Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

40 Shades +


The story so far…. outfits in shades of grey for A/W ’16 and hopefully well beyond. My camera battery ran out of power at the last photo shoot so here’s the next installment to finish the mini series. So many pleasant and encouraging comments – thank you all so very much for that, it spurs me on to try better. Lots of patterns coming up for you to try at home

We got as far as the trousers:


Not my usual style but then that’s the nice thing about sewing, we can try new things.

Pattern is Vogue 9193 Marcy Tilton. Fabric is a weird silk and linen mix in graphite grey from Fabworks, more spongy than stretchy.

J1b1Tiny permanent pleats ripple across the surface of this linen and silk blend, creating a dark graphite toned rather unusual fabric that will definitely suit stunning couture fashion. Silky Ripples is a medium weight with a drapey handle which springs back into shape. There’s a bias stretch plus the pleats create a slight stretch to the length. It’s textured on the face but the reverse is quite soft and silky against your skin.


The trouser fronts are much wider than the backs so that when all is sewn together the side seams actually run down the backs of your legs. Ignore all the gathering at the waist in the tech drawing, the actual trousers are nowhere near as gathered.


Neat little front pockets folded in between the yoke and the legs (think Vogue 1247 Rachel Comey) and a simple elasticated waist makes for a fairly easy sewing experience. No real fitting issues either though I did take in the centre back crotch by 2″. I had to cut the yoke pieces on the cross grain due to fabric limitations and this gives a shading of the greys across the top.

With any fabric that was leftover I made a very simple shell top based very loosely on Vogue 8559 (another Tilton but OOP). There’s not a dart in sight. Neck and armholes are actually bound in navy jersey.

It’s unfitted just enough to wear over the silver grey Tilton tunic.


So while I was rummaging in the loosely categorised leftovers bag called Jerseys, I found a grey cotton. This became a loose, shapeless T-shirt using Burda 05/2012 #101B  for the basic pattern.  Length dependent totally on the available fabric.

Always needs a cami under it because the V is so low but this is an opportunity not a design flaw – another layer and I’ve always liked the symmetry between a statement colour on top and matching shoes.

Grey is such a neutral colour that it can be worn with every other shade of grey and a host of other colours too. Can you think of a colour that grey doesn’t wear well with?


Too much grey? Also discovered in the Jersey bag were a few pieces leftover from my forays into the Tilton’s Arty T-shirt.  Not enough of one but reasonably sized pieces of two. DSCN6159

Bring out Vogue 1508  Zandra Rhodes. Front and back are the same shape but reversed, so that one sleeve is one colour and the other sleeve is the other – clear as mud? Seams are like a half raglan – see the diagram below for a much better explanation than I can give.


Something bad happened at the neckline so I added two stripes of black/grey striped jersey at bra strap position and now I have a half-cold shoulder top! The bands then needed to be balanced out elsewhere and more were added to the dipped hem. The joys of sewing……

As the Zandra Rhodes pattern was out and about and I’d actually run out of greys by this stage I added another colour – lime green.

This fabric was given to me by a local sewing friend, Evelyn, ages ago and I could never think of the right pattern. But here it is…


It’s a sheer poly chiffon, so camisoles beneath are a must. See the green shoes?

I don’t think it matters which way you put this top on as front and back are the same shape – the pointy hem just shifts from one side to the other. Bit more successful with the neckline this time too. Had to do all that French seam stuff and hand rolled all the hems and neck though.


Items in stash used up, new patterns tried and old ones reinvented and re-used and a whole A/W collection. A happy ending.



48 thoughts on “40 Shades +

  1. Busy bee! I love your layered look, and wish it would work for me…but I’d overheat and spend all my time stripping off! Great stash busting too, nice one.

  2. Great outfits and wonderful stash busting. You look fabulous in all of them!

  3. An absolutely fantastic collection and you wear them all so well…impressive! Do you ever sleep or did all your ideas keep the adrenaline flowing????

    • Thanks Fran. These were all made over the last six weeks and I’m just getting round to photographs now. Many things are really simple so sew up fast too.

  4. Wonderful ideas for using up remnants — looking great as usual. You will be getting great compliments on these.

  5. My favourite outfit is the matching top and pants with the light grey tunic worn underneath.

  6. Well you have you autumn wardrobe sorted! It all looks great – that Zandra Rhodes is a bit special. I may try to use that design in my own pattern cutting if you have no objections.

    • Go right ahead KIm. The top is cut on the bias for the lime green but when using knits and limited amounts of them, I usually cut as straight of grain as will allow. Thank you.

  7. I second Gail – really like that matching combo too. You have made a lovely start on an Autumn wardrobe, like me though being from the North it will do for Summer too!

  8. You are so fast Ruth – I can hardly believe what you have accomplished. Very creative. Personally I love pink with grey, but I have to agree there is not a single colour that doesn’t work with it. Even beige.

    • Kate, this is the culmination of 6 weeks of sewing and when you have one colour of thread in the machine I’m generally too lazy to change it.
      Beige is never a colour I consider at any time – LOL

  9. What a successful lot of sewing and layering you’ve got going on. And you are so right about grey going with everything. The perfect neutral.

  10. The Tilton pants look fabulous! I have been walking around this pattern on my to-be-made table and wondering about the gathered waist. Your comment alleviates my worries about the potential bulk at the waist. How about the crotch length? is it low or “normal”? Thanks so much for all the inspiration in your last 2-posts. I love layers and all your ideas on how to achieve them along with mixing and matching pieces for different looks is so helpful.

  11. Wow, what a fantastic completion of the layering post! Love the Zandra Rhodes tops. Clever to add straps for the cold shoulder look! I think these will all squeeze into a suitcase for a wonderful travel wardrobe! Now the question — can I get busy and create my wardrobe for a fall trip to the East Coast! Sounds like a challenge I can get busy on NOW!!! THANKS!!!!!

  12. brilliant (as always)

  13. Hm, I’m a bit worried you might not have enough to wear to work once school starts!

    A great grey collection Ruth, and how interesting to see it combined with splashes of pink and lime. Enjoy wearing!

  14. Well Ruth you really have out done yourself with all those delicious outfits. Well done. You inspire me and can’t wait to try something similar. Lois

  15. OK Ruth, after viewing all you have done over the past few blogs…it makes the rest of us look like real sewing slugs…creeping along doing a couple tops or bottoms instead of a whole cohesive collection…OH MY! what a clever group of “back-to-school” co-ordinates…stunning and stash busting at it’s best! Love the lime green shoes!!!!

  16. Fabulous! Great patterns and a fun wardrobe update. Love how you have made sure everything went well together. I agree too that everything goes with grey.

  17. So glad I found you….this is a great collection maximizing the greys. Wondering where you are in the world after looking back back and seeing some Alabama Chanin designs. I live in Minnesota and have been searching for someone else who “gets” hand sewing. Anyway, you are great and can’t wait to see what you come up with next.

    • Hi Laura, nice of you to join us.
      I am very far from Minnesota……Northern Ireland. But coming up soon will be a half AC bodice which is attached to a skirt that together makes a dress.

  18. Oh my! You have been busy. I love your encore. These pieces all go together so nicely.

  19. A really fabulous collection Ruth. I love grey especially with mustard and duck egg blue. Are there no more posts …. I was assuming Jamie Dornan would be appearing in the last one! Not that I’ve seen the film but i loved him in the fall. X

    • Met him in Belfast one day: a friend’s parent’s house was being used as a scene in the Fall. Apparently there’s (yet) another series coming soon. Thanks Mags. Part of this collection is your fault for taking me to Minerva!

  20. I LOVE all of these combinations and am especially excited about those marcy pants on you. I am too short to carry that silhouette, but they look wonderful on you.

    • Oh Mary try them…. a yard of fabric and what’s to lose?
      The pants are not that loose or wide-legged that I think lots of shapes could wear these.
      Thank you very much.

  21. Ok, just when I thought it couldn’t get any better than the previous post, you hit another home run! Wow! I have made copious notes and snagged a few of your photos for an inspiration board. I made up the Tilton pattern with the two pants pockets the other day as a lark. figuring I could straighten out the leg seam if they were too wonky to wear. I was delighted to find they are cute and comfortable. They will be made again in my fall/winter group.

    These 2 posts are the most inspiring collection I have EVER come across! Thank you for taking the time and the effort I know is required to create such beautiful posts, to say nothing of all the garments!

    • Thanks so much Kathie. I’m so glad you found some inspiration here. It’s what I strive to do.
      I agree, I think another pair of these trousers is required – oh no, I’ll have to buy some suitable fabric…….

  22. Glad to see you got the lime green fabric used. It suits you well. I’m still struggling to get the the rest of my stash used up and I fear an imminent trip to Italy might add to the growing problem!

    • Thanks Evelyn, I didn’t want to waste the chiffon so kept it safe until the right moment.
      Italy? – think cashmeres, wools, Missoni. Take an empty suitcase and have a lovely time.

  23. I am late to the party, but I LOVE your collection! Makes me wanting to wear stuff like that, because it looks fabulous on you. Alas, my body figure is not that well suited for these types of pattern. Wonderful work!

  24. Who knew gray could be so versatile? I actually love it, and have been looking for a way to incorporate it for the season. And your collection is fabulous. Gray with gray, gray with pink, and gray with lime green – stunning! Great fun, thanks for some needed inspiration.

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