a look at the finished garment measurements before you trace or cut – decide how much ease you’d like and go with your gut.

The cost
The shirts were £7.50 (for both) and the pattern set me back one of my Seamwork credits, which we’ll call £3.  I already had everything else I needed.  That’s a grand total of £10.50.


My #therefashioners2016 project is finally finished 🙂 To tell you the truth, I finished it weeks ago – it’s just been waiting for its hem.  When I tried to hem it the first time my machine had a strop, so I threw it to one side for a while.

For those of you who don’t know, the Refashioners is the brainchild of Portia Lawrie from the Makery.  Each year, Portia chooses a garment and encourages the sewing community to transform said garment into something else.  Last year it was a button down shirt, and this year it’s the turn of jeans.

My ’70s style, paneled mini is by far the most boring transformation I’ve seen this year, but I knew I would wear it, and for me that’s the whole point of refashioning.  What’s the point in making something so crazy you’ll never wear it?  Anyway, even though it isn’t the most exciting refashion you’ll see, there was one thing about it that I found very exciting – flat felled seams.  I’ve never done them before, and I don’t think I’ve had a bad first go at it!  There are a couple of wobbly bits, but not so wobbly that I felt the need to unpick.  I’ve paired it up here with my dachshund Agnes top.

The fabric: cut from a pair of size 16 jeans found in a charity shop.

The pattern: the paneled skirt from the Simple Sew Chelsea collection, which came free with Love Sewing magazine a couple of months ago.  I don’t think it’s available to buy separately yet.

Modifications: my jeans weren’t wide enough to cut the back panel in one piece, so I ended up adding seam allowance and cutting two, giving me a centre back seam and an extra panel.  As I mentioned before, I had trouble with the hem – my sewing machine could not cope with a double turned hem on such thick denim, especially where the flat felled seams were involved.  In the end, I just overlocked the bottom and did a single turned hem.  Even that wasn’t good enough for me sewing machine – I have a couple of skipped stitches and it was making some truly horrendous noises.  I’m actually quite worried that I won’t be able to make jeans on my machine…

The cost: the jeans were £2.50 and I spent a couple of quid on some topstitching thread.  The buttons were from my stash.  With the cost of the magazine the pattern came with, I’d say about £10.

Thanks so much to Portia for hosting this again – I can’t wait for next year.

#OWOP16 – Bettine no. 5

I’m combining stash busting with re-fashioning with Bettine number five 🙂

The fabric: I used leftover dachshund jersey from my Agnes top  for the bodice.  I won this fabric in a giveaway hosted by So, Zo… and Girl Charlee UK.  I still love it, it’s so soft and comfy.  I paired it up with fabric from a beautiful, coral corduroy skirt I found in a charity shop.  Always look out for fabrics you like in charity shops even if whatever it is won’t fit you – this skirt was far too big for me, but it had masses of fabric so I knew I’d be able to hack it apart and make something else.

Modifications: yep, a few.  Again, I made all the relevant changes for working with jersey outlined in Tilly’s blog post for the bodice.  The corduroy skirt was panelled, so I ended up having to panel mine.  I have two front pieces and two back pieces, and centre from and centre back seams.  It’s really easy to make your skirt this way – just add seam allowances where the fold lines are on the pattern pieces and cut two front and back pieces, instead of one front and back piece on the fold.  I hope that makes sense.  Once they’re sewn together, you can treat them in exactly the same way you ordinarily would.  The other change I made was to make ‘pocket bags’ because I didn’t have quite enough fabric to get full pockets.  As a result I have half corduroy pockets and half cotton pockets.  Again, to do this, I just split my pockets in half and added seam allowances to each piece.

The pattern: trusty Bettine.

The cost:  I already had everything I needed except the skirt, which cost £3.  Bargain or what?!

#OWOP16 – Bettine no. 3

After making two Bettine’s exactly as the pattern suggests I decided it was time for a bit of experimenting – this one is half jersey and half denim.  Not only that, but I’ve done some stash busting too, making this a really cheap sew.

The fabric: leftovers from other projects.  I got the striped jersey from Plush Addict ages ago and it was leftover from my Coco dress, and the lightweight denim was rescued from a disastrous (I mean, disastrous) attempt at a jumpsuit.  I had enough denim left for the front skirt piece, but I had to cut two pieces for the back from the trousers of the jumpsuit.  This means I’ve got a centre back seam, but that’s okay.  I used more fabric from the jumpsuit for contrast cuffs, pocket linings and facings.  How very frugal of me!  It was a bit challenging making the stretchy jersey and denim go together nicely, but with a bit of gentle persuasion I managed it.

The pattern: Tilly and the ButtonsBettine dress.

Modifications: yes, a few.  Tilly outlines various changes you should make when making Bettine from jersey in this blog post.  I followed her instructions for the top half of the dress – for me, it really only meant I had to swap out the neckline facing for a neckband.  I didn’t actually follow some of the usual rules for sewing with jersey, such as using zigzag stitch, because the garment isn’t form fitting and doesn’t need to stretch while you’re wearing it, so I didn’t think it would matter.  It seems to be okay so far – hopefully I won’t live to regret it.

The cost: I was tempted to label this a free project, because the chances of me rescuing the denim from that ghastly jumpsuit were very slim.  However, I did probably use about a metre of denim (maybe slightly more), so I will include that.  It was this denim – £7 per metre from Fabric Time.  I already had everything else though, so it really did only cost me £7.

By the way, I completely forgot to take any photos to document the epic disaster that was the jumpsuit (this jumpsuit), which I’m really angry at myself about.  It’s a lovely pattern, but there were two problems.  Firstly, an incident with my overlocker meant that I put an enormous hole in one of the trouser legs.  I could have cried real tears, let me tell you, but I decided to persevere and try to make a wearable toile, shortening the legs to get rid of the hole and have a shorts-style play suit instead.  However, it didn’t take long for problem number two to become apparent.  To say I had crotch issues would be the understatement of the century.  I’m short, so I would always expect skirts to come up a little long and crotches to sit a little low.  A little low.  However, this particular crotch was sagging about three quarters of the way down my thighs.  I’m not kidding – it was ridiculous.  I do really like it, so I’ll be giving it another go at some point (this time I’ll toile it properly!) and report back.  You live and learn, don’t you?

Silk Cami hack

One of the many great things about sewing is that when your friends are having a clear out they often ask whether you want anything for refashioning purposes before heading to the charity shop.  That’s how this dress came to be.  A friend of mine gave me some clothes to look through and I came across an Aztec print maxi dress.  I’m too short for maxi dresses, as a general rule, but the gathered skirt had masses of fabric and I liked the print, so I knew I’d be able to make something out of it 🙂  It took a while to decide what I wanted to make – the fabric has quite a lot of drape so I knew it couldn’t be anything too structured.  Then, as I was packing for my holiday a few weeks ago I had that ‘Eureka!’ moment.  I wanted a simple shift/cami style dress to take away with me.

What do you think?  Pretty good, no?  It was nice and light for my holiday, but because it has black in the print I can wear it with black tights for work.  I’ve decided it’s still a tad too long though, so I’m going to take it up before I wear it again.  Serves me right for trying to be lazy and reusing the hem the first time around.

The pattern: a hack of the Sew Over It Silk Cami.  I love this pattern – there’s a front, a back and the facing, and that’s it.  It’s so easy and comes together really quickly.  Plus, I got to use the all in one armhole and neckline facing trick from the Sew Over It YouTube channel, which is possibly my favourite technique I’ve learned so far.

Modifications: just lengthening the pattern.  I didn’t even need to change the shape because the top is designed to be loose fitting at the hip anyway – I just continued in pretty much a straight line until it was the length I wanted.  Oh, and because I reused the hem it’s just straight at the bottom, whereas the original pattern has a curved hem.

The cost: I donated £10 to Mind, which was the charity my friend was choosing to give her clothes to.  I got three items though, so let’s say this cost me £3.33.  Can’t argue with that 🙂

It’s got me nicely in the mood for Portia Lawrie’s the Refashioners 2016!  Anyone else taking part?

Refashioned Agnes Top

A few weeks ago, my husband was sorting through some of his clothes.  My eager eye spotted a striped blue t-shirt destined for the charity bag.  It was barely worn – Anthony got it a couple of years ago and simply didn’t like the fit of it – so I snaffled the nearly new top away to refashion later on.  And here’s what I came up with!

Not bad, eh?  A nice Breton top that I can wear casually with jeans (as above) or tucked in to skirts if I want to jazz it up a bit more 🙂  More importantly, I’ve given a new lease of life to an unwanted item 🙂  This was a men’s ‘slim fit’ size large before I got my hands on it.  I had enough fabric for all the pattern pieces except the neckline binding, so I grabbed another white t-shift from the aforementioned charity pile and cut it from that instead (and I’ve added the rest of that white jersey to my stash, as I’m sure it will come in useful).

The pattern: Tilly and the Buttons’ Agnes.  I’ve made this before and loved it, and I love this one too 🙂  I haven’t got enough praise for this pattern!  It comes together so easily and it’s a wardrobe staple, isn’t it?  Everyone needs some simple jersey tops.  I made the fully plain version, no ruffles or anything – it might take a little longer to sew if you’re adding those bits.

Modifications:  only that I re-used the hems on the sleeves and at the bottom to save even more time.

The cost: 100% free!  I already had the pattern and everything else was refashioned.  Score!  🙂

Me-Made-May Round Up

How amazing was Me-Made-May?  I loved seeing everyone’s makes and I’m more determined than ever to get myself to the me-made everyday stage 🙂

I vowed to wear three me-made or refashioned items per week throughout May, which I decided was 14 or 15 days out of 31.  I’m happy to say I beat my target!  I wore 16 different me-made garments in total, but I did get a second wear out of some of them too, so I think I spent two thirds of May in self-made clothing.  How cool is that?  Here’s a round up from my Instagram.


Clockwise from the top left to the centre, the patterns are: Coco, Darling Ranges Shirt, the Makery Pyjamas (I don’t think the pattern is available to buy, I’m afraid – it came free with a magazine), Agnes and my refashioned sailor jeans, Miette, Silk Cami, hand-knitted socks (gifted to me by a friend), Silk Cami again, refashioned dress, Madeleine, Attic 24 Cosy Stripe blanket, Lauren Guthrie’s Simple Sleeveless Top (from her book, Learn to Sew with Lauren), Vianne, Cressida, refashioned 70s mini, and my Quilting Bee dress.  Phew!

Huge thanks are in order for Zoe over at So, Zo…  for organising Me-Made-May once again!  What I love about it is that there’s absolutely no pressure.  You set your own goal that is attainable for you, whether it’s wearing one handmade garment a week or one every day.  So thank you, Zoe, for making my May much more interesting!  I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did, and I’ll see you there again next year!  🙂

Refashioned 70s Skirt

A few months ago, my friends and I found a vintage 1970s dress in a vintage shop in Sunderland (i’m very sorry, I don’t remember which shop).  It didn’t quite fit me right 😦  So I made (yes, made!) my friend try it.  That fabric – I didn’t want to let it go.  It fitted Rachel perfectly, but we both agreed the fabric was a bit over the top for a maxi dress.  A plan was hatched – Rachel would shorten the dress to just above the knee and I would get the leftovers and attempt to make a skirt.


I didn’t have very much fabric to work with, so it’s a very simple mini (as mini as I’d ever go to be honest), but I think the style works really well with the print.  I actually love it, despite it bordering on indecent 🙂

The pattern: from Fashion with Fabric (from the Great British Sewing Bee).  It’s the lace pencil skirt hacked into an a-line mini.  You take the pencil skirt pattern, shorten it a little and taper out the sides.  It was super quick and easy, so it gets a massive thumbs up from me.  I’ll definitely use it again (but I’ll probably make it a little longer).

Modifications: facing/lining the skirt instead of binding the top.  Basically, I cut out the exact pattern again (a little shorter) to make a lining, sewed them right sides together, turned them out and gave everything a really good press – a lining and facing all in one.  I don;t know whether this is strictly a recommended technique, but it seems to have worked.  Also, the vintage dress had a seam down the back that I had to work with, so I went ahead and inserted my zip in the back seam instead of at the side (and of course, I had to adjust my paper pattern accordingly for cutting my fabric).

The cost: actually, this ended up costing me very little.  Rachel was kind enough to give me the bottom of the dress for free (though it cost her £15).  I had to buy a zip and a small amount of lining fabric – I’d guess that I parted with no more than £5.  Bargain!  😀

So there you go – another unwanted garment rescued.  Sadly, I don’t have a picture of Rachel’s dress, so you’ll have to settle for an outtake from my photos.  It’s hard taking photos when it’s windy.  I think my face says it all…


A belated happy new year to all!  Who starts their resolutions on January 1st anyway?

Did anyone make any sewing-related resolutions this year?  Mine is to keep on top of my repairs/refashions pile.  There is a shelf in my wardrobe full (full) of garments with tiny imperfections – missing buttons, small splits in seams, skirts/trousers to shorten, and so on.  I’ve decided it’s about time I did something about it.  There is nothing wrong with any of these clothes that can’t be fixed.  So last week, I got to work.  I started with some very simple button replacements.

Shamefully, I don’t think this dress has been worn for over a year.  It needed all eleven buttons replacing – I used up the spare button almost as soon as I’d bought it and I think it had lost about three more after that.  Luckily, I got loads of buttons for Christmas 🙂  Including 12 of these wooden red ones, which were perfect.  It probably took me about an hour to replace them.  Aren’t the red buttons so much nicer than the original bronze ones?  It just goes to show how much simple things can change a garment.  I also fixed a corduroy skirt that had simply lost one button (actually, its only button!).  I know – how lazy am I to have put that off for so long?  It took me less than five minutes.  Anyway, two items of clothing have made it back into the ‘wearable’ section of my wardrobe.

As well as working my way through my repair pile, I’ve been trying not to buy new clothes.  This wasn’t a new year’s resolution – it was just something I decided a while back (September-ish).  It came from watching a documentary called the True Cost, which looked at all sorts of aspects of ‘fast fashion’.  Now I won’t go into how horrifying this programme was – you can always watch it yourselves if you want to – but it really made me sit back and think.  I do not need any more clothes and when I do need some I am (in theory) capable of making my own.  I swore off store-bought clothes.  I’ve done a bit of research and there are a few shops I’d still feel comfortable spending my money in, which is lucky for me since I’m unable to make tights or underwear.  And of course, I will still have to buy shoes 🙂  I haven’t bought any new clothes since I saw this documentary.  I’ve bought a couple of things from charity shops and that’s all.  I’ve initiated a make do and mend approach and so far I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything (though I am starting to worry about a severe cardigan shortage – must get knitting!).  Let’s see how long I can keep this up!