A babygrow for an ultra-fast baby

I’ve known my friend Vicky through Run dem Crew for years now, and have run many, many miles alongside her on our Tuesday night sessions. She’s a good friend, and outside of the Crew has run multiple marathons and ultras, too. Last summer, she ran the Serpent Trail ultra with another good friend, and she ended up finishing on the podium as 3rd place lady!!

But even more incredible is that she found out later that she was actually pregnant when she ran it! So when she announced she was going to have a little pre-baby pizza & beer get together with our running friends, I knew I had to make her a babygrow. First I thought I’d upcycle a Run dem Crew shirt for the little speedy baby, but then I saw another friend mention on Twitter how happy he was to see the Serpent being run again this year and I got in touch to a) find out if the race even had teeshirts, b) if he had one, and c) if he could send it to me to refashion. It was Yesses all around so I got cutting!

A doubly-recycled denim coffee sack jacket

This blog post title is quite a mouthful but the “fabric” I used has such a great origin story that I didn’t want it to get lost in view of the final jacket. It all started last summer, when I found out that a local coffee roasters here in London had partnered up with a Guatemalan company to reuse waste cotton fibres leftover from the denim industry. They mix the waste denim in with a small amount of virgin, undyed cotton, and produce fabric on giant looms which they turn into coffee sacks. These are then filled with local beans and shipped all over the world, and after the coffee beans are off-loaded, you can buy the recycled denim sacks to reuse however you’d like.

There’s a lot more about the super-interesting process over on Square Mile Coffee’s blog, but as soon as I heard about it, I instantly bought two sacks with the idea that I’d make myself a pair of jeans with it. But when they arrived, I realised that, while the original fibres were denim, the recycled sacks were more like a cotton bouclé, and far too loosely woven to be used in place of denim.

So I pre-washed the sacks, dutifully unpicked all the seams, and thought about making a jacket while the seasons rolled around to something more befitting an unlined jacket (since I knew I didn’t want to cover up the cool coffee sack printing!). A couple of candidate jacket patterns caught my attention, but then I saw New Look 6532 as a free covermount pattern on Sew Magazine and thought it was pretty much exactly what I had been imagining for my coffee sacks.

An upcycled knitting bag and some newly-loomed socks

A few weekends ago I found myself in HEMA (a Dutch interiors, snacks, and household shop) picking up a few things and I spied a cushion cover for a fiver that I liked the look of. I’d been meaning to make myself a project bag for my sock loom and various supplies for a while now, and I saw the potential! I was also too excited to get a Before photo but it’s up online and now I see it’s only £2! Figures!

The cushion cover featured a loosely woven fabric on one side (which I used as the bag exterior) plus a plain canvas on the other (which became the bag lining) and a matching zip so it was excellent value considering the zipper alone would’ve cost me around £3.50!

A refashioned Tessellate Tee from race shirts

I’ve got so many wonderful versions of my latest Tessellate Tee pattern to show you, and this one is particularly fun because it uses up old race tees! If you run a lot of races like I do, after a while you end up drowning in race shirts given at the end along with your medal. Oftentimes these are sized for men, so they’re big and boxy and not very flattering to wear, but they’re often made of great wicking material, which, while not very stretchy, is super breathable and works great for the Tessellate Tee!

Once I started cutting up and refashioning old race shirts, I now actually request the largest possible size from races as they’ve got the most material to use and I know I’m more likely to wear a refashioned one than the regular tee. This tee uses an old Run to The Beat half marathon race shirt (the teal & hot pink), and a Royal Parks half marathon tee (the yellow and blue, with “RUN” on the back), plus some yellow reflective DriFit I bought from The Rain Shed last year (no longer in stock).

An upcycled baby onesie

This is a much smaller project than my lace dress but one I wanted to share anyway as it involves upcycling a teeshirt into something more useful. One of my very first sewing projects as an adult was transforming a XXL promotional teeshirt into something more stylish, and I think a lot of beginners find teeshirt refashions to be both inspiring and approachable – after all, there’s no question of how much fabric to buy, or if you’ve got the wrong kind, as teeshirts are pretty universal.

In any case, this started life as a very oversized promotional teeshirt for the sports personality Alan Brazil, who records his weekly show in my office’s studio and is well-known around the office. He’s particularly loved by our Creative Director, Ben, so we all decided he should have the teeshirt. But Ben is not a XXL, so it just stayed on his desk for ages, and was left there when he went away on paternity leave…

…when I mischievously spirited it home and refashioned it into a onesie for his newborn son!

Vintage silk roses for a wedding bouquet

The main reason for our recent trip to the States was to celebrate my Aunt’s wedding, and since I still had some scraps of my grandmother’s (her mother’s) gown leftover from when I refashioned it into my wedding gown back in 2010, earlier this year I offered to make her something from the silk so that her mother could be a part of the day, too.

I thought perhaps she’d want a clutch bag, or cropped jacket or something, but she requested fabric roses instead. And a lot of them!

I made my own “pattern” so all of the roses would be the same size, but the pattern was really just two different sizes of pointed ovals. To make each rose, I just folded the oval in half lengthwise and gathered together the cut edge by hand with some running stitches. I rolled up the larger one, tacked it together at the base, then wrapped the smaller around the outside of it, and tacked that together by hand, too.

It took a few minutes to make each rose, so I made myself a little kit and tried to do one or two each lunchtime at the office (after I’d finished any messy eating!!).

And before too long, I had a whole herd of roses to post off to DC!

Then her florist used floral tape and wire to create “stems” on each and worked them into the bridal bouquet, the flower girls’ crowns, and the buttonholes for all of the men on our side of the family, including my granddad. Apparently as my Aunt pinned his buttonhole onto his label, she told him that the roses were made from Granny’s gown, and he was so touched he started crying!

A Day of the Dead refashioned tee

I know I’m technically a day late for Dia de Los Muertos, but if Mexico City can hold their official celebrations today, then so can I!

This project actually started life in a market in Brittany two years ago, where I bought a pair of sugar skull print leggings off a market stall for a grand total €3. But they were “one size fits all” and “made in China”, which means that really, “one size fits most Chinese people”, so the fabric stretched over my thighs making the print pale and unattractive. I still liked the print, though, and the jersey itself was soft and surprisingly nice for the price, but I didn’t wear them much.

So when I came across these leggings when I was switching over to my winter wardrobe last weekend, I pulled them aside and thought they’d be a great candidate for refashioning, especially since we’d planned to attend the British Museum’s “Days of the Dead” festivities. So I cut them apart along the inseam and unpicked the coverstitching, and I was left with a sizeable amount of fabric:

I took my basic tee sloper and my long sleeve fit perfectly into the leggings piece with only a few inches spare at the bottom (added to my scraps pile). Then I sifted through my jersey stash, and after a brief, ill-chosen combination of burgundy, mustard, and black (way too “German flag”, and thrown in the bin!!), realised I had enough of some royal blue ponte to make the body and neckband.

Photos taken before work on a very foggy morning with my phone camera…

An epic and nonstop September Roundup

Posting was a bit light around here in September, but not intentionally so. Coming back from Argentina immediately into building work (which pretty much occupied every morning, most Fridays, and some evenings too) and being away every single weekend in September just left me flattened. A month on and I’m still exhausted, and frankly, trying to figure out if I’m ill, or if it’s diet-related, or just a really slow recovery from international competition.

So I must apologise to all the people out there who are waiting on emails from me – when I’m too tired to sit up, I don’t tend to open my laptop to write out proper replies, let along blog posts (this one has taken me about 4-5 sessions spread out over a week to write). But I did manage to get all the Sewing Indie Month posts together that I needed to, and I wanted to gather them together along with a bunch of other bits and pieces you may have missed if you’re not following me on Twitter or Instagram.

Imagine Gnats Wrap-style Bess top Tutorial

One of the few finished garments I managed to make in September was a fancy, wrap-style hack of the Imagine Gnats Bess top, which I wrote a full tutorial for, too.

I loved the shoulder detailing on the original pattern, but I thought the shoulder seaming looked reminiscent of kimonos, so I changed the front pattern piece to be a wrap-style instead.

But the fabrics in my stash that went together best ended up being a brocade skirt that my friend Pip gifted me after she lost weight, and a poly satin that (I think?) a neighbour gifted to me years ago, so this ended up being a refashion project, too!

Anyway, you can read more about it over at Imagine Gnats, and last week I also wrote an Activewear patterns roundup for Rachael, too. Definitely take a look at her shop while you’re over there – she’s a keen cyclist and has just taken delivery of a bunch of wicking lycra in some lovely colours (she’s US-based)!

Also for Sewing Indie Month, Maison Fleur interviewed me and asked a lot of interesting questions I’d not thought about before, which was nice! I may have also hinted about a few big things happening in January, which will also coincidentally start my 10th year of!

Seamwork Radio

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Seamwork magazine, having subscribed from the very first issue, made quite a few of their patterns, and written a bunch of articles for them, so I was literally dancing at my desk when the first episode of Seamwork Radio was released last week!