Tag Archives: Sewing

tomato shorts

(These are not rotten) tomato shorts- Vintage Pattern Pledge

I’ve already shown these to you along the way, but now comes the writing of them – the (most definitely not rotten ) tomato shorts.
Is it a silly question to ask a whole load of people who sew, if you ever have a completely spontaneous moment and find yourself making a purchase when you know restraint should be practiced? I think I know the answer!  I’m supposed to be spending less over the summer, since I had a holiday to afford and should be saving up for other things. But then I saw this fabric (It also comes in black). Just one metre won’t hurt will it? And my thought process rationalised that it would keep one metre of the rainbow fabric I showed in my previous post company in the post.  The deed was done. When the fabric arrived I could not believe how soft it was. I was expecting a kind of crisp quilting cotton, but this is much softer.
You can make a lot of things with a metre when it’s summer: tops, bags, hats, and …. definitely eligible for ….Shorts!!!

butterick 4186Remember these?  A cute pair of vintage shorts out of tomato fabric! Why yes please! I pulled out one of my vintage sportswear patterns for the 70s – made up previously here to great success, and cut them out before I changed my mind.

cutting out (Don’t you just love how vintage patterns have seam lines shown & cutting lines marked on them with scissors?!)

I love this pattern because it has a centre back zip, front & back waist darts, nice leg flare, but not too much, and has a flattering fit. It’s almost like a skirt at its top.  I wear these chambray shorts a lot, but when it’s hot don’t like the high waistband. I find myself undoing the button and folding the waistband over.

back of shortsThey are quite low slung, but great for feeling hot hot hot in.  I hate waistbands in the heat…

So when cutting out my tomato shorts, I omitted the waistband, and recut a new line an inch or so shorter so that the shorts would sit below waist. I created a facing to use instead and lo! sewed them up in a jiffy.

shortsYou know what’s else good when it’s hot, apart from low slung shorts?  A nice cold beer :-)

I’d forgotten that I’d added to the length of my chambray pair, so these shorts are quite a bit shorter, especially without the lace. But I like that. They are just what I like in a pair of summer shorts.  And I loooove wearing them.  So much in fact that I am half wondering whether to whip myself another pair up in some cool owl fabric I have got.  But that would shunt off some majorly important makes already on the sewing table & also in my head.  Now I’m back at work I guess my shorts wearing days are reduced :-(

And as a bonus they were the start of my sewing for the vintage sewing pattern pledge (even if I have blogged about them in the wrong order – after the bikinis).   These shorts are the third of my four vintage pattern makes that I have blogged about.  Just the dress to come.  Soon!

Bag and hat

Me Mades on the beach: bikini,sun hat & beach bag

Hola!  I’m holidayed & have had a lovely dose of Spanish sun, culture & gorgeous scenery.  I’m now at the Cornish coast too so have plenty of sand between my toes. As promised here are some action pics to determine the success or failure of some of the things I made for my three days in Spain on the beach.  Today I shall be revealing:

- Simplicity 9392 – the vintage 70s bikini

-McCalls 6450 – sun hat

-Rainbow beach bag using Handmade Jane’s fantastic tutorial for making a reversible shopping bag.

So the bikinis were made first & I was surprised at what a relatively quick make they were. The pattern is described as a “Time saver” – that should have given me a clue! I decided almost immediately that it would be effective to make two at the same time & actually having two bikinis on holiday is useful, isn’t it – you can alternate with always a dry one to put on.

bikiniLOL!  This is soooo disco!!

I chose fabric based on what I had in my stash & had some extra emerald lycra left over from my original retro style bikini. I also had some of that crazeee almost day-glo hologram lycra that I have used for other sports makes & worked out that there was no reason why it couldn’t also become a bikini. I did actually cut linings for each piece – even though this is not part of the pattern requirement, but it seemed “good practice”. So the only extra step this involved for sewing up was to baste the linings to each piece before sewing as per instructions. No biggee.

As a general observation, I’ve found that sewing swimwear usually involves very little overlocking/ serging – there might be some construction seams that you can piece things together using your overlocker, but there is a lot more done on your regular machine.  Interesting, huh?

bikini inside

As well as general construction for this design, I could tell from the pictures that there was some kind of ruching going on – I wasn’t clear how it would be achieved. There is ruching at each side of the bottoms & also in the middle of the bandeau top. It turns out that you need to sew these seams with a regular machine so that you can press the seam allowances each side of the seam to then gather up the ruching. Pieces of stay tape are top stitched down behind the gathering to secure.

Bikini(I debated putting photos of me in a bikini on the www.  BUT I was out there on the beach wasn’t I?)

There is a lot of swimwear elastic used – each edge – legs, waist, top & bottom edge of bandeau are finished with elastic & there are pattern pieces for each piece of elastic (rather than providing the measurements of the elastic that is needed).

Sewing it up then, in essence, was straightforward. Having made my retro style bikini earlier in the year I am confident with the process of attaching elastic to edges with zig zag – first sewing to the wrong side, then turning that over & sewing again.

emerald bikini

What about the wearing? Do I have as much fun as the girls on the pattern illustration?

Simplicity 9392

Way more! There a number of things I love about this bikini:

Security – This bikini has ample coverage in the bum department & the straps are discreet enough to wear whilst on the move, or swimming, but are easy enough to undo / tie behind to avoid extra white lines whilst collapsed on the sun bed.

Hassle-free wearing- no back strap buckle- just stretch the top over your head & position carefully. This was also a boon for construction too.

Swimability – no qualms about a gentle bob in the sea. It survived entering/ exiting via exciting breaking waves, however the bottoms are unlikely to survive diving in from the side of the pool.

back of bikini

I chose the colours of my bikinis to also match my tomato shorts but will blog about those separately.  But you might be asking why I didn’t wear my retro style bikini?  Well, whilst I love the bottoms, the top just doesn’t work for me – it has layers of fabric & feels too voluminous.  And needs straps to keep it up.  Its tie back is also bulky, so I have the best of both worlds if I use the new bikini top with the frilly bottoms now!

As you can see above, I also made myself beach essentials: a hat & a beach bag.

beach bag

The beach bag, as I said earlier was made using the excellent tutorial Jane has shared to make a reversible shopping bag. This was a quick make! All I did extra was to add some internal pockets to keep money & keys easy to access. It is the perfect size to carry a litre of water, book, beach towel, camera (& I bet there’s room for more!).

Lining bag

I made it using the rainbow fabric I have been coveting for ages, finally buckling & giving in one weekend (the same weekend I ordered the tomato fabric – you know how it works – you need to make it “worth” ordering so find something else you like!). I ordered a metre and was able to make this bag & the hat (but you’ll see I didn’t have enough to make the underneath brim). I lined the bag with some cake fabric I had in my stash that i had bought aaages ago & made a kids’ apron out of it.  So thank you Jane- great pattern & a really quick make. I shall be making one as a thank you present to a friend who lent me her suitcase. (A bit more enduring than a bottle of wine! Although maybe not quite so much fun!)


And the hat? McCalls 6450.  Well, I scraped around the leftovers of the rainbow fabric to whip it up the same morning. It is a simple make, to be fair. 6 crown pieces, interfaced and the brim. I have one crown piece with upside down rainbows (due to scrimping on the fabric) & the underneath brim should really be rainbows too, but there was no way I could eeek out enough fabric. (Although, had I cut bag & hat out together I think I probably could have).  The hat is lined (I used some macaroon fabric, matching the cake lined bag to a certain degree!). And I have to say I love it!

hat on head

My other sun hat was too bag (one I bought) & on top of a breezy headland I’d always feel at risk of losing it. This one fits me properly & is just right for keeping the sun off my head when I need it, & then scrunches up easily in the bag when I don’t want to wear it. I have designs on making this style up as a rain hat too, to match my trench coat out of microfiber fabric….

And as my recommended holiday read?  The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker.  A brilliant book.

Photo credits due to my awesome holiday buddy, Codename Cynthia. Thanks for the great time and documenting my makes in action!

Handmade Holiday wardrobe: 3 days on the beach in Spain

Hi folks!  A bit of a teaser post this one, as I am on holiday & am taking a break from blogging & email & general social media this week.  (Hence no replies to comments in my previous post yet)

I’ve set this up as I am really excited to have pulled it off! Part of my fevered sewing bender included a mass project making up practically a whole new capsule holiday wardrobe for going to Spain for three days on a beach holiday.  (Two days actually on the beach) I rarely go on hot foreign beach holidays – my beach experience tends to be Cornwall which has a less reliable climate & therefore requires different clothing options!  We are only taking cabin luggage so it’s in our interest to be efficient in packing.  So to celebrate & anticipate minimal weight but maximum wear opportunities, as I was packing I took this pic.

(Just my smalls, beach towel & toiletries not included)

Packing for the beach

I hope I have captured enough variety for travel, beach, cover up & smartening up a tad for the evenings.

I shall probably travel out in my BHL knit Victoria blazer as well as we shall arrive late at night.  Many of these things are as yet unblogged- so expect some shots on location!!

I’ve really enjoyed making some of these new things!  And look – 4 makes from vintage patterns as part of my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge!  Can’t wait to show you !!!

Laurel top feature

Oh Lovely Liberty Lawn Laurel top

It was my shopping / inspiration trip with Jane that got me thinking about making a sleeveless Colette Patterns Laurel top out of one of my new Liberty Tana lawn pieces, bought with the lovely lady herself. I have been thinking of using a metre of Liberty lawn to make up a sleeveless button up blouse ( don’t worry, there will be one of those too), but when discussing patterns, like you do with other sewsters, a renewed vision for a Laurel visited me.

Laurel top
I wear my stripey 3/4 sleeved Laurel aplenty.  One of the reasons it works so well is that it is a classic colour and stripe for me, and I always feel it represents my style whenever I wear it.  Sewing the Laurel top is another fabulous experience- no closures, no facings and bias bound openings.  I’ve perfected my pattern so that darts are placed right for me, so to cut and sew is a simple exercise in all that is joyful about sewing.

Laurel top

Choosing  a Liberty print to make this I knew would create another classic piece for my wardrobe, and an occasion where the pattern needs to be clear, simple and classic to let the fabric do the talking.

Laurel top

I’ve made a sleeveless Laurel dress ( my elephants) and had used bias for the armholes and it worked successfully I felt, and therefore set to on an impulse one afternoon, slicing through my Liberty.  It came together as quickly as I had anticipated.  What’s more to say?

Laurel top

This little top is exactly what I had planned- the perfect classic tank top that can be worn tucked in or loosely with trousers or shorts.  I cannot wait to wear it with rolled up trousers, paddling in the sea.  Equally it has fared well being paired with a cardigan, tucked into my flora skirt, at work.  Oh and the other treasure about this ? You only need a metre of fabric.  Certainly worth an investment I’d say!

An interview with Lisa Lam & a giveaway

Well today I’ve rather a different kind of blog post from those I usually write.  I’ve an interview with the inspiring Lisa Lam (she of UHandbag & The Bag Making Bible) and a giveaway.
Now this is part of a promotional blog hop for Lisa’s new and exceedingly cute little girls’ dress patterns- the “Dance with me Dress” and the most gorgeous playsuit ever- the “Happiness Halter Playsuit”.  I covet them myself but thankfully can recognise that I have finally gone beyond making up cute girly clothes for myself to compensate for never having a daughter to sew for -  these are designed for small girls – graded for girls aged 2 to 6 years.


Now, I have never sewn for a little girl, apart from making fancy dress.  Whilst I was flattered to be invited to take part in this promotional tour,  before I committed to being part of it I had to ask myself how it fitted with what I usually blog about, and thought that actually hearing from Lisa herself how fun it can be to sew for little girls was my angle.  I mean potentially, girls clothes are smaller and cuter and could use some of those too-large-to-throw-away scraps of lovely fabric.  And if inspired enough, you could easily find a deserving little girl  to sew for, couldn’t you?

So I got excited to be able to ask Lisa some questions, hopefully some new to her questions as well, to share with you and give you a feeling for the person and inspiration behind her two patterns, with a chance to win yourself a copy of each at the end.

The Lisa Lam Sewing Patterns Collection is available now from the team at Stitch Craft Create.  Have a look at the schedule here to follow the blog hop!

Dance with Me Dress

SB: So you’ve been successfully designing and selling bags since 2003 with the launch of your online business in 2005 – Uhandbag, selling bag making supplies and patterns. Your  book, ‘The Bag Making Bible’ is a best seller and even known of by people who haven’t yet made a bag, why the new direction into designing clothes to sew for little girls?

LL: My little girl, Mabel, has been the prompt for my designing clothes for little girls. I almost feel that it wouldn’t be right for Mabel to grow up without wearing ‘mummy made’ clothes. My mum made loads of my clothes when I was little and those clothes bring back happy memories. As I can design patterns I wanted to take it bit further and design for my daughter, as well as sew for her.


SB: Your designs are so cute – a dress, a playsuit and a halter top. What kind of situations / occasions do you have in mind when conjuring up your designs? What/ who motivates and inspires your designs?

LL: Thanks very much! As I’m a (almost painfully) pragmatic person I like my clothes and accessories to be uber versatile. As such I don’t own party dresses, rather for occasions, I like to wear classic shapes made in wondrous fabrics and/or accessorise to max. I like taking this approach in children’s dressing – keeping it simple and keeping it versatile. So I honestly think all of the my clothes would look just as great a wedding as they would at a play date. Just change up the fabric to suit the occasion and of course you can accessorise with party shoes or dress down with sneakers. Would I personally wear a playsuit to a wedding? Yeah totally! J Though I am aware of trends I don’t really follow them, my designs are very much led by my desire to be practical and my desire ‘to look most agreeable’. Haha!

SB: Haha!  I love the idea of wearing a playsuit to a wedding too!! Do you make clothes for yourself? What kind?

LL: At university I used make myself flowy tank and camisole tops and strappy dresses. I also baggy silk pyjama bottoms. I’d wear these items with chunky workman’s style boots and a felt cloche hat. At the time I thought I looked the business!

SB:  What a stylish & comfortable student wardrobe!  What’s the difference between designing for children and for adults do you think?

LL: Well, I haven’t really designed for adults (simply because it’s trickier Getting a fantastic fit for adults involves working with curves and angles (that children don’t have!).

SB: Many of my readers are probably in a similar situation to me – a bit more free time with kids that are older. But we might have little girls we could sew for if we were feeling unselfish & fancied a frill flurry. So sewing for little girls – I am sure it takes a lot less time – but how long, really, would it take someone who is able to make their own clothes whip up one of your designs? what’s the advantage in sewing for little girls as opposed to ourselves?!

LL: Ohh that’s easy! As little girls are more petite, it’s faster also little girls don’t have the curves that we do (well sadly I’m not curvy, (I’m a ruler!) but you know what I mean). This means that don’t have concentrate so much on getting a precise form-fit for little girls.


SB:  I get it!  Yes. Clearly one of the reasons your designs stand out is because of your bold fabric choices, or is it that they provide the perfect canvas for showing off fabulous fabric. Traditionally I know the temptation would be to choose a ditsy small scale print for a little girl’s dress. What tips can you give to become more courageous with larger scale prints?

LL: Hmm, nice question! I think the best tip is to trust your taste! If you (and you little girl) like big scale prints, and/or wacky colours then great! Sew with them and have fun. The whole point of sewing for yourself is that you have to freedom to break free from what is: safe, predictable and (let’s face it) easy to shift in the shops. As sewists, we don’t have to conform, if we don’t want to and we should embrace that!

SB: And I love a bit of piping and ric rac – what scope is there for embellishment?

LL: Jumbo ric rac in rainbow colours? Yes please! Pop it on: necklines, sleeve holes, hems, on the a purse strap, bodice line and edging on pocket openings.

SB:  A ric rac user after my own heart!   I had boys, and although I sewed a few things for them when they were toddlers (eg I particularly remember a blankety rainbow duffle coat, a large scale polka dot shirt, gingham dunga-shorts – poor boys!!) and am now making them man-shirts (yay!) I think there is a gap in the market for cute boys’ clothes which could also take advantage of the fab fabric designs that are now available. I know you are inspired to make for your own, and maybe if you had a boy it would be different, but have you had any thoughts about designing cute things for little boys?

LL: Haha! Your boys were lucky! Actually, Mabel’s bestest buddy in the whole wide world ever, ever, is a (same age) boy and his mum and I are good pals. So I will be sure to make him some cool clothes, as the years go by.

SB: I would love to see what you had up your boy-design sleeve!  Now, finally,  I am always fascinated by how people got into sewing. Do you have a sewing guru? Who sparked your interest in sewing? How did you develop your sewing skills?

LL: My sewing guru is my mum. My mum had 4 children and had to work in the family business so unsurprisingly she didn’t have much time to spare (I don’t think I’d have coped as well as she did!). As a child one of the best ways of spending time with mum was to sit with her as she stitched up clothes or soft furnishings for us. Crafting with mum was great for me because I enjoyed learning these cool new skills and it was great for mum because she could keep an eye on me!

SB: And I bet Lisa’s going to be passing her love of sewing onto Mabel too as the years go by.  Thank you so much Lisa for your lively Q&A!  It’s been a real pleasure hearing about your side of pattern designing & sewing for children, yourself & your sewing roots.

Now I said that there is a chance to win a copy of these two patterns.  Leave a comment before 1 August and you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win a free copy of the Dance with Me Dress and Happiness Halter Playsuit pattern booklets!


Vintage pattern pledge update!

Oh folks I have had a mega busy fortnight here and have lots of blog posts in the pipeline, but neither the time nor the energy to write them all up, but for a quick fix, I’ve had a burst of vintage pattern sewing!! I’ve made two up already ( just about) and have two more ear- marked for my Spanish holiday!! Want to see?

They all will surely qualify towards my non committal vague intention to join the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge

Ok, I made these up last weekend I think. I’m waiting for actual hot holiday sun to bathe these shorts in for photos on this blog, but catch a glimpse of them now. The fabric is awesome (Robert Kaufman Metro market) in a brighter chartreuse than this photo suggests. Butterick 4186, just love the sporty ensemble!!

Butterick tennis pattern

Then there’s this dress I made up spontaneously out of some sari fabric in my stash. I will really enjoy telling you the story about it, but for now check out Mccalls 4007 in hot pink! This pattern is vintage, isn’t it? It’s from the 90s ( which blimey is best part of 20 years old) therefore in my mind that qualifies. But how scarey is that, referring to the 1990s as vintage now. Hmm. I’m sure purists will disagree with me!

McCalls 4007

Now I need a new bikini for my hol, and haven’t the time to make a wonderful vintage style ruffled lovely but this one looks simple enough?  Simplicity 9392 & surely it won’t take up tooo much fabric.  The cozzie’s quite simply lovely too.

Simplicity 70s swimsuit

Then if I’ve time I’m feeling more shorts coming on stream…..if I’ve time mind you. I’ve some mid blue light weight linen in my stash….ahoy!  Sailor shorts !  This is a gorgeous 60s Simplicity 7024 & came into my possession when my hips were a leeetle bit larger than the pattern, but I reckon I can get a good squeeze into them now.

Simplicity 60s sailor trousers

So there I was feeling a little bit rubbish for so far not making any vintage patterns up, and suddenly, like buses, I’ve had a run! Must be summer holiday madness!!  What do you think?  Are you more inspired to sew summer vintage patterns?  I hadn’t really thought about it before, I’d be interested to know  if you have found the same thing?

I’ll be back this weekend with some more detailed makes.  *So excited to show you *!!

And I’m on holiday now for a fortnight- how fab is that!  Time to recoup that lost energy :-)


Sporty Summer Sewathon: Give me an “oooh”!

When Karen announced the “Sporty Summer Sewathon” I had already an outfit in mind – the concept was perfect, the timing was perfect.  Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? (I think that’s someone else’s catch phrase)

Yes, I may have mentioned that I was planning to sew me up a cheerleader outfit for my friend’s 4th July American themed birthday party.  I had made some early investigations & had captured some inspiration on my Cheerleader chic Pinterest board.  

My colours were to be red & white.


What I hadn’t revealed was that my cheerleader outfit was not going to be purely for fancy dress: I wanted to make it out of running-appropriate fabrics so that I could re-use it.  I have made quite a few things out of sporty wicking fabric from UKFabricsonline, (and yes, I am thrilled that they are one of my sponsors now, but I have been a long standing customer of theirs and would say this regardless).  My plan was to use wicking fabric to make a vest top and a running skirt with shorts a la cheerleader.  Now in the past I have used the mock eyelet to make plenty of tops with (eg here and here)  – this is not suitable for leggings, as it doesn’t have enough stretch.


So when UKFabricsonline started to stock this high quality stretchy lycra I snapped some up.  It is really the most gorgeous quality- slinky & reasonably light weight – but suitable for leggings as well as tops too.   I bought red, white & aqua….just a metre of each – wish I could afford more at the time as it is the kind of fabric you just want to have available for any spontaneous running makes!  This is the fabric that I used for the skort.  And after spotting that a few of these fabrics are out of stock I had a small correspondence with UKFabrics Online & it seems that they are trying to source another supplier, so snap them up while they have them is my advice.  BUT folks – check out the animal print.  You know you want to.  A small digression….


Anyways. Gosh I feel I can really rabbit on sometimes, can’t I?  So the design for my outfit.  Inspired by my Pinterest Board I started with the top.  The easier option.  I used Maria Denmark’s “Just a Tank” pattern, comparing it to a well fitting running vest I already have just for best fit  & added a contrast yoke to it & changed the hemline slightly to match with my running top (it’s a bit shorter & has a slightly longer curved back hem).  The yoke was intended to be more of a “V” shape, but I didn’t draft the “V” sharp enough so with sewing it appears more as a gentle curve.  If I hadn’t mentioned that, you wouldn’t have even noticed would you?

cheerleader top

I used red & white mock eyelet for this.  I also cut some strips of the white & with the long raw edges folded in created binding to embellish the yoke shape with a couple of stripes.  I attached them using my regular machine using a zig zag stitch, attaching them before then sewing the top as per instructions.

cheerleader skirt

Then onto the skirt.  I wanted to make it with integral shorts so used the inner shorts from Jalie skort pattern (2796) & cut them out of the quality stretch lycra in white.  The skirt in my mind just had to be made up with four box pleats of contrasting white amongst a sea of red gorgeousness.  I had started to design my own skirt pattern with box pleats, but due to the negative ease at the top of the skirt & what it did to the fall & lay of the box pleats I would have had to really play around with the drafting in the particular skirt shape I had started with.   So I remembered Peneloping’s Lady Skater pattern hack for her Lady Peggy dress.  I took the skirt pattern from the Lady Skater dress & shortened it considerably.  I then roughly followed Peneloping’s measurements for additional box pleats- I think my white insertions were about 6″.  Oh yes, the fabric I used was the super lovely quality lycra mentioned above, not the mock eyelet – I don’t know if that would have enough stretch at the waistband.  And then I sewed it as a skort, adding a waistband too.

cheerleader 5

Now the intention is to wear this skort running but it is rather bright, isn’t it?  It might evolve into a race day skort I am thinking, with my next run being the Great North Run in September.  And the vest?  That can be paired with other things in my me made running wardrobe, even though I am not usually a fan of go faster stripes.

cheerleader 4

But what about the experience of being a cheerleader for a night?  Well.  My friends it was the best!  I made me some pom poms, rehearsed a few crap moves, worked out that I could get away with chanting, “Hey Beccy, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Beccy”.  The travel to the party was a bit warm to say the least, feeling the need to hide my glory under mac & hat as I walked into town….I may appear to be a bit of an exhibitionist, but only in the right circles and amongst friends!


But when I was at the party it was just right!  Wicking fabric must have helped when I came all of a glow under the disco ball.  And I cannot recommend dancing with pom poms enough.  They are the ultimate disco essential & bring out such great moves on the dancefloor (well I thought so anyway!).  They are fun to share too- check out how other people adapt their dancing to pom poms.  Oh yeah.  And dancing with pumps on?  The best.  Why do we dance with heels & hard shoes?!!!

Cheerleader collage

Now whilst I felt my outfit was pretty cool, having made it all myself there were others who had put in a tremendous effort.  From the spaceman (female) complete with papier mache helmet & jet pack to the couple who came as the Boston Tea Party – one as a human tea bag (I kid you not) with the other as a human tea cup.  I could not imagine the car journey – but I am pretty sure they would not have walked into town & certainly could not have hid under a mac & hat!!  There were some amazing outfits & quite a few red, white & blue concoctions which looked brilliant together.  Fancy dress parties are brilliant for group dances – Marilyn, Minnie Mouse, Obama, “Fat” Barbie  & Danny Zuko  as we formed lines to dance the macarena (improved with the addition of pom poms).    It’s certainly party season & I’m loving it!

So to conclude.  This outfit has already been trialled as a dance outfit & was a complete success.  Next stop seeing how it performs (as separates) for running.

Anyone else joining in the Sporty Summer Sewathon?  How’s it going?

Lotta Lady bag

Lotta Lady Bag, Mark II, in gingham

Peeps, this is a victorious post!  Remember my beautiful attempt at making a Lotta Lady bag out of what I thought was polka dot oilcloth with a lime green lining?  Remember how it ended rather unceremoniously with the sound that strikes fear into any seamstress’s heart?   Rrrrriiiiiipppp ……. and all because my chosen “fabric” was in actual fact just PVC & had not strength, nothing woven ie a distinct lack of “cloth” to it.  Well, at the end of this post I discuss laminating your own fabric & how exciting that would be …but in the meantime, I made another version, but this time out of a woven.  In the true form of someone who sews, this was my “last minute madcap make” especially for the Minerva weekend.  I made it the morning I traveled.  It was a classic seat of the pants sew.

Lotta Lady bag

I made it using some gingham, furnishing weight (so definite strength there!) – the leftovers from my Gingham Christmas Elisalex dress.  I lined it with some ditsy floral lawn.  And when I made my last bag, I had ordered a couple of chunky long zips so I had all the supplies to hand.  (And having made two of these now, one with a regular dress zip, & this one with a chunky zip, I’d recommend chunky zip every time – looks more “bag-like” & has to be stronger …).  Cut, cut, sew!

Lotta lady bag

The pattern recommends that you interface your fabric with heavy interfacing – this I did not have, but that wasn’t going to stop me- I was on a mission!  I cut interfacing for both the shell & the lining pieces as a compromise.  I am sure it would have been better with stiffer interfacing, but like I said, this bag was going to be made *that morning* interfacing or not.  Other changes I made – I did add inside pockets this time as well since I knew that things like purse, phone & keys would easily get lost in such a voluminous vessel.  You just need to prepare the pockets & attach them to the lining before you get assembling lining pieces together.

Lotta Lady bag

There is something very satisfying about bag making, particularly a lined bag with a zip.  Attaching the zip, hidden between the lining & shell pieces is to me a process that fills me with glee.  The way that this bag’s zip is integrated into the bag at each ends, is a joy to behold.  It’s one of those technical makes, that is easy but looks so smart.

Lotta Lady bag

Sadly I didn’t time myself making this to know how long it actually took.  But I achieved my goal.  Perhaps it was between 90 and 120 minutes from start to finish?  It has since been my travel bag.  You can fit a lot of crap essentials *without breaking it*!  The pockets are in my view essential for traveling & I would almost be tempted to add a secure pocket (with zip or flap) to the outside as well as an easy access ticket repository.

Now, when I had my mock oil cloth disaster, Karen kindly mentioned laminating fabric yourself & I have looked it up on the ol’ webs & found this handy write up for fabric laminating.  

And don’t you think when you can make your own laminate, the world’s your lobster?  The product is Thermoweb Iron On Vinyl.  But see Liz’s comments about using it below ….I have tracked it down in UK on Amazon, and am perusing some awesome fabric choices to use for my next bag…..Rainbows seem to be a clear fave for me, but if I let my imagination run away with me ….how about  Liberty, folk arty, film noir, Betty Boop, stripes,   “dotty” froggies- ie frogs that look like dots!, elephants , or what about pink and floral?  You could make it really personal, and what about the perfect gift ?  Well, I’ve ordered my vinyl.  Not sure when I’ll get it made up.  But I sure will enjoy deciding on the fabric! Do you think you’ll give it a go?


Posh outfit

Red carpet reveal: the slinky scarf back top & velvet skirt

Could this week on the blog be described as a week of revelations?  I don’t know – you decide.  Today, for your delectation, the wearing after the sewing a posh outfit – the pairing of my slinky silk scarf back top & the love-to-hate velvet skirt.


Remember this was an outfit I designed for a particular evening event- a posh black tie work thing.  (I let the odd picture of the night itself out on Instagram..but was restrained & am protecting the innocent…)

It’s time to assess the outfit then, now that it has performed its first duty.

PoshBTW I did re-press the back hem after seeing these pics as it looks as if it’s dipping a bit.  Thankfully a press sorted it.

The top: Burda  Scarf Top 08/2012 #122

Fabric: Poly satin bought on Goldhawk Road but also available on Minerva.

Sewing adventures documented in an earlier post.


The skirt: Burda 8438, modified to operate with slutty front thigh split, its sewing adventures & emotional reactions written up earlier in my blog too.

Fabric: Liquidy green/ teal silk velvet bought on Goldhawk Road.  Lined with turquoise lining leftover from my Cheong Sam.


Putting it through its paces:

Travel: Both skirt & top easily survived the journey being folded in my suitcase & neither needed anything once hastily removed from the case & worn directly for a pre event drinkies.  How cool was that?  A posh outfit that travels well!!!

Sitting down: of concern- was the skirt too tight?  There was no give.  The thigh split was incredibly saucy when sitting…..I felt as if I was always pulling it down to be decent.  As for the top, the “collar” did its own thing – it slipped & slided & flopped in a general bias-cut satin kind of way.  It was as casual as I was & was there to have fun.  Lose the formality guys!



Eating a three course meal: it survived in style.  No belly busting.  But I was glad to get on the dance floor & shake it on down.

Dancing: good too – no split seams despite some twirling. The scarf back made me twirl even more (oh, actually that was the wine ….).  The fit of the top, if anything, is quite snug in the upper chest area, so if you make this yourself, be aware.

I inspected the skirt the next day & found no split seams (lining nor velvet) & the thigh split was also exactly the same length as sewn.  Phew.  Washing the top – NO IRONING needed.  Get that!


Verdict: I felt a bit special, I have to be honest.  It was a great talking point around the table & I think I succeeded in telling everyone that I made it without too many obvious yawns.  And the good news?  We’ve got another similar work do coming up in September & I now have my outfit sorted.  Woo hoo.  I might make myself a useful velvet evening bag- that was all that was lacking.  In the meantime I can see that I’ll dig the top out when the occasion arises, drinkie poos or even a nice meal (I have one in mind …)

Cheong Sam

Minerva Make: My Cheong Sam and jacket- now in 3D

There is nothing left to be said about my Cheong Sam that I haven’t already said here except what it was like to wear, but let’s start with one of the few jokes I can ever remember – something I always remember when thinking of a certain kind of feathered trim:

“What’s a marabooboo”

“Why, nothing, Yogi”

Cheong Sam

The jacket: the Built By Wendy Bolero, but with long sleeves.

Fabric: Cotton velvet & lined in turquoise, edged with marabou (geddit?) trim.

Cheong Sam

The dress: Burda 8438.

Cheong Sam

Fabric: some Cotton Sateen with the biggest boldest turquoise flowers, with pops of black satin piping to highlight the details, with some faceted almost jet buttons as embellishment.

Cheong Sam

Putting it through its paces:

Travel: Both jacket & dress easily survived the journey being folded in my suitcase & neither needed anything more than a hang once I arrived.

Sitting down: good – there is plenty of give in the fabric with it having a lycra element.

Cheong Sam

Eating a three course meal: good – plenty of comfort for generous portions.

Cheong Sam

Dancing: good too – no split seams despite some twirling. The lycra element also made for comfortable movement across the back & shoulders (although what kind of dancing involved those kinds of movements I don’t know!!)

Cheong Sam

Taxi home: the jacket was just what I needed to stop me from getting a bit chill.

Cheong Sam

Verdict: a cute outfit with a jacket & dress that can be mixed up with other things- or brought together as the designer (that’s me!) intended.  And it feels special & a bit unique. Love it!!


Minerva meet up evening