Making: new clothes for old

Here’s where it began. I started doing some sewing because a few clothes didn’t work any more. And I found I liked the results.

My normal sewing levels are around attaching name tapes to clothes. Occasionally badges to judo outfits. Not much more.

I did learn to do backstitch (making a nice strong seam) in the teenage days of having a favourite schoolbag, which would intermittently fall apart under the weight of all the books.

Having finally found the perfect bag (large, green, canvas material, good straps), I was not going to let it go and have to begin the hunt again. So I think I must have kept it going a good three years in the end.

Which is good for schoolbags, all in all.

Over time, and with a bit of observation of my mother-in-law’s trouser hemming techniques, I have moved up to being able to take up trousers to a shorter height, should one’s junior reader require it.

(I have also on occasion managed to sew one trouser leg to another (temporarily, I didn’t leave it like that), but I’m better at spotting that in advance and saving all the unpicking.)

Although it has allowed me to buy a seam ripper, like the one I remember my mum having, which is a lot of fun to use.)

Having shown the level of my sewing credentials to date, down to the business of making.

No. 1: a pair of trousers belonging to Junior Reader. Having been taken up several times to begin with, once they were taken down, they had big bands of fold around the ankles.

They looked a bit like lines you’d find at successive high tides. So I asked if I could turn them into mid-length trousers, and was given the nod. (Phew.)

The trousers were cargo pants, and fortunately, had some detailing on them already which gave me a hint of where to cut. Then I hemmed them and: hey presto, new light-weight trousers.

Not yet tried out at the beach, but great for this ‘is it spring/isn’t it’ kind of weather.

These I have been able to see are a success, because they are getting worn a lot.

(We have also had the ‘how to take off your trousers carefully’ talk, after a certain amount of recent fixing and refixing of school trousers, and so far, cargo pants are doing just fine.)

No 2: a stage further up. Dan had a pair of jeans with rips on both knees. So I applied the same logic (and measured VERY carefully), and managed to create some cut-offs.

I think the point of proper cut-offs is that the hems are mean to be a bit raggy. But that doesn’t really build in your sewing skills, so I’ve gone for neat for now.

I think they may actually need taking up a bit more – they are a tiny bit Empire-builder for now. But hopefully we’ll get to see them in action (if that hot summer we’re promised comes round), and then we can fix on the hems for definite.

Updated: they’ve been worn all week on holiday. The length is good at the points when you sit with your knees bent. And really, they are just off, seeing holidaying action, so I think that’s a win.

No 3: same approach, different garment. Dan had a much loved long-sleeved shirt, with a hole at one elbow. No longer suitable for business meetings.

A spot more cutting, and cue: short sleeve shirt. This one I’m happy with for length of sleeve.

Somehow or other, there was also a hole near the lower seam. So I cut the lower seams and had a go at a rolled stitch, to make the hem very small.

The hems were a success, but it does make the shirt a bit boxy now. So I think we’ve settled that it’s one of those summer shirts that you don’t actually try to do up, but wear open over a T shirt or a vest.

Big plus point from 2 and 3: spare material. Just a bit, but nice enough to use for something else.

Which leads us to the next making update: a small attempt in the direction of quilting. (Fingers crossed.)

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