Sunday, 10 May 2015

Making do and mending

Red broderie fabric
That's definitely red!
I had a jolly good whinge in my last post, didn't I? But grumbling never does anyone any good for long; far better to blow off steam then look at ways to make things better. Let's start with that brown shirtdress I grizzled about. Loved the dress, but felt the colour really didn't do me any favours. Well, it's now VERY red - probably a little bit warmer than in the photo, thanks to a box of Dylon Tulip Red.

I first dyed things using Dylon washing machine dye a couple of years ago, re-blacking things, and last year tried changing the colours of some things (palest grey capris and beige blouse both turned apple green). It's so easy to use - you just put the dye in the drum, add a 500g of salt, pop in the item to dye and wash it at 40 degrees. After that, another 40-degree wash rinses out any excess, and job done. I chose red for this dress as I needed something that would blend well with the existing brown, and while the label said the dress and lining were both cotton, it said nothing about the embroidery. The embroidery DID take the dye, but none of the seam thread did. However, I like the effect of the brown buttons and stitches against the red, so this counts as a success. My green capris still have pale grey seams, though it's hard to see, and I suspect a lot of modern clothing is held together with synthetic thread, so that's something to take into account if you're dyeing things.

The deep hem on a 1950s dress
A good, deep hem, ready to be let down.
I tried on my Mode O' Day dress yesterday with the Vintage Nostalgia show in mind. I can do it up but only just, so it might not make the cut. (My recent holiday to Devon did my waistline no favours!) However, as I was seeing how it fitted, noticing how it hung just at the top of my knee I thought, "What a shame it's not a bit longer." And what do you know - when it was shortened by a previous owner, they didn't cut it, they just turned the hem up by several inches. Hooray! A bit of work with a seam ripper and a good steam ironing will make it a much better length. It looked a little out of proportion at the current length, it'll be much better a few inches longer, though who knows when I'll be wearing it. I'm opposed to the idea that a person should have to be thin, and indeed there's very little chance of me ever being so, but I dislike not being able to get into things I already own, so I might take steps to drop a few pounds (basically, laying off the beer and walking more).

The other thing I did this weekend was tackle the shoe and coat cupboard. I might not have got my yellow shoes, but it was worth seeing what shoes I did have. I noticed a pair of shoes my mum got me a few years ago that I never wear because they need re-heeling and a pair of Victorian-style ankle boots also in need of heeling, plus a few pairs of cheapo Shoe Zone flats that I could wash ready for this summer. (They're pretty much pure fabric-covered plastic with cardboard insoles, but I can buy replacement insoles from Timpsons when I take the others in for repair.)

I also rediscovered a full-length grey wool winter coat that had dragged on every step I walked down one winter, and so had a lining that was trashed for the lower three inches. It's quite a boxy coat, so I plan to take it to an alterations place to be cut off to mid-calf; then it won't drag on steps, and will have a nice 1920s look to boot.

I've been in the mood to fix things. My new year's resolution was to 'make things better'. The results of the General Election weren't what I would have wanted, and I felt causes close to my heart would be likely to face horrible funding cuts over the next five years, so I made a donation to my local hospital's appeal fund, and to Arts Emergency. Can we fix it? Yes, we can!

17 comments :

  1. The red seems to have taken well. I have a purple velvet Nomads coat...golly, they have become bland and boring : (...that was just too long for me, being such a short ass. Got it shortened and it made all the difference. It did take away the bottom embroidered half but there's still some further up and on the
    cuffs.
    At least now it isn't being stood on and tripping me up. I wish places would offer lengths and not just assume every woman is six foot tall!
    And for the love of God, PLEASE stop with the ridiculously short hemlines on EVERY dress that isn't actually a maxi!

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    1. Embroidered velvet sounds very swish!

      I find the pricier ranges still do skirts/dresses of a decent length, though it means waiting for items I want to go into the sale and them pouncing...

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  2. I didn't dislike the dress before, but that red is beautiful. Makes me want to buy a box of dye and deal with a white cotton dress I have that's yellowed beyond wear but is too sentimental to bin. You've inspired me.

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    1. Today is a good day to dye!

      (Ahahaha! I have watched TOO MUCH Star Trek.)

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  3. I think that's a really successful transformation, love the red. I need to be in the mood for alterations and revamping, but doesn't it feel great when you rediscover/remake things so you'll actually wear them?
    Yes, I too am feeling woeful about the future after last week's election result, but it's good to be reminded that we shouldn't stop trying to make a difference. xxx

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    1. We can do it! Very few people can make a massive difference by themselves, but together we can all make enough little differences to change everything. To be honest, I do feel as though everything we do will be minimising damage to what we've already got rather than rebuilding the NHS etc, but at least we can keep things in place ready for when there is the will in central government to strengthen and support things rather than sell them off.

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  4. That is the spirit, my dear lady!
    Nothing get thrown away unless there is no way of mending it, reusing it or passing it along to someone who might need it (I never underestimate the power of "pass-me-by" since that is who I grown up.. wearing boy's jerseys given to me by my neat-and-tidy older brother).

    Marija

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    1. Yup, most things can be mended or rehomed, very few things ever need to be throw away.

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  5. I'm loving your make do and mend spirit. That dress looks incredible in red. Aren't those machine dyes great?
    Good news with the bonus hem you discovered. Cutting back on the ale sounds like hard work (I'm knocking back a bottle of IPA right now) but worth it if it makes the pretty mid-century dress a bit more comfy.
    Delighted you've re-found some groovy footwear. Poundland do some decent insoles which might save you a couple of quid.
    You've inspired me to get cracking on my mending pile later - thank you! xxxx

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    1. Oooh, I hadn't considered Poundland for insoles. Timpsons are a bit pricy, so I shall give Poundlands a go.

      I am not impressed with having to cut back on beer, but less impressed at not being able to get into clothes I like. Over the years my weight has crept up and up - I'm 3.5 stone heavier than I was when I got married - and I have honestly had enough of having to replace things I love because they don't fit.

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  6. Oooh LOVE the red! Good choice and there was me playing safe and suggesting a darker brown!
    I need to crack on and finish my mending pile I keep starting projects and not finishing them.
    Yup I know the dammit suddenly too tight feeling, been doing that myself lately too.

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    1. I am NOT getting rid of more clothes - I have stuff in my wardrobe that I haven't worn since I started this blog 5 years ago because it was slightly tight, and I still can't bear to get rid of it.

      Let's see if giving up the beer and going for a regular morning walk before work is going to make a difference... if it does, I'll stick to it!

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  7. Ooo red, this looks smashing!! Can't wait to see a pic of this on you. Good choice. xx

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    1. It needs ironing. So many pleats down the front! Wah! That's the one annoying thing about summer clothes, they need much more ironing than winter ones.

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  8. I used to dye my charity shop finds all the time when I was a teenager, when you had to heat the dye up in a saucepan without your mum getting cross! Great result on the dress.

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    1. I veguely remember the dyes you had to boil - the only people I know who hot-dye nowadays are yarn dyers, and they use microwaves. It must've been a real pan-wrecker.

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  9. Great summary of your mending exploits. A can-do attitude takes one a long, long way. Hard to improve on red for over-dyeing broderie anglaise - it comes over all Hungarian peasant (what's not to love?). And if you didn't have to change the buttons and thread to boot, even better.

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