Author Archives: Amelia Wray

Some homemade Christmas Presents

At the end of last year I was doing some (last minute, of course!) sewing of 2 Christmas presents for my brother in law and my aunt. I made my brother in law a linen Ilford Jacket. When I lived with him and my sister last Summer, he mentioned that he would like a worker-type jacket for fulfilling his full Monty Don style vibes. I didn’t get around to making it before I moved out and then I thought making it as a surprise for Christmas would be a nice idea. Thank you to my sister for sneaking around and measuring his clothes so we could figure out what size to make.

I made the size large so he would definitely have room for a jumper underneath – his measurements were kind of between the medium and the large. I lengthened the sleeves a little (can’t quite remember now by how much, maybe 7cm?). The sleeves did end up a little long, but I think they look kind of good rolled up. The fabric was linen & cotton mix in the colour denim from Fabric Godmother and it was a dream to work with.

Because the Ilford is an unlined jacket pattern, I decided to bias bind all of the seams on the inside to make it look nice, and be more durable (as linen can fray quite badly). This was the first time I’ve done this technique and it was pretty time-consuming, I have to admit! I made the binding from the same fabric so that added to the time. But I’m honestly so pleased with how it turned out that I don’t regret the extra time I put into it. And I always kind of feel like if I make something for someone else, it has to be more ‘perfect’ than if it’s for me – I’ll still wear makes with little mistakes, but I don’t want someone I’ve given something to to feel like a mistake annoys them when they wear the garment, or they don’t want to wear it at all (even worse!).

I added a bunch of the square pockets and a pen pocket, and did the non-placket sleeves. The Ilford is kind of a modular pattern so you can mix and match various details to your own taste. I had actually sewn the pattern before, for myself (though I haven’t got around to sharing it here yet) and I’m glad I didn’t just dive in making this one without knowing roughly how the jacket came together. Having said that, the instructions are great and there are extra video tutorials for some of the steps if you’re more of a video-learner than a text-learner (I find I need a combination, depending on how complicated the technique is).

The second gift I made, for my amazing Aunt, was Helen’s Closet’s Sam Apron and thankfully she loved it! I asked what she would like for Christmas and she said an apron – I had no idea that she likes aprons and uses them all the time, and therefore needs a few on rotation for when they’re in the wash (she may or may not be getting a new apron for every Birthday and Christmas from now on!). The pattern is excellent and free, btw!

Sorry for the lack of photos, I was making it so last minute that I wrapped it as soon as it was off my machine and then thought ‘doh, I didn’t take any pictures’. The fabric is, of course, the Strawberry Thief by William Morris. It was too late to order fabric online and make sure it arrived by the time I decided to make the apron so I went to John Lewis in Oxford and was pleasantly surprised to find this gem! I don’t usually use John Lewis for fabric as I think it’s overpriced for the quality but needs must.

Can you spot the pocket below, btw?

Blurry photo to demonstrate the completely invisible, pattern matched pocket – I was pretty proud of myself, I have to admit. Pattern matching has never been my forte and I had only just enough fabric to make this work but I’m so glad it did!

The Sam pattern also has loops to hang your tea towels through – genius! I also love an apron because there are no fastenings!

It’s been a few years since I made any Christmas presents, I think, and I actually enjoyed it this year – I actually did start the jacked in plenty of time and I had a whole weekend to cut out and sew the apron so it wasn’t quite as last minute as it could have been. I think for me only trying to do a couple is going to be the way I do it from now on – trying to make things for everyone is where madness lies! Unless you start in, like, March I guess….

Did you make any Christmas presents this year or do you not like the pressure?

Cream Knitted Cardigan

I knitted a thing!

When I started knitting cardigans for 2 of my friends who had babies last year, it re-kick-started my interest in knitting. I, of course, got all enthusiastic about it and wanted to buy loads of new yarn for exciting new projects, but given my history with knitting, where I do it for a few months, then stop for several years, I decided I had to use up my existing stash before I was ‘allowed’ to buy new yarn. This is a project using up some of that stash yarn.

I have to confess, I have not yet blocked this cardigan (and it was finished a good few months ago) and I think it will be really improved when I get around to it!

The yarn is some quite soft stuff I bought from the knitting and stitching show years ago – unfortunately I threw away all the labels so I can’t tell you exactly the brand or colour.

The pattern I used was the free Enchant cardigan from Rowan. I made the smallest size, which is to fit chest 32-34″. The largest size is to fit chest 48-50″. I did a few changes because the decreases on the sleeves seemed to be going too slowly so I decreased more often, on alternate rows instead of every 4 rows.

I’m definitely not the best knitter – which is totally understandable because I don’t do it that much and have gone years without practising – I’ve for sure sewn way more than I have knitted! I also am kind of lazy when it comes to knitting and I don’t love having to count rows, let alone counting stitches so I don’t think there’ll be any cables or lace patterns in my future! I like stocking stitch and a pattern that basically says ‘knit until it’s xcm long’.

I’m part of the way through another jumper, for myself this time but since going back to full time work, my knitting output has way slowed down, as I could have predicted. So I am glad that I didn’t buy loads and loads of yarn 8 months ago, especially since I moved house twice in that time! But once I’ve finished the jumper I’m working on, then I’ll treat myself to a new project. And Oxford just got a new wool shop, which is very exciting! How much of one’s income is it acceptable to spend on yarn (and fabric)…?

Refashioned Shirt (again!)

Ages ago (in 2016!) I refashioned this dress:

into this tunic-y top:
(wow, that is a dead-eyed smile, huh!?)

I still really really love the fabric but the style of the tunic meant I wasn’t wearing it at all. I’m actually often pretty ruthless with my wardrobe, even stuff I’ve made/remade, and have regular clear-outs but this one kept surviving the cull because of the fabric. So over the Summer when I wasn’t working, I figured it was a perfect time to refashion it again into something I will actually wear – and I already wore it 3 times before it got a bit too chilly for short sleeves.

(I should have waited for nice weather and taken these photos outside, sorry!)

The third iteration of this garment is still maybe a little long, but the shape is the more boxy silhouette that I find I’m more drawn to these days. The original refashion was kind of based on the Deer and Doe Bruyere (who remembers when that pattern was new?!), with a nipped in waist, a waistband and pleats above and below the waistband.

This time around I removed the waistband, unpicking the button bands on both sides as far up as I needed to – in neither of these refashions have I had to sew new buttonholes, winning! I removed the pleats and sewed the top to the bottom, without the waistband this time. I did have to trim the bottom half to get it to fit the top half as I think there were deeper pleats on the bottom the first time (which makes sense, to go over my bum and hips).

I then sewed the button bands back down and sewed the buttons back on – easy! It took way longer to unpick the previous alteration than to sew the new version.

As with the Summer dress I shared last week, I’m now waiting for it to be warm enough to wear this. I think it’ll get lots of wear in Spring and Summer as it has all my favourite colours in and will go with lots of things in my wardrobe!

Have you ever refashioned a refashion? I wonder if I’ll do this one again – full on refashion-ception!

An (Almost) Zero-waste Summer Dress (in November)

So I’ve got a little backlog of posts to share, hence me sharing a Summer dress in November…

I made this dress quite late in the Summer so I didn’t actually get a chance to wear it out and about so I’m counting down until next Summer so it can get a proper outing – because I love it! I’ve kind of stopped wearing dresses for the last couple of years, but especially when it’s really hot, they’re really nice and comfortable so I need to remind myself of this next year!

The pattern/instructions I used were the Daisy DIY Gathered Rectangle Dress. You use your own measurements to make the dress to fit you. It’s similar to the Maya Dress that I made for my sister to wear to a wedding. I was also slightly restricted with the amount of fabric I had.

Can we just talk about this fabric for a second?! I had it in my stash for quite a while, waiting for the perfect project, and I’m so glad I waited as I think this was perfect to show off the pattern. I bought it in a destash from Sarah of Like Sew Amazing because I was drawn to the retro print and the amazing colours! I had to do some brain work to figure out how best to centre the pattern because the fabric was relatively narrow and the pattern was totally centred down the middle of the whole length.

So in case you’re interested, my pattern pieces were the following dimensions:
Top front and back 42cm x 20cm
Skirt: 75cm x 90cm (two)
Straps: 95cm x 5cm (two)
You also cut lining pieces of the front and back, to sandwich the straps between, which in my case I cut in 2 pieces, from the outside of the main pieces, so that the outer front and back were centred on the fabric, if that makes sense? It didn’t matter for the lining pieces to have a seam down the middle as…it’s the lining so no-one’s going to see it!

I would definitely recommend this pattern/ these instructions as once you’ve got your brain around the size of the pieces you need, it’s really quick to sew up as there are no fastenings, which is always a win in my book! And there isn’t anywhere as much gathering as on the Maya dress, double win!

This dress wasn’t quite zero-waste, but I’ve kept the offcuts and will hopefully be able to use them for pockets or something on a future project. Have you made any zero-waste (or nearly zero-waste) clothes? I really enjoyed both of the Daisy DIY tutorials I followed, as you can more easily tailor them to your own wishes, rather than having to do formal adjustments on a full paper pattern.

My Last Pair of Ardens (for now….)

Today I’m sharing with you my final pair of Arden Pants I made over the Summer. I think I’m done (for now) making Ardens, but I’m definitely not saying never again, since I love wearing them and if I find some great fabrics in the future I would definitely make some more. Anyway, here is the final pair. I made a YouTube video of me making them so if you’re scared to tackle this pattern (though you shouldn’t be as the instructions are excellent), then you can sew along with me.

Here are a whole bunch of photos! I made the size 6, as with all my other pairs, with a 6cm hem and no other changes.