Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Special Days


Honestly and truly, every day is special – there’s absolutely no doubt that we all have bad ones but somehow we wake up tomorrow, pull on our big-girls’ pants and deal with it. I’ve been lucky and very recently had the most amazing few days away with some very special people, so let’s start with Day 1 and move on from there.

Day 1

I’ve known for ages that one of my students won Outstanding Student of the Year (Public Services), an international competition organised by Pearson with nearly 1000 nominees and over 1,000,000 possible entrants. There was a media embargo until after the actual ceremony.

Alarm set for 5.00am. I already packed the night before and my outfit sewn and ready for the awards ceremony in London, hosted by Baroness Garden of Frognall in the Churchill Room in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster.

Arrived in London and headed straight to Cosmetics a la Carte for a professional, last-all-day make-up. Cost a small fortune but this is definitely a time to treat myself.

Whirlwind day of receptions, awards, ceremony, fun and networking. So many talented and inspiring young people. Mine is called Clare and we wore matching dresses.



She is very special, battling illness while studying and then achieving the highest grades possible. A truly humbling experience to teach a student like this and so proud of her.

My dress is Burda 04-2016-119 worn with a light weight bright pink coat, which is a Merchant and Mills Haremere jacket made long. It’s unlined to cope with London city heat so all the raw seams had to be Hong Konged.


I actually wanted to go for a ‘This old thing? I just threw it on” look: sort of understated, not obvious but still part of an outfit. To achieve this I half-lined the sleeves with dress fabric so that when the cuffs were folded back the cuff lining matched the dress. and when I don’t wear the two together, just unfold the sleeves. It’s a smarter alternative to a cardigan and more relaxed than a jacket.


I actually got more compliments about the coat that I did my dress – perhaps the colour did it – it’s not easy to overlook. It’s looking a little the worse for wear after a full day wearing in London heat and humidity and then being unceremoniously stuffed into my travel bag.

20.30 Took the train from London to Preston for an extra few days of relaxation and enjoyment with my long-time friend Caroline. Did a bit of hand sewing on my Six Napoleon corset on the journey. Caroline and I re-connected last summer after 20 odd years apart and we haven’t looked back since.

Stayed up to 4.00am Friday, chatting and laughing like we were teenagers.

Day 2

Relaxing, lazy day at Caroline’s home  – I’d been up and on the go for 23 hours. Time to unpack, settle in, finish some conversations from the previous day ( same day). Watched Wimbledon and made plans.

Caroline is a photographer. Recently, we took one of her images and had it digitally printed onto silk. I hand rolled the edges and we both now have scarves that no-one else in the entire world has – that’s special.


It’s not upside down – it’s a reflection!

Day 3

Darwen –
Day out to meet Mags at Minerva Crafts.

Such lovely people there: a family run business who were more than welcoming, friendly and very patient with us.

49ebbdc43fe9f5e69ec693ba019dd0afWe pulled bolts of fabric from the shelves, mixed and matched and generally created a little bit of mayhem on the cutting table. We advised other shoppers – only when they asked mind you – and had a lot of fun. We all bought loads: Caroline got some grey/taupe jerseys in animal-like prints; Mags got a stash and I got enough for an autumn outfit. We had a light lunch followed by a wander around the speciality food market.

Mags is fabulous; honest, stoic, funny and very, very stylish. I’ll be honest, I was getting a bit fed up with blogging and taking photos and all that stuff but meeting her has re-invigorated me and has made me grateful for those special Internet friends who become real ones.

Day 4 & 5

Hanging out, day trips and shopping – just lovely. Then home again.

Day 6- 9

Hooray, back into the sewing room. I love travelling and going away but there’s nothing like coming home either and doing what I love best. Sewed like a mad woman and before the end of the week I had sewn all of Caroline’s Minerva stash. I did add the odd bit of lace and cotton jersey but from 2.5m, I managed to get three tops and 1m ponte made a perfectly coordinating pair of trousers.

Caro Tsv9193-a

Mainly the top pattern is Tilton’s Vogue 9057 (first and last) and the trousers are Vogue 8837 , another Tilton.

Caroline wore her first incarnation of this top at our day out at Minerva so I know it fits and suits her. The black and animal print (second) is Vogue 9193, another Marcy. Dead easy to sew as the sleeves are cut on but the pattern pieces are cut single layer and are therefore huge.



DSCN6354I was on a roll so I just kept going and added a few bonus but coordinating items to Caroline’s wardrobe.


The light grey knit is a layering piece (the fabric is from my Minerva stash) and is actually the top half only of Vogue 9193. The pattern doesn’t actually tell you to do this but it works really well. So well in fact that I think I need one myself.V9193

The knit top will also go over any of Caroline’s other tunics too. It wasn’t easy to sew though,  the fine silky knit fabric had a mind of its own. I did my best not to stretch it out and used some leftover animal print jersey as a stabiliser around the neck, sleeves and hem. The ‘underneath’ tunic is made from other leftovers and here you can see where the top and bottom meet. There’s a built in pocket on the left hand side. If you sew this top, just watch out – the side seams on top and bottom half do not line up, the bottom half is offset (see the tech drawing). Ask me how I know this because I’m so smart I don’t have to read the instructions….!

All of Caroline’s Minerva fabric has now been sewn, posted and quite possibly already worn as Mr Postman was especially swift this week.

That’s you all up to date until next time…



30 thoughts on “Special Days

  1. It sounds like a fabulous, if exhausting, trip. The garments you have made for your friend are lovely. What a lucky friend 😃

  2. love that outfit of the floral dress and pink jacket – great color combo and lovely summery colors. and that scarf is gorgeous.

  3. Congratulations to you and your student! What a wonderful experience for you both. Your dress and jacket were perfect for the occasion. Love the scarves and the pieces you’ve made for your friend. Really lovely!

  4. A joyous beauty-filled whirlwind! Thank you for sharing. That dress, that coat, those scarves!

  5. Your scarf is fabulous Ruth, what a clever idea. Congratulations to your student and best wishes for her future – gleaming, no doubt.

  6. The student has done brilliantly, and how wonderful for her to have your support and encouragement throughout. Very uplifting. As is the pink jacket with the clever sleeve detail. I also love the idea of turning a photograph into a scarf – please write it up in due course.

  7. So enjoyed this post. Love the grey knit with the top, I bet the fabric needed quite a lot of taming …. But you are the woman for it! wOw Caroline’s photo in scarves are beautiful, I hadn’t realised she was a photographer, I hope to meet her again some time. Xx

  8. What an amazing time you had. You and Clare look stunning – how lovely to share such a spectacular accomplishment with her. And then your Minerva journey – wowser. Beautiful garments, an entire wardrobe. Nice post, thanks for sharing the moments.

  9. Brilliant idea to use the dress print inside the sleeves! And design it so that you just turn sleeves down to wear with another garment. Thanks so much for sharing this technique, and for all your posts that are so inspiring. You are using your teaching passion with us as well as your students!

  10. Hi Ruth,
    What a wonderfully uplifting post this . Huge congratulations to you and your amazing student. Looks like you had a tremendous time and your outfit suits you beautifully.

  11. You look gorgeous! What a wonderful story, too. Congratulations. My mom was a teacher and I had several who were critical in my development so I understand what an important role you play. Good luck to your capable student!

  12. What an uplifting and joyful post! Great sewing too.

  13. Wow what an exciting trip! You have some beautiful fabrics/garments there – I can’t believe that you got that all sewn up so fast!

  14. I enjoyed reading about your special days. You have every reason to be proud of your student – and how good that she got that recognition – and I’m sure that she was very proud to be accompanied by such a stylish looking lecturer too !

  15. I can see exactly why the coat drew all the attention. Its a fabulous colour, it is beautifully made and above, perfectly complimented the dress. Your make-up was worth the expense, you looked a million dollars (or pounds!)

  16. Pingback: A/W ’17 O4 | corecouture

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