Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Jungle January

Here we are again at that time of the year when all my good taste and style goes out the window and I embrace the gaudy (tacky?) world of animal print fabric. It’s always Prttynpnk’s fault and she knows it! I never use this fabric at any other time of my sewing year.

In recent years I have always joined in Jungle January as it pushes me way outside my comfort zone but my use of prints has generally been well out of sight, like underwear for last year and a dress lining a few years back, or else the fabric itself is a muted and discreet print. This year I have embraced the animal print aesthetic and it’s in your face and out there!

Before we get to the finished garment and I only got this finished so quickly because the weather has been dreadful that I’ve been forced to stay indoors and sew and also because it is very easy and quick to make.

mini-panda-m-(product-photography)The fabric this year comes from Croftmill -bunch of headers them but they do stock some lovely fabrics! They describe it as a panda footprint but I’m more inclined to associate it with a snow leopard ’cause they’re sexier instead of cute. Snow-Leopard-Blue-Eyes-Wallpapers.pngOstensibly a black and white repeating pattern. It is a coarse weave cotton suiting but stable, takes a good pressing and doesn’t wrinkle. Has a slight tendency to fray and pluck though.

V8841Paired with Vogue 8841, now unfortunately OOP. This coat pattern was perfect as it has minimal seams so that I didn’t have to do much pattern matching. I eliminated the centre back seam and instead of inseam side pockets made some welt ones, that are perfectly camouflaged in keeping with the true purpose of animal prints in the wild.


I was aiming for Parisian chic at Fashion Week and not Cruella de Ville managing to get her hands on the dalmatians, I’ll let you decide ………

This one is me….BTWDSCN6014

I modified the coat pattern to a round neck instead of a collar, revers and lapels – simpler to do and more Chanel-like.


The length was purely determined by availability of fabric as I had only bought 2m not knowing what I was going to do with it. The pattern requires 2.4m.

I wanted the darker spine strip to run along centre back so the fabric was folded off-centDSCN6020re. This created a long extra strip of single width left over which was sewn into a wrap-around tie belt. This can worn to close the coat as there are no buttons or snaps or hooks and eyes, or as a belt for coordinating whatever is underneath.




And underneath is a red dress in a poly crepe with the tiniest amount of stretch made into StyleArc’s Cleo dress, which is supposed to made from jersey.


A lovely simple design of a dress with two darts front and back and pulls on over your head. Mine’s a bit tight because there’s hardly any stretch and every lump and bump shows up. My fault. I found the fabric in my fabric box and I think it might be leftover from the Scarlett dress. I had about 1.2m.



I didn’t do a sway back adjustment and this is the result, so in future I’ll just pinch out a horizontal fish-eye dart at the back waistline and add the difference to the length – that should fix it.

The coat is fully lined, hand sewn edge to edge. I drafted some neck facings and interfaced these for a bit of shape. I didn’t have a set of shoulder pads so I used two padded bra cups instead! Worked a treat.

Thanks, as always to Anne who organises and collects all manner of animal print garments from around the world – a veritable menagerie.


Right – that’s out of the way now, back to tweeds and solid colours! Phew!




Jungle January 2

1f86b6cc_Majestic-Cheetah-gattoWith just a few days to go until the gates on the great savannah close for yet another year and the animals can sleep peacefully, stalk, hunt and kill each other knowing that at least they are safe from errant sewers, I have bagged the best beast in the jungle.




imgresEver since Anne put up this pic of Mrs Robinson, it has been my inspiration for this year’s safari. Six pairs of knickers and two bras later I cut the Dolce & Gabbana cheetah print into a slip and French knickers.



While I am million miles away from Mrs Robinson (both in style and shenanigans), there’s always make-believe.


Fabric from Chrysalis Winter 2011. Pattern Vogue 8888


















don’t call me pussycat – call me Mrs Robinson!


Jungle January ’15

For someone who doesn’t actually like animal prints and finds them gaudy and cheap, I’ve joined in Jungle January for three years in a row! Maybe it’s an excuse to sew with fabrics I wouldn’t even consider if it wasn’t January: maybe it’s because Ann is such an enabler (and scary) that I just can’t resist.

Year 2013 – Dipping my toes in gently – plain outside, alive on the inside
















Year 2014 – Braver and braver – leggings, skirt , T-shirt, gilet

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Year 2015 – Skin




















Two bras, five thongs, one Bridget Jones pants: nearly enough for a week.


Big knickers – Merckwaerdigh, Nr: D SHL 30 (purchase pattern here)

Big  bra – Merckwaerdigh, Nr: D-BHS10 Version C (Margreet’s blog here)

Lacy thong – Fehr Trade free download

Lacy bra – Merckwaerdigh, Nr: D-BHS10 Version D












No modelling today. I notice from Bloglovin’ that I’ve acquired a few new readers (thank you and welcome) and I don’t want to scare them off immediately. So use your imagination if you dare, just picture cellulite, pale white flesh, lumps, bumps and wobbly bits and you’ve got a fairly accurate image.





And there are animals howling yet in the sewing room….underwear uses up such little fabric. I have Vogue 8888 and I really, really want to be like Mrs Robinson…


Not that I’m into name dropping or impressed by designers but I’d just like to say that the fabric on the right is Dolce and Gabbana – just wanted to point that out, in case you didn’t recognise it yourself .




Don’t call me Pussycat!

There’s still time for you to join in too – see Pins from Ann for staggering inspiration.



Wobbly Necks and Two Right Legs Leggings

I know I said I’d do the iguana skirt next but it’s gonna have to wait, sorry.  So in the meantime here’s the T-shirt and leggings.

I am somewhat abashed by the compliments and the comments about how I sewed 6 items for Jungle January – but I’ll let you in on the secret – the T-shirts take 45 mins each and the leggings 30 mins! So that’s a grand total of 2 1/2 hrs for 4 things – not so impressive now, huh?


If I can do this in a few hours, then so can you. Both patterns are easy to cut out and sew and of course, sewing with knits makes them even easier. And while your machine is threaded with the same the colour thread you may as well use it!


Let’s start at the top.

Pattern is Katherine Tilton for Vogue 8793. Four pieces – front & back on the fold, sleeves and a neckband. The pattern comes with instructions for contrasts and bands and zip embellished necklines but you can keep it simple if you want to. I just used the front, back and sleeve bits.

When sewing with knits I always sew the shoulders first, then attach the neckband, sew the sleeves in – all while the garment is flat and then finish with a continuous side seam – all along the sleeve and down to the hem. Hem the sleeves and body and it’s ready to wear.

Nothing new there but does this ever happen with your T-shirt neckbands?


Too long and too loose? And the only fix is to rip it all out and start again – but wait……. don’t be too hasty with that ol’ seam ripper-outer.

Dig through your bits and bobs box and see if can’t collect together some sequins, small buttons, beads and other assorted glittery things. Failing that, spend 50p on a tube of such like at your local craft shop.

Let the neckband fall naturally where it is apparently comfortable, while you gently coerce it into folds and pleats all the way around. Secure these artistic flourishes with pins. Using old fashioned needle and thread, hand sew the pleats in place, adding the shiny things as you go.

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Now you not only have a neat and well fitting neckband, but you’ve got embellishment too! Oh, and sew the shiny things ALL the way around the neck (including the back) – this isn’t RTW, you know. I hate that! You pick up a top in a shop and admire the embroidery or whatever on the front only to turn it around and the back is plain – plain cheap!

Pattern adjustments made on this version include:

5″ added to length to make more a tunic than a T-shirt

6″ added to sleeve length – the sleeves are really long but I wear them pushed up for a scrunched up (ruched) sort of look.

Neckline is lowered 1.5″ at the centre front.


For this one’s sister there were no fancy adjustments or embellishments but I did learn how to sew the neckband properly. Measure the neck opening, subtract 2″ and that’s the ideal neckband length!

I suppose this might vary depending on fabric and stretchability but it worked a treat on this version. My preferred method of attaching the neckband is to sew the ends, fold wrong sides together and either overlock or zig zag the folded band to the neck of the T-shirt. A good pressing turning the seam in works great.

I was running out of fabric by the time I got round to sewing this one, so the sleeves are somewhat shorter than they should be – heck – just an excuse to show off bangles!

OK OK I agree – a middle aged woman in leggings *%!&* but if you’re interested for teenage daughters (or sons) here it is…..


McCalls 6173 view B.


And what’s so brilliant about view B?

Well, there’s only ONE piece!

Yep, one. A whole leg with a fold over waistband.

Pattern reviewers recommend cutting a size smaller than usual – so I did. Don’t you just love it when someone else has made the mistakes for you?

My animal print ones were made from leftover scraps from the T-shirt. There wasn’t a lot to play with and that one leg pattern piece is fairly wide (at least my size is!). I twisted and turned and pulled and flipped and eventually I could just about place the single pattern piece on two bits of fabric. Hurray!

Got the serger (overlocker) out and whizzed up the single inside seam in about 3 mins flat. Turned one leg right sides out to stuff it down the other one getting ready to line up and sew the single centre crotch seam and then I realised………..can you?


Two right legs! In all my efforts to make sure I had enough fabric, I cut the two pieces of fabric both facing up. I carried on sewing regardless – but my centre seam veers off at an angle. Believe me, no-one is ever going to see these leggings without voluminous hip and thigh coverings, so I’m not that bothered.


Having learned this valuable lesson, the black pair sewed up just fine. The instructions tell you to sew the waistband down and thread the elastic though. I always seem to lose my safety pin though. This method is quicker and neater:

1. Measure your waist with the elastic, stretch gently as you do this (not too tight though) and add 1″ for overlapping the ends. Cut to the required length.

2. Fold the elastic in half and mark with a pin; fold in half again and mark the quarters with pins. Pin the overlapping ends at the centre back seam; the half-way pin at the centre front and the two quarters at either side.

3. Stitch with a zig-zag or overlock the elastic directly to the inside edge of the waistband, gently stretching as you sew to ensure the quarters are evenly distributed.


4. Trim off any floppy bits of fabric. Fold the waistband over enclosing the elastic and zig-zag closed.

Job done and no lost safety pins!

Next time, I promise without fail – the iguana skirt and manipulation to Vogue 1247. Until then…….. Roarrrrr on!