The Big Stitch

This July the British Heart Foundation have been running a competition called The Big Stitch to encourage people to upcycle a garment purchased in store and give it a new lease of life, along with supporting the work the charity do.



So many of the clothes we buy end up in landfill so I am always happy to upcycle something where possible, although I don’t do it enough. Charity shops tend to have a bad reputation for racks of terrible, hideous clothes but in recent years, with the rise in awareness of the impact of fast fashion, it has become a lot more acceptable to shop in them and the garments stocked are much more wearable (a lot less 80s prom dresses!). For us sewists it is a great source of fabrics for very little money – where else can you buy a XXL mens suit which would have enough fabric to make a well fitting ladies suit for less than a tenner?! For anybody who wants to have a go at upcycling, Portia Lawrie has just announced this years theme for the Refashioners

I went to my local BHF shop with no plan on what I hoped to find. Our store is quite small, and as expected there were a few hideous pieces that I knew I would not be able to rescue, but I found a viscose maxi dress that originally came from New Look for just £4.99. I loved the paisley style print and the colours work well with other items in my wardrobe so I knew I could definitely make a useful piece.



I met up with Rudy from Roodles Runique and a few of her work colleagues who also sew to work on our projects together (check out Rudy’s make here). I decided that I didn’t want to make anything too complicated or that had too many pieces to cut as I only had about a metre of fabric to work with so I settled on another Ogden cami from True Bias – you know how much I love this pattern! I was just able to squeeze the pieces on, although I wasn’t able to properly pattern match as the dress wasn’t to begin with, although I tried a bit! I had hardly any scraps left over by the end of the evening, so this was a low waste make.

I made the whole thing in 3 hours, including a pizza break! I hadn’t properly sat and worked solidly on a project for ages so it was really nice to leave with something wearable! I do need to take it in a little bit at the side seams as it seems a bit too roomy and floaty but it is still wearable in it’s current state.



I’ve seen a few other Big Stitch upcycles on instagram already but the competition closes at midnight tomorrow (31st July 2017) so if you want to take part make it snappy!



July sewing plans

Another month, a late post… Better late than never! I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by a lot of things recently and my sewing room has been a little neglected as a result. For that reason, I only have 4 goals for July:

  • Make Simplicity 1696. This was actually one of my goals for June but I just did not get round to making them. This pattern is one of my #2017makenine pattern picks, and I had planned on making them for work but then the dress code changed. I still want to make some because I’d love trousers that actually fit…
  • Make a lightweight hoodie. I found a free pattern online but I wasn’t happy with it so I ordered something from Kwik Sew (maybe there’s a velour Juicy Couture tracksuit on the horizon…)
  • Finish some pattern testing. I’ve had this cut out for weeks but it’s fallen by the wayside as the whole test experience has been a bit strange (more on that another time).
  • Join in with #thebigstitch. The British Heart Foundation are running an upcycling competition to encourage people to use their creative skills to raise money for the charity. I’ve already bought something to refashion!

June in review

I did refashion a dress in to a top and I have managed to catch up on a few blog posts but I didn’t get a chance to do anything else on my list! I did do an alteration on a prom dress for a colleague of my mums and I was really pleased with how it turned out. It was really nice to work on something for someone else and I enjoyed working on something a bit more formal than the things I make for me!

A Burda ‘Pete’ tee

I made Hayden a t-shirt! And it fits! And he likes it! Success!!!

IMG_9959 (2)

I picked up this beautifully soft, perfectly medium weight green jersey in Paris last November when I was there with my mum. It was in a tub outside one of Montmartre’s coupon shops (sorry, I can’t remember which one!) priced at just €5 for 3 metres and I knew I had to snap it up! I have split the piece with my mum but it really is the most perfect jersey. The back feels like it is slightly brushed so it’s lovely and soft. It’s not as thick as ponte but it is thicker than regular jersey. Colour wise, it seems to vary depending on the light – sometimes khaki, sometimes a rich forest green. Basically I want more – I guess I’ll just have to go back to Paris…

I ordered a pdf pattern from Burda for the first time to make this for Hayden and I have to admit, I wasn’t very impressed. I had spent some time searching online in the hope of finding a good freebie and had read on some blogs that the Pete t-shirt from Burda was a freebie. Unfortunately, the posts were a few years old, and Pete currently retails at £3.99/$5.03. The pattern is a classic crew neck slim t-shirt and it looked like it would be perfect for Hayden who is tall and skinny. However, when I had placed my order and tried to download my pattern, the website stated that the file is not present to be downloaded. Disaster. I contacted Burda to let them know and they kindly emailed me the pattern – they actually sent me the original draft file for the pattern! You can see all the handwritten notes on the pattern. It was actually really cool to see how a Big 4 IMG_9976pattern looks before it is digitised for sale. The biggest issue with this is that this version came with no instructions or neckband piece. Thankfully, having made a few t-shirts and sweatshirts previously I was confident I could assemble the pattern without guidance. I had to draft my own neckband though – I measured the neck opening on the body pieces and then took 2″ off that measurement, and it fits perfectly.

I made no adjustments to this at all and made a straight size small, sewing it together entirely on my overlocker. I was most pleased about the fit across the top of the shoulders; Hayden is quite broad-shouldered for someone so slim and the shoulder seam sides exactly on the shoulder point. However there seems to be a lot of excess fabric around the back of the arm so I want to look at this again before I make another. Looking at the image on the Burda Style site it looks like this is a problem with the pattern. Has anyone else made this and found a solution to the excess? I finished the neckband, choseIMG_9978 (2) not to overlock the hem and sleeve edge before I finished them using a regular stretch twin needle (although I snapped one because I got distracted by seahorses on iPlayer and then to avoid having to order a new one I asked Hayden to go to John Lewis on his way home from work, only to discover they only sell the 4mm version and ended up having to order some from ebay anyway). I ordered a spare one for the next time I get distracted by cute animals…

I’m hoping to find a really good deep inky blue jersey to make another version of this t-shirt. It’s a really easy sew and can probably be done in less than 2 hours. I definitely plan on making more!

(Photos taken in Shanghai in April – we got a few funny looks!)


New Look 6843 – 3 ways

Confession time! This post has been sat in draft since March… (I know I know) I’ve been rescheduling this for ages because I thought I had lost ALL of the photos for this post, but I luckily found them earlier this week!

This pattern was one of my #2017makenine picks at the start of the year, and I’ve made 3 so far! These were part of my sewing plans for February but it took a while to photograph them all!

My first version is in this royal blue gingham cotton I picked up on sale from John Lewis for just £2.50 a metre! I had a fair few fitting issues at first – I made my normal adjustments based on measurements but there is definitely a lot of ease in this pattern and it was laughably big! I keep making things too large – must learn to trust the finished measurements! I made view E with the wide neck and no sleeves. This version has an all-in-one facing so the armhole seams are all neatly enclosed. The gingham doesn’t really need to be ironed (woo!) but because it’s the 5mm size squares, it doesn’t look too kitsch so I’ve been wearing this with jeans or for work. I have found that this version feels a little large around the back and I definitely need to take another look at the sway back adjustment I made, so I want to experiment with a slight narrow back adjustment in future. I did try to pattern match the check a little bit but it’s not perfect, but it’s only noticeable if you’re looking for it.

My next is this gorgeous red patterned viscose I ordered from Minerva Crafts, a steal at £4.99 a metre. It’s a really lovely quality but the length I received was printed off-grain. Thankfully it was only a bit wonky so I decided to risk it and cut with the pattern rather than with the grain. Luckily there doesn’t seem to be any twisting so I think I got away with it! I also didn’t try to pattern match though and cut so that it was close enough. It’s a repeat pattern but I think because of all of the different colours in the print it helps disguise any wonky bits. This was also view A and I love wearing it. There is a purple version of the fabric that, having looked at it again when trying to link this post, I actually really like!

My final version is this beautiful freesia viscose print that I ordered from Sewn Bristol. I’d seen it online a few times but when I saw on instagram that Amy from Almond Rock had bought some and confirmed it really was as beautiful in reality, I cracked and tried to order some. I can’t fault the service from Sewn Bristol – when I tried to order their site said they were out of stock, so I contacted them via instagram and they very kindly updated their stock figure so I could place my order. It came really fast and it is gorgeous. For this version I combined view D with the sleeves from view A, but I also adapted the sleeves using the petal sleeve hack I used here to really enhance how pretty and feminine the print is. It’s not too lightweight but it drapes really nicely. This version, however, just has a regular facing and I had real trouble keeping it flat inside the neckline. I tried top-stitching and tacking it down but it still flaps up a bit. It’s not as bad now it’s been washed and pressed a few times though! Someone at worked complimented me on this version a little while ago and was astounded that I had made it – that’s always such a nice compliment!

New Look 6483, apart from being a bit roomy, is a nice staple shell top pattern. I will definitely be making a few more this year!