A Gabriola for the Winter

Sewaholic Gabriola
Sewaholic Gabriola

Another fablously swooshy skirt for Daughter No2, this time made up in the most amazingly drapey black crepe.  This skirt weighs a ton!  It swirls and swooshes around her legs beautifully and she has already declared it a success because its nice and warm and keeps out the breeze!

Swooshy wool crepe Gabriola
Swooshy wool crepe Gabriola

The fabric is one of the pieces I bought during the SewBrum meet-up earlier this month from Fancy Silk Stores.  Three metres of the stuff at £9/m has made a really lovely skirt.  I used the overlocker to make this one, the crepe really does love to fray – EVERYWHERE!!  I also half-lined the skirt with some pistaschio satin lining to stop the crepe sticking to her tights.  The lining has French seams and has worked a treat.


I made the size 2 and lengthened the skirt by 5cm, but made no other alterations.  This shape works really well on Daughter No2 and I’m glad to have been able to use the pattern again.  Daughter No1 is starting to look at it a bit enviously now, so there may be more to make in the future.




I have more finished projects to photograph and as soon as the weather, internet & camera decide to stop playing up, I’ll get them posted!

Wardrobe Architect Plans Continue

Last Saturday was the Sew Brum event, a meet-up of a number of sewing bloggers in Birmingham.  I decided last minute – as you do – to have something new for the occasion.  And I mean last minute.  I had a new haircut on Tuesday, traced a pair of Burda trousers on Wednesday, had various interruptions & only managed to finish them on Friday morning.  I also started to patterncut a new blouse on Thursday morning.  Something had to give & unfortunately it was the top.

Trousers 143 from Burdastyle 2/2013
Trousers 143 from Burdastyle 2/2013

But first – the item I did manage to finish to wear to the meet-up.  Typically with no spare time, I picked a pattern I’d not used before & haven’t toiled.  I chose a pair of trousers from February 2013 Burdastyle magazine, number 143. The pattern has a slightly dropped, shaped waistband, front fly, hip yoke pockets and cuffs on a slight bootcut shape leg.

This is one the Curvy Collective could add to their list to try out.  It’s a plus size pattern & I traced the 44-48.  I don’t have much waist definition, going straight up from the hip, so I made sure I had enough sizes to grade up.  As it was, I used the 44 on the leg up to the hip line & graded up to the 46 from hip up to the waistband.  It’s a trifle snug because of the lack of stretch, but I’m satisfied with the result.  At least I know they won’t be falling down during the day!

I had to shorten the pattern by 4cm.  The finished length was to be 108cm, which I thought would be ok on me, but when I pinned the cuffs in place they dragged on the floor- not a good look for winter trousers!  I had to chop off the hem turn of the cuffs & reposition them, but now I’ve shortened the paper pattern by the requisite amount so next time will be all good.  I really like the shape of the trousers on me, considering I normally go for wide swooshy ones!  But that style doesn’t work in the winter, I needed a more fitted, shorter style.  I will use this pattern again, but I have my eye on two others to try too.

DSC09948-1The fabric is from Croft Mill, a two tone tiny herringbone cotton chino-type fabric with no stretch.  It has great body and is well suited to the style of trouser I chose – but this is one of those fabrics that creases badly in the washing machine, and then leaves the evidence of that creasing in the loss of colour.  It’s a real shame because now the trousers look like they constantly need an iron.  I’ll leave it for a little while, but I feel I’m going to need to get the dye out, which will lose me those teeny tiny herringbones.

Cuffs & hip yoke pockets lined with grey satin
Cuffs & hip yoke pockets lined with grey satin

I bound the inner waistband edge with the left overs of the lilac bias binding from Daughter No2’s vintage jacket & used a grey satin for the pocket bags.  As I was in a rush I simply zig-zagged the seam allowances.  Not the most perfect finish, but it does the job.

DSC09958-1The top I completed this week, yesterday in fact.  It’s sort of my contribution towards the Sewcialists’ Scraptember challenge, even though it was only dreamt up & made now in early October. I had some left over black & white spot silk de chine form a blouse I’d made a few years ago and loved to bits.  Literally.  I wore it until it fell apart.  The fabric has such a fabulously luxurious feel and the way it flows and drapes while you wear it is just beautiful.  Anyway, I’d kept the bits, because they were big enough for something, just not an entire new something.  Then by chance I found more of the same stuff in Fred Winters in Stratford on Avon!  Perfect!  I bought a metre and immediately hatched a plan.

Self-drafted silk crepe de chine faux placket blouse
Self-drafted silk crepe de chine faux placket blouse

I wanted something similar to the original top, but also wanted to do a twist on a traditional placket.  My go-to length for sleeves is three-quarters and I do love the sleeve I developed for my Jungle January blouse.  I cut the sleeves, cuffs & neckbands from the silk I had left over and cut the front, back & placket from the new piece.

Close-up of the neck-band & faux placket
Close-up of the neck-band & faux placket

The collar is more of a neckband, and the placket more like a facing sewn on the wrong side & turned to the right side & topstitched in place.  The bust dart was moved to the underarm position & I took a little of the waist darts out in the side seam so it wasn’t too tent-like.  Construction was pretty straightforward, French seams throughout, double turned dipped at the back hem.  I used Gill Arnold’s fine sheer fusible interfacing on the outer neckband, placket & cuffs.  The interfacing was definitely needed on the placket to keep it under control for the turning under of the seam allowances!

DSC09968-1I’m in love with the result!  Ok, so maybe a thin light silk top is not really a practical make for October, but I could wear a vest top underneath for added warmth.  The biggest advantage is that it’s done! Another top that fits my requirements and uses the fabric in the boxes.  Even if it does mean I had to buy a little to complete the project.  And yes, its more spots 🙂  What can I say, I feel overwhelmed by most patterns, but checks, stripes & spots I can live with.  So far this year I’ve made 4 blouses with definite spots/circles & two with variations on the theme.  Oh, and one tee, not blogged.  There is still another silk satin in the stash box with my name on it – spotted, of course! We’ll have to see what I decide to make next but I have plans to make another two pairs of trousers.

I bought a stone coloured cotton twill & a gold-sand colour stretch cotton chino from Croft Mill fabrics earlier in the year for winter trousers & I’m thinking of using 118 from Burdastyle 08/2013 for the gold & 134 from Burdastyle 04/2012 for the stone.  Just to get them traced & toiled first…

These are all resulting from my work on the Wardrobe Architect project.  Have any of you been using yours much to further your wardrobes this year?

The Terrible Trio

Three Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape tops, cut out together & sewn on a “production line”.  There was a much more relaxed atmosphere in the sewing room when these three were made up.  Although I picked tricky jersey – no natural fibres in sight – I was at least prepared for bad behaviour!

After the two I made last week & the success of the black cotton top, I decided to omit the clear elastic from the armholes altogether and only used it on the back neckline.  There is still a bit of pulling, but much less than before.  I used one of the suggestions in the comments of that post and stuck a bit of masking tape to the bottom of the presser foot when applying the clear elastic, and was pleased with the result.

Day to Night top in printed polyester viscose jersey from John Kaldor
Day to Night top in printed polyester viscose jersey from John Kaldor

The jerseys I’ve chosen for these tops are man-made, two completely polyester & one poly-viscose.  There is more stretch in the poly-viscose and it has a much nicer drape.  Daughter No1 commented that it feels like wearing a swimming costume.  The fabric was bought from Rosenberg’s stand at the NEC last year, or the one before and was intended to be a wrap dress of sorts for her.  We’ve never found the right pattern and I decided this was it, time to be used!  There is enough left for something else, but probably not a dress!

Day to Night top in grey polyester jersey
Day to Night top in grey polyester jersey

The other two have less stretch and I think I’d have to make an adjustment if she wanted more tops using this particular fabric.  Daughter No1 is satisfied with the look, but if they were my tops I’d be uncomfortable with the pulling over the bust.  I do like how the drape hangs on the poly-jersey tops and the colours are perfect.  Of course, now Daughter No2 wants one in the blue for herself…

Day to Night top in blue polyester jersey
Day to Night top in blue polyester jersey

Next on the cutting table will be (hopefully) a black & white marle wool Honeydew skirt & a self drafted pencil skirt in caramel stretch cotton sateen – both for Daughter No2.  I say hopefully to the Honeydew skirt, because we hauled out some leftover wool from previous projects & she asked for the Honeydew in that fabric, but I haven’t checked to see if it’s enough yet…  I will line it with a nice coloured lining & put a zip in the side seam like I did with this one.

Daughter No1 goes back to University today, I can’t believe it’s her last year – how time has flown!  She’ll be taking a fair few handmade garments with her & I hope they get to be worn as much as her charity shop bargains!

Wherever you are, have a great weekend – I’m teaching some of my favourite people on Sunday, I’m expecting great projects on their sewing tables!  🙂

Dentelle Noire

DSC09726-2I’ve finally something made for Daughter No1!  You might recognise the black jersey cowl tee from my last post – it fits perfectly without needing any adjustments at all – Phew!  She loves the fit, the drape & the jersey.  Needless to say, I’ve now got orders for “more please Mum”.  Yeah, it’ll have to join the queue.  I really like the way the top fits her so I guess I need to make more, not only for her, but for Daughter No2 too.

Maria Denmark Day-Night Top
Maria Denmark Day-Night Top

She’d like some in plain colours, printed jerseys, etc.  Please don’t show her Sew Busy Lizzy’s dress versions….

dsc09722-1On to the skirt…

The inspiration for the skirt came from a pin on Pinterest, which came from this style blog.  I had some black lace in the stash which I’d swapped Kat from Modern Vintage Cupcakes for last year but never got round to using it up.  I knew I’d be using it for Daughter No1, but we didn’t quite know what it wanted to be.  Until this summer.

DSC09725-1Using her straight skirt block, I altered it to create a box pleat in the centre and added two more pleats to the sides.  I did this on the back too and put the zip in the side seam.  The waistband is a straight piece with a slight underlap from the back to attach a hook & bar.  The skirt measures 70cm from her waist & initially she thought this would be too long, but the toile reassured her that for this sort of skirt it would work.

No hem!  Just the selvedge edge.
No hem! Just the selvedge edge.

I cut the lace with the selvedge as the finished edge.  Turning up a hem wouldn’t have worked and binding the edge would have made it stiff & ungainly.  Luckily for me there was enough lace to do this!  I have enough left of the lace to make sleeves for something – thinking a black viscose jersey plantain with lace sleeves.  For Daughter No1 – of course  🙂  It’ll look good with black skinny jeans or leggings.

DSC09724-1The underskirt was also developed from the skirt block, 50cm long from the waist, all I did was add 5cm to each side seam at the hem, tapering back up to the hip point.  The darts were left in, she didn’t want the poly-satin of the underskirt to be pleated & add bulk to the lace.  We were after a sleeker look.  I ran the skirt up on the overlocker, so it was pretty quick, only needing the sewing machine for darts & the hem.  The overlocker was put into service for the lace skirt too, it wasn’t a particularly matchy lace so I wasn’t concerned to line things up and match the patterns.  French seams would have made the side seams stiff and the whole idea was to have something floaty & feminine.

Satin waistband -  I love the contrast textures.
Satin waistband – I love the contrast textures.

There’s an invisible zip in the side seam and black hook & bar attached to the waistband. The texture contrast is great & I love how the light catches on the satin underskirt through the lace to add another dimension.  We’re both really happy with it & the whole outfit is having its first outing to a dinner with the boyfriend & his parents tomorrow night, so I guess I did good!  🙂

Detail shots, not many because who needs to see masses of overlocked seams??
Detail shots, not many because who needs to see masses of overlocked seams??

So I’m patting myself on the back for the positive end of the draped tee saga, but I’m not doing that well on picking the winner of the BHL pattern giveaway..  I know, you’re all watching your email boxes to see if you’re the winner – man your creative reasons were good!  Too good!!  I feel really bad that I only have one of each pattern to send out.  Every time I think I’ve picked to best of each, I have a re-think.  But I will pick one, I promise!

The Top That Almost Wasn’t

This has been a day of extreme frustration for me.  It started all well & sunny by unpinning the drapey jersey I’d cut out last night for a Day to Night top by Maria Denmark.  I’ve wanted to make this for ages.  I bought it earlier in the summer & decided Daughter No1 would get first crack at it.  I read the instructions re FBA etc, knowing I’d need one here. Can you believe I’ve never done one?  That’s because all the tops I make for myself & No1 are self drafted!

Anyway, I was slightly suprised to note the pattern doesn’t go down to her size, unlike the Kimono tee – but the smallest size is 1cm wider at the bust than the measurements I had.  A decision was made to wing it for the toile & see just exactly what and how much I’d need to adjust.  The fabric chosen was from the stash, I’d bought copious amounts of this drapey poly-jersey some time ago.  I found a couple of packs of clear elastic in the elastics stash too, no idea what I’d got them for initially!

A quick read through the instructions left me feeling confident, lets face it, there are only 2 pieces to this pattern, it’s hardly rocket science.  However.  My old Bernina refused flatly to have anything to do with the clear elastic I was to sew to the back neckline to stabilise it.  I begged, I pleaded.  Eventually it gobbled up the first 2 cm – fabric, elastic, the works.  Cue much cursing & frantic tweeting – help!!  Obviously there was a “tutorial” which wasn’t much help.  If I had a teflon foot apparently all my hair pulling & scaring the birds outside my window would go away.  I. Don’t. Have. One!  Trying to find one for a 42 year old machine is pretty nigh impossible too.

collage 1
Neckline on first toile

In the end I managed to bully, cajole, persuade (you pick the right word) dear old Bernina to zigzag the elastic to the neckline.  Reluctantly it obeyed but I was gifted skipped stitches & pulling where there shouldn’t be any.  This didn’t get any better when turning the elastic over & stitching the seam allowance down on the outside.  I tried the suggested zigzag again & ripped it out almost as soon as I’d started!  In went the twin needle & things were a bit better.  Bernina was still sulking & skipped stitches in revenge.  The same happened with the armholes.. By now I was thinking this whole thing was jinxed.  Shoulder & side seams were fine, the overlocker behaved perfectly.

Pulling on armholes & into back neckline
Pulling on armholes & into back neckline

I put it on the dress form – I don’t think this will fit Daughter No1 over the bust.  The waist & hip will be fine, probably even slightly baggy, but the bust line looks pretty darn snug. By this time I was pretty fed up.   A walk in fresh air and some loud music in my ears was in order so I left it for a couple of hours.

DSC09696-1It fits Daughter No2 fairly well.  You can see all the pulling from the neck & armholes clearly and again, it’s snug over the bust.  This is the size I’d have made for her, without adjustments.  She rather likes it & would be happy to wear it, but there’s no way I’m allowing that thing to see the light of day!  I haven’t done such a poor job on a garment since I was 14 in Home Ec!

Collage 4On coming home from my “clearing the air walk” I thought I’d make another one, but with a different jersey.  This time I used some back cotton/lycra blend, also from the stash.  Applying the elastic at the neckline was much better, without the slippness of the other jersey, the elastic was easier to control.  I still got some skipped stitches but it was far better, as was the twin needle top stitching.  I left the elastic out of the armholes all together, just turning under the 1cm seam allowance & using a twin needle to stitch it down.  The hem was also stitched with the twin needle.  I don’t think I have to say how much better this one has turned out!  No swearing, no scaring the birds or wishing for the death of the fabric!

I still need to see if it will work on the missing Daughter No1 (still away visiting the boyfriend) but it looks good on No2..  Will I make another?  A proper one?  Yes, but I will be oh so careful about the fabric choice!  Drapey stuff feels good, and looks good but is a pain in the be-hind to sew & I really don’t need the aggravation.  If I buy more fabric to make this top again, it will definitely be of the controllable sort & I might try to source some fold over elastic & give that a try. 

Less drape but better fitting around the armholes without the elastic.

Collage 5Has anyone else had any problems like this with fabric/elastic/etc? How did you overcome it or did the project end up flying out of the window?

Sewing Cake – or something you want, but don’t need.

The Monthly Stitch has an amnesty running this month for those of us who wanted to join in with a challenge, but either ran out of time or steam!  August is a rubbish month for me to sew in, it’s summer, school holidays, we go away for a bit & the other half takes time off to relax too.  I got some things done, but not the “Sewing Cake” challenge.  Now as I read it, “cake” in the sewing world is the stuff you don’t necessarily need in your wardrobe, but is is most certaily the pretty stuff you want! Scratch that, that definition belongs to frosting!  Trust me to get it all wrong!  🙂  Just goes to show there’s always something new to learn.  So, cake is normal stuff, everyday sewing, and the stuff you want but don’t need is the frosting.  What have I made then, cake or frosting? 


On re-reading the “blurb” for August’s challenge I realise I can make whatever I like, as long as proper cake is involved somewhere, either as a print on the item, or as something to eat!  I’m off then to make something cake-y & will photograph Daughter No2 with it just as soon as she’s home from school later.  In the mean time, I think we need a new definition, cake is fancy, yummy & not somehting you should be sewing (eating) everyday!  Or is the every-day sewing stuff really bread?

birthday TMSI’d bought 1.5m of pale blue cotton chino twill from Croft Mill Fabric last year, with the intention of making a pair of trousers.  Needless to say that didn’t happen, then we got the Papercut Bellatrix pattern and all thoughts of trousers went out of the window.  Daughter No2 has 5 of these already, so did she really need another?  No.  But she wanted one!  Therefore, this Bellatrix Blazer is most definitely cake!  It’s also the first Bellatrix I’ve made since the Paris print one where I haven’t had to squish in the pattern pieces.

Bellatrix Blazer - CAKE!
Bellatrix Blazer

I lined the jacket with some blue floral print cotton lawn I’d bought from the Remnants House in Bude whilst on holiday last year.  I’d grabbed it, then afterwards decided the print was too busy for me, so it languished in the stash.  I tried to sell it to someone who’d love it more, but that failed.  When the decision was taken to get on with the Bellatrix, I knew what the lining would be!  Of course there is loads left over, but one of my students kindly agreed to take it off my hands to make a skirt.  The sleeves were going to be lined with white haboutai, but when I went digging in the linings box I couldn’t for the life of me find it!  oops..  Instead I used a bit of lilac lining left over from goodness knows what.  It works really well with the pale blue & the print of the lining.  Job well done, I’ve used all stash materials!

Floral cotton lawn for the lining & pocket bags
Floral cotton lawn for the lining & pocket bags


Once cut out and interfaced this jacket is quick to go together, after making 5 already, I should hope it would!  I do think that this one needs some closure though.  At the moment Daughter No2 is too busy wearing it for me to add something to it, but I did get some interesting closures for an edge-to-edge finish from John Lewis a while ago, so perhaps I’ll be adding those.  All in all a successful project and one I could get done quickly to get me back into the swing of things.

DSC09631-1Daughter No1 pinned a black lace skirt to her Pinterest board for me to look at, found here.  Would you know, I have black lace (albeit without a scalloped edge) from Kat from the Stash Swap last year, and black satin in the silks box, so I really should be getting on with that.  She also wants the Day to Night top from Maria Denmark so I need to check the jersey stash to see if I have the right stuff.  I’m determined to make decent inroads into the stash, but there’s so much loverly new fabric coming into the shops right now…  I must resist.

Don’t forget the By Hand London pattern giveaway – you have until Friday midnight GMT to add your creative reasons as to why you should win either the Anna or Elisalex pattern.

I’ll leave you with Daughter No2’s model pose…


Change of Seasons Giveaway

giveawayApologies for being away from my blog for so long, summer was good, holiday was too short & sewing continues amidst school restarting & waiting for Universities to do the same.  I managed to re-sort my fabric stash last week & put away all the summer things that were still waiting to be made.  Next year…  Now my make it now pile has been upgraded to a whole box, no more clutter on the sewing table! Hmm, we’ll have to see how long that lasts!  I’ve also bought 3 new large boxes to house my vintage patterns.  As long as I don’t buy any more it should be ok.  “Not buyng more patterns” sounds like “not buying more fabric” – not gonna happen!!  🙂

In with all the sorting and changing things around I realised I hadn’t yet heard from many of the sponsors of the Sewing Indie Month competition.  I’d been told they’d be in touch, but I guess they’ve been as busy as me!  So this week I sent out a round of emails and have recieved some goodies.  The prize pack was pretty big & I’ve already allocated some goodies to a very good friend who loves to sew for herself & daughter.  Today I have a giveaway of two patterns by a popular indie pattern company By Hand London.

Anna & Elisalex from By Hand London
Anna & Elisalex from By Hand London

I picked their two most popular patterns, the Anna dress & Elisalex Dress, figuring they’d suit most people out there.  So here’s what you have to do to win one.  Yup, I’m giving them away seperately.  Leave me a comment below stating which pattern you’d like, and why.  Now I want a good reason, not just “cause I think it’s cute”!!  I’m happy to post worldwide.  The winners will be the ones with the best reasons why they need the particular pattern, there’ll be no random selections!  You’ll have until midnight GMT on Friday 12 September, best of luck!  🙂

In other news, if you’re based in the West Midlands (UK) and would be interested in attending a seminar for sewing with stretch knits & lace, Fred Winter in Stratford on Avon is hosting Gill Arnold for a 2 hour talk on the 15th November.  Gill is so very knowledgeable, and a very nice person too!  You can choose from a morning or afternoon session where she’ll be giving advice and demonstrations on stretch knits & lace.  The sessions are 10-12 for the morning and 1:30-3:30 for the afternoon and cost a mere £15 per person.  You will have to pre-book because these sessions always sell out quickly and there are a limited amount of seats.  Contact Caroline Winter on 01789 268 011 if you’re interested.  (I’m not being paid for advertising this, I can highly recommend Gill after attending some of her workshops!! & Fred Winter is my local fabric store.)  They also have a fabulous selection of Liberty fabrics, tana lawns now on sale at £16/m!  I was good – very good, and didn’t buy any!

Now I’m off to see how I can reorganise the vintage patterns to fit into those new boxes – oh, and I am about half way through making another Bellatrix for Daughter No2.  She wanted a solid colour one and I found 1.5m of pale blue chino cotton from Croft Mill in the stash.  This is the first Bellatrix in a long while where I haven’t had to cram the pattern pieces onto the fabric!  I’m lining it with a blue floral cotton lawn, apart from the sleeves which are getting a white silk haboutai.  Hopefully I’ll be showing that off after the weekend.

In the mean time, get cracking on thinking up creative reasons why you need an Anna or Elisalex in your life!  🙂