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Birthday bolero and Thames jeans

25 March 2008, 12:51

I’ve just spent nearly all of my four day weekend (double bank holiday, woo!) behind my sewing machine and ironing board, and I couldn’t be happier! For the last few years I’ve made myself something nice and new to wear on my birthday, so today I’m wearing my new clothes! It dulls the pain of turning 29, you see… ;)

The bolero is from Simplicity 3867 and made up in the same blue fabric as last year’s shirtdress, and lined in two different stash fabrics: the back is a Japanese tea towel I bought because I loved the little rope print, and the front lining pieces are vintage gingham and Dutch tulips and windmills fabric that at one point was a very well loved apron of my Granny’s, judging from the stains and wear and tear! Luckily there were enough good portions to line this and give myself some fun winking tulips in my left lapel!

The bolero was just a quick and easy project since I finished my main goals with a whole day leftover, so I heartily recommend it if you need a cheap thrill you can throw together in an afternoon! The only slow parts were binding the arms seam allowances and hand stitching-in-the-ditch on the cuffs, but that was more personal preference than anything else.

The much bigger project here are the jeans! As I discussed earlier, I toyed with the idea of trying a new jeans pattern, but in the end I just decided to stick with my tried & true jeans pattern, but adapt it to replace the back darts with a nice yoke. I miscalculated a little bit and needed to take about an inch out of the centre back seam, but the fit is great now and I’m really proud of all the topstitching and handling the super thick, non-stretch, Levis brand-name denim with my lovely little sewing machine!

I decided to customise these even further and make them properly Thames jeans, which is pretty fitting since they’re sewed up on our boat, floating in the Thames. So I freehanded the distinctive east London arch of the Thames onto the back right pocket, and mirrored it on the left for aesthetic rather than cartographic reasons!

This is also my first time using rivets, and the thick denim ended up killing my rotary leather punch tool meaning I had to resort to an awl to poke the holes. They all got hammered in eventually, and I love the little zing they add to these jeans! I’m wearing this exact outfit today (albeit with nicer shoes!), and for my birthday dinner tonight I’ll be pairing the new bolero with my little black dress.

For a little walk down memory lane, I’ve resurrected a few birthday sewing projects from years past. I’ve only been sewing for about four years, so I only have a few years to choose from…

For my 26th birthday, I made my favourite vest pattern with a red vinyl square neckband:

For my 27th, I made New Look 6429 in a fun sparkly knit from Walthamstow Market (and then about three days later decided to lose all that excess weight for good!).

Last year, for my 28th birthday, I was homeless and living out of a suitcase in my boyfriend’s parents’ house, watching the Shipping Forecast every single day, hoping for good weather to sail our boat across the North Sea. My sewing machine was in storage, so I couldn’t make a new outfit, and frankly, ALL I wanted was for our boat to arrive. And it did, on the evening of my birthday.

I wonder what I’ll get this year, eh?

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  1. Happy Birthday!!!! I love the jeans and the bolero (especially the lining).

    stacysews    Mar 25, 01:20 PM    #
  2. Happy birthday. Enjoy your dinner.
    The bolero is lovely, and your jeans awesome. Great job. Beautiful details.

    Sigrid    Mar 25, 02:29 PM    #
  3. Oh man I am jealous of all the European holidays.

    Great birthday ensemble! Hope you have a great day!

    christina    Mar 25, 04:16 PM    #
  4. Happy Birthday!!! I remember the first time I turned 29( LOL). I love your jeans the detailing is awesome and the jacket is too cute. Enjoy your day.

    Melody    Mar 25, 05:08 PM    #
  5. Happy Birthday! Those jeans are amazing, and the bolero is so cute too. Take care & have a wonderful day.

    — Cassie    Mar 26, 09:16 AM    #
  6. Happy Belated Birthday. Perhaps, I should send you some more patterns as a gift. Especially since your at the ripe old age of…29!!! LOL. Egads, compared to you, I’m ancient.

    Angela    Mar 26, 09:32 PM    #
  7. My oh my, you’ve been busy. I love everything that you made, but I adore the bolero…

    laura    Mar 31, 11:55 AM    #

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