Wednesday 8 September 2021

ZWW In The Wardrobe

In her brilliant book,"The Tudor Tailor", Ninya Mikhaila explains that we have very few examples of the clothing of 'ordinary people' dating back to Tudor times - simply because they
wore their clothes for as long as they could. It was usual to leave garments in a will, because they were worth something. Grace Cockete of Newport in Essex bequeathed "To Margaret Coper, my best red petticoat, to Grace Rochelle my next red petticoat, and finally to Robert Jackson's wife my worst red petticoat" [clearly even Mistress Jackson was receiving a garment which was still wearable]
And once these had been patched and darned and repaired [fringes and 'dun guards' were often stitched on to hems, to take the dirt and wear, then be replaced] then the best parts of the fabric would be extracted to make smaller garments or childrenswear. And the remainder went to household rags.
Fabric was far too precious to waste! Of course it was all natural fibres, so totally compostable too. We need to reclaim our heritage here!
Liz presented me with two challenges over the summer. The first was relatively easy. A summer dress in loose weave cotton. Somehow this had caught in something sharp and an area about 2.5cm² was damaged. I found a length of broderie lace trim in the Great Stash [still great, despite pre-retirement cull!] and cut off one flower. I strengthened the back of the hole with iron on interfacing, and handstitched the trim in place. One little daisy makes all the difference.
The second garment was far more challenging. Liz had an old black cashmere Boden jumper [These currently retail at £115. I suspect got hers for far less than that, she is my thrifty daughter] It had a number of moth holes - 5 large ones on the front, 2 slightly smaller on the back. Could I remake it into a sweater dress for Rosie, please?
I loved this challenge! First I made a copy of the position of the moth holes, then stabilised them on the back with fine iron on interfacing. Then a I took a tracing of another dress to get an idea of hip size and length, and measured Rosie's sleeve length.
The scary bit was cutting into the jumper - no turning back now! I cut off the sleeves along the original seam line, and shortened them. 
All cut edges were finished on the overlocker. I resewed the sleeves and took in the sides. I darned the tiny holes on the back with plain back thread, but made a design to cover the larger front holes. Here's one happy little bee, flying away from the flower!

Before I began the embroidery, I used a piece of one shortened sleeve to practice stitches, and I used a hoop to keep the fabric taut. I used 2 strands DMC embroidery floss for bee and flower, three strands for the flight path. This will be a good little winter garment over leggings, loose enough for tee-shirt or vest underneath. [thank you for inspiration from the book Joyful Mending]
Two garments saved for another day! 


  1. I love an upcycle project. We've been trying to reduce waste over the last few years. But getting rid of packaging waste throughout lockdown has been almost impossible. We recycle as much as we can, but would rather not have it at all.
    However, out bathroom is pretty much a plastic free zone these days. Small wins.

    1. I've been scrolling through your blog to find your post about soap, but I can't locate it. All the small wins add up. Hope your wrist is healing OK, and you've been able to get to work this term

  2. I love both repairs/upcycles. They are so neatly done! It's a good idea for that cashmere jumper. I've got cashmere with holes that I just keep wearing but I can wear a too underneath.
    There's a lovely company called Turtle Doves who make cashmere items out of old cashmere jumpers- I bought my Sister a beautiful pair of wristwarmers from them for Christmas last year as she has Renauld's syndrome (not sure how you spell it) so has to keep her hands warm.

    1. I've seen adverts for Turtle Dove products. Reynauds is very painful, some members of my family suffer from it.

  3. You did a great job with both the mending and the remake of the sweater! I'm sure Rosie will be pleased with both outfits. :)

  4. What a great job on both garments! I must look up that book - it sounds so interesting. You must take a picture when Rosie is wearing it!
    There are a few Youtube videos of people doing similar things - especially with sweaters - people are very creative!

  5. Thank you for the kind words- I will try and get a Rosie-Posie!

  6. I was given a similar challenge to fix a hole in our granddaughter's favourite plain dress when she was little. I bought a tiny amount of fabric with dragonflies in squares and cut out a couple of squares, one to cover the hole, another in a different place to continue the theme. I also surrounded the squares with fine lace from my stash. The following year a larger version of the dress was brought to me with a plea for more dragon flies even though there was no hole!
    I love what you did to make the sweater dress. That will be so useful for Rosie and you can't buy one like that!


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