oo arh! experiences

I feel through this year so far I have learnt a lot by setting this stall up independently – I now know more about the business side (I think contacting Chinese companies was the biggest leap for me in that sense) and about insurance and legal things which I was ignorant of!

However, I also feel my construction skills have come on in leaps and bounds over the past couple of months as I have been able to learn new skills through working with various materials and on a myriad of exciting projects.


IMG_2099I have never sewn a stretchy garment from scratch, only altered them and added non stretchy fabric – so when I came to use this glorious fabric I had a few problems, like, for example, it would not stitch – my machine did not seem to like the fabric. However, after tampering with the tension and having a fiddle I simply changed the thread and it worked like a dream! Silly me – and now I have a garment which I am very pleased with!

I added some gorgeous mustard lace, which was once a top rescued from a charity shop which I then cut out around the floral design to embellish this monochrome fabric.



For one reason or another, I have never used a machine to make button holes – I love the process of doing them by hand and find the experience extremely therapeutic, however, I reached a stage when I thought ‘This is just nonsense now’ and, since I have my new Bernina, I decided to give it a crack…and my world has been turned!! I love it – so simple, so effective and so sturdy – why have I never done this before?!


I tried it on different weights of fabric, like this jacket and this floaty skirt and it worked brilliantly on bot, and was a lot more time effective than me fiddling round with pins, etc.


One of the major bumps in the road I have come across is sizing. How do I create different sizes of garments when it is only me and my size 10 mannequin?

IMG_2052My granny had the answer – a size guide from the back of one of her magazines! So simple, yet extremely effective and useful!

So I have been able to create a few dresses which span all the different sizes – it is tricky to see if they are in proportion when they are made but I guess this will be put to the test at WOMAD.

Anther solution has been to use parts of patterns I own – so, for example, I have purchased some sari material off eBay and wanted to make a few dresses and skirts out of them, in various sizes. So I decided to use the tops of dress patterns I have used before like this hippy dress and these 50’s style bodices.

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I have also been using my time to create some more garments like Pippa’s wedding coat – I quite enjoyed the process of changing the measurements of a historical pattern so I decided to try out two different style on two very different materials.


This jacket could have been worn in various configurations but I chose to use the patterns of the day dress which can been seen on the far left and far right.


A close up illustration of the day jacket with its trimmings and bindings.

I chose to construct this jacket with the left over tweed from Pippa’s coat and combined it with hand made binding out of green cotton with white polka dots and some gathered orange fabric, to bring out the deeper tones in the tweed, and a strip of old trim adding texture.


I was going to add double flounces on the sleeves as seen in the pattern but when I tried it the effect was too bulky, so I settled for a neat row of binding, since I made so much!

IMG_2137The second jacket pattern was one I had never worked with before but one that had always caught my eye. I love the deep pleating on the seams and the elegant hood.

I chose to make this jacket out of the skirt  of a bridesmaids dress rescued from a charity shop – it felt too waterproof-y to be remade into a dress but a jacket…now you’re talking!

I do like it; there is something eye catching about the glittery IMG_2126flowers and it did indeed make a good jacket – I coupled the blue with the leftover lining material from Pippa’s coat (waste not, want not) which really stood out. Additionally, this adorable floral cotton brings the elegance back to this 18th century garment. I fell in love with the buttons used for both jackets – they are an important embellishment which should never be overlooked!

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