Drafting Sewing Patterns

Another sewing blog, with an emphasis on making patterns for garments.

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Revised Plans

My thought, last October, was to reboot this blog in the first week of March. Plans were roughed out, but hey, that mice and men thing.  Family illness took me away for five weeks. I travelled back on 1st March, but, literally before getting the unpacking done I missed my footing on the cellar steps, fell, and broke my hip. So frustrating!

Right now I literally can’t get into the sewing room clattering the paraphernalia of a walking frame with me, but have hopes that in a couple of weeks I’ll be able to organise some kind of embroidery or crochet to mix up with the reading I’m doing to pass the time.

Meanwhile, I’m slowly looking in on my favourite blogs and checking out what you’ve all been up to.

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Last Gasp

I’m not completely throwing in the sewing towel. I’ll probably still churn out a few garments. I am putting blogging out to grass for the immediate future, recognising that I don’t have the time left from commitments to do things well. Many thanks to my readers for passing by, commenting and encouraging. Happy stitching!

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Fabric Wiles

OK. So we all know that fabric can cast a spell on you. One moment you’re idly browsing, with no intention of adding anything to that guilt producing pile of stashed cloth. Just looking.

Then fabric starts whispering your name. “Hey, looky here. I would make a lovely, cosy winter sweater dress.”

Tempting Remnant!

“And Me, so flippin’ cheap . A fair amount of wool in me, three metres is plenty for almost anything.”

les-coupons-de-saint-pierre.fr 3m for 12 euro

But fabric knows how to play hard to get. Try designing just the right garment in the colour dream that would complement your wardrobe with added zing. Then start looking for the fabric. Suddenly, the perfect wool velour in taupe, mustard, dirty pink, sand has ducked right out of sight. Most likely New York has it all with eye watering postage and customs charges. We’ve got it in grey, green, red and half a metre of black.

Yes, fabric can shout out to you, conjuring up half a dozen tantalising designs, but the instant you slap down your credit card the teasing starts. “Can’t make a decision can you? Maybe I’m too crisp, too floppy, a colour that drains your face. I could be a dress, or shorts, or a shirt, perhaps a cape? But you can’t find the right pattern can you? That one’s perfect, but you got stingy and bought a metre short. Too bad.”

But just once in a while, as you hesitatingly cut the pieces for the garment you’re unsure about, hit on in desperation,  a last ditch bid to make a small dent in the stash, fabric sues for peace. “OK,” it says. “This could work.  I’m so nice to work with, fine but tough. Like a flower petal in beaten metal. I press nicely. I don’t stretch out of shape. I glisten, but subtly. My slubby texture stops me being too upfront with the glitzy. You win”

In short I liked working with the shot silk, it’s surprisingly forgiving. It’s had to be, as a distracted day had me ripping out wrongly assembled pieces like a crazy woman. An artistically frayed self trim looked naff with the new mauve on black zip and had to go. The first collar didn’t cut it. Mrs Mole’s brilliant new-to-me zipper insertion came out too stiff to let the blouson blouse. The silk recovered from this onslaught. The unpicking didn’t leave guilty traces. I got it finished.

Blouson in Shot Silk




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Last post I asked for opinions on finding the right zip fastener dilemma. Overwhelmingly the response was to go with the closer colour match and lighter weight. Many thanks to contributors for their thoughts. Morgan summed up the problem neatly

“Perhaps it’s all about the ‘look’ you want and how much of a feature you want the zip closure to be. eg. swish/elegant with a lightweight gold metal zip with an interesting feature zip pull, or everyday sporty casual with a semi-chunky nylon/plastic zip, etc.”

Exposed zippers inevitably draw the eye. I decided to face facts – neither of my Myrtille buys cut the mustard. I hate folding work and putting it away, but this time it had to go on hold while I tried online. I’ve used Rascol before, they’re not mega cheap for haberdashery, but are quick and reliable. A matching purple or mauve could only be had in a similarly plasticky chunky looking zip, there was a diamente job (one of Morgan’s suggestions), on black, very tempting. They had a lightweight black separable, a metal one also on black with a nicer pull and a mauve spiral on black. I ordered all three, but lean to the mauve on black.

Mauve on Black Left

I now need to change the design details  to work with this plan alteration – probably black lining and black trim round the pockets.

While waiting I struck off a smaller size in a pattern I’ve used to death, and made up yet another pair of fairly wide leg trousers in black poly crepe – not very special, but we need to determine if the new size is right for a recently shrunk daughter before splashing out on better cloth.

Yet Another Vogue2981

Also ongoing is an alteration to a dress for another daughter. She bought this from an East London shop but wanted the central panels changing from the print of old cars to black needlecord. It’s basically a simple style – princess line with the side panels cut longer in the skirt and pleated up. I think the shop does one off designs on the premises, must check it out next time I’m in London.

Dress from Recycled Pieces

Unfortunately she’d begun unpicking before yelling help, and didn’t mark the pleats first. Not a huge difficulty, but it took a bit longer. The lining is facing back the neckline, so that had to come out too.

With Black Panels

It’s smaller than my stand and the back won’t zip up, but you can see how the style works. The needlecord is unusually fine and light, this came from tissus net. I like the exaggerated curves in the centre panel,  you can see these nicely in black. DD has plans for further embellishment.

Rascol sent my stuff quickly, but domestic issues put everything on hold. There are three in my immediate family with fluctuating medical conditions, the sort that go from routine care to needing urgent attention at the drop of a hat. At times like these I wonder if I’m completely mad to plan making anything trickier than lunch. Panic is over now, I should be able to assemble the blouson jacket in the next week.



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Catherine posted about the difficulty of matching a grey wool for her Oxford Bags.  Descending on Myrtille looking for a deep purple open ended zip with metallic teeth and if possible something not boring for a zip pull was an act of hope bordering on idiocy.

I came away with these two:-

Purple Plasticky Zip

Navy Metal Zip

My fabric is a slubby silk duppion in a deep violet shot with viridian. You can see how it’s woven in this bit which has been snagged.

Viridian Warp Purple Weft

These two colours make for an exciting bit of shading, deep purple in some lights, more subdued and fading to green in others.

I’m making it up into a blouson style jacket, with raglan sleeves. Pattern is part drafted though I was very tempted by this pattern. That needs some matching, or at any rate toning ribbing to carry it off , which suggests that making it in black is the way to go, so I’ll keep it in mind for another day. Experience tells me that difficulties in zip matching can be multiplied tenfold when looking for ribbing.

Annoyingly I can’t reach a decision on the zip. The purple one is lighter weight, not a perfect match but at least in the colour ballpark. Lighter weight could be a better match for the fabric, but still, it looks a bit anorakky. No open ended nylon zip was on the rails, so going delicately invisible wasn’t an option. Then there’s the metal zip, which has a more authentic look but could be too heavy and is on a navy tape.

Last resort, scrub the zip, put in a fly front and use buttons or snaps. Any thoughts fellow stitchers?


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The Ups and Downs of Making Things

Square armhole shirt finished – well, probably.

I went off the neckline, then decided I liked it, but would move the sides in a tad on the next one.

I found the neckline also worked open, but really need a deeper facing for that look.

I thought the sleeve gathers were wrong, then thought they were right.

I tried the sleeves long, then chopped them.

Is it too long? To shorten or not.

I like the deeper, different armhole position, but want to play more with the shaping possibilities if I make another.

What is it that makes the same garment look impossible one day, and ok the next?

In the Sewing Room Mess

Square armhole shirt

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Squared Armhole Shirt

If you’re wondering what’s happening to this project it’s been on hold whilst I was absent on another chapter in the train-wreck-of-RL mission. Here’s how it developed before I left.

The neckline I chose was raised and set away. You can see on the front pattern photo how it was shaped.  There’s a grown on facing which joins a separate facing piece for the back neck. I’ve tried this on a couple of times and feelings have gone from ‘Yuk, no way’ to ‘Maybe, perhaps, I could live with it for this incarnation’.

Grown On Facing

While I’m making up my mind on the neckline , here’s the skinny on the method used to have the inside edge of your facing nice and neat without getting out the overlocker.

Fusible to Neaten

The fusible is set on to the RS of the facing piece with its glue side up, stitched and trimmed close to the stitching, with the rounded edge of the neckline piece (right on the photo) notched so it’ll turn.


Turned and fused there’s a neatened lower facing edge. I’ll probably run a line of stitching along it for durability.

Facing applied

Then the pre-neatened facing is applied in the normal way, RS together, trimmed, turned and pressed.

It’s a good method if your fabric doesn’t distort easily, and, pertinent to this garment, if you don’t think you’ll have to pull it apart because you don’t like the neckline shape.

I put one sleeve in for the try on, but will be taking it out and trying a different spread of the gathers – less bunchy at the top I think.

Part Done

I try to get a happy hour or two into these necessary trips and this time saw the Giacometti.

Whilst at Tate Modern I also saw this one

Both are very comprehensive. If I had a criticism it would be that many of the Giacometti’s were not visible in the round. Because of the number of works, and I suppose for security considerations, it wasn’t possible to walk round and amongst many sculptures. I had seen an exhibition of his large figure sculptures a few decades ago, where the display was more open, and found they had more distinct presence as standing figures which you could meander round and past. This is the first time I’ve seen such a wide range of his work though.

Fahrelnissa Zeid was new to me. I loved some of the large abstract paintings. I’m very glad to have seen these. If you live in London, or visit often, or even if you want to see several exhibitions on a short visit,  membership of Tate gives you free entry to exhibitions at all of their galleries. I’m usually visiting with another person, the with guest rate is particularly useful as the membership cost quickly pays for itself. They also sometimes run some ‘members only’ hours, which means you can avoid the crush at very popular exhibitions.


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