Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane



Just one big picture, a lot of pattern stats. But some satisfaction that it’s finished and wearable for the most part…..

There’s a technique involved in viewing the following image correctly, like one of those 3D pics (remember them?) – stand well back from your computer screen, take your glasses off, squint and put your eyes out of focus – you just might be able to see something resembling a rainbow………



From the left:


Red – Top Vogue 8641 OOP. Red, yellow, orange, pink flowers on chiffon. Frayed edges ruffle added around neck edge and selvage on sleeve hems.

Orange – Skirt Vogue 1247. Wide corduroy in burnt orange. Lengthened considerably

Yellow – Vogue 8430. Boiled wool in mustard yellow. Felted line design on front and back.



Green – Jeanuis rub-off pattern (Craftsty). Apple green denim with 1% Lycra. Bootcut legs

Blue – Vogue 8887. Royal blue fleece. Raw edges on show and lined with blouse fabric.

Kwik Sew 3782. Multi-coloured printed silky poly. Sleeveless with shortened tie.



Indigo – Self-drafted low cowl neck top with built-in camisole. Black cotton jersey with lilac, pink, purple spots.

Violet – Paco Peralta’s Apron skirt. Fine needle cord in plum.  Added back patch pockets and played with nap on front and back. Thread through belt.

Kwik Sew 3782. Violet, purple, pink paisley print chiffon with a little bit of green. Long sleeves and double thickness front. Elasticated cuffs.



White cotton shirt McCalls 8750. Multi-coloured buttons – Goes with everything!

Noro Kirara shade 26 knitted cardigan. Rainbow coloured yarn, wool, cotton, silk and angora mix that just happens to go with all the other items. Loosely based on a pattern by Jane Ellison in Knitting Noro. Finished edge with a crochet stitch and multi-coloured buttons used again.





Good luck to all those sewing their own SWAP ’14.  I look forward to seeing all the pics in the next few weeks.




Jungle January – Stop me NOW!!!!

I took a break from thinking about and sewing SWAP ’14 and ventured into Prttynpnk’s Jungle. I’d like to say that I don’t do animal prints but the evidence before you contradicts that premise. (Apologies for the photos – I was on my own and the light outside is just drab and grey)


Fur gilet, matching scarf, animal print T, iguana skirt


Reverse gilet, lined with iguana


Animal print T cut long enough to cover bum – black leggings and snake skin ankle boots


The Atlantic City outfit: animal print T, animal print leggings and animal print infinity scarf


Black T to match black leggings, paired with animal print ones and animal print infinity scarf


All of the above with animal print watch strap

Each of these animals has a story to tell and I plan to do just that in the upcoming posts. Until then, here’s the details to whet your appetite.

All fabrics (apart from black jersey) come from Chrysalis Winter ’13 collection: a subscription fabric service. Diana sends out swatches every season so you can touch and see the fabric weight, texture and colour. Then you phone, e-mail or post your order; it arrives and you get to work….. Of course the real benefit is that you know exactly what you will receive, not like other internet shops where you’re not 100% clear on actual colour or fabric weight.

Gilet – softest faux fur, ivory with knitted backing

Skirt – Iguana print poly; feels like the most expensive kid leather, sews up like a dream

T-shirt – Discrete (Diana’s word) animal print jersey

Black jersey – no idea where this came from – found it at the bottom of the fabric box!

Patterns are as follows:

Gilet – Self- drafted, based on McCalls 6222. This has slash pockets with single welt and I have a little tutorial planned to show how to do this.

Skirt – Vogue  Rachel Comey 1247. Made this time as straight skirt but minus the front pockets and yoke. Skirt post will show you how to manipulate the best pattern in the world

T-shirt & leggings – Vogue Katherine Tilton 8793 and McCalls 6173 respectively. T-shirt cut with extra long sleeves and added 5″ to the length so really it is more like a tunic. The leggings I’ll tell you about later.

Infinity scarf and watch strap – just using up every last scrap of fabric and future planned posts will illustrate the use of scraps.


I didn’t intend to make so many things – it just sort happened! I now have a Jungle January 6-PAC – 1 skirt, 2 leggings, 2 T-shirts and a gilet, plus all the matching accessories. She (Anne) made me do it last year too – here and here – bad, bad influence that woman!



No Hawaii in front of the 5 0 today, because it really is 50 years since I was born – yesterday in fact.

I’ve had a weekend of parties and get-togethers and quiet times and fun times with friends and family starting on Friday evening and finishing with dinner last night with my boys -teenage son and DH.

So a sort of MM-weekend for your interest and feedback – suitable dressing for a 50 yr old (well actually, only 49 when most of these were taken)?


Friday – party pants as Marcy Tilton calls them for a barbecue organised by super-duper friends. Vogue 8641 which recommends moderate stretch knits only but these are made in sateen cotton with just a little lycra and they worked just fine. The red cotton top is from the same pattern which should also have been made in a knit/stretch fabric but wasn’t.



No zips, no pockets, two tubes for the legs with a rolled over waistband encasing a length of elastic. No alterations and easy make.


Saturday, hanging out with some ‘old’ girlfriends from school days – we all turned 50 this year!

Running amuck around the city centre and generally causing mayhem and chaos wherever we went – just like the old days….except we are all much more confident about who we are and what we look like.

The Pattern Company Jigsaw dress made in flowery, summery chiffon with a satin slip underneath. No waist at all in this one! Cut this version of the dress much larger than the first and it is loose and cool to wear.


Sunday, family party time. A combination meal of barbecue/dinner/high tea/birthday party  – just lots of food eaten outside in glorious sunshine and every age from 75 – 3.

Hawaii dress for church in the morning. Yes, an elastic waist stay on the inside – yikes!



Then the temperatures kept rising and the sun was shining so I changed into an infinity dress for the afternoon party.

No pattern for this just cobbled together from bits and pieces of advice I found on the internet. With sleeves and without: there really is an infinite way to wear this dress. If you’re interested in finding out more, leave a comment and if there’s enough to warrant it I’ll do a separate post in a day or two.












DSC00135Monday, birthday girl heading out for posh dinner in, what else? The latest completed Chanel jacket.

DSC00139 DSC00134


May be May!

Spring has sprung, buds and thingys in the garden are sprouting or doing whatever it is they do – there’s more green and weeds in the garden and sometimes the sun shines and we all feel happy.

I didn’t sign up for Me-Made May – too late again! Nearly 500 have though. But I am taking part using my own Method. I haven’t bought RTW for nearly five years now although I can actually list the items I’ve purchased – Seven for All Mankind jeans, red linen trousers, black & white houndstooth Moschino trousers, a few cheap cardigans and a few T-shirts/tops – most of which were bought during sales or with discount. I have come to realise that it IS good to acknowledge that we wear own our creations.

Be proud and stand tall: hold your head up high and say “Yes, I made this! Thank you for the compliment. I don’t do commissions and I’m not going to point out that the hem is uneven or the sleeves are puckered. In fact, this garment is so precious and unique that you can’t find it in the shops”

 Yeah – that told’em

The Germans do a Me-Made-Mittwoch, which is every Wednesday (middle of the week) they wear their own sewn items. Nice. See Frau Tripmatic

Here’s an ode to alliteration – it doesn’t rhyme….. but there’s lots of MMMs

May the fourth be with you (I’m late ) and May your sewing Merit Me-Made-May in all its glory. 

We don’t Mourn the Malignant or Mortified;

We disregard the Moribund Manteaux,

We leave behind the Melancholy and Mediocracy of Mundaneness.

May we open the Magnum of our Mutual Melliferous Myriad Meanderings,

Through which we find Mementos of Metier and Mastery;

Wherein lie the Minutiae of uniqueness thereby explored and celebrated:

The Meticulous Machining and Markings; Measurements, Muslins and Modes-

Mandarin collars, Motif decorations, Macramé knots and Mitred corners

Our Mantra of  Membership – Marra is a Metonymy

Because therein lies Morning-glory, Mortality, iniMitableness and  – memorably US.

Let me present my rather humble and late contribution to Me-Made-May. The camera was set up by the kitchen door, so that on my way out each morning I’d take a picture – WYSIWYG!

Monday – Bank Holiday so off work and at home, went naked all day! LOL No pic – you’re lucky!

Tuesday: In the classroom all day trying to engage the students after a day off. Back at work in draped T-shirt black and ivory fine striped cotton jersey made from leftovers (self drafted), self altered Moschino trousers and topped with Rive Gauche jacket.


Wednesday – Classroom all morning, admin in the afternoon. Rachel Comey chiffon top, Vogue1247, underneath Vogue 8804 Chanel jacket and Seven for All Mankind Jeans.Image

Thursday – Full day classroom. Roman Holiday shirt in white cotton broderie anglais worn with Vogue 8751 (not blogged but same pattern) in black loose weave black wooland topped with a Diesel denim jacket (found recently in the attic) and a grey/white cotton scarf.Image

Friday – Taking students to the law courts for a day out, so dressed up a bit: gym slip navy wool crepe dress, Vogue 8751 underneath Swap raincoat, with Hermes scarf as accent. Image

Hope you enjoyed my week. I did.

My job is educating; my job is teaching; my job is standing up and talking; my job is encouraging others; my job is a performance even when I want to be still and silent; my job is making the boring interesting; my job is recognising potential and making other see it too; my job is presenting opportunities; my job is to offer experience; my job is giving people a second chance; my job is offering hope; my job is inspiring, funny, heart wrenching, emotional, my job is fun.

I love my job and I like wearing what I make.

Thanks to Zoe for initiating this wonderful idea.

Me-Made-May has been so much more than showcasing what I made and wearing it, but what this does for me, and what I (hopefully) do for others too.

Small cogs, folks, small cogs. We each have our part to play….

I’d be really interested in your small cog stories – serendipity/ fate/ planned / coincidence – I believe you have all played a part in someone’s life, whether you know it or not.


All in a Very Small Bag

Paris Hilton’s luggage

I’m almost sure most of you are all well versed in what to pack – and not pack– for a holiday or time away from home. A long time ago I travelled a lot for a job I had way back then – Mon-Fri in Europe and Sat-Sun in London (which was home then). I eventually trained myself to pack for the working week in 10 mins flat on a Sunday evening and never took anything I didn’t wear. Lugging heavy suitcases and bags is not my thing, especially when travelling so often. I assume Ms Hilton has a bit of help. Packing well, even for a few days away, seems to be a skill that some people never master.

My parents have just left for a 10 day Mediterranean cruise and first have to catch a flight to Rome to meet the ship. There is a 20kg limit on the hold luggage. My mother couldn’t get her case to close so we took everything out and edited her selection. Every colour under the sun was there and at least two pairs of black trousers! So I was ruthless and at long last, after a lot of debating, outfit matching and coordinating, what to wear and when – we managed to get the case to 19.5kg! It has wheels.

Here’s my little tip for choosing what to pack.

Always select a colour and choose clothes around it – coordinating and contrasting. Once you have selected all you want – remove half! I mean it, exactly half!  I usually only take about 5 or 6 basic items plus a few accessories but can make at least 12 outfits from this. For the recent trip to Dublin I selected black and cream as my basic colourway. This is what my basics were:

1. Cream cotton jeans, made via Jeanius
2. Marcy Tilton tunic and tunic made as a cardigan
3. Black cropped not quite leggings RTW
4. Draped T-shirt in fabric left over from tunics
5. Cream chiffon RTW blouse
Also a plain black T-shirt and a white camisole

For colour, variation and if it’s chilly I always put in some scarves and a few cardigans.

Green  (RTW)

Pink draped top
Black (RTW)

I have a small penchant for Hermes scarves – my little extravagance as I hardly ever buy clothes. They always lift any outfit to beyond ordinary and I always travel with a few. While I’m not suggesting you have to pack Hermes, colourful scarves, belts, shawls and pashminas add to any outfit (and cover any stains).

For dressing up I went all out for colour and put in two dresses – these coordinate with the cardigans so not really extra in my eyes.

On the left a new cotton dress orange & green – to be blogged soon.

On the right the 4 day dress – pink and green.

I also brought the summer Mac to match the 4 day dress.

Most of these clothes do not wrinkle much either so I could roll them up into little packages to stuff into a small(ish) weekend bag. The cotton dresses took up hardly any space and I just hung them in the steamy hotel bathroom on arrival to remove any packing folds. I wore everything.

You always want to leave some space in your bag or case so that you can pack the spoils of shopping on returning home. There is nothing worse than an overstuffed suitcase and loads of plastic carrier bags stacked around it.

Part of my itinerary on the trip to Dublin was to visit fabric shops with every intention of spending a lot of money. I made a very detailed shopping list but like all high expectations it didn’t quite live up to what I anticipated. One shop had closed down after 130 years of trading; one was small and expensive; another had a great selection but didn’t fit my specific shopping list and the other was out of town, which I never got to visit.

 I did buy a couple of metres of grey cotton jersey to match a patterned jersey for Marcy Tilton’s French house dress V8813 and that was it for the fabric shopping. Are you disappointed?

Apart from the poor city centre choice of fabrics I actually spent my money on something else – which necessitated careful budgeting for the rest of the trip.

 We can eat beans until payday.