I have enjoyed sewing since I was young and particularly enjoy designing and making my own clothes. While using a pattern would no doubt make for fewer mistakes and weird outcomes, it is the challenge and puzzle of figuring out how to make the design work that I most enjoy. The pieces below were entirely designed and made by me. I start by making a pattern out of newspaper. Sometimes I will use existing clothes that I like to get measurements and guidance from (such as size of pockets) for making the pattern or take elements that have worked from previous patterns.
The majority of the fabrics I use are either recycled from other projects and unwanted clothes or bought from my local sewing shop. Although it can be more expensive I choose fabrics that are as ethically sourced as possible and that support crafts people using traditional methods.
Patchwork Quilted Sweater
This was a total labour of love, but it got me through the first lockdown in 2020. An incredibly ambitious early sewing project to start with no pattern and little experience, but I am really pleased with the outcome. Admittedly so far the time that went into making it greatly outweighs the time I've since spent wearing it!
I actually really nerded out with this project and spent a good while designing the patchwork pattern on the computer first using photos of the fabric swatches I had which were remnants of William Morris printed cotton. While the patchwork I've done before has been hand sewn I decided to try to sew the patchwork using my sewing machine. This was successful, although it took a lot of careful arranging and pinning to get the triangles remotely lined up.
To quilt the top I used one layer of cotton batting between the outer fabric and the lining and did some simple stripes of sewing on the front with triangle detail at the bottom to match the patchwork pattern. The biggest challenge was getting the sleeves to work having never made sleeves before - let alone with three layers of material to handle - and I had to unpick and resew them oh so many times. All part of the fun. :~)
It seems imperative that an amateur sewing enthusiast makes a pair of dungarees before long. I am pretty chuffed with the design of these, they are the easiest access dungarees I've ever owned owing to the pockets opening out to let you take them off rather than undoing all of the buttons or strap buckles. It was also my first try of doing "bound" buttonholes which are very neat and satisfying. The only issue I've encountered with them is that the loom woven fabric seems to stretch over time so having a means of adjusting the straps would be helpful.
Being the skinflint that I am while also wanting to use ethical and handcrafted fabrics, I like to squeeze the most that I can out of a half metre. These crop tops are made from one half metre length each which is a snug but perfect fit for the pattern I made. I'm not sure what the technique is called, but I made bias tape from the fabric offcuts and used it to make neat finishes to the arm and neck holes. The fabrics here are from a company called slubbed and are batik or block printed. I was really pleased with the neat finish to the seams and the little split detail on the sides.
I started these shorts thinking I would make a pair of loose fit shorts that came up to a pleated fitted top, but as I tried to make them this started to seem like a bad idea. They worked out well though, perfect for skating!
These are a lightweight cotton trouser with elasticated waist. These were the first `proper' pair of trousers I ever made and I love them! I took extra care to make them neat inside and out, using what I think is called "flat felled" seams which are strong and neat on both sides. The waistband is 5cm elastic which gives a very comfortable fit and I made the pockets big enough to actually get your hand in. The print is a hand block print from a company called slubbed.
Tote Back Pack
Sometimes you are going out and just want to take a few things with you. I made this as a backpack alternative to a tote bag using some leftover canvas. I used two layers on the back with cross sewn joints to make it strong.
This was my first patchwork project not using the classic hexagon pattern. I originally designed the stars to be within individual squares that would all be colourful, but I decided to go for plain canvas instead to make the stars pop out.
Patchwork foraging bag
For Alix to gather nuts in. :~)