What I wore on my summer holiday

We’ve just returned home from a lovely holiday in Majorca.  We stayed in Puerto Pollensa, which is a beautiful place – lots to explore, nice sandy beaches, plenty of yummy restaurants.

I made a little resolution to myself that I’d take at least enough handmade items to wear one for each day we were on holiday.  And I did it!  I even took more than enough with me, but I didn’t get round to wearing it all.  Still, I’m mightily impressed that I have enough to get me through an entire week!

Day one – refashioned denim shorts.

Day two – Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top and Jennifer Lauren Vintage Cressida skirt.

Day three – Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt and the Lauren Guthrie Simple Sleeveless Top (from Learn to Sew with Lauren).

Day four – Sew Over It Silk Cami and refashioned denim shorts (again).

Day five – Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top (again).

Day six – Caroline Fairbanks-Critchfield Quilting Bee dress.

Day seven – Tilly and the Buttons Delphine skirt.

Pool days – Espadrilles.

And not to leave out the nights – Tilly and the Buttons Margot PJs.

There’s a couple of tops in that list that I haven’t blogged about yet.  I finished the Simple Sleeveless Top shortly before we went away, and I only finished my Agnes top the night before  🙂  I’ll blog about those very soon.

We had a lovely holiday, but it was a bit of a shock coming home to British autumnal weather – brrrrrr, it’s so cold!  Time for some winter makes.  Luckily, I got a head start with this while I was away.  I took a knitting project with me, a jumper, and I never missed an opportunity to squeeze in a few lines, regardless of location!

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Espadrilles!

I made some shoes!  That’s right, guys – you can make your own shoes!  And what’s even better is they won’t cost you very much at all.  😀  I got my Prym soles from Guthrie and Ghani – I’m pleasantly surprised by how comfortable they are.  And look – they have cute little bobbins on the soles 🙂  You’ll need a fat quarter of fabric (yes, you can make these on a fat quarter!).  I used a fat quarter I got free with an issue of Love Sewing magazine.  Then, you’ll need a fat quarter of lining fabric and interfacing, co-ordinating thread, and also some extra strong thread or cord to hand stitch your upper shoe to your sole.  It cost me less than £15 to put these together!

The pattern is included with the soles – there’s no seam allowance, so remember to add that on before you cut anything out!  The pattern is certainly hackable – if you put ‘DIY espadrilles’ into Pinterest you’ll find loads of ideas.  So many possibilities 🙂

All the instructions you need are online.  For the most part, they were surprisingly easy to make.  The challenging part was getting the upper pieces to fit onto the sole.  I only used a few hundred pins, as you can see!  Also, there’s a wiggly line on the pattern labelled ‘ease’, but given how much excess fabric I had at toe I took that to mean gather, which seems to have worked out alright.

They look okay, I think, but if I make another pair I will do a couple of things differently.  Firstly, the upper shoe feels a bit floppy.  Next time, I’ll use a stiffer interfacing, or sturdier fabrics, or both.  I don’t think these ones will last too long. However, I can see that they would last quite well if you used the right fabric.  I suppose that even if the uppers don’t last too long, I could always re-use the soles for another pair if they still have plenty of life in them.  Secondly, they’re a tiny bit too big for me 😦  I think this could be rectified by making my blanket stitching a couple of millimetres deeper all the way around the shoe.  Thirdly, I would make my thread thicker for my blanket stitch.  I did double up my thread, but I think this is supposed to be a ‘feature’ of the shoes and I don’t think it’s quite visible enough on these.  I would probably use three or four strands next time.  I’m debating whether to do these last two things for this pair or whether to put up with them as they are.  Having said all that, the aim was to have a pair of espadrilles to use on my holiday later this year – they will be fine for that, and it was all good practice for another pair!  I think I’ll be more ambitious and try wedges next…

Re-loved shopping

Last week Rachael and I took an entire afternoon off work to scour the vintage and charity shops of Durham to see what we could find.

The rules were very simple.

  1. We were only allowed to visit vintage and charity shops (with the exception of the obligatory coffee and cake stop, obviously).
  2. We had a budget of £50 for the entire day.
  3. With our new sewing skills in mind, each of us had to buy at least one thing that we could customise/re-fashion in some way.

We succeeded on all three counts, spending less than £25 each.  So, what did we get?  Well, I won’t share everything because we both ended up getting quite a bit, but I will tell you what we plan to re-fashion.  I got this black and white wool-look skirt, which is my size, but is a really unflattering length on me and my little legs (it falls just below mid-shin – not a good look for my barely-taller-than-five-feet self).  However, I really like the fabric and the pleat detail on the front, so I decided I’d buy it and take off some of the length.  Plus, it only cost me 50 pence!  50 pence + a bit of black thread + a little bit of my time = one absolutely bargainous skirt.  Rachael got a grey jumper because it was so soft (like, seriously, the softest jumper known to man).  We think this jumper started out as menswear, but Rachael happens to quite like the fit of it and has plans to add some sort of lace embellishment.

Let me share my favourite purchases with you too – a green dress and some green shoes.  Obviously I liked green last week.  What am I saying?  I always like green.  I don’t know where this dress came from (I don’t recognise the name on the label), but I love it!  I love that it’s got a bit of a 20s-60s fusion thing going on.  It’s really just a fitted shift dress, I suppose, but the beads give it a flapper feel.  Ah, it’s just beautiful!  I’m so looking forward to wearing it – a steal at £7.  I’ve already worn my new brogues 🙂  I’ve worn them a lot.  I couldn’t believe my luck when I spotted them. They weren’t even on the shelf yet, they were just being unpacked.  “I’ll have those too, please!”  They must have been only worn once or twice (possibly never!) – even the creases you can see in these pictures weren’t there until after I’d already worn them.  They are a Clark’s creation and only set me back £4.50.  They’re possibly the catch of the day, actually.

Following on from our shopping trip, I went to Barnard Castle over the weekend and found another skirt that I hope to re-fashion.  This one is pretty much a full on kilt, with a wraparound design on the front and heavily pleated on the back.  I was originally drawn to this because of the colour – green (what a shocker).  However, it’s quite a bit too big for me, and as with the other skirt I got, the length won’t work on me.  In the end I bought it, simply because the fabric is very decent.  It’s 100% wool and it also has these leather buckles on it, which I’m hoping to re-purpose as well.  I’m going to have a go at giving this skirt a complete.  I’m going to attempt to get the waistband off and get the pleats out with a wash and some serious pressing (I’m hoping they’ll come out with enough effort), and then essentially start from scratch, treating it as a brand new piece of fabric.  I’ll try to incorporate the buckles and wraparound feature, but I don’t know what I’ll end up with.  How adventurous of me! I’ll let you know what I end up doing 😀

I think I’ve picked up some right gems that can now be loved for that little while longer – by me!  I’ll definitely be doing this again at some point – there are so many clothes that have life in them yet.

Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes

I can’t believe I forgot to mention this in my last post! At the end of September, we went to the Festival of Thrift in Darlington. What a lovely day out! This was the second Festival of Thrift, with over 40,000 people visiting this year. It’s a giant gathering of thrifty crafters and artists, making all sorts of things — jewellery, clothes, furniture, yummy foods. There were loads of stalls selling loads of lovely things. We even managed to get a couple of Christmas presents.

As well as buying pretty stuff, you can try your hand at different things by attending workshops or drop-in sessions. The highlight of the day for me was the Pimp Your Pumps workshop, ran by the lovely Charlotte Liddle. We were asked to bring a pair of ballet pumps along with us to ‘pimp’ with ribbon and netting and beads and lace — all those wonderful things — to get an entirely different look.

Aren’t they pretty?  “You can do anything but lay off of my blue suede shoes.”  I will definitely try this again and have purchased Charlotte’s Pimp Your Pumps book! Charlotte has written a few books now and they all look great — they’re all available in Amazon. You can find Charlotte on Facebook and Twitter if you’d like to follow her. Or, if you live in the North East, you could book onto one of her workshops yourself!