Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


A/W ’16 Mustard

My husband, before he became my husband, used to tell a very rude joke and the punch line was “mustard, custard and you, you big sh***!”  Anyway………he doesn’t tell the joke anymore and my next outfit for autumn/winter is complete.

Same trousers as the burgundy ones but this time with added inseam side pockets and turn ups at the hem.dscn6753

I like cropped winter trousers: they remind me of plus fours and country living, and I can wear either boots or shoes. Worn today with the shirt you’ve seen before.


Johnny Rotten as an English country gentleman


All fabrics are from Fabworks – I’m Fabworks head to toe today! (Not sponsored by them btw).

18 TwistThe trousers are Donegal tweed: Warm, mellow, sunflower, saffron and turmeric tones weave through this gorgeous Donegal Tweed herringbone, evoking memories of relaxed autumnal strolls and the resting evening sunshine. Woven with the ever-present charcoal warp to form a reassuring background of chevrons; the Donegal yarn sitting in the mellow sunflower and mustard warp has pale straw, saffron and honey coloured flecks. This 100% new wool has a reassuringly soft texture, but remains a medium weight with a great handle and drape.

I mean, really, how could you not not fall for that?


An easy method to elasticate a waist is this:

  1. Measure the elastic to your waist, stretching a little, and sew the ends together to make a band.dscn6678
  2. Quarter this band with pins and then match each pin with the four seams, front, back and sides.
  3. Serge or small zig-zag this band (yes, that is bra strap elastic) to the inside of your garment, lining up edge to edge.dscn6679
  4. Fold the elastic over to the inside and zig-zag in place to form a waistband.dscn6683

Neat and easy

The trousers are lined too. The lining is slip-stitched to the ‘waistband’ and hides the serged edges.

Even neater.


As Sunflower Chunky Ribbed Knit is a beautiful knitted all wool fabric from Avoca, it’s a superb, brushed fabric with a medium weight soft drape and handle, and due to being knitted rather than woven it has a good natural lengthwise stretch with some stretch on the width too! The beautiful sunflower coloured yarn with darker and lighter tones throughout, has been knitted in a double row ribbed construction that has alternating fine black bands knitted in between to create the chunky rib affect.

See what I mean? I fell for that one too.

The jumper is hacked from a Burda pattern for a cardigan. I prepared the pattern many, many years ago before I understood and realised that patterns require an organisational system  of their own. I can’t bring to mind the actual pattern number ….It’s the one with the girl standing in front of a barn door……..

I used the raglan sleeves and the back yoke and front (with a centre seam) but I just made up the V neck front and added a small patch pocket. I also made front and back different lengths and put small slits at the sides to mark the step.


It was fun mucking about with the stripes on the pattern pieces creating some interest and directional movement. The sleeves are bias cut, the back yoke and pocket on the horizontal, the fronts and lower back on the vertical.



To keep the V neck as a V, I faced it with some cotton bias binding as a stabiliser. The fabric doesn’t fray but I thought that narrow cuffs would be a nice finishing touch on the sleeves. All seams are serged just in case.


And of course there were leftovers and cut-offs. I used these up in the form of a beret and a couple of scarves in preparation of anticipation of a cold winter.


Other things….

The postman brought some lovely things recently, mainly courtesy of a Vogue pattern sale. Fabworks also sent me the checked cotton shirting (far right) after I ordered and paid for it.


One plus one together makes this, not 2.

The selvage was too good to cut off and throw away so it was used as a trim on all edges; cuffs, collar, button band and hem.


I had fun with the stripes on this fabric too and I do hope you notice the almost perfect alignment across the fronts!


Life’s been quite busy recently including a very pleasant weekend spent in London, England. A few weeks ago I flew out early on Friday with plans afoot to spend a lot of money and spend a lot of money I did! The fruits of these purchases to be revealed soon. The highlight of the trip was dinner at Kate’s. Marijana was there too and we all wore our own individual, handmade, couture and unique versions of the Six Napoleon dress. We had a 6Nap party!


I look like a giant in comparison to my petite and neat sewing companions. Additionally their dresses were so much better than mine. Both ladies are fabulous and I’m so pleased to have met them online and then followed this up in person. Thank you Kate and Marijana, it was so much better than sitting in a hotel room on my lonesome wearing a party dress with no party to go to.





There’s a whole other world out there and it’s called HATS!



These things are expensive – and to wear for just one hour at a wedding ceremony seemed an extravagance too far. I do have a budget for this outfit. You can hire hats here, but really they’re just half the price of buying one and would I ever get the colour and style I wanted?

I tried on fascinators (an item of unknown purpose) and the lady in the shop sidled up behind me and told me discretely that it was on back to front! So that went back on the shelf. Anyway, they only came in black, grey and cream and nearly cost the same as a hat.

So, while at the coast this week we went to Hope and Gloria, a most delightful shop that sells vintage clothing, accessories, homewares: you can get your nails painted and hair styled; a cup of coffee and a bun; and they organise craft and sewing classes too. In a old leather suitcase was a collection of hats for £3 each. The one I really wanted was too small but I managed to select this one – almost Audrey Hepburn and totally the wrong colour.


DSCN4195While having coffee with my teenage son and the teenage son of my friend I wore the hat – just thought I’d embarrass them to maximum effect.

I figured I could dye it or spray paint it to match, wrap a matching fabric band around the brim,stick a few feathers in and I’d be done. However, I had envisaged a large hat – wide brimmed and saucer-like – it’s not everyday you get to wear a hat, so you may may as well go for it.

Royal Wedding - Wedding Guests And Party Make Their Way To Westminster Abbey

Princess MIchael of Kent at a royal wedding

I researched fabric paint, sprays and dyes but colours weren’t right. I was after a particular shade of red – more crimson / wine than pillar box to tone in with the lips on my shoes.



So I did this:

Materials – heavy duty interfacing, 1m fabric of crimson taffeta, grosgrain ribbon, old hat that fits, needle and thread

Measure around your head (mine’s 11″) and cut a strip of the ribbon to comfortably fit around your head with a little leftover for overlap.

Decide on the width of the brim and draw a circle on the interfacing marking the centre point. Do some complicated geometry stuff and draw a smaller circle to fit the ribbon ie. a circumference of 11″. Measure in 1cm from this inner circle and cut it out.

I had bits of corners and strips of interfacing so I machined these to the first circle for extra stiffness.

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Lay the brim on to two layers of fabric and trace around it including the inner circle. Cut out with seam allowances. Sew around the outer edge, trim, turn and press. Wrestle the brim into the fabric making sure edges are aligned and it’s lying flat. Pin excessively to avoid shifting; top stitch the outer edge and around the inner 11″ circle. Clip the excess of the inner circle out to the stitching line.



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Take the old hat, dismantle it and cut off the brim so you are left with the crown. Cover the top and wee bit down the sides with fabric, either gluing or hand stitching.

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Slide the new brim over the crown – glue or hand stitch together. I stitched my hat as I didn’t have fabric glue. Stitching hats is hard!


Make a band to cover the edges of the brim, pleat and stitch (or glue) in place. Position the join where you intend to put embellishments later so it will be covered up.


Sew the ribbon on the inside of the hat to cover the join and make it comfortable to wear.


Now the fun begins –

Make flowers, buy feathers and ribbons and decorate to your heart’s desire. Sew the decorations in place or glue. I’m in favour of sewing them on because then later you can easily cut them off and replace them with new colours or styles.

I used up nearly 1m of fabric to make this flower – using this method – so be prepared.



It’s big!

Not quite Holly Golightly at Tiffany’s more like Eliza Doolittle at the races