I sew ..

And draft patterns. This blog will log some of the processes.

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More of the Stashy Things

In the spirit of full disclosure, more of the Pattern Stash Comp insanity coming up.

Small bits of fabric stuff this time

Ist row

babe dress in red cotton trimmed with green silk from ancient pattern (well 60s ish)

babe hat in printed jersey long time readers may recognise, made from pattern from the French mag ‘Fait Main’

Even older pattern causing nostalgia attack of momentous proportions (doll’s clothes)

2nd Row

Another trip down memory lane – 50s dolly pattern

Beanie hat from My Image magazine pattern

Knickers from Burda magazine pattern

3rd Row

Beret in faux suede from Butterick 6308

Babe dress in blue crinkly satin from a Burda Magazine

Dolly dress in cotton from aforementioned nostalgia trip

4th Row

Babe dress in yellow cotton with flower pocket and mauve trim from Patrones magazine pattern.

Dolly jacket from 50s memorabilia

Babe jacket from Patrones Magazine

5th Row

Knickers again! This time a short shorts pattern from Idées Couture Magazine, made in scrap of jersey left over from a dress.

Dinky little baby mittens from Burda magazine

Hat from Vogue 8405

What can I say? I  kept seeing those scraps we all save so religiously as pattern fodder. Luckily, no pattern for scrunchies has yet found its way into my repertoire. The scraps from the scrap makes would not have been safe.


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Pattern Stash

Last month I sewed 46 patterns from my stash, entering Sewing Pattern Review’s Pattern Stash Contest. Beanchor sewed a truly amazing 51, which you can see here.

Here is the Pattern Review gallery. There were some lovely contributions, and what can I say, all together, a heck of lot of sewing went on.

I was asked how I sewed so much  and don’t really have an answer. I have manic sewing episodes, this was just a slightly longer one.  I made no plans to take part, it just happened after I made this hat.

Vogue 8405DSC_1444

This dress came nextdress1Made from the truly dire vintage Vogue 8707.

Then I started rifling through stashed patterns and old magazines, and imagining styles made up in stashed fabric. A few skirts got made.


From left to right first row

1. a dead simple skirt from an old Burda magazine pattern, made in a jersey fabric which has horizontal flounces of grey knitted in to a black background. Waistband black jersey done yoga pants style.

2. printed cotton skirt lightly gathered onto a shaped yoke, old Patrones magazine

3. Straight skirt with side pockets from a pattern passed down to me

Second row

1. A line skirt in fine black and white stripe cotton

2. Skirt from a Burda magazine pattern, 18 small tucks at the front. Yes, I am crazy.

3. Skirt in a printed voile with a shirred top set onto a yoke (why shirring not gathering? Ask Patrones)

Third row

1. Gored skirt constructed from ancient Burda mag. pattern, in a printed crepe, set on a black waistband.

2. Bias cut flared  skirt in a printed chiffon with woven satin stripes

3. Bias cut flared skirt from freebie Marfy pattern (well free with pricey catalogue that is)

Fourth row

1. A line skirt in wild print on cotton.

2. Black poly basic straight skirt with side slits.

3. Velvet skirt with overlapped shaped side slits faced back.

More next post ha ha.




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Waking Up

I put this blog to sleep for a few months during some Real Life roller coasters and a couple of those creepy events which sometimes land on ladies who blog. Sorry to buzz off without explanation and suspend so many helpful and encouraging comments from readers while pulling down the shutters. I’m back now with a different nom de plume and avatar, and will be blathering on about the same sewing and pattern making obsession. Cheers and Happy Stitching.

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Coat Tales

acThe swing coat, made before Christmas, in a navy wool and burgundy lining from Crescent Trading, trimmed with navy velvet from a shop on Balham High Street. Pattern is own draft.bcCollar can be worn open.ccOr buttoned up.

dcLarge buttons from The Button Queen.

ecPockets have velvet trim.

fcNice lining with a twill weave, facing trimmed with the velvet.

gcBack has inverted pleat.

Next, method madness and bound buttonholes.

Which way do you do them?

I’ve usually used this one, also shown in this Threads article, and in many other good tutorials on the web. Or, sometimes this one, also shown here.

But then there’s this one, which feels a bit like cheating.

Here’s a nice variation. And this one is on my to do list, as is this, and who wouldn’t want to try this ?

Have you a favourite method, or a quirky one to add to the list? Do you enjoy making bound buttonholes, or approach them with trepidation?

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Purple Roses

Throwing common sense to the winds again here. Disregarding cement dust, leaking water and smashed tiles to sew a little.

This time its Donna Karan V1257.

DKNot a new baby, and for some  an unloved one. Still, as I’m altering the tissue on my knee,  cutting out on the bed, and stitching in a pile of tins, cutlery and pans, I thought I might as well pile on the punishment and nurse a troublesome little pattern as well.

The front  is cut like a kimono sleeve, front bodice and sleeve in one, with the added frisson of the back sleeve joining on, but as the back half of a set in sleeve. This part of the sleeve joins to the back bodice, where a regular armhole  takes the half sleeve head. With me so far?

Several reviewers mentioned that the sleeve was circulation stopping tight. You don’t even need to get your tape measure out to see that, but I did anyway. Biceps is 10 and a half inches at the widest point.

I cut through the pattern front from underarm to neck point and added a wedge in, increasing the sleeve head by 3/8ths and the underarm by one inch, then added five eights to each side seam, altering the back so it would match up. The result in my two way stretch jersey  was a reasonably comfortable fit. I think the pattern measurement is closer to leotard tight, so maybe it would be ok if you use a stretch lycra and can take having your upper arm encased in a sausage skin fit. Or have very skinny arms of course.

Other pattern beefs? The neckline has the usual problems of gape and plunge, I stitched some elastic along the facing edge. The knot makes extra bulk, where pleats in both the bodice and skirt also join bulkily. I did some ad hoc hacking with messy hand finishing inside to get rid of the unseen bits of the pleats and the underside of the knot.  You could use a lighter jersey, but wouldn’t you want a skirt lining if you did? The pattern doesn’t have one.

Photography is still minimal I’m afraid. A selfie in the boxroom was all flash, so here it is, flat out on the bed again.


back view.


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Sinfully Expensive and Dirt Cheap

When Henry Ford said something along the lines of ” You can have any colour as long as its black”, did it cross his mind that not every black is equally black? Probably not – black auto paint is as black as it gets.

Its not so simple when it comes to fabric is it? In a building lull yesterday, I made Very Easy Vogue 8825. It was Very Easy. I used a yard and a half of dirt cheap jersey from a fabric stall in Watney market, priced at either £1 or £1.50 a yard, I forget. The fabric was originally intended for something else but became a dress for the price of a cheap tea towel. a

Vogue 8825 has the Vogue signatures of a plunge you need a camisole under, and a very generous tie belt. The belt goes someway to explaining the two and seven eighths of a yard they tell you to buy. How hard is it to match blacks? I think I got away with the belt, the closest black I could find in stash, but match the black in the print it does not.

At the weekend I met up with some sewing pals from The Sewing Forum. We did Berwick Street.

I focused on collecting samples of sinfully expensive blacks – cheapest £39 a metre, least frugal £60 a metre. Er yes a blue and a black tulip snuck in there when I was off my guard, but mostly I kept to the plan, silk or silky of cocktail dress persuasion.


There’s a black velvet  with tulips embroidered in a delicate line of silver thread and a chiffon with a narrow stripe from Misan Fabrics, as well as an embroidered black on black, a nice crepe and something with a crinkled surface texture from The Cloth Shop, and nice medium weight silks from The Silk Society, Broadwick Silks, Biddle Sawyer Silks. You couldn’t find an exact match amongst the different qualities though. Fibre and surface texture must alter dye take up and shade.

Having stuck to my guns and not bought any lengths before drafting a pattern, I needed a treat.dThis beaded yoke piece will find its way onto the boat neck of something one day. All of these shops and a few more are either on Berwick Street or just off it on a crossing street. Berwick Street leads off Oxford Street between the tube stations of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Circus.

When I got the batch of patterns including Vogue 8825, in an unusually organised streak, I checked who had made them up, who had reviewed them, and posted a summary of their comments on the back of the envelope, before the excitement of new patterns wore off.

bThats how I knew to downsize from what the measurement table gave as my size. Yes, there’s a bit of the Vogue acreage in there again.

The jersey I used was medium weight and quite soft. A heavier jersey could make the layers in the cross over at the waist seam unduly bulky. There are pleats folding at the same point, and a grown on facing. The only changes I made to the pattern were a teeny FBA and ignoring the cuffs in favour of bell shaped sleeves.

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Fairy Tales

The parcity of posts lately  might lead anyone to suppose I’d pricked my finger on a microtex and fallen asleep for a hundred years. Actually, I’ve been a busy bee, but  my camera suffered an operator error or two.

Before this London trip , I was here and made a coat. Really, I did, though the photos were way too fuzzy, and can’t be retaken yet.

It started well – that is, it provided the right excuse to pay a visit to a new to me fabric shop. 

You find it off Brick Lane, by the way. Turn down Quaker St.  Its open on Sundays, which so happened to be my first day in London that trip. Too serendipidous.  Brick Lane maybe off the tourist itinery if its a first London visit, but on Sundays is good for  pleasant stroll past stalls selling multi cultural hot food, others selling vintage bits and bobs, and checking out the ever changing street art in (amongst others) Hanbury St, which crosses it. You’ll come across one of the most comprehensive art materials stores a short way down this street, and that too is open on Sundays.

I found a nice navy wool and burgundy lining,  valiantly resisting all other covetable wools and wool/silk blends.

Looking for a velvet for the collar took me later to the Sewing andCraft superstore in Balham, which didn’t have the right one, but was good for lots of irrational haberdashery stash building and a couple of pieces of leather. They had a great selection of large black buttons, but not navy.

I trundled to Oxford Circus , and had a choice, supplemented by an even bigger choice mail order from promptly from  Duttons for Buttons. I’m sorted for several navy coats in the future now.

So that’s it, coat is sewn. Pictures will follow sometime, and with it a quick perusal of the methods of binding buttonholes.

Meanwhile, on the method melée topic, which direction do you press your darts? I was taught waist darts pressed to the centre, bust dart upwards. You read that right. The rationale is that its the outside of the garment which counts, and having waist darts pressed to the centre gives a visual impression of a narrower panel – inch reduction again. The bust dart going upwards because it is seen from above, so on the outside, the fabric stand slightly proud, and reduces the chance of being aware of the stitched line of the dart cutting across the bodice. What’s your preference?


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