Category Archives: Dressmaking

Sewing your own vs throwaway fashion

Happy Monday everyone! Fancy something to think about and make you feel *even better* about sewing? I know we all sew for many different reasons, and that’s a completely personal choice, but sometimes I like to think about how I’m contributing, albeit in a very small way, to the bigger picture. I was asked if I would like to share this infographic in time for London Fashion week, if you haven’t already seen it, here it is. No I am not trying to convert the non-believers, if anything I think this just gives us another reason to enjoy making our own clothes, so at the beginning of the week, with a weekend of sewing behind us & five days before the next, keep that sewing high going strong ….

PA Infographic

So you’re probably familiar with this concept – it’s useful to see it in fact form & get the latest figures, isn’t it?  Now the guys who prepared it (Plush Addict, who coincidentally are current sponsors of mine) also provided some words in the form of an article– and it’s worth a read. Generally I do not accept content from other authors except guest bloggers, but in this case, I made an exception – I am not receiving anything for it – just sharing the information which I think is interesting & certainly something I support by sewing – I have not bought any shop bought RTW clothing except a cardigan (plus shoes/ underwear) for almost three years now. OK, I have bought stacks of fabric, & I could probably improve the provenance of that, but one step at a time, do what you can with the means you have available to you, I say. So if you are interested to read more about the infographic, read on & say “hurrah” for your passion for handmade fashion & sewing your own clothes!…

It is London Fashion Week, which will surely make for a hot topic of conversation among the fashion media spokespeople this autumn. As much as we love to celebrate new trends we also feel it necessary to address the broader issues in fashion that contribute to current global issues.

Throw away fashion is a huge contributor to landfill waste and pollution. The UK, China and Hong Kong as the main offenders. In the infographic we explore how the growing demand for fashion is spiralling out of control and why sewing and other forms of handcraft, in combination with clothing recycling, can offer a sustainable alternative in 2014.

As a nation with a high demand for new, cutting edge trends there is always temptation to buy into throw-away fashion to suit personal cravings at every corner. Such actions, albeit short term guilty pleasures, have their downsides that produce mass waste, of which the environment bears the brunt.

Did you know..?

  • In the UK, an estimated 0.8 to 1 million tonnes of all textiles are sent to landfill each year.
  • In the UK, used clothing accounts for approximately 350,000 tonnes of landfilled textiles, an estimated £140 million worth
  • In China, the total annual production of textile waste is estimated to be over 20 million tonnes.
  • In Hong Kong, approximately 79,205 tonnes of textiles were sent to landfills in 2011.

Moving onto recycling within the textile industry, you may be surprised to know that choosing to upcycle clothing and reuse material can go some way to helping reduce environmental waste. It is heavily documented that:

  • Almost 100% of textiles are recyclable.
  • 1kg of re-used second-hand clothing can reduce up to: 3.6kg of CO2 emissions… 6,000 litres of water… 0.3kg of fertilisers… 0.2kg of pesticides.

The data contained within the infographic is cited from non-profit fashion oranisations and annual reports, it has been curated by online fabric retailer Plush Addict.

Plush Addict is a family run business which was founded in 2012 and born out of a serious fabric addiction. They are passionate about providing excellent customer service, fast delivery at a reasonable price, and try to offer a comprehensive depth of range. You can also get expert industry insight on bespoke handmade clothing via the Plush Addict website.

I hope you also found this interesting & will feel even better about the time and effort you put into making yourself something to wear – which is likely to suit you and fit you much better than buying disposable fashion. And due to the choices you made when selecting fabric and pattern, it’s going to last longer than this season’s hot trend. Enjoy being creative ! :-)


OWOP 2014 #Ultimatetrousers

I know….you don’t hear from me for nearly a week then all of a sudden I get active again!  What’s happening, well, what’s happened should be the question.  Time is of the essence.

So we have just had OWOP (One Pattern One Week) , the initiative started by Tilly & The Buttons & gracefully taken on by Jane of Handmade Jane this year. The aim is to take one favorite pattern & wear it throughout one week – showing its versatility in how you wear it in different ways.  I joined hundreds of others, putting their fave pattern through its paces between September 6th and September 12th.

Last time I chose Colette Violet blouse pattern.

Now this time I was a massive procrastinator, it has to be said. I think I only made my decision at the eve of OWOP itself, plumping to wear the Ultimate Trousers, a Sew Over It pattern, for the entire week. Why was my decision so apparently hard? It’s true I have lots of choice, & these are the patterns in my short list that I knew would see me through the week:

Simplicity 2154 – I have made two blouses (polka dot & black/white), a skirt as well as the cardigan (the Tweed skirt & sweet paper skirst would have been too hot)

The Deer & Doe Chardon skirt – I have made it in red denim, black & white polka dot cotton & pinstripe

Chardon skirtsThe Pavlova patterns by Cake– I have made a navy top, a red top, a linen floral skirt & my essential purple jersey skirt. This was actually second choice in the end.

PavlovaThe Laurel top & dress by Colette Patterns – I have the recent Liberty top here, my turquoise striped version here, then three dresses here.

Laurel dressesMaria Denmark Edith dress & tops – three blouses – a white, a blue & a striped plus the dress.

And Ultimate Trousers – having made a denim pair, a linen pair & a ditsy floral pair (but nothing work appropriate) but shorts if hot & at home!

This was effectively my shortlist, but I had to make my decision based on weather (we had just seen temperatures that were a tad chilly) & a pattern that would see me through officewear, a flight & weekend to Newcastle, bumming around home & an evening out.

Choosing Ultimate Trousers, therefore, was conditional upon my ability to sew up a pair of work appropriate trousers on Monday evening. I have already extolled the speed of making this pattern up, once you have sussed your fit, so I just had to make sure that I had space & time. Funnily enough, I had cut some out of a mole-coloured suiting the week before, but had forgotten to get thread in town at my last opportunity to purchase it! By that time though I was committed & fell back on some other fabric I had in my stash to make, what I lovingly term as my “Contingency Pants” – not to be confused with incontinence pants.   I will share more about these darlings later on in a post of their own, but for now, let’s get into some outfit pics.

Day 1:


Off to Newcastle on the plane – denim Ultimates, my Breton Coco with elbow patches & a handmade scarf.

 Day 2:


Most of the day was spent in sweaty lycra, but once showered I turned again to my denim ultimates with my Great North Run t-shirt, plus a Named Blair top in sweatshirting to see me through the journey home.  The photo above was taken after all this fun & games (my excuse for the blur …)

 Day 3:


At home which meant wearing my linen Ultimates with a Deer & Doe Datura top ….sewing Ultimate trousers in the evening :o)

 Day 4:


The Contingency pants were let loose upon a day at the office with a black sleeveless Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape top. My McCalls cardigan seemed to match the blacks & beiges perfectly. (The Contingency pants are cream & black mini dogtooth check in silk.  Strangely I after a day at work they really felt too big, so I am still tweaking the fit – above are the un-tweaked with version)

 Day 5:


The contingency pants again – this time with an Edith blouse. I felt I was channelling Betty Draper in my ballet flats & my Julia cardigan. It was rather a warm afternoon, & my silk trousers would not have been first choice for that heat!

 Day 6:


Working at home in linen Ultimates with a Colette Violet blouse in dobby white.

And then, the evening out! Another occasion to revel in Ultimates!

OWOP 6 eve

My ditsy floral trousers, worn with that Satsuma Named Blair top – this top is such a brilliant evening top- I love it with a camisole underneath!

 Day 7:


Another working at home day, so I wore my denim Ultimates with a Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee (with birdies) & my By Hand Victoria knit blazer.

 What did I learn from the OWOP experience?

Well, the Ultimate trousers are incredibly versatile & were a good choice – except when it was hot & I would naturally have opted for a dress or skirt – but that’s the way it is. The Ultimates also see through different seasons – it’s end of summer now moving into autumn – & I have trousers that won’t get packed away at season change time. Lovely. And of course, if I had the time & inclination, I could have made up a pair for every day of the week, such a quick make are they- but I didn’t have the time & that would have been spoiling the spirit for OWOP for me, as for me, it was about making a staple piece work in different ways. I think I have shown that?

How have you got on? Did you survive OWOP?

SB Comino cap

Stripes, dots & flowers all in one – Comino Cap dress by Kitschy Koo

I was lucky enough to be asked to join a pot pourri of different body shapes testing the latest pattern by Kitschy Koo, the Comino cap dress earlier in the summer.   Assured that it was a very quick make, and having been super impressed ( like mostly everyone else who’s made it) by the Lady Skater dress I really could not say no!  In fact I probably gushed and whooped rather a lot!

Comino Cap dress

This dress and top creates a ‘grown on’ or kimono type sleeve for a knit dress/ top. You can choose between a plain bodice or a bustier style sweetheart bodice and the dress has an a line skirt. This really allows you to play around with contrasting fabric and trying to put two fabrics together from my stash was a challenge I took up with glee.  In the end I repurposed some red/ white polka dot that I had bought from Minerva (originally intended for other things) and paired it with some cheap striped/ floral jersey I’d bought from my previous trip to Abakhan.  You don’t need very much for the contrast, so I have enough left of that to make something else.
The red polka dot though has the most amazing drape and even though it is very polyestery, it is a quality fabric, and hangs beautifully and even as an a line dress has a degree of swing.

Comino cap dress

Ok the pattern- I was not disappointed and loved being part of a group testing the pattern via a closed Facebook group- we could interact with each other, see the fabric combos and read about any questions / potential issues encountered.  It was a very dynamic way to test patterns – everyone seemed to chip in and Amanda’s responses were keen, quick, responsive. A thoroughly enjoyable and illuminating experience! A big thank you to Amanda for bringing in me and my body shape, and to the other members of the testing group.

Comino Cap dress

Another huge bonus for being part of such a social media testing group was being able to see what others were making their Comino cap dresses out of- the way others had interpreted using a solid with a print.  There were tops and there were maxi dresses. It was / is inspiring.

SB Comino cap side

Now the dress, and top. I made the dress once, and will easily make it again since it is not only very quick to make is a knit ( and we know how much I love sewing and wearing knits, right) but it is also darn cute. That bodice with the sweetheart contrast- adorable with a capital A.  But at the same time how can something this cute be made out of a knit? It’s so easy ? The sleeves are just part if the bodice so not additional pieces to sew in. They are finished with a bound edge which I did out of contrast, as I also did with the bound neckline.

SB Comino Cap back


I am looking forward to making more- tops, plain dresses perhaps but choosing some contrast knits to really play around with which two fabrics to put together. But what I love about this particular combo is that I now have a dress that has spots, stripes and flowers all in one!!!

Now I tested this earlier in the summer & have been catching up with posting about my summer makes – this does actually form part of my summer sewing bender .  Since making it, I have worn it heaps.  Not only is it super comfy to wear whilst rather girlie, it is easy care – wash, definitely no iron, & wear.  What a winner.

Thanks again ! I had a ball :-) AND you just wait till I get my next version organised, cut & sewn. What a blinder that promises to be J

champagne skirt

Minerva Make: Champagne Skirt by Capital Chic

Hey where’s the week gone?  I know just where…amongst the nerves & preparations for the Great North Run (of which I  am sure I will return to some kind of mention later in the month), plus sewing deadlines (I have had birthdays to sew for amongst other things) plus the havoc wreaked by the malfunction of domestic appliances I have had little time for blogging.  And still so much to share of my recent makes & exploits! Let’s stick to plan & I will get back on track later this week.  It’s time to reveal this month’s Minerva make.

I was lucky enough to have been given a copy of the Champagne skirt by Sally (aka Charity Shop Chic) when she launched her brand new range of patterns in the summer, Capital Chic Patterns. You can read here about my particular favorites and also visit her site here, but there are plenty that have been designed for a smarter day to night look- or in my case- just smarter office wear. (I would love to have the cocktails after work lifestyle, darlings, but *just don’t have time*).

Champagne skirt

So, with careful consideration I selected the Champagne skirt as I had been inspired by one of the versions Sally had made to try something a little bit special with the flirty hem.

champagne skirt

This skirt lends itself to working with contrast fabrics – the main skirt can be given a level of zing, or oooh, or even WO! By using other coloured fabrics, pleather, even fabric checks or stripes could look mucho interesting as a contrast. Or you can make it in a solid colour, all in one (like Nicole has so delightfully here).  Later this month Sally will be guesting here with some advice on choosing contrasts for skirts such as this & there just may be a bit of a giveaway – watch this space!

Anyway, my cunning plan was to go for a solid colour….but to make use of that awesome Prada reversible self lined crepe. Having used it before as a winter bow shirt dress I was all to keen to give it another go as I love its crepey “rough” side and think there’s some stylish contrasting that can be achieved by using the shiny side. The fabric sews up wonderfully & would be perfect for moving into autumn/ winter.

Champagne skirt

Minerva offer so many colours I was a bit stumped. Loathe as I was to opt for a safe black, I took a calculated risk & opted for purple. Yes I am going to not care & wear purple to the office.

champagne skirt

Choice made, I could steam ahead. Now, the Champagne skirt comes with instructions to line it, but in this case, the shiny side is my lining, so I omitted everything lining related & just sewed it up with the crepe. I went for view A – its contrast hem layer is straight at the front with, to quote, “a party at the back”. Cute flippy semi flounce. This transforms a “pencil skirt” in my view plus, having walked around in it, gives you a bit more room to manoeuvre whilst still maintaining a slim & sleek fit. No vents required.

champagne skirt

Wanna see that flippy party up close?  OK!

champagne skirt

Sewing the Champagne skirt up was really straight forward & I picked up the odd new approach. It’s a simple pencil skirt, darts, back zip with an extra piece sewn on the hem to make the flounce/ contrast. The new approach I followed was an interesting process for setting in the invisible zip. The instructions guide you through fine from using interfacing to stabilise the fabric (something I need to adopt as my own general practice for zips – I do think it helps create a better finish, especially for invisibles), to basting the zip in such a way that you get really up close to those teeth. This is potentially my most invisible of invisibles!

champagne skirt Apols about the shocking state of the top zip/ waistband area – you’ll see below I make mention that these pics were taken after a rigorous day at the office- with no iron in between!  But maybe I need to get the hook & bar placement better aligned….

And interestingly it is put in with the back seam sewn in advance of setting the zip. Hmm. It provokes me to remember to try it again, was this result a total fluke on my behalf?!?!?

Champagne skirt

I’d say that whilst in general Capital Chic patterns are not aimed at beginners, this skirt is a straightforward make. The instructions assume a certain level of sewing experience, but it’s a pencil skirt, with a zip. And a lining if you choose. If there is not enough detail in the instructions, it would be easy enough to refer to another pattern that does. But to be honest, apart from the invisible zip (which is explained perfectly well in my view, but I wouldn’t want to lead anyone down the wrong path here!) – I can’t see what else would need to be included in the instructions.

Champagne skirt

So the wearing. Well. I had a few attempts at getting the fit at the side seams just right – I think I’ve eaten too much cake this summer so had to let the side seams out a bit. This is the picture (with stomach held in & ahem, nothing underneath to add bulk! ) which clearly was not a look I could get away with on a daily / public basis!

champagne skirt

So I took out a bit more from the side seams to result in a skirt that was most successful at work: walking to work; sitting at a desk; climbing stairs; sitting in numerous chairs for my checks at the opticians and finally on the bus home.

champagne skirt

In case you were thinking, “slobby pictures with lots of creases” – well you’re right. But it was half deliberate as well.

Champagne skirt

These pictures were taken after putting this skirt through some  vigorous paces – with me trying to replicate at home (clearly I do have some strange office habits) – to demonstrate the minimal creasing of this fabric. What a show stealer. Maybe the black will find its way into my stash at some point, and the red too. In terms of extras – it fastens with a hook & bar plus I used waistband Vilene Fold-a-band – I do like that stuff – gives a nice firm finish & keeps folds neat & crisp.

So I think I am a bit in love with this Champagne skirt.  It was just the tonic for moving into autumn clothing & beating those grumps at no longer wearing summer dresses to work.  It’s almost as if school’s started again & I’ve got my new uniform & a shiny new pencil case filled with felt tip pens all colours of the rainbow.

Edith Edith Edith

Edith, Edith, Edith

The trouble with having had a summer sewing bender is that I’ve got lots of blogging to do to catch up with my productivity.  I mean, I’m being forced to cluster makes together in order to blog about them before the seasons totally change!  And why is that a problem?  Well, maybe it’s not, but you do end up having lots to read about & even more photos than normal….  Beware!

Edith dress

OK, today we’re talking about the Edith dress or blouse  by Maria Denmark.  Remember I made it previously here as part of my Oonapalooza outfit?  Well so enamoured of it was I that I hastily made up another in white repurposing a white formal ladies’ shirt given to me by my Mum – it has a lovely embroidered “bib” front & the quality of the cotton is too fine to hand over to charity when I could re-use it myself.

The shirtThe shirt

I had thought I would do a simple upcycle to it – maybe cutting off the sleeves, keeping the high collar, but after discovering what an essential style the Edith is, it felt as if a plain white version would be incredibly useful.   Effectively I cut out all of the Edith pattern pieces from an existing garment- there was no refashioning here – just unimaginative pin & cut.  There were elements that needed a bit of imagination to eek the shirt out to provide enough fabric – eg the front facings were cut from the sleeves but in two pieces & had to be joined (but that’s inside & doesn’t show).  The shoulders also do not extend quite as far as the pattern designs them to extend.  BUT I did manage to cut out two fronts with the embroidery placed in the mirror positions of each other.

Edith blouse details

There were not a lot of scraps left over from this shirt.  I even recycled the buttons – the cuffs & the collar both had fancy buttons with some kind of black centre & marcasite style detailing.  But I needed 5 for the front, so alternated them with the plain buttons also from the shirt.

edith blouse

This top delivers as a useful wardrobe addition – a sleeveless white shirt is always handy as a mixer & it’s so summery as well.  It seems to always be in the wash (or being worn).  So a hit there.

After two such successful blouses,  I was desperate to make the dress & raided the stash to bring out some adorable lawn that I had been saving for *the right make* and at last I was able to release it from the cupboard & put it to use.  Bearing in mind you need enough length of fabric to cut both front & back in one piece there was just enough.  It’s just as quick to make it as a dress as it is the blouse.  Just slightly longer seams ;-)

Edith dressEdith as a dress

I rapidly constructed it & eagerly matched some buttons using the turquoise in the pattern to add a little bit of interesting contrast.

Edith dressI love this dress to wear!  It is the most comfortable hot weather dress ever – it looks cute & shapely, yet, since it doesn’t have a tight fitting waist (& remember I avoid waistbands in the heat) it is sooooo coooool.

Edith dress

I am a little disappointed that I made it later in the summer to be honest – as I feel as if I missed out wearing it through some of the hottest days & I would have loved to have swanned around in it more.  I reckon I could get away with this as a work dress too with different sandals.

Edith dress

I can also see this dress in linen, can’t you?  Particularly a lovely navy linen with red buttons?

Edith dress

Now the last Edith is the Edith blouse.  As a consequence of the white Edith success, I thought that another solid coloured Edith would be most useful & found some sky blue linen type fabric that I had recently bought from one of the Abakhan rummage bins.

Edith blouse chambray

You know, there is not a lot to say about this one apart from the detailing I added.  I used some self made bias (out takes from my Liberty Laurel ) to bind the armholes.  I also found some cute white flower buttons to strike a girlie contrast.

Edith blouse details

It’s also maybe come a bit late in the season as we are all surviving plummeting temperatures & rather a lot of rain.  Still, I have managed to wear it.  Now look out!  The following photos were taken by my very own David Bailey (my photographer father who now has a new camera!!)

Edith blouseI’m wearing a shortened version of my polka dot rick rack culottes too.

Edith blouse


This pose made my Dad chuckle, hahaha!!

I just didn’t wear them as they were, so opted to lop off the scallops at the hem to make them into “shorts/ culottes”.

Edith blouseHere you can see how the Edith nips in at the waist & has flattering & practical slightly extended shoulders.

Edith blouseGuess what people?  I adore the Edith blouse – it could be my OWOP, but I’m still vacillating ….I love its rounded turn back collar, its sleevelessness – its extended shoulders, its nipped in waist.  It is a doll of a pattern, but in terms of OWOP, I’m anticipating autumn…..  What do you think?

Hepworth dress

Mother’s Pride dress- my second Hepworth- THE summer dress of 2014

Remember last week I said I had two special dresses to share with you?  Well this is the second one.

Hepworth dress

I’d been given some money for my birthday back in February from my parents knowing that I would get most pleasure from buying fabric with it.  How well they know me! It was about the time that Roisin had shown off her Northland Row dress and I swooned over the fabric she’d used (Alexander Henry Golden Garden) .  This has an oriental feel to it- and being a lover of orientalise decorative art sought it out.  Strangely enough I found a one off seller on Etsy, in Canada, that was cheaper than buying it from the UK.  ( I can be such a skinflint sometimes!!)
I chose red because I love red, it is one of my basics, my neutrals.  And the fabric arrived and was kept with reverence, being accorded the privilege of space in one of my fabric drawers.  ( At the moment my stash cannot fit in the drawers I have, and subsequently, recent purchases reside in piles on the floor of my loft room. )

Hepworth dress

Once I had completed my whiteboard sewing programme, I fancied I would be inspired to make something for my youngest son’s graduation.  This was not planned for, it was not on the whiteboard- I had let myself off the hook since I’ve clearly got plenty of choices to wear to a graduation should I not feel like making anything.  Luckily I know myself well enough to realise that given a swatch of time, I would be compelled to make a new frock. And serendipitously the culmination of ‘special fabric gifted by my parents’ and ‘special occasion for a proud Mum’ formed into this dress.

Hepworth dress
This fabric being super special needed a plain fronted style I was thinking.  Possibly a Sewaholic Cambie.  But I didn’t choose that, I chose the Hepworth dress by Sinbad and Sailor.  Since making my first version of this dress I have probably worn it more than any of my other dresses to work as it is the perfect work appropriate summer dress: classic shaping, formal enough neckline, comfortable roomy but flattering a line skirt plus pockets.  And I get compliments every time I wear it.  So with this success in mind, the Hepworth was the ideal pattern to showcase the awesome fabric strewn with cherry blossom and the occasional Chinese character.  And I knew it would look a just a tad more formal for a graduation, but not be too formal that I’d wear it infrequently.

Hepworth dress

I cut the pattern pieces out carefully, with the fabric’s pattern in mind, especially the centre bodice piece ( remember the style has princess seams at the front but darts at the back).  Somehow though I cut the back pieces on the fold. I mean who cuts the back pieces on the fold? It meant that any pattern matching I thought I was doing went completely awry when I cut them up in half.  Thinking about it after the event ( aren’t we all so good at that- realising what other options we had when it turns out to be too late!) yes, after it was too late, I realised I could have had an awesome back and front with uninterrupted cherry blossom twigs if I had moved the zip to the side. But I didn’t clearly.  Which is even more galling considering I even cut it in error on the fold.  Der brain strikes again.

Hepworth dress

So sewing this up was great- I do love the facings, see what I wrote about them last time. I had some alterations to make to the centre back this time- not sure whether I did this last time, or cut it too big this time, whatever was the case, I still had too much going on at the CB bodice as well as a little but too much at the upper side seams.  And let me ask you a question.   Have you ever been caught out by lack of notions at critical points in the sewing process?  I was making this dress up at breakneck speed, only to discover that I had no red dress zips in my stash. What!! No zip?? no time for a special trip to town, I had to look around for a willing victim. A cushion cover sacrificed itself for the greater good, but to be honest,the zip is only just big enough and I could barely get the dress over Barbarella’s shoulders- mine are a little more squidgy, but I shall be swapping it for a longer one when I get the chance.

Hepworth dress

So for the ceremony itself I also paired it with my recent black velvet bolero & was that a match made in heaven?  I had no idea boleros were just so useful, but it certainly suits this style of dress I think.  And the black marabou peps up the special factor even more.

Hepworth dress

And I know the question you are dying to ask me, did I blub as my youngest born, dressed in possibly the smartest suit I have ever seen, with brand new haircut & shiny shoes, did I blub as he strode across the stage to shake hands with the Chancellor & receive his degree?  Well, not at that exact moment, but beforehand a slight moistening to my eye could be detected by anyone looking close enough (but no one did ;-) )  No, for that all important moment let me warn you…do not attempt to take a photograph to mark the occasion.  I fell into the same trap for this time as for my first born – too busy trying to capture the moment (& ending up with a poorly lit blurred back shot) – when I could have just enjoyed the moment itself.  But let’s be honest, that moment is just a symbol of the end point of all of the hard work, development of independence & confidence, new friendships & lots of new skills that studying at Uni 180 miles away brings.  The best part of the celebration was what we did as a family before & after, but it’s always lovely to be part of a little pomp & ceremony, a bit of a do, isn’t it?

Hepworth dress

OK back to the dress.  The good news?  This dress is also getting worn a lot during my work week, just like its predecessor.  Its cut & styling is smart enough for summer office wear & I love it.  So glad that I made it in time for a very special day & then for the rest of the summer.  I think this Hepworth pattern is possibly my dress pattern of 2014 you know …last year it was everyone’s favorite, Simplicity 2444, this year, the Hepworth, judging by how many wears both dresses are getting.

Hepworth dressYESSSSSS!

What’s your summer dress of 2014?

PS apologies about the trashy slip ….clearly I looked a whole heap better on the day!


Vintage Pattern Pledge: Vintage sari dress McCalls 4007

I am catching up with posting about my summer makes & I have two special dresses to blog about & have finally done the photos…but I struggled to chose which one to post about today.  So I shall go for the one I made earliest!

McCalls 4007McCalls 4007 from the 1990 s. A vintage pattern, surely? One for my vintage pattern pledge. With this pattern you can make a combination of outfits from a wrap dress with different sleeve lengths, converting to a top with elastic waisted trousers. It’s got more than a hint of the east about it.

McCalls 4007
I’ve had this pattern for years.  I bought it new in the 1990s it must have been. I’ve said before how I’ve got a fondness for eastern styling, hence why this patten appealed to me.  But all I had ever made from it were the elastic waisted trousers as pj bottoms.   But it was always the sleeveless knee length dress that appealed to me.   Why I hadn’t got round to making it is anyone’s guess, but for some reason I had lovingly gazed at it, lovingly identified pattern pieces for the dress, but done nothing more except cut the pattern pieces to my size.

McCalls 4007
It was to become yet another component of my summer sewing bender, fuelled by a spontaneous urge to make something new for the By Hand kick starter thank you party. I also knew, deep down, that some fabric that had also resided in my stash a fair few years was also part of this spontaneous sew- Fest.

McCalls 4007
My friend’s mother in law had given her loads of her old saris, so many that my friend had asked me to take some for myself to make use of. I’d used them so far as special linings for work skirts, reserving the shocking pink and gold sari though as I had always imagined it in dress form. This sari is silk, AND this sari is pre-loved, vintage if you like and has its own story.

McCalls 4007

Much like Dawn O’Porter is encouraging vintage virgins to embrace the history buying vintage brings by refashioning and altering clothes that used to belong to participants’ grandmothers, aunts, mothers.

McCalls 4007

I was also feeling the history this sari brought me.  I had met its owner on a few occasions and she was a big family energy, happiest cooking up huge Spicy Indian feasts for feeding people brought together to celebrate significant events. This sari would have seen similar action I felt: it shows wear marks where some of the fabric is thinned and the odd marks on it too, like pen perhaps.

McCalls 4007

I wonder how many birianis it’s already seen.  This fabric needs looking after: in some places the interfacing shows through the thinning fabric. It is gentle and this type of wrap style dress showcases the beauty of it without forcing it into shapes that will strain the fabric and put it under a stress that it couldn’t cope with.


McCalls 4007 Although I have used parts of other saris, I’ve never made anything as long as a dress and it was interesting to discover the design of the sari’s pattern along the length of the fabric with one highly decorated fringed and golden horizontal edge – the end that would be on display when worn over the shoulder. In between this end and the other, less embellished edge, there is a pattern of woven golden suns/ dots , but interestingly the density of the rows, the distance they have between them, gets wider and wider the further you travel from the highly embellished edge.  You can see in the pic below, but I didn’t think to take a picture of the fabric before cutting it up.  What a der brain.

McCalls 4007
The sari is also woven with fancy borders along the selvedges, but all I could use these for were the ties used around the waist for the wrap belt.

So the fabric is special, and had meaning, I think I’ve established that.  I’ve also shown that the choice of dress pattern whilst being eastern in styling, also suited the fabric’s fragility.  What was the sewing like? Well, it all came together very quickly.  The dress is made up of a single back piece and two fronts. The front neck edge is on the bias and needs stay stitching – but that’s about the extent of the challenge.  It has an interfaced collar to which the waist ties are attached.  The armholes are also faced with self bias, which works so well for a delicate fabric such as this.

I used French seams throughout.

McCalls 4007

But managed to leave the gap in the side seam for threading the belt tie through.  I wasn’t sure if that would work, but with some care, it is possible to locate the gap then poke the tie through it without bringing too many raw threads to the outside world….

I managed to sew it in a couple of hours, mostly in one evening with just a bit of handsewing the next morning.

McCalls 4007

It’s a gorgeous dress to sew and I really like the style to wear- straight down and cool and cute for summer.  I like the idea of wearing it with flip flops, it’s one of those classic summer dresses that doesn’t matter which decade it was sold in.
I particularly love that it is the perfect style for this very special fabric.  The dress showcased the gold spotted cerise sari in its simplicity. A true gem.  It is a precious dress – I even hand washed it (gasp!)  Unheard of for me who has a washing machine with a handwash programme …

Has anyone else sewn this pattern?  I’m intrigued.  Let’s look at it again.

McCalls 4007

From the pattern pictures it looks as if you can achieve a boxy look by not tying the tie completely around your waist, but that would look total pants on me.  I also LOVE the longer black version.  Doesn’t it look the height of elegance?

Guest post at Handmade Jane on scarf styling for OWOP

Hi de Hi !

Just a little signpost to something I’ve put together after an invitation from the lovely Handmade Jane in the lead up to OWOP.  I was asked about writing something about my personal style, & as you know it is rather eclectic, but contains red, turquoise, stripes, florals & polka dots for cohesion :-) .  I chose to approach scarf styling & how scarves are my outfit-saver when feeling drab or un-cheeky.


Have a look if you haven’t already.

And as for OWOP (One Weel One Pattern).

I am being rather silent on that, but will be taking part.  I have just got to decide what to go for as the one pattern I wear all week.  It’s a toughie – I can tell you it’s going to be between:

Maria Denmark’s Edith blouse & dress

Colette Patterns Laurel dress & top

Sew Over It Ultimate trousers. 


Minerva Make: Sewaholic Lonsdale in Gingham

Yes you heard me – a Sewaholic Lonsdale in gingham!   That was my plan for my August Minerva make.  And what’s even more of an achievement is that we’ve had a Lonsdale kind of summer (well in parts!)

I got the making of my August Minerva make just in time for some Cornish wear. And that often means that I can ask my Dad to be my photographer. I know he loves taking photos with his posh camera but rarely has any willing subjects. I like to oblige ;-) & so try to keep a new make to be photographed by him when I visit. So thanks Dad – your photos are ace!


OK, onto the dress. This is the Sewaholic Lonsdale & it is the first time I have made it. I chose some simple purple gingham from Minerva’s vast range – with a small enough check that didn’t need to be matched (hands up for laziness) & gingham is such a light fabric I knew it would make a great summer sundress. Purple? Why not. I know here in UK gingham can be associated with summer school uniform dresses, but I have never seen purple… my very limited experience! And I like purple of course!

Sewing the Lonsdale was a treat – I love Sewaholic patterns as they are always well illustrated & steps are described with just the right amount of detail. I think there is an online sewalong as well…but I didn’t need that.


This dress has a self lined bodice (as the straps are part of the bodice which are knotted & any contrast lining would show). The straps tie at the centre front & create the amount of gathering you need at the top of the bodice for fit & modesty (genius) & are designed to go over your shoulders & slide into loops & tie in a bow at the back.


Well, I did not order enough fabric for the bow, but wanted the straps to be fixed & sewn into place. It also has a floaty flared A line style skirt with front pockets & a centre front seam. You can make the Lonsdale dress with shorter straps, like me, with 3m of 112cm wide fabric.


I whipped this dress up easily. I have changed shape since my last Sewaholic dress & forgot that Sewaholic’s patterns are designed for the pear shaped woman. I think I am still a bit in between two sizes for top/ bottom but did not actually need to take in my usual wedge out of the CB seam allowance. This was an alteration I had to undo (after these photos were taken) Fancy that!


This dress is so comfortable to wear – it is the perfect summer dress! The fabric really is cooling & all that skirt floating is light & breezy.

Lonsdale Look at that blue in the sky ….heavenly!

I also love having my shoulders out….I can honestly say I don’t have another dress like this, & I love it.


And don’t you think the gingham gives it just a semi retro vibe?

Lonsdale I’m telling you what- it’s being packed for my next long weekend in Cornwall this summer …

Ultimate trousers

Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers x3

Boy you’re in for a bumper blog post today!  Not one, not two, but THREE new makes – from the new  Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers pattern.  I will be showing you the “test” shorts, a looser fit linen pair of Ultimates & then my favorite ditsy floral Ultimates.  So let’s begin.  I’m afraid it is a longer than normal post with even more pictures.  Can you stand it?  maybe not.  You can always tune out :-)

Ultimate trousersUltimate trousersUltimate trousersI was lucky enough to be sent a copy of the Ultimate trousers by Sew Over It.
When I saw the design I was ever curious, after my Colette Clover fitting histories how would the Ultimate Trousers measure up? I noticed that unlike the Clovers, the Ultimate trousers do not require stretch fabric.  Hmm. Interesting I thought.  And to be honest, I couldn’t wait to be let loose on them, thinking that the shorts would be a good test make and potentially offer up something for my holidays.

Ultimate trousers

Never being over cocky with trouser making I opted to make a test pair of shorts out of some striped drill that I’d used to make my Vintage vogue ( Butlins) jacket.  Shorts are ace- they do not take much fabric at all! Bargain!  I whipped these shorts up, and tried them on before adding the zip and facing.  How strange. They appeared to fit with the exception of needing to take out a mini 1″ long wedge at CB and CF.  Putting the zip in next, trying on before adding the facing, all was looking good still.  I was floating on a cloud! They really are the ultimate trousers for me. I like the way that they sit an inch below your belly button.  The crotch line is *my* crotch line. I wouldn’t assume that it will be right for everyone but it works perfectly for me.  I went ahead and got the shorts made up to hem them.  They have cute turn ups which means that there is a big hem allowance to enable this.  The only thing that didn’t work for me with the fit of these shorts was the width of the leg, at hem line, with the added bulk of the turn up.  Clearly my over muscular runner’s hamstrings ( !!!!!) made the leg width at the point at which the turn ups sit, too snug.

Ultimate trousersUltimate trousers

Once I took the turn up off, they were fine.   So even with no revisions to the leg width they would make a cool pair of almost Bermudas too?!  But not in this fabric.  I will be making them with turn ups & adding a smidgeon to the lower width of the leg as I really like the length with the turn up & they are such a good fit.

Ultimate trousers

And not as a suit. Hahahaha

So what did I make next? Why, a pair of longs! I made them out of some kind of linen mix bought with Rachel and Jane at an off the beaten track drapers near Goldhawk road.  Exceedingly cheap and dispensable should it not work out.  It’s got a nice stripe to it, and it was initially going to be a BHL Victoria blazer….

Ultimate trousers

But then spontaneity kicked in & they were destined for Ultimates!

Ultimate trousers

Due to a. My runner’s leg discoveries as shorts and b.being linen I didn’t want the trousers to be too tight and bag and sag in an unsightly fashion, so when I cut them out I added a little bit to the leg width from upper thigh all the way down.

Ultimate trousers

And made these trousers as per instructions.  Except using a lapped zip as I didn’t have an invisible zip. I think they’re great. Once again, even though the fabric has a different quality, is thinner and less robust, the crotch line works for my ‘undercarriage’ ( that is such a granny phrase, isn’t it!!)

Ultimate trousers

I realise I have made them with a looser leg, but that is by my design and I still think they look sharp- I didn’t want a tight pair of linen trousers, remember.

Ultimate trousers

And I am loving what the striped linen pairs with. This is my Liberty top which I love wearing because it always reminds me that the fabric was a gift from my boys….

Now for those Dandy trews shown at the very head of this post. My latest pair of Ultimates. And boy are they groovy – I’ve made them tighter in the leg & they are dandy with a capital “D”! Party pants!

Ultimate trousers

I made these using some ditsy floral twill I scored on Ebay yonks ago, thinking at the time that I’d make a Colette Ginger skirt or a floral jacket with it.

Ultimate trousers

And then came along the Ultimates. This fabric is light weight enough for summer to early autumn wearing, but firm enough to get a bit closer in the leg without suffering from too much strain.

Ultimate trousers

It was a case of fit as you go – sew them, try them on, pin a bit more out of the leg until happy. And I am happy. Boy am I happy with these funky pants.

Ultimate trousers

And what gets me is that they fit so nicely, are tightly fitted trousers, but have no lycra whatsoever – yet are supremely comfortable. It is a revelation I tell you.

Ultimate trousers

Now if you are a little cautious about making trousers this is a simple pattern to make up, & what’s more there is a sewalong on the Sew Over It blog guiding you through each stage. Might make it easier for you to take the plunge!

Me? I see many more of these to come- I am thinking a solid colour for work, & maybe using some bright blue denim- it has lycra in it though, so I may reserve that for trousers that need it! Plenty of time to think on it though…..