A lot of nature and a bit of sewing

flowersGorgeous aren’t they?

We went to Down House, home of Charles Darwin this weekend.  If you are at all interested in science or nature I really recommend it. I think children would love it too: there’s lots of interactive stuff to explain the theories and the cakes in the tearoom are yummy….

The flowers were just outside his greenhouse / lab.

Darwin's greenhouseThis picture has the “bit of sewing” mentioned in the title. The top was once this dress

After alteringI altered it to this length but I still didn’t wear it; so now it’s a top and I’ve worn it a lot. I also raised the neckline a bit.  I’ve lost a tiny amount of weight and that made the dress gape a bit at the neck.

What is this?Another plant caught my eye but I don’t know what it is. It looks like it’s been painted pink and white.

It was a bit cold yesterday and I had intended to wear this:

1930s dress overdyedThis is my 1930s dress which I’ve now overdyed with Dylon’s French Lavender.  I think it will get a lot more wear now.  Somehow, the white background put me off and it’s such a shame not to wear something you’ve spent hours slaving over. The pink shoes are from Hobbs’ sale a few years ago.

I haven’t been sewing much for myself recently because my little sewing business has started to get busier nad I just haven’t had time. Plenty of plans in my head though.

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A Sunny Weekend

Day 25I went to a Vintage fair on Saturday, only to discover it was actually on Sunday.

Still, I got the chance to wear my lovely new shoes

New Shoes!These arrived last week from Kinky Melon.  1970s, unworn & my size. Aren’t they lovely?

Avoca dressAs the vintage fair was only a few minutes cycle ride away, I went on Sunday too. I wore this summery Avoca dress as it was such a lovely day.

Avoca dress close upI know it’s not me- made but I think it counts for MeMadeMay.  I had to sew up the front to make it wearable.  I have no problem with showing cleavage, but this dress gaped & I would guess that was why its original owner gave it away.  I also did a few minor repairs.  I convinced myself it counted anyway……

1930s buttonsAnd I bought these lovely vintage buttons – 1930s, I think.  I don’t know what I’ll use them for but use them I will.

Linking to Lakota’s Ta Dah Tuesday.

A Mistake!

Completed SureauThis is it: Robe Sureau complete.  But I won’t be showing any photos of me wearing it because it looked awful.

I did make a toile but thought it looked silly on me because old sheets aren’t always very flattering.  Unfortunately, it just does look ridiculous on me.

I did everything I could to save it – added bias trims, tried various buttons – but I think the basic shape is just wrong for me.

Remains of the Sureau & Day 13I didn’t want to discard it completely, so I removed the top, changed the zip and added a waistband.

Me Mades: Purple wool teeshirt,newly refashioned skirt, shoes.

Linking to Visible Monday. Why not go & take a look?

More Quilting & a bit of Me Made May

I’ve been hand quilting a waistcoat for the Weald & Downland Museum & thought you might like to see it.  Baasically, it’s a 17th century bodywarmer.  The top is a fine pale green wool, there’s carded sheeps wool in the centre and a linen backing. It’s quilted with linen thread which has to be waxed.

Quilted waistcoat

This is the waistcoat quilted & ready to be made up.

Quilting 17th century styleIt took me about 15 hours to quilt.  The thick linen backing means that it’s hard to get up any speed.

I decided to show a couple of Me Made May outfits because I particularly like them.

Me Made MayI think it might be the setting like best rather than the outfit.

This is a refashioned (altered & dyed) skirt and a top made from another skirt.

Top, no pattern requiredThis is my favourite top.  I made it from a Liberty Print skirt I found in a charity shop. Those are my me made shoes too.  I’ve worn them most days this month. The trousers are Olsen from a charity shop.

Some days I’ve only got one visible me made but I always wear my me made knickers, so that’s two. (In answer to Curtise).

I’ve got a dress in progress at the moment so I will have something new to wear this month. Hooray!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

In My Wardrobe

Me-Made-May’13 is almost here and I have made a pledge to wear at least two of my “me-mades” or refashioned items everyday. It will be the 4th time I’ve joined in one of these challenges organised by Zoe. In preparation, I’ve been looking at what I’ve actually got…

Me Made WardrobeThese are my refashions and made by me clothes.  A few things are in the laundry pile.  There is also a couple of rescued jumpers I dyed, a drawer full of me-made knickers, some scarves, a few bags and a couple of longsleeved teeshirts.

Oh, and of course these…

me made shoesMy much loved shoes made on a course at Green Shoes last year.

not me madeAnd this is the heap of clothes I took out of the wardrobe to show off the me-mades. This time there might be more me-mades than bought things. Well, maybe.

It’s been my aim for years to try out making every type of garment.  My bra making didn’t work and my knitting is appalling – likely to grow as soon as washed.

Fairisle jumperI knitted this much loved fairisle jumper, but it grew big enough to fit a large man: and I couldn’t find one who wanted to wear a turquoise and mustard jumper.

So when I tried knitting socks, it only ended well because my lovely friend eventually took them away and did them for me.  I do mend them though.

Darned socksAnd jeans: I don’t make them but I wear them.  I know lots of you wouldn’t wear them and I can see why, but I do for part of almost every day.  I walk the dog, dig the allotment, muck out and ride in them.  I do try to add a homemade or refashioned top to go with them.

I used to buy new jeans but the manager of one of the local charity shops told me that most jeans end up going for rags because unless more or less perfect, they were very hard to sell. Since then I’ve been hunting out second hand and shortening them where necessary. I don’t need perfection.

So that’s my me-made wardrobe.  I won’t be doing outfit posts unless I’ve something new to show, but I’ll put a link to Flickr where you will be able to see my clothes and those of lots of others who’ll be joining in the challenge.

And here’s my pledge  “I, Norma, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May’13. I endeavour to wear at least 2 me-made or refashioned items each day for the duration of May 2013.”

PS. Thank you for your lovely comments on my refashioned blouse. I really appreciate them.

Refashioning a Shirt

Remember this?

Shirt - beforeIt’s a shirt I bought in a charity shop because the linen was good quality. My aim was to turn it into something I could wear day to day.

Shirt - afterFront view

Shirt - afterBack view – I particularly like the back

I hung it on a door so that I could gradually work out what to do with it. It was a bit of a puzzle.

Below are the stages I went through to do it.  Obviously, the shirt might not be to your taste but the principles apply to remaking any large boxy shirt into something wearable.

Cut off the collarCut off the collar.  I wanted the shirt to have a Nehru collar so I used the collar stand.  It would fray left like this so I needed to bind it.  I chose linen left over from making a dress.

Making bias bindingAdd bias bindingAMake and add bias binding.

Cut to lengthHem

Cut to length & hem

New buttons

Remove old & add new buttons. Make extra buttonholes. The shirt just had too few buttons to hold together properly.

Back tabBack tabShape the back with tucks & cover with a tab made from left over fabric. Add buttons.

Making tabs

Make tabs to shape the front. Tabs are at the waist for both back & front.

Cut sleeves Bind sleeves

Decide on sleeve length. Cut, finish raw edge and bind sleeve.

And that’s it!

Shirt - after

The Englishwoman’s Wardrobe

Book

This book is one of my latest charity shop finds. It was published in 1986 and was apparently in a series of books looking at the Englishwoman’s kitchen, garde and bedroom.  I haven’t seen the others but this one is fascinating.  25 women let the photographer look at their wardrobes and they talk about how they choose their clothes, their likes and dislikes, whose dress sense they admire etc.  Of course it isn’t free from the usual range of advice – how to avoid “mutton dressed as lamb”, older women shouldn’t have too much flesh on show etc, etc.

It’s a bit like blogs today – full of individual styles and opinions.

Shirt - beforeStripes never come out well on my blog photos but this is a rather large shirt made of lovely linen.  It’s going to be a new top very soon.

DressDress Another recent charity shop find.  This dress is made of lovely fabric but it’s an odd length for me.  I think if I take six inches off the length it will be good for summer.  I’ll need a bit of sun before wearing: my legs are so white after this long winter. Or maybe I should follow the advice in my new book and not show so much flesh now I’m middle aged.

What do you think?