clemence skirt

This is a Clemence skirt

Such a simple skirt, the Clemence from Love at First Stitch.  In theory I’ve already plenty of almost-Clemences under my belt since it is essentially a gathered skirt with a waistband & side seam pockets.   But being part of the Love at First Stitch programme for developing confidence in your sewing skills, a skirt like the Clemence skirt was bound to feature as a good way to learn gathering, mastering waistbands & side seam pockets as well as putting in a zip.

clemence skirt

However, whilst I have made plenty of almost-Clemences in my time, this is the first with the personality of Clemence, owed to that ultra wide waistband.  That is what makes Clemence stand apart from the usual gathered skirt, & that is the feature that makes my skirt a true Clemence.  And I used the pocket pattern piece, because why not, when it is there for you?  But the rest of the pattern is defined by measurements & cutting the right sized rectangles for a front & two backs, which I didn’t follow.

clemence skirtUnplanned to be out of focus – but I like it- sort of matches the weather

I was lazy & just maximised the pieces I could get out of the available fabric, which I have to say is glorious, isn’t it?  It was so kindly given to me by Hannah from Sinbad & Sailor & I reckon it’s silk.  So lush does it hang & swing & feel to the touch.  I know, I know, I should do a burn test to find out for real, but would knowing if it was silk or not make a difference to my love of this skirt?  You know the answer to that.

clemence skirt

I do not have much to say about this as the photos tell it all.  It’s fun & swirly, girly & with its polka dots has oodles of personality to add to that deep high waistband.  It’s another of those winning pieces that can be a work skirt or a weekend skirt.

You don’t have to look too closely to see that I took these photos & left the back zip open!  Doh!

clemence skirt

One error of judgement – the pockets are set a bit too low.  Left to my own devices, when not following pattern notches I always seem to get pocket placement either too high or too low.  That is my blind spot.  I can move them at some point.  But no point in being too explicit about that – take my word for it, they are pretty lowslung.

clemence skirt

I made this before Ozzy Blackbeard posted about the links she had found for sewing french seams with a zip (although I used a regular lapped zip)  and also with French seams with side seam pockets.  Wished I’d even considered looking that up as I do prefer French seams for fabric like this.  I just overlocked all my seam finishes.


That said, this was an unbelievably quick make & you have seen it appear previously as part of my Brick Lane/ St Martin’s photo shoot last month.

Clemence and Mimi

But I kept this one back for now – with a Mimi blouse too.  Double polka dots.  Double Tilly.  Have you made any Clemences?  Are you also a fan of the skirt’s personality & the waistband?

Julia cardigan

Cosy autumn layers

I mentioned a few posts back that I had not been a totally selfish sewer recently. I had a few family birthdays that I have been sewing for, & have decided to share a little combo I made for my lovely Mum in September.  (Yep, I am a bit late writing this up!)


First of all I had made her a cap sleeved version of the Julia cardigan by Mouse House creations. I knew my Mum would like the idea of an extra layer for autumn, that she could wear with her favourite long sleeve t-shirts. She used to wear waistcoats & has even crocheted herself a sleeveless bolero recently so I took the risk that it would fit into her current wardrobe. I’d snuck in a wear of my own sleeveless/ capped sleeve version in the summer to see if she would remark on it & I think she did, but it seems such a long time ago now that I can’t remember! This was a surprise, & I made it out of a blue cotton mix sweater knit (again from Abakhan in the rummage section, bought in the summer when I visited for the last time *sob* when my youngest graduated.)

Julia cardigan

As with my Jenna cardigan, I used the reverse of the sweater knit (reverse stocking stitch side) as the outside as I liked the texture & knew my Mum would.

What is there to say about it. I’ve written about making it up in earlier versions of my Julias. This is the capped sleeve version & I had enough fabric to make a double hem so that it has a nice neat & solid finish.


I tested it out for blog photos, but it turns out that I didn’t have to as my Mum bravely modelled it. Truly, this is a big thing, she absolutely hates having her photo taken & wants to remain anonymous, but knows how much better clothes look when they are modelled on real people. And it gave my Dad another opportunity to use his new camera with a willing victim subject! (As long as she could hide her face.)


But what is that she is wearing it with? Yes, the skirt is something she made recently, which brought her sew-jo back to life.  I think she sill prefers knitting & crochet these days, but it is good to see that my sewing guru can still be tempted to put her foot to the pedal & whip up something out of a remnant!


But the funny thing is that I’d heard her muse about making a pencil skirt & thought that I could make her a lovely knit version (like Mabel).   I’d bought her a metre of lovely charcoal ponte from my local fabric shop  I thought I could be irritatingly clever & combine a pencil skirt with a stable knit & create arguably *the most comfiest skirt* she could ever hope to wear. However when I consulted her, she liked the idea of a long skirt to wrap her feet in during sofa time & also liked the idea of it being a gored skirt.

Knit Maxi skirt

Well, I brushed up on my maths & designed a six gored skirt that would fit my Mum’s measurements & would also be accommodated by just 1 m x 1.60m of fabric (there’s not much to my Mum!). If you are interested in how I did this, I will take you through my rudimentary drafting steps! (Apologies about the untechnical drawings!)

Key measurements to take:

Finished garment hip, waist, and finished length .   (ie body measurements plus desired ease. I made sure Mum sat down & we measured the “comfy” measurements in that way)

I wanted to make a 6 gore skirt and with it being an elasticated waist, the waist was going to be the same as the hip measurement, but gathered up when the elastic was attached. This allows enough room to get the skirt on over your hips without a zip or other closure. So the width of the top of my gore at the waist edge was finished hip measurement divided by 6 plus a seam allowance each side.

Then I measured the vertical length of the gore (at right angles to the waist edge)- the finished length plus desired hem allowance.


Finally to calculate the hem width I made it as wide as I could get it out of the fabric’s width, 160cm and divided 160cm by 6.  But to draw your pattern- easiest option is to halve your horizontal measurements & draw half of it on a folded piece of pattern paper like below.


I drew one piece- the gore- as for this skirt would be cut out 6 times, but you could make a 4 gore skirt along similar principles.


Cutting out in theory should allow you to cut three pieces with the fabric folded across its width.  In theory.  I am sure I had to finangle it a bit….

Elastic waist

Once I had six pieces I sewed them all together then attached the wide elastic (cut to the comfy waist measurement plus a small overlap) – using Melissa’s way. Then hemmed it. Apparently my Mum loves wearing it & it has survived the wash along the way.

Knit maxi skirt

Here is my attempt at styling it before I gave it to her & before I knew that she would brave the crazy photographer!

HP Iconic shirt dress

Hot Patterns – Plain & Simple Iconic Shirt Dress

Let me introduce the Plain & Simple iconic shirt dress by Hot Patterns using John Kaldor viscose jersey in navy.  This is my November Minerva make.  And your reward for reading on is a special discount being offered for a Hot Patterns pattern of your own….

HP Iconic shirt dress

This fabric is rather tasty. It’s got fantastic drape & feels as if it will do as it’s told- it’s got nice quality. But I have to admit I started with the pattern- & the concept of a knit shirt dress was too appealing to ignore, & looked as if it could be a wardrobe staple over the autumn/ winter season, with boots & tights.  Love the descriptions on all Hot Patterns designs too …this one’s “smokin hot!”

I liked its sleek A line skirt. I mean, a cosy shirt dress that might get away without ironing? This could be my goto office wear! The pattern advised you to use the best quality fabric that you can afford, & this viscose jersey does make it feel more “luxe” than my usual purchases from markets etc.

HP Iconic shirt dress

And truth be told I had been eying up a number of shirtdresses for making up this winter, way before Mary announced the “Fall of a thousand shirt dresses” which I eagerly sign up to & pledge further contribution.  This is just the first, oh yes.  I may indulge my greedy collection of shirt dress patterns with a small blog post in the future.  You have been warned.
Idle Fancy

So let’s get onto the pattern.

Now I don’t get many results when I search for Hot Patterns makes on the internets, and that’s a shame because the patterns are definitely different from the usual, with influences from different eras, & compelling names (eg Wong-Singh-Jones Sakura Bomber Jacket, Fast & fabulous jet setter poncho, Boudoir Of Bliss Trousseau Nightgown & Robe and the Deco Vibe Delano Twinset) . They are a little more expensive – but that is likely to mean your choice is based on something you truly adore and can see yourself making more than just the one. I have this pattern and the Metropolitan Tie Me Down blouse (OK I have only made one of these so far, but that’s due to programming, not due to dislike). The patterns being printed on white paper will also stay the course – they come in a larger envelope than is standard which makes it much easier to tidy the pattern pieces away afterwards, but doesn’t necessarily fit with your regular pattern storage systems!!  .. I’m interested in what you’ve made in Hot Patterns, and have started a Pinterest Board here as I want to see some of these fabulous patterns made up & being worn. Leave me a note in the comments if you have something you’d like me to see & share! Now onto that discount.  I am in cahoots with Susan from Sewbox (she kindly let me have this pattern to review) & she is offering readers a wonderful 10% discount on any Hot Patterns pattern bought between now & Christmas. Just use the discount code, “SCRUFFY10” when you make your purchase. And then let me know which pattern you chose- please!!


HP Iconic shirt dress

So upon starting to make this I discovered that the shirt dress’s front half placket has hidden buttonholes so that you can’t see them from the outside.

Never done one of those before, & I like to try something new, I braced myself & embarked upon my sewing journey & cut out all the pieces. And there are quite a lot of pieces- kind of comes with the territory making a shirt dress. This pattern uses plackets (two piece plackets) for the sleeves & for the front opening.

HP Iconic shirt dress

There is also a back yoke & of course the collar & collar stand & a great long self fabric tie belt.

HP Iconic shirt dress Now I think I need to offer a word or two of caution. This pattern is suitable for intermediates, it says, & I’d agree. There are brief instructions & I had a couple of challenges. I would suggest that you supplement the instructions for some of the processes, especially the plackets- & let’s be honest, there is always help on the internets.

HP Iconic shirt dress

Unless you are a dab hand at two piece plackets I would suggest that the instructions are not sufficient, but there is a great placket tutorial here on Craftsy. When you have three of these blighters to sew, I’d go straight there. Oh, & you must not underestimate the added dimension that sewing plackets with a jersey brings – the fabric wants to stretch around those blunt rectangular ends made up of the five layers of fabric at the confluence of both placket sides. Something I will do next time, apart from reviewing the Craftsy site, is not to interface the plackets – the pattern advises you that it’s optional – but I did use a light interfacing & this therefore made my placket square ends even thicker. This though was the trickiest part of the sewing, & my end result is not perfect by any means.

HP Iconic shirt dress

My other struggle – something I just had to give up on was the suggested “burrito method” for sewing the yoke & yoke facing. The yoke is actually not that deep & there was no way that I could roll up the front & back within this shallow yoke to perform this operation. I had to hand sew the yoke in place. No biggie.

HP Iconic shirt dress

But none of the sewing is beyond intermediate- it’s just a shirt with a placket front that is just longer in the length. For most of the detail sewing – sewing & attaching the collar, the cuffs & plackets I used a slightly longer straight stitch (3mm). I only used my overlocker for the garment seams – shoulders, centre back, sides & sleeves.

HP Iconic shirt dress Now looking at the pics there do seem to be drag lines, but I don’t think they are there all the time & aren’t telling me fit is wrong.  I don’t think,m anyway!  I think it’s the drape of the fabric & jersey friction on what I’m wearing underneath, cos believe me, there is plenty of room in there. 

It came together wonderfully & I have to say I rather like it. I have worn it to work & it took the supreme test (twice)– I rolled it up in my rucksack the night before, for changing into at work in the morning (I changed at work after joining an early morning training session). This dress, let me tell you, unfurled uncrushed, as if I’d just brought it out of my wardrobe. It was a lovely cosy dress to wear & I felt smartly retro – the collar has an edgy size to it.  (But remember to pack the belt!  I had to make a desperate sortie into town to purchase one to avoid looking like mama sack woman with the iconic belt left draped around the coat hanger in my wardrobe!)

HP Iconic shirt dress Hahaha what a geeky face!!

You’re seeing photos of me wearing it with a slim leather belt- which I actually think with hindsight, doesn’t look as good as the self belt, which I wore to work once). But you’ll have to take my word for it.

HP Iconic shirt dress

My camera remote seems to run out of battery after only a few shoots.  Any clues?  I haven’t bought Poundland batteries either.

Although I think it is meant to be blouson like, I think next time I might take it in a little bit at the side seams, just a tad. I like the idea of making a placket front jersey top with this as well, just by making it in a shorter length. I also like the idea of making the dress in jersey, but with a woven for the plackets and the collar & cuffs – that could look quite iconic!!

So remember, if you fancy a dabble with some Hot Patterns styling, you have until Christmas for a 10% discount at Sewbox using the code, “SCRUFFY10”.  And let me know what you buy!  (And when you make it)  I really find the styling so exciting on Hot Patterns!


SOS LBD: Colette Patterns Laurel saves the day

OK, so when you are really busy at work & have built in an additional early morning exercise routine into your already busy week, do you usually sew spontaneous next-day projects or do you maintain a degree of calm in your home life & keep to a plan? Yes, I usually keep to a plan, maybe cutting out projects on a Sunday night in front of the TV, with a couple of options to sew during the week.

Laurel dressBut last week, the week that had a massive work event organised by me occurring in it, what did I do, but go rogue.   This event had a theme that meant we were going to dress up a bit (even though it was the afternoon, we were putting an effort into it at all levels). I thought that I could wear my trusty scarf back top & velvet skirt. At the eleventh hour I suddenly realised that the other female members of my team were wearing black dresses. Doh! The perfect opportunity for an LBD. Of course. But I didn’t have one (isn’t that shocking? Someone who makes her own clothes does not have a little black dress). This was on the Tuesday & the event was Thursday afternoon. When I could find some thinking time I was desperately listing the potential dress patterns:

For my instant LBD I had to make something that I’d already made & knew fitted. The girls at work said slim fitting was best, & therefore I knew for so many reasons that it was going to be the Colette Patterns Laurel (sleeveless)- you can’t go wrong with a shift dress, can you? And I love that vintage vibe.  But I wasn’t able to sew until Wednesday evening nor go out fabric shopping until Wednesday either.  On top of that when I could make it out I had only 20 minutes, therefore I had to brave the shop “that looks like it needs a good tidy” as someone recently observed, as it was closest to where I work. You would think that a city centre fabric shop would have an array of black fabric in the lead up to party season, wouldn’t you? I asked for crepe or even some silk – nothing. I didn’t want linen, I wanted something a bit more glam than natural.


The shop assistant managed to find me this cotton that almost has a burnt out look about it.   The pic is weird – it’s actually very black, but at least you can see some of the pattern.  It’s thin, transparent almost but I was always intending to line my shift. Scooping up just over a metre of the black cotton with poly lining came to the grand sum of £10.98, then with the addition of a zip, it all came under £13. At the same time I had in mind a chunky set of pearls to set it off, & popped into the vintage jewellery stall in the Guildhall market- finding what must be the perfect set- all for £5!! I was stoked.

Colette Laurel dress

So this was my Wednesday evening- got home about 6:45, cut the dress out whilst my dinner was warming up then a quick bite to eat before embarking on the sewing. I think I finished it at 10.30pm.

Marking all of the darts in both lining & dress seemed to take a long time & there I was itching to get the sewing started.  I had no intention of sewing anything by hand & managed to find some great tutorials for inserting a lining into a sleeveless dress all by machine at the Slapdash Sewist (thank you so much!!) as well as checking out the instructions for machining the lining to the zip also.   I overlocked all of the raw edges & used my blind hem stitch (aka heart rate monitor !) for the dress itself. I felt as if I was on one, to be sure.

Colette Laurel dress

So the dress is perfect. I loved wearing it. It was so comfy & I felt smart & badger-stylish. I haven’t got any more pics of it than were taken at the event itself by our official amateur photographer (a member of staff who happens to be a friend). He thought I was helping him out get his settings sorted in advance of the photos, but I had ulterior motives ;-)  (And I did remove all that ID badge paraphernalia- just a bit later than these photos unfortunately.)

So, after an adrenaline fuelled Wednesday night, I can’t say I have sewed that much since – I needed a break. I have started to handsew a tie and have also started some knitting as a Christmas gift. But I think the break has done me good. I cut out a couple of things on Sunday night, plus have a man’s shirt on the go. That’ll be this week sorted!

Betty dress

80% Betty Dress

During the spring you may have seen the appearance onto the sewing scene of sweetest dresses sporting rather a lot of skirt under the cover of the Betty Dress by Sew Over It.   My first peek was via the impeccably stylish Jane as she was pattern testing the Betty & even though such testings are secret I think I was staying with her *just as* the pattern was being launched, & couldn’t help but notice rather a spectacular swish swoonworthy skirtsome Betty dress adorning her dress form during an overnighter before a trip to Goldhawk Road.  I think we all agree that this is so perfectly Handmade Jane, wouldn’t we?   Rachel was with us too whose Betty in all its swishing glory was making itself known – that skirt!

Betty dress But I left it at that for then- I had so many other things to sew, but I did carry on doing some serious admiring.  And then Jane & I met up at the end of the summer with a few friends with the intentions to do a few swaps, among other things.  Jane brought a cut out Betty dress with an underlined skirt (yes – the hard work had all been done for me- what a veritable sewing saint).  She said she was on the verge of dispatching it to the recyclers, but thought some opportunist (like me ;-) ) might be able to do something with it.  Plus she brought an untouched copy of the Betty dress pattern with it.  I mean it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it?

Betty dresss

The fabric is a delicious linen floral with a beige background & rich red flowers.  From Goldhawk Road apparently. (as well as Jane’s clearly).  Jane had made some kind of mistake when she cut it out.  I have no idea what kind of mistake, but it was irredeemable apparently.

Betty dress

But from someone else’s disaster, this Badger was able to profit.  Our long late summer created the ideal conditions for me to get stuck in to this rather pronto.   I could see it having quite a few wearage miles with a cardi.

Betty dress

So having a little less up top than Jane I recut the bodice, keeping the higher back that Jane had also cut for (True Betty has a lower ‘v’ back). I  tried the skirt against my waist & being a circle skirt, assumed that there would be enough volume for my hips.  I then began to sew.

Betty dress

Gee I love that neckline in a very crazy kinda loving way

But I was bugged.  What was the problem?  Why had Jane not been able to complete it?  I felt it might have had something to do with the skirt- there was only one piece.  So in moments of paranoia I kept measuring it against me & against the bodice.  Somehow it all fit together.  Don’t ask me how!  I had quite a bit of adjustment to get the centre back the right size – (nothing new there for me – I always have to do this) sculpting out some strange wedges out of the centre back.  Luckily I sewed with a lapped zipper, which is heaps more easy to install/ try on/ unpick/ adjust/ sew again …& again a few times.  Well I think it’s easier doing it with a lapped zipper than an invisible one….but that might just be personal preference.

Betty dress

Sorry, back view photos are a bit lacking! 

Betty dress

So, once I had finished it, I recognised my skirt had quiet a lot less swish swoo than an original Betty.

Betty dress

I think I have made a half Betty skirt, hence calling this “80% Betty”.  See? It works, don’t you think?

Betty dress

But isn’t it just perfect for autumn?  The linen fabric has just a little more to it, giving structure & warmth.  And with the underlined skirt, this is still very seasonally appropriate.      Initially tights were not even required, such was the ambient September/ October.  These pics were taken once we were in November- & even my arms show that I haven’t seen a suntan session for a number of months – legs are equally in tan-blight.  I should have worn natural tights, as I usually do with Betty, but this was a weekend wearing, & I was wearing booties….

Betty dress So a massive thank you to Jane – your rubbish is someone else’s (namely moi) treasure!


Making ties at the Makery

Remember in series three of the Great British Sewing Bee, how May and Patrick threw a tie in as the item the finalists all had to tackle as their pattern challenge? How such a small seemingly innocent accessory caused consternation and more than just a bit of frustration? I was intrigued. What is it about tie making that is so tricky?
I tucked that question away for a rainy day. But when my youngest son graduated I had thought that it was a shame that I hadn’t given him anything to mark the occasion. And if I’d thought I could have made him something special. Like a pair of posh boxers. Or a tie. Too late this time, but in the future, my eldest son will hopefully be getting his Masters degree, and so the need for a tie could well occur again ( if he works hard and gets even more gleefully nerdy than he already is!). I am resolved that they will have the choice of a Mum made tie. But for that I need to practice. Therefore when I saw a tie making workshop was being run at the Makery in Bath, I paid up and registered straight away.
This was the first tie making workshop held at the Makery and I recognised Emily, our tutor from the machine embroidery workshop Id previously taken. She was supported by Katie – that’s two experts to attend to any queries the six of us apprentice tie-makers may have.
So the Makery is very comfortable in its new premises right in the centre of Bath in a glorious town house extending over four floors, filled with different spaces for making and being creative. Then there’s the shop to buy makey provisions.
A lovely space to relax and feel good crafty vibrations…



For this workshop we were asked to bring a 75cmx75cm piece of fabric with us to make our tie, but everything else would be provided. I brought a piece of lawn that Tamsin had swapped with me, I’d been saving it for something special as it is gorgeous …….both the delicately coloured florals, and hey, it’s lawn! As with the knicker making workshop, on arrival, everyone is given their own pattern that they take away with them after the workshop so it doesn’t stop here! Our tutors chatted through everything we needed to know to get cutting. And so we did….


All the pieces are cut on the bias. Each piece needs a corresponding piece of fusible interfacing. There are also a couple of lining pieces needed for the pointy tie ends, I found these scraps that matched the floral lawn perfectly.


Now what surprised me is that we sewed our ties primarily by hand. (Yes! Get that! Me, who uses the machine for just about everything! ) the only machining was to join the three tie pieces together to make one long lovely bias tie shaped thing that at this stage had true kipper tendencies. Pressing the seam allowances and mitring the corners helps create a nice neat finish before hand stitching all the way. First the linings at the pointy ends.


Then stitching along the length. (And that’s a long piece to handstitch!)

Look that’s proof I do handsew!

I don’t do a lot of workshops, but wish I could do more- it’s always a joy to learn as a group, spending a few hours with new people. I loved seeing everyone’s different fabric choices, and it’s probably not a surprise that some of these ties ( or potential sequels) are likely to end up under the Christmas tree :-)


Look! Class ties!! With Emily and Katie too. I loved tie making ( even though it was by hand ! Actually I have been converted, and enjoyed the precision and slower pace). I will be making more. Guaranteed.
Check out the finished neck attire



Now I quite fancy keeping this one for myself….but that all depends on future tie making exploits and success.


So the verdict on tie making, apart from enjoyment and personal satisfaction? Well, if you’re ever stuck for a perfect gift for a special someone, making a tie out of some gorgeously wondrous fabric ( Liberty or silk) could create something that stands out from all the usual stripes and Homer Simpsons. I would love to have made *that tie * that is kept for special occasions. ( in the case of my sons, it may actually be the sole tie they ever own, not being corporate types). And one last thing on special ties. I will always remember being impressed by a friend of mine in my early twenties who came to a wedding wearing the most beautiful vibrant pink tie that his mother had made for him, out of small silk patchwork pieces. And making a tie by hand, somewhere as inspiring and cosy as the Makery is a great place to start.
Making a tie by machine though? I reckon that must be the root of the problems faced by the Great British Sewing Bee contestants and I for one am going to research that approach, even if I still choose to hand sew away in front of the TV.

Any machine tie making stories to tell? Good places to check out?

Burdastyle Vintage special

I’ve been entranced by the autumn/winter Burdastyle vintage special as it’s devoted to styles of the 1950s.


I must admit I was a bit cynical on first picking it up, expecting just *a load of frocks* which whilst beautiful eye candy, are probably already in some form in my pattern stash.  But, look, there’s 5 dresses, 1coat, a jacket, a skirt suit, plus casuals – two other skirts, a playsuit and a button back top.



But not only are the patterns pretty attractive, I have to admit it’s the presentation that captured me. Each pattern is showcased with the original Burda pattern artwork ( these alone are worth the cover price to me, as I could be tempted to cut them out and frame them!)

Prom dressThen there’s a piece about the history of each pattern showing well loved stars of the fifties wearing examples IRL.

Prom dress history

Then each pattern is revealed ( true to the original) after a page of styling options – accessorising ideas.

Prom dress
So the Fiore is a lovely off the shoulder Prom dress.

Balloon jacket

There’s Rosa, a ‘balloon jacket’ which when you see Audrey’s side pose, could win you over! (But I’m unlikely to prioritise it personally)

Little black dress

The little black dress, ‘Coco’, has amazing lines and interesting piecing to give it that curvaceous ultra feminine silhouette. One to remember for a future ‘do’.

Princess dress

The ‘Grace’ princess dress is the dress in the cover, made up in beautiful pink lace, but it’s got more everyday potential too. It’s got long narrow kimono sleeves.

50s work suit
When I saw ‘Lola’, a ‘job suit’ I sighed a deep appreciative sigh. I have no idea whether I will ever make such a thing of beauty but it’s that silhouette that’s got me again. The sections at the waist look unlike anything I have ever sewn and give it interest and *that shape*.

There’s a drop waisted dance dress, ‘York’, which has a fitted bodice and lots of bow options. I can’t see myself making this one up, personally, it’s more of a youthful style! Clearly it’s got nothing to do with the numbers of occasions I’d never have to wear it!


By the time I reached The Balmain inspired Paletot coat, ‘Kim’,  (after Kim Novak I am guessing, who features as one of the stars wearing such a coat) I was practically convinced that I must have this publication. It is not a mag full of dress patterns.With the onset of autumn, I can’t be alone in ogling coat patterns & this is made up in the current day fabric in a wondrous hairy white fabric that make it look super desirable, if not rather unpractical.   And then I saw this….

I almost didn’t finish my newsagent flick. The button back Tricot jumper, aka Mary. Expect this to be made by me, if nothing else, this is a cert.


The modern take on the ‘Full skirt’, Gina, looks as if it’d be awesome in the right fabric, but is it because I always fall for for a twin set?  The sash is separate, it’s got box pleats & patch pockets with what I call handkerchief flaps, but that could be a totally incorrect term!  It’s made out of satin here & due to the sash takes a whopping 6.5- 7.0m of fabric!!

Cocktail dress

I’d like to think that the Sofia cocktail dress might feature in my as yet to be realised glamorous champagne sipping lifestyle on the Côte d’Azur.

And when in Cannes, day wear is sorted by this adorable beach dress. Well playsuit with over skirt.  Now this looks more me…Cornish summer hols…..

That’s all the patterns in this special. But I have resisted from showing all the pattern art and film star photos. This was £5.75 and more expensive than the usual Burdastyle magazine, which I buy if there’s enough in it of interest. The quality of this magazine is a cut above.  I have never bought Burdastyle Specials before, so this is my first.  The paper quality is better – it’s all matt white- even the instruction section.  The original colour pictures head up the instructions which may/may not be in the same level of detail as usual Burdastyle – I can’t say.  I would also hesitate to suggest that from an initial scrutiny, there may not be quite so much crowding on the pattern sheets- due to there being less patterns perhaps?  but don’t quote me on that.  This vintage special however is more than a pattern book, and if you are a fan of fifties styling, it’s a lovely collection of inspiration and a snapshot of the stories behind them.

Now I’m not on a commission for this, I just thought it was worth sharing, as I was really delighted by this, can you tell? Have you been captivated ? Or am I just a sucker for a pretty picture??!


Negroni in green but not for the W.I.

Well this is a funny one.  Not really funny ha ha just funny due to what I have found out for writing up this make, my latest boy shirt, the Colette Patterns Negroni again.  I’d made this & have now given this as a birthday present last month to my youngest.   It came in a spell of quite a lot of gift making & was preceded by a trip to my local fabric store during which time I bought a few lengths of fabric (for kimonos, this shirt, a gift for my Mum, yet to blog about, more shirt fabric for a future gift & if memory serves me well, absolutely diddly squat for me!  That must be a first).  Choosing shirt fabric for my sons is something I like doing face to fabric so that I can get a feel for the fabric behaviour & true colour. I will buy online too, don’t get me wrong, but because I find shirt gift giving so satisfying, the buying of the fabric comes as one of the delight-giving steps.  (Well, is that a surprise, as confessed by a fabric-aholic?)

The Makower fabrics that are part of the W.I. Centenary Competition. 

So this fabric.  This is the funny part of my post.  When I bought it the lady in the shop told me that it is a Makower fabric, designed by the Women’s Institute as part of a competition celebrating the W.I.’s centenary – making a quilt/ wall hanging or a wearable item.  She had thought that the closing date was August perhaps, but when I looked this up, prior to setting off on this blog post, I found out that the closing date is 31st October.  So this is a live project then.  Except I am not a member of the W.I. & it’s all being done by snail mail, so discount this as a competition entry – it never was & it never will be!  But it was none the less funny to find this out.   Because I used two of the above fabrics.  The green starry 7486G and the grey 7092T.  It’s quilters’ cotton, but very soft & clearly at the price, lovely quality.  Out of all of the fabrics in the shop, it was the “best choice” for this particular son when I was considering his colouring & scale & type of the print.  I bought enough for a short sleeve version, and upon discussing with him, he requested long sleeves.  Doh!  I rushed back to the shop only to find it had all gone!  So short sleeves it had to be.


OK onto the shirt now – that was rather a long story about the fabric, unusually for me.


The shirt.  I love sewing shirts for my boys.  Now that I know how well they are received and now that I have got their “custom” patterns that fit to their actual body sizes & arms lengths.  Maybe it’ll become a tradition  that they expect – birthdays and Christmases- a mum-made shirt.  This is a birthday gift, & in September I could just get away with it being short sleeves, particularly with the warm weather we’ve had.


After comparing two shirts & how their construction differed I freestyled this time – following the construction order from the Negroni shirt pattern,  but not necessarily the same techniques.  My biggest conscious diversion was opting to go for speed, using faux flat fell  seams – French seams top stitched down- side seams & all sleeve seams.  Despite my love of the finish with real flat fell seams, it just felt easier.


Each time I have made Negroni with flat fell seams, I’d always put one of the sleeves in the wrong way, & if you’ve followed this method for inserting Negroni sleeves, you will maybe remember that it’s quite a tricky bit-by-bit sewing operation & to have to do it three times instead of two, clearly preyed on my mind!


I used the contrast grey as the under collar & inside yoke, & had I been making a long sleeved version, it would have featured inside the cuffs as well.


What’s left to say?  Oh yes!  He likes it!  He doesn’t mind that it’s short sleeves afterall & has been given some styling advice about how to make it work with long sleeve t-shirts in the winter from his bro.  He saved its first wearing for a birthday curry out with his friends.  The first time I saw him actually modelling it was after it had been through the wash.  He doesn’t iron.  I was transfixed on the collar/ facing & trying to get it to behave & look just a little less mangled …’s harder to get away with a non-ironed shirt with this style of collar…!

Dolores top

Dolores Top Dr Jacobi style

When I wrote about my first forays into making the Dolores top & dress I think I exuberantly shared the fabric that I had in mind for making my autumn Dolores top – one with long sleeves.  The fabric in question was this wild fantasmagorical tropical viscose jersey , or large vibrant floral, as it is described online.  I had just bought it & received it as I wrote that last Dolores post, & was overcome with spontaneity to get on & make it for wearing now.

Dolores top This has to be one of the brightest autumn/ winter tops I have made for a long time.  It rocks the tropics!  Which is why I have dedicated it to Dr Jacobi, he who transformed his Twin Peaks Hospital consulting room into a Waikiki  paradise.  And Twin Peaks has been on my mind recently (not that it ever left my heart) with the news that a new series is going to be on air in 2016.


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Having been huge devotees of the series from its original screening, such that Tuesday nights were never the same once season two came to its unnerving end, we are beyond ourselves with excitement.  It is so good on so many levels (many of which I have yet to understand – part of its brilliance), & I love that we watched it when my children were babies & now they have both become huge fans, watching it with us, as we re-watch the series on DVD.  {Happy sigh}

So onto Dolores.  What a stellar top.  But you know that anyway.

Dolores top Its shape makes me want to show off my batwings!

You know I’ve said before what a speedy simple make it is.  And I was thinking that this really is a great beginner’s pattern if you ever wanted to start sewing with a simple knit pattern.


Dolores top

I can remember neck bands causing me so much trouble when I first tried making t-shirts – getting the right amount of stretch.  Whether to sew it on after both shoulders are sewn in a loop, or close one shoulder, then add neck binding, then close the other shoulder. The Dolores neck band is applied to the front and the back separately before either shoulder is sewn- it makes it simple to sew.  The sleeves are sewn flat, with the option to pleat or gather the sleeve head to fit.  (I always pleat because gathering would involve another step & you know I am generally as lazy as I can get away with being).

Dolores top

See this is what it looks like in normal wear, when I resist the urge to fly … another great feature with patterned fabric is that this top has no discernible front & back.  Today the front looks like this.  Another day I could swap & have this as the front….

Dolores top

So the fabric is lovely.  It’s said to be a viscose 4% spandex jersey & feels nice & warm – it’s got a reasonable drape but would not be suitable for leggings I don’t think.  Not enough stretch.  PJs though?  They would be groovy, & cosy, wouldn’t they?  I chose it because I am a sucker for large bold bright prints that remind me of the type of environment in which a hummingbird would be at home.  Plus it’s got a teal/ turquoise background- that is so much  *my* colour.

Dolores top

And this is how I wore it on a semi mufti day to work.  It does also look exceedingly good with another pair of Ultimates I have yet to show you…..coming soon!

So it’s the weekend- at last.  I hope you all have great weekends planned.  I have barely sewed all week, & not last weekend either, so I am really looking forward to getting back on it.  And catching up with blog reading too.  It has just been a crazy few weeks.

Feel free to share your Twin Peaks exultations in the comments too!!

Happy sewing & making :-)


Ultimate trousers

The Contingency Pants: more Ultimate Trousers

“It’s about time”!  Another pair of Ultimate Trousers. Yes, these trousers were made way back in September & I have only just got around to posting about them.    That’s mainly due to not having taken photos of them in action – as you will see they crease a little following a day’s wear- & so any post work photos are just plain out of the window since I am highly unlikely to feel the urge to iron straight after a day at the office & a two mile power walk uphill.

Ultimate trousers

OK, rewind.  The Contingency pants were born for OWOP (One Week One Pattern), when my pattern of choice was the Ultimate Trouser pattern.  The only shortfall I had was trousers for work.  But why did I call these the Contingency pants?

Ultimate trousers My deviation from the pattern – lapped zipper, not an invisible zip.

Well, I had actually cut out another pair of Ultimates in work appropriate autumnal suiting, however, when I came to sew them up, discovered I hadn’t the right coloured thread.  This fabric – a mini dogtooth check (100% silk remnant from Mandors in Edinburgh) was always tucked away at the back of my mind as a potential pair of ultimates, & when called on for OWOP, therefore became the “Contingency Pants”.  I might be doing myself no favours referring to them as “pants” because I really don’t want you to confuse with “incontinence pants” .  But there you go.  Please do not be confused.

Ultimate trousers

So, you know by now that I love the Ultimate trousers by Sew Over it. My OWOP adventures this year chart their versatility & my love of their cut & style.  The sewing of these Ultimates is a cinch- as I always say- once you get the fit just about right.  But I have made quite a few pairs of these now (5 pairs) & I  have to say that allow for fabrics to behave differently.  Do not assume that because your last pair was body perfect that you have no need to try on as you sew – different pairs have given me a different fit experience.  These are made in a silk that behaves almost like a light weight polyester (I have the label though to prove that it is silk!), these, came up huge.

Ultimate trousers

I had to wear them, realise during the day that they were not snug enough & take some more in afterwards.  I think I altered the CF & CB about three times.  I still feel when I look at them in these photos that they are not the most flattering  on me. (I mean it would help if I wore better underwear – apols about that! Just pretend that you can’t see any vpls please, for me…)  But even still I am not 100% sure that I have finished them…I may take the lower leg in a bit more ….but then I do need enough calf room to be comfy & tasteful (!)….what do you think?  I mainly wear these with flat shoes & am not after a skinny look, but maybe they could look better a bit more skinny than this?

Ultimate trousers

I don’t tend to wear them with tops like this – I have just pulled this together for the photos since this is about the trousers & how they fit.  I don’t actually like tucking tops into trousers – I always wear things untucked on the outside unless trousers have belt loops & are pleated.  (Like my Vogue Baggy trousers). And this is my first Pavlova top that is too short unless I wear a cami/ vest underneath.  I’m always fussing with it – too much gappage even though I lengthened it from the original pattern.

Ultimate trousers See those post wear creases?

But I do wear these often.  It’s the time of year for trousers like this – t-shirts & cardigans, socks & flat lace ups.   Can’t wait to show you my next pair!  They are a huge success too :-) (Dare I say *even* better than these??)