scrappily sewing scraps

Pants, its a word that means different things to different people. Trousers, underwear, and more colloquially rubbish/no good, as in “that’s pants”.

Today I have made an item that ticks the last two boxes.

Maybe I should’ve known better than to try and squeeze some underwear for myself out of the last scraps from The Girls’ dress. Perhaps warning bells should’ve rung when I had to cut my back and front in 2 pieces each. Maybe it’s just today, the cutting out last night didn’t go do badly (from a pattern I self drafted previously). (Well, the cutting went ok once I’d figured out how the pattern pieces worked. I missed marking a fold line on my front pattern piece and couldn’t figure it out at all. My respect for pattern drafters just shot up, I can’t even make things that are clear for me!)

In all their ungloriousness

In all their ungloriousness (actually, they don’t look to bad here, but the camera was on fancy shmancy filter mode)

Here’s my list of things that went wrong:

  • The stripes on front/back seam don’t match – no biggie I thought and ploughed on.
  • I decided to zig zag the seam allowance down, because… nope, no idea why I thought this was the right thing to do.
  • I used white thread already in my machine to do this, on the predominately navy fabric, so it really shows up.
  • I forgot my machine was still set at “stretch stitch” length, so one of these unsightly lines of zig zags is in triple stitch, making it even more ugly. Obviously this is the front, not the back.
  • I sewed the back/front/gusset together wrong and had to unpick them and re do it.
  • I decided to sew the side seams next…
  • …which meant that when when topstitching the gusset down I sewed through the top of the front near the side seam as well.
  • Of course, this time, I’d changed my thread to navy, so this was a b***er to unpick as I couldn’t see most of the stitching.
  • And the unpicking left holes.
  • At this point, I nearly gave up and threw it away.

    However, I persevered. I was reminded of Erin’s “I am” series at this point. I was thinking that maybe I could say “I am determined”, but I was worried that “I am bloody minded” or “I am foolhardy” or “I really should take a break now” would be a better fit.

    I decided that they didn’t deserve the lovely coloured fold over elastic that I’d managed to buy online. (My previous foray into making my own underwear halted due to the expense – it was basically taking a whole 2m pack of elastic to make one pair, which was prohibitively expensive). However, I bought a roll of elastic cheaply through the Make Do and Mend Pre Loved Craft Stuff that turned out to be fold over elastic, albeit a bit on the wide side for underwear. So I used that instead.

    And, I have working underwear. That I think (from a 2 min try on) is comfy. If not pretty. I mean, asides from the above, I didn’t manage to overlap my F.O.E. very well on 2 out of the 3 places , sigh. Then I really badly patched the small holes from the back with a scrap of fabric, so I’ve covered them with an improvised ribbon bow. However, only my husband and small kids (who don’t respect my privacy) are going to see them, and they won’t care.

    However, next time, I will make a better job of it. For my pride if nothing else. And I may use that FOE for the waistband on another pair and some of the thinner black stuff for the leg holes.

    Then again, I may cave and buy the Barrie Brief pattern.

    And all the heads they shall be covered up.

    Are you bored of hats yet? I seem to make them a lot. Knitted and sewn. Sometimes a quick project is what you need.

    This weekend it was the sewn sunhat variety, right in time for the thunderstorms to hit! (Well, it was Glastonbury festival weekend so I guess the SW was due a little rain).

    double trouble

    double trouble

    First up, I finally made the sunhat I’ve been planning to make my daughter for ages (possibly a year, eek). Another Oliver and S one, reversible, blue gingham, to match her school uniform, with butterfly’s on the other side. And no, your eyes are not deceiving you, I did make two, cos I realised when I was cutting I had enough of each fabric for two and her friend has a birthday next week (different school, same ubiquitous blue checked summer uniform though). Hers is a smidge bigger than the gift one and has her initials embroidered on one side in gold, as I’ve never made two identical ones before and didn’t want to get them mixed up! (Lazy mummy rather predictably got lambasted for not embroidering her friends initials on the other one too.)



    When I told my daughter I was making her friend one two she told me to save it for her upcoming birthday, not sure if I’m impressed or insulted. Anyway, construction wise these were the same as all the other times I’ve made them. This time I remembered interfacing (my daughter hates a floppy hat) but only had the useless stuff that always wrinkles and doesn’t stick left in my stash. I decided to try it anyway and finally noticed that it has instructions printed along the selvage, and, err, when you follow them it works just fine. Whoops. The only other difference was using some fancy colour change pink machine embroidery thread that I inherited for the topstitching on the brim as she’d been eyeing it up in my sewing box.

    "It could be my weekend hat"

    “It could be my weekend hat”

    Next up, a hat for a 16th birthday present. Now, I’ve never been very fashion conscious but I’m pretty sure that I would have hated a friend of my mums to make me a bucket hat for my 16th birthday. I’m obviously very out of touch as apparently they’re “in” at the moment and the young woman in question is eagerly awaiting me to make her long promised hat. I had thought of something in denim, but got distracted. Then I heard that she would quite like purple flowers or birds. Neither of which I have, but I did have some purple butterflies, surely that’s close enough?

    this is what cool teenagers look like, right?

    this is what cool teenagers look like, right?

    I opted for a plain dark blue (slightly textured, some kind of quilting cotton I got for a baby project and never made) for the reverse, and appliqued one butterfly on, following a top tip I read recently of using glue stick to hold it in place (well, it’s washable). I didn’t use interfacing this time as I was using a quilting cotton and another fairly stiff fabric. The fabric was all from my stash but I couldn’t resist this flowery bias trim with a lacy bit – as I thought it really lifts the blue side and actually it’s not too busy with the butterflies (which I was a bit concerned about).

    applique and trim shot

    applique and trim shot

    The different finish meant a slightly different construction, I made both inner and outer hats, then pinned them wrong sides together and did my topstiching on the brim (I actually did concentric circles and everything rather than being lazy and doing a spiral). Finally I added the binding, which means my brim is about 1/2″ bigger as I didn’t need that seam allowance. But 16 year olds like to hide from the world at times, right? I hope the size is right, my family have really large heads, so it fits my 7 year old, who is rather hoping it wont fit the intended recipient, so she can have an extra hat. (I’m hoping she’ll get acquire some tact and empathy sometime before she’s all grown up.)

    quick and dirty molly fix - half way there

    quick and dirty molly fix – half way there

    Finally, I made Issy Ahman, time travelling maidservant automata to the Countess Isabella a mob cap to wear instead of a pith helmet. I have no idea of the correct method of constructing mob caps, this one was a large circle(ish) of burgandy jersey (cos that’s what I had in burgandy), with a khaki embroidery anglaise trim added and then some horrendously expensive elasticated stuff sewn round to pull it in (that’ll teach me not to check the prices of trims before asking for them to be cut).


    We managed to intersect timestreams so I could present it and she seemed pleased, as far as I can tell. As a bonus, she sorted out some washing for me before disappearing off to look for her missing mistress.

    everyone should have their own maid servant automata to help around the house, isn't this what we were promised in Tomorrow's World?

    everyone should have their own maid servant automata to help around the house, isn’t this what we were promised in Tomorrow’s World?

    And now I’m planning to not make any more hats for a few days. In fact, what I need to do is have a big pre friend staying tidy up, but I expect I’ll get distracted and sew something random instead…

    Cushion love

    Bad ProlificProjectStarter. The amount of stuff in my dining room has been growing again. I try and limit the stuff in my dining room to what I’m currently working on so in an ideal world this would be just one project (ha ha) and maybe some mending.

    Currently it is an unknown and frankly alarming number of current projects, ranging from the in conception pile of fabric stage, through the tracing pattern stage, the adjusting pattern stage, the cut out but not sewn stage, the part sewn, the need finishing, need altering, need taking apart and redoing and the leftovers from old projects that need taking upstairs and putting neatly away (ha ha ha). Oh and some mending, a part way through project of the Boy’s and at least one part way through project of the Man’s (still, at least they can’t critisise me too much then).

    However I have completed one thing this week. The person in question wanted a bucket hat. I have made a giant cushion cover (sans giant cushion). I think I may have got distracted, but I have plans for a bucket hat too. Some time soon. Honest.

    Somewhere along the way I was thinking about denim for the hat (maybe that was even in the request), and then I was thinking about all the lovely raggedy edged recycled denim blankets I’d been seeing on the Make Do and Mend facebook page recently, hmm, along the lines of this sort of thing and then I realised I had a few different colours of old jeans and then it turned into a cushion idea as that seemed smaller than a blanket so less sewing more appropriate, and then I decided that if you’re leaning on it it probably didn’t want raggedy edges.

    So I ended up with this.

    Ta Da (stuffed with all my small cushions so you get the idea)

    Ta Da (stuffed with all my small cushions so you get the idea)

    It’s made of 25 squares on each side, 5 each in 5 different colours. They were cut to the maximum size the skinniest pair of jeans would allow. I made a template from squared paper glued to an old cereal packet. Three each from the front and back of the calf of each trouser leg. I cut the first 6 of each out, discarded the worst of each (a couple had holes in at the knees etc), made one side, then cut 6 of each out of the other trouser leg and made the second side. Once I had 25 squares cut for each side I played around with the pattern arrangement before sewing them together, first into rows, then the rows into a square. Then I panicked that my seam allowance was too small and would fray so I (badly) overstitched just either side of each seam.

    one side done

    one side done

    Finally I found a zip that had outlived the garment it was once in in my zip box that was just the right length, so I attached the sides to it and then topstitched them (don’t look too closely, this part wasn’t great. Actually you can’t look too closely as I accidentally deleted my photo of zip insertion. But trust me, it wasn’t that interesting) before sewing up my cushion and overlocking my edges.

    arranging the squares

    arranging the squares

    So, now all done, waiting for a hat to go with it so I can post it. Then my friend will help her daughter find things to stuff it with.

    "overlocking" the side seams (I suppose I could've tried to press them and topstitch them like the others but life's too short)

    “overlocking” the side seams (I suppose I could’ve tried to press them and topstitch them like the others but life’s too short)

    Assuming I don’t accidentally keep it instead. I rather like it! (Plus the reused denim is very soft)

    and the back view (I decided against symmetry in the end, that way she has a choice which way round she puts it).

    and the back view (I decided against symmetry in the end, that way she has a choice which way round she puts it).


    The keen eyed will spot my grainlines are not all the same way. Indeed, some of the pieces are back to front too. This is because had help from two small girls with the pinning, much to the disdain of my supervisor, who didn’t think they were up to standard and by the time I’d negotiated peace I couldn’t be bothered to rearrange things! (There are doubtless other “schoolboy errors” too, because patchwork/quilts are not really my thing, but hey, reusing stuff is. My respect for those who make stunning intricate quilt tops only grows every time I attempt a little myself!)

    Little Monster

    I have far too much scrap fabric. And it really is scrap. I should throw it away before it outnumbers my stash. But the problem is that now I have a couple of carrier bags or so it seems a waste to throw it, but I don’t know what else to do with it. The only fabric recycling I know of around here only wants whole garments. Sigh.

    Anyway, in the mean time, it’s still there and sometimes it’s useful. Like when your daughter and her friend decide to make a monster out of scrap fabric.

    “blub blub blub blub blub” (translation, “Hello, I’m Little Monster, who are you?”)

    What do you think? They sewed the buttons on themselves. Although I did machine it together for them, (under strict direction).

    decorated cape

    decorated cape

    They made a cloak for him too.

    the finished ensemble (isn't it a change to have someone else's tablecloth as a backdrop?)

    the finished ensemble (isn’t it a change to have someone else’s tablecloth as a backdrop?)

    Only a small dent in the pile of bits but it kept 3 of us busy having fun for a good hour.

    Friday Cuteness

    I have spent the few days since my last post (the one which used up the last of my free storage limit for photo’s) pretending to myself I was going to have a good old rational think about whether I could justify paying $99 USD a year (which I estimate at about £1/day) to upgrade my wordpress account. Who was I trying to kid? I am clearly addicted to sewing blogging. The final straw came when my next door neighbour emailed me this….

    Stick? Check. Stone? Check. Right, off for an adventure I go.

    Stick? Check. Stone? Check. Right, off for an adventure I go.

    I may not have had enough left over from The Girls dress to make an identical one for her friend, but this young lady is a bit smaller than them! Luckily her mum took it all in her stride when her mad next door neighbour rang the doorbell and asked to borrow one of her daughters t shirts (I think she thought I was making something for another small girl).

    Pattern drafting - with patented flappy bit to make one piece do front/back

    Pattern drafting – with patented flappy bit to make one piece do front/back

    I made a kimono t shirt similar to the stripey dresses, but rather than trace out a t shirt pattern to hack, I just “drafted” my own, based on her current one (but a bit longer, cos they only grow, right?).

    looking promising

    looking promising

    I think it worked out ok, but I suspect the armholes would benefit from being a smidge wider. Still, I haven’t heard any complaints. I just bound the neckline this time and took the opportunity to try the pink option that The Girl didn’t want. As I suspected, it also looks good (but I have no problem with her choosing turquoise).

    Put a bow on it

    Put a bow on it

    To pick up the pink I found some ribbon in my stash that was a similar pink on the reverse, tied a bow and securely machined it in place. (The right side is diagonal green and pink stripes and was a bit much). I think she’ll like to fiddle with it, I know my daughter loved fingering ribbon at that age. Before I decided to do this I also added a ribbon tag at the neckline to help find the back. Oh and I used pink thread and my twin needle to topstitch (and salvaged matching pink tissue paper behind to stop wavy seams, I didn’t get it all out so I hope it doesn’t run in the wash).

    All finished

    All finished

    I’m pretty pleased with this one and I reckon my neighbour is too as she’s asked me for some sewing lessons!

    Oh, and while we’re at photo’s of cute small people, remember the ridiculous pom pom hats? Well I hear that all 3 made it to Perth, but so far I only have photographic evidence of one of them…

    hmm, she doesn't look impressed, but I'm assured her mum loves it

    hmm, she doesn’t look impressed, but I’m assured her mum loves it

    So that’s a big dose of cuteness for you to make for a good start for your weekend. Happy sewing!

    Advice for the Novice Knitter

    I don’t usually reblog other peoples posts but there’s so much wisdom here and it applies to sewing just as much as knitting. I particularly like #6. If you’ve not seen Gregory’s blog before, check out the ninja knitter!

    Mad Man Knitting

    IMG_5715I was asked recently by a beginning knitter if I had any advice when it came to learning the craft and art of knitting. What was funny, was seeing how their face twisted into inquisitive when I was mentioning things that I don’t think they considered, nor had seen in pamphlets. Because I treat knitting as a more metaphysical accomplishment, my concepts on ideas for the novice knitter are a shade different than what you might generally hear.

    1. Don’t let anyone intimidate you. There are some knitters out there that will smack you down for not knowing every stitch or technique there is. Smile, remind yourself they were once beginners, too, and carry on with your path. But always smile 🙂 You are learning!

    2. Scarves are amazing, but go big when you first learn. Scarves can be a great way to learn basic stockinette and garter stitches, but…

    View original post 964 more words

    Summer Stripes

    Recently I let The Girl loose on my knit stash to pick out her favourite. She surprised me with her choice, a navy and white stripe, normal t shirt weight, a bit slinky and drapey, nice quality. I’d bought a metre from my local fabric shop thinking of a t shirt for me.

    Well, she wanted a t shirt. Then I said I could make a matching one for her friend with the leftovers. Then they decided they want dresses.

    So, I started with my standard kids t shirt pattern (Simplicity 1571), age 7, extended it , flared it to an A line from the waist down, and added Kimono sleeves inspired by this tutorial (but guesstimated rather than measured) and generally hacked it into a two piece dress pattern.

    High wire act

    High wire act

    The girl chose some turquoise ribbing for the neck binding and I ended up adding some to the sleeves too to finish them (they came out a bit narrow, so I cut the opening diagonally to increase room, and then they didn’t want to hem). She also chose a scrap of one of my old t shirts for a pocket (I didn’t think the main fabric would hold up to the weight of proper pockets but I wanted her to be able to keep a tissue about her person).

    Finally I added 3 rows of shirring to the waist to give it a bit of shape. As I made the dress with growing room I put them a little lower than needed so that the top half is a bit baggy now and will grow with her.

    A dress for having adventures in

    A dress for having adventures in

    Then, ta da, dress done. Onto the second one. Except I made a faux pas, I only had enough fabric for 1 1/2 dresses. Whoops. No problem, I went to buy some more fabric, except they sold out of this stuff really quickly apparently and there was none left. (Which is a shame as I was going to by extra for me too). We found some similar blue and white stripes in a slightly less drapey jersey though and with the same trim and a pocket from the same old t shirt it looks very similar.

    spot the difference

    spot the difference

    Right, now to work out what to do with half a dress worth of fabric….
    And also to figure out what to do about having used up all my storage on WordPress which means I can’t upload any more pictures. Eek.