Tag Archives: Clothes

Blackberry Dye Update

This is the dress after rinsing. A sort of dusky pink.

This is the old pillowcase I used to strain the dye. Tie dye look and some lovely purple. I’ll use this in a quilt, I think.

The blackberries were wild. I picked the on the ground ones that no one ever wants. It’s a good year for blackberries so I will pick some more for dyeing as well as those I need for jam & wine.

The dress will go away when dry so as to allow the dye to take well.

I’ve been dyeing lots this summer and I’ve sewn and even done some secret knitting. I’ll be showing some of this stuff soon. If I haven’t visited your blog recently I’ll be around soon. Sorry to have been so out of touch.

Have fun!

Norma x

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Filed under #1year1outfit, Clothes, dresses, dyeing, fashion, slow dyeing, slow fashion

Enjoying the Slowness

My Tumbling Blocks quilt is growing: albeit very slowly. I’m really not far from finishing the top.

The bright white tunic – previously a sheet – is sitting in a pot of daffodil heads. They were flowers that needed deadheading so I popped them in the dye pot before going to the compost heap. I’m relying on solar power to dye the top. I heated it up when the solar panels were working and the pot is now sitting in the greenhouse. It will probably be there for 10-14 days. It’s not bright white anymore and I’m hoping for a pale yellow as a base colour. We’ll see!

The silk skirt is progressing well. I took it out of the dark and dyed it with onion skins today. I’ll rinse it once it’s dried – in some dyeing traditions this is done to help the colour to take better. I can see it from the window and it’s looking a lovely dark orange now. If I like the colour when it’s rinsed I’ll put it away in the dark for a couple of weeks before wearing it.

And then there’s my dress. Remember this top?

It’s Merchant & Mills Curlew pattern and I’m going to make the dress version using some of the big roll of undyed Irish linen I bought for OneYearOneOutfit. I’ve traced the pattern and I’ve been debating how to make it – machine or hand? I bought some undyed looking cotton to use the machine but now I’m not so sure. I enjoyed last year’s slow progress and wear the top a lot. The hand stitching is holding up fine. And if I do it at speed I’ll probably then make another dress – but I don’t need one.

What do you think?

I will be dyeing it once it’s made – usual slow methods.

Well, that’s the update. Hope there was something there to interest you.

Have a good week.

Norma x

20 Comments

Filed under Clothes, dyeing, patchwork, quilts, sewing, slow dyeing, solar dyeing, textiles, traditional quilts

The One Hour(ish) Dress

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Em of RetroGlam sent me the book for fun and I thought I’d have a go. I like a challenge.

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Let no one say that I only show the successes….it’s ok but not really wearable. So what happenned?

The dress on the cover looks as if it’s made of lovely soft fabric but the advice is to  use “medium firm” fabric – which this is. I would say that you could not get the drape with it but if you used soft, drapey fabric most sewers couldn’t make it in an hour or even two.

I am probably not the shape (or age) of woman envisaged in the book – I don’t really think straight up  and down clothes are the thing for me. Of course, I knew that before I started but the idea that I might be able to make a dress that quickly spurred me on.

And the sash? I do have a photo taken wearing the sash but I couldn’t face showing it to everyone.

What makes it so fast?

The fabric is torn rather than cut and it’s all rectangles so that saves a lot of time. There’s no real shaping to worry about.

I think the seams were left unfinished or the selvedges were used in places.

The fabric for the bodice is one piece back & front with a hole cut for the neck.

How long did it take? Two hours! Why?

The pattern on the back of the bodice would have been upside down if I’d followed the book’s plan, so I had to make shoulder seams. In fairness, the author did point out that it wouldn’t work with a one way design but I didn’t have anything else suitable.

I don’t like raw edges so I zigzagged them.

I pintucked the fabric for the skirt to narrow the waist. The book suggests side plaits (pleats) but I thought they would look awful on me.

I had to feed the hens and walk the dogs part way through so I lost track of where I was.

The bobbin thread ran out & I hadn’t thought of preparing a spare beforehand.

I am not a fast sewer.

So, what to do?

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A skirt and top. An improvement???

I split the dress at the waist, took a bit of the skirt’s fullness out and added buttons along one seam so I can still get into it.

There’s also a knee high split so I can walk.  I’m thinking of making a black cotton petticoat to flash a bit of lace as I walk along.

The red skirt is my latest version of the 1934 skirt – for everyday wear.

The black teeshirt is me made – I traced a favourite shop bought teeshirt to get the pattern. Tracing existing clothes is one of the ways I get patterns I like.

What did I learn?

That a sewing challenge can be fun even if you’re pretty sure you won’t want to wear the result.

That with a few modifications I could get a dress I would like out of this. I would add darts to create shaping, add fastenings because it would be hard to get in and out without the loose shape and use a soft fabric. I would also make my own bias binding to match the dress because I think it would look classier.

I’d like to say a big “Thank you” to Em for sending me the book. I enjoyed the challenge and I’ve learned from it.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

 

 

26 Comments

Filed under 1920s, blogging friends, Clothes, dresses

Another 1934 skirt

 

 

This one is Irish linen – navy pinstripe.

How is it different to the others?

It has a zip in the side. The lavender one has press studs and the wool one has wooden buttons.The lavender skirt doesn’t have a back pleat.

The zip was a lucky charity shop find and dates from the 1960s (still in its original packaging). It works fine, but I rubbed the teeth with a pencil point to ensure smooth running.

I sewed this one on my modern Pfaff and finished the seams with a machine zigzag stitch. I did insert the zip by hand (because I am rubbish at zips) and hemmed the bottom by hand too. I sewed the lavender skirt on my 1930s Singer and finished all seams by hand overcasting. I sewed the wool skirt 100% by hand.

I think I might have made a mess of this skirt if I hadn’t made the other two very slowly beforehand. I have had plenty of practice with the pleats now.

I’ve been very encouraged by the support of EmilyAnn in Brooklyn who’s sewing 1930s along with me. Take a look at her marvellous recreation of a 1930s dress. Wonderful sewing and technical details.

Which is my favourite?

I love the wool skirt so much but I did need a slightly lighter version for warmer weather.

What next?

I’ve been trying to work out what I need in my wardrobe and I think a dress and jacket for a summer wedding need to be high priority. I’m also planning a garden dyed skirt (or maybe wide trousers) and a top but whilst I might make them now, the actual dyeing will probably take all summer.

I’m planning plenty of posts about garden dyeing for this year, so look out for that if you’re interested.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

 

 

 

18 Comments

Filed under 1930s, 1930s sewalong, Clothes, dressmaking, fashion, sewalongs, textiles

Wearing the Landscape

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OneYearOneOutfit – the final outfit reveal.

Top: Lots more detail here.

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Before dyeing

Made of Irish linen, garment dyed by me with docks, onion skins and a pattern made by hammering English Marigolds into the fabric. I kept the top in the dark after each dyeing session to help set the dye.

Bias cut, sewn by hand. Pattern: Merchant & Mills Curlew.

Skirt: Lots more detail here.

Welsh wool, spun in Wales and woven at the National Wool Museum. No dyes, these are natural sheep colours.

Pattern: 1934 from Home Journal magazine. Extra pleat inserted by me.

Scarf: All welsh wool. The cream and the grey are natural sheep colours. The golds are onion dyed by me.

The scarf replaces the waistcoat I knitted which I hate: it makes me look much bigger than I like. It will make a gorgeous cushion cover and I’ll work on that over the next few months.

Boots: Made by Celtic & Co in Cornwall from British sheepskins which are mainly a waste product these days. They were a Christmas present from my husband.

Is it wearable? Yes! I have worn the skirt and top together and felt happy with it. I put these boots with it to make it a British Isles outfit and prefer my black leather boots to make an outfit.

The top is a great match with my black trousers so will get worn that way too. I love the skirt and it goes well with a couple of other tops (and the black leather boots rather than these). The scarf is lovely and warm so is sure to get lots of wear over the winter.

What did I learn about British Isles textile products? There are no natural fibre threads spun in the British Isles so far as I can tell. All my threads had to be pulled from the fabrics so handsewing was the only option.

Plenty of handmade wooden buttons are available and they are so beautiful.

 

There is lots of Welsh knitting wool available – hand and machine spun. I’ve loved using it and will definitely use it again. It looks and feels beautiful. My knitting skills do not do it justice (and that’s not false modesty).

How will I take it forward?

Making clothes from completely local products is time consuming and can be quite expensive.

A lot of work goes into bringing up sheep, spinning yarn, weaving yarn, dyeing , knitting and handsewing. If all my clothes had to be made this way, I would have very few. It makes me understand why Elizabethans left each decent garment to a favoured person in their will. They were valuable and valued.

My life won’t allow me to have every item made this way but I plan to use elements in the future.

Lots of garden and other natural dyeing planned. I loved doing it. I’m growing woad to try to get local blue dye. The plant was eaten by caterpillars so I’ll have to try again.

I will visit WonderWool Wales again and buy more Welsh wool fabric. For a jacket, perhaps.

I am a terrible knitter but definitely improving because of all the practice I got doing this project. I’d like to use some of the cream or grey wool to make a sweater for next winter.  Or the one after!

I bought a 10 metre roll of undyed linen so I think another Curlew top or dress but dyed a different colour. Made by machine next time with purchased threads.

I really like Merchant & Mills patterns so I’ll probably make more of theirs in 2017. (I made an “unblogged” summer top from one of their patterns too).

Why wearing the landscape? That’s how I felt about #oneyearoneoutfit when I was working on my clothes. I wanted to take it further and see what else I could do with natural colours and fibres. It occurred to me that maybe wearing nature’s current products rather than those that have been buried under the earth for centuries might be a more sympathetic look for me.

I’d love to hear your comments on that.

Happy Stitching!

Norma x

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under #1year1outfit, 1930s, Clothes, dressmaking, dyeing, fashion, Knitting, sewalongs, sewing, textiles

Victorian Style Petticoat for a 1930s Skirt

It proved impossible to find a secondhand silk dress to line this oneyearoneoutfit 1930s skirt. It’s made of Welsh wool tweed and needs something underneath to complete it. If I could’ve sourced some very lightweight undyed Irish linen it would have made a great lining. It was not to be.

Instead, I decided I’d have to make a petticoat to work with it. I was inspired by the lovely cotton lace I was given and some white cotton lawn from my stash made it possible.

The top of the petticoat uses one width of the 115cm wide fabric and the bottom frill is 150cm wide. It was the only way to get a long swishy petticoat out of 1.5m of fabric.

Unlike the Victorian petticoat it resembles, it has elastic at the waist. It has French seams, a rolled hem and I’ve satin stitched the lace to the petticoat. All techniques used in the 1930s but I did them all by machine.

I couldn’t resist some handsewing so there’s white cross stitching in cotton perle on the gathered seam.

I’ve used cotton threads throughout so that I can dye the petticoat in the future if I want to. Interestingly, the very fine cotton thread I used for all the sewing behaved well even when stitching the elastic in. It needed to be upright on the sewing machine spindle because it was straight wound onto the bobbin.

It doesn’t count towards oneyearoneoutfit because it isn’t local fabric or thread and I’ve no idea where the elastic comes from, but it does make the skirt wearable. A wool skirt with no lining teamed with a too short petticoat would never get worn, but this combination made me feel fabulous when I wore it. And that’s what we’re all looking for from our clothes, isn’t it?

Thanks for dropping by

Norma x

 

 

 

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Filed under #1year1outfit, 1930s, Clothes, dressmaking, fashion, history, sewing, stashbusting, textiles

One Year One Outfit Top

Details:

The OneYearOneOutfit Challenge: To make an outfit using local natural fibres, threads and dyes.

Fabric : Natural Irish Linen

Thread: Taken from the linen and run through beeswax. I also dyed a piece of fabric with the top so that I have matching thread for repairs & alterations. There are no commercially made natural fibre threads which fit the criteria of OneYearOneOutfit.

Dye: Garment dyed five times. Solar dyed three times with dock leaves, mark making with English marigolds and overdyed (in a pot on the stove) with onion skins. I think it looks much better in real life than in the photos.

Pattern: Merchant & Mills Curlew. Bias cut and sewn entirely by hand.

Will it go with the skirt? I’m not sure. I have noticed that dyes taken from the local landscape do sort of go together. I’ve got a theory that if you wear stuff from your own landscape it should always go together – as nature’s colours do. We’ll see. In any case, I think it goes well with my black trousers so it will get worn.

Do I like it? Yes. I think it will get worn a lot. I might need to shorten the sleeves but I’m going to wear it a few times to be sure. I plan to make the pattern again sometime.

Thanks for stopping by,

Norma x

 

 

 

27 Comments

Filed under #1year1outfit, Clothes, dressmaking, dyeing, fashion, solar dyeing, textiles

A Velvet Cloak and Other Coats

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Isn’t it lovely? I am very pleased with this – sorry for my lack of modesty….

It’s made from a pair of long velvet curtains which a kind  friend saved from being thrown into a skip. I’ve used most of the good parts of the curtains to make it. It’s three quarter circles and I used the method from DIY Couture by Rosie Martin to draw the wedge shapes – pivot & a piece of chalk. The hood pattern comes from this coat – Sewaholic’s Minoru Jacket.

Day 15

The lining was new fabric – it’s cotton I bought specially from a retailer of manufacturers’ overruns, end of lines etc. £4 a metre anyway. It looked just right because I like a fancy lining if I can get one. The buttons are handmade ceramic – I’ve been wanting to find a use for them.

The cloak isn’t a very practical coat. I imagine I’ll wear it now & again so it’ll probably last for ever. It’s one of those fun things that sewistas make from time to time, purely for the joy of it.

However, I was reading this post by Naomi at Spare Room Style and it made me think about wardrobe planning as an urgent matter. This was the scene in my sitting room this morning:

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Drying my clothes by the fire

Yesterday was one of those days where it never really gets light. The temperature was between 2 & 3 degrees centigrade all day and the hens called it a day and went to bed about 3 o’clock. There was snow / sleet / rain/ howling wind and I had two coats and two sets of boots,some gloves and a hat to dry by the time I’d taken the dogs out, brought in the firewood and sorted out the hens. That was the absolute bare minimum outdoor work. My lovely husband is away at the moment so I’m doing it all myself.

One of the coats is not meant to be waterproof but it’s so thick that rain doesn’t usually get as far as me. The waterproof one sadly let me down. I reproofed it there & then (in the washing machine with Nikwax) but I know it won’t be long before the fabric won’t reproof. I’ve replaced the zip and experience tells me that the fabric will only go on for a year or two after that. So, to cut a long story short, I’ve decided to make a waterproof coat ready for next winter.

I’m thinking of the Minoru (see above wool version) but adding a pleat to the lower back so it doesn’t catch on my bike seat. I love that it has a hidden hood. All other suggestions welcome – I am inclined to keep on using patterns I like forever, so do please tell me what you would use.

And the weather?

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Today it’s cold but dry and we had a delightful walk (and I’ve hung my washing out for good measure).

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Clothes, dogs, dressmaking, fashion, recycling, sewing, textiles, Thrift, upcycling

The Seamstress Tag

I’ve just read Emily Ann’s Seamstress Tag here and really enjoyed it, so I’m going to do one myself.

Here goes…

Who are you?

I’m  Norma and I live in beautiful Mid-Wales.

When / why did you start sewing?

I’ve always enjoyed sewing. My Mum was a dressmaker by trade and sewing was a part of life when I was growing up.

I was pretty awful at it though – my clothes were Mum-made rather than Me-made.

I started taking it seriously in my twenties and got obsessed in my thirties. The obsession continues – I love sewing.

Favourite / proudest make?

A “knock-off” Armani suit made from fabric fr0m the Jaeger factory – I bought it on Grantham Market (Lincolnshire). I needed something for a job interview. I got the job & wore the suit to death. I’m still proud of it even though it is long gone.

Disastrous Make?

Lots of those – I laugh when I think about my early attempts; I must have looked a sight. I always wore them to death though.

The worst one recently was probably my bra. I managed to put the cups on upside down. I haven’t tried again but I will one day…

Favourite place for fabric shopping?

Charity shops, vintage stalls, jumble sales, old clothes. I love a good rummage.

Most used pattern?

My own pattern free designs. And just recently, a pattern from a 1934 magazine I’ve made twice and I’ll be using again as a base pattern.

Most Dreaded Sewing Task?

Zips!

Favourite sewing task?

This is a hard one: it changes often. Anything involving handstitching is my current favourite.

Favourite sewing entertainment?

The radio. I like Radio 3 and Radio 4. For those of you outside the UK, Radio 3 specialises in classical music and Radio 4 has plays, current affairs, stories and so on.

Printed or PDF patterns?

I am trying to like PDF patterns but I find them very hard work.

What sewing machine do you use?

A Pfaff Select 1548 – it’s a mechanical rather than electronic machine and it’s been a pleasure to use since the day it arrived. My previous computerised machine went insane (yes, really!) and I decided to go mechanical. I’ve never regretted it.

And I’ve also got this

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It’s a 1930s machine and still sews perfectly.

Any other hobbies?

I’ve got two Labrador Retrievers so walking is a big thing, I run, and I keep hens. And I’ve started knitting.

I hope you’ll want to join in this tagging because I’d love to know more about you.

Thanks for dropping by,

Norma x

 

 

 

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Filed under Clothes, dressmaking, sewing, Singer sewing machines

Some Practical Sewing

This shirt was made by Monsoon – a good and well known label here in the UK. It’s a size too big for me (because it came from a charity shop) but I liked it and I’ve been wearing it to my yoga class. It didn’t really work for me – loose tops can be a bit revealing when you’re upside down!

Seemed a shame not to use such a pretty shirt so now I’ve lengthened it and it’s a much needed nightdress.

It’s been a practical week – some bootcut jeans made of lovely fabric are now straight enough to tuck into boots and then there’s a dress waiting to be a tunic and a boring skirt which needs some magic.

Do you like this sort of sewing? Or do you only make new things? My budget won’t allow for buying anymore fabric at the moment so I’ve started to look around to see what can be done with what I have. I feel better already.

Let me know what you think about reusing and mending – I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for dropping by.

Norma x

20 Comments

Filed under Clothes, fashion, jeans, mending, recycling, sewing, textiles, Thrift, upcycling