Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

Sources of Inspiration


One of my very bestest friends, K, dresses really well. She has chosen the colours that suit her perfectly and wears them with style and panache. Her ‘to-go’ outfit is a beautifully patterned (and usually expensive) shell top, cardigan (if necessary) and a pair of trousers. It looks effortless.

Once a month I go away for a day to sew with my mates. We bring our machines, fabrics, patterns and chat about sewing, patterns, swap tips, techniques and review gadgets. We also eat a lot of scones and cake and might squeeze a wee bit of sewing in between. Most of these lovely sewing ladies are young – I mean way younger than me.

I mostly use Vogue patterns; they use PDFs and mostly independent pattern companies. Sometimes I feel a little old-fashioned and left out because I’m a Big 4 fan. I know my Vogues and know instinctively what alterations I need to make for a perfect fit.

Anyway, one of “Young People” sewing team’s favourite pattern companies is Sew Over It. After our last day away and listening to all their talk , I went delving and came up with this..


Beautifully presented in tissue wrapped fabric and a study box – I was overjoyed. I bought this little kit. Silk Cami as a proper paper pattern with printed instructions and 1m of pre-selected cotton. I also added a few other metres of alternative rayons just because.

Sew Over It or SOI if you’re in the know, which just happens to be the title of this post – did you notice? Sources of Inspiration (SOI) – good, huh? also sells fabric – good and bad at the same time. It means you can choose a pattern and then go directly to buy appropriate fabric, or find a gorgeous fabric and then find a suitable pattern.

I did both.

This practical, useful and everyday top can easily be sewn up within a hour without interruption. This weekend I managed three……..


Fabric 1 is from a newly opened local Belfast shop Hab & Fab. Fabrics 2 and 3 are from SOI. I’v got hummingbirds and roses, flowers and bouquets, lilies and vines. These are rapidly taken photos to match the rapid sewing.

To mix things up a wee bit and add a bit of variation I did three difference seam finishes. The instructions go for French seams but I’m lucky and have an overlocker/serger who is particularly good friends with me at the moment (jinx!).


Fabric 1 is a scuba with a woven cotton backing and was trimmed and finished with pinking shears. Fabric 2 got the French seam treatment but not as we know it. Fabric 3 was straightforward and simply serged.

And now for the French seam treatment. This is NOT my idea. I got this from Kathleen as I read Ozzyblackbeard’s latest blog. I have to tell you it is genius and like all brilliant things, one wonders why did I not think of that? You do need a serger/overlocker.


Step1 – Wrong sides together, serge the seam 1/4″ or thereabouts.

Step 2 – Right sides together, sew the serged seam within. This is nice as you can easily feel the serged edge through the fabric.

Step 3 – Press the enclosed seam to one side. Perfection, easy, neat – absolutely brilliant!

My SOI box is now empty but I’m using it to hold the next planned patterns……


I am gearing up for an epic sew – Vogue 1467 – so this little top was for fun and fast sewing; it is a nod towards K’s distinctive style and the direct influence of my sewing away day friends – no matter what age they are – we can all still learn from each other.


28 thoughts on “Sources of Inspiration

  1. Helloooooooo! I just knocked up a quick and ‘easy’ silk version of the Afternoon blouse…and managed to sew the ruddy neck facing piece upside down, then back to front, then sideways. Or something. Total ballsup anyway. I blame lack of sleep and new job nerves. It ended up nice, and will go into the week one working wardrobe…
    Love the look of that Vogue- who needs boring indie patterns? Complex and weird for me!

    • Usually complex means better fitting with darts and curved seams…I’m with you!

    • Oh Indie patterns have their place – think of your Joker shirt and ruffle skirt! Those are the ones I like.
      I find that instructions are either too detailed with unnecessary steps or completely the other way and too scant.
      Anyway, I love my Vogues but I’ll dip in to the little ones sometimes.
      Good lucj in your new job – you’ll inspire ….

  2. The Vogue pattern (SARA)? Love it. I can’t see the pattern number
    so if you have a minute…
    Love the prints you selected for shells.

  3. Hi there Ruth, Another lovely posting from you. Tops are fabulous and terrific colours on you.
    Hope you are keeping well.

  4. I got this pattern as a freebie with a magazine. I normally like to have a small sleeve but in the blistering summer heat I thought “blow it” (or similar) “I can’t cope with sleeves” so I made 4 of those tops and lengthened one to make a dress. Perfect. Love your Vogue dresses and look forward to the next, although I won’t be copying them. I don’t have that lifestyle.

    • Jenny, I often sew things that don’t fit in my lifestyle either – LOL. but I reckon that if it ever changes then I’ll have something to wear!
      Nice idea about lengthening to make a dress…I’ll keep that in mind for next summer. Thank you

  5. That seam finish is briliant! Why didn’t someone think of that indeed! I will be using that tip. Thanks for that. I love your tops, but I find I am self-conscious in sleeveless shells. I have old lady arms, and I have not made friends with them yet.

    • Thanks Becky but not my idea, I’m only sharing it. You’ve Kathleen to thank for that – see comments below.
      I hear you about sleeveless. for years I never wore them, always had a cardi or a shirt on top. However, this year I looked around me in the cities and streets and saw much worse than me. That said, I still usually wear a cardi. I totally understand that feeling comfortable and confident in your clothes is just as important as a good fit.

  6. Ruth, how lovely your shells are! I love the colors and the prints! I too have boxes of Vogue patterns and love the designs, but you can’t beat the quick simplicity of some of the Indies. That said, this morning I finished up another MT tunic from Vogue, and I have to say that Barbara Emodi may be right regarding their instructions. Good lord! Are we still sewing knit seams with two rows of straight stitching (as instructed)? I love that you are meeting up with a broad range of ages. I was sorely missing my good friend, “sewing buddy” this morning, who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Next—a Jalie pattern for a wardrobe basic. Keep inspiring us! It is a joy when your posts arrive in my mailbox!

    • HI Nancy, sorry to hear about your friend. Friends are a great source of support, advice and downright foolishness.
      I suppose Vogue instruct that double sewing thing just in case people don’t have an overlocker.
      Thank you very much

  7. Thank you for the mention 🙂 The seaming actually starts WRONG sides together serged then flipped to RIGHT sides together sewn – that way your french seam is inside not on the outside of the garment. Beautiful Camis! I always make up several camis at the start of summer in a light weight cotton lawn like Liberty. Have you tried the Ogden cami? You would love this pattern too 🙂

  8. Love the prints you chose. Inspiring. Love the “French seam” tip, too. Thanks.

  9. I used to be afraid of French seams, then I tried them and they aren’t so bad after all! I love your colours here. I have yet to try scuba fabric. Maybe someday?

    • I’m always afraid of French seams Linda. It’s the seam trimming that frightens me – I’ve cut through the main body of the top so many times!!!
      Go for scuba – very, very forgiving and no need to French seam. Thank you

  10. Loving your tops, and I’m definately going to try Kathleen’s French seams trick. I’m all for not having to press and trim the inside seam!

  11. I’m sure I’ve read that French seam instruction before but had totally forgotten – thanks for the reminder.
    I still like some Vogue patterns but I’m afraid that they are being overtaken by Style Arc in my collection. One day I might even get round to sewing some of them.

    • Meant to say that your tops look lovely – and very expensive 😃.

    • Kim, I have patterns from most companies in my collection, both Big 4 and many Indies, including StyleArc. However, I find myself going back to Vogue at every turn. I like StyleArcs, I don’t particularly like PDFs – tiling and taping and what have you. I just want to get to the sewing.
      Thank you.

  12. Your 3 fabrics make me want to touch them and dream about what cool earrings might go with them. Lordie, Ruth you look good in everything!!!! Thanks for the French seam tip, too! It must be nice having sewing friends who want to gather together and have a laugh and create beautiful garments! Always looking forward to your next creation!

    • You wear earrings with patterned tops?? Sorry, certainly for me that would be too much decoration around my face but I’m always game to try new things. Might just go and riffle through the jewellery box to see what I can find……Thank you.

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