Friday, 27 January 2012

Jackets from Sweatshirts

While in the USA in 2010, I went to a Sewing Exposition with a friend.  We saw Londa Rohlfing’s stand.  ( She does wonderful, decorative jackets made from sweatshirts.  I blithely told my friend that I would make her one.  I should have bought the book!
Anyway, here are the results.  Once started, there was no stopping.  I have now made five of them and have the material for two more.

This was my first jacket.  I decided to make it into a Chanel-style.  I bought the sweatshirt from Cotton Traders and the trim in France. 
·      To make, cut off the cuffs and ribbing from the neckline and bottom edge.
·      Carefully measure the centre front and cut in a straight line from neckline to base.
·      Make a little pleat in the centre back and stitch on your machine (about 2”). 
·      Try on the sweatshirt and mark the desired length and sleeve length.  Cut off surplus. 
·      Use bias binding to finish all raw edges, then sew trim on around the neck, down the front and around the sleeves.  Cotton Traders’ sweatshirt have a large logo on the front which I covered to make a faux pocket. I also made two faux pockets at the bottom.

·      I used snaps (poppers) for fastenings which won’t show. 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Make do and Mend - A Denim Quilt made from old jeans and a sleeping bag.

A few years ago I made a quilt using an old, ragged sleeping bag and several pairs of old jeans.  My daughter cut the jeans up into rectangles. (12” x 14”)   She kept some pockets and labels and removed others to give the quilt some texture and interest. 

I sewed them together on my machine using a large needle.  This is necessary to avoid damaging the tension of the machine.  (Very costly to have it fixed!)

Next, I used a brushed cotton sheet for the backing. Placing the denim patchwork and the sheet right sides together, I sewed three sides together part of the fourth side.  I turned the fabric to the right side, pressed it and put the sleeping bag inside. This is like putting a duvet into a duvet cover. 
Once it was straight and smooth, I pinned it in several places. This is best done on the floor. I hand stitched the opening.

Finally, I used crewel yarn to stitch through the layers at intervals to form the quilting.  Stitch through all the layers as straight as you can, then tie a knot and a little bow on the brushed cotton side of the quilt.

This quilt is very warm and cosy.  It works well as a day-time bed cover or a throw for watching TV.  The denim makes it very heavy to sleep under.  I am currently making another one out of old shirts and other clothing.  Watch this space.

I love fabrics.

This drawing is by my friend Sue.
I love fabrics. I have always loved fabrics.  If there were a heaven, it would be a large space filled with fabrics, something like The Cotton House in Berwick Street in London, or Boroviks, stuffed with beautiful things and where the fashion students and costume designers go. Or Liberty’s in its hey day, when fabrics occupied a whole floor, exotic silks and satins and tiny Tana lawn prints.  Or Hudsons in downtown Detroit in the 1950’s, where my mother used to take me and I once got separated from her among the tall fabric bales, taller than I was. In this heaven, I could browse forever, breathing in the smell of fabrics, touching them, imagining what I could make with them. 

Like my mother’s closets, my house is overflowing with fabrics.  A few years ago, a friend turned an old pine wardrobe into a fabric cupboard for me by adding shelves.  My daughter and I covered them with Cath Kidson wallpaper, then stacked my fabrics according to colour and type.  I bought pretty tins for buttons, zips, trims and threads.  It looks lovely.  Of course it is not big enough to contain all my fabrics. They lurk in the loft, in black bin bags, blue Ikea bags, re-usable supermarket bags. Current sewing projects are in plastic boxes under the bed in the spare room.  They ooze and creep into other places, on chairs, beds, tables.

If there were a fire, I would not try to save my fabrics.  I would save my family.  But I would mourn the loss of my fabrics.  It would take some time to get over it. Eventually, I would try to put a positive spin on it.  I would see it as an opportunity to buy more fabrics, but I would mourn the old ones because I know where I acquired each one of them.   They all have memories and associations.

A few weeks ago, I visited Berwick Street in London and to my delight I noticed that many new fabric shops have opened.  People are beginning to see the advantages of the old home crafts during this time of ‘economic gloom’.  It’s something to make the heart glad.  Newspapers and fashion magazines make reference to ‘make do and mend’ and ‘make your own individual dress, headscarf, belt, bag…”  New sewing and crafting magazines are being published too.

All of these things have inspired me to create this blog, to exchange ideas with others who also love making things.  Most of my ideas are not original. I take them from magazines, shops, friends and galleries.  Still, I would like to share some of them with you.