Refashioned for summer

Ever since I started sewing, I’ve been asking my everyone I know to pass on any clothes they might having lying around in their wardrobes that they don’t want, so I’ve got fabric to practice on without having having to pay for it. Sometimes, though, I try transforming things into something new. Sometimes, it even works!

This is what caught my eye recently:

before good

I love the colours and it’s a soft cotton blend which would make a great summer dress, but it had long baggy sleeves and weird rouching (or whatever it’s called) on the front. So, first to get rid of that weird front detail-y stuff.

removing weird stitches

After getting rid of that and giving it a good iron, I was left with this to work with:

big n shapeless

Hrm. Well, next to get it to fit a bit better. I put it on inside out and used safety pins to get it just right:

Inside out pinned

Looking a bit better, but a bit like i have sails! So off to the trusty sewing machine to sew up those sides, then trim off the excess (this is a non-fraying fabric, woo hoo!).

sewing

All that was left is the arms. First I chopped them off just above the elbow:

sleeves off good view

 

Then after a bit of trial and error adjusting the sleeve length, I got it looking pretty good. So sew and chop off the excess, and time for the try-on of truth:

finished good

 

That’ll do! I’m very happy with my new summer dress, and now that the rain has gone away I may get to take it for a test run. Morla isn’t so sure…

Morla under umbrella

 

Cheers, 

Luci

 

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Refusing to say goodbye to favourite jeans.

I’ve started bike riding regularly this year, which I hadn’t done since I was a kid. It is so much fun: I love being out in the fresh air and getting some exercise; plus the bonus of not having to pay for tram tickets, or get coughed on by random strangers. Ah, the joys of public transport.

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Anyway, one problem I learned about the hard way is that I can’t necessarily wear my street clothes on the bike. Most stuff is OK, but I’ve damaged a few things. Namely, my favourite pair of jeans that I brought with me from Australia, and would wear almost every day. Not anymore though. They got a upper-leg tear that wasn’t patchable (I tried but it came open. Three times.) so I cut the legs off to try for shorts. Unfortunately, I’m long past the days where I can confidently leave the house in fraying cutoffs, so they became housework shorts and I thought they’d stay that way.

The summer weather has hit us now and I noticed many people getting around in shorts, which made me remember mine. I realised something that may have been immediately obvious to anyone else – I could hem them!

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 I got home, rolled the hems outwards so the inner material contrast would show, made sure all the frayed edges were tucked away, and sewed. Five minutes later I had an awesome pair of short-shorts, which are great for bike riding in this early summer heat! 

Have you ever had an obvious realisation of how to solve a problem, well after you gave up on the project? Or is it just me?

Cheers,

Luci

A Handbag.

I’m so glad I can finally post about this! I made a handbag a few weeks ago (well, I finished it a few weeks ago, anyway) but as it was a gift I couldn’t post about it before it was received.

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Dom’s family, like mine, are really supportive of my new-found creative bent. Dom’s mum requested something hand-made as her birthday present, so I decided to make her a handbag. I took Dom along to the fabric shop (I think it was his first time ever in such a shop) and we chose some material. I took it home, arbitrarily decided on a shape and size for the bag, and got cutting.

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The red lining contrast so nicely with the neutral outer material, don’t you think? I used interfacing on the outer material and not on the lining. In hindsight I should have just made boxed corners like I did for my laptop bag, but I for some reason wanted a proper side and bottom piece. That made for a lot more work! sewing the corners was the worst, as it was super-think and tricky to get them straight, but I think I managed okay in the end.

I searched a bunch of different sites and found what I decided was the best option for inserting the zipper. I didn’t save the link unfortunately, but thanks to the person who put up a beautiful zipper casing tutorial! I’ll update with the link if I can find it.

Basically, I got a zipper of the right length and cut two strips of cloth the same length of the zipper, in matching colour. I actually should have cut these a bit longer. Oh well, live and learn. I ironed them flat, then in half lengthwise, then I opened that up and folded the sides to the middle, then folded that shut again and ironed it flat.

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So that goes around the zipper and is sewn in place.

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As you can see, the strips really didn’t have any excess at the ends. That meant when I put in a cross-piece I had to cover a bit of the zipper as well, but I think it worked okay. Next time though I’ll leave a few centimetres excess at both ends.

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Sorry about the blurriness!

So with great care not to mix up the right and wrong sides (and a bit of unpicking when I got it wrong…) I sewed the lining onto the zip, like so:

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I then attached the outer material to the zipper casing, and I had to hand-sew the ends as it was WAY too thick and tricky for my poor old sewing machine to handle!

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The last step was making a strap, which I made in much the same way as the zipper casing. I attached it with some D-rings that are in that old beaten brassy style, like the zipper.

I’m really happy with how this one ended up. What do you think?

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Hope you’ve had a great weekend!

Cheers,

Luci

Smoke Pouch.

AKA my first commissioned work!

There are way more smokers here in Germany than in Australia. I am one of four staff members in my area at work, and I’m the only non-smoker. So while I’m not pro-smoking, I’m pretty tolerant (the smokers in my family just rolled their eyes. What can I say, moving across the world has changed me, I guess). Anyway, a new colleague of mine got excited when she found out about my DIY experiments, and asked if I could make her a pouch for roll-your-own tobacco. I have a bunch of old pairs of jeans in my fabric stash that my lovely man Dom was getting rid of, and I thought denim was a nice tough fabric to choose, so I got sewing.

I needed the dimensions of the tobacco packet from my colleague, as I am bad at guessing. It turns out if I had’ve estimated it would have been WAY too big, so good thing I didn’t hey? Anyway, I used my new favourite toys:

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Yep, I’ve invested in a rotary cutter and mat. It makes cutting out fabric way easier, and more accurate. I know I’m a nerd but it’s exciting!

Anyway, I cut my fabric with plenty of hem allowance – denim gets really thick at folds and my sewing machine is older than me so I have to be respectful. Leaving a good wide hem makes less thickness to get through.

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I wanted to include a little pocket for papers, so in keeping with the upcycling theme I took off one of the back pockets from the jeans, shortened it to fit inside the pouch, and attached it to the back inside of the pouch, like so:

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Pinned pocket

 

Before I sewed all the seams down, I opened up the corners and cut off some of the excess, and from the corners of the pocket too. I decided on black stitching as I didn’t have the tan colour most often used with denim. I think it ended up looking alright, if you ignore my dodgy stitching.

Done closed

 

Then I added a couple of press studs to hold it closed (hand stitching and stabbing myself with the needle in the process), and that was that!

Open done

 

Then I wrapped it up, so I can deliver it on tomorrow. It was an interesting project, and while I think I could have researched the design a bit more I am happy with my off the cuff (haha, bad pun) style.

Wrapped done

I hope you’ve had a great Sunday,

Cheers,

Luci

Mentioning the Unmentionables.

Both of my parents read this blog, so I was unsure whether to post this one until now. I’ve been making my own undies, guys! Hi Mum, hi Dad!

I’ve made a few pairs over the last couple of months – originally it was just a great way to use up small amounts of material, but it turns out that tailored underpants are super super comfy, too. Previously I’d only used t-shirt material, with varying amounts of success. I didn’t know how to finish the edges at first, so I tried a few ways:

– Adding a separate strip of fabric as edging. Doesn’t work, the stretch is all wrong.

– Just folding the edge over and sewing it down. It worked okay, but went a bit shapeless after going through the washing machine, which means they’ll have a very limited life span.

– using elastic. Worked a treat. I should have known, since pretty much all undies that you find in stores have elastic hems, but at least I got it right third time around!

So this time I wanted to work with this stretchy lace I’d found. After checking other late items I own, I found that the greater amount of stretch needs to be side to side, which also makes sense. Unless you’re into pulling undies up to your chin, vertical stretch isn’t really needed.

A note: if you’re working with lace when making undies, you’ll still need some stretch cotton or jersey cotton knit in a matching colour to work as a lining, so that the lace isn’t directly contacting the body in the most delicate of areas, otherwise you’d be in for some discomfort. Oh I’ll use the word I’ve been avoiding – you need to put in a (ugh) gusset. I’ll get back to that shortly.

I copied the pattern from a pair of knickers that I know fit me well, allowing a little on all sides for seams. Then the first seam that needs to be sewn is the underneath seam. I used a wide zigzag stitch for all sewing in this project. Once that is secured, get your cotton lining piece (about 6 inches long, and width to match your pattern) and sew it to the wrong side of the lace. Centre it so that the underneath seam is about in the middle of your cotton piece. Sew down the two ends. You’ll sew the sides up when you put the elastic in.

Next, sew the two side seams. You could it on at this point to check fit, but I honestly didn’t bother.

For the elastic, I only had quite wide elastic in the right colour, but it turns out elastic stays strong even if you cut narrow strips of it to use. I made a few strips about 2mm wide and pinned them in place.

Pinning

My sewing machine complained a little with this fabric, as in it snagged the lace a couple of times. Patience is a virtue, though, and I’ve learned that slow and steady is the key. Anyway, sew the elastic in around the leg holes and the waist band, trim off any excess, and enjoy!

Pinning

Hope you’re having a great week!

Cheers,

Luci

Napkins.

**reblogging from my other blog where I accidentally posted this two days ago**

I’m back at the sewing machine after a couple of days without any thread. Just a simple one this time – I made some napkins. The reason behind it was to save on waste and also to save a bit of money in the long run.

I’m absolutely a napkin person. Some people only use them if they’ve made a mess of themselves, or just at the end of the meal, but I’ll use my napkin between just about every bite. So maybe I overdo it. Anyway, we go through a lot of napkins in our house so I thought I’d get on the reusable bandwagon.

I got some fairly thin 100% cotton check print. I actually bought it in green a few weeks ago and then blue more recently. I’ve only got pics of the blue though. Decide what size you’re after – I made the green about twelve inches square but that’s a little too small, so I made the blue about eighteen inches square. Iron your fabric first and cut your squares. The all it takes is to hem them up. fold in a side, using a ruler to keep it even, iron the fold. Then fold it in again, iron again so your raw edge is hidden. Pin down and repeat on the other edges.

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Now, before you sew up the sides you’ll need to cut a little of the bulk out of the corners. Open up your folded corners and cut at 45 degrees, making sure not to cut too much – use your folds as a guide.

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Sorry for my lack of photography skills! So once your corners are all trimmed, pin your folded edges and corners and get sewing. I just used a simple straight stitch. Well, my stitching isn’t totally straight when it’s mean to be but no-one will be looking too closely, right…? I’m getting better though. The blue napkins look way better than the green :)

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(not shown: dodgy green napkins)

So that’s about it! This is probably not a project for those who can’t stand ironing, as you’ll have to iron before reuse I reckon. Or use them wrinkly if you like, they still work the same. What do you think? Do you have any other ideas about saving money or minimising waste around the home?

Cheers,

Luci

Laptop Bag.

As promised, I’m posting twice today. This one I’m particularly proud of.

So I’m starting my new job tomorrow, which will be my first-ever job in Germany. I’m nervous and have spent the last week or so distracting myself with other activities. I’ll have to take my own computer with me to work for the first little while, as they’re still organising one for me. So I needed something to carry my in, on my way to work and back home.

I found this cool typewriter fabric at the sewing store:

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and with the help of my good friend interfacing, I turned it into a tough enough fabric for handling the weight of my computer. I wanted a bag big enough to double as a handbag, as I hate having to carry two bags to work. So I cut out pieces of the fabric that would give a couple of inches on each side and at the top as well, and sewed them up. I used a plain black lining and I would have interfaced that too except I (of course) hadn’t bought enough interfacing. Oh well, it works OK without it. Oh and I sewed all the seams twice, for extra strength. I’ve killed one laptop before and I don’t want to do it again.

For both the lining and the outer layer I made boxed corners, to give it a 3D shape. Boxed corners are awesome and easy; I learned them here. Then I put the right sides together (so outer layer inside the lining), sewed up around the top leaving about 15cm open through which I turned it right-side out. Then I ironed down the seam and sewed it again all the way around.

I interfaced another piece of black cloth and made a nice big inside pocket for all little things like keys and lipgloss.

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I made the handles using both the black and the typewriter fabric, one on each side. I interfaced this too. I used double stitching on the handles too. When stitching the handles on I managed to break a needle which was weirdly exciting as I’d never done it before. If you try this sort of thing yourself, go slow over the thick parts or this could happen:

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The plan was to put velcro in a couple of spots along the top, but I ran out of thread so that will have to wait. I think it came out nicely though, overall, and after using it this weekend as an overnight bag I know that it is big enough and strong enough, so that’s a big plus! What do you think?

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A big welcome to all my new followers and visitors, thanks for coming. If you’ve got any ideas you’d like me to try, or questions/corrections on the posts already up, please don’t be shy. I’m loving writing this blog and I’ll do my best to keep the posts regular now that I’ll be working.

Cheers,

Luci