Monday 23 November 2020

Inspiration can be found anywhere and everywhere – Sewing Bee

Inspiration can arise in the most surprising circumstances. Recently we discovered the BBC programme ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’. I have been making most of my own clothes for some time, but had not thought of recycling either my own unused clothing or second-hand purchases.

Patrick Grant, one of the judges in the series, said something that really hit home: something about there being sufficient clothing already existing on the planet for the next six generations. Extraordinary! Also the clothes made by the competitors were so fabulous during the episodes dedicated to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’, that I was immediately itching to give it a try.

I had several jumpers in my cupboard that I liked too much to throw out, and yet never wore. Two of them are 100% cotton – so well worth recycling. I find that these days I mostly wear the tunics I have made, adding a waistcoat and cardigan for warmth. Somehow, a jumper is less convenient, and I also prefer a longer garment to keep my hips and legs warm as well. (We do not have central heating, only woodstoves, so our house is sometime a bit cold.) So I set to work transforming two unused jumpers into one long cardigan. 

I used the shape of the top of the cable in the red jumper to slot into the shape of the fair-isle pattern in the second jumper. I also used a section of cable for the cuffs and neck. The button bands were made from the sleeves of the red jumper, which were plain knit. I ran a piece of green binding to cover the seam of the band attachment inside the cardigan, using a colour which picked up the green in the fair-isle. I was surprised that the knitwear did not immediately unravel once it was cut, and that lines of straight sewing before cutting was sufficient to secure it. I made lots of mistakes in this one and it took a long time (not the one and a half hours allowed in Sewing Bee!) but I am happy with the result.

Since then I have turned two cotton jumpers of my husband’s into a cardigan for him. This was much quicker. We have sorted through our cupboards and wardrobes and there will undoubtedly be more. I  also now look at charity shop clothing with a new eye!

There is something so satisfying about wearing a garment you have created – and doubly so when it has been made of something that was appreciated, but remained unused, or is recycled. Every experience in every moment is an opportunity to be inspired. 

PS I made the dress as well – but from new fabric. Perhaps this will be the last thing I make from new fabric...?

PPS Many apologies that this blog has been neglected. I am so busy! Covid has opened unexpected opportunities for myself and Ngakpa ’ö-Dzin because we are able to connect with a larger range of people virtually. Please join us for weekly meditation on Facebook Live (Aro Ling Cardiff, Tuesdays, UK time - virtual Buddhist retreat centre); look for information on online teaching via Aro Ling Cardiff or our blog and Facebook pages. Many teachings and things that may be of interest can be found on the Aro Ling Cardiff YouTube channel. If using a search engine, just look for ‘Aro Ling Cardiff’ or ‘Ngakma Nor’dzin’.


  1. Nice work!

    I've been picking up sewing this year and it's amazing how much it made me notice details on other clothing. Really shows how what we do shapes what we see.

  2. Great idea! I especially like how you combined the two garments following the pattern.

  3. Thank you for your comments Emanuel and Konrad. Sorry to only just be seeing them! I’ve enjoyed the most recent series of ‘Sewing Bee’ and more inspiration. My latest re-use project has been a rag rug. I’ll probably post about it if I keep on the ball with this blog. Ngakma Nor'dzin


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