Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Vote For Me

Let’s pretend that you have a really important thing to go to and you can have my clothes………

You have to look good, so choose clothes that fit and suit you and the colours are highly complementary to fair hair, blue eyes and pale skin tone. Appearing thinner that you actually are is also a benefit.

You have to demonstrate your own style, so the clothes should reflect your personality and make you feel good.  You want to stand out but not look ridiculous and you want to be unique but not weird. Think classic, Chanel, timeless (I hope).

You will be in front of many people, you will be questioned and scrutinised and you must remain calm and collected at all times, so nothing fussy or distracting.

You have to wear these clothes all day, from 6.00am to 11.00pm, so comfort and ease are essential and no wrinkling would be an advantage.

You need a coat to get to the really important thing but will probably remove it once inside, so the coat has to be complementary to the outfit but the outfit underneath also needs to stand on its own.

I have saved you the bother of rummaging through my chaotic wardrobe and pre-selected some possible candidate outfits. For speed, I’m wearing the same pair of red shoes throughout and there’s little or no styling in the following photos. For the real thing (I’ll) you’ll have scarves and sparkly things and matching footwear, bag and gloves.



1 – Coral wool 1960s style with patterned sleeveless blouse.

2 – Pale grey ponte DK jacket and StyleArc pencil skirt

3 – Same as 2 but with coordinating magenta skirt



4 – Ivory boiled wool sheath, fitted with darts and Merchant and Mills navy coat


5 – Navy wool crepe Vogue 1121 dress with same coat as 4.


6 – Vogue opera coat in petrol and gold with Vogue 8825 in petrol poly


7 – Same opera coat as 6, with DK skirt in pale blue and gold zig-zag pattern with pale gold satin tie neck blouse.

Please vote for which one you think is best – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 – offer suitable alternatives and additional advice. I mean, there’s lots available  –

DSCN4532DSCN5013DSCN5599DSCN4008DSC00596More than a Dress

Many, many thanks






Snuggle on a Cuddler

AppleII’ve been experiencing a very first world problem recently, in that my old Apple Mac is now apparently obsolete and has decided all by itself to retire, albeit sporadically.  Gosh, 10 years old and you’re thrown on the scrap heap! I have knickers older than that. I now have a brand new one and normal service resumes. Thank you as always for your very welcome comments to recent blog posts but technology prevented me from replying individually – apologies.

And so life continues – a sewing post about a quilt and this is the very first one that I have ever intentionally made for myself.

A sprinkling of Kaffe Fasset pinks and reds tempered by some variegated greys and an exercise in precision. I sewed some 4X4 blocks and then got fed up with that and moved to 2 X 2 blocks, making absolutely sure that all the points and corners matched. When the world falls into chaos and violence, there is comfort in order and precision; there is everyday in the small things; there is routine and normality in 1/4″ seam allowance.

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We bought new sofas recently and one of them is called a Cuddler – larger than a single seat but smaller than a sofa – sort of cosy for two people who know each other well; covered in dappled grey, this new quilt fits right in but it wasn’t planned that way, just a happy coincidence. The fabrics were purchased way back at the beginning of summer  and the sofas about a month ago.


The pinks and reds lift the blandness of the sofa and warm it up. I had three blocks left over and these became a cushion cover.


The backing is pale grey and the quilting is a straight-line grid with inner squares. You can see how washed out grey on grey is.DSCN5869

When I started this quilt I started to sew hexagon blocks but got fed up with the fiddling and need to match too many seams – I got 4 made and they form the corners.




It’s smaller than my usual Montana sized ones but just the right size to snuggle under on a cuddler.

This quilt is un-named apart from For Me!




No sewing post today.

I lived through the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and ’80s but many did not; 3600, their families and friends are still grieving. Over 40,000 were injured – physically and/or psychologically and still the resonance of the violence permeates our society today. But thankfully we are out on the other side; mending wounds, patching rifts and realising that all we really want is peace: to live our lives, raise children and look forward to the future.

I cannot comment on official methods to defeat terrorism but by far the best way is for ordinary people to show that “This will not stop my way of life.”

Go to the restaurants and theatres: go shopping; go for walks around the city – clearly demonstrate that these guns and bombs will not infringe upon nor stop my way of life.

Vive la France!



I’m always far behind with the fashion trends – this particular one by 4,000 years!

The Japanese have kimono, the Americans have poncho and the Northern Europeans have Bog Coats – all of them are the simplest of shapes, straight line cut, easy sewing and minimal waste. I suppose in the days when you had to weave your own fabric you certainly weren’t going to cut it up and throw most of it away like we do today.

aw15libe1041000bI picked up a few metres of vintage Varuna Liberty at a craft fair recently – a fine woven wool in a long ago colourway. The design is still available but not in wool although in new and now up-to-date colours: called Deborah.

My particular colours are  maybe not something that I would necessarily choose right now but at a very cheap price and with the Liberty pedigree I couldn’t resist.  I didn’t want to use it all in one go, so some went on the bog coat, some went to a sewing friend and 1/2m leftovers went to stash box.

I could go into detail here about how to make a bog coat but quite honestly loads of other people have done it before me and probably much better than I could. Here’s a few links to what I picked out as the easiest and best –

Threads PDF with clear instructions, tips and ideas –

Video with construction technique –

How to weave your own (if you have a loom) –

Mine turned out to be more dressing gown than coat so that’s what it became – a lightweight gown for early autumn mornings.


I added two ties at the side for a wrap-around and cut off 2″ from the hem for a binding at the open edges.


Front seam that is the extension of the sleeves and edge binding – sewn with the overlocker.

V8888And the Buy one get one free? – Two nightdresses, one to match the bog coat and one to match the other one.

Vogue 8888 made with some ‘beige’ cotton jersey that never got dyed or made into an Alabama Chanin masterpiece. There comes a time in a woman’s life when only natural fibres will suffice for sleep – and when you have to throw the duvet off in the middle of the night you at least want to keep some decorum while tossing and turning all sweaty and hot.

One nightdress has some spare Liberty fabric, cut on bias, for bodice and straps, the other has some brown lace left over from my foray into bra making.



All the seams are machine sewed and semi-flat felled, in that I just pressed the seam to one side and top-stitched it in place.


I finished both with picot edging around the armholes and back. And both have extensions on the hem to lengthen them and continue the colour trim theme – Liberty edge on one and brown lace on the other.

The thing about the bog coat is that not only being easy-peasy to cut and sew, and leaving no detritus in its wake, it’s as versatile as it is old. You can make it in any fabric, add trims, embellishments, fastenings, pockets; you can make it any length depending on your fabric availability and the sleeves can be as wide as you want. It is generally made on the lengthwise grain of the fabric so try to use one that is 60″ wide to give yourself the full width to play with, this should be enough for full length sleeves.





Balenciaga dipped his toes into bog coat philosophy in the 1960s with his one seam coat and this Patrick Kelly pattern for download (thanks to Pattern Vault)  for a 1980s version.

Issy Miyake also developed the one seam, straight cut coat into his famous cocoon coat 1976.



If this idea takes your interest I would also encourage you to take at look at Well-Suited and the Erte take on the kimono.

Just goes to show you – there’s really nothing new….


Culottes and Tops and etc

I have not been idle – I’ve been sewing.

To make up for a week or two lack of blogging here’s a basement bargain post with not one, not two, not even three, but many things! Everything piled on top of one another, so get ready for a strip-tease. I would have put that in this post’s title but just knew I would garner unwelcome visitors – and on that subject but not quite – many welcomes to all new followers and supporters’ club members – hopefully you might get an idea or two that you can use in your own sewing…. and that obviously extends also to my long-term readers and dedicated followers: without whom this entry in my sewing diary would not have been possible.

Let’s start at the top: StyleaArc Mason coat in navy 2X2 acrylic rib; edged with sparkly denim cording and closed with a homemade contraption using two buttons and a bit of string. Scarf made with leftovers [see below].



The buttons look brown but they’re not – they’re blue/black. Just sew a bit of coordinating string onto one side and make a loop for the other button to “loop” through.




Underneath, same fabric as cardigan made using Vogue 7876 (OOP) but not as a wrap shirt but as a jumper with sides sewn closed and asymmetrical front hem.



Underneath the jumper, Namedclothing Fran shirt, cut without front button closure, so front piece all-in-one cut on the fold; scooped neckline with three cowl necks. Fabric is a printed panel from myfabrics – fine cotton voile in navy and white print with yellow border.


The pattern pieces were placed carefully to position the border print on the hem and sleeves.



Cut rectangles of fabric to fit neckline, fold and sew together. Treat as one piece.

Underneath that, Merchant and Mills Bantam vest; made in same fabric from a second panel but longer than Fran and so creates a double border hem look. Hemline was squared off and side splits added. Hand rolled hems.


Below waist, the actual star of the show – the Vogue 2807 Montana culottes – without your help would probably never have been made.


My original problem was the vintage pattern was a size 10 and I wear a size 14. Kim and Natasha came to the rescue big time including providing me with actual measurements from the original size 14 pattern and detailed instructions about re-sizing patterns. In the end, it wasn’t as difficult or as laboursome as I’d thought it would be – add a cm or so to the pattern edges and reduce the pleats by a bit. I know this is not precise or scientific but hey, look! I got a pair of culottes that are sort of in my size range.

Fabric is from The Cloth House, London [see previous post]. With legs together, ladylike, the culottes look like a skirt from the front. The pleats on centre front and back act as distractors from the crotch.


However, in these I can ride a bike, straddle a horse and sit in the most unlady-like fashion should I so desire.


These are very low slung…they sit way below the natural waist, although my resizing attempt may have had an undue influence in that. But they do have fab side pockets with a single welt and no side seams! The pockets are created between two darts…..bit scary all that sewing and slashin and reinforcing corners etc.


These culottes aren’t full or cumbersome around the legs and I’m pleasantly surprised with the pleats both front and back in that they don’t add that much extra width to the widest part of my body. Of course, you may see things from a different perspective and I appreciate that. The pleats are sewn down about 5″ which keeps them in place; the remainder pressed with a damp press cloth to retain the creases.


The culottes aren’t lined, so underneath them is this little trouser petticoat – Vogue 8888 –  French knickers cut long and whipped up onimgres the overlocker with elasticated waist until it threw a tantrum and I threw it out the window!

I kept them narrow so that I can wear them under other unlined winter wool trousers.


To identify front from back – add a little bit of ribbon or tape when you sew.

















And underneath the trousers’ petticoat….


nah! only joking!




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