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!




SWAP A1 (again) & B2

I asked, you answered, I acted….

SWAP Combination A, first garment looked like this



I listened and contemplated your very appreciated comments (thank you), then I got to work……….

Method: Lob off a wack of fabric from the bottom and remove patch pockets.


Put on Doris and pin out two shaping darts at the back

and two fitting darts on the front – sew.

Fold over the big collar to narrow it and do some stuff with trims and topstitching along the hem, darts and other edges

Make a buttonhole and sew on an almost coordinating button found in stash. My little Janome’s buttonhole contraption won’t sew a hole for a button this big so I just cut a rectangle and small stitched in place for extra reinforcement. The fleece won’t fray.

So almost back to the original plan. I should have stuck to it the first place and not try to be smart.


Worn today with the first garment for SWAP combination B (slate greys).


The most delicious Italian finest fine wool in tiny herringbone bought from Joel & Sons in their end of year remnant sale. Made into Vogue 9162. I am planning on making all three items from this pattern for SWAP B. The pattern includes a loose-fitting, lined jacket with welt pockets, an oversized shirt and these wide-legged pants.

Slide3The wide legged trousers have in-seam side pockets and an elasticated waist (honestly, I really did type that and I made them and I wear them!).

Let’s have a word about elasticated waists – the good things are that you don’t need a matching zip, buttons, hooks and eyes to finish; easy to make; easy to fit; easy to pull on and off. The bad things are that it’s an elasticated waist! Gathering, bunching, I can’t help associating them with women of a certain age……and it feels like I’m not sewing a ‘real’ garment and taking an easy way out.


Anyway, the trousers are actually quite good. They are supposed to worn with loose shirts on the outside to hide the elastic, so nobody but you and me will ever know. Just in case I ever decide to wear a short top or tuck in a shirt I added belt loops and made a button belt for a more polished look.


The trousers are unlined so I always wear my trouser-petticoat to prevent bumming and kneeing in the fine wool. These are always excellent for extra warmth in wintery weather.

BTW – just look at the difference in my colouring when I wear just dark grey and how much warmer I am wearing the pink jacket, so I might now have to rethink the solid grey combination for SWAP combo B!


Only second garment in and once again a possible change of plans.


SWAP will have to be put on hold for a week or two while I go on safari for Jungle January. Actually, my contribution for 2016 is heralding from the frozen heights of the Himalayas rather than the heat of the savannah ….


As always I’m in two minds about wearing animal printed fabric. This is the 5th year of me joining in and every year so far my efforts are inside, under or otherwise somewhat discreet. This year I’ll either look devastatingly Parisian or else a very poor imitation of Cruella de Ville.

101 Dalmations - Live Action Remake.Copyright: Disney.

101 Dalmatians – Live Action Remake. Copyright: Disney.

Just for fun – spot the snow leopard






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

dsc00783 dsc00798





















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.



SWAP ’15

I said I wouldn’t do a SWAP this year but whatyda know? Here I am. Let me explain.dscn4481..

Since the completion of the Alabama Chanin dress at the beginning of December, I’ve been cutting out and stashing individual garments from the 12m of blue cotton jersey that was delivered in August ’14. I’ve also bought another 4m of a boring beige in a sale that has since been dyed denim blue.



I’ve built up a little collection of AC blues pictures – my own private Pinterest.

Jersey Blue 1 Jersey Blue







All the cut bits were stuffed into freezer bags with the long-term intention of picking a bag at random when the notion took me, stenciling etc, sewing; move on to another one. I counted 8 things. I only needed another 3 to meet the 2015 rules and then I have a SWAP!


Just in case you don’t know already – SWAP  is Sewing With A Plan – annual event at Stitchers Guild. Sew 11 garments in four months starting on 26th Dec and the rules this year are:

5 Tops

3 Bottoms

3 Wildcards

At least one garment must be reversible/upcycled.  All the tops must coordinate with all the bottoms.

I reviewed the freezer bags, made some changes, drew some pictures and, call me crazy, aim to do an Alabama Chanin SWAP. I should say, AC inspired. I’ve no intention of reverse appliqueing every darn thing but I am aiming to hand sew as much as I can and do a bit of embellishment as I go along.

DSCN4916 DSCN4917

And two weeks in I’ve made advancement on the first garment. I started with the ‘most likely to be a disaster‘ item – a pair of trousers done in Alabama chanin style! Yes, maybe I am a little crazy.

Anyway, Vogue 8837 Marcy Tilton’s pants pattern: made from a moderate stretch fabric, I reverse appliqued the side panels only and hand sewed the leg seams: running stitch on the inside and felled with a backstitch on the outside.



Pattern is a leaf design and I traced this with a felt-tip pen and ran a running stitch around the lines. When everything is done I’ll wash the trousers and the pen marks disappear.


The front of the trousers have turn-ups (cuffs) which I fixed in placed with a few very visible X stitches.


The backs are supposed to have a strip of elastic running up the bottom half but I just sewed on a strip of contrasting cotton jersey.

I chickened out and serged the crotch – I really don’t trust my hand sewing that much especially when I know the strain that back centre seam has to to deal with.

All that needs to be done is a bit of elastic secured at the waist and the first item is complete!


Only 10 more things to go.

I will try not to bore you too much with each and every SWAP item, there’s much more exciting stuff going on in the jungle this January and I believe Mrs Robinson is looking at me…….


Oh, enticing