Burdastyle Vintage special

I’ve been entranced by the autumn/winter Burdastyle vintage special as it’s devoted to styles of the 1950s.


I must admit I was a bit cynical on first picking it up, expecting just *a load of frocks* which whilst beautiful eye candy, are probably already in some form in my pattern stash.  But, look, there’s 5 dresses, 1coat, a jacket, a skirt suit, plus casuals – two other skirts, a playsuit and a button back top.



But not only are the patterns pretty attractive, I have to admit it’s the presentation that captured me. Each pattern is showcased with the original Burda pattern artwork ( these alone are worth the cover price to me, as I could be tempted to cut them out and frame them!)

Prom dressThen there’s a piece about the history of each pattern showing well loved stars of the fifties wearing examples IRL.

Prom dress history

Then each pattern is revealed ( true to the original) after a page of styling options – accessorising ideas.

Prom dress
So the Fiore is a lovely off the shoulder Prom dress.

Balloon jacket

There’s Rosa, a ‘balloon jacket’ which when you see Audrey’s side pose, could win you over! (But I’m unlikely to prioritise it personally)

Little black dress

The little black dress, ‘Coco’, has amazing lines and interesting piecing to give it that curvaceous ultra feminine silhouette. One to remember for a future ‘do’.

Princess dress

The ‘Grace’ princess dress is the dress in the cover, made up in beautiful pink lace, but it’s got more everyday potential too. It’s got long narrow kimono sleeves.

50s work suit
When I saw ‘Lola’, a ‘job suit’ I sighed a deep appreciative sigh. I have no idea whether I will ever make such a thing of beauty but it’s that silhouette that’s got me again. The sections at the waist look unlike anything I have ever sewn and give it interest and *that shape*.

There’s a drop waisted dance dress, ‘York’, which has a fitted bodice and lots of bow options. I can’t see myself making this one up, personally, it’s more of a youthful style! Clearly it’s got nothing to do with the numbers of occasions I’d never have to wear it!


By the time I reached The Balmain inspired Paletot coat, ‘Kim’,  (after Kim Novak I am guessing, who features as one of the stars wearing such a coat) I was practically convinced that I must have this publication. It is not a mag full of dress patterns.With the onset of autumn, I can’t be alone in ogling coat patterns & this is made up in the current day fabric in a wondrous hairy white fabric that make it look super desirable, if not rather unpractical.   And then I saw this….

I almost didn’t finish my newsagent flick. The button back Tricot jumper, aka Mary. Expect this to be made by me, if nothing else, this is a cert.


The modern take on the ‘Full skirt’, Gina, looks as if it’d be awesome in the right fabric, but is it because I always fall for for a twin set?  The sash is separate, it’s got box pleats & patch pockets with what I call handkerchief flaps, but that could be a totally incorrect term!  It’s made out of satin here & due to the sash takes a whopping 6.5- 7.0m of fabric!!

Cocktail dress

I’d like to think that the Sofia cocktail dress might feature in my as yet to be realised glamorous champagne sipping lifestyle on the Côte d’Azur.

And when in Cannes, day wear is sorted by this adorable beach dress. Well playsuit with over skirt.  Now this looks more me…Cornish summer hols…..

That’s all the patterns in this special. But I have resisted from showing all the pattern art and film star photos. This was £5.75 and more expensive than the usual Burdastyle magazine, which I buy if there’s enough in it of interest. The quality of this magazine is a cut above.  I have never bought Burdastyle Specials before, so this is my first.  The paper quality is better – it’s all matt white- even the instruction section.  The original colour pictures head up the instructions which may/may not be in the same level of detail as usual Burdastyle – I can’t say.  I would also hesitate to suggest that from an initial scrutiny, there may not be quite so much crowding on the pattern sheets- due to there being less patterns perhaps?  but don’t quote me on that.  This vintage special however is more than a pattern book, and if you are a fan of fifties styling, it’s a lovely collection of inspiration and a snapshot of the stories behind them.

Now I’m not on a commission for this, I just thought it was worth sharing, as I was really delighted by this, can you tell? Have you been captivated ? Or am I just a sucker for a pretty picture??!


Negroni in green but not for the W.I.

Well this is a funny one.  Not really funny ha ha just funny due to what I have found out for writing up this make, my latest boy shirt, the Colette Patterns Negroni again.  I’d made this & have now given this as a birthday present last month to my youngest.   It came in a spell of quite a lot of gift making & was preceded by a trip to my local fabric store during which time I bought a few lengths of fabric (for kimonos, this shirt, a gift for my Mum, yet to blog about, more shirt fabric for a future gift & if memory serves me well, absolutely diddly squat for me!  That must be a first).  Choosing shirt fabric for my sons is something I like doing face to fabric so that I can get a feel for the fabric behaviour & true colour. I will buy online too, don’t get me wrong, but because I find shirt gift giving so satisfying, the buying of the fabric comes as one of the delight-giving steps.  (Well, is that a surprise, as confessed by a fabric-aholic?)

The Makower fabrics that are part of the W.I. Centenary Competition. 

So this fabric.  This is the funny part of my post.  When I bought it the lady in the shop told me that it is a Makower fabric, designed by the Women’s Institute as part of a competition celebrating the W.I.’s centenary – making a quilt/ wall hanging or a wearable item.  She had thought that the closing date was August perhaps, but when I looked this up, prior to setting off on this blog post, I found out that the closing date is 31st October.  So this is a live project then.  Except I am not a member of the W.I. & it’s all being done by snail mail, so discount this as a competition entry – it never was & it never will be!  But it was none the less funny to find this out.   Because I used two of the above fabrics.  The green starry 7486G and the grey 7092T.  It’s quilters’ cotton, but very soft & clearly at the price, lovely quality.  Out of all of the fabrics in the shop, it was the “best choice” for this particular son when I was considering his colouring & scale & type of the print.  I bought enough for a short sleeve version, and upon discussing with him, he requested long sleeves.  Doh!  I rushed back to the shop only to find it had all gone!  So short sleeves it had to be.


OK onto the shirt now – that was rather a long story about the fabric, unusually for me.


The shirt.  I love sewing shirts for my boys.  Now that I know how well they are received and now that I have got their “custom” patterns that fit to their actual body sizes & arms lengths.  Maybe it’ll become a tradition  that they expect – birthdays and Christmases- a mum-made shirt.  This is a birthday gift, & in September I could just get away with it being short sleeves, particularly with the warm weather we’ve had.


After comparing two shirts & how their construction differed I freestyled this time – following the construction order from the Negroni shirt pattern,  but not necessarily the same techniques.  My biggest conscious diversion was opting to go for speed, using faux flat fell  seams – French seams top stitched down- side seams & all sleeve seams.  Despite my love of the finish with real flat fell seams, it just felt easier.


Each time I have made Negroni with flat fell seams, I’d always put one of the sleeves in the wrong way, & if you’ve followed this method for inserting Negroni sleeves, you will maybe remember that it’s quite a tricky bit-by-bit sewing operation & to have to do it three times instead of two, clearly preyed on my mind!


I used the contrast grey as the under collar & inside yoke, & had I been making a long sleeved version, it would have featured inside the cuffs as well.


What’s left to say?  Oh yes!  He likes it!  He doesn’t mind that it’s short sleeves afterall & has been given some styling advice about how to make it work with long sleeve t-shirts in the winter from his bro.  He saved its first wearing for a birthday curry out with his friends.  The first time I saw him actually modelling it was after it had been through the wash.  He doesn’t iron.  I was transfixed on the collar/ facing & trying to get it to behave & look just a little less mangled …..it’s harder to get away with a non-ironed shirt with this style of collar…!

Dolores top

Dolores Top Dr Jacobi style

When I wrote about my first forays into making the Dolores top & dress I think I exuberantly shared the fabric that I had in mind for making my autumn Dolores top – one with long sleeves.  The fabric in question was this wild fantasmagorical tropical viscose jersey , or large vibrant floral, as it is described online.  I had just bought it & received it as I wrote that last Dolores post, & was overcome with spontaneity to get on & make it for wearing now.

Dolores top This has to be one of the brightest autumn/ winter tops I have made for a long time.  It rocks the tropics!  Which is why I have dedicated it to Dr Jacobi, he who transformed his Twin Peaks Hospital consulting room into a Waikiki  paradise.  And Twin Peaks has been on my mind recently (not that it ever left my heart) with the news that a new series is going to be on air in 2016.


YouTube Preview Image

Having been huge devotees of the series from its original screening, such that Tuesday nights were never the same once season two came to its unnerving end, we are beyond ourselves with excitement.  It is so good on so many levels (many of which I have yet to understand – part of its brilliance), & I love that we watched it when my children were babies & now they have both become huge fans, watching it with us, as we re-watch the series on DVD.  {Happy sigh}

So onto Dolores.  What a stellar top.  But you know that anyway.

Dolores top Its shape makes me want to show off my batwings!

You know I’ve said before what a speedy simple make it is.  And I was thinking that this really is a great beginner’s pattern if you ever wanted to start sewing with a simple knit pattern.


Dolores top

I can remember neck bands causing me so much trouble when I first tried making t-shirts – getting the right amount of stretch.  Whether to sew it on after both shoulders are sewn in a loop, or close one shoulder, then add neck binding, then close the other shoulder. The Dolores neck band is applied to the front and the back separately before either shoulder is sewn- it makes it simple to sew.  The sleeves are sewn flat, with the option to pleat or gather the sleeve head to fit.  (I always pleat because gathering would involve another step & you know I am generally as lazy as I can get away with being).

Dolores top

See this is what it looks like in normal wear, when I resist the urge to fly … another great feature with patterned fabric is that this top has no discernible front & back.  Today the front looks like this.  Another day I could swap & have this as the front….

Dolores top

So the fabric is lovely.  It’s said to be a viscose 4% spandex jersey & feels nice & warm – it’s got a reasonable drape but would not be suitable for leggings I don’t think.  Not enough stretch.  PJs though?  They would be groovy, & cosy, wouldn’t they?  I chose it because I am a sucker for large bold bright prints that remind me of the type of environment in which a hummingbird would be at home.  Plus it’s got a teal/ turquoise background- that is so much  *my* colour.

Dolores top

And this is how I wore it on a semi mufti day to work.  It does also look exceedingly good with another pair of Ultimates I have yet to show you…..coming soon!

So it’s the weekend- at last.  I hope you all have great weekends planned.  I have barely sewed all week, & not last weekend either, so I am really looking forward to getting back on it.  And catching up with blog reading too.  It has just been a crazy few weeks.

Feel free to share your Twin Peaks exultations in the comments too!!

Happy sewing & making :-)


Ultimate trousers

The Contingency Pants: more Ultimate Trousers

“It’s about time”!  Another pair of Ultimate Trousers. Yes, these trousers were made way back in September & I have only just got around to posting about them.    That’s mainly due to not having taken photos of them in action – as you will see they crease a little following a day’s wear- & so any post work photos are just plain out of the window since I am highly unlikely to feel the urge to iron straight after a day at the office & a two mile power walk uphill.

Ultimate trousers

OK, rewind.  The Contingency pants were born for OWOP (One Week One Pattern), when my pattern of choice was the Ultimate Trouser pattern.  The only shortfall I had was trousers for work.  But why did I call these the Contingency pants?

Ultimate trousers My deviation from the pattern – lapped zipper, not an invisible zip.

Well, I had actually cut out another pair of Ultimates in work appropriate autumnal suiting, however, when I came to sew them up, discovered I hadn’t the right coloured thread.  This fabric – a mini dogtooth check (100% silk remnant from Mandors in Edinburgh) was always tucked away at the back of my mind as a potential pair of ultimates, & when called on for OWOP, therefore became the “Contingency Pants”.  I might be doing myself no favours referring to them as “pants” because I really don’t want you to confuse with “incontinence pants” .  But there you go.  Please do not be confused.

Ultimate trousers

So, you know by now that I love the Ultimate trousers by Sew Over it. My OWOP adventures this year chart their versatility & my love of their cut & style.  The sewing of these Ultimates is a cinch- as I always say- once you get the fit just about right.  But I have made quite a few pairs of these now (5 pairs) & I  have to say that allow for fabrics to behave differently.  Do not assume that because your last pair was body perfect that you have no need to try on as you sew – different pairs have given me a different fit experience.  These are made in a silk that behaves almost like a light weight polyester (I have the label though to prove that it is silk!), these, came up huge.

Ultimate trousers

I had to wear them, realise during the day that they were not snug enough & take some more in afterwards.  I think I altered the CF & CB about three times.  I still feel when I look at them in these photos that they are not the most flattering  on me. (I mean it would help if I wore better underwear – apols about that! Just pretend that you can’t see any vpls please, for me…)  But even still I am not 100% sure that I have finished them…I may take the lower leg in a bit more ….but then I do need enough calf room to be comfy & tasteful (!)….what do you think?  I mainly wear these with flat shoes & am not after a skinny look, but maybe they could look better a bit more skinny than this?

Ultimate trousers

I don’t tend to wear them with tops like this – I have just pulled this together for the photos since this is about the trousers & how they fit.  I don’t actually like tucking tops into trousers – I always wear things untucked on the outside unless trousers have belt loops & are pleated.  (Like my Vogue Baggy trousers). And this is my first Pavlova top that is too short unless I wear a cami/ vest underneath.  I’m always fussing with it – too much gappage even though I lengthened it from the original pattern.

Ultimate trousers See those post wear creases?

But I do wear these often.  It’s the time of year for trousers like this – t-shirts & cardigans, socks & flat lace ups.   Can’t wait to show you my next pair!  They are a huge success too :-) (Dare I say *even* better than these??)

Funki duathlons

Funki runners#1

Well hello!  I would like to introduce you to my new funki legs.

Funki duathlons

These pins are being motivated by the joy that a new pair of groovy leggings can bring.  I mean when you have leggings like this, they have just got to be shared with the world, right?  They can’t languish in the cupboard but have to get running!

Funki duathlons

Starting backwards here, aren’t I?  With the finished result for a change.  So let’s carry on in that vein.  These are my newest running leggings using Fehr Trade’s Duathlon pattern- capri length.  I love this pattern – it is such an easy make plus it has pockets.  That is one big essential for running kit.  Pockets.  And these pockets are optimally sized for an iphone & keys (one pocket each side).

Funki duathlons Cunningly camouflaged pocket- but it is there!

OK there’s a little interruption of my sleek silhouette when my car keys are lumping out of one thigh & my iphone creates a rectangular shell-like structure on the other, but they are secure enough & it’s a small price to pay for not having to wear a bumbag, & until the weather declines, I refuse to wear my running jacket for all that its pockets are roomy & secure.

Funki duathlons

And I made these in an evening.  Score.

Funki duathlons

So time for to answer that question you most want answered.  The fabric!  Yes it is awesome isn’t it – it’s animal print in black & white with the addition of red roses & carnations.  What a killer combo.  It rocks don’t you think?  It is going to help me pack those miles in this autumn.  It’s from Funki Fabrics who approached me asking me if I would like to try some of their fabric.  Well of course I said yes!  I mean, I could only think running gear, that was all I had in mind.  The hardest part was narrowing down my favorites.

Funki duathlons

So I sent back a shortlist asking for samples and I was so glad I did this – in some way.  The good thing is that you can get a true idea of scale & colour – for real.  So getting the samples was also disappointing because I wanted them all!  They were just as brilliant in real life & completely met my expectations. Discount the plain juvenile (I asked for a sample of the superheroes, I mean Darth Vader, Batman & Spidee?  My boys young men would think I was so cool.  For a minute, then laugh at me for being ridiculous )    But that didn’t stop me having fun with some of my other choices.  I am going to surprise you with my others as I make them up, oh yes!  You ain’t seen nothing yet.

What I thought was fascinating about Funki Fabrics is that all the designs are custom printed on this lovely lycra.  It is not wicking so not technically suitable for very long runs, but for general running, that most of us do, maybe 10k or so, in “normal” weather conditions it would be fine & dandy. And I could imagine shorter versions for summer would also be great….

funki fabrics samples

Yes, custom printed which means that the samples arrived as specially printed rectangles on strips of fabric.  With white borders.  And this is applied to the lengths of fabric you order as well.  I ordered one metre & it was printed on a piece of lycra, a 1mx 1.45m with a white border.  And one of my choices was half a metre.  Again, specially printed, a piece of fabric with a white border and a 1.45m x 0.5, rectangle of groovy print captured inside.

Funki duathlons Is this just too funky with my Jungle January  XYT top?

Funki duathlons Channeling Sweaty Betty at all?

Now Funki do offer a free sample service, as discussed, but there’s got to be a limit & with all of that temptation?  I took so long shortlisting.

Funki duathlons

This week I heard that Funki are now offering something totally wild – you can buy a collection of designs in a single transaction as a sample sheet!

Funki duathlons

Multiple designs have been selected and printed onto a single piece of fabric  – it’s a great way to see loads of the designs  (in this case the first on offer is the autumn collection) all on one piece.  Now those leggings would be super Funki!But then, just wait until I sew up my other fabric.  Wowsers.

What are the funkiest leggings you have?  What pics & embellishments adorn your pins?

Hope you’re having a great weekend all.


Londinium and an orange cocoon cardigan

So I said in my last post that I feel like a cardigan experimenter, & here’s another!  Well more of a cloak-igan.  This is my October Minerva make & I gave it a test drive on a recent trip to the Big Smoke, so I’ve chucked in a few snaps about some sights I saw at the end.  If you are at all interested.  No obligation as always.

So let’s talk cardigans.  Or cocoons.  It started with the fabric, this burnt orange knitted mohair blend. Brought to my attention by the lovely Manju at the Minerva Meet up way back in the summer. You might know me by now to realise that I could not pass this up. OK, so orange is less my colour, but a sweater knit fabric for me equals cardigans that I don’t have to knit.

I had a few ideas about what to make – perhaps another Julia cardigan or even the new Jenna by Muse patterns. But in the end I had enough fabric to make this beauty from Burdastyle- the Cocoon Cardigan 11/2013 #107.

cocoon cardi

It’s a simple raglan sleeved cocoon style cardigan of cloaklike proportions. It’s HUGE. It has inseam pockets too. Easy sewing though. I used my overlocker for practically all of it – even attaching the neck/ hem band as if it was a t-shirt neckband – sewing the band into a circle, then folding in half wrong sides together and stitching it on that way o the body of the cardigan.

cocoon cardi hem

The fabric is very light & could really stretch out of shape. That’s why I think it worked pretty well with this pattern because the hem/ neckband is interfaced & therefore forces the cardigan to behave & keep its cocoon shape – it even serves the function of slightly pulling the cardigan’s body in a bit.

cocoon cardigan back

At times it felt that there was almost too much cardigan for attaching to the hem /neck band without gathering – however, this fabric is mega forgiving in that respect & allowed me to manipulate it into place.

cocoon cardigan

I had to do the same with the cuffs though – this is not part of the pattern. The pattern just gets you to make a hem at the sleeve hems – but you can see that this did not work very well at all for this type of fabric. After hemming with a triple zig zag stitch on my regular machine, I hated the trumpet splayed effect & cut it off.

Cocoon cardi cuff

I cut my own cuff bands with the grain running vertically to keep the stretch in check, & applied them as I did the hem/ neck band.

cocoon cardi cuff

Worked a treat.

So my cardigan did me well in London when I went visiting last weekend – just got a couple of pics. You can see it is REALLY LONG!

cocoon cardi

But as a layering light weight jacket it is perfect. I felt snug but not overly hot.  Works the day to night styling too!

cocoon cardi

If you want a blanket-type cocoon – this fabric would be too light weight.

I can see it’s going to work well with skinnies as well. It really isn’t my usual type shape to wear, but I love it! And I might be an orange convert- it looks so fantastic with navy. And it must be the colour for October don’t you think? Although I notice this fabric also comes in yellow if you fancy another kind of citrus!

So these photos were taken on location.  The very first one, in the thriving spice-scented…

brick lane We wandered around, but it was too early to eat & too late to shop- I did notice the odd fabric shop there which appeared to be Aladdin’s caves crossed with the wardrobe from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Brick lane

I have come across tips for “fashion bloggers” to find interesting backdrops &  graffiti to base photoshoots around & around this area there were so many examples of incredible street art.  But I was too bashful for those that were in reach.  This plainly was not within reach!

My reason for visiting was to go to the Globe with my school friends, something that was a brand new experience for most of us.  We scoffed first of all at rather a cool brunch at Kings Cross – Caravan. I had no idea it was right next to St Martin’s.  The photo with the fountains was taken right outside.  And the brunch has not managed to disappear from my consciousness, such a wonderful taste treat – some kind of spicy cornbread combo , eggs, black beans.  Set us up right good & proper for the hilarity at the Globe.


Now I studied a few Shakespeare plays at school & am not a complete heathen, however, I had no idea that a Shakespeare comedy could be laugh out loud funny.  And laugh out loud funny without having studied it to know the “in jokes” or cleverness of the Bard.  We saw “A Comedy of Errors” & it was genuinely one of the funniest plays I have ever seen.  Slapstick & silliness.  Great acting & the intimacy at the Globe allows  facial expressions to play a real part in the performance for everyone.  There were times when it felt as if Fawlty Towers had taken a step back into Elizabethan time.  We sat in the posh bit ;-)  We had no way of knowing that it wouldn’t be raining on an October weekend when we booked it 6 months ago!


Yes, up there.  So after a rollicking good time at the Globe we wandered along the River, noticing that the Golden Hind was sitting on a filmy sea of green

Golden Hind

then taking tea with an amazing view at HMS Belfast.


Our goal was to check out the Poppies at the Tower of London – the Bloodswept Lands and seas of Red. 

Poppies at the Tpwer

Marking 100 years since Britain’s involvement in the First World War, this installation of ceramic poppies takes your breath away in its beauty & poignancy.  Each poppy represents a British life lost on the battlefield during the war.


Work in progress, it grows.  I thought it was beautiful.  Find out more here if you are interested.

London is just so exciting.  Every time I visit I see something new, yet feel ever more comfortable – even if I am the Country mouse.  And guess what?  I shall be seeing London’s sights from a whole different perspective next April as I run around them in the Marathon!!!!!!!!  Yes.  I was freaked out to get a place in the ballot.  Guiltily so.  This is my first time entering the ballot.  I consider it to be a sign …. but more of that another time.

muse Jenna cardigan

Call me the cardigan experimenter, The Jenna Cardigan by Muse Patterns

I admit it, I had a stroke of luck when Kat approached me & asked if I would like to sew the first of her patterns, the Jenna Cardigan.  I mean,  we all know how long it takes me to knit anything, especially a cardigan.  (Answer: about a year) How else am I going to satisfy the warm’n’wooly aspects of my wardrobe with a no-buy RTW pledge?

Jenna Cardigan

So I have sewn and compared two cardigan patterns prior to the Jenna.  Simplicity 2154 and McCalls 6708.   And my conclusion I think was that I would like a combination of the two in terms of fit & finish.  I also love the Julia cardigan, having made a couple of those now that get worn almost solidly.  But for a classic layerable & wearable under coats cardi?  Enter Jenna.  I must caveat this with the fact that I have *so far* only sewn one version, so my thralls might well be based on fluke, a full moon, or the ambient temperature on the living room rug as I cut it out.  But people I am seriously impressed.

Jenna cardigan

The Jenna cardigan, in case you have not seen other fabulous versions, gives you options: sleeve length, body length (waist or hip length) & it gives you the opportunity to include if you wish a cute gathered front yoke.  Coo.  I did.  Because I haven’t got a cardi with a cute pretty gathered yoke.  And it’s just too perfectly quaint.

Jenna cardigan

I found some grey “sweater knit” of some description that I had in my stash.  I thought it was some yukky acryllic but when I came to work with it, changed my mind, suspecting it has some cotton in it.  And probably a degree of synthetics, but no way as high as I had initially thought.  I sewed it with the wrong-side out so that the “garter stitch” finish was on the outside.  I’ve done this for something else I’ve sewn recently & will show you soon. I like the nubbly effect this gives & thinks it elevates the appearance from “dull” synthetic-cotton  mix  to “interesting & artisan” cotton-synthetic mix.  And cutting the waist length version does not need a whole load of fabric, which is another bonus- it’s quite an economical little make, even with long sleeves.  The deep waistband helps keep pieces (apart from the sleeves) from being that long.

Jenna Cardigan

So, once cut & started to be sewn I was enjoying the process.  I accidentally ignored notches & sewed the yoke pieces upside down (doh!)  so unpicking a top-stitched, yoke with gathering & almost perfectly matched thread in a sweater knit was not the easiest, but that’s life when you are over confident ;-)

Jenna Cardigan

Apart from that I had a simple sew & loved how it all came together.  I did have to narrow the arms a little bit once I had the chance to try it on.  I also shortened the sleeves a little too, but don’t you think that’s a good design principle as one of the worst things is to have sleeves that are too short?  I would much rather have sleeves too long & swaddling my wrists in layers.  But hey, when you are making it yourself, you can get the sleeve length the right length to suit you!  Score.

Jenna cardigan

So this is the first pattern by Muse Patterns, & it’s a very welcome entry into my sewing repertoire.  The cardigan is truly fulfilling my cardigan ambitions.  The only thing possibly I would even consider adding would be the welt pockets from McCalls 6708.  But this pattern has now officially usurped the other two.  As far as the instructions go, new pattern company & all that.  I found them just right (OK, even if I proved that I didn’t read them properly!  It is my fault, not the instructions’).  I think if you are comfortable sewing knits, you should progress to cardigans.  You don’t have to use an overlocker (although I always do whenever I get the chance).  The construction is very similar to the Renfrew in terms of hem bands & sleeve cuffs to provide a nice edge, but you also have to introduce the button band which is actually no big deal, even if you think it is going to be!   Before I made cardies I always imagined the button band would be where I faltered, I thought it would play up, stretch out of shape and drag under my buttonhole foot.  In this pattern, the button band is interfaced which helps a whole lot in terms of nice neat finish when wearing, but also when sewing buttonholes.  And if your fabric is thick, fluffy/ open weave or anything else that will cause you problems with buttonholes, then you can use snap fasteners, hooks & eyes, or even turn some loops.   But simulate it first and try a practice piece as it might not be as bad as you think.

Jenna cardigan

So this cardi was originally a tester if I am to be honest, before I bring in the wool jersey.  I had to make sure I knew what I was doing & what I had to be careful about next time (paying attention!).  But when  this cardigan came together & I had buttons to choose I thought it was the perfect backdrop for some ceramic buttons a friend had brought me, a while ago.


Who cares if one button cost more than the sum of all the other materials, these arty crafty buttons go down a storm on such a plain backdrop.

So, it has been worn a lot.  I don’t think it looks second rate (which I think my others do).  The next version of this is more than likely going to involve my special wool jersey that is *one of those* fabrics wrapped away for *the perfect* make.  I can’t think of anything better to do with it than to make a cardigan that will be truly practical & pretty.  Thank you Kat !  Here’s the link to the pattern where you can see a bit more about the design and other variations.

dolores top

Dolores top and dress- batwing perfection!

Oh Dolores! The most cute baby girl has given her name to rather a gorgeous batwing collection: dress, top and tunic.

This is the batwing top of dreams – the one. I have been lucky enough to have been gifted a SoZo original & wear it such a lot,

so that when Zoe hinted at producing it as a pdf sewing pattern, I was eager to say the least. And then when asked to be a tester I did not hesitate to squeal “oh yes, yes yes!”

The Dolores batwing can be sewn as a top, a tunic length (great for leggings) or a sultry dress- with short sleeve or long sleeve options. I gave it a whirl as a short sleeve top & the long sleeved dress. Zoe promised that it would be a quick make & she is right- I whipped up both of these in just a couple of hours.


I used some extremely light weight jersey – it must have some viscose content- it’s very thin & very drapey – for the top. In turquoise. It’s such a cool colour :-) And hold onto your seats- those of you with a nervous disposition, the fabric for the dress is rather……..


….floral!!!  It’s the same fabric I used for my rural Hudson pants bought from the Birmingham Rag market. It had less stretch than the turquoise & was pulled to its extreme when sewing the neckband – but it survived!  (Since me making this, Zoe has revisited the neckband grainline for less stretchy fabrics, so it shouldn’t be something you need to think about!)

dolores top

The pattern itself is space saving- only 12 printed pages of A4. How about that? The front & the back is the same- just add neckband & chosen arm finish (long sleeve or cuff).   I followed the instructions to the letter (as that is what I was there for- what I was testing – but with such logical instructions as these, how else could I have done it?)

dolores dress

Process follows these lines:

Attach neckband, sew shoulders, attach sleeves/cuff, sew side seams, hem.

dolores top

I used my overlocker for all but the hem- & in this case I followed Zoe’s recommended three step zig zag – just to see – & I liked the control you get for hemming right up to the edge of the fabric- & how convenient it is -no rethreading for a twin needle, & also no lugging of coverstitch machine onto table (oh my Gawd, that is so revealing! Just how lazy does that seem!! But if time is of the essence, sometimes you want to know what your options are & then choose accordingly.) But let’s get serious – my goal when making these was primarily to test the instructions so that included giving other methods a whirl that I’ve not tried before.

dolores dress

As with all SoZo patterns, this is put together well – it’s simple. But the styling says it all. Chic. Quirky. Retro inspired. I mean how could you not look at the dress length Dolores & not think “wiggle”? This is the ultimate jersey wiggle dress! But no sleeves to set in. The batwing sleeves are fixed flat either to the short sleeve cuff or to the long sleeve with gathers or pleats (I used pleats – you eyeball it & place them where you want them). Once the cuff/ sleeve is assembled you then sew up the side seams, whoosh. Jobs a good ‘un as they say.


And I love the boat/ slash neck. Now I have the pattern I can see a few more variations being added to my repertoire and have just purchased this, ahem, rather bold jersey.  I couldn’t help it, & it’s arrived and is such gorgeous quality but largescale & reminiscent of Dr Jacobi’s waikiki office (which is clearly a good thing in my book).

The pattern is available here for download. Woo hoo- now you too can make one (or lots)!

Now the photos – did you guess that they were taken in the summer by my very own David Bailey (my Dad)?  Thanks BG! I like the way that my floral Ultimates almost disappear into the privet, don’t you.  And yes.  I do have a thing for florals.  Didn’t you know?


Who won and real life Maria

I have got lots to write about but *stuff* happens and as a result I’ve written not very much!  And meanwhile it gets ever bigger. So instead of this mass of unblogged stuff clogging my head, I thought it was about time I put fingers to the keyboard & tap tap tapped.

I have so many sewn things to share, a couple of “how tos”, I have a giveaway to announce, and I’ve even met one of my sewing inspirations…. And I have some runs that deserve a mention. Don’t worry- there is no way I can cover all of this in one, or even two goes, but where to start?

SewSee later for who these belong to…

I should start with the giveaway, how about that? Thank you to everyone who entered & shared some inspiring ideas for using contrast fabrics- you are all winners (sigh). The winner of the Champagne skirt pattern is no. 2 as picked by random number generator ….and that is Lou Sewcial Warrior – congratulations – I will be contacting you and forwarding your email address to Capital Chic Patterns! Now there were some awesome ideas for using contrasting fabric, Lou’s by the way will be using pleather.

She says,

“ I’ve been planning myself a colette meringue with pleather facings on the outside with an orange and blue plaid wool for the skirt. But I think this combo could work just as well for the champagne skirt, which is gorgeous by the way.”

Can’t wait. There were so many racy ideas using animal print (grrr), solid colour blocking, sweet ideas for tartan and even florals. Go check them out for some inspiration! I was also taken with Cat’s suggestion:

“What if it would be a play on transparency? Like a white or cream eyelet with a turquoise lining, but only the body of the skirt is lined. “

which also got me thinking about transparency for a lace skirt with the flounce not lined…

Lovely! Think you’ll be giving some use of contrasts a go? Do tell!

And which sewing legend did I meet? Well none other than Maria Denmark!

Maria Denmark

I have been online friends with Maria for a number of years now but had always missed her visits to London. But this time I took the afternoon off & whizzed across by train to meet Maria and her Danish business partner (& lovely family) at the V&A. They had already managed a visit to Portobello Market and bought lots of vintage sewing nick nacks.

maria denmark

Once in the V&A I am afraid I didn’t pay that much attention to the exhibits as I was far too engrossed in chat!  It was so brilliant to meet in real life – we talked sewing and stuff barely drawing breath. Maria is such an interesting and dynamic personality & as well as her current projects and her sewing/ design background I was also inspired to hear more about her running her own business(es), her online Danish sewing magazine she creates and produces with her business partner Signe (who was also in London with us and who the MD halter dress and top is named after).  It was also fascinating hearing more about Denmark.  You know, I am so going to visit one day :-)

Bathing suits

We cruised the exhibits, some distracting us enough to discuss the sewing & design! Like these knitted swimsuits which I am sure everyone has the same saggy thoughts about :-)


Can you see Maria in the mirror? Trying to be arty, but not sure it succeeded as well as it played out in my head!

Afterwards we managed my first trip to Shaukat & I was blown away. I was grateful that the baby needed us to be focused (bedtime called & she had been so content). It could have been serious dither city – I have not seen so much Liberty print in such an expanse of fabric heaven! Lawn, poplins, cord, silks & jerseys. Bolt upon bolt plus shelves of pre-cut pieces. I did not know where to start so just honed in on the jersey.

I had the most amazing time Maria and Signe and baby Saga & Karen.   Interesting fact- Signe’s baby is called Saga (as in the incredible female character from “The Bridge”, pronounced like the computer games Sega)  But no, she wasn’t named after her, but after the Nordic God of sewing.  Talk about a perfect start as a sewster!

Wanna see my loot?

Liberty jersey

I had to buy just one piece, didn’t I? As a double celebration. And it was this jersey. It is quite possibly going to be the most expensive dress I have ever made. But people, I do need to think more about quality rather than always quantity!   There will be a “test” garment before I decide which pattern to make it up into (I have two possibilities, one being the Colette Monetta). Any thoughts yourselves?

Right, that’s it for today, stay tuned for my next catch up. Cheerio for now!

Sureau dress

Last frock of summer: Deer and Doe Robe Sureau

You are about to read a rare post from me in that I haven’t a whole load of words for a change.  I made this dress in the summer and have rather a backlog of projects to share, but with the advance of autumn (even if daytime temps are trying to tell us otherwise) I felt I had to bump this dress up the list, before it looked plain ridiculous.  I mean this dress epitomises summer wear – sleeveless fine cotton, relatively floaty & not much to it.

Sureau dress

The Deer and Doe Robe Sureau, so very kindly gifted to me by Roobeedoo when she knew I would gratefully receive outputs of her fine taste.


I had earmarked the long sleeved version for *sometime someplace yet to be decided*, having truly fallen for Roo’s tartan version.  Surely that must feature somehow in a badger wardrobe?  But to use some lawn I had purchased from Goldhawk Road (Classic Textiles) early in the summer with abundant iris it was one of those spontaneous decisions – make it sleeveless.


Unfortunately spontaneity resulted in a slight brain/ memory by-pass & I forgot to consider the usual adjustment I need to make – for gaping necklines.  This I did not realise until I had actually finished the dress, as zip insertion (a side zip) is near the end & whilst trying on the bodice as I sewed it,  there was no obvious cause for concern.  However, it is low cut & gaping when I wear it.  Yes you could call it super cool & breezy, but actually it’s too revealing for work in my view.  (And I have tried it at work & just felt always in need of hugging the neckline to my chest!)


All I need to do is to get into the shoulder seams and raise them a little as a retro adjustment.  But that means a bit of unpicking, taking out that bias bound sleeve edging.  But I will do it, sometime, promise.


I loved making the Robe Sureau.  I have a French version so the instructions are in French but the pictures explain it all- I didn’t need to read the words.

Sureau dress

It’s got a really cute gathered front placket, which is a bit hidden amongst the iris.


So next time I make it, I have just got to remember to make bodice adjustments, haven’t I?


[Sigh] these photos were taken quite a while ago now….when it really was summer (says she typing in her socks).