How I got on with Sew My Stash September

Right! Let’s wrap up Sew My Stash September with a review! I thought about doing charts, but started messing around on Canva instead, so here’s an infographic of stats.

Round up infographic.jpg

In addition to shifting a shedload of fabric, I learned a few things about myself and my sewing habits:

  • Cutting out your projects for the month might be tedious, but it’s worth it. I even did all my interfacing at the same time! It was great to just be able to reach for fabric that was all cut and ready to go, and it kept me focused, too. Seeing the pile slowly disappear over the month was a good motivator – I might not have finished all my sewing in September itself, but I didn’t start anything new until I’d done it all. Maybe this is the way to keep myself on track?
  • Sewing generates a lot of waste. I have a Sainsbury’s bag (why I brought plastic bags with me to another country I’ll never know) full of fabric scraps ready to go to the nearest H&M for recycling. I already do my best to squeeze pattern pieces into the smallest possible space, but there will always be offcuts. I’ve never really thought about it before, but after that mammoth cutting out session, it was really brought home to me. From now on I’ll save my scraps and take them into H&M every couple of months.
  • I think I have a pretty sensible approach to buying fabric. Looking through my stash, it’s all stuff I would wear, in colours that fit into my wardrobe. Don’t get me wrong, I love a crazy print (and I’ve sewn a couple over the summer) but the majority of fabrics in my stash are block colours.
  • Since I had a lot to get through in September I decided to blog three times a week. It gets a bit much after a while, and I didn’t quite manage it by the end of the month. Twice a week seems much more manageable.

Sew My Stash September was a lot of work, and I set myself a tough challenge in planning to sew so much. However, I quite enjoyed it! It was good to have a clear goal and it’s certainly satisfying to get through so much fabric in a relatively short space of time. I might even make it an annual thing.

And finally…

I didn’t quite get my final two projects, a pair of Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dresses, made in September, but I did manage to start them before the 30th. I wanted to get a production line going one afternoon, but I had to stop in the evening because I hit a point where overlocking was unavoidable. Not wanting to annoy the neighbours, I stopped for the night and the next couple of days too… The main thing is, I got them done eventually.

Stripy front

Chris is in the UK this weekend so I worked out how to set up the remote for the camera. I’m not brave enough to do it outside on my own just yet. 

Anyway, the fabric! I bought the denim shortly after I made my first Cleo earlier this year from the fabric shop in Balham, along with the buckles for both. I’d always planned to make another Cleo with it, but didn’t quite get there what with the move and the summer etc. The stripy stuff is a canvas from Our Fabric Stash in Pike Place Market (probably the most recognisable part of Seattle after the Space Needle). Our Fabric Stash is a consignment shop, so everything started life in someone else’s stash and is sold as found. I think this stuff had been sitting in someone’s collection for a while as it had that distinctive musty smell that takes ages to shift in the wash.

Denim front

As you can see, I need more practice. 

I had a lovely time making these up – the Cleo is a very easy pattern and it was fun to revisit it. I wanted a little bit of a challenge, though, so I had a crack at topstitching the denim one with proper thread and everything. Since any mistake would be super noticeable, I took things really slowly. I discovered that my machine doesn’t like backtacking with topstitching thread, so I ended up not doing it and caught the loose ends in seams and overlocking. For the most part I just used the guides on my presser foot to keep things even, but for the curves on the back pockets I drew around a side plate with some tailors’ chalk. I’m so pleased with how it all turned out that I think the topstitching is my favourite feature on the denim version. I only wish I’d bought more than one 33-yard reel – it would have been great to add it on the straps and around the top facing but I had nowhere near enough for both.

Back pocket topstitching

So. Pleased. 

 

I’m also quite pleased with the patches which I picked up a few weeks ago in the Fremont Vintage Mall. I just popped in for a bit of a mooch and ended up rummaging through baskets of old patches (mostly from Scout and Girl Scout events) and happened upon these two. And they were iron on! No faffing about with hand sewing! I’m not sure how they’ll hold up in the wash, but I think they add a little extra to the front pocket.

Patches and topstitching

So that’s it for Sew My Stash September! If you joined in, how did you get on? Would you do it again?

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Too-rye-ay

Does anyone else think of Dexy’s Midnight Runners when they think of dungarees? I haven’t worn a pair myself since the mid-90s when I had some short dungarees for the summer. [Un]fortunately I have no photos, but I loved those things – they were so comfortable and I thought I was so cool wearing them. I’m not sure I could carry off proper dungarees anymore but a dress version is a happy compromise.

Tilly and the Buttons’ Cleo dress came along just at the right time. It’s an easy-fitting dress with two length options and instructions for buckles or buttonholes. I’ve seen loads of lovely versions over the internet, and not just in traditional denim. When Tilly released a new batch of kits, I snapped one up in aubergine needlecord.

front

The kit came with everything you need to make your Cleo – pattern, thread, interfacing, shiny silver buckles and enough fabric to make one dress. The fabric is seriously nice too. So very soft. Before cutting it out I must have spent a good 15 minutes just stroking it… Don’t judge me. I was… ermmm… testing for the nap…

Anyway, the pattern comes with Tilly’s trademark clear and detailed instructions. I went for the longer version and had no problems sewing it up – it’s a great pattern for a beginner, but a nice quick sew for someone with more projects under their belt. Proving every day’s a school day, I did pick up a new skill! I’d never done a bar tack before and never really realised that it’s just a row of really tight zigzags. Mine’s at the top of the front split for reinforcement.

As dungarees have a relaxed fit, I was confident that my standard adjustments to TATB patterns would be ok. I’m a 4 on top, but according to my measurements I should be a 7 on the bottom. I graded it out as normal but the finished article made me look like I was wearing jodhpurs, so I unpicked and resewed. I’ll try grading to a 6 next time instead.

pocket

Difficult to see in this pic, but I can assure you there is a painstakingly stitched pocket on this dress.

This was a really satisfying sew and I’ve had a lot of lovely comments about this one (apart from my dad, who asked me why I was wearing overalls *sigh*). From tracing the pattern (normally the part that takes me ages, mainly because I find it so very tedious) to trying on the finished article, this took me about four hours. I can see more on the horizon too. It doesn’t take up much fabric – less than 1.25m for the longer length dress – so it’s good for stash busting. I’ve already bought some dark blue denim and the buckles for my next version, though this time I think I’ll give contrasting top stitching a go.

That’ll have to wait though, cos I’m about two weeks away from the big move and I am mainly spending time sorting out my life right now. That and my machine and overlocker went into storage last week. I am itching to do some more making but I’ll have to restrain myself until I get to the other side of the pond.

What’s on your sewing table at the moment?

straps-back

Straps!