Category Archives: Zero Waste Sewing

A Zero Waste Dress for a Wedding

A couple of weeks ago I made this (mostly) zero waste pattern for my sister to wear to a wedding that she’s going to next year. I used the Daisy DIY Maya Dress tutorial and it was so easy to follow. The only wasted bits of fabric were the scoops you take out of the front and back necklines.

You use your own measurement to decide how but each piece needs to be. Luckily the fabric Phoebe had bought was the exact right width to get her bodice fronts and backs from one full width. The rest of the pieces used a full width too – it was a narrow width cotton. The sleeves and the ruffle at the bottom ended up being the same height, not necessarily by design but it was a happy accident. And the ruffle at the bottom was 3 widths of the fabric in total and ended up using the full length we had left. There were 3m in total of the fabric.

I honestly can’t remember the last time I did so much gathering – or any gathering for that matter! But since there are no closures, it’s a pretty quick sew – the slowest thing was hemming all the ruffles!

We did decide to use some scraps of plain navy fabric to add some pockets – because who doesn’t like pockets?! And since I took these photos I also added some waist ties, from the same navy fabric, because whereas I like the loose billowy look, Phoebe wanted to be able to shape it a little at the waist. I used the Hinterland Dress pattern pieces as a guide, and we used it for the neck shaping too as Phoebe has like 8 Hinterlands and likes the neckline, and how you can tie it for a looser or tighter fit as needed.

She was originally going to make the Zadie Jumpsuit for her wedding outfit, but then we saw about buffet dresses being a thing on the sewing bee and it seemed like it would be easier to fit, cool to wear if the weather is hot – and you avoid the whole ‘naked on the toilet’ problem you have with jumpsuits!

I really enjoyed sewing this dress, after I got over the stress of cutting into the fabric and praying our measurements were okay! It was nice to sew something for someone else and to do something relatively simple. I definitely have my eye on another of Daisy DIY’s tutorials for some fabric I’ve had for a while in my stash – I’m probably going to do the Gathered Rectangle Dress. I’ve measured my fabric and I just about have enough – and with the hot weather we’ve been having, I think it might need to be my next project! I don’t have any summer dresses really!

My niece wanted to be in the photos too! It looks like the greatest photobomb!

Some Homemade Presents

I know it’s February and maybe a little late to be sharing some homemade Christmas presents, but I actually sent these off in January so it’s not that late really!

My uni friends and I usually get together for a second Christmas (Christmas 2) in January or February of each year – though sadly for obviously plague-related reasons we haven’t been able to this year. I think it’s over 10 years we’ve been doing Christmas 2 but hopefully we’ll be able to get together next year.

Anyway to start with we all bought little presents for each other – there are 8 adults and 2 children usually in attendance so the presents got a bit much and we switched to secret santa. We thought about still doing that this year and did a secret santa charity donation instead of actual presents (where you donate to the charity the person you picked has chosen) but we girls in the group decided to exchange little things anyway to cheer each other up – but with the budget of free!

So enter trying to thing of things to make from stuff already in my stash – which is vastly depleted because of sewing all the things last year!

I decided to make them each some reusable make-up pads as I love mine so much! I used 2 different jerseys for the back to make them specific to the person.

I then crocheted a bag to keep them in – which doubles up as a bag you can wash them in so they don’t clog up your washing machine!

And then I made us each (I made one for myself too while I was making them) a sleep mask as I find it much easier to get to sleep, if I’m having trouble drifting off, if I’m wearing a sleep mask.

I also included some books from my collection for each of my friends to make the gift a bit more substantial – I’ve felt a desire to get rid of lots of stuff since being in lockdown for so much of the year. Maybe you just look around your house more when you’re in it for so much?! I found myself looking at my bookcases going ‘why do I still have that’ so I had a massive clear out and passed things I thought they would like to my friends – win win!

 

 

A review of 2020

I’ve done review posts (and then planning posts for the forthcoming year) for quite a few years on this blog and I wasn’t going to do one this year (I won’t be doing a planning post) but then I realised it’s been my most productive sewing year so far so it would be a shame not to celebrate all the things I’ve made.

I do want to acknowledge my privilege before I dive into my makes because I know a lot of people have lost friends and family members this year and have lost jobs and had their lives as they knew them fall apart. I myself work in a bookshop and was furloughed when the UK went into lockdown in March and was about to go back to work when we entered the second lockdown in November, but this was delayed until December. I was back at work for 4 weeks and a day when Gloucestershire was moved to tier 4 (today) meaning that I am furloughed again. I have been paid at least 80% of my wages that whole time and my partner and I have relatively low outgoings (and he went back to work in June) so we have been okay financially. I also have a flat to live in and hobbies to occupy me so I was able to enjoy most of my time not working. There were weeks when I was fed up of being in my house, but I did manage to visit family in the Summer when it was permitted and we have my partner’s family close by where we live. I have no children so I didn’t have to suddenly become a teacher over night and this means my time has been my own to do with as I please. I have also had regular online chats with my close group of friends from uni and I feel we have deepened out friendships – usually we try to meet up once per year and have a whatsapp chat but it has been nice to feel like we are close together even when we are (literally in some cases) thousands of miles apart.

With all that said for the first 3 or so months of the lockdown I sewed ALL THE THINGS that I had in my mind to make for probably years. I had bought fabric with specific projects in mind and then never quite got around to them, even with moving to working part-time last June (2019). In 2019 I made 16 garments and in 2020 I made 35 garments (2 of which I haven’t yet shared here) and refashioned one. That’s quite a difference!

I’ll start with jackets and coats – I didn’t realise I made 4!

Sequined Bomber jacket

Houndstooth Richmond jacket


Gold Rumana Coat

Victoria Blazer Coat hack

And of course, no sewing year for me would be complete without a bunch of shirts!

Blue and Pink Popover Kalle

Yellow Geometric Kalle

Faces Kalle


White and Black Checked Blaire

Classic White Melilot

I also did some epic scrap-busting and made a load of Inari Tees from larger scraps I had in my stash.

Silver Knit Inari

Electric Blue Inari

Jungle Print Inari


Crowd Inari


Cotton Lawn Inari


Pink Striped Inari


Yellow Geometric Inari


Black Striped Inari

2020 was also the year of making jeans for me – I made 5 pairs in total!

Ginger Jeans

First Pair of Dawn Jeans


Pale Denim Dawn Jeans


Black Skinny Dawn Jeans


Navy Skinny Dawn Jeans

I also made some other trousers that weren’t jeans!

Black Crepe Evelyn Trousers

Grey Hudson Sweatpants

Navy Blue Hudson Sweatpants

Navy Blue Double Gauze Arden Pants

Mustard Double Gauze Arden Pants

I finally made 2 pairs of Carolyn Pyjamas, the fabrics for which I had had for years and years!

Liberty Cotton Carolyn Pyjamas

Boaty Carolyn Pyjamas

I refashioned my Sew Over It Anderson blouse into a Marilla Walker Mercury top and I very much prefer the new iteration of this gorgeous fabric!

I made another Cleo dungaree dress mostly just to use up some leftover denim. I’m not sure how much wear it will get to be honest!

I also made another Sew Over It Nancy Dress – again not sure how much wear it will get, though it will certainly have to wait for warmer weather either way.

Another make  I’m not sure will get much (if any) wear is this Sallie Jumpsuit. The fabric is a little too thin and clingy for me to feel completely comfortable.


On the opposite end of the scale is my denim Roberts dungarees which have already had sooo much wear! They’re so comfortable and a good choice for days when I’m mostly sitting at home but don’t want to wear sweatpants!

It’s no wonder after all the sewing – and all the new items for my wardrobe – that I slightly ran out of steam after the first few months! Though a few things were made after the first main batch, the vast majority were made in April, May and June.

I want to try my hand at underwear in 2021 – I bought some supplies to make period pants, to find another way to be more sustainable and reduce my impact on the environment. I did made reusable make-up wipes this year and they have been a triumph!

I also stopped wearing bras really at all last Winter (under so many layers of clothes when it’s freezing at work, who can tell anyway!) but in the Summer with only one layer on I do kind of want at least something else to protect and slightly support my boobs so I’m going to have a go at making some bralettes. I’m lucky that I don’t need the support of underwiring or more supportive bras – when I was younger (like a teenager) I wished I had bigger boobs but now I’m so glad they’re not!

I’ve also got a (rescheduled) wedding to attend in the Summer so I’ll definitely be making a new outfit – I don’t feel like I went out that much before the pandemic but I like having bigger events to go to as an excuse to make something fancier than I would wear in my every day life.

But these are my only plans – I used to plan yearly and monthly my makes but I almost never followed through with the plans so I’m just have ideas for now. And now my wardrobe if necessary items is pretty much complete I might have a go at some more frivolous makes just for fun – and to expand my sewing skills!

Happy New Year! And thank you for following my making journey this year – I’m so thankful I have had sewing to keep me occupied for the vast majority of 2020!

Reusable Make Up Pads (finally)

I’ve been meaning to make some reusable make up pads for aaaaages and kept procrastinating for some reason.

I started off my measuring one of my last disposable cotton wool pads to get a rough size, and decided to round up to 6cm for ease of measuring – instead of going for, like, 5.8cm!

I had been keeping this leftover sweat-shirting (from my CocoWawa crafts chestnut sweatshirt) specifically for making these pads because it’s fleece-lined and I figured that would be nice and soft on my face. I’ve read some other people’s posts about making these and it seemed like softness was key.

I also used some striped jersey scraps for the backs. It was necessarily deliberate that both fabrics I used for the back were stripey but it’s a happy accident as I think they look cute!

I decided to go for squares instead of circles because a) it would be less wasteful of fabric and b) it would be easier for overlocking as I don’t think I’m that dexterous to feed tiny circles through my overlocker.

I spent an evening in front of the TV tying off all of the overlocker ends and now they look all neat and nice! I did get a little carried away and made, like 60! But my thought process was the more I make, the less often I have to wash them. I think I need to make a bag to wash them inside but obviously it has to be loosely woven to allow them to actually get washed – but I don’t fancy having them floating un-tethered around the washing machine. Any suggestions?

I had this jar lying around (which I was using for porridge oats but I don’t really eat porridge any more) and it’s the perfect size for all of the pads. I have used them for a week or so since finishing them and I have to say I prefer them to the disposable versions. They’re actually softer than cotton wool, and my face feels just as cleansed. I haven’t been wearing much make-up recently (and don’t generally wear loads) but I did have eye-liner and mascara on one day and there was no problem removing it all.

I’m sooo glad I finally got around to making these – I felt bad every time I threw one of the cotton wool ones in the bin! What are your favourite sustainable things (homemade or not) which have reduced your impact on the planet?

 

 

Scrap Busting Pouf

In September New Craft House ran an Instagram challenge called Sew Yourself Sustainable and I joined in with some of the days (I’m terrible at joining in for a whole month for these kinds of challenges) and I pledged that I would make a Pouf out of some scraps and I actually did it! ZOMG!

These are the fabrics I used, piled on top of one of 2 bin bags full of scraps I’d been hoarding for ages! The blue and gold check was from this skirt refashion into a top which I never really wore because I shrank it in the wash (much sad). The gold denim was leftover from my first mustard cleo, the navy twill was left over from this skirt I made years and years ago, and the blue and black fabric on the right is from my coat.

The pattern is this free one from Closet Case Patterns. I cut out all my top pieces, and the side pieces – there wasn’t quite enough of some of the fabrics to make the sides completely match with the top, but both top and sides follow a pattern rather than being random. As instructed in the pattern, I overlocked all the edges of the pieces before I started sewing them together.

I failed to really take any more progress pictures, but I left off the optional piping and the bottom is completely made of the navy twill as I had the most of that left. I also put a zip from my stash in the bottom so I could stuff the pouf and then zip it closed. I didn’t (yet) make the bag for inside the pouf to hold all the scraps as I wasn’t sure I would need it to be washable, and so far it’s okay, but I could always make a bag some time in the future.

Yay! It has made a real difference to mine and my partner’s comfort while sitting on our sofa – as you can see our tv snug is quite small and we only have a 2 seater sofa so there’s not really anywhere to stretch out……until now!

Be warned, by the way (as I think Closet Case have mentioned) this takes A LOT of scraps to fill up. I had 2 full bin bags full of various scraps and I used all of them! And I think it could even hold more, as the scraps have settled and compressed a little.

These photos weren’t staged at all! 😆

I do love this and it really took an afternoon to cut out (and decide which fabrics were going where) and to sew it! I would definitely recommend doing this if you’ve got tonnes of scraps lying around. I feel like this could also double as a spare seat (almost) if we ever have more than the 2 of us watching tv!

I’m so pleased the New Craft House challenge finally prompted me to make this project – I always put of things like this and I don’t know why. They’re always much quicker than I think and the pay off is totally worth it!