Alter It August-ish

Back in August there was an Instagram challenge (I can’t remember who ran it, sorry!) to alter the homemade items languishing in our wardrobes so they all could get a new lease of life.

I thought I would do a little round-up of the things I altered – I didn’t realise it would take me this long to get around to it, but oh well.  I’ve also altered a couple of things since August so I’ll share them too!

The first change was a super easy one – these are my Mercury Trousers before:

You probably can’t really tell what was wrong with these, but basically the elastic in the waste band wasn’t tight enough so the trousers just didn’t feel secure, so I never wore them.

It was such a stupidly simple alteration, I should have done it ages ago, but at least it’s done now, and I did them in time to wear them during the Summer quite a bit.

Another easy alteration, and basically the same one as for the Mercury Trousers was to take in the waste of my Portobello Trousers:

You can kind of tell in the before photo, above, that the waist has a bit of ease, but this was made worse by my previous job working in an upholstery fabric shop, which involved lifting 20kg rolls of fabric all day every day, so I ended up losing an inch from my waist and hips (so most of my trousers are now too big).

Again, this took, like 10 minutes and meant that I had another great pair of trousers to wear in the warmer months.

A slightly more involved alteration was this coco top that I made a couple of years ago and basically never wore because the neckline ended up really stretched out and I think the fit looked funny in such a lightweight fabric – also I have a long torso and this top just emphasised that!

So I chopped 9cm off the bottom of the top, leaving a 1cm hem allowance. I used this offcut to make a neckband, which I made 6cm shorter than the unpicked neckline, which turned out to be a good guess! The neckband was 1.5cm wide (I wrote myself notes and I don’t know if this means it was 1.5cm once folded in half or not – I think when folded in half.)

This alteration took maybe half an hour and I ended up wearing the top loads in the warmer weather – and there are some blues in the pattern which perfectly match the portbello trousers, win win! A whole new outfit with very little effort!

And now onto the items I’ve refashioned/altered since the end of Alter It August. I was looking at my wardrobe, and realised I almost never wear any of my dresses – especially now I work in a bookshop, I would feel very overdressed compared with how most people dress. I love the 2 scuba ebony dresses I made (blue, gold) – well I loved the fabric – but I realised I would get much more wear out of them as tops, so I spent a couple of hours measuring them to the length of the top version of the ebony, cutting the skirt off and hemming them into tops.

I’ve already worn both of them twice, so I definitely made the right decision!


The last item I’ve recently refashioned/altered is my chestnut sweatshirt. I know the lovely main feature of this pattern is the tie detail in the back, but I made a bad choice of fabric for my ties – I used a cotton, and not a jersey. I also always felt a bit cold in it, even though the fabric is a really thick sweat shirting, because of the gap in the back.

So I unpicked the back facing, removing the ties and cut a semi-circle to fill the gap, stitching it in place and restitching the hem on the neckline.

The piece I cut maybe makes me look a little like I have a hump, but I much prefer the filled in back and I think I’ll get lots of wear from this sweatshirt now it’s pretty cold again in the UK.

So here is my little collection of refashioned me-mades and I’ve got several new items to add into regular rotation in my wardrobe.

Do you ever alter things once they’re finished? Or do you, like me, tend to move onto the next new pattern instead of making a tiny change to an already finished make?

Me Made May 2019

I’ve just counted and realised this year will be the 6th year I’ll have done Me Made May!

This year my pledge is going to be similar to last year I think:

I will wear at least one item of me-made clothing each day in May. I will also try to find new combinations that I don’t wear often to try to mix up my me-made wardrobe. I will also make jeans!

I’ve been saying I’m going to make jeans for probably 3 or 4 years and I just need to suck it up and do it because I no longer have any jeans in my wardrobe and I desperately need some – and trousers in general actually!

I’m also going to try again to mix up my photograph taking to, again, try to break out of my rut – which obviously didn’t work last year! You can follow my daily photos over on my Instagram, and then I’ll do a recap at the end of the month.

2018 in Review

Another year is over so I’m recapping what I’ve made in the last 12 months. I thought I hadn’t made as much in previous years, but I made 5 dresses, 4 sweatshirts (2 for my friend’s daughter), 2 Cleos, 4 Pairs of trousers, one of which was part of my Socialite Soiree suit, 4 shirts, and a coat. Plus I made a Freddie Mercury outfit and refashioned a bunch of things into a Miss Fisher outfit. Phew!

Here is my final Make Nine 2018 progress – I made 5 of them, which I think is the most of any Make Nine I’ve come up with. I still didn’t yet make jeans. 2019 will definitely be the year I finally tackle jeans! I made my Honetone Coat, Carnaby Dress, Ebony Dress (twice), Blaire Shirt and Portobello Trousers.

The thing I’m proudest of making this year (as I mentioned via the #myproudestmake hashtag) is my Honetone coat. I really took my time over it in February and I’m really glad I did. Apparently there is some really cold weather coming in January so this will still get lots more wear this Winter. I kind of want to make another coat, but I probably don’t need one.

My second favourite make from this year was the suit I made to wear to the Sewcialite Soiree. I made it in record time, (unlike my coat) because I left myself, like 3 full days and 3 evenings to make it in. The Joe Jacket came together really easily and I definitely want to make another one, in black and white houndstooth – if anyone has any ideas where to buy some suiting in houndstooth, let me know!

One of my favourite makes was my cropped Kalle shirt. I definitely want to make more Kalles. I did wear it quite a bit this year as we had an unusually long Summer.

2 things that I wore way more than I anticipated were my 2 Cleos. Though sadly I wore the mustard one to work a lot and when unloading a delivery from a van I got a big black mark on it, which hasn’t come out yet. Happily I have loads of mustard corduroy left over from my suit so I’m going to replace it – I think that will be one of my first makes of 2019.

Pretty much my only refashion project (except adding a hem band to a cropped Inari tee) was to make my Miss Fisher outfit for The Rafashioners. The coat will definitely get lots of wear in Spring and Autumn when it’s not too cold.

My love affair with shirts continued – I made 4, 3 of which were from patterns I hadn’t used before. (Clockwise from top left: Blaire, Honeycomb, Melilot, Kalle)

I also made 4 pairs of trousers – and I have lots more plans for more trousers in 2019. (Clockwise from top left: Persephone Pants, Simplicity 1696, Portobello Trousers, Mercury Trousers). I really want to make more Persephone Pants next year so I’m on the lookout for good fabric.

I also made 5 dresses last year, which is a lot considering I don’t wear them super often now I work hulking fabric around all day. Dresses aren’t the most practical of garments. I love the Laurel I made – definitely a good rediscovery of a forgotten pattern in my stash. (Clockwise from top right: Inari Tee Dress, Carnaby Dress, Ebony Dress (blue and gold))

Also this year I ‘launched’ my Hundred Years Wardrobe project – to sew something from each decade of the 20th century. I also completed the first project – this 70s Freddie Mercury Zandra Rhodes outfit. Sadly I didn’t dare wear it to the cinema when I saw Bohemian Rhapsody, which was amazing!

This year I joined my local brass band, and a swing band, playing the cornet/trumpet which I played for 10 years while at school. I went to their big Christmas concert last year and the year before and last year I finally plucked up the courage to talk to the band leader and then I played at the Christmas concert this year! I also spent rather a lot of money on a set of mutes so I made some storage bags to keep them from getting bashed and scratched.

The other thing I wanted to do in 2018 was to do some knitting and to make my partner some clothes. I basically didn’t do either of these for 51 weeks of the year – I have actually done some knitting over the Christmas break. I’ve been finishing a jumper I cast on probably 3 or 4 years ago!

All in all this was a pretty good year for me – I did plenty of sewing, played lots of music and got a new job which I don’t hate. My partner turned 40 and we went away for a weekend. And I’ve tweaked some stuff in our flat so it looks nicer and works better – and I’ve been clearing out cupboards this holiday season, which has been really satisfying! I finally renewed my passport and went to visit one of my best friends, with my other best friend, in Germany finally, which was really brilliant. I always feel stupidly pleased with myself when I manage to fly somewhere on my own!

I’ve also had quite a few periods of feeling low and uninspired this year but I tried to be kind to myself and not get annoyed at myself if I didn’t sew for a couple of weeks or blog as regularly as I might have liked. Sewing and blogging should be fun hobbies so if I didn’t fancy doing them, then I didn’t and I feel good about that.

Review of 2017

As this year approaches its end I (like many other sewists and bloggers) thought it would be fun to look back and see what I achieved sewing-wise.

The main part of my planning for this year had been my #2017MakeNine but I only managed to make 4 of the 9 patterns I had planned to make.

To slightly defend myself (against who?!) I did make 3 of the 4 patterns twice. (For all the makes below, click on the photo to be taken to the full blog post).

I made 2 Marianne Dresses and I love them both – both are from quite light weight jersey so they’re not the best for the cold weather we’ve been having in the UK recently.

I also make 2 Moneta dresses, though I don’t really wear the first one because I stretched out the neckline while making it.

I also make 2 Inari Tees, and I have a dress version cut out ready for next Summer – I didn’t get around to making it last Summer as it didn’t seem to last long enough!

The other make I managed from my Make Nine was my Roberts Collection dungaree dress. I did want to make the dungaree version as well but I didn’t get around to it.

I bought denim to make both pairs of jeans back in April but I didn’t quite get around to making them. I also have 2 fabrics to make the Carolyn Pyjamas from so I think I’ll bump them onto next year’s list too.

I also had joined the #SewMyStyle project and although I knew at the outset that I wasn’t going to make all 12 garments throughout the year, I only managed one – the Toaster Sweater, which I think was the pattern from January (though I’m pretty sure I made it late).

Although I didn’t make loads of the things I had planned at the beginning of the year, I did make quite a few things in the last 12 months.

I made a few presents and non-clothes, including 2 pyjama cases (a monkey and a penguin), a sack for work, a tailor’s ham and sausage (stuffed with fabric scraps), and a moomin embroidery (which helped me realise I actually quite enjoy embroidery).

I managed to refashion 3 garments: a simple tee refashion, my Christmas Party Dress and – the one I’m probably most proud of – I refashioned one of my dad’s suits into a suit for me.

In terms of sewing from scratch, this year I made:

  • 8 dresses
  • 1 pair of trousers and one pair of culottes
  • 2 skirts
  • 8 tops
  • 1 pair of shoes

The shoes were definitely a highlight! And after listening to Jasika’s episode of the Love to Sew Podcast, I feel inspired to make more shoes!

I am also proud of having made trousers for the first time! Shame I didn’t parley this into making more pairs of trousers as they are the thing that is really lacking in my wardrobe now.

These trousers are probably my most worn make of the year, but also getting honorable mentions are my stripey jersey dress which I’ve worn loads considering it was a late-in-the-year make.

I’ve also worn my grey-blue melilot shirt loads this year, so I definitely have more planned.

I feel like I can’t do a round up of the year without mentioning my Dressmakers’ Ball dress – ooh, I’ve just realised I made an extra pair of trousers than I listed above because my dress had trousers underneath! It was definitely one of my favourite makes from the year and it was fun to do some – very basic – drafting to alter the Emery dress to make the copy of the Emma Watson outfit I liked so much.

There were some other things that I mentioned I wanted to do in 2017, like make a quilt, re-upholster a chair and make a wall hanging. I did none of these things. I did, however, complete the Wardrobe Architect project and I do think this helped me to focus my sewing and fabric buying.

Obviously on a personal level, 2017 wasn’t the best – and 2016 sucked too – so here’s hoping 2018 isn’t quite so crap and I have no family sadnesses.

Did you meet your goals in 2017? Are you rolling some of them into 2018 if not? I will – I think some of my #2018MakeNine will be the ones I didn’t make in 2017!

My Christmas Party Dress

This dress was the main thing I had to get finished in November, in time for the New Craft House Winter Party which was the first weekend in December. I did finish it in time, but it did spill into December as I was hand stitching the lining down on the Thursday before the party, which is early for me!

The fabric came from this dress which one of my work friends gave me as it didn’t fit her. It was a bit big for me, and not really my style. But I loved the fabric, so set about unpicking all the seams. Because the skirt was so full I did end up with some quite big pieces of fabric to cut my new dress from. I reused the zip and I’ve saved the boning to use at a future date if I ever need boning for something. The dress was completely lined in black shiny lining fabric, which I reused to line the bodice of my dress – there wasn’t enough fabric or any need to line the skirt.

The original dress had pockets, which I also unpicked and reused, even though the pattern I used didn’t originally have pockets. You can never have enough pockets! At the New Craft House Party everyone whose dress had pockets got a cheer when they did the best dress fashion show, and I can definitely understand why!

The pattern is the By Hand London Sophia DressBy Hand London really are the best indie pattern company for party dresses. I made the size 6 at the bust, grading to a 10 at the waist, and I cut the skirt out in size 10. In a break to my usual modus operandi, I made a muslin (well, actually I made 2) as I thought I would probably have to do a small bust adjustment, as I have done before with fitted BHL dresses.

Because of the shape of the darts on the bodice of the Sophia Dress, I did kind of fudge the bust adjustment as I didn’t want to affect the darts’ shapes so I took a 1cm wedge out underneath my bust, from the boob out to the armpit. I also extended the bust darts by 4cm, making sure to make them straight as I didn’t want to ruin the great style lines of the dress.

I don’t know if I ended up over-fitting the dress or whether I should have gone a size up at the top of the bodice and done a bigger bust adjustment, but the bodice ended up very snug – like so snug it wouldn’t do up! So I reduced the side seams’ seam allowance to 1cm instead of 1.5cm and this helped – I wanted it fitted but not so tight I couldn’t breathe! It was still maybe a little tight, but it was pretty comfortable.

Usually the place where I have to make adjustments to a fitted pattern is on the back because I have a fairly narrow back, but this pattern fitted me pretty well right out of the packet. I took a 1.5cm wedge out of the back straps, taking the widest part from the side of the strap towards the centre of my back, tapering to nothing on the arm side of the strap.

I did, however, do something very odd to the back of the dress I think when I was attaching the bodice to the skirt. I don’t know what I did, but when I then put the zip in, I made sure to line up the waist seam on both sides of the zip, but then the bodice really did not line up at the top of the zip and so neither do the darts which should match across the zip. I didn’t notice until I had stitched the lining to the bodice because The Boyfriend was kindly zipping it up for me and I didn’t zip the zip with the dress off my until it was completely finished and I was giving it a final press. Lesson learned! But it’s not tooooo noticeable – though in typical sewist style, I pointed it out to everyone at the party! Does anyone else do that? When someone says ‘I like your dress’ you point out all the things you did wrong!?

There is a sort of weird bulge over my tummy, but that’s just room for eating!

I added the pockets into the side seams right at the top because I thought them being on my hips would look the better than if they were part of the way down the side seams.

The next time I get invited to a Winter party I’ll definitely wear this dress again! Do you have a go-to festive party dress? Did you make one this year?