I learned to sew with a machine somewhat recently, in 2019. I have decided to start documenting what I've done and any interesting learnings so I can help my future self recollect what was tricky about X or Z a few years in the future when I want to repeat the same project or technique!
Things I've made
- Pattern: ???
- Fabric: cotton mix
- What I like: long enough to cover my hips WITHOUT catching on them. The pattern is very cool (who doesn't like skulls!). People want a top like this.
- To improve next time: I didn't quite follow the instructions for the neck because I didn't like the style of the pattern, and it sort of folds outside out because it's weighty, showing the inside seam. Must figure out a better way next time.
- Pattern: an adaptation of the ??? dress pattern by Merchant, but not building the whole dress.
- Fabric: Liberty cotton - tana lawn, very nice and breathable. From the sale - bought 2 meters, separately. Enough for the shirt!
- What I like: so breathable!!! We also adapted the pattern as I was in between sizes. My hips are covered, they don't catch, and my decency is preserved even if I bend forward with low-cut jeans (meaning, you won't see my CC). I also like the way I finished the seams. They're very neat. Well done me!
- What I don't like: the pattern is a nightmare about the neck. SO COMPLICATED! I had to unpick it several times as I kept catching the wrong bits of fabric. I wonder if it's because it's such a thin material but the original pattern assumes stiffer fabric.
- Pattern: Same pattern as Floral shirt above.
- Fabric: Liberty cotton - tana lawn, very nice and breathable. Also from the sale!
- What I like: In addition to above, it also has PENCILS! And sometimes they align in the pattern so it's sort of fun. I also finished the seams very neatly.
- What I don't like: This also caught a lot when making the neck.
Repaired: blue jeans
Biking is hard on the poor jeans! I copied the technique from Nudie jeans, which had repaired my jeans a few months before: applied a patch in the back, ironed and sewn diagonals on top for stability.
Repaired: green hand bag
Hand reinforced some worn down bits, using normal thread and some sort of Japanese inspired / naive patching method.
In retrospect I am not sure using normal thread was the best solution, as it wears down relatively fast.
Repaired: my pair of nudie jeans
They broke on a different place. So I repaired them again; this time I sew a line around the whole patch before ironing and sewing but in a different style - making grids! That was fun and very meditative.
Face masks :-(
I made six with tana lawn, two with the "eyes" fabric, then two more with beige canvas.
- Pattern: got it from somewhere online
- Fabric: A mixture - some remains from the Liberty Tana Lawn shirts, then some remains from a dress my partner made me, and some plain beige canvas we got on purpose.
- What I like: They're reusable, have a pocket for adding an extra filter in between layers. They're prettier than most reusable masks (and I can mask-coordinate if I'm wearing the shirts or dress).
- What I don't like: Covid.
Cut out scarf
- Pattern: free style
- Fabric: Left over cut outs from my partner's jacket. It isn't a fraying material so very easy to put together.
- What I like: it looks very cool and punk! It was fun to jig-saw everything together with lots of pins, and to make the red zig zag thread a feature.
- What I don't like: It can be a bit itchy if I'm having a hyper sensitive day. We need to make sure we don't wear the jacket and scarf at the same time or we look like one of those extremely coordinated couples.
Repaired: shopping bag
We had a canvas shopping bag from Eataly, whose handles broke.
I tried to figure out a way to glue together the tubing inside the handles and put it back, but it was impossible, so I decided to just turn the formerly "rigid" handles into fabric handles. To strengthen them I decided to sew multiple times over with thread, and did this with thread colours forming the Italian flag!
- What I like: we get to keep using the bag! It was also fun to "draw" with the sewing machine (and use a combination of zig zag and stitch length we don't normally use). It is not perfect but I think the irregularities give it a sort of human charm...
- What I don't like: the handle is now a bit too thin so it can roll on itself and cut into your shoulder if you are carrying very heavy stuff. Maybe I should have sewn some sort of padding in to make it less likely to roll.
Re-repaired: nudie jeans
They wore out in the patches that hand been already repaired, so I put a patch on top of part of the patch. It was slightly more challenging as it was thicker to sew over, but not too challenging, as it was quite thread bare in parts anyway.
- Pattern: reverse-engineered from another handbag (i.e. we figured it out by looking at another bag and drawing rectangles and other shapes in paper)
- Fabric: A remnant from traditional Valencian dress making (fallera), bought in a Valencia shop in 2020 (before we knew what was coming up our way...), plus some left over canvas fabric for the pocket and sides.
- Other: rings, chain and magnet closure from MacCulloch & Wallis, stiff plastic sheet from London Graphic Centre, cut to measure, then filed away the hard sharp edges so they won't cut into the fabric over time.
- What I like: it's in my favourite colour and it looks very smart. The pocket also fits my phone nicely. It was fun to come up with "how to make a hand bag" by looking at another bag.
- What I don't like: I wish they had sold the metal accessories in silver rather than gold colour, but I can live with it! When I open the closure it somehow feels like it's going to rip out the fabric; even if it won't I always try to be careful.
Tidied up / finished: baking cloths
I had bought a (I think) meter of baking linen from Bakery bits, which I then cut into two "baking cloths".
You use them for holding dough as it's proving or resting. But they get dirty and it's a good idea to wash them sometimes. The problem is, the edges weren't finished so it started fraying.
I cut out all the frayed bits and made nice folds to include the seams in, then sew over. They're very nice and tidy cloths now. The pride of my baking equipment!
Repaired: blue and grey jeans (again).
More patches. Again, on the bit of the legs that rubs when cycling!
It becomes more difficult the lower down the leg you have to go, aghhh, so much fabric to twist around the sewing machine.
Repaired: blue jeans jacket
This required reconstructing one button hole which was on the verge of actually becoming a tear rather than a button hole; I did this by hand.
I also reconstructed one cuff with a piece of jean fabric, and a bit of sewing over to reinforce.
I liked giving a new lease of life to this jacket; I've had it for 20 years now! :-)
There were some wear marks in the back, but the material is "camouflage green", so hard to colour match with the existing supplies I had here. So I put some jean repair patch in the wrong side of the skirt, and ironed and sewn it over with my signature zig zag pattern to give it stability.
Re-repaired: green hand bag (again)
Embroidered over the tears in this canvas bag. 15 years old and going strong... except for the parts that aren't, which I then repair! HA!
Flowery sleeveless top
- Pattern: adapted from the "Eyes" dress, to be a top.
- Fabric: Liberty cotton Tana lawn left over cut outs from another dress. Cotton bias binding from MacCulloch & Wallis.
- What I like: it looks very smart and proper. It is also very breathable! Bring on hot humid weather! I also learned how to use bias binding, and I did a good job of colour matching it to the fabric.
- What I don't like: I think the bias binding material is a bit stiff. It'll need to be worn a bit so it relaxes a bit.
Places I get supplies from
- Liberty: they sell really nice cotton fabric (Tana lawn); the January sales are very good to get 1 meter cuts which you can combine to make fancy looking stuff for an affordable price.
- MacCulloch & Wallis in Poland Street: lots of those things that you need, like buckles, threads, buttons, etc. Also fabric, yarns. And they are knowledgeable.
- John Lewis in Oxford Street: they have a decent selection of sewing and knitting stuff, sometimes have decent fabric, although might be a bit more marked up than elsewhere (but they open on Sundays, which MacCulloch don't)