Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


The Morning After


Welcome to the world of the everyday, the normal, the commonplace – unfortunately no ballgowns or exquisite wedding dresses, no perfect prom frocks or elaborate costumes – just plain and simple stuff. I’ve a girly weekend away and that’s as good as an excuse as any to make something new.

I’ve made my very first pair of cotton pyjamas for myself. Now, you’d think is would be easy, simple, a quick sew but there’s so much that needs to be decided upon – the options are endless and I was obviously in “decision dilemma” mode during the process. The sewing itself is not difficult, but I hmmm’d and ahhh’d  for ages.


To add piping or not? Pockets and where? Elastic closed waist or ribbon tied? Ankle length or cropped? Topstitched or plain? French seams or flat felled or overlocked? Etc……

With two main fabrics – a blue and a pink – I eventually made some decisions. I added piping to the trouser outside seams, finished the legs with deep bands, made a front tie (useless, just for show and to signify the front so I don;t put them on back to front), sewed on two trimmed pockets. The pattern is Vogue 8641 (OOP) and is meant for stretch but I’ve found it works for woven too – just add 1cm to the side seams and cut the waist a little larger.



Darts or no darts? Edge finishes – bias bound and slipped stitched, folded and edge stitched, frayed, overlocked and topstitched? Front placket with buttons? Button opening the full length? No opening at all? Simple hem, bound hem, depth of band for hem? Breast pocket or not? Indecision and changing-mind half way through has resulted in a rather scrappy and patched button closure  – but heck, they’re jammies and I’ve learned stuff.


The jammie top is Sorbetto (free download). Just Google Sorbetto images and you’ll see what I mean about variations, options and design decisions. In the end I opted for no bust darts, but took a little bit of time and care with bias bound edges and creating a short front opening with a button, which is also useless as the Sorbetto slides over the head with ease. The opening leads into a pressed pleat. To balance the trousers, the top is also finished with a contrasting band.




Then you need a dressing gown or some such to complete the ‘outfit’. With not enough of either fabric left to make a brand new one I dug out an old pale pink cotton dressing gown that I used to use when dyeing my hair and was stained and splattered. This is the ‘before and after’ shots.



It was shortened and a contrasting band added to the new hemline. An inverted pleat was inserted in the back for extra room, pockets on the front, new neck edge bands added to cover the stains, a strip of blue sewn along the back to hold the pleat, the sleeves were given an elongation with cuffs – endless stuff done. I think I only stopped when I ran out of fabric.

Now I know why I use patterns – they have taken all this decision making out – that’s the designer’s job; perhaps I have a pair of designer jammies though……


BTW – the photos were taken first thing in the morning – no make-up, no styling, bed head hair – just what I’d look like when wearing these for real. And don’t you dare say that I don’t look any different than when I spend 30 mins prepping each morning!


The Artist, Her mate and a Pink Lady

More T-shirts this week ….but I do have loads of knit/jersey to sew through first,so please bear with me. I am beginning to regard these as tunics, not T-shirts because of the length and flare. Personally I like the length and flare but a T-shirt to me is relatively fitted and hip-length. Slide1

The Artist is not for me but for someone else who is an artist and needs some artistic clothes. Five fabrics this time with gold trim and matching infinity scarf because what else are you going to do with little left-overs? The hem is asymmetrical and I added godets at the side seams for extra flare. One sleeves is black lace and the other is patterned mesh. A good mixture of scuba, viscose, cotton, lace and mesh – oh my!



Her Mate is for me and not quite as artistic but uses the same fabrics and style: here you can see the extra triangle in pink polka dots.


The Pink Lady is literally what’s still left over and can be put to reasonable use.

All tunics are view D from Vogue 9057 and inspired by the Craftsy class Artful T-Shirt by the Tilton sisters. A good stash buster for panels, godets, sleeve bands and cuffs etc but bear in mind that you do need a decent 1m of fabric for the main body of the tunic and get as wide as you can.

The knits/jerseys are at last diminishing, just a little bit left to go  – normal sewing shall resume shortly.


I have bought more patterns in the recent Vogue sale, a Japanese pattern book and I’m slowly coming to the very sad conclusion that I do not have enough cash to buy the fab fabrics I want; not enough time to sew everything I want to sew; not enough social occasions to wear all the clothes to! Any suggestions?






The Metro, The Cosmos and An Old Lady

The knit stash is just a wee bit reduced, having cut some of it up into T-shirt pattern pieces and sewing them together. The pattern is Vogue 9057, a Marcy Tilton T-shirt / tunic top and came along with the Craftsy class on the Artful T-shirt.


I started gently and as my confidence grew so did the number of fabrics used. Each shirt is named after the fabric used. The Metro is an American nostalgia theme print with street and city signs, dollars, stamps and a rather creepy image of JFK. The Cosmos is a single jersey printed in a Nebula/universe design. The Old Lady is flowers in lilacs and lace. Here’s the week’s work –

1. One fabric – Vest with neck and armholes bound in coordinating fabric. Pattern view C


2. Two fabrics – The Metro: asymmetrical T-shirt/tunic with plain fabric sleeve, cuffs and neckband. Pattern view B.


3. 1 & 2 together – Vest on top and vest below. Pattern views B & C

4. Three fabrics – The Cosmos: asymmetrical T-shirt/tunic with coordinating sleeves in plain and stripes with contrasting cuffs and neckband. Pattern view B


5. Four fabrics – The Old Lady – Draped hem T-shirt/tunic with lace sleeve, double neckband, contrasting cuffs , sleeve bands and additional hem band. Pattern view D


Some design details:

Each sleeve has a large cuff like a facing on the inside (apart from the Old Lady where it’s on the outside). This means when I turn the cuff back, as I am apt to do,  there is a contrast fabric.

I secured the facing cuff with an extra contrast fabric band.

The Old Lady has a double neck band – one made with the selvedge of the black lace and the second with the cotton print. There is also an additional 3″ band around the hem.


Once you choose which fabrics to use and where they will go, the sewing up of the shirt is simple, straightforward and quick – about 1 – 1.5hrs. It’s a good go-to-sleep ritual to consider the fabrics for each shirt so that the next day you’re all ready to go. I straight stitched each seam then finished off on the overlocker. The best thing about T-shirts is that you don’t need an armoury of notions – no buttons, zips, interfacing, hooks or eyes.

Not only did I try to combine colour and pattern but I mixed materials: there is stretch lace with scuba, poly jersey with cotton knit, Lycra and viscose in a one-way stretch and two-way stretch. I experienced no predominantly prohibitive problems with this method of sewing, so I’m continuing with this method on future shirts.

To avoid looking like an old lady myself when wearing the Old Lady, adopt a badass attitude, a scowl, bed-head hair and a plethora of black and silver jewellery.


But you know that’s not really me so here I am smiling as usual but still trying not to look like an old lady… paired with grey skinny jeans and calf length purple boots



There’s still a small  country’s GDP worth of jersey knits to sew through, so watch this space.




Good news from the sewing room this week! In fact two good news, maybe even three!


Susanna (local girl) of Sea Salt and Stitches found a new online fabric shop and negotiated reduced postage fees for us UK residents to enjoy .  I went perusing and thought it just rude if I didn’t take advantage of the hard won efforts of Susanna and bought two 2m lengths of wool.

Fabworks have some lovely fabrics and all at very reasonable prices. It was hard deciding what to buy; I settled on a raspberry twill wool and an indigo/denim-look wool.

The raspberry is actually called by a much more romantic name of Winter Cyclamen but I thought more of you might be able to visualise raspberries than winter cyclamen and is fine enough for skirts and dresses. The denim-look wool is suitable for jackets and coats

I ordered late on Wednesday night and my purchases arrived by Friday afternoon. To sum up: brilliant fabric selection, brilliant prices, brilliant delivery. The fabrics are categorised by colour groupings which is an ingenious idea in my book as it makes it so much easier to fond stuff. This might just become my new go-to fabric shop. The only downside is that they don’t do threads or notions – maybe soon……..


For 10 years now Roland Mouret’s Galaxy dress has graced the bodies of the rich and famous and has been the most coveted frock in mankind’s existence. At a very reasonable £1,595 it just might be out of reach for the majority of the world’s population but not for us sewers.


The dress is famous because it makes a woman look like a woman, celebrating her curves and shape – the short gathered sleeves balance out the hips, the waist is well defined, the length covers unbecoming and knobbly knees and visually lengths the body, and there are 1Galaxy dress, Petrol Blue_F-200 variations to suit every individual taste and preferenv8280coverce.







Vogue Patterns realised the potential and released 8280 and it was snapped up instantly by women who wanted their very own Galaxy. The pattern is now OOP and is like hen’s teeth. Sometimes it comes up on Ebay but is sold immediately or else it is in extra large or extra small sizes. I’ve been searching for alternatives for years but

nothing ever really came close.


Have you heard of Bootstrap Fashion?

This is an online PDF pattern company who produce patterns to fit your measurements. Based in USA they have been going for a few years now but are running out of money and have started a crowd funding exercise on Indiegogo. Bootstrap do an awful lot more than just making patterns with a  full range of services and products available when you register as a member free of charge.

BootstrapFashion was founded by Yuliya Raquel, a four-time award winning fashion designer, who in the past revolutionized the contemporary plus-size fashion industry segment….. Not only does Yuliya have a passion for innovative fashion design, but she also focuses on empowerment: she wants to transform the way we consider beauty and democratize fashion. 

Yuliya from Bootstrap contacted me a little while a go. I have never bought a Bootstrap pattern and I always turn down offers of pattern testing, endorsements and so on. Although, Mood, if you’re reading this, I’m still waiting on your call! Anyway, I thought I might try out Bootstrap – why? I needed my Galaxy dress, that’s why!

I also like to encourage innovation and independent companies whenever possible, so I also donated to the Indiegogo scheme.

I searched the available dress patterns on Bootstrap but nothing hit the mark close to Galaxy and then I noticed the ‘Create from Scratch” feature. With a quick registration procedure I was in my own design page: choose the garment type, select the style from a collection of basic blocks and then add your preferred sleeves, skirt, darts or princess seams, length, bodice shape and neckline, and throw on as many extras like belt, peplum, frills and ruffles as you want. You can even colour in your finished design.

Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 13.23.59

Here’s mine – Saturn, not Galaxy.


The hardest part of ordering the pattern was the actual taking of my accurate body measurements! Insert your measurements into the table in either inches or cms and a few descriptions about your body type; balance and tummy shape etc and that’s it! And, even better,  it’s not very expensive at all.

Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 13.26.10.jpg

Before I had negotiated my way out of the website, the PDF was waiting in my email – instant! You can order with or without seam allowances. Note: the seam allowances and 1cm – industry standard.

OK OK, you’ve got all that printing and tiling and sellotape but my goodness, if you ever need a personalised, custom design and unique pattern in a hurry  that fits like a glove – this is a mighty fine way to get one – facings and all!


With my pattern ready to go and my fabric arriving quickly, I paired Saturn with raspberry wool and have made a start. My version is not a replica of the original Galaxy dress, I opted for 3/4 sleeves instead of short gathered ones but it’s pretty damn close otherwise.

I have been researching and reading about Galaxy dresses – the inside construction, the design elements and scrutinising every image I can see. Mr Mouret was on a TV show Objects of Desire and he admitted that the secret to the dress’s success was in making the waist 1″ smaller. I can find no information about the use of Powernet or shapewear as being part of the dress’s construction although it is widely rumoured and is like a national security secret – any down and dirty info you may have will be gratefully received and shared….

I made a small alteration to the Saturn pattern by lowering the front neckline by 3″ to have it more in keeping with the original but still daytime appropriate.


The pattern doesn’t come with instructions but I find this somewhat liberating as I can make as I want and place the zip at back or side. Which brings me to my current status – I have no zip or suitable lining but I have got as far as I can without these


The bodice still needs to be attached to the skirt (it’s only pinned here) but I did not have to lengthen or shorten it one mm. The shoulders are a perfect fit, the darts and princess seams line up. So far, so good. I have been in joy this week with sewing.

And maybe the best bit is that my Saturn design is also available for you to buy from Bootstrap but adapted for your own size and measurements – so you too can have your own Galaxy dress. I don’t get a penny only the satisfaction that I may have enabled a few other women to celebrate and showcase their curves.

We sewers have the power and skills and tools to take over the universe – one planet at a time!visata

And what’s even better is that no one has to be killed, tortured, extradited, alienated or left out. Aren’t we brilliant?




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!