Sunday, 23 August 2015


"The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”

It's been a long time since I posted here. I have been coping with big changes - divorce, re-training, new work and the sale and clearing of our big family house, moving, and furnishing our new, much smaller home. All the major things we need are now in place.

During this process I thought a surprising amount about sewing and blogging. Mostly day dreams about the things I would make, when.  I kept up my blog reading, which was a connection to sewing when I didn't have time to do any. I haven't always taken time out to leave a comment, but thank you. I really appreciated and enjoyed your updates.

So now life is busier than ever. The thought crossed my mind, perhaps I should give up sewing. However, I find it intensely absorbing and relaxing - has anyone else noticed that an hour spent sewing is a lot shorter than an hour doing housework?  Also, I don't enjoy shopping and I'm not easy to fit, as I am petite in height and average in every other respect apart from bust size. A life spent dressed in second had t-shirts doesn't sound too appealing. That's before I even get to the ethical issues.

So the sewing machine and overlocker are out of their covers. I'm starting back with some nightwear. I want easy to fit successes to begin with.

I thought about my blog, too. It has been in many ways experimental. I have sometimes been distracted by the style of other people, not to mention the massive amount of patterns now available. Colour analysis and the (first) Colette Wardrobe Architect project were ways I tried to identify what I wanted to make and wear, but strangely this time of 'not doing' has been more useful than either. Without consciously persuing anything I seem to have arrived at some conclusions!

The designs I like best are simple. It doesn't matter what era the pattern is from, I love a clean line. This was what I somehow couldn't get to when I was looking for a style word.
My five 'most worn' garments from the project.

I've also thoroughly revised my fabric and pattern stashes. I really enjoyed it, and I like knowing I have collections containing what I want to make and will use, instead of just collections! I confess to keeping some really strange secondhand fabrics. I have a bit of a blind spot in that area, and guess I will make some really strange clothes out of them.

Finally, I am working on a new blog which I hope will look cleaner and more modern. I will put a link up here when it's ready, which will be when I can capture one of my offspring long enough to take a couple of photos. 

Finally, I've really missed sewing and blogging. It's great to be back!

Philippa x

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Re-re-cycled Skirt

Firstly, group apology if I normally comment on your blog. I am so behind on blog reading. I am still adjusting to working so much and am used to a lot more free time. I'm pleased to say the job is worth it and I already feel very much at home, but yes my online and real life social life have taken a bit of a dive.

Anyway. My first completed garment of the year is a skirt refashioned from a skirt I made from a thrifted dress. The first skirt I made was too short to be worn at the midi length I originally intended, unless it was pulled down low on my hips which wasn't comfortable (not sure how that happened - it was one of my beginners mistakes). It has never been worn but was a useful trial for the skirt I finally made here

I kept it because I like the warm fabric and the golds, creams and blues in the pattern. This is the 'new improved' skirt:

The material is not like a modern fabric. The closest thing I can compare it to is ponte. It is one of those indestructible non-iron blends, but this one has the advantage of being 8% wool and even that tiny percentage makes it lovely and warm. I always worry these old-fashioned fabrics end up sitting in landfill for decades so it is good to use it. I can't imagine anyone buying clothes made from this anymore, unless they need a costume or fancy dress.

The refashion was cutting off the waistband and 7 inches of hem, which provided fabric for making a facing for the waist. The front of the skirt looked a bit plain so I made some patch pockets from the dress sleeves which I had saved. I made the round shape for the pockets by drawing round a saucer.

The swirly patterns at the top of the pockets were the dress cuffs. I put a button on each as the existing cuff buttonholes were still there. There are three buttons on the placket at the back too for fastening instead of a zip, as the placket was originally at the front of the dress and was quite shallow. They are more decorative than useful anyway because of the stretch. I got them out of the button stash started by my Grandma and continued by me. I finished the hem with bias tape.

I am really happy with how this turned out. Sometimes projects work just how you imagined - this was one. I am already digging through my refashion pile again. The period after Christmas always seems to refocus my thoughts on reducing waste - it must be a reaction to all the celebrations!

* I will be keeping a tally of the cost of my sewing at the end of each project during 2015. Materials purchased prior to this year will be listed as £0.*

Total cost of this project: £0.

A good start.

Happy sewing 'til next time,

Philippa x

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Hello! New Year.

I hope you had a lovely Christmas! I started a new job as well as being knee deep in holiday preparations, so I haven't written here for a while. I've really missed sewing and blogging and hope to do more this year, but I've signed up for more training so time will tell...

Today I want to share my sewing resolutions with you. For me, resolutions that encourage a change in mindset rather than something too specific work best ("eat less cake" is never going to work - I will just think about cake continually, and therefore eat more). 

So this year I resolve to make the most of my existing resources. I am not promising stop buying new fabric or patterns completely, but I will check what I already have first. In the past I feel I have been impressed with new artwork/up to date photographs - I will look at line drawings to see if new patterns are similar to those I already have. Also I will consider whether I can revive my drafting skills to tweak patterns. Years ago I learnt how to draft patterns to body measurements at college and could make patterns for things like shirts and coats from scratch. Yes, I am living proof that if you don't use it, you loose it! Despite some elementary mistakes and some really disastrous garments made during the last few years, I am starting to feel more confident in my abilities again. Or maybe that's why I'm starting to feel more confident. Sewing needs to be done to learn. I just hope my new found confidence translates into decent things to wear. However, due to my endless desire to experiment I will continue to produce a fair amount of totally unsuitable and unwearable garments. Maybe I should also resolve to view mistakes as learning opportunities!

I have also taken part in Karen's Sew Sessment. It's specific, but covers a lot in a few minutes.

SEW SESSMENT! See How Your Sewing Lines up

Top Three Items That I Wear For Home:
Knit tops, denim skirt, jeans.
Top Three Items That I Wear For Work:
Knit tops, cardigans, skirts.
Top Three Sewing Talents (go on, show off!):
Hand sewing, pattern and stripe matching, seam finishes.
Top Three Sewing Weak Spots (ouch!):
Buttonholes, easing anything in to anything else (curves, sleeves), top stitching.
Top Three Sewing Goals:
Do 'proper' FBAs, sew trousers (not drawstring waist), and improve finish on everything.
Top Three People Who Enable Me:
Internet friends (thank you!), my family, my clients (yes one or two are interested in my sewing!).
Top Three People I Enable:
Other sewing bloggers.
Top Three Reasons I Can't Sew:
Lack of time, tiredness.
Top Three Reasons I Can Sew:
I have the resources, I can make things more cheaply than I can buy them if I source materials effectively, it gives my brain a rest from everything else!
I think this year just finding the time will be challenge enough.

I won't mind if I don't achieve any of my Top Three Sewing Goals from the assessment this year, but it will be fun to try.

Finally - it was lovely sharing creating and sewing with you last year. I'm really looking forward to what 2015 brings and I hope you are too.

Happy sewing, 'til next time,

Philippa x