Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Scrap Shirt

Back in January when I started the patchwork and quilting class, guess what? I bought too much fabric! Not tonnes and tonnes but enough to stash. While stashing I found an off-white linen, obviously bought for something in particular last summer and never made.

Put the two together and I got a shirt – Vogue 1274 to be exact. Lynn Mizono design: Very loose-fitting top with mandarin collar, low armholes, asymmetrical button closing and three-quarter length sleeves with button drape. Narrow hem. View B, what you see here, has back-buttoned drape and the front, back and sleeves extend into drapes.


The unseasonably sunny weather has brought out the lighter colours and lighter fabrics this week and for four months this shirt has waited patiently in the wardrobe for its first outing – today was the day.


A voluminous shirt indeed but I cut it smaller than usual and I was very limited on linen anyway. I wore straight legged dark jeans to counteract the tent-like top. The jeans are Hot Patterns Boyfriend pattern (which I wasn’t that impressed with but these turned out OK). I remember doing loads of fitting and alterations but they are made from rare selvedge denim so will hang about my wardrobe for years to come.


I’m constantly drawn to styles like this and follow Gayle Oritz avidly – her creations are fabulous and this is in poor homage.


The patchwork cotton with all its variations was used on the side ‘flaps’ and sleeve ‘flaps’ and then little bits and pieces were sewn on the back neckline and to make the front button closures. Stand up collar is lined with the cotton too.


The cotton is Moda Lexington in blue and white – used to make my patchwork scarf and skirt. 


Flaps buttoned to centre back for a less flappy look…


Wear it while you can……Scrap, not crap!



White shirt Wildcard

M6750Here is item number something or other for SWAP ’14 – a ubiquitous white cotton button down shirt.

Pattern is McCalls M6750, Palmer and Pletsch. Cut and sewed a size 14 and my only gripe is that the sleeves are a little on the long side. I really must remember to measure the cuff depth and add this to the overall sleeve to determine the finished length. But if I want to show a bit of cuff under a jacket, as is de riguer, then, they’re perfect. Anyway most of the time I roll my sleeves up – should’ve just made the 3/4 length in the first place. There’s also a sleeveless version in the envelope too. The sleeves are two-piece with a simple hemmed vent at the cuff – no plackets to be messing about with.


There are 12 darts in this shirt – almost running out of places to sew them! Two bust, two on each front, four on the back and two back shoulder – all in all they create a perfect fitted shirt. And as this is one of two wildcards for my rainbow SWAP ’14, I just had to add a rainbow and used buttons of many colours all the way up the front and on both cuffs. The fabric is white Oxford cotton – just lovely to work with and even nicer to wear.



The inside seams are flat felled. The collar is a sort of cut on, raised neck, fold back affair which I think is quite effective.Though I think I could press it a little flatter!



I’m entering this for Pattern Review’s Fitted Shirt competition, so if you’ve nothing better to do and you’re a member and your conscience allows it – go vote!

I had ideas above my station and entered this in the advanced category! I don’t consider myself an advanced sewer, not even very competent – I need instructions and reminders about how to do things; there are tonnes of things I can’t do – like make the left and right of any garment the same. How do you rate your own sewing skills? Yes, I make Vogue advanced patterns, but that’s just long drawn out problem solving, not really advanced sewing. What can an advanced sewer do that an intermediate or beginner can’t? Is it just a matter of nerve and false confidence?

Well, it’s April the day after tomorrow and I’ve got a jacket and blouse to sew and a jumper to knit if I’m ever going to complete SWAP in time. Then I’ve got to organise all the photos and a photographer……….








SWAP Set 1

Can you see any pictures? I’m losing faith in my computer – one minute they’re all there and the next they’re gone!

While I having been blogging about what to do with scraps, I have been sewing up a storm. I just haven’t gotten round to taking photos. My blogging is way behind my sewing, which makes a first!

I have completed Set 1 for my Rainbow SWAP ’14 – the warm coloured end of the light spectrum. I have managed to photograph each item but never altogether as an outfit until today. So this is a bargain blog post – 3 in 1!

Jacket is Vogue 8430, mustard coloured boiled wool with red/pink/burgundy yarns felted in a checked design.

Shirt is vintage Vogue 1437 Danny Nobel designer, multi-colured check cotton, predominantly red, yellow, orange but with green, purple and blue too.

Skirt is Vogue 1247 (yes, again!), burnt orange corduroy.


Now for the nitty gritty details…..

The jacket is already documented here, so we’ll move on to the skirt.

Once again, V1247, lengthened and straightened, lined in my usual way, with a centre back vented split. The only tweaks this time were the inside waistband and pocket binding which match the shirt, and ribbon tabs for hanging up. That’s what we home sewers can do – make matching facings that no-one but us will ever see! Oh the power…….



The shirt is a very old Vogue designer pattern from 1980s. It’s boxy and loose but relatively simple to sew. I’ve made this a few times now including when it was a ‘new’ design; I was 18 and a slimline size 10-12 and made the whole suit in purple twill with an ivory cotton shirt. You can see from the state of the pattern envelope how old this is.


DSC01071There’s a yoke over the shoulders which is supposed to be loose but I sew mine down and always add a little ribbon and bead in the centre back for an extra personal touch. I didn’t add the huge front pockets this time – there’s really too many checks and colours going on without making it any worse.


I cut the sleeves on the bias a la Shams, not just to get a fancy pattern but really out of sheer laziness so I didn’t have to match the checks! I did however try to match them across the fronts and at the side seams.


There is a little mandarin collar but I most often wear this folded down with the top 2 buttons undone.


And I match the Rothko!

This colour scheme is also a good opportunity for me to wear my unusual orange beads – resin in a trillion different shapes – but mighty heavy due to the hundreds of steel washers that hang around the back of the neck.

Now opinions please…. I like each item individually but I’m not too sure about them all together: yes they match colour-wise and they certainly brighten up a dull winter’s day – but as an ‘outfit’?


Anyway, I’m off to tackle the cool end of the spectrum next – the indigo and violet…..




Kate’s Suit

I’m going to harp on again about the lack of actual, real life fabric shops where I live….. but for some strange reason we have tonnes and tonnes of curtain fabric shops – I mean hundreds of them! My focus on sewing must be somewhat different from the general population of Northern Ireland who regard what hangs over their windows more important than what they hang on their backs. Anyway, I decided if that was my only choice of fabric shopping then I was going to use it….. the following outfit is made entirely from curtain fabric.
I’ve no idea of fabric content, as curtains wouldn’t be washed as often as clothes and there is an assumption that they are dry-cleaned, there are rarely any care labels, but it looks like a linen: quite a coarse weave, slight sheen and in an light golden sand, lineny-type of colour. I stood in the shop and scrunched this fabric up as much as possible until a sales assistant came over to ask if she “Could help?”. I explained that I was doing a wrinkle test. Her face told me I shouldn’t ask for a flame test……

So I bought 2m at £9.99 – not the cheapest garment cloth but is actually, surprisingly, wrinkle resistant, and takes a good crease for a pair of trousers for Kate in SWAP ’13.

The pattern is TNT Vogue 8751. Really, I can’t believe this myself – I cut out a 14 and sew it! No messing about, no alterations, no muslin – and they’re great trousers too.

Side pockets, wide legged, high waisted, deep waist-band – I think this might be my fifth pair. I love them. Isn’t it great when you find a pattern that just works? As an added insurance against excess wrinkling I also lined this pair to calf length (that’s all the lining fabric I had).
Here’s another post I’ve made about this pattern – white linen.
But in this case it wasn’t just the pattern that worked but the fabric too. It frays quite a lot – a hazard of using furnishing fabrics – but a few zig-zag stitches along the seams soon sorts that out. I was so enamoured with this cloth that I returned to buy more for a matching shirt – guess who was serving that day too?
I bought another few metres  to make Vogue 1246.

This is a shirt / jacket thing. 
The shirt has interesting details on the sleeve hems; a V held in place with a working button. 
The front can be worn open or closed over, and there is a little bit of interest at the back with a string tie – your choice to wear loose or fitted, even tied in front. The single fastening on the front is secure enough to hold the shirt closed and decent.

Single button closure

 The sleeve heads are bias bound with a bit of left over patterned silk which really helps as this is the queen of fraying fabrics. All the inside seams were finished too by pressing over the seam allowance and sewing flat – then, of course, another pressing.

So here’s everything together……

 Just in case you thought spring had sprung and there was heat in the sunshine – we still have snow on the ground!

So back inside, ’cause it’s freezing…….

I also like the outfit with a white shirt underneath – to break up the single head to toe colour and to add another layer in these freezing temperatures.

I had my reservations about this shirt – while I love the Laganlook style and I love wearing loose baggy shirts and jumpers, I am gradually realising that I look better (wee bit slimmer) in fitted (not tight) clothes. Opinions please… is this shirt a keeper?

So Katherine has now three items to wear in SWAP ’13 – starting to catch up with Audrey but only one month to complete the rest!!!!


What’s Better than….?

A white shirt……

With statement buttons….
Made in pristine Oxford cotton from Vogue Very (very) Easy 8708 – OOP and only minor modifications.
And dark blue tailor tacks sewn into the collar!!!!!!!

But is part of SWAP ’13 and the first for Kate.
Long enough to hid the behind but shirt-tailed to look tailored when worn loose.
Trousers are also sewn for Kate and will be publicised soon when I have another shirt to match completed.