Tag Archives: Wool

Fabric Inspiration: Wool

After the (modest) success of remaking my wool skirt into a cape, I’m hankering after making more things from wool……perfect time of the year, right!?

In looking for photos as research for this post, it occurs to me that wool is a really versatile fabric. You can make all of the below things from wool – skirts (pencil, pleated and circle), dresses (wiggle, fit and flare, and maxi) and, of course, coats and jackets.

I like this skirt because of the fabric – I like the black lines that perfectly line up with the pleats.
Wool Circle Skirt(image source)I can’t resist anything blue pretty much, so I love this one!

Blue Wool Pleated Skirt(image source)

This skirt is from the 60s (which I think is why I was drawn to it) so it shows that wool is also hard-wearing, and lasts a long time. As long as the moths don’t get it!

1960s Olive Green Wool Pleated Skirt(image source)

I like how this one has the pleats starting lower down so it’s smoother over the hips, which I assume is slimming.

Jade Wool Pleated Skirt(image source)

When I was first thinking of a post about wool, I assumed it would all be black, brown and other dark colours, but I was wrong! Electric blue, olive, turquoise and pink. Lovely.

Pink Wool Pleated Skirt(image source)

The pencil skirt is a classic garment to make with wool. I particularly like this grey one – I think it’s the styling (and the model’s legs) that makes it particularly awesome! If only I could wear heels for more than 5 minutes at a time……

Grey Wool Pencil Skirt(image source)

Wool Pencil Skirt(image source)

We can add mustard yellow to the colours of wool available!

Mustard Yellow Wool Pencil Skirt(image source)

If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know I like masculine, boxy styles (as well as 60s styles), so I love this grey wool coat/jacket.

Grey Boxy Wool Jacket
(image source)

More mustard yellow!

Mustard Yellow Wool Coat
(image source)

Coral is definitely a colour that is one of my new favourite colours, and it seems to be in several high street shops at the moment, so it’s obviously one of the colours randomly picked for this season. Anyway, I like the combination of a sort of girly colour and a masculine shape of coat.

Coral Wool Boxy Coat
(image source)

The wiggle dress is a classic to be made of wool – they make me think of Joan from Mad Men.

Grey Wool Wiggle Dress(image source)

Blue Wool Wiggle Dress(image source)

Since I like the 60s, I do enjoy a black dress with a white collar and cuffs. The babydoll style is obviously a classic of the 60s and it’s starting to grow on me.

Black Wool Babydoll Dress
(image source)

Ah, Pierre Cardin. Lovely!

1960s Pierre Cardin Wool Dress(image source)

I love this lime green cocoon-y dress with the blossom embroidery. It looks so Springy! It’s making me want the weather to finally warm up.

Lime Cocoon Wool Dress with Blossom(image source)

I like this wool, the black with speckles on. And the shape makes the wool look really modern.

Black Sparkly Wool Dress(image source)

Who knew you could make a maxi dress from wool!

Green Wool Maxi Dress
(image source)

This is a great green too, and I actually like the bow – normally I don’t like things that are too fussy, but I’ll make an exception for this one!

1950s Green Dress with Bow(image source)

When I do next sew with wool, I really have to make a coat for The Boyfriend. I promised to in January, but then we decided to move and now it’s almost Spring so it seems like a silly time of year to make a Winter coat! Have you sewn with wool? Outerwear or ‘inner’ wear?




Fabric Inspiration - Lace Tartan Skirt to Cape Pink-Francoise-thumb 2



Refashion: Tartan Wool Skirt into Cape!

I’ve got a mostly successful refashion to share with you today. You may or may not remember this skirt which I bought from a now defunct charity shop in Islington. I bought 4 things at the same time and have refashioned the other 3 already (I made a skirt into a Scout Tee, an ugly dress into a less ugly dress and an ugly coat into a Freemantle coat), so it felt overdue to give this one a new life.


I ummed and ahhed about what to make and, having rejected making a different kind of skirt, had the brainwave to make a cape! I’m not really sure where the idea came from or how much wear I’ll get from it, but I had fun making it.


The first thing I did was to unpick the whole skirt – I removed the zip, which was broken anyway,

Skirt-to-Cape-Refashion-Before-Broken Zip

unpicked all these deep pleats, and separated the lining from the main fabric.


When it was all unpicked, it turned out there was loads of fabric! I couldn’t even get it all in one photo!


I separated the 2 halves of the skirt – where you can see it’s slightly shaped in the above photo and used one half to make the main, back part of the cape. This would have been a lot easier with a dress form, but given I don’t have one yet, I improvised. I pinned the half of the skirt to the shoulders of my cardigan, so they sat where I wanted the shoulder seams to be on the cape. I then took the cardigan off, with the fabric attached.


I used the cardigan method to tell me how much of the fabric to gather across my back. It turned out I had to gather pretty much the whole width as much as it would gather, considering it is quite think wool fabric. I then used the original waistband to make half a collar, which also secured the gathers.


The next thing I did was to use the other half of the skirt to cut the front pieces for each side. Given that the skirt was slightly shaped at the hips, I used this shaping as a guide to follow my shoulders. I attached these 2 pieces to each side of the back, leaving a gap about 25 cm up and of about 25 cm for the arm holes. I then tried it on and adjusted the seam to better fit the curve of my shoulders, trimming away the excess seam allowance.


Since I was making this all up as I went along, I realised the waist band part would make a great stand-up collar – when I first attached it I wasn’t sure if it would be more of a yolk, but collar it was. I therefore applied interfacing to stiffen it a bit. I used some remnants of some white interfacing I had because it’s a thicker, more papery weight than the black interfacing I have in my stash.

The cape was all going swimmingly up to this point. I decided to use the original lining from the skirt as the lining for the cape – this turned out to be an error, but I’ll explain why later.

I had kept the lining in one piece and lined the centre seam up with the centre of the cape back. I cut 2 facing pieces from what was left of the skirt fabric and when I lined it all up with the collar of the shell, the lining really overlapped at the top of the facing and there was a big gap at the bottom, so I trimmed off the overlap at the top and sewed a triangular wedge onto the bottom – you can see my rough chalk marks where I measured it and the wedge pinned on below.


I also added a couple of darts into the lining so it would better follow the shape of my shoulders – and the shape of the shell. I ended up unpicking these later, however.


The problem was that the lining was much smaller than the shell – the lining of the skirt was as big as the outer fabric once the pleats were all pleated already, so it makes sense there wasn’t as much lining fabric. With jackets and things, ideally the lining should be a little bigger than the shell (and often with a pleat at centre back) to allow for movement. I only discovered my mistake once I’d pretty much finished the cape and then tried it on. It didn’t sit properly over my shoulders as there wasn’t as much room in the lining as in the shell, and the armholes proved very difficult to neated – the lining fabric pulled up the hem (which I had already sewn, another mistake!) when I pinned it to the shell armhole, if that makes sense? The only work-around I could come up with was to add an extra triangle of fabric above the shell armhole in the lining, so the lining would more accurately match the shape of the shell.


This did pretty much work, even if it may not look the neatest on the inside.

After all the drama of the lining, I cut another strip the same size as the waist-band collar to sew to the inside of the collar, neatening the attachment of the lining at the neck.


It doesn’t look too shabby on the inside, if I do say so myself!


Now I’m just going to spam you with pictures of the finished cape – I used a couple of toggles from my stash (which were a present from my awesome friend!) to fasten the neck. I had thought it would meet more in the middle than it does, but I blame the lining! I blame the lining for all it’s ills.



I love the cocoon-y shape it makes from the side!


Showing off the bastard lining, and trying to look pleased with it……


I had to do a superhero pose – sorry not sorry. I don’t know what superhero I’d be – Tartan Girl? Refashion Woman? Any better suggestions?

Although I have moaned a lot about the problems with this cape, it only took really a day and a bit to make (spread over 3 days) and I have never made a cape before from a  proper pattern and aside from some random googling, I didn’t really know what one looked like, so I’m pretty pleased I’ve ended up with a wearable garment. I was listening to a podcast while I was sewing with the lady who runs Workroom Social in Brooklyn and she said she tries to teach her students not to necessarily unpick every little mistake they make and instead to look for ways around the problem, hoping you would learn from the mistake and mistake-solving next time. There’s often a lot of pressure in sewing to produce something ‘perfect’ but I know I’m not quite that good yet, so this cape is definitely good enough. Do you unpick all your mistakes or do you soldier on through?