Picking up the pieces

Sewing is such a fantastic hobby. It forces you to think logically, creatively and practically at the same time, and is endlessly rewarding when you complete something that can be used time and again. It can be a rather wasteful hobby at times as by it’s very nature you’re constantly creating and consuming. I like to shop in charity shops or transform other items where possible but it still leaves waste. After you’ve cut out your main pattern pieces there’s always these beautiful scraps left over begging to be used.

The lovely people over at Sewisfaction run an Instagram sew-a-long to coincide with the Great British Sewing Bee. Week 5 was sustainability week – the contestants took part in a fantastic challenge where they had to turn scraps from previous projects into a wearable item, and so did those of us sewing a long at home, albeit not with the ludicrous time restriction.

This was the perfect opportunity to merge quilt piecing skills with garment making and try to turn my hoarded scraps into something fabulous. I’m not a very precise person but there’s something so pleasing about the precision required for quilting. The joy in cutting tiny squares or triangles and assembling them into something larger and more intricate. Plus there’s the added joy of transforming something unwanted into something beautiful.

My previous attempt at making something out of scraps was made from crowd sourced cast offs for a novelty sound of music hen do scrapbook dress! This time I wanted to make something a bit more sophisticated. Quilted/pieced clothing can be beautiful but it can also stray too far down the ‘crazy art teacher’ end of the spectrum. To keep things clean and – hopefully – chic I opted to stay monochrome.

quilt pieced cropped sewing stevie top
Starting with scraps

Gathering materials

The black, was from a toile of a sundress, the grey from a quilt, the white (also from a quilt) was once a bed sheet and the polka dot was leftover from a pair of trousers.

The button was salvaged from the bottom of my sewing box and I didn’t have any elastic for the button loop so cut up a hair bobble – did the trick nicely. 

quilt pieced cropped sewing stevie top

Because there were so many pieces, I was worried it would be quite bulky when finished, to combat this I went for a cropped Stevie top as it’s got a great boxy fit.

Putting it all together

I had a play around on the computer with the layout before I started stitching so I had a rough idea of where I wanted things to sit. There was a lot of pressing and sorting to get scraps that were big enough to work. I cut 4-inch squares and used these to make half-square triangles and the arranged these into a chevron.

quilt pieced cropped sewing stevie top

Once I’d pieced together the front panel I cut an additional front bodice out of some leftover lining fabric to in case all those seems and stitched the rest as normal. The perfectionist in me wishes I’d pattern matched the polka dot but you can’t win them all!

I didn’t have enough of any one colour to do the back so used different off cuts for the back bodice and the yoke. Using black for the majority of the back and the cuffs to tie it together.

quilt pieced cropped sewing stevie top
The pieced front – the perfectionist in me wishes I’d pattern matched the polka dot but you can’t win them all!

Top stitching the neckline was a bit of a pain. There were so many seems where all the half-square triangles met it was a bit of a fight to get it to lay flat. I did end up unpicking this, snipping into the seam allowances even more then pressing – A LOT MORE – before resewing. Alls well that ends well.

The finished article

quilt pieced cropped sewing stevie top

After I’d assembled the pieced front it was actually a pretty quick sew and was rather chuffed with the result. It works well with jeans and I’ve worn it to work with a high waisted skirt a few times.

Looking at the other fantastic makes on the #GBSewalong hashtag I honestly didn’t think I had a hope in hell – people were making some really inspiring and creative things. The online sewing community is such a lovely supportive place.

Completely over the moon that I won sustainability week, and VERY excited about my prize (a three day jeans making workshop). Will report back shortly.

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