This and That and a Good Read

This is how I decided to add a modesty lining to the dress drafted from Pattern Magic shown last post.

Darts in lining

I put the dress back on the stand and chalked the line of the top band onto the stand cover. Then I stitched a tube of a light georgette, making it slightly larger than hip size in width, and the length of the dress to the highest point of the hem. I pinned this to the chalk line keeping the grain straight vertically and horizontally, to arrive at the correct shape at top band level, and pinning small bust darts vertically from the top band. Then I decided not to unpick the band to join the lining, but hand stitch it to the bottom of the band. I’m hoping that the weight of the fabric is judged right – light enough not to affect the floaty top layer, heavy enough to provide some cover. Choosing this lining idea means that you do see it through the hole in the dress, but it doesn’t scream ‘wrong’ at me. What do you think? How would you deal with lining a dress like this?

Lining behind hole

I notice many in the public eye, like the Duchess of Cambridge, and First Lady have solid flesh coloured linings under lace or voile. In this dress would the line of the hem of the lining stand out, cut across the style lines of the skirt if it a flesh tone was used?

That is what I sewed yesterday

Another, yes another, cowl top. This one is in a dotty navy satin. Same old pattern, made many times. They’re the ideal no brain project, as quick as a Tee shirt but more versatile in wear.

Cowl Neck Top in Satin

I first blogged this pattern in 2012

2012 Silk One

A quick run through of some others made in different fabrics :-

Linen Version

Rayon/Cotton Mix

Cotton Jersey with Sleeves

Wild Print Rayon

Viscose Jersey

Cowl Blouse in Satin

Enough already?

Good Book

President Trump is on tv as I write, answering questions about his attitude to Nato. That reminded me that I finished “Fascism: A Warning” by Madeleine Albright recently. Thoroughly recommend! It’s very readable, so informative and packs no punches.


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UFO Landing

The lost abandoned unfinished object is now a dress. The pattern was drafted from the first Pattern Magic book, page 30.

Pattern Magic Project

Drafting mainly consists of slashing and spreading bits of the basic block, sticking different parts together, adding in chunks where you want a drape, a pleat or a gather. Pattern Magic takes this to extremes, and sometimes the results are more akin to soft sculpture than wearable garments, garments wearable outside the photographer’s studio that is.

This one is wearable in real life for someone. As usual I seem to have to make things up at least once to work out what I really want to do with the design, so to that extent this is a stage.

The fine embroidered crepe I used is bulky in the gathered section, especially when you pull the drawstrings tight to keep the hole small. The drapes which are gathered in are arbitrary, you could redesign the pattern to have less full drapes and so less of a bunch round the hole. Compared to the example in the book, I swivelled the hole more to one side. I toyed with the idea of reshaping the top so that it fitted snugly to the dress from, and putting a zip in one of the almost vertical seams in the back, but in the end went for elasicating a section of the top band I made so it can be pulled on.

Front Drapes

Dress Back


The side views look awkward on the form, but I think in normal movement it would be fine. The hem is very short on this side. The other side is quite fitted in the bodice, so it makes a nice contrast with the loose drapes. You need a light fabric for this style, dip-dyed habotai?

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Hidden Magic

In a lull in Stash Attack sewing, I decided to attack some of it more rapidly by throwing it out.

Fabrics too small to be useful for anything but those self righteous days when saving landfill by creating a wonder with the half yard with a curve cut out part way down seems like a good idea? Binned. Fabric pieces kept for a patchwork which isn’t going to happen in this life? Binned. Something to squeeze out a pencil skirt in a colour that goes with nothing else? Binned.  Fabric purchased for its pretty colour whilst avoiding looking at its harsh uncompromising poly nature? Binned.

Buried amongst this lot, a plastic bag emerged. It held a half done project that half rung a bell. PM31 was scrawled on the ouside. I embraced it like a long lost friend. A cast off half done project from my first Pattern Magic book.

This project, per book.

Pattern Magic Project

I bought the book before it came out in English. Luckily, this was stuffed in the bag too.

Notes to self

I’d also saved my half scale workings showing how the block was slashed and spread. Like this sheet.

Half Scale Work

Crumpled Butterfly.

Incomplete Magic

That’s the front, there’s a hole gathered round at high hip level. Any way of making that practical do you think? The gathering is along the bottom of the piece at the top of my notes.

I remember stopping the project when, as you can see from the back, it turned out too big in the bodice.


Now that I can see some of my floor, should I bring it to some kind of fruition, or bung it in the dustbin of history?

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Stash-Buster Jacket

No, not the one I wear when stitching my way to a clearer studio and consience. Just another chapter in the saga of fabric I bought because I liked it, it was a bargain, I was planning to make up, and didn’t.

I drafted the pattern from my own blocks. The original intention was to use a pattern from the magazine “Fashion Style, la mode à faire soi-meme” but after I painstakingly traced enough to recognise odd drafting of the sleeves and neckline I binned it and started from scratch.

(I should point out that there are others in the blogsphere who are fans of this mag. and the size range is 36 to 56 for most styles, the styles are wearable and reasonably varied, it could be for you. )

The pattern has Princess seams, raised neckline, front zip and pockets not yet in at the photo below. The fabric is some sort of jacquard weave. I lined it with a grey poly also lurking in the fabric pile. I made the pattern to fit the length of open ended zip I already had in order to avoid the inevitable long wait for a trip to the mercerie.

On the Dress Form

Sleeves and pockets in. Temperatures in the low 30s in the shade,  darned hot for photographing jackets!

Boiling in the Jacket!

I’m almost looking forward to this.

Winter Walk

Below is a photo of the line drawing from the magazine, to which I was pretty faithful. They don’t have pocket bags, the two piece sleeve had less curve in it than mine and the neckline stand was at a sharper angle than mine. I cut a lining pattern and facing pattern. For the front lining I moved the shaping of the Princess line into a dart. Of course I used my own block so the bodice pieces were slightly different.

Line Art

Butterick 5893 Again.

I’m just this pattern re-run on the end of this post.

Butterick 5893

This time I made it up exactly as the pattern, the pockets and side seams identical to Butterick’s intentions. The fabric is a lightweight something or the other, that almost feels like cotton, but starts to grumble if you have the iron too hot. Maybe rayon? £1 a yard, London market. What’s new is that I cut the small size. My hip measurement is 36″ 92cm,  at the low end of medium according to their chart. There is enough ease, no strained stitches when sitting, pulls on easily. I would lower the crotch depth a tad if I made it again, but it’s not critical enough to have me huffing and puffing over the sewing machine to change it on this pair. The fabric was surprisingly narrow, only 108 cms wide, and to get the pieces out of the 2 yards I had I cheated and cut it weftwise, piecing the pocket linings from the scraps.

Butterick 5893




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Helpful Blunders

Here’s one.

Yoga Top ?

OK it’s wearable, and calling it a yoga top widens the tolerance threshold for fabric that didn’t hit the mark, and fit slightly off.

The Backstory.

I’m making an effort to sew up the section of stashed fabrics devoted to things I only paid £1 a yard or thereabouts for, and those pieces which one hangs on to because they seem too large to bin, but are too small to pull out for just any pattern you fancy.  This piece of grey jersey was sleeveless top sized. I bought it originally for something else bla bla. I’ve a few patterns for tops, but the idea of reworking one for the zillionth time didn’t appeal. I decided to cut out Butterick 6054 as a top.

How it Looks on a Model

Fabric Blunder.

I learnt from this exercise that B6054 has quite particular fabric needs. The right front pleats up and makes for a bulky chunk at the waist. My jersey is quite lightweight, if you put a hand behind it you can see the outline through it. Yet the Bernina needed coaxing to push through the pleated bit, and there’s some of that bodge-it hand sewing we know and love to hold turnings to the wrong side and stop them flipping forwards.

The problem with picking a super light jersey for a wrap dress comes down to underwear. Got to have some sort of slip under if you don’t want it gripping your anatomy when you stand up from sitting. “Double the skirt” I hear you cry. Yes, but then there’s yet more bulk in those pleats. Maybe figure out a pattern for the underlayer with darts in place of pleats, trimmed to an inch of their life? Give up and buy a slip, ignoring  that it shows when you stride out? Cunningly put a safety pin in the underlayer to hold it closed so the slip doesn’t show?

Fit Blunder

I don’t need to spell this out to anyone above B cup who has ever made a wrap top or dress do I? Coverage and how to get it to stay in place. What you see is what you get from the pattern. In this soft jersey it will pull across, but does gape apart when you’re not paying any mind to it.

The Skinny on the Skirt

I couldn’t decide what to do about the front skirt bit on the flat pattern. What I did, you guessed it, was half stitch half pin everything up, put it on the stand, and hack away at the hem until I thought it looked acceptable. Now I look again it looks better on something with a narrow waist. Why is that ha ha?

Styling the Hem


I’m not sorry I used this piece of fabric to try this pattern:-

1.A few issues with the pattern are clearer.

2. If I put aside the dread of my recent bionic additions dislocating and risk a yoga pose or two, I have just the top for it. If not, there’s always housework.

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Trousers Wide and Narrow

More in Stash Attack Mode

Remember those times when having the ankle end of your trousers the wrong width was  enough to mark you out as a little odd or seriously uncool? Happily for the eclectic amongst us, fashion is unfazed by the political waves of rigidity, close mindedness and mean spirited self interest. No fashion dictats now, find your own happy. Trouser widths are all over the place.

To put it another way, I found three trouser patterns, two recent, one old, and used some of my ludicrously huge pile of fabrics to make them up. They all, I think, look ok. From fairly narrow to jolly wide, they were:-

The chino stye from an issue of Couture Actuelle.

Couture Actuelle Pattern

This is just a moderately narrow, classic casual style with turn ups and slanting pockets at the hip (didn’t make the back welt pockets, who ever uses them?). It has a waistband with belt loops I also didn’t bother with, as a belt round my waist on trousers is as rare as a tucked in top. I made them in a white cotton drill which, if memory serves me right, came from Fabricland uk. They’re comfortable, unremarkable, light, summery, a bit casual. Zip went in in the Shoben and Ward way I’ve banged on about many times . Pattern comes like other magazine patterns without seam allowances.

Chino in White Drill

Butterick 5893

Butterick 5893

These are wide but straight ultra casual, very seasonal, elastic waisted pants. The pattern has some  side pockets. I had a length of black embroidered cotton to use for these, but not enough to get fronts and backs out on separate widths. By pattern measurements I should use the medium, and to fit this on a single width I removed the side seam, making vertical welt pockets instead of the ones designed by Butterick. As it turned out I need not have bothered, ease acreage is generous and I could have used a smaller size. They’re light, comfy, the kind of pants you could sleep in. The fabric I believe came from Myrtille.

Black Embroidered Cotton

Very Easy Vogue 9198

80s Pattern

This pattern was intact, despite its tatty envelope. I haven’t found it online yet, but it has a distinctly 80s look to judge by the padded shoulders those gals are sporting.   Remember suit shoulders bulked out sideways with huge lumps of foam?  Looking past the bullish shoulder pads , I thought the flowing pleated pants in the artwork might look ok.

Pleat front Trousers

A length of some kind of lightweight poly bought on a London market at £1 a yard beckoned. The pattern has front pleats and a back zip. The side seam falls straight, the fullness is increased by those generous pleats, which aren’t the little tucks you get at the waistline of Oxford Bags, but proper full pleats from hip to waist, made by slashing the block from waist to hem and adding width. It looks like a skirt when you stand still.  The pattern harks from the days of single sizes and pre-dates vanity sizing. My size fit snugly on the hips and the waist needs a couple of low carb weeks. Not only does the pattern have seam allowances, but they’re printed on it. You really can’t mess up with these old patterns. Or so I thought.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I didn’t make these all that carefully. What if they looked comically outdated? No point working up a sweat. The result of this slapdashery was the invisible zip coming adrift because I hadn’t sewn across the snipped end well enough. I unzipped it first wearing and puller went shooting off the end and disappeared.  I was just going to go with the on-the-floor shot, but with gritted teeth I’ve ripped out the old zip and stitched a new one in, zigzagging across the end a zillion times. The shot below reflects the hacked off mood nicely, my lens wasn’t square with the ground, I’m falling gently sideways and it’s too darn hot to do anything about it. I’m wearing them, they’re ok. I mean for £2.50 who’s nitpicking?

Wonky Shot



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Velvet Wrap Dresses

I made a couple of velvet wrap dresses in the blog down time. The first was in black ‘something’ velvet – probably a poly. I had left overs from yards and yards of this, once used for a costume. It sews easily but hangs horribly. The dress is a straight wrap top, tie belt, sleeves finishing braclet length in a flared cuff piece. You either stike lucky when you order a synthetic velvet online or you don’t. It did work pretty well in the costume which had just required a huge long gathered skirt. There was enough heft in the volume to make up for the lack of presence in the fabric itself. The skirt on this one didn’t work brilliantly.

Black Velvet Dress

The second one was carefully made in a very lovely sapphire blue silk velvet. I used this self same velvet, in a different colour, from the same supplier for another dress.

I followed all the usual velvet rules, but this project was a pain. I took care to cut out in a single layer and protect the bias of the cross over neckline from stretching.

Stabilise Neckline

I hand tacked every darn dart and seam.

Hand Tacked Dart

Of course I pressed as little as possible, hovering the iron and blasting steam, with the surface of the velvet protected against another velvet scrap.

Still, this dress nearly had me weeping.

Blue Velvet Wrap Dress

The cherry on the cake? It nearly got lost in the post. Parcel Force left it with a neighbour on the wrong floor and signalled it as delivered, without bothering to drop a note through the door of the intended recipient.

Yet alls well that ends well. The neighbour was located, no mean feat in a huge block of flats, with tenants from around the world. The parcel survived and the dress fitted. The photo doesn’t do it justice, though a simple style the fabric makes a stunning effect when worn.  I’m so darn sorry that Angus International stopped trading. They were the source of the fabulous silk velvet. I’d like a limitless quantity of this, regardless of the pain in sewing it, so, ha ha if anyone happens upon a similarly budget conscious cache of lovely silks please inform.

and now Brexit Blues

Just got to add a footnote on this weekend of a mass march in London for a People’s Vote on the final deal. Like other Brits in Europe,we’re still in the dark here, in no man’s land, waiting to see what we’ll have to deal with, if we’ll be able to continue living in our home, if abandonment will follow betrayal. Not a whisper of official advice or information.  Mrs May is giving the impression of someone who knows she was handed a poisoned chalice, and is wondering how long she can keep swilling the contents round her gums before one of the vultures in waiting makes her swallow.  Wish us luck.

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