Category Archives: Inspiration

Pedalling furiously on the upcycle

Shoe Print Top

The idea is about treating scarves as simply another fabric and using them to spark up what could otherwise be a rather plain sewing project. Uses for scarves: cuffs, collars, frills & ruffles, applique´s for spot adornment or to create an all-over-print, bindings, facings, yokes and plackets. I’m sure I missed a use or two there but you get the idea. AND it’s a good excuse to go diving into huge boxes of vintage scarves the likes of which Beyond Retro and To be Worn Again are so fond of. The ones you don’t cut up you can wear. Anyway I think it’s a great way to stretch a remnant of a solid colour fabric that isn’t quite enough to make with on it’s own into something much more fun and unique.

Circular frills made from a scarf
The Green Skirt From Hell

This skirt was one of those projects where if something could go wrong it certainly did. It is a side shoot of this project. I simply wanted to proof the skirt pattern before cutting out the full dress and as I can always use another skirt in my wardrobe  it seemed like a grand plan to whizz it up in a remnant from the stash.

So:

1)pattern incorrect. Check. (hip shaping bad, godets not long enough)

2)fabric problematic. Check. (silk marocaine quite shifty, cut edges fuzz like mad, if there’s a teeny speck of oil from the sewing machine it absorbs it into a spot 10 times bigger)

3)me having a totally bad day. Check.

Not an auspicious beginning. But the professional in me triumphed over my tantrum-ing inner child and I fixed the pattern issues, un-picked and re-sewed seams as many times as necessary to get the hip shape right, the hand picked zip flat and the seam edges from fraying away. The triple top-stitching lines I did on either side of the seams will stay as they are… I’m not proud of them (that’s why no close-up pic) and wish I’d done them on my trusty Bernina Minimatic (which though more than 50 years old sews like a dream) instead of my monster Brother industrial. Even the hem is left down & topstitched multiple times as a finish – the silk was just too spongy to turn up nicely with the 6 godets it has and when all else was done I hand washed it and all the oil marks came out. So yay me and I won’t be polishing the furniture with jade green silk rags after all.

IheartBagPS- I ♥ my new bag from Urban Outfitters: it cheered me up a lot and I can always hold it in front of the bad topstitching if anyone gets too close.

Upcycling, so now I know!

“Upcycling is the art of reusing unwanted items by converting them into something better.”

SOooo,  that’s what I was doing when I made this evening dress from a second-hand silk chiffon sari I bought at a market for 30£ a few years ago!

Though I wouldn’t say ‘better’ I’d say ‘something else’. It’s all relative, the better-ness or not of things isn’t it.

When I bought the sari I had no immediate plans for it, it was just a lovely fabric and appealed to the magpie in me …. I love a bit of sparkle n’ shine.

However the bias dress possibilities were immediately apparent once I began wafting it around and draping it against myself and this dress was made in a day. Careful cutting out to get the motifs well placed on my pattern took the most time and a couple of extra motifs needed to be cut out and hand appliqued in place to fill gaps as well as the edging which I cut off and hand sewed on the seam below the bust.

The bodice is on the straight grain and the two piece skirt on the bias with a side zip up to the armhole. I machine pin-hemmed the neckline and armholes and that was it.  A very simple make as the wonderful fabric does all the work. And enough left to make a large stole.

While looking at it the other day to do this photo I realised that the chiffon around the neck and shoulders is now so fragile it’s finally coming apart. So some backing with flesh colour chiffon or complete replacing with new black is in order but not very high on my list at the mo.

I made a couple for friends after this one out of sequined thin cotton saris as nylon ones just won’t hang well and the dealer had no more silk chiffon ones. Very pretty as well but more ‘bare foot & festival’ in feeling whereas this one actually passed perfectly as a 1930’s evening gown when all dressed up with the right hair and accessories. The local sari dealer is unfortunately gone now and I’m not happy to buy  from the internet as I like to actually feel the weight of fabrics and see how they hang before I get my wallet out. I know if I ever make it to India what my suitcase will be stuffed with when I come home.

The little bag in my photo is from Accessorize a couple of years back. A good place to find vintage style accessories… especially bags.

some of the bags I like from the current Accessorize collection and the decade I imagine they’d work with style-wise.

Rouleaux obsession

1940s dress with rouloeu decoration on the sleeves

My current rouleaux obsession has started because of this lovely early 40’s dress. I’ve borrowed it from the costume house I often do work for as I’m feeling the need to make  a similar one for myself.

I’ve made the dress pattern, readied lengths of rouleaux from my fabric and figured out how to make the lozenge shapes. The fabric I’m using is a pale stone colour cotton/linen blend. Lots of applique work ahead!


The satin dress below is an original a client bought from eBay. Lovely but just too tatty in the flesh to wear on her wedding day. I’m recreating it for her in heavy silk satin but re-using the original leaf collar. I suspect that is from yet a different dress even as the satin colour doesn’t match the satin of the dress body.

Really rather glad I don’t have to remake that .