Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Sucker for Sales


dscn6825If you’ve never been on Joel and Son website, then you need to set aside four or five hours, lock your credit/debit card in the glove compartment of the car and lose the keys or give both card and keys to a responsible adult and then be prepared to drool, dream and digest the fabulous fabrics.


Here’s one for Jungle January – from £495 down to £240 for 4m. Quick girls, quick.



For that special occasion how about the laser cut embroidered butterfly fabric that you’ve been hunting for ages: a mere £2,500 p/m


10186bOr for that ever more special occasion how about an ivory lace appliqué on a printed organza with gold anthracite stones dotted throughout;  yours for £7,500 p/m

It does my heart good that such retailers are still around and selling the most special and unique of fabrics. I’m also glad that fabric weavers and mills are still producing these beautiful fabrics. I’d like to be able to buy said fabrics and have loads of occasions to which to wear the finished garments but that is not my life.

Thanks to our U.S. cousins, Black Friday is now a common occurrence in UK and for a while between November and December my email inbox was full every quarter of an hour with ‘offers’. One of the offers came from Joel and Son and like so many of you, I couldn’t resist.


Now, while the fabric might be discounted and it’s an offer too good to miss new problem are encountered; what to make and what to wear with it? It’s like being back in RTW land and purchasing that fabulous blouse because it was in the 50% sale but you’ve got absolutely nothing that coordinates with it and therefore a total waste of money. From last summer and Black Friday I have bought but not sewn quite a few metres, including:

2.5 cut length of wool crepe with Lycra, pale coral/terracotta – Dec 2016

4m of fine cotton print in reds, greens, burgundy and shades thereof – July 2015

Cutting into fabric from the hallowed Joel and Son is a daunting experience: you know how expensive it is and therefore you don’t want to waste it or make a Horlicks. I always think long and hard before making anything from my precious Joel and Son stash. I’m the type of home sewer who first thinks about a garment and then seeks out the fabric – when Joel et al are involved, it’s the other way round. Hence some fabric lies in wait for a very long time……until now…….dscn6826


The long cardigan is a terracotta fine knit from MyFabrics (probably also in a sale) and although made, I had nothing to wear with it apart from black…..but that’s not the star of the show.

There are high waisted trousers and then there are HIGH waisted trousers and these are they. No longer are waistbands hanging low on the rear but sitting where they should be – at the waist. These ones, however, go way beyond.

Vogue 8604 is a long time in my pattern box. 8604

Wide legged, front and back darts with a couple of front pleats into the bargain, back zip closure and in-seam side pockets. My fabric is somewhat robust, almost heavy althodscn6829ugh fluid and drapey at the same time. The side pockets were made but swiftly removed because they just didn’t sit flat and these trousers need a smooth silhouette.

The high waist is supported by a facing that I interfaced with canvas for extra strength as my post-Christmas tummy needs some restraining.

An invisible zipper in the back would be the best option but as my notions box is practically empty and I couldn’t be bothered going to the shops for a single zip I had to use a regular red one and put it in a lapped style.

To show off the very high waist, one’s top should be tucked in and deciding on a suitable pattern was a small challenge, considering I’ve hardly any buttons hanging around.

I opted for Vogue 7876 – five versions of a wrap blouse. All the pattern options have waist ties to keep the wearer of the blouse decent, but that wasn’t going to work with these trousers. In overcoming the tucked in without ties and acres of ease of the wrap blouse I may just have solved the age old problem of gaping too. Mostly I made version E.

Add buttons! No honestly, it’s that simple. Do not cut out the ties but make your blouse without them and try on. Pin the wraps well to where you think it looks best and bend, stretch, make the bed and change a car tyre. If the blouse is still in place after all this then you’ve got the sweet spot. Pin mark and make two button holes and sew on two buttons – job done!

The buttons are so discreet that no one will see them and you get a very reliable blouse. The space behind the button holes and button is reinforced with fusible interfacing on self fabric as the cotton is very fine. See irrefutable proof below


To finish version E blouse flared sleeves, I gathered the hems into  narrow bias cut bands. I’m having a 1970 revival at the minute and gathered sleeves are forever in my memory of my early teens’ clothes.


There’s something Agatha Christie about the style of trousers; totally cruise ship, lounging and swanning with cocktails and cigarette holders.


So, the first outfit of 2017 is completed: trousers, blouse, cardigan and leftover’s scarve. I keep putting my hand on my waist, just to show you where it is as it can get lost in the high waist.


Thanks to Thornberry for promoting the outfit-not-orphan sewing idea and if we all did this, then there would be no more random fabric purchases or 50% off RTW blouses in our wardrobes that don’t go with anything else, well, maybe…………..


I’m glad I saved the patterned cotton for when I needed it and when I had a fabric that coordinated instead of sewing some random stuff.


I’ve informed my husband that I have a new outfit and that I’m ready to wear it out to dinner anytime……. really, W. anytime at all!

A review of Pantone’s new colours revealed that this shade of red/terracotta/coral pairs nicely with teal and sea green  etc – my goodness, don’t I have a coat in that colour?

fd0720234bfb0150a538293f1cac9831What are your opinions of trousers waistlines, if you have one? I mean, for years I swore I’d never wear elasticated waists and, guess what?

44 thoughts on “Sucker for Sales

  1. ABSOLUTELY STUNNING! Oh how I wish I was tall and svelte, instead of dwarfish and stout. Ah well, I never bump my head in doorways, so that’s a bonus! Love it, but I’m scared to look at Joel & Son…

  2. Love the trousers! The outfit is fabulous and looks so good on you. I have the pattern for the top but never managed to get it past the muslin stage. Thought it would be an easy fit but no matter what I did it wouldn’t stay where I wanted it to stay.

    OK so elasticated waists – I have nothing but nowadays and love them. I can fit a waistline, promise, but life is too short to have to suffer a fixed waistband during a whole day when you don’t have to. People say that you have to wear all your tops over the waistband so it doesn’t show but come on what are belts for? Or one of those lovely long scarves that you can make from leftovers of said tops. Can’t wait to see how you tackly this particular subject.
    Happy New Year btw

    • Thank you Maga. I too love wrap blouses but they never sit well on me. I usually end up adding 3 or 4 safety pins before I leave the house! Try the buttons.

  3. Love, love the outfit. I prefer a real waistband and usually make Sandra Bettina version with the yolk waistband as they fit me well. I’ll refrain from the Joel site until I have recovered from holiday gifting. I will be visiting Ireland this summer and can’t wait to do some fabric looking.

  4. Hi Ruth, your new outfit is georgeous! And I totally understand the fear of cutting into georgeous fabrics. My Joel and Sons and Schlaepfer hauls are always lounging a long time in my fabric collection before being cut into. A happy new year to, and I am loking foward to your new makes! Anke

    • Hi Anke. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who is anxious. I mean it’s only a piece of cloth, we put such pressures on ourselves! Thank you

  5. Wow! You look absolutely stunning. The color looks fabulous on you and yes your husband needs to take you out to dinner and show you off. You are my kind of sewer. Get it done now and start another!

  6. Forget the butterflies: the cloque is dynamite! Maybe 240 pounds isn’t so bad, considering it’s *gorgeous* and for a 5-meter piece!

    See how logic gets twisted around Joel & Son-type shops? It’s a thrill just knowing that something so beautiful exists. You’d know where to go if a windfall came your way. I applaud these merchants for holding fast to time tested quality. We consumers like to rant about wanting old fashioned high quality, but so rarely are we willing/able to pay the full cost…so sometimes we should. If stores like this were to disappear it would be a sad loss to all.

    These trousers are my cup of tea. Yes, 1930s resort wear. Katherine Hepburn wore pants like this. Wonderful. They make your long legs look illegally long.

    I want to make a pair, too. Advice, please! I’m convinced that the interior structure is everything, but it’s holding me back that I don’t know what it should be. How exactly did you work the hair canvas onto the facing? And was it self facing or a thinner fabric? Did you add boning, or not?

    It may be that another trick to tall waisted slacks is to make a long enough crotch (rise). Then, always minding your posture, squatting and bending won’t tug. It would however be interesting to experiment with a slightly stretchy woven fabric (cotton sateen or wool with lycra), generously faced with a spandex interior panel.

    Well done, once again. Keep plugging forward, we enjoy the spectacle. Happy New Year.

    PS Generally I like to mix volumes: Full skirts/pants with close fitting tops and boleros; full blouses with slim bottoms. On a tall person, that slim line cardigan still manages to work. Would love to see you try these pants with a close fitting cropped top for a Spanish flamenco effect.

    • Thank you Sankati.
      I had considered boning but didn’t in the end. The facing on the trousers is quite deep and I just sewed in the canvas instead of flimsy iron-on stuff. I also tacked the facing down the front and side seams to keep everything in place.

  7. A whole outfit already? Go you! Very stylish.

  8. Ruth thanks for introducing me to Joel and Son, must check it out when I’m feeling ‘sturdy’!
    Don’t ya just love the waisted trouser, your waist looks so svelte and not a bit of Chrissy pud to be seen. Terrific colour choices, excellent ‘fix’ for the gaposis on your wrap top – all in all an excellent start to the year – what’s next I wonder?!

  9. How lovely – the trouser fabric just drapes so beautifully. Waistlines….jeans with zippers, yes. Other than that – elastic! Mostly for comfort. Being retired, I indulge in easy fits 🙂

    • I had a dread of elasticated waists, thinking they were only for small children and old people but some of the styles I’ve made recently are fine – not the baggy gathered puckering that I had anticipated.
      Thank you Coco.

  10. Doesn’t everyones post-Christmas tummy need some restraining? These trousers are fabulous – hurrah for the high waist! I confess to being unable to go too high as my girls reside a little low these days. Despite that a similar idea to these had been forming in my foggy brain over the last few weeks (I have a 1930’s Decades of Style addiction at the moment) and might even get to the sewing machine before it goes off.
    Your buttons on the blouse are such a simple solution – probably why no-one thought of it. Well done for attempting to keep us all decent!

    • I must admit Kim that these trousers rise very high and I need to wear very supportive underwear to keep everything in the right place!
      You do the 1930s and I’ll do the 1970s – deal?

  11. The trousers are fabulous on you, Ruth. A real knock out outfit! Happy New Year and Happy Sewing!

  12. I love this outfit! Love color. Love fit. Everything about it! I really appreciate your ability to
    produce so much in what seems to me to be a short period of time. You inspire me to continue to try
    to “fit” pants. I’m tall and thin and would seem to be an easy fit. Au contraire!!!
    Getting crotch right makes me crazy. Advice anyone? Since Treads Magazine seems to have many
    articles on the subject on “pant making”, it would seem I’d have that obstacle overcome by now.
    peggy Leah

  13. I adore the fabric you’ve made the blouse with. Wow. I also have patterns for a long cardigan type of thing and a high waisted pant. Your outfit makes me want to try the long cardi, but I’m still not sure of the pant. You can’t really know in advance if it’ll suite, can you? All in all you look great! and thanks for tips like sewing canvas in the front of pants and buttons to hold a wrap in place. Your tips are always helpful.

  14. Gorgeous outfit! Those high waisted trousers are so slimming.

  15. I have a similar chunk of red fabric from The Smuggler’s Daughter just waiting to be made up into something wonderful: so I was really interested in how you managed to show it off so well. It would be great to see more cuffs like yours making a comeback! Your solution with the orphan duster is superb…all the reds seem to be happy playing together! Your waist does not look like you found your way to the mincemeat tart table this year…totally enviable! Just when I think you can’t get any more stunning in your clothes…you do!

  16. Really love your whole ensemble, you’re tall and leggy and it really suits you, love the trousers especially and I’m a bit partial to wide legged ones myself if only I had the lifestyle, sigh! And the colours! Just wow! And you know what, I think I might have succumbed to that same coral fabric myself from Joel and Sons – it’s a thick, slightly spongy crepe and very beautiful, so I already know about their delights and when I’m fed up I just browse, drool and very occasionally splurge. I’ve a couple of Joel fabrics that are very special and waiting for an occasion and I’ve my eye on a few in case they go in the sale. Style Arc have some lovely elastic waist trouser styles which I was slightly nervous about, but were good and definitely not like your granny wore. In fact so many RTW use elastic now I think we’re safe to come out of the woodwork now ourselves!

    • Yes, that’s the one – slightly spongy but with a fabulous drape – we share good taste!
      I’ve noticed that many RTW trousers are now elasticated, probably a price thing, but hey, we can do that too.
      Thank you

  17. A great outfit! I love the colour. I like high waisted trousers – these would suit me just fine, being tall. I have a pattern for a vintage pair – it keeps getting pushed back because I have a lot of fit issues to resolve. And weight issues too.
    The fabric for the bridesmaids dresses and groom’s waistcoat front at my youngest daughter’s wedding in June past came from Joel & Sons but not their very expensive ranges, clearly!

  18. The outfit is fabulous, as always! I made an equally high-wasted pair of trousers two winters ago. It is one of the most comfortable things in my closet but I have to be really careful what I wear with them! Your combination is spot on. I was thinking of throwing my “armpit-pants” out since the husband is not kind in his comments about them…but looking at your pictures I think I should rather peruse a few sales and invest in some more fabric…

    • Hi Klarisabet – yep, I fully accept the “under armpit-pants” scenario. Well supporting bra is needed.
      What we need is confidence, assertiveness and to ignore the husband mentality of what a woman should look like.

      Do we dare???
      And if we do – I think you should definitely buy more fabric – there – you now have an endorsement to do so…..

    • Mmmmmmm…I only see my spelling error in my previous comment now…”high wasted”. If I invest in more fabric to build on the look, then the high-waisted pants will NOT be a “wasted” item in my closet. Bye! I have shopping to do!

  19. Pingback: Sucker for Sales 2 | corecouture

  20. What wonderful trousers! I’ve always loved high-waisted trousers. So fun!

  21. I’m seeing your Agatha Christie vision with those fab trousers. They require a martini and big sunglasses. Also, what a great idea with the button on a wrap top!

  22. Pingback: Sewing the 70s | corecouture

  23. Superb blog you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any message boards that cover the same topics
    talked about here? I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get comments from other knowledgeable people
    that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations,
    please let me know. Thank you!

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