Our fifth castaway: Jane from Handmade Jane

Our next castaway, Jane of Handmade Jane needs no introductions, as she is known & loved to many of us.  But it would be unfair of me to push her out of the aeroplane, parachute on, above her desert island so to speak, as I have to say how much I love Jane & her style.  Jane’s got an eye for making vintage wearable & always looks so chic.  I also predict that if I went fabric shopping with her I would be able to pick out the fabrics that Jane would hone in on (red, blue, gingham & vintage florals amiright?!).  This makes me think that Jane must have one of the most coordinated sewn wardrobes with endless outfit possibilities.  Oh, the choice first thing in the morning?  How does she do it?  Let’s hope she is able to pick just 8 of her faves …

You are stranded on a desert island, surrounded by beautiful crystal blue water populated by turtles & tropical fish (no sharks!).  You have a comfy cosy shelter, an abundance of food & drinking water & a solar generator.  Upon exploring the island you find a container that has fallen off a cargo ship & guess what?  It is filled with what seems to be a never ending supply of fabrics of all descriptions, threads & notions!!  What chance! 


You are allowed to take your sewing machine & sewing box but which would be your 8 desert island patterns?  

My perfect weather is about the temperature of springtime in Italy: pleasantly hot but not roasting, so that’s what the climate would be like on my desert island. Let’s get sewing….!

1.Colette Patterns Peony

I love the fitted shape of the bodice and the A- line skirt. I’ve made it four times and refined the shape each time. I’m now happy with the neck and with the pleats in the skirt instead of gathers. There are short sleeved or long sleeved options so I can make versions for all year round if my island happens to be hit by a cold snap.

(Link to Jane’s blog post about this gorgeous version)

 2. Ooh Lulu Ginger Body Suit and Separates

One thing I’m almost fanatical about is nice undies. M & S have made a pretty penny out of me over the years in knicker sales and I dread to think what my total bra expenditure is….. Ridiculous as it sounds, I would still want to maintain these high underwear standards on a desert island, so what better way than to make my own? This would be a great opportunity to hone my skills and get it just right. I wouldn’t take just any old undies pattern though, it would have to be the Ooh Lulu Ginger body suit and separates pattern. It’s perfect as it contains a bodysuit (or swimsuit), bra and high waisted knickers – all my requirements sorted in one go.

(Image source)

 3. Simplicity 2654 Trousers

I’d have to take a trouser pattern and this one has a suitably nautical feel to it. I’ve made them before and they were a big hit: super stylish, comfortable and very sailor-like. The pattern also contains a high waisted shorts pattern which looks promising.


4. McCall’s 4769 Shirt Dress

I’ve scoured the world for a good shirt dress pattern and although it has the most revolting cover artwork [Jane’s got a particularly stunning version] , this is a fabulous shape that is really adaptable. You could fiddle around with it endlessly, keeping the bare bones of the pattern but changing the collar, the sleeves and the skirt to create lots of different looks. I’ve made it once and I’d definitely like to make it again.

5. Pictorial Review 9032

I don’t actually own this pattern but the first time I saw it I almost cried at how beautiful it was. It’s for a wedding gown and/or halter neck evening dress from 1931. Even though I’d have no use for a long wedding dress (with train!) on a desert island, I’d still love to make it, just for the experience of making something so formal and elegant.



It would keep me busy and afterwards, I could swan around in it like Miss Haversham.


6. Mrs Depew Vintage 1006 Halter Top

My Cherry Fabulous dress has a halter neck and I really loved making it, but I’ve never actually made a halter neck top before. That would have to be remedied immediately, as in my opinion, they’re essential desert island attire. I’ve got an assortment of halter top patterns on my Pinterest pattern board, but the one I like best is the Mrs Depew Vintage halter top which takes its influences from halter tops worn by Marilyn Monroe.

(Image source)

I could have so much fun dreaming up fabric variations, especially with that gorgeous contrasting collar.

7. Colette Ginger skirt

When I first made a Ginger skirt I called it the Ginger super skirt because it’s super easy to make and supremely flattering. I’ve made it three times now but that first denim version I made is still my favourite Ginger, in fact it’s my favourite ever skirt and I dread the day it finally dies. I’d have to make an exact replica immediately. I’d make tons of versions of this on my desert island and they’d be a perfect match for my halter neck tops or 1930’s blouses…..

8. Vintage Simplicity 2844

This vintage pattern from the 1930’s was one of the first vintage patterns I acquired: I won it in a giveaway from Debi at My Happy Sewing Place. It’s very old and precious (1930’s) so it would have to go with me because I love it to pieces.

The shape of the blouse is just perfect and the 1930’s vintage details (yoke, slightly gathered sleeves) are so pretty. The first version I made in rabbit print fabric has been a roaring success (the second version, not so successful).

(Image source)

The bonus is that the pattern also includes a button through skirt and some 1930’s shorts. So you can wear all three pieces together and unbutton the skirt to reveal your shorts, Bucks Fizz style.

You are also allowed to take two books, firstly which sewing related book would you take & why?

I’m not particularly faithful to sewing books., in fact I’ve just had a bit of a cull! The one that would probably be most useful to me on a desert island would be The Sewing Book by Alison Smith.

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It’s more of an encyclopaedia and endlessly useful for techniques and tutorials.

Secondly, which non-sewing related book would you take & why?

I would take A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. He’s a relatively prolific author but I think this is his masterpiece and my heart quickens every time I read it.

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Next your one luxury.  What would you choose (doesn’t have to be sewing related this time!)

I’m 100% in agreement with Morrissey on this one,  I would take my bed. I LOVE my bed, so it would have to have a top quality memory foam mattress –  I’m a great sleeper and comfort is everything. When I’m not sewing on my island, I can quite happily see myself in bed with no urgency to get up, just lying there enjoying the peace!


And finally if you could only take one disc of music what album would you choose & why?

I’m guessing a personalised playlist isn’t allowed?! Thought not! My album would have to be a compilation of music that makes me happy. I’d choose the soundtrack to Carlito’s Way which has all my favourite disco and latin music on it, plus a bonus cheesy Billy Preston track for when I’m feeling a bit lonely and fancy a cry!

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Thank you Jane, I LOVE your choices (as expected!!) & it’s interesting to see that we now have two (independently chosen) Owen Meany entrances into our stats.  Just a few more desert island choices & I shall get charting.  Thank you Jane for taking the time to think of your top patterns.  Happy weekend everyone.



9 thoughts on “Our fifth castaway: Jane from Handmade Jane

  1. Marie

    Fantastic choices Jane, I seriously love your sense of style…LOVE it! And, Alison Smith is who I’m having my drafting lessons with…hehe! I should probably get that books and ask her to sign it ;o)

  2. Zoe

    Ah totally lovely to read Jane’s responses to the desert island challenge! She would look so damn nice on that island! xx


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