My handmade wardrobe year – end of the first month

The end of my first month of buying no clothes and only making them! OK its probably unlikely to be difficult to restrain from buying clothes in the first 4 weeks of the year! And yes I successfully did not buy any clothing at all.

However in my first week devastation did hit my wardrobe! I had bought a gorgeous pure wool and quite expensive jumper in September and found the weather to mild to wear it, so it stayed in my wardrobe unworn until December. It had its first wash at the end of the year and horror or all horrors it shrunk!!! Then to add insult to injury it was in the sale online. I was really upset especially as it was washed at 30 degrees as the wash-care label stated.

I  phoned Plumo where the jumper came from and they asked me to send it back to them, which I did. During this time I decided I really need to learn to knit! I am a cosy fiend in the winter and am permanently cold so I didn’t think I would get by with my limited number of jumpers. The story had a happy ending as Plumo did replace my  jumper……..this time the wash-care label said hand wash only!!! In the short space of time between disaster and replacement I discovered lots of gorgeous knitting patterns and have also been given loads of contacts of courses and learning options for knitting. So learning to knit is firmly on the ‘to do’ list!

Back to sewing, I am quite pleased with the results of my first month. I also wrote the post ‘a starting point for dressmaking’ and while working through the process myself I realised the wardrobe that I thought I had (full of nice quality and versatile pieces in ‘go with most thing colours’) was actually just quite dull and a bit boring! I am pleased I wrote the post and worked through the process. I have decided I need to inject a lot more colour into my wardrobe and I could do with some more tops. Also since making my reversible wrap skirt (one of my workshops ) I have worn it quite a lot, so I think a few more skirts would be good. This gives me a good guide line for the next few months.

This months makes:

Do you remember this dress:


It turned into this skirt:


This almost never happens – I cut the bodice away from the skirt and tried it on, not only did I like the length as it was but the waist was exactly the right size! All I did was add some good old fashioned curved petersham band and a hook and eye to finish it off. The only slight problem is the zip is only about 4 inches long. It is a slight squeeze to get into it, but once on fits like a glove – definitely no room for expansion.


Then there was this dress:


Which was not quite so straight forward! I did the same and cut the skirt away from the bodice. I decided I wanted it knee length. The waist was really big so I started by adding large pleats evenly around the waist but it hung badly, so I had to make several small pleats which worked much better. I made the waistband from the sleeves and reduced the fabric below the decorative band to reduce the length.


There was this satin maxi skirt:


I thought this would make a nice vest top possibly with a pleat at the front. I started by making a basic vest top pattern to fit me. I then adapted it to include a pleat. I knew this fabric might be tricky and I was right. It wasn’t wide enough to make the pleated version so I made it without a pleat which I was quite pleased about in the end as the fabric was difficult to work with. I used bias tape to finish the neck and armhole edges.


Then there was this classic neutral cardy:


Being a bit of a button lover and naming my business ‘bobbins and buttons’ means I collect button ideas, and when I saw a version of this I knew it had to be done. I started off just using tonal buttons and then I got daring and injected a bit of red! Who knows I might do a rainbow version next!:-)



A boring pair of slim jeans when from this to….


this….one fat quarter, and they still work down as well as turned up.



This jacket was basically ok but the shoulders were just a bit too 80’s for my liking, and the buttons and lining were not my fav either.


It is still a work in progress, I unpicked the lining and the sleeve heads and re-set the sleeve which was about 2 cm to wide.



I chose some fabric to line it in. I do like a little bit of kitsch although I’m not very flamboyant so lining a jacket in something a little bit kitsch fulfills my kitsch needs 🙂


These fabrics I decided to keep two for another project and make the floral one into the pleated version of the vest.


Another work in progress, after cutting it out I thought it might be nice to put the bias tape on the outside and make a feature of it, however I didn’t have a good colour, I found some on eBay. I had to buy 25 metres as  it was only £3.50 I decided to go for it.


If this one works out well I might make the green chiffon maxi dress into another. All fabrics act differently and I am not totally convinced the polyester chiffon will be nice, but I like the print and green is my favorite colour.


Lastly there was my charity shop curtains that I wanted to turn into trousers, I don’t want to go wrong on these because the fabric cost me £2.99!! The truth is I don’t own a trouser pattern and really I wanted to replicate my favorite Paul Smith trousers.


I made a pattern from my Paul Smith ones as I think this shape will be good slightly cropped and full length and work in plain and patterned fabrics.


I made a toile of my pattern and amazingly they fitted without the need of any alteration!

Plans for Febuary:

I am hoping to finish off the started projects. I am a bit naughty sometimes, I have so many new ideas that I am tempted to start on these, but I will try and finish the started projects first. Realistically that might be all I achieve in February.

The new things I have ideas for are:


My favourite t-shirt from last year might get a small facelift!


I have nearly a metre left of my kitsch teddy print lining fabric – It is actually cotton fabric not lining, It is also a  one-way print which means I may not have enough to do a garment with. I am hoping there will be enough for a short  simple skirt.


I think I am going to keep this Liberty print simple in shape and a new advanced pattern cutting project class might come out of this idea!


Lovely pleated Toast sale skirt but a bit boring!


Another plain and simple cardigan…..


and another, yes I know it looks like I have a job lot of these – I kind of do!


I am a big fan of my wool biker jacket and I like the contrast sleeve version that is on trend at the moment like this one by Preen. This is quite a big job but I like the idea of making a version basing the shape on my favorite jacket…


If you think this looks like a blanket, you would be right, I was looking for pure wool check in subtle colours and the cheapest and most attractive option I found was this Scottish wool blanket on Ebay for £29. I think there will also be enough left over for another little project I have in mind!


A trip to see Stuart on Leicester market resulted in a couple more fabric purchases! This blue medium weight linen mix, I thought might make a nice flat fronted skater skirt.


I have a new simple dress shape in mind, which I am really excited about because I think it will make a great new class project.

Talking of which I have a new skirt project idea that is simple and flattering, which I would quite like to do as well. Oh and I have started a wish list on Eternal maker website.  Phew I think I am going to be very busy 🙂

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Julia Claridge

I was about 6 or 7 years old when I had my first go on a sewing machine, it was an old hand crank machine that my mum used with her patients, she was an occupational therapist. I still vividly remember watching with amazement as the tiny perfectly formed stitches were created as I turned the handle. I Grew up in the 70’s and 80’s when buying clothes was less affordable and dressmaking was an answer to updating your wardrobe more regularly. My own mother was a talented dressmaker who made most of my clothes and my sisters clothes as well as a many for herself. I soon got involved with making my clothes, I loved the whole experience of picking out fabrics, trims and a pattern to create a new outfit, then going home to make a new garment or outfit. When it came to leaving school I visited a careers advisor who asked what I wanted to do next. My answer was ..Sew! Read more...

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