Sewing Leftovers: Inspiration & Ideas

It's been amazing to see so many people sharing their makes over on Instagram using #sewingleftovers. There's been everything from incredible garments squeezed out of the tiniest scraps and leftovers repurposed as stylish linings, to bags, baskets, patchwork and English paper piecing. As primarily a garment sewer, I'm really keen to try and transform my own leftovers into something wearable - whether that been an entire item, or a garment 'feature'. So here's some inspiration for incorporating leftovers into making a stylish wardrobe:
All images sourced from Pinterest, with the exception of 7, which was sourced from Instagram
  1. I've never been quite sure what to do with leftover outerwear fabric, but I absolutely LOVE this patched coat. I'm thinking next year's winter coat might be a big win for stash busting!
  2. This contrast-patterned kimono-style jacket is perfect for spring/summer layering.
  3. Inspiration from Paul Smith Menswear: the contrasting border sleeves and lower jumper could be a good way to use leftovers!
  4. Statement pockets and stand out details like the cuffs and collars on this jacket are great for using up smaller scraps.
  5. Some simple colour blocking inspiration: this RTW dress could totally be recreated with the Inari Tee Dress.
  6. I want my own version of this Mimi G Simplicity 8613 men's top. Using a mix of prints for the sleeves/body of a t-shirt is a great way to mop up stray bits of jersey!
  7. Instagram inspiration here from @fragmentid who made this hack of the Sew House 7 Toaster Sweater for her daughter. The contrasting collar and cuffs give it a real edge!

Personal #sewingleftovers plans

I have some pretty substantial chunks of denim and corduroy leftover from my many attempts at the Lander Pants. I've just finished up pair 4 and finally got the fit right, so it's time to seek out some inspiration for the scraps...
All images soured from Pinterest
  1. I may be at risk of looking a bit too B*Witched, but I'm really into these jeans made from large patchwork sections, particularly the deep blue culotte version. 
  2. Some decorative patching/appliqué inspiration. I'd probably be less likely to do this at the point of making, but it could be a good way to salvage a much-loved pair of jeans and trousers whilst using leftovers at the same time!
  3. Marilla Walker's denim Lander Pants might just be my favourites. I think I'm going to try and combine some of the patchwork elements with this version of the Landers in mind, to make my own leftover-Landers!

I have a fairly small amount of textured red faux leather leftover from making the Ready to Sew Juliette Skirt which is crying out to be made into a matchy-matchy bag/purse...
All images sourced from Pinterest
  1. RTW regrets - Cos had these amazing circle bags in last year and I should have bought one at the time. I'm wondering how difficult they it would be to recreate...
  2. This envelop-style clutch could be easy one to draft and make from a small amount.
  3. Serious matchy-bag inspiration on the catwalk at Marni.
  4. The Ida Clutch Bag by Kylie and the Machine might just be the perfect #sewingleftovers project. I've made 4 already for gifts, but still don't have one of my own. I love this little handbag hack by @danisaurus33 and would love to try one out for myself! 

And if you needed any more inspiration:
  • Listen to episode 35 of Love to Sew Podcast. Helen and Caroline launch into a thoughtful, well researched and balanced discussion about sustainability and sewing, which contains some useful suggestions for scrap usage!
  • Take part in #makeyourstash challenge organised by @pilar_bear and @timetosew. Use fabric that has been in your stash for more than 6 months to make a wearable garment and share for the chance to win a prize! Full details here.
  • Read Rachael's thoughts on how sewing has had a positive impact on her environmental/ethical consciousness. 
  • Sign up to Megan Nielson's newsletter to get the Acacia Underwear pattern for free (a great one for #sewingleftovers)!

Next up for #sewingleftovers, I'll be doing a round up of fab patterns for limited amounts of fabric. If you know of any patterns that absolutely should be included please leave me a comment below :)

Stay in touch!

Sewing Leftovers: New Look 6459 Trousers

I was really nervous to press 'share' on Sewing Leftovers, so I can't thank the sewing community enough for the interest and support shown for it so far! Some people have even started sharing their own leftovers makes using the #sewingleftovers hashtag... so I thought I'd better get on with it and show you mine! This first Leftovers make put real challenge to suggested fabric requirements and lay plans: here's 1m of orange corduroy VS the New Look 6459 trousers.

New Look 6459 trousers in leftover corduroy
Fabric: Mid-weight orange corduroy from Fabrics for Sale

Original garment made: This Simplicity 8459 Skirt (view B)

Leftover fabric: Just over 1m. I bought more than needed as I originally thought I would make the longer version of this skirt.

Sewing Leftovers make: New Look 6459 Trousers 

Leftovers-wise, what did I learn? What many of us know already: not to follow the suggested lay plan. I positioned the trouser leg pieces next to one another and cut my waistband on the cross grain (this worked better with the direction of the corduroy) and I squeezed mine out of just over 1m rather than the suggested 1.8m. It was also fun to experiment with making this pattern in a not-so-expected fabric. 
Simple and wide-legged staple
About the make: 
I keep seeing this pattern pop up online (as made by some of the internet's most fashionable sewists, @adaspragg and @michelleofatime) so I was pretty pleased to find it free with February's Sew Magazine. Whilst the pattern is pretty unassuming from it's cover and the top isn't so exciting, the trousers are a simple, high waisted, wide-legged staple, with a zip fastening in the back. They were really easy to make and work well in such a bold fabric. I think they've turned out quite quite cool in an unexpected corduroy, though based on the fabric recommendations and style, the pattern would work probably work best in something with a bit more drape.

Back view
One of my biggest criticisms of the 'Big 4' patterns is that they often only list the finished hip measurement and don't include finished waist measurements too. Forgive me if there's something I'm missing here, but the waist of this pattern is particularly unforgiving, so I'd say it's a pretty important to know. From measuring the waistband pattern piece minus the seam allowances, I found that I needed to cut the 14 (good job I did this as I would've cut a 12 if going off my hips alone).

Relaxed side view
The resulting fit is perfect on the waist, a little loose on the hips but in a nice, relaxed way that will work even better with a more drapey fabric. The waistband is surprisingly narrow and fits snugly without gaping. I would be tempted to add depth to it in future, though I think the narrowness (as well as reinforcing it with waistband interfacing) has limited the crumple which is often the norm for high-waist garments.

I made them in just an afternoon/evening and they're overall a nice wear with particularly roomy pockets - yay for pocket fans! I'm sure I'll try them again in a more summer-appropriate fabric, or leftovers if I have any suitable!

What else do they go with?
The trousers fit in quite well with my current wardrobe. In the main pictures I'm wearing them with a sleeveless Papercut Patterns Rise Turtleneck hack, and below with a Fall Turtleneck and my Named Clothing Isla Trench, and with the True Bias Nikko Top. At the minute, I'm feeling most comfortable pairing them with a black top (they are quite a bold trouser after all), but I'm hoping that will change as I get more used to them.
Worn with a Fall Turtleneck and Isla Trench Coat
It's been unseasonably cold for springtime here, so they're mostly getting wear with socks and boots, but I'm looking forward to warmer, bare-ankle friendly days (which will no doubt also provoke a short trouser/sock/shoe dilemma - fashionable friends, what would you do?!)

Worn with the Nikko Top and a perfect nail match (No7 Ginger)
Thank you for reading about my first Sewing Leftovers make! I'm feeling inspired to hunt through my 'substantial scraps' and scout out my next make.

I'll be sharing my Leftovers journey on the blog and on social media via #sewingleftovers. Please feel free to use the tag to share your own makes and ideas if you'd like to join in too! If you're taking part then I'd love to hear what your plans are - let me know in a comment below!

Stay in touch!

Introducing 'Sewing Leftovers'

It's fast approaching my little blog's fourth birthday! Thank you to those of you who've stuck with it from the start (cringe) and those of you who've joined me along the way. Breathing a little new life into the old blog and my approach to sewing, I'm introducing a new series on The Magnificent Thread called 'Sewing Leftovers', in which I look at putting creative use to remaining fabric from my sewing projects to make another garment or accessory. I hope you'll be interested in reading all about it and that some of you might even consider joining me in #sewingleftovers too!

Why am I Sewing Leftovers?

1. To build a more cohesive wardrobe:
This largely follows on from this post, where I put my leftover fabric to use to make a coordinated outfit with a more considered colour palette. I'm inspired by how well it worked and hopeful that producing multiple garments from the same fabrics/colours/textures will build a stronger and more cohesive wardrobe to suit my personal style, as well as making it easier to address the gaps.

2. To become more aware:
I typically overbuy fabric, so this is a way that I can try and make good use of bad habits! I'm hoping that the challenge will increase my awareness and understanding of how much fabric I need for different projects (and best case scenario: one day there'll no longer be a need for #sewingleftovers)!

3. To be less wasteful:
The aim is to use up my stash, paying particular attention to those leftover 'bits' that seem not quite enough for a full project, but too big to throw away. I want to challenge suggested lay plans and fabric requirements to really get the most out of my fabrics!

4. To be more cost effective:
What it says on the tin really! Getting 2 (or more!) garments out of one fabric purchase rather than unnecessarily buying new is the aim.

5. A personal challenge:
I want to re-energise my sewing outside of the 'big' projects and encourage myself to think creatively to make the best of what I've already got. Can I find new patterns that use small amounts of fabric? Can I combine leftovers to make something totally new? Can I make better use of my existing pattern collection along the way?

What to expect from Sewing Leftovers:
  • Posts about garments made from leftovers (when I have them), showing how the fabric was used and how the new garment fits in with my current wardrobe.
  • Sewing Leftovers inspiration posts
  • Sewing Leftovers pattern suggestions for makes that require small amounts of fabric
  • Round ups of Sewing Leftovers makes from the sewing community

Can I join in?

YES! Absolutely!

If anyone would like to join me in sewing up their own leftovers, whether it's for the reasons listed above, or reasons of your own, please do! There are no prizes, time constraints or pressures: this is purely a 'for fun', personal challenge. It would be amazing to see the sewing community getting together to really make the most of ever last inch of their precious fabric purchases.

If you'd like to join in on social media, you can use the hashtag #sewingleftovers

Tag me in your posts if you're happy for me to share your #sewingleftovers makes in round ups and to help inspire other makers in using their own leftovers (I'm @shaunimagnifique on Instagram).

Coming up first from me will be a pair of New Look 6459 trousers, squeezed out of the orange corduroy leftover from this skirt.

Will you be Sewing Leftovers?

Stay in touch!

Ready to Sew Juliette Skirt

Hello all! I'm excited to show and tell you about the fab experience I had sewing up the new Juliette Skirt ahead of it's launch as a part of Ready to Sew's latest collection of patterns! I've pattern-tested for Raphaëlle on a number of occasions and her patterns never disappoint. It's up against some stiff competition, but I think that Juliette, a high waisted, A-line mini skirt, perfectly suited to leather or faux leather/suede, might just be my favourite Ready to Sew make yet!
My finished Ready to Sew Juliette!
As with the previous Ready to Sew patterns I've made, the PDF pattern is layered, so you can select only your size or sizes before printing, and the instructions offer a playlist and click through tutorials to provide extra help for some of the trickier techniques. This pattern is marked as intermediate level, but if you're confident enough to try out a fair bit of topstitching then I'm sure it would be really manageable for an advanced beginner, particularly in a 'friendlier' fabric such as denim or cotton drill. 

Juliette line drawings
Snow/sew day-ing
A new and exciting option for Juliette is that the pattern offers half sizes! The half sizes go up in 2cm increments, making it so much easier to get the right fit. My waist measurement perfectly matched the size 39 (ordinarily I would've just sized up rather than have the confidence to make alterations) so I went with this.

Side shot
Check that pleather/boot match!
The pattern offers two suggested lay plans - one using only one fabric, and the other for a colour blocked version. I found this amazing deep red faux leather (that couldn't be a better match for my new ankle boots) in Samuel Taylors in Leeds. It's medium-heavy weight and has a really interesting texture and mottled finish that's quite hard to capture in anything but the close up photos. Best of all, the plain version of the skirt uses only 1 metre of fabric, making mine a total bargain (this was £9.50 p/m).
Close up of the pocket and topstitched detailing
I chose, and often choose faux leather or suede rather than the real deal for a few reasons:
  • Cost and ease: It's a lot cheaper than buying the perfect piece of leather for your project, and often easier to source.
  • Limiting consumption: Whilst I'm not veggie/vegan, I do err on the side of caution with when it comes to using real leather. I would feel much guiltier about a sewing fail or unworn garment if it was made using animal products.  
  • Best for the tests: Pleather is perfect for giving a pattern a first go to check that you're happy with the fit and style and confident in the pattern if you're up for progressing to the real deal.

Pleather hacks - sellotape seams!
I'm really pleased to report that the Juliette Skirt was a breeze to put together, despite a few difficulties with stubborn, bulky pleather. I used a walking foot and increased my stitch length as recommended for the topstitching. The crossing intersections of the skirt were a the hardest bits to stitch over, so I stuck a bit of tape over the seam allowances, which helped to reduce sticking. The topstitching is great for creating really crisp seams as pleather is so hard to press. I hand stitched the inside of my waistband as the bulk was too much for my machine - I really wanted to topstitch this seam too but unfortunately had to skip it. Overall though, I'm so pleased with the level of detail in the finish.

Back view
More back detail from an earlier snow storm-blighted picture taking attempt
I particularly like how the back has turned out. I'd never inserted a zip using this method before - grateful for the click-through tutorial in the pattern! - so it was cool to learn a new technique. It worked particularly well for creating a neat finish with a tricky fabric. I finished the top of my waistband with a Prym anorak fastening, rather than the recommended button and buttonhole - no way would that buttonhole/bulk be compatible with my machine! Also on the finish: the pattern is fully lined so no risk of sweaty pleather thighs (erghh) - I used a nice quality black crepe from my stash.

Thanks to my boyfriend for his patience in the 3 attempts it took to get these pictures!
The finished fit of the garment is perfect, especially the waistband thanks to those half sizes! I found that the pockets gaped when I tried it on before joining the waistband (I have a narrow waist and quite curvy hips which probably explains this) but they were really easy to adjust and baste back in place. This is something that I fed back to Raphaëlle who has included a point in the instructions to check that the pockets lay flat at this point. Raph has also gone above and beyond to offer an extra option of the Juliette Skirt without pockets too - helpful if you know they might be tricky to fit for you!

I soooo can't wait to make another Juliette Skirt and can fast see it becoming a wardrobe staple (overtaking the much loved New Look 6418). In fact, I love my finished Juliette so much that I'm actually considering committing to a real leather or suede version, probably from any scraps that I can source. A totally patchwork version could look really great, don't you think? I would definitely recommend the pattern, and if you need any more convincing, just check out some of the other fab tester versions at #juliettereadytosew

The new Ready to Sew Collection: Jeanne, Jim, Jamie & Juliette
Thanks again to Ready to Sew for allowing me to test it!
Juliette is available now alongside the new Jeanne T-Shirt, Jamie Cardigan and Jim Dungarees.
See here to pick up a copy!

Stay in touch!

New outfit ft. Nikko

I'm feeling bombarded with articles, books and methods on how to achieve the capsule wardrobe holy-grail. There's Colette's Wardrobe Architect and the Design Your Wardrobe series for Seamwork subscribers, the 10x10 Challenge and I'm currently reading The Curated Closet, which I must say, as enjoyable a read as it is, I'm finding totally overwhelming to actually put into practice (I only got as far as making the Pinterest board). Whilst these methods or elements of them might work for some of us, deep down, I think we can only work out our own way to achieve a 'dream wardrobe' (if it even exists!) - Katie did a great post on her personal approach recently which is worth checking out!

Nikko Top, New Look 6418 and Retro Rucksack
I guess partly in response to this, my recent sewing has been focused around creating new basics with a considered colour palette in mind. In making proper use of leftovers and excessive fabric lengths to do so, I've found that I'm actually starting to build a small but cohesive, more coordinated wardrobe. So here is a new outfit - accessories included - in matchy fabrics and simple silhouettes, made up of the New Look 6418 Skirt, a Radiant Home Studio Retro Rucksack and the new True Bias Nikko Top!

New coordinated outfit!
I've made both the New Look 6418 Skirt and Retro Rucksack before (blog posts here and here), so lets talk Nikko first of all. True Bias are making huge waves in sewing world with their latest releases (I'm still working on that Lander fit but it's getting there!) and Nikko is no exception to this. Perhaps one of the draws of the Nikko are the options to make it as a either a top or dress/sleeveless or with long sleeves.

There are a lot of turtleneck patterns out there, the Papercut Patterns Rise/Fall Turtleneck being the dominant one in my pattern collection and home sewn wardrobe, so I wasn't really sold by the Nikko top alone. I fell for the styling and dress version completely, but must admit, a part of me was thinking, 'could I hack that'? I decided to buy it so I could properly see how the patterns compared and I thought some of you might be interested in seeing this too!

I cut the size 6 Nikko Top, grading to a 4 at the waist and hips. The pictures below show the front and back pattern pieces laid on top of the Rise Turtleneck pattern cut at a Medium.

Rise Turtleneck/Nikko front comparison
Rise Turtleneck/Nikko back comparison
This isn't intended to discredit either pattern, but show that they really do differ in their drafting - I was quite surprised at how different they actually are! It's definite proof to never judge or compare patterns on first look, even if they appear quite similar in style. Nikko is drafted with negative ease and is noticeably longer in the body and sleeves. Also, interestingly, the neckband of the Nikko (not pictured) is drafted with a slight curve, meaning it sits closer to the neck than the Rise Turtleneck.

Oops, that wasn't the best zip colour choice...
Nikko is drafted for a C cup - arguably quite generous as far as sewing patterns go - and I'm a not so modest FF-G cup... So when it turned out way too big, even on the bust, I knew that it was a case of too-stretchy-fabric strikes again. I'd squeezed it out of the leftovers from my Nettie Dress - ribbed jersey from Stoff & Stil - which had to be taken in a fair amount, so maybe I should've known better. The Nikko pattern however, specifically lists ribbed jersey in it's recommended fabrics, but I still had to take it in from mid-arm and all the way down the side seams. Is it just me who can't seem to get the fabric stretch thing quite right?!

I bought 2m of the khaki faux suede to make another Retro Rucksack, inspired by the more minimal Whistles suede backpack below that was well out of my price range. I should have stabilised the body of the bag more as the fabric is a bit too flimsy and lacks in structure where the bag folds and clips shut. I added a couple of magnetic press stud fastenings inside the bag and under the flap, which helps, but doesn't entirely solve the problem. Still, I think it's quite cute, particularly when worn with the skirt to match, and it has the handy option of being worn as both a shoulder bag and backpack.

Whistles Verity Suede Backpack (£279)

And continuing on the theme of using leftovers, the skirt was squeezed out of the excess from the bag. It's another quick win New Look 6418 in view D. This is the fourth time I've made this pattern, with 2 other faux suede ones and a snakeskin pleather version already in my wardrobe. It's a good one for playing around with different fabrics and textures, fitting into the basics category whilst not looking too plain or boring. I downsized to a 12 for this one as my previous versions have had to be taken in, and the fit is perfect - I know I'll make more!

Thank you Chris going out in the cold with me to get these pictures
I'm really pleased with how well all of these pieces work together and will hopefully slot in with my other handmades! This was also a great trial run of the Nikko Top and I'm looking forward to trying both the top and dress in a fabric with hopefully more suitable stretch soon. (Another benefit of using leftovers is getting a garment made from lovely fabric that you don't feel quite as precious over)!

More scrap busting plans coming up - the New Look 6459
Continuing down the colour-coordinated, scrap-busting track, I'm going to give the New Look 6459 trousers a try in the remaining corduroy I have from making the Simplicity 8459 buckle skirt. I've seen some amazing versions of this pattern - check Sophie's (@adapragg), Kylie's (@kylieandthemachine) and Michelle's (@michelleofatime) for major inspiration - so I can't wait to try it!

Now to go back inside and warm up!
I'm interested to hear about other people's personal approaches to wardrobe planning. Do you have a method or are you more of an 'anything goes' kind of sewer?

Stay in touch!

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