Starting Slow

I have barely sewn in 3 months. Apart from The Girl’s birthday dress which I then failed to photograph. But, perhaps spurred on by the fabric I bought on holiday last week (if you’re ever in Glasgow, check out Mandors with the conveniently sited Project Cafe next door) I have managed some things this weekend.

First up a new pin cushion/sewing organiser, which I started in January and has been sat waiting me to sew up a 2″ gap for 3 months. 3 months. For 10 mins sewing. Yikes. Even by my standards that’s bad. Anyway, it’s a blatant copy of one I saw in a blog post now long lost in the mists of time (I tried to find it to link to, I really did), although I figured I didn’t need to buy the pattern to make a cube with pockets on and a flap for putting needles in. I used up batting remnants from the baby quilt to quilt the main panels as per the original but I’m not convinced it was necessary. I stuffed it with ground walnut shells because apparently that’s the done thing (it’s supposed to keep the pins sharp, not sure I believe that but it was an excuse to go investigate my local reptile shop) and I’m hoping it’s huge solidness will make sure that it doesn’t go a wandering like it’s predecessor leaving me bereft of somewhere to stick the pins I pull out whilst sewing and forcing me instead to resort to balancing them on the edge of the desk or sticking them in a piece of scrap fabric. Yup I am that messy a sew. Speaking of which…


The pincushion needs somewhere to sit of course, so I was inspired to tidy the sewing table in my sewing room. You’ll notice that the rest of the room is not shown. There’s a good reason for that.  Note to self, still need a frame to buy the picture I bought last summer so I can hang it.

See that crumpled pile top right. That was abandoned in the cupboard of my sewing room just before Christmas. Turned out it didn’t take that much to finish sewing up the side seams and attach the arms, then I just needed to rootle around in the pit sewing room for the rest of the grey fabric so I could do the neckband and bottom band and voila, a new top for the boy.

The boy liked the top, but not the photo shoot, can you tell?  I like the origami style print, it’s so hard to find a good non girly print and this one is right up his street, although of course he was bemoaning the lack of instructions as to how to make the birds shown for real. I only got a metre of the fabric and he’s now officially too big for that to make a long sleeve top, hence the grey, which is irritatingly a thinner fabric, but I figured that’d be ok on the side panels of the Semper.  I appear to have hacked the neckline back in December to forgo a hood (hoods are a mixed blessing with the boy, he loves them, but will happily wear a tshirt hood, a jumper hood and a coat hood all up at the same time quite possibly with a ear warmer or a hat too, which makes conversing with him tricky). So I just cut a neckband at 90% of the neckline width. I may have lengthened the pattern too as it’s super long, but as my little sunflower is still growing skywards at an alarming rate I have no problems with that.

Now to motivate myself to do a little more tidying so I can get stuck into my lovely new fabric. Mmm. Fabric.

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….