Seamwork Oslo cardigan

I finally got round to making up one of the patterns from the very first Seamwork magazine, from Colette Patterns.


Yes, my Dad took these photos!

This is the Oslo cardigan in red. This is some kind of a sweater knit that I had in my stash (cheap from Abakhan once upon a time). It has a loose knit & a degree of cotton in the fibres. But anymore than that I do not know. It appeared to be prone to unravelling more than your usual knit, so I was prepared to treat the cut edges with care & as always  make sure everything was finished with my overlocker.

oslo 2

Anyway, the Oslo is a cosy cardigan, well suited to snuggling when made in something warm, but I made it up in this light weight knit with great swing, as a summer knit. I rushed it in time for my Cornish Whitsun week away as my other red cardigan has suffered from a traumatic visit to the vet’s & the lacerations caused by poor Merlin’s razor sharp claws (& you should have seen the dress & my skin underneath!) have rendered it rather scruffy….

oslo 3

Armed with the knowledge that this wardrobe building pattern is a quick make – this is the premise for the Seamwork patterns- I took to making it up in time for my holiday. And I wasn’t disappointed. It is simple to make – as with most knit tops sleeves are inserted flat, then the side seams & sleeve seams sewn in one operation. The sleeves are finished with cuffs & the cardigan’s hem is stitched before attaching the long collar along the front & neck edges in one long go.

oslo 4

I love the long collar.

oslo 5

Ooops, eyes closed!

Are you interested in a hem sewing tip for loose knits that are more likely to flute out at their edges? I find that using some kind of hemming tape that dissolves after the first wash (like this but mine was something different) is a great way to control the hem edge where you want it, much more thoroughly than pressing it would achieve.

oslo 6

I’ve really enjoyed having a cardigan like this to wear. I haven’t added any fastenings to it, but it is so very arm-huggingly-wrappable – that pose that often gets assumed by the seaside, to keep the sea breeze at bay!

oslo 7

The cuffs are vvveeerrrryyyy long too, so they can be folded to keep your wrists warm, or unfolded to snuggle chilly hands.  This is the pattern I will use for at least one of my purple cardigans– for my Mum.  She wants a cardi with 3/4 or even 1/2 length sleeves.  She’s a layering lady!

And following on from its original week away by the sea, it is a great casual cardi, worn with the ‘more casual’ side of my wardrobe.  At the moment I am sat writing wearing it with a white vest top & my Floral Hudsons.  It’s getting worked!

May 29

Sewing spending spree no.1

I have had a bit of a splurge at the end of last month.  I can’t seem to keep the pennies in my purse, or the extroversion of my credit card & (paypal) in check.  So let’s assuage the guilt with delight in what I’ve gathered & the plans I have for transforming them.  You up for being my confessor?

It started with some new patterns, around payday….  New to me anyway.  I stopped by Sewbox as I really want to make a summer dressing gown (inspired by Amy’s of Sylko Twist) – mine is too short for anything but a heatwave. So I bought the Buchanon by Gather.

And then, because I was there, I added in the Derby dress by Christine Haynes.

Derby Dress

These purchases were made on one of the sunnier days & I was thinking that the Derby dress (belted ruffled neckline version) would be the perfect summer sundress.  And remembering from a couple of summers back, Flossie Teacakes’ gorgeous rendition that totally changed my mind about how I saw its possibilities.  Whilst the Buchanon was a spontaneous purchase, the Derby was completely justified because I really do not have any sundress patterns that are like this – strappy with a flounce, a tie belt with enough flow of fabric around one’s bod in the heat.  And although I bought other fabric to make it with, this daisy viscose from Croftmill, I have actually cut out the fabric above that I bought at the end of last year from the Fabric Godmother – it was a roll end in the sale, but is gorgeous & will make a wonderful sundress.

I also bought some fabric (yay for fabric, we love fabric!) in a real shop. I went to Truro when I was staying in Cornwall in May, a few days after my Sewbox purchases.  We visited the relocated Truro Fabrics. Truro Fabrics is not somewhere to go for a bargain, but it has a lovely range of quality fabrics, haberdashery & also a furnishing fabric department (& craft cottons, wool too).  There were some lovely Joel Dewsbury viscoses which I was drawn to, but at £14.99 per metre, too expensive for the lengths I had in mind to make either of the patterns I had just clicked to buy. So I let my heart lead me, searching out fabric that was new to me & gave me a fuzzy buzz.

I always look at the knits, especially sweater knits & found some purple sweater knit at £9/m (good value I thought) & my Mum was so interested in it that I snapped up two cardigans’ worth – one to be a pressie for my Mum & the other for me.  I can’t find it on the website- sorry!  But it’s yummy.

Purple sweater knit

Then there was this lawn with garden birds on it – this was maybe £12.50 per metre & I got enough to make a summer top.  And I might copy Florence again (if I have bought enough) & either make the Hey June Biscayne blouse or some simple version of the Deer & Doe Datura.  Or a camisole.

Finally I love this Makower print (£12.50 also I think) – with its river scene in horizontal stripes. This will be a full summer skirt.  But I cannot find it on the website either.

Summer scene

There. Since then, I have located some fabric for my Buchanon dressing gown.  I might use the  daisy viscose from Croftmill.  Or I also ordered some of this too, it’s a beautiful grey vintage floral, very much a chiffon & would make a special floaty kind of gown.  Maybe.   But it’s more sheer than I really wanted for a mid length gown over summer PJs.   I am still deciding.  I will of course, report back. I think that the Gather kits looks pretty good value, if you haven’t already bought the pattern. I liked the grey …..but had already bought the pattern….

But then I also (intake of big breath) see I told you I’ve been on a roll…bought another piece of fabric.  I think it was also because I got paid for some casual work I did…..(spot the guilt!)  I could not resist 20% off Liberty at Whitetree Fabrics  using the Vintage Pattern Pledge discount that runs this month.    See sidebar in Kestrel makes.  Only for June though.  If you read this later, sorry!  So I bought some beautiful Tana lawn – Lodden.


This is  the perfect fabric for a dress I ripped out of a magazine at the beginning of the year & will become one of my “high hitters”.  A shirt dress of some description.

Speaking of which.  Yes, you’ve guessed it.  “I just couldn’t help it”  I took advantage of the introductory discount & bought the new Sew Over It pattern – the Vintage Shirt Dress.

And shhh.  I have nearly finished my first one.  Just the buttons to buy….And exactly what i made it out of will remain a bit of a surprise for now.  I have maybe incited enough excitement for one day.

And the detectives amongst you will also realise there is another confession to come.  This time with some interesting tools, gadgets & haberdashery I have also recently bought.

So, have you enjoyed any recent sewing shopping sprees? Is it a symptom of the slow start to the summer?  Help.  How do I stop!??   (No it’s OK, don’t worry about me.  July will be enforced cold turkey as far as purchasing goes.  & Lots of sewing :-)).

snakey legs

Snakeskin leggings!

And torso too!

The fabric people, is the star! This is some pink/purple snakeskin effect lycra from the Fabric Godmother & it totally rocks! (And you can take that whatever way you want, even if you want to bring out that inner rock chick….) But don’t let me go away without mentioning the gold sheen that makes this fabric shine. There is definitely something of the wild side in this print!  And I never thought I would have snakeskin leggings, but I think for running in, I can kind of get away with it.

snakey legs

Josie asked me if I would like to test it for running in, & I was unable to resist. It has recently starred on her blog.  There are three snakeskin lycras currently stocked- this one, a neon explosion (even I thought there was a bit too much dazzle for me!) & black. Now I try to avoid making anything for running out of black, but snakeskin – that could persuade me!


I used the Virginia leggings pattern by Megan Nielson as I wanted as little interference as possible with seams, & the Virginias have just one seam. I made them capri length & added some little cuffs to them, as I had recently made the Seamwork Manila leggings & was interested in taking that detail on to capris to see how that worked. (And the answer?  It’s a nice detail but I didn’t get the sizing quite right & it’s a bit flappy)

3 (2)

So the fabric. The lycra feels lovely to wear. A good weight with no danger of any translucency. However, this is not breathable or wicking fabric, but as long as you are aware of this & choose to wear when you’re not going to overheat, then the fabric works great. I wore them for the first time at a “Glow Run” – a 5km fun run – we were all decorated with neon face paint & glow sticks. Photos show my leggings shining in the light with an eerie glow!

glow run

I have also worn them on some fresh spring runs, of about an hour, & once again, nothing but fun wearing them.   As the weather has warmed I reserve them for non cardio vascular exercise – weight training last week – & they were fine, but a tad on the warm side power walking uphill in the full sun afterwards.  They will really come into their own again in the autumn &  in the winter I can forsee this fabric being quite the way to fox up some country runs!!!

But Josie in her blog talks about using it for swimwear.  It’s certainly a nice light weight & I could imagine that working well.  Now if I have enough spare maybe I could eek out a bikini, but I am not sure if I have because I also made an XYT top out of it.

I think it looks cool?

snakey xyt


Forgive me for not showing you the back, as you can tell this is a spontaneous modelling shot & I’m wearing the wrong underwear- the back looked atrocious with the bra showing….

Now, are you wondering whether I will have the gall to wear them both together?  Do you doubt my taste that much?  I am not even going there!  No!  Not even in the interest of science.  We all know it would look , just, creepy.  All-over-body-suit-snakeskin?  No thank you!!  But apart, they are, like I said foxy.  If foxy is an apt adjective when referring to reptile effect fabric.

And right now I am imagining one of those one-piece costumes with holes cut out of the side.  Not on me though!  My skin tans far too easily to go for such shapes!  But this fabric (in black or purple) would look pretty awesome on the Cote D’Azur, wouldn’t you say?

Now tell me, who would wear the top & leggings together?  I would love to know …..
(The fabric was provided by Fabric Godmother for me to review.  )


The real Betty Dress by Sew Over It

In readiness for the sun making itself known to us, welcome Betty, made out of this lovely lawn – it’s a rich but gentle mid blue with bursts of orange flowers. It is so light as well- like a breath of cotton & consequently hangs beautifully for a dress like this. And you need to know, it is a pleasure to sew.

The dress pattern in question is the Betty dress by Sew Over It & mostly a new one for me, although I have referred to it before, tracing its bodice onto my 80% Betty dress.


Oh my grass needs a cut – behind me it reaches to my shoulders. Checking out the daisies …

It is sleeveless with four-darted bodice & a v back plus the most wonderful circle skirt.


I did make a toile for the bodice, just because I often have to mess around by taking a small wedge out oif the centre front, & needed to check such manoevres for this particular dress bodice. I did remove a small piece at CF & then had to scoop the armholes out a little to make up for it.

So this is a dress with a circle skirt and for this reason you need a good yardage. I thought I had enough & cut out the bodice before laying the rest of the fabric out to cut the skirt – two circle skirt halves only to have that sinking feeling that there was no way on earth the piece of fabric would accommodate this size of skirt cut in two half circles.


Thinking cap of desperation on & I concocted the most cunning plan to join the two circle skirt pieces to make one whole circle, omitting the back seam (for now) & losing a lot of the length of the skirt. That is fine for shorties like me. It worked.


And then I cut the back seam into the skirt, no side seams necessary. I was prepared to manipulate at the waist (because cutting the skirt this way did have an impact at waist level) but when I came to sew it, the skirt waist was easily eased into the bodice since there was a lot of bias going on at the waist of a circle skirt – & I used it to my favour.


So this was in theory the most complicated part of construction. I whizzed the dress up, attaching skirt & bodice to then add the invisible zip. Facings are attached afterwards to enclose zip ends, & the Betty dress method for nice neat facings/ shoulder seams is very neat & well explained. No hand sewing, all performed by machine in two stages.

Look what I failed to do though?

I forgot to stay stitch the neck edges, which is particularly important for the back when it is cut across grain in a diagonal through the fabric. Yuk! I had to unpick the back, stay stitch & reattach the facings.


But it is worth it. Such a pretty dress and actually so much less OTT than I thought a full skirted circle skirt would be to wear. Without having made one before, I had imagined that a circle skirt dress would feel rather ‘special occasion’, but I could dress it up to make it so, but it is very wearable as an every day summer dress. Love it!

Has that ever happened to you?  A pleasant surprise that a dress you imagined was going to be more of an occasion dress turned out to be so much more?

This is my Minerva Blogging Network project for June, all fabric, notions supplied by Minerva Crafts .  if you want to see what you would need to make this, then the fabric and notions are listed together on my project’s Blogger Network page here.  But warning – you might need more than 3m if you are not a shorty like me.


My new teal woolly is the Jenna cardigan!

So you saw that I had a new, unblogged and much worn cardigan last month in Me made May (seen in the third week, here).  Time to reveal the identity (unless you already worked it out for yourselves!) This is my Minerva Blogging Network make from last month that owing to all sorts of pressures I arranged some slippage on my deadline.  But I can now show you all.

You would have seen from my May wearings that I wear cardigans a lot.

jenna 1

I am in complete envy of Dolly Clackett’s rainbow hoard of cardigans – she can pluck a coordinating cardi for any of her wonderfully colourful dresses & look feminine, stylish & warm. When you get on the “I really want to make all of my own clothes & not buy anything” bug, knitwear is the hardest to handle. It is hard to perfect a cardigan that replicates the fine gauge machine-knitted M&S round neck. I have considered taking up knitting – & have knitted a cardigan, but that took the best part of the year, is expensive on wool & is more of a winter weight. I have tried therefore to sew some cardigans, using Simplicity 2154 & McCalls 6708, to varying degrees of success. But still the finish was distinctly sewn & a bit clumsy. And then there came the Jenna cardigan by Muse patterns.

jenna 2

My first Jenna cardigan is a huge success & gets worn frequently. I love the gathered yoke detail, the button band & the depth of the neck line. I also love the way that this particular version sits at waist level- that works for me- it’s a length that suits me.

jenna 3

I remember when making it that it was straight forward & that the instructions comprehensively steered me through any of the areas I might have come a cropper – eg where the neck joins the button band. Therefore, it seemed a good time to make another one.

jenna 4

I chose this John Kaldor Isabella wool-viscose jersey in teal (you know by now that I love teal!) for last month’s Minerva Blogging network project. It is on the upper price range for jersey but fair to say that the price is standard as far as wool jerseys come– but is definitely yummy quality- & with the wool content I thought it would be ideal as a cardigan.

Sewing this jersey though was a pleasure, from gathering the yokes, to setting the neck band. The button bands are interfaced (as per the pattern’s instructions) & it gives it enough strength & structure – making sewing buttonholes easy.

These buttons were from my stash & I love the bronze with the teal – it works really well as a colour combo I think.

jenna 5

I don’t have much to say about the construction of the cardigan that I have not already said before.  Except I did narrow the sleeves just a smidgeon plus took some off the length.

It is my favorite cardigan pattern, by far & Kat has really drafted an excellent pattern. Maybe I should try the plain un-yoked version, but I love the yoke detail too much.

jenna 6

It’s much like my love of red Thai veg curry – it is beyond a shadow of a doubt the most amazing dish I have ever eaten such that every time I go out for Thai I cannot bring myself to experiment as I couldn’t bear to experience anything less perfect!

jenna 7

And you can bet that as soon as I finished it, it has sprung into action & is worn a lot. It is a more summery colour than my grey Jenna cardigan & is delicious to wear. I love wearing teal with red (& I have a lot of red in my wardrobe). And as our summer hasn’t really started yet, it really is getting a lot of use over dresses, t-shirts & tops ….with trousers or skirts. It’s a new wardrobe basic.

jenna 8

The fabric and thread was supplied by Minerva as part of the Minerva Blogging Network.  You can visit my project on Minerva’s site if you want an easy way to see which fabric was provided to me & thread to match.  That is, if you are a cardigan person :-)


The “I can’t believe it’s not summer skirt”

I made this skirt in April.


Yes, fully thinking that I would have a shiny new skirt for the warmer weather that usually accompanies May.  (see, I even blogged about it in part here, in May!)

Meringue 1

But I wore it for the first proper time, as it is intended without tights yesterday.  And it performed, folks!  A simple cotton A line skirt is almost as summery & essential happy sunny clothing to me as shorts are, & that is high acclaim, because shorts are the business.

Meringue 2

But a simple A line skirt is eminently cool, comfortable & stylish enough fit for beach, a country stroll or for a spot of luncheon in town.

Meringue 3

The fabric is from the Village Haberdashery, but sadly is last season’s stock & sold out.  I snapped it up in one of the great value sales they have. :-)

Meringue 4

I only ordered a metre & managed to eek it out enough to make this skirt, with facings, but the hem is scrimped using some bias.  At one point I noticed there are butterflies on some of the flowers & I couldn’t be sure if I’d got them upside down not not!  But I think I have convinced myself that they are luckily the right way up…

Meringue 8

I used the Colette Handbook’s meringue skirt pattern, but without the scallops.  Even if I had enough to make it with the scallops, when you have such beautiful fabric like this, you’ve got to let it sing, which is why it suits an A line so well with a side zip (invisible – look).

Meringue 7

Nothing more to be said.

Meringue 10

This is a summer essential, it looks great here with my Dolores top, (especially when I don’t look such a scruff bag with its hem not straight & skirt unironed after lounging!)  & part of the day also involved the black vest underneath for catching a bit of sun on my shoulders …bring on the summer (please ….!)

Me Made May 2015 #3

The last third of me made outfits. I’ve still been in recovery & off the exercise, and squeezed in a week in Cornwall – holidays! Lovely & much needed :-) But I packed way too much – in fact the clean unworn clothes I brought back outnumbered those that I put in the laundry! I took a photo – look!!

My unworn clothes I packed to take to Cornwall this May

My unworn clothes I packed to take to Cornwall this May

Over optimistic packing shorts, bikinis & my favorite sleeveless tops …

May 21st

A day at the office, grabbing lunch in Parade Gardens with the Empire Hotel in the background.

21 May

Simplicity 1459 dress (oh my, this dress washes like a dream – no ironing !! I have to admit that I was a bit fearful the first time I washed it, imaging all that skirt to press…..but no ironing required. Score!)

Suede jacket- Kwik Sew 3334

Then when I got home I slobbed out in …

21 May pm

Deer & Doe Plantain top

Polka dot leggings & skirt combo (yet to be blogged)

May 22nd

Working at home & feeling chilly….

22 May

So Zo Dolores batwing floral dress– now this is best when worn with a cardigan mainly due to its all over floral, it is a bit overwhelming without the solid colour to break it up. But as a cosy stylish dress, it’s a winner ….

Teal cardigan (yet to be blogged)

May 23rd

Holidays started!

23 May

Polka dot leggings

Chambray dress (yet to be blogged)

Red Oslo cardigan

May 24th

It was a damp & rainy day today & we went for a rainy walk, exploring the neighbourhood a bit, but no photos in the rain …

May 24

So Zo Dolores top- Dr Jacobi style

Sew Over It denim trousers

Teal cardigan

Suede jacket- Kwik Sew 3334

May 25th

Today’s walk to the beach …

May 26

Maria Denmark white Edith blouse

Sew U – Red cigarette pants

BHL Victoria knit blazer

May 26th

Sneaking in another read at the beach …

May 27

Built by Wendy dresses – Brighton Pavilions dress (yes! That means it was summer that day!)

Red Seamwork Oslo cardigan- to be blogged

But in the evening snuggled up with my

27 May pm

Drafting top

Floral ¾ Hudson pants

May 27th

Started with Floral Hudsons, Red Oslo and Drafting top as the evening before

changed into

May 28

Black Maria Denmark Day to Night drape top

Megan Nielson Tania Culottes

Red Oslo cardigan

May 29th

Shopping! Rain! Truro fabrics :-)

May 29

SoZo Dolores batwing top (this one is actually made by Zoe herself & was a gift. I think it counts for MMM?)

Teal cardigan

Tilly & the Buttons denim Arielle skirt

Sewaholic Robson Trench coat

May 30th

The perfect holiday dress – super comfy to spend 4 hours in the car driving home

May 30

Kitschy Koo Comino Cap dress

Red Oslo Cardigan

May 31st

I managed to go for a run today – I felt that I had enough recovery time & my friends were running around the country lanes, even though it was raining….

May 31 running

Nothing but Flowers Megan Nielson Virginia leggings

Maria Denmark Olivia tshirt (not blogged specifically)

Then changed into

May 31

Jamie jeans

Liberty Lawn Simplicity 2614 top

Muse Jenna cardigan in grey

Suede jacket- Kwik Sew 3334

And on a related note, here is a shot of my me made Pjs- summer versions. I have been refashioning those cotton finishers’ tshirts that I have got after half marathons using SoZo’s vest pattern. They are so much more wearable now.

so zo vests

I have also an array of Pjs – full length, but recently whipped up a couple of pairs of shorts using T&B Love at First Stitch Margot pattern – but shortening them. Using my four thread overlocker stitch I can whip these up in less than an hour from cutting out to sewing a button on to identify the front.  Sorry no photo here!

So my thoughts about Me Made May? I do really only tend to wear my self made clothes every day, including pants (most days & of varying quality!)  & slips, so the challenge is always taking the photos for me.  Having good solid jackets & cardigans make all the difference to completing a me made outfit & I loved my Suede jacket & my new as yet unblogged red & teal cardigans.

I was disappointed to be so off form that I couldn’t play around with my running clothes – that would have been more interesting!  But in effect I had 3 weeks off running which was a shame.

In terms of the photos, I didn’t get out & about as much as I thought I would, so whether I hit my target of 5 photos off-site is doubtful. Why I would think I could get 5 shots in out of 7 beats me – I don’t work in the town as much as I used to, I think I was a bit rash…but the selfie stick was a fun toy to play with & I expect to use it more now. I love that it looks like I am doing something other than posing for a photo as I have to use two hands – makes me see how I would look water skiing …..

Have you enjoyed celebrating your me mades in May?


Simplicity star sewist contest- Hawaiian purple haze 

This is a journey through time and space……well, about 6 weeks and two 360 mile round trips, and the trouble is I’ve got to squeeze it all in to one blog post.

Let’s start this blog post in the same way that I got in the mood for the photo shoot – a breakfast of fresh pineapple, with a healthy & very robust  white orchid in view on the window sill (not mine- I do not have a way with orchids) as I looked out at the lush green garden – it was full of vitality. The sky (unusually for this May) was a deep blue and the sun was warming, coaxing us to venture out to the beach.

Hawaiian dress

And we did. We nipped out to catch some sand & some surf in order to bring my latest make to life. I am evoking mother surf, or trying to, I mean this is the UK, I have made it to the closest we come to Hawaii-Five-O – Fistral beach, Newquay. This is my entry for the Simplicity Star Sewist, the dressmaking category using New Look 6145 which is a pattern for a simple shift dress with various sleeve lengths & a collar option.  In other words a great basic- this is what my Hawaiian two-piece is made from with a little bit of pattern cutting.

People, it’s going to be a long one, this, so if you are curious enough to read on, grab a cuppa & maybe some energy bars…

Rewind to the beginning. I happened upon the Simplicity Star Sewist contest through Twitter- an initiative for the Simplicity Blogger Circle & I was excited enough to request the pattern straight up (every entrant gets a free copy – yay!)



Taken from the blog, Simplicity Star Sewist had three categories with different patterns for each and I chose …

“Best dressmaking project

The pattern in question for this category is the NewLook shift dress 6145, showcased in the Simplicity catalogue in chic check print.
This simple interpretation offers bloggers the opportunity to let their imaginations run wild, through their choice of fabric, trimmings or styling, with the dress able to be adapted to various sleeve lengths and necklines.”

And what about the rules?

Hawaiian dress

Again, from the blog,


Your challenge is to use the above patterns as a basis for your own bespoke creation. The only rule is that there are no rules!
Using the pattern as your foundation, go wild with fabric, colour, nips here, tucks there and feel free to accessorise to the hilt! Whether fabric is your forte or your signature style is more haute couture, simply show us what you’re made of and stamp your very own style on these pattern.”

This is about my entry.   I had plenty of time, the deadline being the end of May (yes, tomorrow).


What’s great about a challenge is when you feel like you’ve extended yourself,  for me a challenge is supposed to be a challenge, at whatever level that might be for you. I have different types and the one I guess I succumb to the most is the ‘ make it as quickly as possible for wearing at a certain occasion’. That is my weakness. I totally love the speed-sewing-by-the-seat-of-my-pants challenge. I positively relish it. And I tend to perform well in that sewing environment.  (I would get an A from teacher & a shake of the head from my Mum who hates leaving anything until the last minute).


So to take part in the Simplicity Star Sewist challenge, to feel challenged, I needed to make it about something else. I decided to go to town on design. This is a shift dress pattern, and I love shift dresses. But to play around with the design, the possible nips and tucks and embellishments? I consulted my 1970s Japanese pattern cutting books for inspiration. I was going retro. (Yes this means I can also count this towards my Vintage Pledge!)

I started this thinking that I would find some cool collar/ pocket combination to add. Maybe that would give me some colour blocking options- I was imagining tab pockets, colour blocked bibs…get my drift? But through perusal of my source of inspiration I kept returning to this design- a two piece dress that would accommodate the shift dress (New Look 6145 in this case) as the starter.

The one in the middle!

The one in the middle!

This two piece dress has a side front opening top, (asymmetric) with a skirt that has a knife pleat in alignment with the side front opening (again asymmetric) .

1970s two piece dress (2)

All the adjustments to the basic pattern are shown alongside the design. I just had to implement them.

But what this design also suggested to me was my fabric choice. The drawing shows the model wearing the two piece made out of a border print with the big florals growing up from the skirt hem, through the skirt and the hem of the blouse, but the print disappears the further away from the hem that you come.  I needed to find the right border print in a cotton ( or suitable woven) and that my friends was not as easy you think. I wanted colour, scale and type of fabric to be right.

I scoured the internet.  All my favorites, searching for “border print”.  I searched eBAY which had a few border prints, quite a few were jersey.  But to get the right border print for this?  Tough.  I mean I had to like it as well as it being in the right colours for me & as well as it looking like it would work with this design.  and I came across Lazy Island, a specialist in Hawaiian fabric, some of which are border print.  I can’t link exactly to the one that I chose, but you can find it on that link  (& it looks as if it has been reduced since I ordered it too).  Anyway this is it.

Hawaiian border printI love purple & green.  I love the Hawaiian hibiscus flowers, and the palms & is that a cheese plant?  Anyway, this seemed to be the best shot.  The fabric arrived very promptly & is a poly cotton, with a hand that reminds me of bowling shirts – the slightest sheen & crispness  to hold a crease.

So this is the outcome of my very definite “creative/ design” phase – plenty of thinking time.  That was about 6 weeks ago.  About four or so weeks ago I started the making of this project.  First things first was to prepare my pattern, taking the pieces from New Look 6145 and then performing all sorts of incredibly satisfying measurements & line drawing to replicate the pattern adjustments described in the Japanese pattern book.

New Look 6145

You can see the original pattern & how I added to it. Yes, I have cut it to make the bodice & before that traced to make the skirt pattern pieces. Am I shocker to say that I cut my patterns? – whether it is to make the short sleeved version, the shorter length, whatever. I make sure I keep the pieces I cut off because they can always be stuck back on again. And I do. I have a very healthy relationship with my scotch tape 😉

So, what I had to do to the simple shift bodice was to create not just a front opening – but an asymmetric one. And take away the  seam allowances for the  back opening. I kept the same shaping at side seams as the shift dress, I kept the same darts & eventually the same sleeves. All I had to do differently was to add extra to the centre front for the right front, with a narrower left front all with facings. I did make a toile, actually I made two, before settling on the amount of overlap at the left front that felt & looked right.

The skirt is also based on the dress- the lower part of it. According to the Japanese pattern there is an asymmetric knife pleat that falls in line with the right front edge – a key part of the charm of this ensemble. I needed to add front & back darts to the skirt pieces & felt a side zip would work well. The off-centre pleat needed about 10cm adding to the width of the skirt front – & the pleat actually covers the left dart. No changes to the skirt back, except to move the zip from the back to the side. I made a toile for the skirt too & tried both toiles on together to check on the bodice overlap & the skirt’s pleat. The skirt & blouse also had to work together – the blouse could not be too tight & had to allow the skirt to be its A line self – which meant that the blouse would not be figure hugging.

I was incredibly fortunate to be sewing this whilst staying with my parents. (No it was not planned that way, but it’s just how it worked out!) Not only was it a lovely project to chat to my sewing-guru Mum about- initially (ie in my design phase) I showed her the 1970s books for us to enjoy styles & my Mum’s sewing memories, but last week I benefitted from a second pair of hands and an experienced eye to hep with the fitting – Oh my word- as someone who always struggles in front of the mirror, a mouthful of pins, desperately trying to see the back (& adjust the back) whilst holding a reasonably normal posture – for attempts one, two & three…Yes, if you can ever enlist the help of someone to help with fit & pinning adjustments it is indescribably pleasurable rather than a cause of stress & frustration!

Toile with skirt, checking side seams against skirt

Toile with skirt, checking side seams against skirt

So once the toiles were at a point – it was time to progress. It was time to cut!!! I have to admit I was rather scared. I had bought 3m of fabric & it seemed heaps! I would have loads left over to make coordinating tops, shorts etc etc! But first I made the skirt. Once I had made the skirt, I could then decide about pattern placement for the blouse. The skirt was easy for me – I wanted the big flowers, the hibiscus & cheese plant leaves to be growing up from the hem. The tops of “pointy” tropical flowers might be obscured by the blouse when wearing both together, but that was OK. I could have had the “pointy “ tropical flowers as the focus in the skirt- but the hibiscus won that particular battle with me. I made sure that the pattern on the back was balanced too – it is off centre, but balanced. That’s by design, I didn’t want it too symmetrical.

Excuse creasing, it's survived being worn whilst driving

Excuse creasing, it’s survived being worn whilst driving

So I made the skirt up ( you can see it is a simple skirt – darts, side seams with an invisible zip). I did not attach the waistband until much later. The setting of the pleat would be a step I took after the blouse was finished, so that I could make sure the final position of the pleat was exactly in line with the blouse front- matching the asymmetricals.

Inside showing the dart and the pleat

Inside showing the dart and the pleat

So cutting out the blouse. I had to play around with the fabric & the pattern on the skirt to get the best effect together. If I was making the blouse on its own out of this fabric I would have kept it predominantly purple, but had the pattern growing up from the hem. However, that looked absolutely pants with the full-on hibiscus action that was going on with the skirt. Too much. The effect of the “two-piece dress” would be lost. So the pattern needed to come down from the shoulders. Fronds of palms & this time, the “pointy” flowers were the feature.

Bodice pieces

I used the toile as pattern pieces

Again, paying attention to how the back looked – how balanced it was- was important. At this point I began to see that there was not going to be a lot left over for shorts! The fabric was getting eaten up! Mainly the pattern – there was still enough plain purple for the facings & the waistband. And luckily there was enough pattern to plop a hibiscus on each of the sleeves. So the blouse looks as if the plants are growing over the top half, before there is a big expanse of the purple before your eyes get to the flower power skirt.

Bodice pieces

Thread tracing showing where the right front ends

Sewing it up felt like the culmination of all of my plotting, my designing & my chats about process with my Mum. All the ground work had been captured by the toile process. I tried it on again just to tweak the front edge, then drew generous facings from the toile. At this point I realised that the left front needed to become slightly narrower to make sure that the position of the buttons would be supported by the facing underneath, for strength.  My original drafting had not really taken anything off the left front, and the overlap between the right & left was huge.  This was easy but necessary to remedy.

Rouleau loops

The longest part by far of the blouse construction was the facing-rouleau loops & button covering stage. I made sure to measure every placement & every length of loop to ensure they were equal (I have been know to eyeball such things in the past ). And now –  fastening & unfastening rouleau loops to wear seems to take just as long 😉

The only thing I am less happy with is the interfacing which I bought locally from a craft shop – they only had one variety which I think is medium & hasn’t fused as nicely as a softer one would have.  But hey ho.

As I mentioned, once the blouse was finished I could set the skirt’s pleat & then add the waistband. The hem was stitched using an invisible hem by machine. Popping a purple button on it was the final touch.

Invisible zip

I have lots of amusing thoughts about this “two-piece dress”. First of all, at some point in my adult life I have owned three out of the four plants showcased in big scale – our Cheese plant was called Derek – I think he got rather straggly & didn’t make it. I still have parlour palms in my house but they really don’t like the conservatory, even if I like them in the conservatory. I thought a hibiscus (tropical plant, right?) would enjoy living in my conservatory. I was wrong. So out of the three, only one still survives.

Hawaiian dress

Other amusing thoughts – now I have never been to Hawaii so I might be really far off the mark here – however as a two piece this could be the kind of “uniform” worn by someone in the hospitality industry? OR someone in beauty – a manicurist or masseur? I think it is the asymmetric front & tunic effect!  If anyone would like to satisfy my ignorance  I’ve always wanted to visit & would love to see for myself 😉

But what other thoughts do I have now I have finished it?

I’ve got a unique outfit – actually I have three unique outfit possibilities – as a dress it is one of a kind. Is it too much? I am not sure.

Hawaiian top

As a blouse it feels almost like a bowling shirt worn with jeans.

The fit has enough room for movement – ?bowling too!

Hawaiian skirt

The skirt is a classic beach skirt when worn with a vest top, or here, with a halter top.

I can see it getting worn more as separates than as a two-piece but I always have that option. That’s what’s so great about two-pieces – they have- two- pieces!!

Hawaiian 3

But , it really was a challenge that I enjoyed. Yes, having a dabble with pattern cutting and for it to work is a clear winner for me. It makes me feel like I am learning & am able to push my limits. This is ‘design’ & with a basic pattern, it’s amazing what can come from it.


I also loved having the chance to share my thinking & the fitting with my Mum. We live 180 miles apart & so don’t get the chance to do any more than chat about sewing when we get together. This time I was staying for longer & brought my overlocker (for seam finishing) & used my Mum’s machine- which is the same as mine. Involving my Mum in this project was great. And that I used one of her pattern books from the early 1970s was even more special. Looking through the book brought back all her sewing memories, the things she had made from it!

So, it’s been a project of many elements. I have no idea whether it is too far away from the intention of the Star Sewist competition, to revisit:

  • Using the pattern as your foundation (check)
  • Go wild with fabric, colour (check!)
  • Nips here, tucks there (er, yes if more than nips & a very big pleat count!)
  • and feel free to accessorise to the hilt (I’ve accessorised with the surf 😉  )
  • Simply show us what you’re made of and stamp your very own style on these pattern….
Hawaiian dress

How I love the sea ….

So thank you Simplicity for hosting this challenge, I’ve loved it for all the reasons above & am going to have some real fun wearing it too.



Easy peasey elastic waisted skirt

Another REALLY easy skirt was this elastic waisted skirt using John Kaldor fabric (I think it is called something like Pink Crush) from SewBox, a remnant, kindly given to me by Susan. I was dithering over which John Kaldor fabric to chose from SewBox, & when I plumped for this, Susan told me that there was less than a metre left….& that I could have it. I do love it & it’s like a brushed cotton & the colours are yummy. I am planning to repurpose/ remake a huge cashmere wrap cardigan I bought second hand just to go with this. It’ll look so cuddly together!!

John Kaldor skirt

My brain immediately whirred a bit in remnant mode. Might not be enough for a waistband, the fabric has lovely drape & therefore would suit gathers …..elastic could be my answer as long as I could find wide elastic that was hot pink. I might then be able to get away with it looking half way stylish rather than trying to hide the waist with a wide elastic waspi-belt.

I didn’t have much trouble finding the elastic on ebay. I then remembered Jane’s tutorial for an easy peasy elastic waisted skirt & dipped in, following along.


The only thing I did differently was to hem after sewing the whole skirt (as I didn’t know how long I wanted it) & to finish the top edge of my skirt before I attached it to the elastic. Jane was using a knit fabric in her tutorial that obviously doesn’t have the same tendencies to fray.

But it’s not bad for a simple & very quick skirt- great for a beginner. I am overcoming my  sew snobbery about elastic waists, (see my recent scuba circle skirt which also had an elastic waist) and when you can use the elastic so deliberately it becomes a feature that’s an even bigger bonus when it is so easy to make.  I think it shows the fabric off beautifully & this is a real spring/ autumn skirt with my tan boots.

John Kaldor skirt

And actually it’s pretty now too!


Me Made May 2015- #2

Another ten day block of me made outfits. I’ve been off colour so haven’t been running :-( nor out & about that much, so my photos will reflect this.   But the acquisition of the selfie stick has been coming into its own…..

Away we go

May 11th

Behind me in the bright light is Bath’s oldest house, C14th  abode of Sally Lunn, now an olde worlde tea roome selling Sally’s famous Buns.  OO er.

A day in the office, trying to force Spring with my outfit:

11 May

Scalloped Colette Violet blouse

Love at First Stitch polka dot Clemence skirt

Suede jacket – Kwik Sew 3334

May 12th

Another day at the office, decided to go corporate today!  Taken in a quieter street that looks very much like many city centre streets & did not involve putting on too much of a performance with the selfie stick/ golf club.

12 May

Sew Over It Pussy Bow blouse

Capital Chic Champagne skirt

Sewaholic Robson trenchcoat

May 13th

Today was back to back events & meetings- I needed to stay cool, calm & collected. Posing by Bath Abbey in the late afternoon sun.

13 May

80% Betty dress

Suede jacket- Kwik Sew 3334

May 14th

Working at home (or so I thought) – I had to make a trip into the office to sort out some IT problems- in the driving rain…

Simplicity 1696 chino trousers

Seamwork striped Aberdeen top (yet to be blogged)

McCalls 6708 cardigan

and then I needed to snuggle in the evening. This is a confession. Yes I can sometime be found in my toddler suit/ custody suit when I don’t think anyone will see me.


Arctic Hudson trousers

Linden sweatshirt

Handknitted slippersocks

May 15th

Working at home- yeah!  

15 May

Sewbox John Kaldor skirt (to be blogged)

Grey Sewaholic Renfrew top

Muse Jenna cardigan


I took my selfie stick in my bag with me to Sainsbury’s- do you get that? That is soooo sad!! I stopped by the shrubbery  when I saw people coming, hiding my selfie stick down the side of my skirt, pretending to admire the effective use of planting….

16 May

Love at First Stitch Mimi blouse

Cake patterns Pavolva skirt in jersey ( I wear this such a lot when the temperatures are just a tad warmer …)

Muse patterns Jenna cardigan (not shown)

Rainbow beach bag

May 17th

I had to opt out of my run today – gutted as it’s usually my weekend highlight. So I cosied up & sewed:

17 May

Maria Denmark Edith blouse in linen

Sew Over It Ultimate trousers- floral party on my legs version

Burda cocoon cardigan

May 18th

Working at home- Bimble & Pimble called her Moneta/Violet dress ‘stealth Pjs’ & I so agree!

18 May

Colette Moneta dress in polka dots

Simplicity 2154 cardigan

Seamwork Manila ponte leggings (honest!)

May 19th

Changeable weather today, but still had to be wrapped up in:

19 May

Grey Sewaholic Renfrew top

Papercut Ooh lala Leggings

Tropical explosion scuba circle skirt (Cake Patterns Pavlova)

McCalls 6708 cardigan in grass green – now this doesn’t usually get worn as the neck is so low due to the mistake I made when making it, but it is so right colour-wise with this skirt, that maybe it’ll get a bit more use as from now …..

May 20th

Back in the office today, but still rather chilly.  Trousers it had to be.  Behind me another of Bath’s iconic landmarks, Pulteney Bridge.

20 May


Chambray pintucked grandad shirt

Navy Sew Over It Ultimate trousers

Simplicity 2154 cardigan

Suede jacket- Kwik Sew 3334

Phew, that’s another 10 days !  The last 10 days will be interesting- I’ll be away by the seaside for some of it.  And just what to pack?!?!?!  How are you getting on?