Project Waterproof Skirt

I live in a city which is quite wet and windy on a regular basis, so waterproofs are a must. I have waterproof trousers, but it’s always bugged me that I’m restricted to wearing trousers on a rainy day. And so, Project Waterproof Skirt was born. I bought some ripstop nylon and a few other bits and pieces, and set to work. (I recommend this post from Sewaholic for some good tips for sewing with waterproof fabric).

This will be a simple, elasticated waist skirt. It needs to be big enough to fit over my hips (so there’s my waist size for the skirt) and long enough to cover my longest skirt (so there’s my skirt length). I used a silver pen to draw a pattern on the back of the waterproof fabric (a silver gel pen or one of those chalkboard pens would probably work well, too), and then I cut it out, using this as a template to draw around for the second skirt piece. If you wanted to do this, pick your favourite simple A-line skirt pattern, or just draw a rectangle the half width of your skirt waist and the length of your skirt length, then make it a few inches wider at the bottom. Leave enough extra length to turn under a waistband, and to turn up a small hem.


I decided I wanted reflective piping in the side seams, so the next step was to make some. I got some 1″ reflective tape and some nylon piping cord (must be nylon, cotton might rot). I wrapped the tape around the cord and secured with Clover Wonder Clips, then sewed. I used my zipper foot, polyester thread and a microtex needle. I gently pushed the cord towards the needle as I went, to keep the stitching as close to the cord as possible. It was surprisingly easy!

(Shockingly awful night-time photo, sorry!)


At this point, I realised I didn’t know how to attach my piping to my seams. Google to the rescue! This tutorial from the Coletterie was very useful. I basted my piping to my side seams, about 1/8″ from the edge, then sewed my side seams, gently pushing my piping towards the foot as I went. Up until this point, I’d been able to get away with my normal machine zipper foot with no problems, but when I first tried to sew the seams, it didn’t work so well. The back of the ripstop is a little bit stickier than the front and stuck to the bottom of the foot, bunching up and making my seam wonky. I was lucky enough to be able to rip it and re-sew, because the errant stitches were within the seam allowance. I ended up having to put tissue paper along the seam, which slid under the foot nicely. Then I top-stitched the seams about 1/8″ from the piping.


For the skirt to be waterproof, I needed to seal the seams somehow (all that sewing makes holes in the fabric, which let the water through). I opted for an iron-on tape. I ended up having to trim my seam allowances quite close to the top-stitching so they’d fit under the tape, and then I ironed it on. I’d recommend using a pressing cloth for this; mine is Teflon and I can see through it, which helped a lot. First, I laid the tape down in place. Then I sort of tacked it to the seam allowance with the nose of the iron (no pressing cloth) every few inches. Then I put the pressing cloth over the seam and pressed according to the seam tape instructions. It was time consuming but reasonably straightforward and there were no horrible chemical smells.


All that’s left are the elastic waistband and the hem. Almost there!


Re-entry to work has been a little harder than I anticipated. In fact, it’s kicked my butt. I’m tired and sore and fairly stressed. The first two have put a major dent in my sewing time, while the last one means I need it all the more! Hopefully things are settling down now, between a new routine and new medication. Fingers crossed, eh?

I haven’t sewn much, but I have cut things out. First up, a t-shirt:

I got some inexpensive cotton jersey from good old Abakhan to fiddle around with this t-shirt pattern. Just two pieces, and it looks cute. I cut the pieces, then realise that stripes were perhaps not the best choice for a first go. The stripes match on one side, but not the other. Ooops! Nevermind, it will do for proof of concept. With any luck, I’ll sew it up this weekend.

I also cut out squares from my stack of Kona Modern Quilts:

I’m going to make a simple sashed square quilt. I think the fabric needs large, simple pieces, because they’re busy enough on their own. I briefly considered big equilateral triangles, but went with squares because it was the end of a long day and I had run out of brain. They’ll be sashed with Kona Ash (the background in the pic). I’ll get the sashing cut out today, I think.

And I got happy mail! I entered some giveaways in the recent ‘Back to School’ blog hop, and I won! In fact, slightly to my embarassment (I’m English, it’s a national sport), I won four! In no particular order, I won some buttons and floral fabrics from Miss Beau Jangles, and some scraps from The Fuzzy Hat Quilter, which I’ll post about when they get here. Two parcels arrived yesterday:

A pack of gorgeous hand-dyed fabrics from Vicki Welsh. They’re so pretty! I’m contemplating what to do with them. They might become lovely fish swimming in a blue sea – the hand-dyed fabric has great depth and movement.

And last, but by no means least, Kristy from Quiet Play sent me some of her paper piecing patterns and a charm pack of Pure by Sweetwater. Pretty fabric! I love the chocolate and pale blue combination 🙂

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for a Friday Whoop Whoop! I think I need one just for getting this far into September!

Squares within squares

Or rectangles, more precisely. It’s been a week of them. I’m quilting away at my placemats. Thank goodness there are only 6 of them – I think doing the same thing more than 6 times in a row is my limit for going bonkers!

I’ve done all the middles, with 3 concentric rectangles. They’ve turned out pretty nicely. Half of the mats have a red back, and half have a gold back, so I used bobbin thread to match the back. It worked better than I feared – not too much show-through on the front at all!

Next are the gold borders. I was toying with the idea of FMQ some swirls, but I’ve never done FMQ before and I’ll be staring at these mats every day, every mealtime. I’d rather save my first wonky stitches for something I’ll be scrutinising less often! Instead, just one rectangle, at a different spacing to the centre, matching threads to front and back again. I’ll have that done this week, but they probably won’t be bound, because tomorrow is my first day back at work! Exciting 🙂

In other rectangular news, I also whipped up a batch of ‘reusable kitchen roll’. I cut squares from old t-shirts and zig-zagged the edges. Voila, small, light cloths for small kitchen tasks which can be washed and reused. I don’t have a photo of these (bad blogger!), but imagine a pile of t-shirt squares carelessly zig-zagged in a casual ‘using up random thread’ colour scheme!

I’ll leave you with a shot from our weekend trip to the Yorkshire Dales. So pretty, and so relaxing. Just what we needed!

Linking up, as always, with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, hosted by Rebecca this week.

A finished skirt!

Yep, green skirt has gone from WIP Wednesday to Finished Friday!

It fits and everything! I’m thrilled with it 😀


Random cotton knit from the by-kilo bins at Abakhan. I think I had about 1.6 metres. No pattern. I just drew around a skirt I own and love, and added a seam allowance. I sort of figured out the waistband as I went (leading to a bit of learning by trial and error). Side seams and hems were super easy. My vintage machine doesn’t have fancy stretch stitches, so I just used zig-zag and it was fine.

I love this fabric. It’s something I would definitely have ignored in a clothes shop, but it jumped out at me in the fabric store. The pattern reminds me of a wrap skirt my mum had in the late 70s/early 80s in red and black.

Waistband shenanigans meant I gave up fighting my machine for one seam and hand-sewed. I used this tutorial to do herringbone stitch, a stretchy handsewing stitch. Troubleshooting my machine’s skipped stitch issues also meant I learned how to adjust my machine’s timing, which was a groovy bonus 🙂

Next time I’ll make the waistband a little narrower. I used 40mm elastic and it kind of sticks straight up at the front – my tummy, on the other hand, doesn’t. I think narrower elastic will fix that. And oh yes, there’ll be a next time! Sewing clothing was much easier than I feared! I’ve got a t-shirt pattern to try out next, on some lovely purple stripey jersey.

My biggest reason for a Whoop Whoop this week is more personal. I started quilting and sewing just a few months ago (back in May, just before I started this blog). I was very bored; I’d been off work ill for a couple of months and needed something creative I could do at my own pace. I’ve knitted for years, but I was giving myself tendon problems by sitting and knitting all day!

My illness is nothing major or life-threatening, just some incredibly painful complications from a simple little operation at the beginning of the year. And now, finally, I’m well enough to go back to work! There’s my WHOOP WHOOP! I’m not fully recovered yet, but enough to get back to the office next week. I’m so happy to be going back to my work and my colleagues. Even with quilting, I’ve been so bored stuck at home!

The best thing is, I’ve gained an addictive new hobby. Quilting has occupied my time and my brain, and given me a great deal of pleasure, both from the finished items and from learning something new. I’m even starting to learn how to sew clothes, something I’ve dreamed about for years but had written off as ‘too complicated’. It will take some adjustment to figure out how to fit sewing and quilting time into my back-at-work schedule, but I’ll make it happen. I love the sewing too much to stop 🙂

But first, we’re celebrating my return to health with a little weekend away. Peaceful countryside and some good food, what could be better?

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for a WHOOP WHOOP!, and TGIFF over at Mama Love Quilts this week.

WIPing along

Progress is a little slower this week, but I won’t complain – last week was exceptional and I did have a day at the Olympics on Sunday (men’s basketball final – fabulous!).

My skirt now has side seams and a hem. I’m finishing off the waistband at the moment. Yes, I know, wrong order, long story. We had a bit of a ‘disagreement’ and I put the partial waistband in time out while I did the hem. I could have done 3 waistbands by now, with all the ripping and re-sewing! With luck and a prevailing wind, it’ll be done today.

My placemats are basted, too, and all ready for quilting. I just need to decide what to do with them. Probably some echo quilting in the centre rectangle – I want to keep it simple.

I’ve got a stack of old t-shirts I’m going to cut up and hem for reusable ‘kitchen roll’ in the kitchen, too. Shouldn’t take too long (famous last words!). Hmmm. Perhaps this is why my To Do list never gets any shorter – I keep adding new things!

Linking up, as ever, with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, hosted by Cindy this week.

Captain ProductivePants!

What a week! So much done, and so many new things learned.

Sheets and pillowcases – not scary! (I had no idea there was more than one kind of seam). Bags (and a bonus basket) – also not scary! That’s four finished objects right there (five, if you count both pillowcases).

And works in progress, too. I said I wanted to make some placemats on Wednesday. Well, as of Thursday evening, I have 6 pieced placemats, 6 backings cut, 6 sets of wadding cut, and 6 sets of binding, all ready to go. Next step, basting and quilting!

I also said I wanted to make a skirt. Here’s how it looked on Thursday afternoon:

All cut out and ready to go. I winged the pattern (I drew around my favourite skirt and added a seam allowance). At bedtime Thursday, it looks like a skirt! I need to sew down the waistband and hem it, and then I have a new skirt! Woah! There must be something in the water, or I’m drinking way too much caffeine 🙂

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict, for my well-earned Whoop Whoop!, and with Blossom Heart Quilts for this week’s TGIFF.

A bag, and a bonus basket

Sometimes a project happens when circumstances collide in just the right way.

  • Nosing around for fabric online, I came across the delightful Lakehouse Tea Labels fabric. Lovely, but I couldn’t think of anything I’d use it for.
  • I also stumbled across Ayumi’s cute lunch bag tutorial. I use a backpack for work, so I don’t need a lunch bag, so I filed it away for ‘maybe for someone else’.
  • A few months ago, I got some fancy French macarons as a treat for my mum. She loved them, but she also loved the sturdy paper carrier bag they came in – she’s been using it as a lunch bag ever since. Alas, it’s made from paper, and when I last visited she told me it was falling apart.

… aha! One plus one plus one = the cutest thing I have ever made!


I didn’t add the drawstring top, because mum’s got arthritis and I thought she might find it fiddly. It’s cute without it, and there’s plenty of room for lunch:

Now, the path to cuteness wasn’t smooth. Ayumi suggests a firm interfacing, so I duly ordered some firm Vilene. Firm? You could build a house with this stuff! I was dubious when I ironed it on, but carried on regardless. When I had to really struggle to turn the bag right-side out, I knew it wouldn’t work out. I set it aside, and made a new outer for my bag (it turns out that ‘medium’ Vilene was just fine). I kept the firm interfacing for the handles (but just used a single layer).

I didn’t want to waste that pretty fabric, though, so I came back to my rigid ‘bag’. I made a second liner to go inside, and some binding for the top, and voila! A useful basket!

It will likely end up in the kitchen, holding spare tea towels.

How firm is ‘firm’ Vilene? This is a glass bowl:

Project stats:

Ayumi’s lunch bag tutorial (for the bag) and improvisation (for the basket). Lakehouse Dry Goods Penelope Tea Labels in Tea for the outer; a Thimbleberries Subtle Solid in a mustardy gold crosshatch for the lining.

I learned that making a bag isn’t difficult or complicated at all! I whipped the bag up in about an hour, ignoring the diversion with the interfacing. The basket took a similar amount of time. The bag, in particular, has a very high cute-to-effort ratio. I’ll be making this again – I might make one for me with the drawstring top for a knitting bag.

And I learned to follow my first instinct about interfacing. If I struggle to fold it in half when it’s fused to fabric, it’s too firm for a bag!

Sheets and pillowcases, oh my

My favourite sheet shrank in the wash. It’s covered in lovely, luscious peacock feathers. The top sheet and pillowcases were still good, but the fitted sheet no longer, well, fitted. They don’t make this pattern any more. We use a coordinate solid for extra pillowcases, so why not just go get a matching solid fitted sheet? Unfortunately, the colour was on clearance. No fitted sheets the right size left, just a flat sheet.

This is exactly the kind of straightforward domestic project I would have shied away from 6 months ago, not confident that I could do it well enough. But now, with my new-found quilty sewing skills? I picked up that flat sheet and some elastic, and hit Google. With the aid of this tutorial (with a little adaptation), I turned that flat sheet into a fitted sheet. With French seams! Who knew there was more than one kind?!

Enthused by my success, I contemplated the shrunken sheet, and decided I could turn it into a pair of pillowcases. I didn’t even use a tutorial for this, just looked at an existing pillowcase for measurements and construction and winged it. French seams again, too. I’m so happy with how these turned out!

And the best part? I still have half a sheet left. I don’t know what to do with it yet, but the cotton is like butter, so soft. It almost feels like Liberty lawn. I’m keeping the leftovers for stash, that’s for sure!

Holy productivity, Batman!

I’ve got so much sewing done this week! They’re all small projects. Hmmm. Perhaps these facts are related…

Let’s start with the WIPs (it is Wednesday, after all).

  • Colourful Lemonade. It’s been basted and ready to quilt for a few weeks now, I was just waiting for the right colour thread to arrive. I also want to experiment with some of the pretty stitches on my machine for this one, so I need to do some test drives. The thread is here now, though, so no more excuses!
  • Placemats. 4 are cut and pieced. I might make another 2 while I’m at it, because they took so little time. I’ve cut the insul-bright, but need to cut regular wadding and backing fabric for them. I also want to make a table runner to go with. Hmm. Need more insul-bright.
  • My next quilt. I want to make a quilt for the spare bed. However, my mind keeps going back to the idea of a fishy quilt with my leftover ‘watery’ fabric. Ah, temptation.
  • A skirt! I have some jersey fabric laying out on the living room floor at the moment, while I think about what to do with it. I want a simple maxi skirt. Can’t be that hard, can it? (famous last words…)

And FOs galore! I’ll do some individual posts for these later, but I have a bag, an accidental basket, a fitted sheet and some pillowcases. All done since Friday. Not too shabby, eh?


Linking up with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced, hosted by Bethany this week.

A finished object!

That’s right, I finally finished my cutting mat bag. For a ‘simple’ project, this certainly took a lot of time and caused several headaches. Note to self: next time I think “That’s easy, I can wing that!”, take it as a warning sign.

Here’s the outside. I love that swirly tree fabric (Ikea, home dec weight). I made two sides (you can see them in this post), each a sandwich of swirly trees, a cheap fleece blanket for ‘wadding’ and a leaf print for the inside. I sort of bound them together to cover the raw edges and create a gusset for extra space (I didn’t cut my sides big enough).

I ‘quilted’ the outside fabric to the fleece following the swirly tree lines. It’s my favourite bit of the whole project 😀 I was worried I’d mess it up, but actually, this went perfectly first time (unlike all the ‘simple’ things like cutting bits the right size!).

There are pockets on the inside to hold rulers (you can see them better in this post), and the mat slips in between.

This was one of those projects where every simple little thing went wrong and had to be re-done or bodged improvised, but I got there in the end! It does the job it’s meant to and it looks cute, so I won’t argue 🙂

The final stages of this bag were causing a bit of a blockage in my sewing mojo. It just wasn’t going right, but I didn’t want to start a new project because I didn’t want to change the machine settings (lazy, right?). Now it’s done, I feel so much better and want to sew All The Things!

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for a Whoop Whoop!, and TGIFF over at Stop That Owl this week.