My handmade wardrobe – A coat- February 2015!

OK technically my year of not buying any clothes and only making them is over and I achieved my goal. So now I can stop making clothes to blog about ..right!?

Well the thing is….. I love my handmade wardrobe so much, making clothes is great, having clothes that fit is great, having gorgeous fabric that I normally wouldn’t be able to afford to buy clothes made in is great and having total freedom in what ever I want in my wardrobe is …GREAT!!!! So why on earth would I want to stop this love affair?

In fact quite the opposite the plans for makes are stacking up next to the charity shop bag of rejected shop bought items. A funny little thought crossed my mind – what if my whole wardrobe was one day entirely handmade……..!!!


My first plan is for a bright cheery coat. As soon as I saw Tamara’s coat on the second series of Great British Sewing Bee I loved it, so when it was in the book, it was added immediately to the wish list. It is along time since I made a coat so I plan to take my time. I struggled finding co-ordinating outer fabric and facing fabric. I love green, so I was happy to find some bright green wool fabric from My Fabrics.


I know you are probably looking at this photo thinking ‘she has totally lost the plot’…..this is actually my coat toile. The truth is I am running out of calico (which I buy in 80 metre rolls, because I use it in my dressmaking courses) so I decided to use up fabric that I was unlikely to use for anything else, ( I have been having a big clear out) this is just a cheap poly cotton.

I wanted to check the upper bodice fit and how the collar looked and fitted before cutting into my actual fabric.


All cut out and ready to sew, however I do seem to have quite a bit of fabric left, which is slightly annoying as the fabric was fairly expensive and I would have preferred to buy less. I am hoping I might have enough to do a boxy cropped sleeve jacket with the left overs.

I bought the lining fabric this week and finally found the interfacing that I think I will use, I plan to interface some areas not mentioned in the instructions, like the hem and the pocket openings. The main fabric is almost stretchy and I think the interfacing will mean the coat keeps a sharp structured shape. I am already to get started now.




This month at Sew Sociable I did a talk about my time in South Africa as a volunteer teacher in 2004. I made a skirt while I was in South Africa inspired by the landscape and all the creepy crawlies I discovered, which to my surprise I found still fitted! I needed a top to go with it. I found this uber cheap viscose on one of my favorite eBay shops The Textile centre and thought it was perfect for making another of the Great British Sewing bee projects the 1930’s blouse. It all went together surprisingly easily and I am very happy with the results.


Last month I showed my first attempt at a skinny rib vest, which fitted ok but needed a tweak or two. I amended the pattern and made another which I am happy with.


While on the subject of wardrobe stables, I thought I might as well add a long sleeve t-shirt to the repertoire.


I cut the remaining fabric into another vest, I sewed these together using the overlocker, I bought some 100% cotton thread to sew them together, as the next plan was to dye them and I wanted to thread to take the dye.


I had fun choosing colours. I dyed one of the vests pale pink.


And then disaster….I chose what I thought was a lovely vibrant green for the others,(yes it does appear I am a greenoholic!) but  it came out as greyish dull green, not what I expected at all.


Then…..I discovered why you should not dry the finished item on the radiator! I ended up with big tram lines and blotchy patches. It is always a bit disheartening when the end result of a project is a disaster, but I have learnt to be philosophical about disasters. There is often a way of saving most things and if there really isn’t you have always learned something you will probably never do again!!

My plan is to try dying these to a dark bottle green and hope I can cover the blotches and come out with a colour I like,but if not I could always go black! failing that they will be filed in my mistakes learnt file and I will try again.

Lastly I have been having a think about knitwear. Last year I had a dabble and made a scarf and fell in love with the amazing array of yarns you can buy. I have contemplated learning some more knitting skills, but in reality it is quite far down the list of things to do as there is so many things I want to do. I got by fine without buying any new knitwear but got round to thinking it might be fun to do a skill swap with someone who can knit and would like to learn to sew. In essence swap a knitted item in return for some sewing classes! If this idea appeals to you and you can attend Leicester based sewing classes, give me a shout!

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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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