tartan feature

Genealogy circle skirt of awesome tartan

tartan 9Apologies in advance as this is going to be picture heavy.  It deserves to be you see because this is possibly the MOST EXPENSIVE fabric I have ever sewn.  Or very close to my Harris Tweeds at any rate.  And once again this is as a result of my Dad’s tremendous generosity & love of quality.  Yes, he has struck again & for my last birthday in February, after checking with me & finding how much I wanted, my Dad bought me a length of proper Scottish 10oz wool tartan.  But not just any wool tartan, this tartan, as you have probably guessed from the title has family connections.  This is the Kincaid clan tartan, which relates to my great great great grandma, Jessey Kincaid, born in 1807, dying just 30 years later.


tartan 6

My Dad had actually asked me if I wanted some tartan (to make a kilt perhaps!) after the adventures on last seasons Great British Sewing Bee.  I politely declined, not really seeing that the cost of this type of fabric would be justified in the amount of wear I would get out of a kilt.  But then half a year or so later, he must have thought of it again & found some Kincaid tartan on the Scotland shop.  Sending me the link, I was able to check it out, make sure it wasn’t lilac (or other colours I really wouldn’t wear) & then do some visioning.  The good news was that it was a tartan that I really liked & that would be compatible with my usual colours & style.  But knowing that I would never make tartan trousers or anything that involved too much check matching, I was thinking along the skirt route.  Did I really want to repeat the lovely Harris Tweed pencil skirt?  It was an option.  However, having rediscovered circle skirts back in January, I started looking up inspiration.  Lauren’s plaid circle skirt was all the convincing I needed, & I sent the link off to my sewing Guru mother for her opinion, having also calculated the yardage required using the By Hand circle skirt calculator app.


tartan 1

We had a bit of an email debate about weight of the fabric & how it would hang… & I did not want to rush into the decision because this was expensive fabric & I wanted to get it right.  In the end though, I needed 1.5m for the full circle skirt which would give me plenty for a different kind of skirt should the fabric arrive & not be suitable.  The website did have plenty of information about the different weights of tartan though & what they can be used for, so I felt reasonably confident.

My Dad conjured up delivery on the day arrived last time I visited.  I think we were all really excited.


I was determined to make this skirt for wearing this season, not to let it linger, so I got stuck in last month.


tartan 2

This precious fabric needed as good a finish as I could muster.  But I needed not to be scared of it.  I used the skirt pattern from the Sew Over It Betty dress (slightly adapted to give me a quarter piece), placing it on carefully folded fabric, using the vertical & horizontal lines as right angles to then flip the quarter over to cut the mirror image, thereby cutting a complete circle.  I had cut a separate circle according to the waist curve I wanted to cut out.tartan circle skirt

Unlike the knit circle skirt I made, this skirt needed a zip & despite being cut out as a whole circle with a hole in the centre for my waist (slightly smaller than my actual waist measurement to allow for some natural stretching along the bias) I did need to cut a single vertical seam- a centre back seam, so that I could add a zip. (I also stay stitched the waist seam).

tartan 5

I finished the edges of this freshly cut vertical seam with bias binding, kind of Hong Kong seam, before inserting the zip, that way the edges are all finished neatly & in the same way.

Sewing a lapped zipper felt authentic & more easy to control pattern matching than using an invisible zip.  I think it might be a millimetre out in certain parts which is irritating, but not visible in usual wear.

I used waistband Vilene to create a nice neat crisp waistband.  I do love this stuff & always use it for skirts with waistbands.

I left the skirt to hang on my tailors dummy, Barbarella for the best part if  week I think.  I recognised that once I set the hem, I would need to devote enough time to actually sew it….there would be a lot to hem !  Once I had marked the hem I used my overlocker to cut & finish the new finished edge in one pass.  That way the wool fabric wouldn’t fray as I was working with it around the hem.  I liked keeping it under control!

tartan 7


You can probably imagine that sewing a round hem would bring all sorts of challenges, not only the distance.  Early on I decided that the best way for me to sew the hem would be with a bias hem, attaching bias binding by machine, right sides together, then turning the bias binding to the inside then hand sewing this as the hem.  And this would also look neat with the honk Kong finish on the centre back seam.  Of course I chose satin bias binding for something a bit swish!  I bought far too much because I couldn’t be bothered to test my maths out …I should have exercised the grey cells though, shouldn’t I?

tartan 8

I am not saying it took a long time to hand sew the hem, but two beers & two episodes of Game of Thrones later, it was done.  And I am pleased with the result.  The bias binding was easy to manipulate around the curved edge & I think I can get away with such a shallow hem because the fabric is heavy enough.

Now initially I had thought I would line it.  But after a while I realised that even if I line it, I would still wear it with a full slip because a wool waistband is too itchy not to.  And so I didn’t line it.


tartan circle skirt

It really has a feel of luxury to it – the volumes of beautiful wool….

I think that because this fabric is so very expensive and makes this skirt the most expensive skirt item of clothing I have, I want it not to be hanging idle & reserved for special occasions, but something that can be worn out & about in every day life.

tartan 11

And I have now rejoiced in wearing it on a blustery Spring day.  It felt so good.  I had lots of swish, but it was not toooo flashy for lunch with friends  & for an evening meal in a local country pub.  It looks cute with heels, but in everyday life I wear it with my boots this time of the year.tartan 12

I love this skirt & that it has family history behind it.  ANd this makes it even more special as it combines my passion for sewing with my Dad’s interest in tracing our family history.  He’s done decades of work on it & I am expecting this skirt to give me decades of pleasure (or is that a little optimistic?  Better keep the moths away & keep the running going!!!)

Outfit notes.  Also appearing with my tartan circle skirt are my Fleece Renfrew top and a new essential black SoZo Dolores batwing top (as yet unblogged).

what do you reckon to a bit of everyday luxury or would you keep it for specials?

What’s this week got in store?

Hi folks!  Just a quick one really. First of all I am pleased to announce that I have started the process to make my Harris Tweed jacket.

It’ll be a while before I cut into this wondrous fabric though.  I am making Simplicity 2446 , heavily influenced by the two wonderful examples and detailed notes written at Allspiceabounds by Carolyn.  I’ve toiled it – hurrah!  And have started the cutting out of blazer number one which I am hoping turns out well enough to wear.  I’ve bought a polka dot cotton &  whilst not a blatant replica of Carolyn’s polka dot blazer, it may have similarities & why not make a bit of Boden to hang on my coat peg?   My plan is to use this version to refine fit, learn how to make the pockets, vents etc & work on my details before committing to the hallowed Harris Tweed.  Thank  you in advance Carolyn for all of your detailed notes & wonderful blazers (in both lengths).  I shall be revisiting your notes a lot I think!

So that’s going to be a bit of slow sewing interspersed I am sure with some quickies.  And I have been sewing up a storm recently so there are plenty of newly made things to get photographed & written up.  It’s about time I slowed down …

On another note, at the end of this week I am out & about.

Anyone else going to head over to the open day at the Fabric Godmother?

I must be completely crazy because it’s something like a four hour plus train journey (or should I say trains journey as I have lots of connections!) but I just can’t wait!  I love the idea of seeing Josie’s fabrics in real life- she has some really unusual Italian designer fabrics for starters as well as some quality classics.  I am really looking forward to meeting Josie for the first time & maybe some new & old friends?

Plus I’m heading to the coast!  Woo hoo!

Lisa, the lady behind the Avid Seamstress is also going to be there & I have to say that I’d been aware of the patterns but have not bought any, but my attention was grabbed when I say Josie (aka Fabric Godmother)’s take on the Day Dress.  It’s funny how sometimes another interpretation & pairing of pattern & fabric changes things.  No I haven’t bought the pattern 😉

But the original question, now that I have come back from my rambling, stands.  Who might be going & therefore who might I get to meet?  Let me know in the comments won’t you?!


polka dot PJs feature

#Vintagepledge polka dot PJs plus vintage lace

I’ll be giving an update on the voting for my vintage pledge at the end of this post, but here’s my first contribution to this year’s Vintage Pledge…. They started with the fabric.  From my fave Bath fabric shop, Sewing Studio on Charles Street.

polka dot PJs

At the time I was choosing between the turquoise and the magenta.   The turquoise was a slightly different fabric, a bit stiffer, more of a poplin.  The burgundy was a softer cotton, beautiful & soft to the touch.  The turquoise became my first Orla top.  This magenta might have become a dress, that is certainly where my thinking started.  I got two metres.  But then the idea of pyjamas was born.  And not just any PJs, but these vintage PJs mentioned as part of my vintage pledge – long leg trousers with a short sleeved top.  I kind of fancied one of the collars but couldn’t make my mind up which one to go for. 

style 4262


Which was just as well, because come the time to cut them out, there was really not enough to get any collars out.  I mean seriously scrimping for fabric to get most of the pieces out of the polka dots.  I had to piece the front facing together even. 

Back neck darts

Back neck darts

The top was lovely to sew- a few darts (including beloved neck darts) – but a loose fit.  No surprise techniques from the 70s to be found in the instructions.  But this was of the era when patterns were sold in single sizes & the seam lines are printed on the pattern as well as the cutting lines.  That made me all nostalgic….

polka dot PJs

There was no interfacing required.  I thought about this & felt that I too would gamble – they are PJs, soft lines, comfy, no starch.  Possibly I could get away with it.  Besides, having spliced a couple of pieces of fabric together for the front facings left me a little reluctant to interrupt my creative streak by taking it apart to recut as interfacing.  I took the risk & people, no one died!  The neckline is soft as befits sleep wear.  The buttons & buttonholes are under no undue strain as this top is a loose fit.  (It is a medium – you might think it looks sacklike but it’s sleepwear, not bodycon…)   I think we will survive.  It just came out of the wash a little crinkled…but I refuse to iron PJs just for the sake of a slightly rumpled neck facing.

polka dot PJs

The trousers are a single piece pattern, cut twice (one for each leg) – thereby eliminating the outside leg seam.  Nice & swift to sew!  But they were pretty huge.  I had all sorts of adjustments to make for size – both leg width, length & crotch depth.  As it turns out I bet I could have cut the trousers with a shallower crotch as they came up very high & I needed to lose some of the depth.  I bet I could have squeezed a collar out of that wastage.  Never mind.  By that time I was set on a different path – collarless top, but with one pocket, as per the pattern, jauntily placed over the hip.  I had  doubts about making the top with such a high neckline with no collar & had thought I could maybe dig out a vintage lace collar to compensate. 

Lace topped pocket

Lace topped pocket

And that was what got me placing some vintage lace (courtesy of Minnado– see I am still treasuring it x) on the pocket.  But when the top was almost finished & presentable on Barbarella, my dummy, it was clear that the lace collar was just a doily too far.   So the lace around the arm hems was not in the initial vision, but were added having now the lace on the pocket, which would have looked a bit isolated with no other lace through the whole length of these PJs…I like it!  That’s sort of how I design on the go….playing around with what I’ve got as I go along, and not necessarily there at the beginning when I cut out.

laced trimmed sleeves

laced trimmed sleeves

Buttons were also added according to my depleting button stash.  I did not have enough of the same buttons for a set, so used alternative flower/ plain white buttons as my ‘design’.  I

polka dot PJs

have to say that the understated fancy of these PJs dings my bell.  And they are just so lovely to wear.  I‘d already set on making these when Karen’s post on making proper full PJs came out.  Yes, I do deserve to look nice in bed & ditch those race t-shirts.  Proper PJs, decent enough to wear on a sleepover- pass the cinzano!!

polka dot pjs

PS I will not be making a summer version with elasticated legged bloomers.  Just saying.

polka dot Pjs

And as an update on the voting for my vintage pattern commitment it looks like it’s the 1970s wrap dress that’s streets ahead of the 1950s jacket.  If you want to add to the voting I’ll leave it going for another couple of weeks (purely because I am not going to do anything just yet…)  You can access it using the link to the original post, or even in the sidebar (but you don’t get the pictures of the patterns in the sidebar ,-) )


sewing across thick seams the easy way

Sewing thick seams- everyone’s got a humper bumper

This folks, is my take on a very useful piece of kit for sewing over thick seams.  This is a flexible, variable  ‘humper bumper’ that every seamster already has in their kit- and it isn’t a folded piece of cardboard.

Thick layers to sew across

Thick layers to sew across

Using a wool like Harris Tweed for my Anya bag meant there were some thick seams to negotiate (eg sewing over the numbers of layers that result when you sew the bag + lining with straps in between.)    It would be the same with any thicker fabric, even denim.   And sewing clothing like jeans with belt loops & flat felled seams, can also result in similar sewing machine challenges.


My first experience of using a ‘humper bumper’ was when sewing my Ginger jeans.  This is something you use to help your machine deal with thick seams- particularly sewing over/ across thick seams of which there are a lot in jeans sewing eg crotch seam intersection, belt loops, hemming.  I used a folded up piece of cardboard for my jeans but did not have any cardboard to hand when sewing my bag.

humper bumper

But what does every seamster have to hand?  A tape measure of course which makes the perfect humper bumper!  Create an instant piece of extra padding by folding up a few layers of tape measure to whatever thickness you need.

humper bumper

You use it once you have actually just started to sew the lumpy bit, pausing just as you get there to add the folded tape layers underneath the back of the sewing machine foot to equalise/ steady it for going forward.

humper bumper

Even though I use a walking foot, the added ‘humper bumper’ was a boon.  Give it a go next time – no purchase required!

Anya bag

Anya bag in Harris Tweed

I have made a few bags in my time, but never have any made such an impression as this one.  Partly due to pattern, but also thanks to the fabrics, it has to be said.  I felt it was time to make a new day bag & had heard how deceptively roomy the Anya bag by So Zo is.  Zoe had kindly sent me the pattern as a housewarming gift (so kind!) & with Spring in the air & a few free hours in the afternoon I tried to bring together some suitable fabrics from my stash.

anya bag

I had initially thought of using some of the pleather I had left from my Madrid tote bag made last year.  But then I remembered I might have enough Harris Tweed  left for some of the bag, if not all.  Excitement raised, I hunted it out & gleefully discovered there was enough (just) to make the whole bag out of the Harris Tweed & use one of the genuine labels too.  Don’t cheapen it, I thought & discounted any use of a contrast yoke.  Keep to the Harris Tweed.  Line up the checks.  Find a lovely lining.  I looked through my Liberty remnants thinking that a Liberty lining would be classy enough for such a fine tweed.  Nothing really zinged though.  Especially when I found a piece of pink satin lining.  Oh my, the shine!  The pink that took out the pink lines in the tweed!  It was a match.  Cutting & sewing started.

anya tab

I was going to add to the pattern slightly by including an inner pocket (in bird print cotton ) & instead of a button tab, use one of those magnetic clasps.  As long as I could remember where I had stored it.  Luckily I did.  Considering my flaky memory, the list of ‘things I can’t find after unpacking’ is very short.  And now does not include magnetic clasps.

anya tab sewing

So the thing to remember is that if you are using magnetic clasps, they need to be added / installed early on to both the tab & the yoke piece before you really start sewing.  It’s fine though, just use the markings on the pattern & they will meet up once the bag is constructed.

anya pocket

The same with a pocket.  I sewed the pocket & attached it to the lining, once the lining yoke was attached to the bag lining piece but before sewing the two linings + yokes together.

Everything else carries on like usual & Zoe’s instructions are mucho comprehensive.  There is also a one page quick sheet if you don’t need all the detail.

The Goy-jus Handmade Jane remembers my fondness for Harris Tweed & had bought me some genuine Harris Tweed covered buttons as a birthday present last year.  The perfect gift & I am glad to say, I have added two to this bag as a classy finishing touch – they are not exactly the same Tweed pattern, but the colours are spot on.  And I still have four buttons to embellish something else 🙂

anya buttons

I am absolutely smitten with the lovely shape & soft pleats of this bag.  But it’s the use of this my last  last piece of Harris Tweed that fills me most with joy.  I know my Dad, who bought it for me, will be so pleased.

Tweedy to the max

Will I wear it with my skirt?  I do not know….what do you think?

Let me tell you though …this bag is roomy…I was able to fit my usual stuff PLUS my DSLR without any particular strains – tab closed nicely & bag’s pleats accommodated it all without any fuss.  What a star bag …. Its only shortcoming is its owner …insisting on using it on rainy days when perhaps she should have been looking after the precious tweed a bit better (It’s OK, nothing ruined !)

So if you’re on bank holiday today you could find some beautiful remnant in your stash to breathe a new lease of life and productivity into? Making a bag can be such a rewarding project for a rainy day! 

orla top

Orla in chiffon

Way back when I made my first Orla top, fresh from Tilly and the Buttons, I imagined how it could be in a chiffon.  I am a huge chiffon fangirl- pick the right design – I usually go for polka dots (Link to my Sarah shirt, Simplicity 2154) or vintage florals (link to my anti-climax top’ Butterick 3082) – & it can be conjured up into the most special looking of tops, suitable for dressing up or down.  I mean it is ethereal, willo-the-wisp type fabric, yet it has all the benefits of a polyester – easy care & easy wear.  I must sound like a broken record, but I know that making something that can be easy care easy wear (ie no ironing) extends the usefulness & wear of this garment exponentially in the badger wardrobe of lazy style. 


Let me reveal to you just how much I wear my chiffon tops mentioned above.  My Sarah shirt, barely a month old has been worn weekly – particularly underneath a grey v neck sloppy jumper & my grey ultimate pencil skirt.  This is the most cosy of outfits & has seen me through various occasions – going to the theatre, going to a kind of informal job interview, looking a bit country chic at home & also going to see my very first 20 piece ‘Big Band’.  My my anti-climax top’ (read the link to find out why it has that name) is a semi smart & going out stalwart.  I wear it with an office skirt, tucked in with cardi when needed.  I wear it untucked with jeans & my faux suede jacket to gigs, or same top combo with a denim skirt.  The secret for me is the retro styling matched with the retro floral.  Sometimes there is a place for a simple blouse that has a reasonably high neck.  It sits at just the right level not to be uncomfortable & strangling.  Just the last time I wore it, I was complimented (by a bloke- for real!) on how nice my top was.

orla top  

I have bought my chiffon at various times from the Birmingham Rag Market, & after using this piece, have only one more length left.  It ‘s red & floral is likely to be a So Over It Pussy Bow blouse in case you are wondering …watch this space…

orla (4)

So the Orla top, by Tilly and the Buttons, has joined the wearable & desirable chiffon league in my wardrobe.  Without the collar it has a similar neckline to my anticlimax top- also having those lovely neck darts (I adore neck darts, they always seem to work so well on me & get such a snappy fit!). 

orla top (3)

Remember Orla also has the suavest set of bodice darts ever – back darts plus curved French darts in the bodice front.  They might be showing up just that little bit more in chiffon – great excuse for tidy seams & finishing.  Speaking of which, I sewed all seams as French seams- both because chiffon can fray & produce irritating whiskers but also because the seam finishing would potentially show through the garment’s sheerness.   I also took advantage of my overlocker for sewing the first part of the French seam as this trims off all of those pesky whiskers to create a lovely even thin seam for enclosing inside the second part of the French seam.

What I also envisaged when I first made my Orla in chiffon decree, was that I would change the back opening from the exposed zipper to a single button opening – keeping the back as one piece if I could.  Working slightly on the fly, after I had cut out most of the pieces, including the single back piece, I had to design the button opening.  As a design feature, I thought a nice keyhole opening would be cute & also be the simplest to manage on a single back bodice cut on the fold.  I redrafted the back facing to be cut on the fold with a circular hole in the centre.  I made a rouleau loop to pin into place between facing & bodice before sewing. I did not cut the back bodice keyhole until after I had sewn the facing to the back bodice, thus using the new facing as the template. 

orla top

Everything else was as per Tilly’s clear & beautifully photographed instructions.  I do like the hem facings for such a shaped hem as this – it really makes for a satisfying solid feeling finish.

orla and circle skirt 

So I was able to pair this top with my easy black circle skirt for the special birthday party I told you about.  Wearabilty of chiffon is enhanced with an under layer!  It would be too transparent to wear without the defence of a camisole or vest.  Not having a black camisole or strappy vest & not wanting to rely on my only black slip, I hastened to make a Savannah camisole vest, a Seamwork pattern, out of black tricot. 


I thought about embellishing it with lace, but did not have enough black stretch lace in my stash.  Besides, something like this that will be a little on show will be best plain.  Classier.  Savannah can be made from woven fabrics cut on the bias. 

I figured that using a stretch fabric I could get away with cutting it straight grain, which is what I did.  I used my twin needle for sewing any of the horizontal seams- the hem & the top edges.  Side seams were sewn using my overlocker.  I made straps out of folded fold over elastic which I also stitched using my twin needle.  By far the fiddliest stage is sorting out the straps, but all in all a perfect make.  I’m very pleased with the end result & the fit is more roomy than SoZo’s camisole vest (which I had also considered, knowing what a great pattern that is).  The fit, in this instance, was what I was after as in a manmade fabric like this, gives a bit more breathing space.

orla and circle skirt

Wearing the three together, predominantly three black garments, did make me think about colour.  It has been a while since I have made black clothes.  But strangely enough, it is still so wearable, despite thinking that navy is the new black, somehow, there is always black, isn’t there?   

circle skirt

Possibly the easiest circle skirt in the world…

Happy Sunday everyone!  Hope you have been doing a bit of what you love (even better if it’s a lot of what you love 🙂 )…

I have had a glorious Saturday afternoon of sewing, prompted by an urge that I just possibly could make a whole new outfit for a special birthday party this afternoon.  Having just some finishing touches to make for a top (one that I will reveal properly  in another post, but it’s peeping out in today’s pics….) I got it into my head that I could actually conjure up a new skirt, & cami to wear underneath this top (that will also be revealed separately).  Because this is about the circle skirt.

circle skirt

I have a bit of a thing for circle skirt exploration at the moment as I shall be making an AWESOME one very shortly – I just need to complete my supplies before I can start sewing, but it is cut out ready.  I am being such a blimmin awful tease so far aren’t I?  All promises of things to come, & not much else.  OK, I was trying to complete the backstory for making a circle skirt this time.  Since revisiting this circle skirt , & just how wearable & cute it is with cropped tops & even heels, I have been drawn to making more.  This one today is a full circle skirt.  Like, all one piece, no seams.  For real.  Spread it out on the floor and it’s like a donut.  (one that’s decidedly more dough than hole).

circle skirt

That is one of the joys of making a circle skirt.  It doesn’t have to have seams as long as you make it with an elasticated waist.  And gone are the days of elasticated waists being frumpy.  When you have a swish circle skirt & combine it with some deep elastic, the elastic itself takes on a role as part of the design- almost a built in waspi belt, but without the buckle.  Mix it up a bit with an elastic in a feature colour or you can even get patterned elastics.  What’s stopping you?  If I wanted I could have made mine more cinched by making it a bit smaller – a bit of guestimating going on for my elastic.   However, the skirt succeeds at staying on my waist, nice & comfy.  I reckon I could wear this for days on end, the kind of thing that would also be very comfy to travel in.  It’s that easy to wear.

I made the skirt using a length of jersey that I got from Croftmill before Christmas thinking that it would make a nice skirt for a gift, however, I did not get enough for the kind of skirt I wanted to give.  Classic ordering fail on my part.  It’s got swirls & flowers embellishing it – in relief, like ribbon embroidery but with strips of he jersey.  But for all that prettiness it is still a basic black skirt so will be super mixable with other garments & for different occasions.



So making it.  I already mentioned that I cut a circle – folded the fabric into quarters to make it super easy & used my Pavolva skirt pattern as a basis, but had a bit of squaring up to do.  There’s explanation for how to cut your circle skirt in one piece here at Donna Carol’s blog.  And don’t forget the By Hand circle skirt app that helps calculate yardages & what the radius of your waist circle needs to be for the kind of circle skirt you want to make to fit you.


Right side and wrong side of waistband.

So once I had cut my circle with a hole in the middle, I then measured my elastic (waist + seam allowances)  & joined it into a circle with a narrow zig zag  seam.  I also used a zig zag to stitch the seam allowances down.  (You might want to stay stitch the skirt’s waist before attaching the elastic but I didn’t, doesn’t mean to say what I did was right!!  NB if you do stay stitch with a straight stitch it really will only be a temporary stitching line and may actually snap in several places if you leave it in when you wear it as it will get stretched.  Why staystitch you ask?  Well, it might make it easier for you to control the application of the elastic to this edge….) soooo….

Right side showing how I zig zagged the seam allowances of the elastic

Right side showing how I zig zagged the seam allowances of the elastic

Marking the elastic into quarters I also marked quarters along the skirt’s waist.  With right sides together, bottom edge of elastic to top waist edge of skirt I matched elastic markers to waist markers.   It was then a case of stitching the elastic to the skirt with a suitable stretch stitch – in my case using my overlocker, but a zig zag will do just as well.  I had to stretch the elastic to match the skirt’s waist which results in the elastic bringing the waist to the right size as this edge will probably have stretched out.


Handmade Jane has got a great tutorial for attaching elastic to a waistband here….slightly different to mine & better if you want to see every bit of your elastic if it has a pattern on it.

OK, so nearly with a finished skirt, I let it hang overnight as there is a lot of bias action going on here.  Next day I measured up from the floor (using my dummy, Barbarella which has a chalk marker- this is the singular most useful thing about having a dressmakers dummy in my opinion) I marked the same distance from the ground all the way round.  I then used my overlocker to finish the edge & cut off the excess all in one go.  Pow!

Hem & cut all in one go

Hem & cut all in one go

It was just a normal overlock stitch, using the chalk markings as a guide to get an even hem.  You could use a rolled hem, or with a regular machine cut the hem evenly then finish with a zig zag perhaps or just leave the cut edge as I did here.  (And it’s still absolutely OK!)

The finished hem

The finished hem

So, a super duper easy peasey circle skirt.  Super duper easy photos too….

You will next see this skirt when I tell you about the rest of the outfit.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend folks x


Minerva make: Rachel Wrap dress by Maria Denmark

I took a  sojourn from the Minerva Blogging Network & my usual mega obsessive sewing, & replaced it with all things moving house etc but am pleased to take up where I left off now that life in the country is in a steady state & sewing is very much back on the agenda. Whoopity whoop!!

Rachel wrap dress

I’ve made the Rachel Wrap dress by Maria Denmark & for my full write up visit the Minerva Blogging Network here.  Photos are taken by my very own David Bailey father, can you tell ? 😉

phoebe feature

Phoebe in blue (& a discount!)

I had no immediate urge to sew the Phoebe dress when it was released by Colette Patterns.  I liked the look of it, & thought the styling was cute, but I did not fall over myself to acquire it & make it.  It was not one of those love at first sight patterns, I’ll admit.  But there is something about sewing a Colette pattern that still feels like a total treat – the spa experience of sewing.  Relax, sink into new depths of peace whilst you focus on the detail as guided in the signature little instruction booklet.  You know you are sewing something stylish.  You know it will be a quality garment.    You don’t have to print out reams of A4 sheets depleting your ink & then tape together on the rug in front of the TV.  You pop the envelope, reach inside for the crisp tissue paper folded as it will never ever be again & unwrap your next sewing adventure.  There is something very experiential.  It’s worth taking your time over.

phoebe dress

Phoebe dress is described by Colette Patterns as

A modern A line sheath dress with a customizable style. The lined bodice shaped with princess seams makes Phoebe incredibly easy to fit. Angled waist darts create a flattering shape that is echoed by the lightly flared skirt.

There are two versions – a straight plain fronted dress & a double breasted dress with buttons. I chose the latter as why not get some button interest going?!Phoebe is a modern A-line sheath dress with a customizable style. The lined bodice shaped by princess seams makes Phoebe incredibly easy to fit. Angled waist darts create a flattering shape that is echoed by the lightly flared skirt. Phoebe is a modern A-line sheath dress with a customizable style. The lined bodice shaped by princess seams makes Phoebe incredibly easy to fit. Angled waist darts create a flattering shape that is echoed by the lightly flared skirt. Phoebe is a modern A-line sheath dress with a customizable style. The lined bodice shaped by princess seams makes Phoebe incredibly easy to fit. Angled waist darts create a flattering shape that is echoed by the lightly flared skirt.

phoebe dress

Sew Essential provided me with the Phoebe sewing pattern (they stock so many of the Independent pattern companies’ sewing patterns now along with all of the bigger brands) and some fabric to make it up in.  I was taken by the crepe dress making fabric, & figured a royal blue Phoebe would be super playfully chic if I made it as a pinafore.  Yes, I can wear pinafores, it doesn’t have to be something for the youngsters.  I felt could make it work.

I am not the standard Colette Patterns bodice shape so I had to make a toile, then another, then another.  I think back on that afternoon & remember I was watching episode after episode of the Great Interior Design Challenge on iPlayer through this experience.  Do you remember things like that?  What you were listening to/ watching when you sew something?  For my Joan dress, for example it was the new series of the X Files…..the Rhys Darby episode particularly sticks in my mind.


My version is the white paper – the original is tissue paper behind

So the bodice took some work to get it to fit my (clearly odd ) non standard shape.  It was an effort, as always, because the area that was so wrong for me was behind me.  I pinched out the excess as best as I could & then kept making new versions up with each set of adjustments until I came as close as I was prepared to.  Comparing the original piece with the ‘badger body’ back bodice I was surprised to see that it was in the upper shoulder area – my adjustments to the Laurel dress have a much smaller adjustment taken off at the back shoulder, but the rest of the dress fitted much more easily.  Just interesting.  And I felt I was toiling like a pro when I was transferring the adjustments to the pattern pieces & then remembering to make compensatory adjustments to the armsyce.  Gosh I have learnt so much from the online sewing community.

During the evolution of the toile I was able to see where the bodice waist seam was going to fall – it is higher than my natural waist.  I had the opportunity to lower the waist if I wanted, but as you can see, I was happy with the higher waist (good camouflage for those bloaty days) but could squeeze a sway back adjustment into the final version.

I was confident that I could make adjustments to the skirt in progress & not toile it.  It seems fitting that the bulk of the content in this write up is devoted to the bodice as that is where it felt that all the time went!  Once I had got to my final bodice I could not wait to get sewing.  It is a lined bodice, but I also lined the skirt as well.  The instructions of course are clear & carefully take you through the sewing process, including the bodice lining.  I opted to sew my skirt lining into waist seam & hand sew the bodice at the waist over the top.  I wanted the weight of the skirt to pull the bodice ever so slightly as it fitted better like that!


The Phoebe dress doesn’t have to have a centre back invisible zip but that’s what I chose.  If there is a faux double breasted front, let’s hide the real opening I thought.  (The instructions suggest using a regular zip).  Onto that double breasting.  Yes it is faux in that it doesn’t function as a way in/ out of the dress.  But it is made up of two separate overlapping lined bodice fronts so if you played with the skirt, you could make this into a suit dress hack with buttons going all the way down the skirt front too.   Hmm.  That could look pretty cool – pinstripe maybe over a plain white shirt?

phoebe dress

Back to this version though.  Call me lazy (but not too loud!) but I was not going to sew buttonholes just for the sake of it.  There are 10 buttons after all & with buttonholes, mo matter how careful you are, there are always stray tufts sticking out.  You could of course go full on & sew bound buttonholes making this rather a showcase of skill.  But not me, not this time.  I sewed the buttons onto the markings through all bodice layers.  This keeps the bodice where it needs to be & with the bonus of buttons.  I like royal blue & black so hunted out a couple of options.  Here are the two choices I gave myself – both plastic-  flowers & faceted jet-like buttons.  I had the fortune of a second opinion via my sewing guru (my Mum) & we concurred – flowers were more fun.

Here it is in action, photos courtesy of my very own David Bailey  father.  I took Phoebe with me on my last visit, handsewing still to be completed, but knowing that my family photographer loves to be called on for a photoshoot with a willing idiot….

phoebe dress

One thing I will say.  The fit feels good, the bodice has less ease due to it being kind of tailored.  The front is easy to fit with princess seams, but the back is where my problems were…never easy when you sew solo.

phoebe dress

If I was to wear this without a top underneath my bra straps show.  That could be down to my armsyce adjustments (pride comes before a fall afterall) or maybe they are more scooped.  Anyone else made Phoebe who can comment?

phoebe dress

Anyway, the gorgeous crepe dressmaking fabric  that I used is available from Sew Essential – lots of colours available  & this is an Orla top, made from the cream crepe, isn’t it fine?  You can get the Phoebe dress sewing pattern at Sew Essential too …and until the 29th March 2016 there is a 10% discount if you use the code BADGER10!  Tempted?

My Vintage pledge – you decide!

Another year, another pledge.  The Vintage Pledge as hosted by Marie of A Stitching Odyssey and Kerry at Kestrel Makes.  It was rather an adventure last year with all sorts of giveaways, vintage themed blog posts & of course many many Vintage makes.  This year it is here again & here are my thoughts about what I shall be doing. 


This has been in the various parts of my brain sometime now (some parts very cheeky & totally impractical, others pretty ephemeral- I need help here folks!) but in the end the great percolation allows some ideas to take life & a form of commitment here on my blog. 

I am a bit late in the game, with this year’s vintage pledge being firmly underway & acquiring momentum whilst I am the one scrappily running to the bus stop just as I see the brake lights come off. 

Don’t ask me what’s kept me.  Did I oversleep?  Was the cat sick on the rug?  You tell me, but I am here now with some vintage pattern candy.  Oh yes.  I am not going to promise to sew all of these patterns this year.   But maybe my delay indicates that there is more of a chance of these appearing in solid sewing plans than being just a wondrous wishlist of vintage style.  At the end there will be a voters poll – you can decide which of these I will definitelt make.  I promise to make the pattern with the greatest number of votes.

Here for your delight are some pictures & ideas.  Not too many words. Sit back & enjoy …

 style 4262

  1. I am actually making these as I type.  Style 4262- out of the magenta polka dot cotton.  OOOh .  Sadly I do not have enough to make them with all the works so let’s see how they turn out…

mccalls 75202. McCalls 7520.  That jacket.  I just have to make it this year.

simplicity 62623. Simplicity 6262 – a woven shawl collared wrap dress.  Yum.

butterick 66174. Butterick 6617.  I just adore the zip fronted A lined gorgeousness of the sleeveless version & what should I spy this week to rekindle adoration but Kat’s very own version on Modern Vintage Cupcakes (see how she handled the flyaway collar 😉 )

mccalls 69805. McCalls 6980 cries out to join the party.  Yes it is 1980s but I really want to take the sleeveless version & show what a stylish timeless dress this is.  Pussy bow.  Say no more.

vogue 30076. Vogue 3007 is a gem and has been cherished by me as I borrow it from the Vintage Queen, Handmade Jane.  Jane- I will make this jacket this year & that’s a promise.  But which one?

simplicity 11667. This is another promise, Simplicity 1166, a reproduction from the 1950s.  I *shall* be making the blouse with tie waist & the swishy skirt.  What a combo…

simplicity 13658. Another reproduction but this time from the 1970s.  Simplicity 1365 oooh, everything about these tops makes me squeal.  Surely I will manage one (or two) of these?  Surely there will be a summer holiday which will be impossible without a girly halter?

simplicity 11979. I have Simplicity 1197 here for its coat.  One of my most worn shop bought items is a coat from Boden that is much this style.  Time to make myself a replacement – in some kind of cotton canvas with a cute lining.  But this is wishlist fodder.  Will it come to pass this year?

daily herald 50s pattern10. Finally an original 1950s pattern which I’ve made before (my Rockahula Vegas top & high waisted shorts) .  It is glorious & I shall be making some more of the sleeveless tops I reckon.

So now for the voting.  If you want to have a say in what youd like to see appearing on my blog as part of my Vintage Pledge, cast your vote now …

Which Vintage pattern shall I promise to make this year?

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As an exciting second part to this blog post, you must have seen that there is going to be an epic big vintage sewalong hosted by McCalls in aid of raising awareness of the Eve appeal charity.  Check out the information here.  There are some familiar faces taking part & you can too.  The good news is that I am part of it too & have chosen an amazing pattern to make up.  It will be a challenge, that’s all I am saying for now, but I have a few months before I need to complete it.  You will have forgotten about it by the time I have finished it ….

I think it is so easy to join in with the vintage pledge  as so many companies now offer reproduction vintage patterns that take away some of the difficulties an original vintage pattern might bring – ie multi sizing & printed patterns (as opposed to the punched dots of the earlier sewing patterns!)

Are you in the vintage pledge this year?  Why not join in the Big Vintage Sewalong? #BVSewalong