Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Remember Clover?

You know that flush of enthusiasm and excitement you feel when you get new fabric?

I had thought I’d go all classy and monochrome and so I have been stocking up on whites, ivory, blacks, monochrome tweed etc. But the fabric bundles just sat there as I became increasingly distracted by colourful chiffon prints and orange mohair. I did manage to make a black and white coat which has seen a lot of wear recently but I deviated big time.

Miss Diana from Chrysalis sends out her winter ’14 samples and I succumbed. I ordered a wool twill in the most delicious colour called dark chilli, a couple of metres of the softest thistle coloured knit and, wait for it, shiny gold denim! The sewing machine has been smokin’!






First up, the wool twill: No. 29, Dark chilli chocolate, 100% Wool, 144cms, Pure wool Venetian twill.

A fantastic colour that is brown when brown is placed beside it, aubergine when purples are present and a good dark neutral for loads of other colours and it isn’t black! The fabric is fairly heavy so no flowing skirts or wide-legged trousers but something tailored and fitted. Most of my trouser patterns (apart from jeans) are wide legged having decided some time ago that this was my preferred style and suits me best. I did, however, jump on the Clover bandwagon a few years ago and I dug out the pattern again.

Kate has been forensically investigating tailored trousers for her impressive SWAP ’15 and maybe she subversively sent me down the slim legged trouser route – I’m glad she did.

DSCN4853A cold but wintery bright morning to showcase Clovers 2014.

Fully lined, with turn-ups, a lapped side zip and the cute front pockets. The new 7/8ths length to show off shoes and boots.




The pattern stipulates a fabric with a little bit of stretch – 2% Lycra or such, but this wool twill has none. These are not yoga pants!

To complete the Clovers I had to go to a real live shop for lining and thread. Armed with my swatch, I bumped into the remnants rack and found a cotton poplin that otherwise I wouldn’t have looked twice at but the colours were perfect: yellows, purples, browns, touch of green. On the spot I realised I needed a blouse to wear with the Clovers.



And then I needed a cardigan to go with the Clovers and the blouse….. off to Minerva to pick up another batch of knitted mohair but this time in saffron yellow.




and of course I had the original thistle knit, which just happened to co-ordinate with the Clovers and the blouse……


So from one pair of trousers, I have linked a blouse and two cardis, and re-invigorated a lot of other items in my wardrobe.

In the meantime, have a great New Year: may you all have good sewing, good ideas and to quote

may your bobbin never run out half way through the hemming……”


  • Trousers – Colette Clover
  • Blouse – Kwik Sew 3782 (OOP, shame as this is an all time favourite)
  • Yellow cardi – Burda pattern 08/2012/117D with mods   
  • Thistle cardi – self-drafted: How to make the thistle waistcoat in the next posting….



SWAP ’14

I’m finished sewing and have just a wee bit of knitting stuff to do. There are some absolutely fabulous collections this year – totally unique, distinctive wardrobes that a personal shopper at Sak’s Fifth Avenue or Harvey Nicks would be really hard pushed to match.

SWAP ’14 is nearly concluded, we have until the 30th April to complete all sewing,  and here for your enjoyment (criticism, amusement, undisguised horror, whatever) are some photos of the final set 3 – the blue/green spectrum. I’ve made all three patterns previously so I didn’t encounter any nasty surprises but I did try to add some new twists to each item.

Yes, there is a big blue fish looking slightly incredulous behind me. I’ve cropped out the tourists! We (the locals) battle others (the tourists) to have photos taken with the fish…..I won and they slunked round the other side!



Jacket is Vogue 8887, made in royal blue fleece and lined with the poly satin blouse fabric. I sewed the jacket edges wrong sides together and then trimmed off the excess seam allowance. This means the raw edges are on the outside but will not fray because it is fleece.


I also made a small brooch with the same buttons that were used for the white shirt. This jacket is supposed to be cut on the bias but I reckoned with a stretchy fleece it wouldn’t make that much difference and cut it on the lengthwise grain. I sewed patch pockets to add to the casual look.


I wore this this evening and you know what people complimented me on  – the brooch! Geez, the effort you put in and all people see is a couple of odd shaped circles of fabric with a few buttons sewn on that took you all of 10 minutes and they think it’s brilliant – I ask you!


The blouse is Kwik Sew and is now OOP. Made many, many times before. This version is sleeveless (to conserve fabric for the lining) and I shortened the tie considerably and turned it into a small bow tie instead.


Jeans are the rub-off from my Armani’s. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve used this pattern. It all started with Kenneth D. King’s Craftsy Jeanius class and I reckon the number of pairs of jeans I’ve made has more than paid for the initial cost of the class. This time made in apple green denim with 2% Lycra and boot cut shaped legs. To show everyone who owns these jeans, I sewed my label to the money pocket on the outside.



You sure?


You’re absolutely certain you have made 3 X 3 + 2 wildcards? Really?

Have you not forgotten something?





Variations on a Theme

Well, time is moving closer to December 25th and I haven’t a mince pie baked yet. I like cooking and baking but I’d rather sew.

I love tie/scarf necked blouses – reminiscent of Chanel, I guess – but all my existing patterns were laborious and consisted of loads of pieces – I wanted something quick and easy but still looked the part. Kwik Sew 3782. This is my first Kwik Sew pattern and quick and easy it certainly is. Are they all like that? The photo on the envelope is dreadful and was nearly enough to put me off but I desisted the urge of putting it back, thinking I could do some tweaks to make it better. I don’t do sleeveless and the 3/4 length sleeves weren’t doing it for me either – but the neckline is great, front and back are both cut on the fold and there are no darts!

The following are images of 5 (yes, 5) that I’ve made so far. Each one has full length sleeves but with a different sleeve finish.

1. Abstract patterned poly-satin in mauve/grey/cerise.
The bell shaped sleeve was cut to the original pattern length, pleated and sewn into a simple cuff band at the wrists. Dressy, for work or dining out.

2. Traditional shirting cotton in pale blue and white stripes.
Sleeve was lengthened, gathered into a broader cuff to more resemble a shirt and was inserted in the same method as if you were making a shirt. Casual, jeans navy trousers(pants) but can be dressed up when tucked in to a navy skirt.

3. Burgundy chiffon – need a camisole under this one.
Sleeve was lengthened to wrist and gathered into elastic. This creates a ‘puffed’ sleeve effect just right for the fabric. Definitely dressy.

4. This is a bright pink chiffon ordered from Fashion Fabrics club (Fashion by the Yard). Yes, that’s what I thought when I opened the parcel! Obviously a mistake with the barcode. It really is the most boring fabric with horrible colours, but it is silk and lay at the bottom of the box until I found this pattern. The sleeves on this version are folded over and inserted into a cuff band. The cuff was then folded over and a button and button hole added. It’s not a real cuff just made to look like one. The blouse looks alright with jeans and under a coat buttoned up the neck!

5. Finally, black and white chiffon. This used to be a sarong that a friend of my mother’s gave me – thinking I could make something from it – so I did. I used the already finished edges as guides for the hem of the blouse and the edges of the sleeves – saved me from hemming them and gave me the straight of grain without a measuring tape! Here I lengthened the blouse and of course the sleeves. I zig-zagged black knicker elastic about 5cm (2″) from the sleeve hem that sits at the wrist and the flounce hangs over the back of my hand. Both the blouse body and sleeves were lengthened.

Also, check out Loves2Sew’s version. She made the same blouse in the most beautifully spring-like fabric with 3/4 sleeves. Great job! Inspiring each other.

I realise that my hanging versions of this blouse are not very inspiring – so here’s a picture of it tucked in to a skirt and what a difference a little bit of styling makes.

Here’s me wearing the same skirt but with the burgundy chiffon version and Vogue 8333 made last year.

Thanks for reading. Ruth


My Wardrobe

After yesterday’s (expected) disaster with the zip I thought I might show that I actually do have some talent (albeit a little) and open my wardrobe doors for a peek inside.

These are items that I made earlier:

The blouse is Kwik Sew KS 3782. Made in a patterned satin of steel grey, burgundy,  pink and mauve – just about goes with any colour scheme.

It looks dreadful on the envelope and this is the first Kwik Sew pattern I’ve ever used but I was looking for a tie-neck blouse that was quick and easy to sew – and this is!

In fact I’ve made 4 in different fabrics.
In this version I lengthen the sleeves and added cuffs to make a more formal look.

The skirt is actually a dress from vintage Vogue V1136.
I didn’t add a waistband but inserted a stiff interfacing and covered this with a self-facing for a smooth finish.
The skirt has the most beautiful pleats in the back. It is A-line from the front and swingy and pleated at the back – a skirt of two halves.

Next up is my first ever Hotpatterns pattern

HP 1008 Wong-Singh-Jones Kimono Wrap Dress

– the most comfortable and quickest made wrap-dress. but it is beautifully shaped with princess seams at the front and side backs fro shaping – no darts needed.

As you can see I edged this one of burgundy stretch jersey with the left-overs of my tie-front blouse. I tend to sew lots of items in co-ordinated fabric colours so that I always have something to wear with them.

I did an Erica-B (added 3 inches) to the hem, lengthened and straightened the sleeves and added a mock cuff to match the neck band and waist ties. 
As the satin edging doesn’t stretch I do have to keep adjusting the front when I wear this dress – but so what – it looks good and feels even better. I even resemble Doris with her tiny waist in this dress.
I’ve made this dress three times – Erica-B’ing each one and each version slightly different that the last. I love that about sewing your own clothes – you find a style that suits you and you like and the variations and options are endless. 

This time the dress is made out of a T-shirt type of stretch knit in a mock Missoni pattern. To avoid the hassle and complications of having to match up the zig-zags at the seams on the bodice I cut each piece on a different angle – side fronts were cit on the bias, fronts and centre back cut on the vertical and the side backs cut on the horizontal.

While out browsing the other day for what’s hot and what’s not I saw a RTW top made of this exact same fabric in a high street store. So am I hot or not?

It makes an interesting slant to the dress all those zig-zags but I don’t wear it if I have a headache!