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?

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):

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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.

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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.

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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?

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Best Makes of 2015

So since it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d do the obvious thing of looking back over the last year and seeing what I’ve made and done. This was inspired in part by the Instragram #2015BestNine hashtag.

Instagram Best 9

I’ve made myself 14 garments, which isn’t really that many – I have felt like I haven’t had as much time for sewing as I would have liked.

I particularly like my BHL Victoria Blazer, and definitely feel smarter when I wear it instead of a cardigan.  I like my Merchant and Mills denim Dress Shirt, too.

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I made a few things with knits, for the first time this year: a Closet Case Files Sallie Maxi Dress; a Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress; and a Breton-style Deer and Doe Plantain Tee.

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I have also refashioned 7 things, so I’ve been a bit more productive than a first glance might imply!

My 3 favourite refashions were my ugly skirt to Grainline Scout tee (which I unfortunately shrank in the wash, boo!), my Refashioners Dear Creatures rip-off and, probably the one I’m most proud of, my ugly coat which I remade into a Freemantle Coat.

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I’ve made 6 non-clothes things, including my first (pusheen) and second amigurumi (a Minion), and my first scrapbook, for my Dad’s 65th Birthday.

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But my very favourite non-clothes thing (and probably favourite out of everything I’ve made) was the felt allotment I made for my friend’s daughter for Christmas 2 (which happens in January so this was made this year). This was one of those things that I saw on A Beautiful Mess and knew I had to make it, and then was super excited to see my friend’s daughter open it! I was almost too excited to wait until the present exchange, and wanted to open it as soon as I arrived for Christmas 2!

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This is the anniversary of this blog, too – I had an old one but transferred the content over and focused just on sewing and crafty things (I had previously written about food and books too), and I’ve introduced a couple of new regular posts – style inspiration and fashion history. I’ll continue with these I think, as they help me to cement my personal style and guide me what to make next! I’ve also reviewed some books, events and shops. You can see the archive of all these posts here.

Thank you to everyone who has read my blog this year and I hope you’ll come back in 2016. xx

The Refashioners: Dear Creatures rip off!

So after the success of finishing my Made Up Initiative dress, this is the second time I’ve finished a sewalong on time! Hopefully this is also the first of my 2 entries to the Refashioners. The second shirt is currently in the washing machine being dyed, so I haven’t got much time to then refashion it, so we’ll see if I get it done in time!

I decided to make this beige shirt into something that made it unrecognisable as a shirt. I bought the biggest size I could find in my local charity shop. (I maybe should have ironed it before these pictures!)

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I also chose one in a solid colour, as I was planning to dye it, and this beige one seemed the best option for taking multiple colours of dye.

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As you can see, it was only £2.99, which is pretty cheap for the amount of fabric.

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I decided pretty early on that I would use a Dear Creatures top as my inspiration. It’s called the optimist sweater, which is quite lovely!

Dear Creatures inspiration 1

Dear Creatures inspiration 2(images source)

It looks like this top/ jumper has all the colours knitted together, but I had to cut out the pieces separately. I used my beloved Grainline Scout Tee pattern as the base, and traced it off in a size 6, a size larger than I’ve made before as I feel like the Scouts I’ve made before are a little short and perhaps snugger than I would like – I’ve developed a taste for more loose-fitting tops these days. I traced the pattern so that I had the back and front as whole pieces (so I traced the front one half, then flipped the paper and traced the other side. I think that makes sense!? I planned where the colours would go:

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My colours don’t match the Dear Creatures one completely – because my shirt was beige, I didn’t have the white (if only I’d been able to find a white shirt!), so I added green where the white is in the original one.

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Once I’d got my front and back traced off, I drew the lines on to divide where I wanted the colours, making sure to match the lines on the side seams and shoulder seam, where the colours bisected the seams. I then re-traced each of the little shapes, adding 1.5cm seam allowance to each part that needed to meet another part (I failed to take any pictures to illustrate this unfortunately).

Once I’d cut out all the pieces, I put them in 3 piles: yellow, blue, and green and dyed each little pile. The fabric is pretty synthetic so didn’t take the full colour, which I’m actually quite pleased about – I used Dylon’s hand dyes in Sunflower Yellow, Navy Blue and Dark Green. For reference of the colour, I put the trousers I’m wearing in these pictures in the navy dye to give them a bit of a lift, where they’d faded – obviously they were already navy blue, but the dye definitely made them a richer shade.

This is what the pieces looked like when dyed:

Beige-Refashioners-Shirt-4And this is them all sewn together:

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It took quite a while to sew all the pieced together, and the corner where the blue and green both meet the yellow was really fiddley – I couldn’t get it to be a squarer corner. I clipped the yellow a bit to try to make it go around the corner, but the best I could do was the slightly corners you can see above.

To make sure the seams didn’t get annoying on the inside, I zig-zagged the seam allowances separately and then top stitched them with contrasting yellow thread.

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I’m really glad I decided to do the top stitching as it makes the difference between the colours more accented somehow. I used the same thread for the hems and neckline, to give it some uniformity.

The back is the reverse of the front….

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…..which means there are some really nice shapes on the side seams, where the various colours meet. I like the yellow sort-of-star.

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And there’s a nice point on the other side, which I definitely don’t think you’d see so much if not for the top-stitching.

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The only other change I made to the pattern, aside from the colour-blocking, was to make the sleeves a little longer – by 7cm. I considered doing the half-and-half sleeve (blue and yellow), but I couldn’t really be bothered to be honest!

Beige-Refashioners-Shirt-9Beige-Refashioners-Shirt-16All in all, I’m really pleased with how this turned out! It took a while to trace all the pattern pieces and cut it out, but once it was dyed, it was pretty quick to assemble – I’ve made the Scout Tee so many times I don’t need to think about it. I used French seams for the construction, so, with the zig-zagged and top-stitched colour block joins, the inside looks almost as nice as the outside!

Are you/ Have you made something for the refashioners?

I’ve refashioned some of my me-mades!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may know that ages ago (I think 2 years ago) I made 2 BHL Elisalex dressesone as a wearable muslin and one for a wedding – and there have now been 2 Me Made Mays (2014 and 2015) where I have failed to wear them. I have worn them only 2 or 3 times each – it always seems a shame to spend all that time making something and then when it’s finished you’re not sure whether it’s your style. I’m getting better at knowing this, but I still get seduced by new shiny patterns, especially if a lot of the blogosphere make them, even if probably really deep down I know that it maybe won’t suit me.

So here they were in their original incarnations:

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You can read the full post on the blue one here and the green one here. IMAG0595

 

 

I kind of liked them at the time, but I think I over-fitted them so they were a bit too tight to be comfortable and although I did hack quite a lot off the length, they still look a bit frumpy. I have finally realised, as a short-arse, that above the knee is my friend!

Here they are in their new forms!

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I should really have ironed the green one before I took the pictures! Also, these photos are still blurry. I really don’t know what to do about it – I think I need more light, so I may need to get over the embarrassment of taking outfit pictures outside! The problem is our flat has no outside space and the house it’s in has no private space, so I have to stand on the street! I’ll find a nice secluded street somewhere……

Blue-Elisalex-refashion-3Green-Elisalex-refashion-3

There are, I think 2 fairly obvious changes: 1. I got rid of the sleeves; 2. I got rid of the pleats on the skirt in favour of gathers. I think it’s much better without sleeves – the neckline looks less wide somehow. I was conscious that they made my shoulders look wide, so this is definitely an improvement. I was worried I would have to alter the armscye as this can be a problem when you just take off sleeves, but it seems fine.

I removed the pleats in favour of the softer gathers because I felt like the exaggerated shape didn’t really do me any favours – they seemed to emphasise just below the widest part of my hips, not a good look! I unpicked the lining and then the whole waist seam, but left the zip in place, and then gathered the skirt and resewed it to the bodice, matching the side seams. I couldn’t face redoing the zips after the faff of putting them in about 12 times each when I made the dresses!

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A change you made not be able to see is that while I had the lining unpicked, I let out the side seams (of the dress and lining) by 0.5cm as they were just too tight to be comfortable before. I also lopped another chunk off the length – 7cm with a 2cm hem, so 9cm in total. I’ve just looked at my original post and I took 20cm off the original length, so it’s now 29cm shorter than the pattern! That’s basically a foot!

Blue-Elisalex-refashion-4Green-Elisalex-refashion-4We had a mini heat wave in London a few weeks ago (and it’s been kinda cold since then, boo!) so I wore both dresses then, and I wore one of them to do to the theatre and I got loads of compliments from people at my work! Yay! I love it when someone says ‘I love your dress’ and you can smugly reply ‘I made it’! But once people learn you make stuff, they then ask if you’ve made it which always makes me paranoid it looks all homemade and crap! Anyway, enough rambling!

Have you ever re-made something you’ve made? I normally am too lazy, but I’m glad I changed these as they are totally wearable now!