Aviator shirt

The Ultimate Boyfriend Shirt – Burdastyle Aviator shirt 03/2012 #113B

Here I am, back from my hols- I have LOADS of new makes photographed on location so I cant wait to share those with you.  But as this is my first week back & I am kind of not at all sorted it’s lucky that I have my latest Minerva Blogging Network make to signpost you to- the Ultimate Boyfriend shirt – using Burdastyle Aviator Shirt 03/2012 #113B

Aviator shirt

This is the next instalment to how I achieved THE look (maybe) from the Burdastyle Aviator lookbook I hinted at last time. No, Hint suggests that it was subtle, this was not subtle. I blatantly wanted to emulate the style showcased in this particular lookbook. This one here. So I bought the skirt & the shirt. It is called the Aviator shirt. Take my Breath Away?

Worn with my pop up skirt this shirt is full of fab details.  Head on over to the Minerva Blogging network to find out more…..

Welt pockets!

Welt pockets!

And don’t forget there are just a couple of days until the competition ends to win Wendy Ward’s Beginners Guide to Dressmaking with the capsule wardrobe of patterns supplied that I adore.   Check out the book review and then head on to Wendy’s blog to leave your perfect combo that will make your dream outfit using the patterns from her book….you have until midnight GMT Saturday 25th June ….

I’ll be back soon with a barrage of sewing projects … I have a veritable Glastonbury festival traffic jam of them ….

New Look 6351

Boucle casual jacket- New Look 6351

New Look 6351 is a pattern that I have been interested to make for a while now and is one of the patterns I chose as my prize of the year’s supply of sewing patterns.  It was the jacket that I liked the most, it seemed a little like Grainline’s Morris blazer, but not quite so sharp.  It has a centre back seam, princess seams in the front & a casual flippy collar.  Of course I also liked the styling – linen trousers (but not with heels for me!) & the striped t-shirt.

New Look 6351

I am wearing jackets + jeans a lot at my new job & wanted to make yet another jacket up.  (I say ‘yet another’ because I have finished my polka dot Simplicity 2446 as well, and this is leapfrogging it in terms of blogging…) I wanted to choose some jacket fabric from WeaverDee (remember 10% off your order when you use the code ‘SCRUFFY’)  as I had been kindly offered to test some of their fabric out- I am familiar with their super extensive range of haberdashery & sewing patterns but haven’t ventured forth into choosing fabric from Weaver Dee and there is also quite a lot to choose from.  And at reasonable prices.  So, it was a jacket that I wanted to make.  I ordered a couple of samples and plumped for this purple tweedy boucle.  With matching lining.

New Look 6351

I had been slowed down in my choice when I read the fabric suggestions for New Look 6351 – it’s designed for stretch knits.  ***Post publishing edit**** I misread the envelope – it’s just the top that’s designed for knits. This is a jacket for woven fabrics****** That could have scuppered my plans, but I decided to make a toile (sleeveless) & to compare jacket pieces with a similar type (Channel style) jacket designed for wovens.  No I did not want to make a tweedy boucle Channel style jacket – that was too obvious!

New Look 6351

This jacket pattern is also unlined so I had to manage that too, but not a problem seeing as I had recently finished my polka dot jacket & was more in the swing of linings.  I cut the same pieces in lining, but with an extra 2cm down the centre back.  I also made life difficult for myself slightly by adding a combined back neck facing to the back lining.

I thought it would give a nicer finish to the neckline with none of the lining peeping out.

New Look 6351

It’s a really nice jacket pattern -the collar is joined on as part of the centre front piece.  I used a reasonably stiff interfacing, but it would have still been nice with a softer one I think.  It must be dead easy to make up in a knit!  But even in a woven plus lining it was a breeze compared to my Simplicity 2446 – so few steps in comparison – less details of course.

Plenty of ease

Plenty of ease

So in this particular woven it came together really well.  The toile did not indicate that there would be mass problems with fit – & all I had to do was to take extra out of the side front’s princess seam- once the jacket was constructed.  There was too much at the side front.

Adjustments to the side front

Adjustments to the side front

Apart from that, it was a joy & is rather cute.  Despite it being a woven made into a pattern for a moderate stretch knit, there is plenty of ease & I have worn it & worked in it.

New Look 6351

It’s a very wearable jacket and everything you need to make it is available at WeaverDee.

I was lucky enough for the fabric & thread to have been provided for me by WeaverDee but all views are my own.

What do you think?  Would you make it up in a jersey next?  Would you venture to try it in a woven too?

I’m actually on holiday this week, so sorry no quick replies from me & no other posts this week.  Remember the giveaway if you haven’t already entered it!

Shift dress

What’s Your Dream Outfit? Giveaway & a review – The Beginners Guide to Dressmaking by Wendy Ward

Celebrating the end of another successful Me Made May and the current series of The Great British Sewing Bee Wendy Ward (the uber cool sewing genius behind MIY (Make it Yourself) has kindly offered me a copy of her book, The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking to giveaway to one lucky winner!

Beginners Guide to Dressmaking

I’m going to give a little review of the book here to whet your appetite before details for how to enter.

Timing could not be better as this is the perfect book to inspire and support anyone wanting to sew themselves a cool, practical wardrobe. There are 6 basic patterns (with suggested variations which instantly multiplies just how many outfits you can make – limited only by your imagination and by your time to sew!)

So let’s dive in!

The book is divided up into your usual intros, equipment etc (just a few pages) then the project section that guides you through how to make each of the patterns that come with the book. Following from this the other half of the book is devoted to techniques- from the things you need to know before even cutting out (working with fabric & using the patterns) to how to take measurements, all the various things you come across when you sew a garment (seams, hems, darts etc) to other techniques like using bias binding, adding sleeves, zips & sewing knit fabrics. There is also a whole section on customising- ruffles, pockets, collars and more!

Making pleats

Making pleats

I have to say straight up that although this book is designed to help teach you to sew and gain new skills, the projects themselves are enough to get the book for, even if you are more of an experienced sewer. I love the aesthetic – Wendy’s got a modern minimalist style – all projects are everyday garments designed to mix & match – shouting comfort & practicality ! And hurrah , a good proportion of the projects use knits – Wendy is confident in allowing beginners to work with this wonderful fabric and see that it should not be reserved for the ‘more experienced’ sewer. With the right pattern & appropriate guidance, making yourself a knit t-shirt is a brilliant first entry into making your own clothes that you want to wear every day. And relatively quick to make too! Knit waistbands mean no tricky fastenings on skirts & trousers, but also ultimate comfort 😉

Inserting a zip

Inserting a zip

And if you want to extend your skill base, zips feature in the more complex projects at the end.


So if you are like me, you want to check out the patterns, don’t you? There are Six projects. They are designed to help you progress –starting with the easiest, a t-shirt, collecting new skills and techniques to make you confident at tackling more complex projects like a zipped jacket and then the shift dress :

  • T-shirt
  • Maxi dress/ skirt
  • Trousers
  • Fishtail skirt
  • Zipped jacket
  • Shift dress

T shirt


You are taken though each project in detail, with signposting to the various techniques you might want to look up.



fishtail skirtzipped jacketshift dresses

At the end each project has a ‘Make It Your Own’ section showing what it could look like in different fabric combos & ideas for customising.

The patterns are nested but full size – tracing is required.


The book itself is clean, crisp and has the feeling of the workroom about it! Projects are shown on hangars against pale backgrounds in a light bright space. The instructions are all illustrated with line drawings, and the techniques are described and illustrated with a combination of line drawings and photos. There’s also a rather cute Jack Russell taking a cameo role (no, not a sewing dog!).  It all provides a sense of simplicity, order & calm.  Perfect start for a good sew!

What do you think? Like what you see?  I really think this is a wardrobe builder book.  Perfect for those who have been inspired by the Sewing Bee and also the fun that is wearing clothes you have made yourself in an everyday style.

OK, now for the chance to win a signed copy of this book!  To enter head on over to Wendy’s blog and once you’ve decided which are your favourite garments in the book and have your dream outfit in your head, share your ideas in a comment. Just tell us your favourite 2 patterns from the 6 in the book and then describe your dream outfit that you would make using those 2 patterns.

Wendy and I will pick our favourite and the winner will be announced on Monday 27th June.

The giveaway will be open until midnight GMT Saturday 25th  June.

And don’t also forget that Wendy’s MIY patterns are further examples of what Wendy brings to simple everyday style (eg the Tapton skirt and the Walkely top are just two that I have made).

wembley cardigan

Seamwork Wembley Cardigan

Hello all!  This one is a short & sweet one – reflecting the short & sweetness of the sewing!  And the photos …. forgive me…. you may not learn a great deal about the garment I am talking about because, well, it just doesn’t show up much in them!  Is there any point ?  Well bear with me, you can get the gist plus I have not edited the cat out of some of them & I know there are a few cat lovers out there.  What more reason do you need to read on?

wembley cardigan

I have made me the perfect summer cardigan.  Even though I love round neck cardigans (Muse Jenna cardigan is my ultimate fave) sometimes you need a v neck or a straight edge cardigan to wear with some of those shirt dresses or just on top of t-shirts.

wembley cardigan

I did not consciously aim to make a straight edge cardigan when I got my precious black wool jersey out & played around with the patterns I already had.  However, I also had the Wembley Cardigan, a Colette Patterns Seamwork magazine pattern, printed out ready to sew.  I’d recently made my Sew Over It Vintage shirt dress and thought it was an idea pairing.

Wembley cardigan

Zoom.  There is not that much sewing to the Wembley cardigan – shoulder seams, sleeves to set in with cuffs, waist & neck bindings.  That’s all.

And I have to say that this is a really useful style for spring/ summer.  I’ve been pulling it out of the cupboard a lot & it is very mixable with trousers & skirts & dresses.  What a winner!  Has anyone else come to the same conclusion about the Wembley cardigan?

And if you got this far you might be interested to know that that massive bush of a hairdo has been tamed now.  No more grandma bouffant.  That makes me feel better already!

fishtail skirt

MIY Fishtail skirt in denim

So it started in Brighton. I was lucky enough to meet some of the local sewing crew at the Fabric Godmother’s open day and amongst them was the very lovely @Diannebowles (on Instagram).

Fishtail skirt

As is often the case with sewer meet ups, we were talking fabric and sewing plans and ogling each other’s outfits and Dianne was wearing the most impressive skirt.  I’d go so far as to describe it as a super hero skirt- with secret magic powers. From the front it looks like a well fitting A line denim skirt, but get behind ( Ie give it a phonebox) and POW you’ve got something awesome going in  the way of a fishtail!

Fishtail skirt

Upon further discussion I drew a comparison with the Tapton skirt I’ve made in jersey  (top tip – it’s available with the current issue of Love Sewing Magazine!) and wondered how I could translate that pattern to make with a woven….it turned out that this skirt is also from Wendy Ward, the creator of the MIY wardrobe patterns (Make It Yourself).  Therefore I got in touch with Wendy to ask her my question……

She came back to me with the offer to let me have a copy of her book, The Beginner’s Guide to dressmaking by Wendy Ward, from which the skirt pattern comes from, to giveaway to a lucky reader ( *more on that in blog post next week*) plus a review of this book and the patterns within will follow as part of the giveaway.  But this is how I managed to make my very own fishtail skirt…

fishtail skirt

The principle is much the same as the jersey version- the front is in fact your standard A line, and the back is cut twice, as mirror images, as it is wide.  The skirt also has waist facings- the  Tapton has a yoga style waistband.

fishtail skirt

SORRY! Blubber ahoy

So constructing this skirt is a bit counter intuitive- you think you know which seam you’re sewing, but actually you might be creating part of the fishtail and leaving the hole that becomes your waist … It’s all dependent on sewing to the large dot. Get that right and you’re ok.  A beautifully draped fishtail results at the centre back of your waist.

fishtail skirt

Looks not very much like a skirt doesn’t it?

The skirt is fastened with an invisible side zip and I have to say, it’s pretty invisible.  I ALWAYS line the seam allowances of my zips with a strip of fusible interfacing and I swear this helps with a better finish…

So the waist facing brings the waist under control- with the extra weight and bulk of the fishtail, the waist facing succeeds in smoothing it all out and helping it to stay as a regular waist oval.

fishtail skirt

All of the sewing up to this point took next to no time.  What took me a couple of hours was the hem.  Wendy suggests a bias faced hem as some of the hem is visible in the fishtail and this is the perfect opportunity to flourish the odd peek of something purty ( or ‘party’ as spell check wants me to write and it’s quite an intelligent suggestion. )

I made my own bias binding out of an old IKEA Rosalie pillow case, which took some time, granted. The attaching of it around quite a long hem took even longer, with two passes – first to attach the bias to the right side, second to secure it to the wrong side.  And with a couple of right angle corners to negotiate as well.

fishtail skirt


But ain’t it just the bomb? I love it.  Dianne was looking at other types of fabric for another very same skirt at the Fabric Godmother open day.  It was a printed denim. That would be so cool.  But it’s the kind of pattern that suits all sorts of fabrics by my reckoning, fabrics with a little bit of weight as this is an a line skirt you’re making. But what a secret superhero.

fishtail skirt

Come on, did you spot the cat mirroring my poses?  Did you also enjoy seeing that my washing line is usually full of stripes ….and the garden chairs are in odd places propping up fencing that has been blown down by the winds …

Catch more about the Beginners Guide to Dressmaking next week when I’ll be running a giveaway. Check out Wendy’s blog at where you can get more MIY (Make It Yourself) news, fixes, tips and inspirations.

Sewing Guide to Bath – Haberdashery heaven (sew and Sew) at the Guildhall Market

So to follow my first blog post about the Sewing Studio it is only logical to feature my second most favorite haunt for sewing supplies in Bath.  This is Sew and Sew, the most comprehensive haberdashery emporium in the Guildhall Market, Bath.

Sew and Sew

I used to work next door and I completely underestimated how much I took this for granted – the ready availability of *practically every conceivable sewing/ haberdashery need* right next door.  Ran out of thread?  That’s Ok, lunchtime fix ahoy.  Buttons for my latest make?  You should see the choice!  (Photo below!)

Guildhall Market - High Street

Guildhall Market – High Street

The Guildhall Market itself is a joy to visit- one of those places so central in the heart of city centre Bath- right near the Abbey & also Pulteney Bridge- a wealth of independent shops within.  (Check out the link for details) But we are only going to focus on the one.

Guildhall market

So, my homing pigeon zooms me in to the haberdashery – Sew and Sew.  What am I here for today?

Guildhall Market

Might it be the buttons?

ButtonsOr the many types of ric rac?

Ric racI have to say I was sorely tempted by the new decorated and embellished versions…

haberdasheryShelves and shelves of sewing aids, gadgets & dibidy-doos…

HaberdasheryThreads and craft materials…

Pom pom trim (getting a bit specialised here, I mean not everyone needs pom pom trim , do they?)

bias bindingThis is the bias binding shelf (well the fancy ones – solid colours are next door)

elasticsAs well as a wide range of black and white elastic, the FOR (Fold Over Elastic) comes in quite a few colours & I also loved this waistband elastic that comes in different colours.

IMG_5833Hard to get a shot without a customer- but there are shelves upon shelves of goodies.  From elastics, lace and bindings, there is also velcro. boning, curtain tape, webbing, shoulder pads, buttons, buckles and trims.  Hardware in all its forms like needles, pins, snaps & so much more.


And then there’s the knitting & crochet section, and all the other crafts that Sew and Sew caters for.



weekend bag

Sew Over It Weekend Bag

I think there’s been a bit of a flurry about the latest kit released by Sew Over It– the Weekend Bag- currently sold out.  This was a kit to make a weekend bag, something that I have been aware of as a distinct gap in my ‘luggage portfolio’ (hahahaha- sounds so pretentious!) so when this popped up on the Sew Over It newsletter I headed over for the opportunity to make my own (with maximum ease).

weekend bag1

Now I really do enjoy bag making, but I want it to be a quick one.  I need to be satisfied & it not to be overly intricate but at the same time deliver my exact requirements.  With a weekend bag, it needed to be big enough to transport a weekend’s worth of clothing & ‘stuff’ and also strong enough, as I have spent time on making the most beautiful of stylish accessories only for it to not withstand the wear & tear I inflict upon it.

weekend bag

I had never bought a Sew Over It kit, (there are all sorts from silk camis to ties – all supplied with the correct fabrics and notions to make your own successful version)  but to be provided with everything needed to make something I also knew I really needed,  made it an easy decision.  Even by the time I got to visit the online shop, the choice of two was limited to one – the geometric design – as the option to create your World Map version of the bag was clearly the most popular & had already sold out.  But geometric black & white was very practical.   Clicked purchase.  The kit came with everything bar thread to make a high quality sturdy bag:

  • Outer fabric – a sturdy cotton canvas
  • Lining fabric
  • Fabric backer – this is fusible and much more robust than interfacing
  • Webbing for the straps
  • O rings for the straps
  • A length of zip
  • Paper pattern pieces
  • Instructions

All this equals fast track bag making!

weekend bag

How lovely to have bag paper pattern pieces!  I have made bags that require drawing rectangles of specific dimensions (because let’s face it, so many elements of a bag are rectangles) – but it’s just not so instant is it?  Plus the weekend bag is shaped to enable a lovely 3D bottom.  And that means the pieces are not pure rectangles.

weekend bag

How lovely to be given the materials to make a sturdy bag!  The fabric backing just felt ‘proper’ and even though I have not (yet) forced a week’s worth of packing into this bag (as a consumer test) I somehow think it would hold fast! The fabric is strengthened & consequently I just get the feeling that my stitching will stay fast.  Maybe it is all perception and confidence instilled by the feel of the backed fabric, but nevertheless, it makes me feel confident that I can take this bag, stuffed with my precious handmade outfits & favourite shoes, away for a weekend of fun.

weekend bag

Making bags is one of those technically joyful sewing exercises – anyone else feel the same?  There seems a more obvious mathematical process involved – it must be the straight lines.  And I love the sewing order & its logic- attaching straps as one of the first steps.  The counterintuitive zip insertion when there are linings involved.


weekend bag

Love it.

So, all I can do is to urge you to look out for the Weekend Bag kit becoming available again if you like the idea of a more personal approach to luggage…. and encourage me to go away for even more weekends  overnighters so that I can make the most of it 🙂

khaki skirt

Pop up skirt, Burdastyle Buttoned A-line Skirt 10/2010 #105

I’ve had rather a thing for this look ever since Burdastyle pulled together an aviator look book years ago.  Outfits set against classic metallic painted aircraft, hangars and heat hazed landing strips obviously switched me from auto pilot to manual, and I went and clicked on the buy button for a few patterns, not just this skirt, the Burdastyle Buttoned A-line Skirt 10/2010 #105.  But I won’t tell you what else yet- that’s next month’s Minerva project.

khaki skirt

So having swooned for aviator glamour, I finally realised my fantasy.  I too could dress elegantly casual, ready for a foray into the jungle.   (How come aviator has turned explorer now?)  anyway maybe it means that this is my time for khaki.  Love wearing it with a sneak of red!

To read more about this skirt, head across to read my post on Minerva’s blogging network where you can also find out about my adventures in snap fitting and just which fabric I ended up choosing.



pussy bow blouse

Pussy bow blouse – a hotlips summer special

This one’s a light blog post as I have only a few photos to show you and some key thoughts about the sewing.  This is a sleeveless version of the Pussy Bow Blouse by Sew Over It.  Sleeveless you say?  Yes, it’s an easy conversion from the pattern with its long sleeves to making a version fit for spring/ summer without sleeves.  And the best thing?  Despite the fact that this has a long bow tie, I could get this blouse out of a metre.  More on that later.

pussy bow blouse

Just because I have less pics and fewer words, this in no way diminishes this make!  It is most certainly a star & super useful whilst fulfilling a gentle nod to secretary chic (but hardly!).  I made it using some kisses fabric from a Fabric Godmother sale (some kind of synthetic slippery fabric but I cannot remember any more than that).  I can’t exactly see Miss Jones wearing such cheeky fabric to the office, but I certainly would (if I was still in a corporate role.  But I’m not!  This is the kind of thing I wear to work now- jeans are in!  But Ultimate trousers get rather a look in too)  I have also worn this top with a denim skirt (my denim Arielle) & it looks very cute tucked in.  It’s great this time of year with a cardigan that can be peeled off as the temperature rises…

pussy bow blouse

So I have made the Pussy Bow blouse before and you can read about it here.  In this blog post I will just talk about what’s different.  And the reason why this pattern, unlike many other pussy bow blouses, is not fabric hungry.  You want to know?  Well many tie neck blouse patterns cut the scarf/ tie on the bias, but the Sew Over It pussy bow blouse cuts it on the straight grain – & proof in the making & wearing that it’s perfect – no bias needed.  Therefore, as you know, you can squeeze the cutting of the tie along one of the edges.

pussy bow blouse (3)

OK, how to make it sleeveless.  Anything I can help with there?  Firstly, don’t cut the sleeves and cuffs out (hehehehe!).  But I made no adjustments to the bodice.  And I didn’t draft & cut facings for the armholes – I used bias binding.  It’s simple & doesn’t flap around at all.  And without sleeves it is an even quicker sew!

pussy bow blouse (4)

So that’s it on my hot lips blouse.  Except that being a synthetic it doesn’t need ironing.  Score!  Lazy laundress is happy.  What do you think?  Might you give it a go?

simplicity 1696

Chino time- the sequel- Simplicity 1696

So I made chinos last year using the Simplicity Amazing Fit pattern Simplicity 1696 out of gaberchino from Minerva. But a new pair was always on the cards.  A beige pair.  Now before I launch, please do not wrinkle your nose up in disgust at my photos after a full day’s wear.  This is showing you the trousers in real life.  How well the fabric withstands a day sitting, driving, and loads more sitting.  I could pretend that this was my intention – show you the trousers in the wild so to speak, but I have a backlog in blog posts needing photos & it seemed the only way to get some blog posts written was to take photos as the opportunity strikes, because photo shoots have just not been happening.  (I think partly the weather has not helped  – my garden is not as private and more people around might catch me ‘at it’ & that takes too much explaining when I’m still relatively new to the road!!  So apologies for the creases & lack of polish….reality strikes.  And before we launch – part two – the winner of the giveaway is also shared at the bottom of this post….

simplicity 1696

I love this pattern, having worn them since, the details were successful, I didn’t miss the fact that the back welts are not topping pockets. And the cut, look and style was just right. However, I always felt as if these trousers would be even better if I made them out of fabric with some stretch. Having enjoyed the wearing of denim with a tiny bit of Lycra content and also stretch sateen ( in my Ultimate trousers) I knew that uber comfort could be achieved.

simplicity 1696

Therefore when I went to visit the Fabric Godmother in real life at one of her open days ( peeps talk about awesome to meet Josie face to face in her natural habitat, surrounded by the most awesome plentiful bolts of fabric!) I was very firmly set on a purchase of more cotton stretch sateen to make some beige chinos, in time for spring.

simplicity 1696

And this is them. The fabric is a lovely pale beige, perfect. It is reasonably light weight in that these are not trousers that I would wear when I need a bit of warmth. These are Spring/ summer chinos.

Need to add another fastener

Need to add another fastener

And making the with the Amazing Fit pattern means that they have the same lovely details …faux welt pockets, nice facings with bias finishes. Did you see the colour of my bias!  The pocket linings are a summer floral with orange flowers…. should have taken pics!

simplicity 1696

Look back to my green chinos for more about the amazing fit pattern and amazing tips I took on board. But once again, I really do like the concept of these amazing fit patterns. They work for me.

simplicity 1696

This time I have made them just a little bigger as well giving ultra casual comfort, kind of boyfriend fit.  They are a bit on the baggy side rather than deploying the lycra content for hugging those curves.

simplicity 1696

This plus the fabric with stretch? Oh my. These trousers have died and gone to heaven!

I wore them at the weekend rolled up – like this …

Except obviously it was both legs rolled up…

Worn with my Liberty shirt

A huge thank you to all you who shared your fabric or pattern first personality-types in the last post.  It was really interesting reading about what hooks us – pattern or fabric (and sometimes we are not consistent – I know that whilst I confess to fabric first, it doesn’t stop me buying patterns that I like the look of – yet never seem to get round to making them)  Keep up the good work I say- go with your urges & enjoy dreaming about what you are tempted by!

And the result of the giveaway to win a copy of the Sew Over It Doris dress- generated by Random.org, it is Parisgrrl- I have contacted you by email.  Thank you to everyone for entering & I am sorry I can’t give you all your very own copy….