Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Fringed Grey T shirt dress

I recently cleared out my wardrobe and threw a way a very tatty old Tshirt which was the same style as this top. The original top was white and I think from New Look quite a few years ago. I decided to make this one a dress though to wear with my leggings in Autumn and for the rest of what we have left of the summer.

I have had this reasonable sized piece of grey jersey for a while. Its left over from this top:


Its  a very simple top with just zigzagging up the side seams and around the armholes and then the excess fabric was cut into fringing. I did not even add shoulder seams or at the start a neck edge.

I added a neck edge or collar after wearing this last week because I like it and reckon it will not last long without. This dress also has a raw edge hem so no hem at all just the end of the fabric.

I did make one cock-up though. I am so used to sewing everything on the wrong side I sewed this up inside out - fabric wise anyway fogetting the sewing is actually going to be on the right side in this design. Probably means it will pill more quickly I suppose. The neck piece is right side so there is a very slight contrast.

If I make another at some future date I will also add shoulder seams simply to make it easier to add the collar. The lack of shaping ( its really just one large rectangle folded over and a hole cut for the neck) meant it was actually quite difficult to add the collar on and get a good finish. Its not too bad but could be better.

 So heres the photos 😊

For a quick summer dress its a good make because it took all of 10 minutes to sew it up and fringe the sides. Definitely worth considering if you need a very fast new dress or top. 
I have worn this three times since making and its a case so far as worn, washed, and worn again, so its a serious hit despite being so simple. I am coming to the conclusion my best makes are not the fitted difficult items I make but the fast thrown together often with no pattern makes and these seem to be what I choose to wear the most. Certainly food for thought that!

Have you made any simple dresses recently?

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Country Fruit Wine making - Damson and Aronia Berry

I decided to pop up the allotment today because I needed to drop off some compost - potato peelings etc. Its bin day and most people send them off to be recycled and made into either biogas or soil. We take them up our allotment and compost them.

 Anyway I remembered we have yet to pick the Ariona berries. These are not very nice tasting. I bought them as part of an unusual fruit pack as bare rooted plants - probably about 8 years ago now. Well they produce lots of berries or they do if you remember to net them because the birds eat them. We have two plants and I only had enough etting to cover one so we really only got half of the harvest. Must buy some netting next year in fact. Its the first time I ahve tried making wine fromthem. The seller ( DT Brown Ltd) says they make better wine and jam than they do as eating raw. I would agree they are not nice tasting. Infcat the birds must be desperate up there because mu hens do not like them either.

So on the way home I saw loads of wild damsons and picked them as well. Or some of them because there are lots this year. As I said in previous posts from the stuff I was told as a kid lots of berries means a long cold winter is on the way.
This is an Aldi shopping bag and you can see there are lots.

It takes a few days to start off fruit wine so I am writing this in the present to show you what to do if you fancy having a go at this. Later I am going to do exactly the same thing but with free wild elderberries so if you cannot find damsons ( you can miss out the arionas because they are not common and substitute whatever is available)  then use what is out there. Blackberries also work for example.


So I picked them, brought them home,washed them and took as many of the stems off as I have patience for. Previous experience has told me that some soft fruit makes bitter wine if you leave the stems on. According to my Ikea preserving pan or stock pot ( not sure which it actually is) I have about 6 litres of fruit.

I covered this with water and am now cooking to extract as much fruit as possible.

Then mix in sugar while its still hot to disolve it and stick in a sterilised bucked with a lid to keep the flies out. If you get flies in it it will be horrible and turn to vinegar.

Then I left it for 3 days and gave the bucket an occassional shake.

Today I put it into a brewing barrel fitted with an airlock and will now leave till it stops bubbling. Then I will bottle and leave a couple of months to settle before drinking.

I am also going to now make elderberry so I am off to pick some and get going with my next fruit wine.

Happy wine making

Monday, 20 August 2018

Red skull dess

I decided I really liked wearing my my original Bugs Dress a while back so I cut out this dress when I had time off for my birthday so over a month ago. Since then it has just sat there while I got on with other sewing projects.

Its the red version of the skull fabric I used to make my off the shoulder top :

I really like this fabric despite it being a  poly cotton which I generally avoid. I usually either go totally synthetic or totally natural with my fabric choices. Both fabric pieces cost me about £5 so were pretty good price-wise. I also made a skirt frm the rest of the blue fabric but have yet to blog about that.
This is the back view:

 Its a bit shorter that the first dress and much better made.

Instead of the facings I used bias binding left over from my Vivienne Westwood shirt. Its navy and wite but still seems to work well and I like the contrast. I find the facings keep moving up and I have to fiddle with them to get them to stay in place. Also the back facing did not fit right which I assumed was my fault but having had a second look at this pattern I now think is a fault in the design. It probably does not fit anyone's dress if they are making the same size I think.
 I made a much better job of the back vent this time and ignored the pattern and did it my way. Its not overlaped Its just a split hem but I prefer that.

This actually turned out a very sad dog walking day when Reg decided he cannot any longer manage to walk across a field. I thik the ground is just now too rough for my old lad. Still at least he went a car drive which seems to be the highlight of his life these days.

You can see in the next photo where his legs are just not carrying him properly any more. He is not so bad on pavements but obviously we are now beyond field walking. But then he is nearly 15 years old.  Despite this he is still with us and still enjoying life. While I write this he is outside in the garden taking in the air.

Thanks for popping over to read my blog

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Upcycled skirt

I was trying to clear outsome of my 
now-a-problem fabric stash 
when I found the top of a "bad-buy" goth skirt I had bought probably 15 years ago.

The black fabric is a goth skirt - top of a skirt and the check stuff out of my stash.

Only the top tho because the rest is actually net/tulle which I  chopped off but actually is also in my stash! 

Yes I am a terrible hoarder and its half the problem. 

Using this means I have not sent what is really a brand new skirt to the landfill and also I do not have to sew it up - thats the bonus of course.
 I do not need a buy a new zip etc etc. Its morally right and a very fast make.

It also clears a couple more bits from my far too large fabric stash.

I remember objecting when others have made comments on their blogs about the immorality of stashing fabric. Well then mine was not a problem. It is now. 


And its hard to decide what to get rid of and what to keep. I am intending to make up as many large items as possible over the coming weeks and forget the The Monthly Stitch challenges unless they fit in with this aim. 

I spend a lot of time and effort trying to decide what to do for this challenge or that. 

Well right now my main challenge is to clear out some of my stash but not necessarily to chuck it away. Instead to actually make some of this stuff into clothing that has been planned in some cases for several years.
or not for a while and until the stash is again manageable and storeable.
I am happily between jobs for about 2 weeks now. I quit my temp job when I found out I have a perm job with a local organisation but they are taking some time to actually give me a start date.

Thats OK because really I want a sewing holiday. Normally when I have holiday my other half has one as well which is great but no good for sewing. So this is my time to be free to sew and to delete some of my stash. I have so far been off work a full week and have tidied the garden, done some decorating and yet no sewing at all other than this upcycled skirt made from the rest of this fabric which I made the off shoulder top and my pixie dress from and its such a small bit of stash so I need to do better. 

I am sorting it all out to make into stuff tho honest!

So here is my skirt:

So to make my lovely skirt. I took 4 bits of around the same size and overlocked together and overlocked the edge that is now the hem.

 I then pleated this bit roughly around the bottom of the goth skirt. That makes the bulk of the checked part of my skirt. 

Because it frays something crazy I overlocked the now joined black fabric to the pleated fabric making the inside seam neat and strong.

 Then I found two more bits of fabric strips and used the natural raw fraying edges to make a pleated frill on top of the join between the black and check fabrics. I needed to do two rows of stitching to make this frill lie right.

 But then I had this frilly bottom with a plain black top which did not look quite right so I added the rest of the bits of fabric I still had and sewed around the black skirt top in rough strips. They are not quite straight but this is actually intended. Then I had to deal with the bottom of the zip. One strip already overlapped and I decided to leave it dangling so I added an extra bit to the other side and made a second dangly bit which can bit loosely tied or not as a feel like on one side. It finishes the strip next to the zip where otherwise it looked a bit strange and I did not want to sew over the zip and thereby shorten it.

The fabric has alternating checked patterns but to make this I had to decide not to worry about matching anything because there was not enough fabric to do that so I decided to randomly just attach bits and it works really well.

Its very much a raggy skirt made from little bits of fabric but I am very much into it. I wore it to town yesterday and it feels good its so very raggy and different to what is currently in the shops. Reminds me of lots of stuff I saw in the 80s and early 90s but not quite like current fashion. I felt good wearing this. I think being a kind of check too will be great for autumn/fall and winter tho its not a warm skirt but UK winters are often not cold. Having said that I am expecting from the huge amount of berries this year we are going to have a long cold winter but for now this is my latest stash buster garment. I need to tray and make sure the next one uses a bit more fabric tho!

Oh I also made the green velvet top.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018


I got an interesting email back in June from Melissa Feyr Trade about a class she did for Craftsy. I decided to have a look and sign up for their free 1 week trial of Craftsy Unilimited at £12.99 a month. 

I had a quick look around and decided the same day I signed up that Craftsy is not for me. Not now anyway so unsubscribed. I got an email from Craftsy on 1st July saying I had unsubscribed and "Goodbye".

Yesterday I was checking bank statements - something I really must do more often in fact since I am a bit slack about that - and found despite me unsubscribing Craftsy have actually charged me £12.99 twice on 1st July and 1st August 2018. 

I contacted Craftsy and explained I had unsubscribed but they say there is no record of me unsubscribing and they will not refund. They have confirmed I have now successfully usubscribed again.

I have now sent them the email they sent me saying "Goodbye" but thought I will let the world know about this because I suspect I will not get my money back from the email I already recieved, so if I was you I would steer well clear of Craftsy Unlimited because they a RIP OFF company. 

I have previously signed up to other types of online courses for the trial period and never before have I ever been charged. I always have unsubscribed and until my contact with Craftsy I have not been charged. 

The customer services department say their is no record of my unsubscribing despite me having an email confirmation of it. 

Quite unscrupulous and quite disgusting!

So people buy Mellissa Feyr Trade's book - I did and have yet to make anything but looks good, but do not bother with Craftsy and if you do you have been warned!

 A few days after writing this blog post I got an email from Blueprint who now own Crafsty saying I had actually unsubscribed from the yearly subscription but not monthly hence being charged. 
However I was also told by the customers servcies centre that they admit their email (and website) for unsubscibing is very confusing so now I am waiting on Barclaycard to claw back the rest of the money. 
I suspect they will as well because its obvious the website must be set up to make it very difficult to actually unsubscribe. 
Bearing in mind the company is usually said to have to pay out around £25 in time wasted to deal with these complaints you would think that Craftsy ( now owned by Bluepirnt) would actually just give me back the money. It will hopefully turn out Barclaycard will anyway in which case it will have cost them even  more in refusing to refund in the first place. 

I will let you know what happens.

Have you had a problem with Craftsy overcharging you?


Well next thing was we talked to Barclaycard. They are giving us the money back. Worth everyone knowing about this because if it happened to you and you keep that cofirmation email that you cancelled you CAN get back your money even if Craftsy say they will not refund.  
I hope this post helps someone.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Sewing Inspiration

I often find it difficult to get actual inspiration for real sewing. I collect patterns, I collect fabric, I read other sewists blogs but most of the time I simply seem to imagine or dream about what I can make from this or that fabric which is not very productive.

I actually have bits of fabric "allocated" to different patterns but have not got round to making them and some of them have been waiting two years now. In many cases I have yet to actually even stick the patterns together. But then there are other other patterns where I collect the different bits needed over several months when I see things reduced or on offer so to keep my costs down and it does take a bit of time and effort as well as space where I am storing all this stuff.

Space is a real problem for me. I have even discussed the possibility of hiring storage space for my fabric and yarn stash. Its silly then though, because it means my hobby has become very expensive so in that case there is no point stashing cheap bargain fabric because it will work out cheaper overall to just pay full price and not store it. So then my "hobby" is becoming a real problem.

I am sure I could make much more if I found a way to focus. Or maybe not more but more unusual unique items and that is what its about for me.

Often making basic items is just not worth it when I can buy new RTW top that fits fine and works perfectly for a few pounds and sometimes that is cheaper than making so I think unless I actually have fabric already, why bother to make that?

Of course there is also the ethics of making and the fact no children are labouring for hardly anything to sew my clothing but realistically ideals are not always in line with what I am able to afford and for example I must have presentable work clothing so sometimes I have to break my own rules and compromise and buy cheap RTW for work.

I do not yet live in a world where I am free to chose some things. I also find it difficult to understand how its bad to wear clothing made by children but Ok to make your own from fabric which is probably also being made by children. Or am I thinking too much here?

Surely if kids are labouring in clothng factories so they are also labouring in fabric manufacturing. Its not right that they are doing either, but using that as a way to justify making your own clothing is rubbish. Obviously I do want to continue making stuff but you get my point.

The only way round this I can see is to only buy fairly traded/woven/knitted fabric and thats a very rare commodity in my world!

And that is before I even start on the microfibres in water/ soil/ animals/ humans, problem - but I think thats well covered by several other bloggers right now.

So  really my reason for sewing is either to get something I cannot afford cheaper than if I bought it because I simply will not afford to waste money on that, like for example my recent copies of the River Island dress:
http://brackencrafts.blogspot.com/2018/07/copying-rtw-river-island-dress-copy.html http://brackencrafts.blogspot.com/2018/07/orange-dress.html
or its to make something unique and again as affordably as I am able to.

It was certainly worth my making these. I simply would not have wasted £28 on these and I already had loads of each fabric costing very little. I think in all with thread and bearing in mind my buttons are recycled these probably cost under £5 for both dresses.

Most of what I make is unique - though not all of it is actually that good/nice.

I am getting better now though at actually making things I really like. I suppose I can explain some of my early makes which are downright vile and unflattering as part of my learning adventure into sewing my own clothing. Like for example this horrible blue dress:


In the case of this dress I still have LOADS of this pale blue crepe fabric and I still hate it. This dress just made me look old and I do not yet feel that old tho possibly its debateable depending on how old the particluar reader is😊

Possibly I was also over tired and having a bad day but even then and excuses appart, who wants to make clothing that makes them look like that!

I even tried a Tshirt - two in fact and hate both of them too. Its not the designs its this blue fabric.


So I have realised some fabrics have no place in my stash. I am going to ebay this blue stuff in fact, once I find it, because I still have loads of it.  Even adding punk rivets did not really help and the top above became a decorating top pretty quickly. I tried using both sides of this fabric which has worked for some similar designs like my sports top where I used the reverse with great results. Maybe its the pale blue colour because the orange is by the looks and feel of it exactly the same stuff.  I do not know but I am getting rid of this blue fabric out of my stash. Its just not me!

I decided last weekend I need inspiration and was wandering round town looking at stuff when I came across these pieces of jewellery in a charity shop.

They cost just 99p each so bargains. I reckon why not make a dress or top or something anyway to go with each piece of jewellery instead of what I usually do and find jewellery ( usually costing far more than these pieces too) to go with my outfits.

In fact I would certainly suggest having a look at charity shops for jewellery. I often pop in to check out fabric or second hand clothing I can cut up but never normally look at jewellery or belts or such and they had loads that was really nice so I intend to pop in again this weekend and see what else they have to inspire me.

 Not too sure why but I see a mediaval inspired dress here in the round pendant with yellow stones, and am thinking of two different costume patterns I have owned for ages - years and never used. I will have to see what fabric I can find in my stash to make something to work with this. I do not really wnat to waste money on expensive fabric for a costume type dress unless I have a special reason to wear it but maybe mediaval or maybe more warrior? ➜

↩ This one screams summer hippy fashions at me, so its a bit of a shame I bought it now when summer is about to end but I will keep this in mind for future creations.

I may even find an autumn/fall pattern which could work with it.

It does seem summer festival clothing though to me right at this moment. Still nothing wrong with that.

 Then this lovely long sparkly bead necklace is actually slightly defective - the catch is broken though still does up. It does not notice and it works fine so I am not too worried though may have a look for some long nosed pliers to attempt to fix at some point. Right now though the length is suggesting 1920s dresses to me. I always love dropped waist dresses so thats a great option. ↪

So in the end I reckon for the next few items at least I am focusing on these 3 pieces of jewellery to inspire me to go forward and make something a bit different. 

I am very interested to see how other people plan what they are going to sew since I am at a point where I have collected all this stuff but I am pulled in all different directions but only have  a very small amount of time to actually make things so I must be selective. 

So what do you think? 
How do you get your inspiration for what to make next or do you make what you need rather than what you want?


Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Black and white stripe dress

I decided to tidy up my fabric stash since it seems to have all fallen off the shelves while I have been rummaging and it has got to be a tangled mess. Whilst doing that I found this striped 4-way stretch that has been hanging around for a few months now. The day I cut this out it was raining. Its hot again now so I expect this will be a great little dress for the coming autumn. Its probably a bit hot for today. Its a different view of McCalls M6612. I have not made this view before but decided why not. I am getting a bit bored with view C which I usually make. Its a fast easy make so a good wardrobe filler. I also need to use up some of my stash since its getting out of control.

It needs slightly different construction to the other view because you have to finish off and hem the back neck before joining up the shoulder seams. The cowl is doble thickness so needs a light weight fabric else it will be pulling forwards too much and be too bulky. I think this fabric is going to be ok.
The only other option could be to use a heavier fabric for the back to kind of balance it a bit more. I am hoping that my version is going to work cos I hate heavy cowls. I made a pretty heavy cowl with both of my hoody cowl dresses ( below).

I think its likely whatever fabric you choose for these tho its going to be quite heavy.
They are both great in autumn /winter tho and I do wear them but tend to find them annoying for work and OK for shopping when its windy /rainy especially with a  gillet type top over them.

Anyway back to this dress- its all overlocked and twin needle hemmed. Inexpensive but good quality 4-way stretch which I already made some leggings out of here:

I wore this dress to work and it was good. A good make, I think I will get quite a bit of wear out of this one. I have no idea why I never made this view of this pattern before. I was put off by the cowl neck but actually its nice and makes a change from the usual look I go for.

Thanks for visiting