Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

A/W ’17 O4


Not everything I make is successful or wearable or makes me happy: outfit number 4 of the O Collection falls into this category.


Tops – Hemlock T . Underneath is brown poly jersey and top one is dark green, knitted jersey.

Scarf – see here. Scroll down


Trousers – Vogue 9035. Marcy Tilton design.

Fabric is from Fabworks, but is no longer listed so it must have sold out. It is a fairly stiff wool in a brownish/olive/beige Prince of Wales check – and this, I believe, is the culprit. There’s no drape, I didn’t line them hence every time I sit down I manage to ‘bum’ and ‘knee’ the trousers, so that within 30 mins of putting on they’ve changed shape and not in a good way.

Ironically with many items that don’t make me happy, I actually do some nice sewing along the way which makes it even more frustrating.

Instead of making pleats at the hems I sewed up five pintucks of graduating lengths. The trousers finish just above ankle length.


I added almost perfect welt pockets – they are sewn to perfection.


But they are only almost perfect because they slant the wrong way! I have to practically dislocate my arm just to put my hands in. Duh!

Anyway – here’s the head to toe: dislocated arms and all……


Good pattern matching across the legs though.


I really do like this trouser pattern and I like the fabric, just not together. I like the overall shape which is fitted with a yoke around the upper hips, a neat waistband and fly front opening and then those ovoid shaped legs. The fabric would be much better used as a tailored jacket with a tonne of interfacing or as an unfitted cape/poncho.


And here’s the principal issue – the baggy bum…..


On the other hand, maybe it’s my bum that’s the problem and not the trousers!

The trousers will be harvested for the notions and fabric will be stuffed in the obligatory plastic bag until such times that I get round to rethinking a use for it, if ever.

I took great pleasure in making the trousers though; the hemline tucks, the welt pockets, the flat fly front, finished seams and so on, but I won’t wear them. So it got me thinking

  1. Do you sew because you enjoy finding pattern and fabric that are ideal together?
  2. Do you sew because you simply like the sewing process – the challenge and finish?
  3. Do you sew because you want unique clothes?
  4. Do you sew because……….?
  5. What’s your favourite part of sewing?

41 thoughts on “A/W ’17 O4

  1. #1 #2 and #3 of course, plus, I’m a weird shape so RTW simply does not fit me. Years of battling with changing room mirrors, usually ending in my defeat, all gone now. Plus no size labels!

  2. I do really like the making process, but it just doesn’t seem possible. I have really enjoyed these posts!

  3. Oh how I love fabric…and patterns! Matching them up to fit the picture I have in my head and then getting them to fit me are the big challenges. Once I have dealt with the fit, I truly enjoy the sewing part. Now if I could just get my body to match the picture I have in my head!

    Thanks, Ruth, for these posts. Our aesthetic is very similar and your garments give me much inspiration.

    • Thanks Kathie. I try to match pattern with fabric but it doesn’t always work out for me.
      And I agree that the ‘image’ and the final result do not always match. Maybe that’s what keeps us trying……

  4. Ooh, all of the above, I think! But certainly, I sew because trousers aren’t long enough and blouses are too long, plus, I hate the way everything I can afford is cheaply made or in horrible fabrics. I am definitely short on clothes, so if I sew something and it’s unwearable I get very frustrated, though that happens less often these days.

    • I agree. I can’t find anything I like in the shops. I feel sorry that machinists somewhere have put so much workmanship onto such flimsy fabric. I used to sew when I was a teenager and am trying to start again. Am inspired by this blog!

    • I am often frustrated Yaffle too and believe me, not every fail makes it to the blog. But thank you and isn’t it so worthwhile when everything works out?

  5. I sew because I enjoy the sewing process, usually, and I like having unique clothes. When I have the perfect fabric and pattern match up it’s wonderful. I was at a work event last evening wearing one of my perfect pattern and fabric match ups. A colleague was admiring the dress as it looks so good and I look so good it it as I perfected the fit on it. It’s frustrating when a unfixable sewing mistake happens but I think we have all been there and done that.

  6. I started sewing as a creative outlet and because I wanted garments that would break my father’s bank. As a teen he once remarked that he wouldn’t be able to afford to dress me the way I did if I didn’t sew. Now I sew pretty much for the same reasons, except that fit is also big part of the equation. When it all comes together, I’m happy!

    • I’m with you on the cost Tia. I can look at any item without price tags and I will always pick the most expensive!
      You should check out Design’ December….

  7. Just starting sewing again after many years. Can’t find anything I like in the shops, though fit is not a problem. Sorry that machinists somewhere have to work with such flimsy, cheap fabrics. This blog is inspiring! Dee

    • Thank you Dee.
      It’s great that you are sewing again – I mean, what else would you do with your time??
      Choose your fabrics carefully and wear your finished garments with elegance.

  8. Ooh. Sorry I duplicated myself. Please delete one of them. Dee

  9. I wonder if you have any more of the trouser fabric? The pocket situation could possibly be rectified with patch pockets which might suit the larger, slightly androgynous aesthetic of this design (they would look a bit like true sport fisherman pants) . and which would easily hide the web pocket error. From the pictures, I like that they are not drapey as this really shows the design lines. The two biggest issues, the baggy rear view and the missing lining could surely be rectified with your skills.
    I sew for all the usual reasons of 1,2,3 but fabric and pattern assembled to give me unique looks is what inspires me.

  10. I find most of the clothes in the stores don’t fit me nicely, they are not well-made, too expensive for what you are getting. It is nice to make your own and then you can (hopefully!) get exactly what you want. I too, have a pair of pants giving me gyp, partway constructed and am frustrated with them. Oh for the elusive pants pattern that fits, if I ever find it I will have it bronzed! I have a big tummy and no rear-end, perhaps they would fit better if I tried backwards? Tee, hee.

    • Don’t you just hate it when you see checks that don’t line up across the seams? It does my head in.
      Keep up the humour and ‘not taking yourself too seriously’ . I don’t have a problem with fit on trousers but my choice of fabric seems to need some refining….

    • Style Arc ‘Flat Bottom Flo’ cut with a slightly longer rise does it for me [no bum, big belly, thick waist] Very comfy, and still look fitted despite having the blessed elastic waist! Happiness

  11. Would make beautiful culottes!

  12. Sewing has been a part of my life since I was 12 years old! The reasons I continue to sew have evolved over the years. In the beginning it was mainly financial. I could produce lovely things with little money. Now after retirement, it is the challenge! It takes a lot of brain power to go through all of the steps it takes to produce that next outfit. Besides how could I fall asleep if I wasn’t planning my next project, my next sewing move, my next fitting solution, my next perfect fabric!!
    I just love it I guess…….

    • That is exactly my final thought of the day too Janet – it’s either, what will I cut out next or how will will I tackle that welt pocket?
      Now there’s an option I didn’t include -I sew because….. it helps me go to sleep!
      Thank you.

  13. Those pants are interesting. I can see how that plaid and firm drape fight the cut, now that you point it out. Can you rescue any of that pretty fabric for a vest? It’s spot on trend this autumn.

    Interesting questions. You may be sorry you asked.

    I’m motivated to sew because clothing that I admire is beyond my budget. My mother was a fine seamstress and taught me to know good fabric, style and workmanship. Once the quality radar is turned on, it’s harder to turn it off. And I have such happy memories of strolling through fabric stores, petting bolts, debating what we might cook up together. Fantasizing what we’d make, if we could afford that Harris tweed or this silk yardage.

    Visualizing potential is too often the best part: pawing fabric swatches and picturing what they would be best suited for – which unfortunately isn’t always the same thing as what I need. Studying patterns, deciding how to adapt them to designs I invent to suit my long frame. I spend too much time analyzing, because it feels like every piece “must” be a winner: I hate to waste materials, and I’m a slow sewist who can only complete a few pieces per year.

    Often, the right fabric and right pattern don’t present themselves in the same season. So I may get seduced by a color or a bargain price for fabric quality, and ignore that it’s not really suited for the project. So, yes, fabric/pattern mismatches are common and frustrating.

    But the times when everything comes together in one project – fit, drape, color, texture and style – it’s a thrill. The memory of those highs keeps me trying.

    To be as brutally honest as you are, there’s a lot about the sewing process that I don’t love. The satisfaction of making a nice object with my own hands? Yes. Basting & constant pressing & wrangling fiddly %&^)## fabric? No. Puzzling out interfacings and choosing poorly? Argh. And I can get easily distracted by thoughts that I always seem to be missing one more critical item: A bigger table. A different sewing machine foot. A serger. Fusible tricot tape vs woven. A different kind of closure. Which fixates my brain on mail ordering those, while the project momentum languishes.cut

    You can see why I enjoy your column so much. You start out with mental images and great style ideas, but you actually execute your ideas at a fantastic pace. And at the end, you’re willing to cut bait and run when a project isn’t working. I admire all of that.

    • Thank you Sankati, it’s always a pleasure to read your in depth analysis.
      I love your phrase of “visualising potential” and reckon that is my downfall (learning process!)
      And it’s the thrill of getting getting everything just right that keeps us trying and trying and trying….

  14. Thanks for this lovely post Ruth.

    I sew for all of the reasons you have outlined, and I feel your pain when the workmanship is just so on point, but for whatever reason, the finished outfit just doesn’t work. When it happens to me, I beat myself up and then think, well, I got to perfect a technique and I learned a lesson ready for the next time.

    At the moment I am still choosing sewing projects that challenge me and hopefully help me raise my technical skills, whether it is a sewing skill, or actually challenging myself with a fabric I haven’t worked with before.

    I agree with your reader who suggested that they would be great as culottes. I am sure you could add lining to see if that helps. They are so beautifully made and I am sure you could “make it work!”

    Thank you for continuing to inspire us through your blog.

  15. No. 2 answers that question the most for me – I don’t need more clothes certainly (I’m 63 and like many my age I own lots of clothes having had many years to accumulate quite a collection 🙂 ) BUT I do love wearing clothes that fit me well, made in my favourite fabrics in a design that’s flattering. It’s so satisfying to challenge my brain, hands and heart to make a garment I will actually wear!

    • Thank you Kathleen, I too like the challenge, the construction process and order.
      And, like you, I like it even better when I sew something that I will wear and makes me happy.

  16. The bum’s totally alright and from the back they look like generously cut trousers, quite elegant and nothing your height can’t pull off. The pockets though… you’d be better off with arms like

  17. I love to sew unique clothes, I am a fabicaholic with more fabric than many fabric shops (not that there are many of those left here in Melbourne Australia anymore). Plus I collect patterns. I’m 65 with a 52″ bust, and if I had a million dollars to spend I would come home empty handed. I’ve been sewing my clothes from the age of 13, it’s my hobby, my escape and my total joy when thing turn out just right (more often than not with a bit of tweeking).
    Love your blog

  18. Oh how frustrating about the pockets. I don’t think the bum is all that bad – you should see the culottes I was wearing yesterday! But not everything’s a success and pictures can be so misleading.

    I sew to have the clothes I want. I enjoy the process too but that’s secondary.

    • Thanks Catherine. When I sometimes look at other people wearing RTW, my humble homemades don’t look that bad.
      There’s always another garment waiting in the sidelines – onwards and upwards.

  19. Last year I found myself falling into the habit of sewing because I bought the pattern. Lately I realised that outlook is beginning to take excitement out of projects, making it feel like an obligation. So I am trying to get back to 1)sewing what I need and 2) sewing because I want to create what I need, beautifully. Incidentally, this pattern is on “the obligation list” for me. Thanks for the review! And by the way, I think it is the pattern drafting, not your bum. I have another Tilton pattern that gives me the same bum problem, though it is an absolute favourite of mine. I have worked hard to tweak the bum and crotch on that pattern until it fits me.

  20. Thank you Klarisabet. I have fallen for Internet pressures and ‘obligation’ sewing too. Nowadays I try not to fall for the current sewing trend but only what I want to sew.
    Why does it take so long to realise this?

  21. Ruth, your blog is one of my favourites and I absolutely love what you make. I think you’ve absolutely got the knack for getting the fabric and pattern combinations right and on the rare occasions you don’t that’s okay! Those pockets are beautifully sewn by the way 😉
    I sew for a multitude of reasons. I sew for relaxation, for the challenge, for sanity, for colours and styles that I like but can’t easily (affordably) buy. I suppose that I sew because I can!

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