Category Archives: Fix It

Recovering My Ironing Board

I recently finally got around to recovering my ironing board, which was long overdue! I haven’t done a huge amount of sewing recently but my partner irons a shirt most days and he was finding the old crappy cover particularly painful to use.

This was the cheapest ironing board that Argos sold when I bought it a few years ago. I didn’t hate the colour but the elastic around the edge gave way pretty quickly and for more months than I care to admit, I had it safety pinned to stop the cover falling off completely!

Also even when this was new, it wasn’t the best because it had this tiny thin piece of foam as the only padding, which really didn’t last very long before you could feel the frame underneath!

Luckily because the elastic had all stopped being springy, I could use the old cover as a template for the new one. I used this amazing sewing-themed cotton I had in my stash. I did have to seam it but you really can’t see it on the cover because I pattern matched it.

I then used the new cover as a template for the wadding. I bought a really thick wadding from my local sewing shop – it was the one the lady in the shop said she used for her ironing board.

She advised me to overlock the wadding and the fabric together, which I did, but it was then too thick for the width of bias binding I bought so I had to unpick the overlocking – which is always fun!

So the method I used was based on the one from Tilly and the Buttons – you make a channel with bias binding and thread string though the channel and pull it tight around the frame. You can also use elastic but since that was the downfall of the first cover, I wanted to use cord so I could re-tie it if it loosened in the future.

I can’t tell you how pleased I am with how it looks, and how useful it is to have a working ironing board!

Have you ever put off a relatively simple job out of laziness even though you know it will improve your life to do it? ……, me neither………



Ikea Hack – Fixing a Bedding Ordering Mistake

So when The Boyfriend and I moved into our current flat in Cirencester, we bought a load of furniture as we’d always lived in furnished flats in London. We did a big Ikea order of a bed, some kalax shelves (which seem to be the only thing in which to store sewing supplies!) and some bedding. Luckily The Boyfriend shares my love of yellow so we bought some cute yellow and white striped bedding. Less luckily, it seems there is a difference between UK and European bedding sizes and the quilt cover looked like this:

ikea-bedding-hack-1As you can see, the quilt cover is way too small. I think we have a standard double quilt, but I guess the European double is smaller? Luckily we also ordered (totally by accident) a single fitted sheet, so I decided to use this to add strips to the sides of the cover to make it fit over our quilt. It would have been better if this had been a flat sheet, though, because I had to unpick the elastic from the edges and then the sheet isn’t a full rectangle.

ikea-bedding-hack-2Having laid the Ikea cover on top of the quilt, I measured (flat) that I needed an extra 65cm on each side to make it fit our quilt – it was 151cm wide but needed to be 216cm wide. The reason it needed to be 65cm on each side was because it needed to be that much bigger on the bottom and the top, so I had to add twice as much fabric as I originally thought. I also made sure to add a 1.5cm seam allowance. Because I was using an unpicked fitted sheet, I had to piece the strip on one side:


You could choose to piece it if you wanted anyway, to get a side seam still on each side – I have a side seam on one side but not on the other, so it probably looks a bit funny, but I didn’t have quite enough width to be able to make a seam on both sides. So in the above photo, the one on the left is the side that ended up with the seam (obvs!) but it was also a bit shorter because fitted sheets are like a cross on each end, so the middle is longer than the sides – the whole side on the right is the middle and the 2 pieces on the left are the 2 sides of the sheet. If that makes any sense at all! It didn’t matter in the end that one strip was shorter as they both ended up too long, but I left them a bit on the long side so I’d be able to neaten the ends and would have some fabric to play with while I worked it out.

ikea-bedding-hack-5I’d actually unpicked the original side seams of the quilt cover back in November but only got around to sewing it back together this month! I first sewed each side of the strip to the 2 sides of the quilt cover, with the quilt cover inside out so both edges would be right sides together. With the quilt cover still inside out, I went to each corner, where there was a hole at the ends of the new white strips, and pinned it in a straight line from the original top and bottom, then sewed it from the original seam, so the new edge of the quilt.

ikea-bedding-hack-4I ended up not taking too many useful photos, so I hope my written instructions vaguely make sense. It was fairly easy to figure it out as I went along, so hopefully if you do end up having made the same ordering mistake as me, you can increase the size with the help of a sheet. I felt it was easiest to add strips to the edges so I didn’t have to alter the buttons at the bottom – it has ended up with a narrow opening compared with the new width of the quilt cover, but we can stuff the quilt in so that’s good enough for me! It definitely makes our bedroom look a lot brighter!

ikea-bedding-hack-6I want to make some kind of something to go above the bed on the wall because there’s just a big empty space at the moment. I’m thinking of a big weaving, like they’ve made on A Beautiful Mess, but with more colour! The Boyfriend also quite wants to paint our bed frame and bedside cabinets, but I’m not convinced as I don’t really like painted furniture, but I see his point that it’s all a bit bland and beige! Any thoughts?



Refashioned Tea Dress

I’m not sure if this really counts as a refashion as all I did was take in this dress a bit to make it fit better, so I guess it’s more of an alteration?! I always find it funny that The Great British Sewing Bee calls their refashion challenge the ‘alteration challenge’ – it’s not like they’re just taking up a hem or something!

Anyway…….here are the before photos – taken ages ago (I had a binge of taking photos of most of the things I have in my to refashion pile):


It doesn’t really look that bad but it was a couple of sizes too big, which you can see especially around the bust area as I’m exaggerating below.


I put the dress on and pinned it at various placed to work out what changed I needed to make. There are bust darts, which needed to be about 1cm deeper over the apex of my bust, graduating out to nothing at the side seams.

tea-dress-refashion-2There are also back darts which I deepened by 2cm at the waits, tapering to nothing at the original top of the dart. Even just these changes made quite a bit of difference to the shape of the dress.

tea-dress-refashion-1I also measured that I needed to take some fabric out of the side seams on the bodice – I measure this as 2cm but after sewing the new seams, I tried on the dress and it was waaay to tight – I think I must have measure the various alterations in isolation, not taking into account how much the darts would take in the bodice, meaning I didn’t have to take in the side seams.

I was going to try to alter the sleeves by sewing new sleeves – without having to unpick and resew them – but it didn’t work, so I left them as they were and I think they look okay. If I was being really picky, I would want the sleeve seams 1 or 2cm closer to the collar. Speaking of which, I’m glad the collar fitted well as it was, I didn’t fancy having to change it!tea-dress-refashion-4

I wasn’t going to change the skirt, but I did unpick it and resew it 1.5cm further up, to raise the waist seam just a little so it sits on the bottom of my ribs instead of on my waist – it seemed like a cuter silhouette. To do this I had to unpick the button bands from the bottom up to just above the waist seam. I then sewed the new waist seam – gathering the back of the skirt so it fitted the new bodice size (because of the new darts), then sandwiched the skirt front edges in the button bands and stitched them back into place. I then hemmed the button bands so they lined up again with the hem.


All in all I’m pretty pleased with how a few changed and only a couple of hours of sewing means I’ve ended up with a dress I’ll wear – and one I can wear to work! It’s also a timely dress to have altered as my 2 best friends and I have been taking for ages about getting tattoos together – we were going to get a teapot, a teacup and a cupcake (one for each of us) but Chloe pointed out the cupcake might look like a pooh, so I think we’re all now going for teapots, so I’ll be able to wear this dress and it will match my tattoo!! We’re probably going to get them in January when we get together for our annual Christmas 2. I’m so excited!

It will be something like this but probably a little smaller.

teapot-tattoo(image source – via pinterest)

Do you have any tattoos? Do you regret them?




Fix It: How to take in the waistband on trousers


Do you ever see the perfect pair of trousers but there a bit too big at the waist? I was given these amazing trousers by The Boyfriend’s mum but they sat more on my hips than my waist as they should. I thought I’d do a tutorial on how to alter the waist band of a pair of trousers in case you wondered how to do it.


I would say a helpful step first of all is to take photos of the waistband, including belt loops, buttons, button holes, hooks and eyes and zips, so you have a reference to look back on in case you can’t remember what went where. Then you need to unpick the existing waistband from the trousers. I unpicked the inside of the waistband then the outside.


When I then moved to the outside seam of the waistband, I encountered the belt loops. I decided to unpick the stitching attaching it at the top of the waist band rather then the bottom, so they would still be attached to the trousers and I wouldn’t have to worry about where to place them.

How-To-Take-In-Trousers-4You may have to take them off completely if they are entirely attached to the waistband, in which case I would suggest putting a mark, with chalk or a pin, on the trousers where each one was. You may want to change the placing of the belt loops if you’re taking the trousers in by quite a lot, so removing them would be helpful anyway.

How-To-Take-In-Trousers-5You’ll want to leave button holes intact if you can, if you hate sewing them as much as I do! This is assuming you’ve got buttons and not a jeans rivet, as I had with my corduroy shorts/skirt refashion – I couldn’t take off the rivet so made a new button hole once I’d resized the waistband.

How-To-Take-In-Trousers-6With this pair of trousers, there was a button and button hole on both ends of the waist band, so I knew I would have to redo one of the button holes, once I’d cut it off to shorten the waistband. If you have the same set up, it may be worth making a note of the position of the button and/or buttonhole from the edge of the waistband so you have an idea of where to put them back.


You’ll then want to try on the trousers inside out and pin down the side seams, and maybe the back seam too, if you’re taking out a lot, how much you need to take out of the trousers. I tried mine on before I unpicked the waistband too, and measured I needed to take out a total of 8cm – this meant I could then roughly pin 2 2cm tucks on the side seams, then try them on and taper the 2cm out towards the existing side seam – you’ll want to do a shallow taper so you don’t end up with what looks like a pleat. If you try them on and measure the amount to take out, then you will also know how much to reduce the length of the waistband by.

The stitching line you can see to the left of my pin line is for the pockets – you’ll want to plan where you sew your new seams so you don’t interfere with pockets or existing pleats. You might want to make new pleats instead of taking in at the seams, to make more of a design feature of your alterations.


Once you’ve sewn your new seams and again tried them on to check your alterations are good and don’t look weird, or obvious – unless you want them to be obvious! You’ll then need to reduce the length of the waistband. Draw a chalk line where the new end needs to be, then flip the waistband inside out and sew the new seam – you can see how I lost the buttonhole.


Now all you need to do it reattach your waistband. You’ll almost certainly want to reattached the outside half of the waistband to the right side of the trousers first. You can see below that I’ve pinned the right side of the waistband to the right, outside side,  of the trousers. You can actually see the original stitching and fold line on the waistband – I followed this for my 1cm seam allowance.


If, like me, you left your belt loops attached to the trousers, you’ll need to make sure you pin them out of the way when sewing this seam – there’s nothing more annoying that sewing a beautiful seam (and it’s always the best seam you’ve ever sewn!), only to have to unpick parts of it because you’ve caught your belt loops in the way.


This is what it then looks like from the right side of the trousers, with the inside half of the waistband folded up so you can see it’s not attached.


To sew the inside of the waistband down, in the case of my trousers, I pinned it from the outside of the trousers so I could sew it and see what it would look like from the right side. You again need to make sure your belt loops are out of the way. I then used my zipper foot to stitch as close to the seam line as possible. You may want to hand stitch the inside of the waistband to make it invisible. Or you could sew the INSIDE with the seam (right sides together), and then top stitch the outside in place. You’ll be informed by the way it was constructed originally.

How-To-Take-In-Trousers-13You’ll now want to reattach your belt loops – in my case I just needed to attach them at the top, which I did using a teeny tiny zip-zag stitch. In general the placement for belt loops would be one on the centre back seam, one on each side seam, (possibly one on each side between these 2), and 1 on each side just in front of your hip bones.


Now all you need to do is remake any button holes you need to, and sew on any buttons you had to remove when you resized the waistband. Yay! Now you have a newly wearable pair of trousers!



Fix It - Replacing a Broken Zip thumb Mustard Corduroy Shorts into Skirt Fix It - Repairing Holes in a Coat thumb



Fix It: Replacing A Zip


It’s so annoying when a zip breaks isn’t it?! This happened to one of the skirts I had made, rendering it unwearable until I got around to fixing it. Is it just me that finds repairs boring? Which is silly, because it took about an hour and a half to replace the zip!


The first thing to do is to unpick the old zip, which will include unpicking any facings and the seam a little further than the zip.


It will then look something like this.


The next thing to do is to pin the new zip into the gap left by the old zip. This was a little easier than inserting the zip in the first place as the fabric was already folded back by the seam allowance. This is a lapped zip, not an invisible one, though the principle is the same. With the skirt inside out, place the zip face own with the teeth along the seam allowance fold.


Make sure you only pin through one layer of fabric and not the one underneath – you should be able to flatten out the seam allowance so it looks like below. This will allow you to sew the zip without catching the rest of the skirt in the machine.


Then you get to the exciting part of sewing in the zip. You’ll have to use a zip foot (or an invisible zip foot if you’re replacing an invisible zip). You’ll only be able to sew as far as the head of the zip. Repeat this on both sides, taking out the pins as you go.


It should then look something like this on the inside.


You now have to stitch up the seam that you unpicked when you unpicked the zip. You’ll need to fold the seam like this, with the zip sandwiched in between. You’ll want to hold the tail of the zip out of the way of the seam. Using a zip foot will make it easier to sew as close to the zip as possible.


You’ll need to sew the seam to overlap with the stitching attaching the zip, like below. If the lines of stitching don’t overlap, you’ll probably have a hole in the seam.


To get my zip out I needed to unpick the seam at the top of my skirt, attaching the facing. So I needed to sew this back in place, having unpicked a bit further along the hand-stitching at the bottom of the facing to gain access to the seam. (This looks weird because it has interfacing under the facing.)


It’s quite difficult to tell from my photos which seam I’m talking about, so I drew some little lines to help! If your zip is in a skirt, you’ll almost certainly have to fix the seam at the top of the zip.


The last thing left was to resew the facing to the zip and along the bottom – where the pins are.