Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Plain and simple

The other day I had a dental hygienist appointment and teenage son had the car so I had to take the bus and not wanting to be late I left the house early and when I arrived I then, of course, had a tonne of time to kill. I walked the local shops: bought a T-shirt, a loose cardigan, a pair of olive green jeans; visited but didn’t buy, the Textile Studio and bought a sewing magazine because it had three free patterns and thought I could look at the pictures as I sat in the waiting room. This, of course is all beside the point – the pattern is the point here. And, it turned out to be ultimately a very expensive trip to the hygienist!


Anyway, one of the patterns was New Look 6231 – the jacket’s not my style but I quite fancied the very plain but perfectly serviceable trousers. In fact, these might actually be the same pattern that was used for the British Sewing Bee series 3 ep1. Does anyone know what patterns they use? I wouldn’t normally blog about something so plain and simple, but I’m really impressed and thought you should know about this little gem too.

The pattern is actually good value for money if you’re buying it on its own as you get at least three garments in one envelope.



Two darts at the back, waistband, invisible side zip, narrow legs and finish at ankle length.


Boy, I am impressed with this little pattern!

I made this first pair – note first! – in a very fine plain black wool with just a touch of Lycra. I shortened the back thigh by 1″ and the next pair will be shortened another 1″, but these are perfectly wearable, no worse than RTW and I think will become a staple in my wardrobe.


Because the pattern is so straightforward, it can easily be adapted to include front pockets of all designs, add turn-ups at the hems, include back welt pockets, capri or cropped lengths- the options are limitless. This pattern is replacing Clover for me.

Photographing black clothes is notoriously difficult, so please just believe me when I say these are great!


The new cardigan


I was rather blessed that the crotch fitted perfectly straight out of the envelop which might go some way to explain my joy.  The only thing I would suggest is that any fabric you chose to use, consider 1% or 2% of stretch, just for comfort’s sake and recoverability. Mine aren’t even lined which is unusual for me but the seams were pressed three times and then overlocked.


I reckon I’ll be wearing these with a plain black top and a colourful cardi or jacket. They look equally good with high heels or flats and have slim enough legs that they will easily slip into a pair of boots.


This die hard Vogue girl is mightily impressed with a different pattern company.







Patchwork Clothes

When you hear that phrase, what do you think of?

Tree huggers and hippies? Charlie Chaplin and the Kid?

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Maybe the 1970s -

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Late ’90s flirt with bohemia -


YSL and Giorgio Sant’Angelo again 1970


6a01156f47abbe970c014e8be876b5970d-800wi1970spatchworkprinttietop1_grandeCertainly colourful, flowing, full skirted and wide bell-bottomed trousers – oh the things we wore!

Everything comes around and this year, patchwork is back! Albeit a little more refined perhaps and with a 2015 price tag.


Gucci patchwork S/S 2015



Gucci silk patchwork joggers














Gucci silk patchwork jacket $7,200

The late, great Koos van der Akker shared many of his design with us via Vogue but I have never been brave enough to try one.
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And catwalk trends this year are harking back to the 1970 vibe – which ultimately means patchwork and colour.

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Now to my quilting class and my idea to sew a patchwork scarf. Scarf made, and a skirt, and a bag!


I believe this is called a French braid and the fabric selection is designed by Minnick & Simpson for Moda and called Lexington: the colours include whites, creams, tans, and blues.. Do you really want to know about strip sizes and patchwork techniques? Nah, we’ll just look at the pictures…….

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I bought an extra 1.5m of the large flower design and made the best skirt in the world – V1247, lengthened, as always. I used up every scrap of my fabric: the skirt has a patchwork inset around the hem. It is lined with a heavy muslin and the patchwork bit is lightly quilted to it.


And with all the bits left over, you sew these together and create another 1/2m of fabric and I got a matching bag – Japanese Knot, downloaded from here.



So far I’ve worn the skirt and scarf with a big tough Ziggi biker jacket and navy boots to make it seem a little less twee and because it is winter and cotton skirts in February are really not such a good idea. So while Lizzy is making winter clothes in summer, I’m making summer clothes in winter.


Now, I know this isn’t actually possible…..but…..I buy little bitty bits of fabric, sew them together and end up with more yardage than I started with!?


See, I knew those quilters had the dark forces on their side and now I have the proof.





Jersey Blue Relax

Thank you all so very much for the useful comments on the cosmic AC bolero! It’s so refreshing to have honest and candid remarks and I have taken the overwhelming majority advice and set it aside. Phew!

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I have been hand sewing other items for SWAP ’15. A few 20 mins here and there soon add up to some very productive hours and AC is portable so it can be sewn in the kitchen in between stirring stuff in pots or on the bus or on the sofa with one eye on TV.  I usually have 3 or 4 different items on the go at any one time: when I get fed up beading (you know about that one!) then I applique, when I get fed up appliqueing I seam. It helps to vary the work and each garment gets moved on little by little.

This one is nothing too exciting but fast becoming a favourite. Come home from work, kick off the shoes, strip off the dress and slip into this.


Burda maxi skirt 1/2013 #116 with deep waistband and AC long sleeved T-shirt with a bit of placement applique.


There is a mix of reverse applique (for the stem) and bog standard applique (leaves) and a few stitches here and there for extra texture. But this one is just slightly more unique because the design goes over the shoulder and drapes over the back, like a real branch.


I love the flared sleeves of this T-shirt pattern from AC book Studio Sewing and Design. It’s quite fitted not loose at all but I like that too although I have scooped the neckline way more than the original. The leaves are sewn on with a parallel whip stitch which is a stretch stitch to ease getting in and out of the T-shirt without them falling off and I used a mix of different blue threads.


Pre-washing. You can see the felt tip pen lines used for cutting out the shapes.



The skirt is really easy to sew and I reckon if you use a machine or serger, it would take no more than an hour to whip up: two side seams and attach the waistband. I don’t hem any of my AC items so that saves time too. There’s no embellishment on the skirt other than the stitching to hold it together. The waistband is really deep, so I gathered either side with some tight running stitches to ruche it a bit and it is sewn on with a herringbone stitch because it needs to stretch (a lot) to get the skirt on. When worn, the waistband sort of pleats itself.

Tia started me off on this outfit idea – she developed a LATH wardrobe (lounging around the house) and has also made this skirt with her own mods. Although hers could easily be worn out to dinner.



The whole outfit is comfortable and just perfect for relaxing in (pink fluffy slippers are mandatory footwear!).



SWAP ’15 Stall

I started my anticipated most complex item for SWAP ’15 – a heavily embellished bolero.

There’s not much seaming to be done on such a small garment but I was aiming for this look….


Alabama chanin original













From this..


to this…


Here’s where I am right now….


Dog’s dinner? I don’t need to tell you how much time has already been wasted spent so far.

So, do I give up now or carry on?




Jungle January 2

1f86b6cc_Majestic-Cheetah-gattoWith just a few days to go until the gates on the great savannah close for yet another year and the animals can sleep peacefully, stalk, hunt and kill each other knowing that at least they are safe from errant sewers, I have bagged the best beast in the jungle.




imgresEver since Anne put up this pic of Mrs Robinson, it has been my inspiration for this year’s safari. Six pairs of knickers and two bras later I cut the Dolce & Gabbana cheetah print into a slip and French knickers.



While I am million miles away from Mrs Robinson (both in style and shenanigans), there’s always make-believe.


Fabric from Chrysalis Winter 2011. Pattern Vogue 8888


















don’t call me pussycat – call me Mrs Robinson!


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