spotty dotty kimono scrubs

I fell for some fabric the other day in the shop. The killer blow was finding out that it was the remains of last years stock and “when it’s gone it’s gone”. The fabric is woven cotton with large turquoise dots on it. I’m not sure how it was dyed, but the dots have a crease around them, similar to when you tie pennies in fabric to do tie dying. In fact the whole fabric is slightly creased in a way that’s hard to describe but reminds me ever so slightly of seersucker. It pleases me that it clearly shouldn’t be ironed (because it won’t be). And the circles aren’t solid colour, they’re reminiscent of when you draw on filter paper with felt tip pens and then drop water on to seperate out the dyes. Oh and the dots are slightly irregularly spaced. So all in all, a slightly different fabric. They had another colour way with pinkey red dots but I didn’t like it anywhere near as much.

hmm, think I may have to have words with the photographer

the fabric

I had in my head that I’d make a Scout Tee from Grainline studios and the assistant and I guestimated I needed 1.5m as it was an impulse buy and I didn’t have any details with me. I’ve been a bit on the fence about the scout tee, I’m not sure it’s the kind of thing I’d wear or not, and I’m not sure it’s quite right for my body shape. Then Jen did a tutorial for a Madewell variation that I really want to try, so I decided I’d use the spotty fabric to make a standard scout as a practice.

Of course it’s not that straight forward. I got distracted by Miss P’s tutorial on drafting a kimono t. It wasn’t that I was too stingy to buy a pattern (I may well still buy it to make the madewell variant), it was partly that I wanted to try drafting my own (the tutorial is so clear I was feeling confident) and partly that it meant I didn’t have to print out and stick pattern pieces together, yay.

Cutting out from my self drafted pattern

Cutting out from my self drafted pattern

The instructions for self drafting a t shirt were easy to follow. My only problem was that I’d started my neckline right at the edge of the paper and when I added my seam allowance I had to stick an extra piece of paper on, whoops. I also added a curved hem like in the photo with the tutorial. Then I discovered when cutting out that my 1.5m weren’t quite enough to fit my pieces on so the front got cut slightly shorter and I ended up with a trendy hight low hem.

design restrictions

design restrictions

The top came together really quickly, there are only 4 seams. I french seamed mine, clipping the curves under the arms before enclosing them.

fitting with french seams half done 9i.e. not enclosed yet)

fitting with french seams half done i.e. not enclosed yet)

I finished my neckline with bias binding following this tutorial and did a double folded hem on the sleeves and bottom. My neckline is a little wide, I obviously could’ve done better on that measurement.

new look hospital scrubs anyone?

new look hospital scrubs anyone?

Overall I’m a feel a bit “Meh” about the fit, it’s a bit tent like. I think partly maybe this style is not that great a look for me and also I choose the wrong fabric, the cotton isn’t drapey enough and sticks out a bit. I’m considering nipping it in a little at the waist for a bit more shape. But then again a baggy cotton top might be just the thing if we have a really hot day so I might leave it for now and see how I feel,

baggy back

baggy back

I’m also not sure what to do about the excess fabric at the back.

cool look

cool look

However, with my leather jacket over the top I think it looks really good. So the jury is out.

Party Time

I’ve been busy sewing stuff for Me Made May and now I have a blog backlog. First up, the big reveal, what I made with these.

Well, a certain small girl got invited to a Worst Witch party. And seeing as how she’s into pink and pretty and floral things, there wasn’t an appropriate item in her wardrobe and our fancy dress box is rather short on witchy things.

I was going to find a big black grown up size t shirt to use as fabric, but I came across a slimmer fit one I never wear any more, that was 2nd hand to me in the first place.

First job, to cut off the collar, fold the raw edge in and handstitch into place to create a neat new neckline.

Cutting off the collar

Cutting off the collar

The t shirt had a kind of faced vertical slit which I folded over on itself to make a placket. The bottom looked a bit fudged, but a few button holes and some “vintage” buttons (i.e. from my grandmother in laws stash) later and it looked grand (well, if you didn’t look too closely).

Fudged placket with new button holes and buttons

Fudged placket with new button holes and buttons

Those of you paying attention may wonder where the pink t shirt came in. Well, that was a bit of a red herring, it’s a current t shirt in good state that fits her so I used it to judge the amount I needed to take in the side and under arm seams.



Now I had a really long t shirt top that would be a little baggy on her (always gotta plan for growing room). Next the skirt. I managed to cut 2 squares out of the drapey netting fabric which I didn’t hem (shock horror) and one slightly larger square out of the polyester lining fabric, which I did hem.

Then I did some rough caluclations to work out the approximate radius of the circle I needed for the waist (radius = circumference (in this case twice the t shirt width) divided by two times pi (which I approximated as 6)). I folded the fabric so I could mark the radius on several times, then drew my circle free hand.

The technical bit

The technical bit


Then I overlaid the three squares, each rotated a little, so I got 12 points and sewed them together in the middle around my marked cirle.

Overlapping squares with central circle

Overlapping squares with central circle

Then I cut the centre out and sewed it to the bottom of the t shirt. Actually a sewed it about 4 inches up which means the bottom of the t shirt is inside the top of the skirt hiding my raw edges. Pretty amazingly my sketchy first guess at waistsize came out just right (despite taking in the t shirt further after calculating and not remembering seam allowances). Also pretty amazingly the length came out spot on, nicely long (to allow growing room) but not dragging on the floor.

Then we just needed some accessories. A red scarf of mine to be the sash (tied the same side as on the cover of the book), a badge made by big brother, a hat made rather hastily by me and a broomstick I helped her make from a cardboard tube and some paper. Oh and not forgetting she found out her stripey socks, borrowed a “satchel” and made a cat to go inside it (which is the only way Mildred can get her cat aloft in the first book as it’s too scared to sit on the broomstick).

Mildred Hubble

Mildred Hubble

I also decided to use the occassion as a spur to finish a cape that I started for her over 4 years ago (after her brother was given one). It’s shiney satiney horrid to work with fabric, semicircle, reversible, purple with silver stars and silver ric rack round the neck on one side and silver with purple planet and shooting star and purple rick rac on the other. It is not my finest work and I wasn’t inspired to take photo’s. Appliqueing satin is horrid, even though I interfaced the back. And as I guessed she didn’t want to wear it to the party as in the book the cloaks are all black. I made her wear it on the way though and she’s wore it since and used it as a blanket to cover her babies in their pram and a picnic blanket for them to sit on, so as an item it was well received, just didn’t meet the strict authenticity standards for the costume.

Non Standard Cape

Non Standard Cape – the only photographic evidence

The dress I’m really pleased with though. The dropped waist really suits her. And she wore it the rest of the day after the party and put it on the next day. I was amazed, little miss only pink and flowery will do choosing to wear an all black dress. It has gone in her wardrobe rather than the fancy dress box. I am honoured. And I’m also kicking myself I didn’t bother to add pockets now. (I hate going back and altering things once I’ve finished them).


Ten Minute Sewing Fix

I wore my slow made dress for the first time the other day, pairing it with a jacket that I love but don’t seem to have the occassion/weather to wear often. I liked the combo, but as the day wore on it felt a little hot. I don’t tend to want to bear my upper arms these days like I did when I started the dress (after all, I wasn’t 20 yet back then) and this dress won’t fit over a t shirt (and would look wierd) so I started fantasising about some kind of shruggy bolero-ey garment I could make out of knit fabric, something easy to wear, lightweight, but would cover my upper arms. But where to find the pattern?

Later, when I turned on my computer a new post by Blanca at
Kleine Kleinigkeiten popped up in my reader. She posts lots of fun simple projects and I always intend to use them as an excuse to get my dictionary out and practise my fairly basic and quite rusty German, but usually I just look at the lovely pictures instead. This time she has posted about how to turn a T-shirt into a shrug and it looked just like what I needed. She even gave me a translation of the instructions into English without being asked in the comments (great for a quick sewing start, I’ll have to start practising my German another day), thanks Blanca.

“just cut off the collar, then cut in the middle of the t-shirt straight up, stitch up the open seams so that you create a “tunnel”, insert a rubber band… and you’re done”

Those instructions and the clear diagram on her blog post are all you need, take a look.

I had just the right t shirt in mind. Short sleeved, dark purple, starting to lose it’s zing a little (as t shirts do after a while), free pattern and free fabric, there really was nothing to lose.

It really was very simple. I cut up the middle of the front of the t shirt and cut the collar off. Then I cut off a small triangle each side to lose the right angles, next time I would round it slightly more.

Cut off the collar and cut up the middle of the front (to make it into a cardigan shape)

Cut off the collar and cut up the middle of the front (to make it into a cardigan shape)

I made a deep hem all along my cut edge, turning it over about an inch and then turning the very edge under for neatness. My machine was set up on stretch stitch with a ballpoint needle at the time but you could do this with a normal needle and straight stitch just fine.

cutting of the right angle at the top of the "cardigan front (I'd round the edges a bit more than that next time)

cutting of the right angle at the top of the “cardigan front” (I’d round the edges a bit more than that next time)

Then I threaded some elastic I had lying around through the channel I’d made with a safety pin (I couldn’t quite bring myself to use a rubber band), played around a bit with the amount of elastic needed, then when I was happy, sewed the ends togtether and quikly put a couple of machine stitches in the two front pieces to hold them together (too quickly, I sewed them together slightly twisted, gah). (This step is harder to visualise, basically the “cardigan fronts” get gathered up with the neck to make one super large gathered neckline that pulls the bottom of the t-shirt up to make the bolero shape).

Over my new dress (the chief photographer had already left for work)

Over my new dress (the chief photographer had already left for work)

And voila, one super easy, super quick, really comfy top to stop sunburnt shoulders. I might try a longsleeve version too…

Long lost UFO

Once upon a time, about 20 years ago, a teenage girl liked her friends button up, sleevless, princessline dress and kept borrowing it. So she decided to make one for herself. She bought some green floral fabric, found some little white pearly buttons (that legend has it came from her grandmothers stash) and set to work. But the sewing machine was playing up and chewed up her attempts to finish the seam allowance and there was something wrong with the armhole facings and she needed help getting the hem straight so she put it one side for later.

Eventually the dress got put in a box with some other things and forgotten about. It moved around the country with her several times. It sat there through her university days. It was there lurking in the corner of her house when she got married. It was on top of a set of shelves when she had children. Everyone had forgotten about the dress.

Then one day the woman who had once been a teenager noticed the dress in one of boxes of sewing stuff and decided to try it on. It had a scruffy ragged unfinished hem and the inside was such a mess it didn’t bear thinking about, but miraculously it fit. (This was probably more to bad initial fitting than anything else as in those 20 years she had eaten many bars of chololate and pies and the like and had had two children).

As I found it (not sure why I'm looking so worriedly at next doors roof)

As I found it (not sure why I’m looking so worriedly at next doors roof)

So she spent an evening tidying it up, constantly having to remind herself that it didn’t need to be perfect, just wearable.

Aarghh, raggedy seam finishes (the new seam finishes were about as bad as the old, this fabric resents being finished)

Aarghh, raggedy seam finishes (the new seam finishes were about as bad as the old, this fabric resents being finished)

She let the princess seam out a little around the bust to stop gaping in that area of the button band, took it in a little around the shoulder to stop bagging, let it out a bit again on the shoulder as it was now too tight in the arms, finsihed off some of the seams on the inside, lengthened some of the seams (as her idea of a suitable length had grown over time), steamed the shit out of it, got her husband to pin a hemline, hemmed it, fudged the armhole finishes (differntly as they were at different stages of distress to start with, but the differences are on the inside so hopefully noone will ever know), resolved to NEVER look at the awful finishing on the inside and lo and behold she had a new dress that had only taken approximately 21 years to make.

So I present to you the Grunge/Skater/You Haven’t Changed a Bit Dress….


The finished article – worth the wait?

Pattern lost in the mists of time (but it won’t have been self drafted)
Fabric Feels like a synthetic/cotton mix, twill, a little thicker than the orignal dress that inspired it, lovely and soft, very flowey (is that even a word?), gorgeous shade of green with subtle purple white and orangey-red flowers. Subtly girly with attitude.
Buttons I vaguely remember these were on a card and possibly came from one of my grandmothers. Pearly effect white plastic. I love them. I think they may be why I never threw the dress away so I love them twice.
Fit Wearable – but still a little tight on the armholes.
Make again? Hmm, not sure I’ll still want to be wearing things like this when I’m 60, so maybe not.

The very next day she wore it for the whole day as it was Me Made May and the sun was out. As she no longer wears sleeveless dresses she mended her purple frilly jacket (bought from Zara) at breakfast time to wear with it. They looked good together, but was really sunny and by the end of the day the jacket was a little too hot. However, she has plans for another garment to accessorise it with and thereby sheild her upper arms from the world….

Me Made May 1, Wiksten Tova 0

I have been absolutely loving taking part in Me Made May. I have completely astonished myself by wearing something me made every single day in May so far, I think I’m addicted. And I’ve had compliments on my clothes, so I’ve been telling people about how I’m taking part (which I hope doesn’t sound like showing off, my local friends don’t sew).

I’ve worn my spotty skirt, my birdy skirt, fixed and worn my swirly skirt and made and worn two coco’s (although I’ve only blogged the first one due a) not having a decent picture of the second one (not that that stopped me the first time around) and b) it not being as interesting).

Actually I’m a little disappointed in the first coco, despite the fabric being pre washed and being just fine, the first time I washed the garment the fabric has pilled. I wonder if I accidently sewed it wrong side out as it’s just the outside, the inside is fine (I had real trouble telling which was the right side, they’re so similar, in the end I just guessed). Also the cat climbed on my chest and pulled a thread in the turquoise yoke by stropping, arghhh. Finally, when I got my recycled skirt out I realised that I seem to have a slight scruffy star applique obsession. Whoops.

Now it’s getting a little warmer around where I live I didn’t want to wear the coco’s and I don’t always feel like wearing a short skirt so I got out a top I made back at the end of November but never really blogged properly because I’m not sure if I like it.

I wanted to make a Tova, because I’d seen so many lovely versions. But I was wary as they all seamed to be worn by slim women and I wasn’t sure it would suit me. I made a muslin in some cheap pink fabric I’d got hold of but it was sooo pink that I couldn’t see past the colour (which I hated on me) to evaluate the top. Actually, maybe I could, re reading the blog post about it, I mentioned problems with fit issues them, I guess I just got excited at the fabric I’d seen and ignored them as I impulsed made a “proper” one at the last minute to wear away for the weekend. I made it from some cotton lawn fabric I bought locally and made the dress length but added a an inch or two (can’t remember exactly but it’s still far too short to be decent without leggins). The corner turn thing took a bit of concentration but was doable and the rest of it came together quickly, I think I got the whole thing done in a day or thereabouts. I was pleased, it would be versatile, I could wear it with leggins as a dress or with trousers as a top. I would look stylish. I didn’t finish off the side seams, planning to add pockets later.

The first problem was on the train. It was fine worn on it’s own but under another top the cuffs dug into my arm – not comfy. I’m not sure what that top was because my other memory is that it was really cold that weekend and I did a lot of walking around outside and it wasn’t really warm enough for the job under my leather jacket, which was bad packing (mainly due to lack of decent jumpers and coats on my part) rather than a top related problem. Also, whilst the weekend away was supposed to be a fun time with my best friend before she emigrated, the first evening I heard that another friend of mine had died, so I also associated the top with that news, espeically as I ended up wearing it to his funeral as it was smartish and grey and black. (Afterwards a woman I’d never met came and asked me if I’d made it, then quickly explained that she had a fabric shop and stocked that fabric in case I was worried it looked overly home made).

My attempt at sophisticated model pose (good job I'm not after a new career)

My attempt at sophisticated model pose (good job I’m not after a new career)

Aside from all the bad associations this top has picked up, I’m not sure about the fit at all. Having the yoke end across my bust just isn’t that flattering. I don’t know why I ever thought it would work, I would never pick up a top like this in a shop (clearly I was seduced by blog land). And the rest of the top doesn’t fit that well either. The front is neither fitted nor really baggy and just ends up making me look huge. And there is a huge pool of fabric at my lower back which I really don’t like. I wonder if taking that in somehow would help. Maybe fisheye darts? Never done those. I tried discussing it with my mum (who has much more experience making clothes than me) but she reckons the problem is not that it’s too loose on my back but rather too tight on my hips. Thanks mum. I’m never going to wear it without something covering my legs so I maybe making the end of the side seams split would help that? Also I never added inseam pockets in. (so it really needs the seams finishing at the very least). The thing is, I’m not sure I feel inspired enough by its potential to put in the work adjusting it.

Back view, meh

Back view, meh

In it’s favour, it feels lovely on (that’ll be the cotton lawn) and the cuffs don’t dig in when not worn with something over them (although the shoulders are slightly tight when I move). My husband told me I looked lovely this morning when I wore it for the first time in yonks. And a friend complimented me when she saw me in it/ I explained my reservatons about the fit to her and she said she thought it was meant to be a kaftan, loose and flowing. So maybe I just need to adjust my thoughts on what it’s trying to be?

Unhappy about excess fabric

Unhappy about excess fabric

Also I remember their being quite a lot of this fabric left after cutting. The pattern envelope seemed to vastly overestimate the amount of fabric needed. So I wonder if I could make another top (which would probably have to be shorter) with the remainder and then get rid of the one I like least.

If anyone has good ideas on how to improve it please leave me a comment.

Guessing game

I’ve just started a make. Here’s a little teaser shot…

Guessing Game

Spot the odd one out

There is an old t shirt of mine, a childs t shirt, some “vintage” buttons, a piece of black lining fabric that has been in my stash 20 years and some black mesh/netting fabric that was given to me to make a spider costume from (completely unsuitable) and has been lurking in my stash ever since.

I have a deadline on Saturday, so follow up post Saturday evening all being well.

A little something extra

I used my left over ponte to make the boy a t shirt. I made it long sleeved as the fabric is fairly thick so I thought it was more suited to an extra layer.

I used the same method I used to make a raglan t shirt before, except I didn’t revise the tutorial so I may not have done it right, still it worked.

My original idea was a grey t shirt back and front, turquoise sleeves and a big turquoise star on the front, so it sort of went with my new top without being matchy matchy. But then the boy (who knew nothing of my plans as he would only complicate them) told me that I should have put the pockets on my coco at a slant and that gave me the idea of putting a kangaroo pouch pocket on the front of his top. And I didn’t have enough grey for the back as well as the front, so I put a blue band in the middle (I figured to keep some grey at the bottom as that’s where it gets dirtiest). This time I used blue thread throughout as I was feeling lazy.

Pose, models own

Pose, models own

Twin needle love. Also, not sure the raglan sleeve is supposed to come to a point like that but hey, it looks good (and the other side matches).

twin needle love. Also, not sure the raglan sleeve is supposed to come to a point like that but hey, it looks good (and the other side matches)

Oh and I changed my idea of appliquing a star. Can you tell what it is? It’s meant to be a lego brick, but the recipient and his grandma are adament that it’s a castle. Ho hum, outnumbered, but it’s been accepted anyway.

The contested lego/castle logo

The contested lego/castle logo

I’m pleased I didn’t have enought fabric for the back as orginally intended as the back looks great, the boy agrees.

More model own poses.

More model own poses.

So this definitely counts as stash busting, the best kind quick, fun, appreciated, finsihed.

dual purpose new top and boy made glittery shakey bottle photo shoot

Dual purpose new top and boy made glittery shakey bottle photo shoot – I know how to trick motivate my workforce.

The only things I would change are – 1) to make it bigger. I thought I had made it a little big, but the sleeves are just right and if anything the length is a little short, which is becuase I messed up somewehre on the stripey back and it ended up and inch shorter than the front. So I trimmed the front. And 2) – to change the shape of the kangaroo pocket so it goes up a little at the sides before it slants in, it’s not been a problem yet but doing it “properly” would help stop things falling out. (In case you noticed, I did cut it symmetrical, i just messed up hemming the slants as I didn’t bother pinning (I know scandalous) and now one side is at a steeper angle than the other (I trimmed the excess fabtric off rather than trying to unpick stitches in knit fabric)). However, I did finish it in an evening when he was asleep and we had been left alone for the weekend by the other two, so I think that gets me extra points.

OK, one more gratuitous shot of the cutest 7 year old in my house.

see, he can sit still, momentarily at least

see, he can sit still, momentarily at least

Thank my lucky stars for selfish sewing

Hooray for the kick up the backside that Me Made May provided, after careful deliberation, I made a colour blocked coco, with a little quick and dirty applique. My husband is away at the moment, I posted a quick selfie yesterday (selfies are not my strong point). And I have persuaded the assistant deputy photographer, age 7, to take a couple more shots, although he wasn’t so good at listening to his brief (“make sure you can see mummy’s top and her face”).

The make itself was quite straightforward. I had some grey and some turquoise ponte (I think it’s ponte) and I was inspired by Karen at Did You Make that but I dithered on which way round to use the colours. I like the turquoise better and wanted to use more of it (the grey was originally bought to make leggins but I’ve since decided it’s not a suitable fabric) but I wasn’t sure I wanted the grey next to my face. In the end I realised that blue with a dark grey top yoke would look a little too Star Trek Next Generation, so turquoise with a hint of grey it was.

Adapting the pattern was quite easy following Tilly’s instructions. I decided to make sure the fabric join lay above my bosom, I wasn’t sure that a stripe accross my widest point would be flattering.

I complicated matters by buying a twin needle. I know I have used one before, umm, about 20 years ago, and couldn’t remember how. An internet search and some overly long instructions later I came up with: put double needle in, put a bobin of second thread on the bobin winder (as I don’t have a fold out extra spindle on my machine. I remember using one, that’s how I know I must have used a twin needle before), thread machine as usual holding both strands as one, then thread each needle with a thread (whilst cursing under breath as the automatic needle threader on the machine doesn’t line up with the twin needles), set to straight stitch (not stretch, a quick practice proved that messy) slightly longer than normal (I used just over 3, my stitch length goes up to 4).

Oh, and I topstitched down all my seams down in contrasting thread. Cue much thread and needle changing. Even so it was a quick make.


someone got a bit carried away with contrast topstitching

I bought heming tape as suggested for the neckline. I’ve never used it before. It worked really well on the shoulder seams. I was less impressed with using it for the neckline. It was stiff (there was only one kind available locally) so I had to cut little sections to go around the curve. And it was wider than the seam allowance, so after I folded over and sewed down the neckline you can see bits of white on the inside, which bugs me. And the neckline ended up with lots of little creases in it. I thought of Lladybird and “steamed the shit out of it”, which helped the appearence (thanks) but it’s still too stiff. I think I won’t try this one again.

I decided to tie the colours in and personalise it a bit with contrast star applique. I like applique in jersey as you an be lazy and straight stitch as it doesn’t fray, yay! But I forgot to practice on scrap fabric (I was too busy hoarding my precious turquoise ponte for the next project0 so the one on my arm came out a little scruffy due to it being too small to do neatly (at least by me).

I like the ones on the back and one of the pockets better.


Trio of stars on the back

Of course, then I realised that the stars were a bit Star Trek. So now I think of it as my Star Trek top, despite my careful planning.


Beam me up….

Selfish Sewing for Me Made May

A quick update on my Me Made May so far:

1st May – wore my curtains little bird skirt for half a day, until I did something unmentionable to my outfit and had to get changed.

2nd May – wore a headband I knitted and carried my spotty bag around – thereby exposing the vagueries of my pledge, do accesories count? I’ve decided they can add up with the half a day wearing the skirt and make one of my three between them.

Oh, and I made myself a coco top.

Sorry, maybe you skipped over that bit, I made myself a coco top, today (well I did cut it out last night after assembling the pattern but the less said about the latter the better, urghh).


Proper post later, I just need to share with someone as hubby has gone away for the weekend (hence the selfie, not usually my style), and it’s a bit late to phone someone because I’ve stayed up so late making something with the leftovers.

Tra la la.

Thank you So Zo and god bless Me Made May and all who sail in her.