In what accidentally seems to be shaping up as a year of charity, I was very eager to help when an email popped up from Charlotte inviting me to help at her fundraising evening.
Charlotte was raising money for Marie Curie in honour of her mother. She decided to host an evening at my local favourite eatery, The Cartshed. The theme was “Make do and Mend”, and as well as a range of delicious food and drink, guests were encouraged to bring their odd items that have been in the fix it pile for a long time.
I was there as one of a handful of local sewing/knitting enthusiasts to add a bit of added interest to the evening and help the guests with the mending!
I didn’t know exactly what I could do. I wanted to share the opportunities for sewing lessons, but also show why learning to sew is brilliant.
I decided to show a range of clothes that I have made following the “Make do and Mend” theme. So the items I took had originally come from charity shops or had elements of “using up scraps” about them.
I wrote and attached a little story of each item so that people could browse at their leisure and see where the fabric for each item came from. In doing this I came to a realisation that I hadn’t before … my clothes all have a story! Not the most exciting one, but more lengthy than, “this top was from Joules”.
It was such a strange experience to let 50 odd strangers look through and inspect the clothes that I wear every day. It was a little like baring your soul! Especially as it is all so personal to me. Thankfully, all I heard was positive comments and some that really bolstered my confidence. I really enjoyed sitting with the guests and talking with other local dressmakers. I even sewed a scout badge on! It was so nice to have an event to showcase the journey I am on and look at how far I have come. Plus Charlotte raised over £800 that night for Marie Curie!
Some of the stories …
Item: Horses Dress
Pattern: “Megan” from Tilly and the Buttons
Made from: a sample print and a bed sheet
Story: I ordered the fabric to be printed from Spoonflower, it was meant to be for someone else, but it wasn’t right, so it stayed in my drawer. When I came to make this dress, I knew I wanted to add a lining. For this I used an old double duvet sheet that had been ruined by our old washing machine. It’s quite smooth and has a nice feel, plus I can pretend I’m in bed when I wear it.
Note: The zip is about 15 years old and was meant for another long-forgotten project. I like the contrasting colour of it. I also topstitched the hem with yellow to bring out the citrusy colours in the horse blankets.
Item: Lucky Cat Dress
Pattern: “Carnaby” from Nina Lee
Made from: barkcloth and a hair band
Story: I bought this fabric from one of my favourite fabric shops Sewisfaction, in Wokingham. It was my first time making this pattern and it is meant to have a 1960’s vibe about it. I added the red piping to make the little hints of red stand out.
Note: Originally, it was made with a small zip at the back, which didn’t survive. I had to pick it all out and make the best of it. I decided to repurpose a black hairband and an old button from the tin, making a new closure. It works well, and I wear this dress all the time!
Item: Swans and Waves
Pattern: “Megan” from Tilly and the Buttons
Made from: cotton
Story: This swan print was everywhere last year and it came in different colourways. I had made a top from it and so had some left over. The waves fabric had been in my drawer for a while – it was actually my husband who put the two together and said I should combine them in a dress. So I did! It is also lined with cotton that I found in my drawers. My daughter says she doesn’t like it because she doesn’t like seagulls.
Note: I am particularly pleased with how the pattern has been matched at the back either side of the zip.
Item: Dotty Upcycle
Made from: An adult dress found in the British Heart Foundation
Story: This dress had quite a big skirt, so I bought it with the intention of turning it into a summer skirt for myself. Instead, Hazel saw it and started with her demands. I thought it would be worth trying to keep the pockets, which we did. It would have looked cute as a knee length, but she wanted it long to be like a princess. In fact, this will mean that it will last her a bit longer too.
Note: I used another quilting stitch to finish the hem off. Taking in the sides was fairly simple, but the straps needed covering where I had to re-join them.
Attitude: Models own.
I also made a little raffle prize which I shall blog about next…