10 Years in the Stash

This project is a brilliant stash-bust!  You know when you buy a piece of fabric that you just know can only be used for the perfect project.  It’s that piece that may not necessarily have cost a lot of money, but it’s valuable, non the less.  I have a couple of those, and this last week I finally used one!  It’s a piece of ivory silk satin with grey, black and putty coloured spots.  I recon I bought it at least 10 years ago, probably from Rosenberg & Son!

big sleeves 1
Silk blouse, 114 01/2016

I regularly haul it out of the silk box, pat it, promise it a pattern one day, and return it to the darkness.  But it’s been out of the box since the Autumn, I was determined to find something!  And that something is Blouse 114 from Burdastyle January 2016.  The red version I made a couple of weeks ago has been a welcome addition to my wardrobe, I love the sleeves and the overall feel of the top.  So I went for it!

Checking the channel I made is right for the grossgrain ribbon I’ve used for gathering the “shoulder” seam
collage big sleeves
Gathering the long edge of the sleeve into the narrow (by comparison) cuff takes a little while…

big sleeves 2

I added 3cm to the length of the original version, which followed the length for version A in the magazine.  I also changed the hem depth to 2 cm so it would be easier to double fold.  The slit in the centre front was lifted 3cm and I’m much more comfortable with that.   Then I added 2cm to the bust depth, inserting a small dart in the side seam to keep the shape and length even.  It’s worked pretty well, and for some reason feels roomier, width-ways, than the red top!

Details. Gathered channel on the forward shoulder seam, bias neck binding and tostitched front slit, back yoke with gathers in the lower back piece

It feels amazing to wear, the silk is just so drapey and lovely.  The seams are all French seams so there’s no fraying, and that stuff did fray!  I hand stitched the bias binding to the inside of the neckline.  I figured that was one place I could do without wobbly visible stitching, and if there was a place my stitching would wobble, it would be there!

big sleeves 6

So that’s it for the January edition of the Burda challenge 2018, I have my sticky little paws on the February edition already (recon my phone calls to the manager of my local WHSmiths must have lit a bit of a fire under her chair) and have grand plans!!!  I also have loads of knickers to finish…  phew.

Hila has done a round up of some of the challenge projects done so far in January, go and take a look, and join in if you like!


Red Monday!

The weirdest thing happened to me this weekend.  I had traced off the Burda blouse #114 from January 2016 and was ready to toile.  In the stash, lurked a length of red and white viscose crepe, kindly swapped by Del almost 2 years ago.  I never could think of what to use it for, but I thought this time, try for a wearable toile.  I had already checked width measurements etc, so was sure the pattern would be 75% fine, I just needed to know what changes to make to make the pattern 100%.

I cut the straight 44, version A length.  The pattern makes up easily enough, there’s nothing complicated in the instructions.  I opted not to have the buttonhole in the yoke to allow the drawstrings out, instead I pinned the cord in place until I was ready to bind the neckline.  By then I knew how much pulling up I wanted.  I’m not sure I really want dangly bits on the final blouse either, to be honest.  There’s an awful lot of gathering on the lower sleeve, it’s a good idea to mark the half and quarter and then line that up with the half and quarter on the bias “cuff”.  That way you’ll get equal distribution of the fullness.


The finishing touch of adding a loop and buttonhole to the neck binding has been left off, I wanted to see what it would look like without that, and how much the front hangs open!  I think I’m more likely to wear it this way than buttoned up anyway, so I’ll raise the point for the slit by about 3-4cm.  I like my bras, but I don’t really want to be showing them off to all and sundry when I lean forward!


So, now that the toile is done I know the width is perfect, I do need length in the front though.  The front bust depth needs about 3cm added, so I’ll do that on the pattern pieces, adding a dart in the side to control the extra length.  I also think it’s a little short for all purposes.  While I’m wearing the blouse with my jeans (high waisted Birkin Flares) it’s fine, but with a pair of Morgans or any trouser that sits lower than the natural waist, I’ll be showing off bits no-one needs to see!  So the overall length needs to increase by about 5cm to make me happy and comfortable.  Apart from that, it’s all good!!


And the weird thing that happened?  I’m wearing a red blouse, and I love it!!!  Now to make some more versions of this pattern, I’m thinking navy viscose for sure, and I might even finally cut my spotty silk.  That’s been hiding in the stash for at least 10 years, only comes out to be patted now and then!

Seventies Floral

70s tie front 1
Lekala tie front blouse

Another new blouse, another new like!  I know lots of sewists have had success with Lekala patterns and I was tempted but unsure of how they would be on me.  I had some credits from a sewing competition prize a few years back and decided to give this pattern a try.  It’s only taken 3 years to get to this stage!

70s tie front 2

The fabric chosen for the blouse was given to me by a friend.  It’s a retro 70s fabric, dark blue with orange and mustard floral details.  Some of the flowers are rather large, definitely eye-catching!  It’s got some man-made fibre content and is fairly transparent.  I think I will be needing a cami to get full use out of this top though.

70s tie front 4

So, with Lekala you enter your measurements and, like magic, a pattern is generated just for you to print off and start making.  The instructions are brief, much like the Burda magazine patterns.  I made a toile to check the fit first, and overall it was quite good, the shape was promising but I needed to make a 2.5cm FBA, raise the neckline a little, for me it was a trifle low, and widen the sleeve in the bicep area.

70s tie front 5

Adjustments done, the making process was relatively painless.  I used the overlocker on this instead of French seams, the man-made fibres aren’t too keen on precise pressing so French seams probably wouldn’t have turned out nice and neat.  Fine sheer fusible interfacing was applied to the cuffs and the side seam to support the seams containing the invisible zip.  It really didn’t take too long to make, although the instructions are brief & consise, they are clear and direct.  I must make the cuffs a little tighter though, they hang a little, rather than sit nicely above the elbow.

70s tie front 7

I like the result, although I wish there’d been a little more fabric to enable me to pattern match across the back.  It’s no train-smash, but it would have looked nice.  I love the shape of the top, the tie is just right, not too big and floppy and the print is fun.  I will run up a cami in a beige silk soon and then I can safely wear it out and about, and show my friend what I’ve finally made in her fabric!

70s tie front 6

70s tie front 3
Lekala 4286

I’ve got another couple of patterns that have hung around for ages to make up this week, I managed to trace the Morgan Jeans by Closet Case Files on the weekend, and have cut a toile for a pair of Burda trousers.  Fabric will be from the stash – I’m getting through it at last!!

Blue Tropic

blue tropic 1
Blue Tropic, #138 Burdastyle 8/2011

Making a start on delivering on my revised sewing plans for the last 1o days in March.  I might have been ever so slightly optimistic about what I’d get through when I changed tack in my last blog post, but we should always aim high…

So of the 7 projects I had on the new list, I managed 5.  I’d have done better but a nasty cold (man flu) held me back badly and no sewing at all was done for at least 4 days!!  That would definitely have been enough time to finish the entire list.  But no matter, those projects will be on April’s list instead.

This fabric was supposed to be realised in a different pattern, but when I made the toile of 115B 8/15, I just didn’t like it.  It was too straight, too long and I wasn’t convinced it would take me into spring and summer.  So I nicked the pattern that was supposed to be made in the cotton voile.  It was the right decision!  I just love the fabric.  It is viscose, but like no other I’ve had before.  It’s fluid and soft and has a cool touch, not to mention a fabulous sheen that makes it look like silk.  The colour is just stunning too.  The fabric was bought 5 years ago from a shop called Tatler’s in Derby.

blue tropic 4

The front of the top has been lengthened by 10cm and the line flows well into the dipped back hem.  I also omitted the opening on the back, only having the button loops on the yoke.  It isn’t necessary to open the buttons or to have the extended opening to get the top over your head.  Those are the only changes made to the pattern.  Usually I would have used French seams on this fabric, but in the interests of a quick make, I overlocked the lot.  I do love this pattern, having made a fair few versions over the years in different fabrics.  This might just come close to beating my up-to-now-favourite, the black and white spotty silk version.

blue tropic 2
Narrow rouleau loops encircle bronze flower buttons from the stash.
blue tropic 3
Soft gathers from the neckband are very flattering
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Caught chatting, this is a very comfy top!

I’ve no regrets at all about switching patterns on this top, the cotton voile will be allocated a different pattern, perhaps one with ruffles….  There have been a load around on Instagram and although I’m not a ruffly person, I’m ever so slightly tempted….

blue tropic 5
I must remember not to wear my new things too long before getting the photos taken, creases!!

Stick around, the other items on the list just need photographs (although I’ve worn a couple already).  I am missing my resident photographer and am in the process of training up Mr W.  It’s a slow process…..  😉

Welcome 2015, let’s get down to Business!

Happy New Year to you all, and a belated Merry Christmas, if you celebrate.  Boy have things been quiet on my sewing table, but now is the time to rectify that!  I’ve been very busy with a different line of work over December and now that that has quietened down I can get back to my sewing.  I’ll fill you in later on what I was getting up to, but if you follow me on Twitter, chances are you spotted a few plant & flower related photos…  That’s the clue!

Anyhooo, I bought a decent amount of fabric online while on the sofa watching movies with the family on Boxing Day, as you do, and it has started to arrive!  Soo exciting to get new fabric!  I am determined not to let it accumulate in the stash, so here’s my first project.  I have a 3m piece of olive crepe backed satin that arrived from Fabric Godmother – I know, olive green!  No black, grey, white or blue…  I’m being brave this year.  From my Wardrobe Architect board, I have identified this palette from Design Seeds with the olive as something I might actually like to wear, so this is a start at coming up with a selection of garments for it.

Natalie Top by Lolia Designs

I saw & pinned a blouse pattern by Lolia Designs called Natalie to my Wardrobe Architect board on Pinterest a while ago.  I liked the idea of the “panel” in the centre.  They call it a pleat, but it does nothing a pleat is designed to do.  It’s a folded back extension of the front so it flaps around a bit I would think.  I haven’t bought the pattern, it is not in my size and I’d like to change a few things.  I’m combining the idea of that central detail with the sleeve from my placket blouse, but deepening the cuff.  I’m also going to re-use but slightly alter the hem from the black & white spotty silk faux placket blouse.

I love the look of this blouse, the sleeve is something I’m going for with the new pattern, of course it won’t have the button placket or collar, but that can appear on a different top!

So the pattern was started in the evening of the 30th, the toile started yesterday afternoon (New Year’s Eve!) – yeah, not going out, and I’m finishing it off today.  I hope it turns out the way I imagine, the result should be available by the end of the day!

I’ll do some round-ups of last year’s projects in a bit, I managed 92 projects to the end of November, so I’m quite chuffed at that, I still need to see how I did on the Stashbusting front.  I know I used a lot, but I’m not sure I managed to stick to my 1 in for 2 out policy…

In the meantime, I hope you’ve all had a wonderful time with family over the holidays & are ready to tackle this new year with a vengance!  Also waiting with baited breath to find out who I’m partnering with for Jungle January 2015!

Look Ma, I’m Wearing a Print!

It's a print!
It’s a print!

I’ve finished another self-drafted blouse!  I really needed more tops & blouses, Me-Made-May has shown that pretty clearly!  I have enjoyed it so far, especially showing off what Daughter No2 has in her wardrobe, but I’m having to repeat stuff.


I used some of the pieces from the Midnight Blues blouse for this.  The back yoke & collar, neckline and front bands are the same.  The fabric I finally chose is a Liberty City Poplin.  It is pretty sturdy and very crisp, so perfectly suited to a more structured style.  I love the colours, the flowers are off-white and the ground is a blue-grey.  The pattern has alternating bands of small & larger flowers, so I lay the pattern pieces so that the smaller flowers lined up with the waistline.  The hope is that it looks like I have more shape in that area – not sure if that’s worked!

Front details
Front details

The front has a yoke at the shoulder that the bodice gathers into.  I converted the large shoulder bust dart into 3 areas, first the gathers at the yoke, then a 5cm underarm dart & the remainder went into the waist dart.  This was sewn as a dart tuck instead of a full double point dart.  I wanted more of a relaxed look, this fabric is quite sturdy, and while that lends itself to a more structured style, I wanted to be able to relax in it!


The back also has a yoke, but there are no gathers here this time.  A central back panel & two side panels  make for a fitted look, something you need when using a sturdier fabric.  This stuff does not drape!  I curved the hem a little more than I have on previous patterns, mostly because it was going to be closer fitting.



I love how the blouse looks with my dyed linen trousers, it also looks good with jeans but slightly all too pale with light linen.  Perhaps I just need more summer, that’s when the pale colours work!  I recon this is a good pattern, now I have another two still to toile, not to mention all sorts of other things to make.

I want to take part in the Sew Indie Month & have ordered the Snowball dress by Waffle Patterns (they’re a new one to me, but I love this dress!) which I’ll make for daughter No2, and the Carme blouse by Pauline Alice, which has had a fair bit of coverage on the internet.  Best I get cracking!  🙂

Wardrobe Architect & Me Made May 2014

Wow, two big things to get me out of my sewing rut & into something better and more interesting!  I was in quite a funk earlier in the year & the kind comments of my readers & the discovery of the Wardrobe Architect managed to drag me out of it.  I just need time and space to think of all the lovely goodies I’d like to make to suit, and then find the fabric to realise those day-dreams!  I made a good start with 3 blouses, then stopped to make fabulous things for skinny daughters & catch up on a bit of vintage sewing.

Now Me Made May is fast approaching, & I haven’t done much more to sort my very teeny-tiny wardrobe.  Very teeny because I switched over my winter & summer things this week.  There were loads of nice things in my summer boxes, the problem is that some I really don’t want to wear anymore & others I simply cannot wear (to put it plainly, I eat too much of what’s not good for me & I don’t exercise).  So it’s my fault I have only 2 t-shirts…

I do plan to make some more Plantains, once I find suitable fabric.  My local fabric store has a pitiful selection of jerseys, basically a handful of plains and some Liberty’s.  Not what I want!  One of the “tasks” for the Wardrobe Architect sessions was to create palettes, neutrals, accents etc, that we liked, then to narrow them down to form one particular palette from which to work.

My wordrobe consists mainly of neutrals – that’s where I’m happy, but I do realise the need for a little splash of colour here and there, and with summer knocking faintly on the front door I want to inject some colour or lightness that takes up some of the black & grey I live in in the winter.  That has been hard to do.  Whilst I like lots of colours, I don’t necessarily want to be wearing them.

I also find prints tricky.  Again, I like them, I can admire them, but wearing them….  I get scared.  My favourite pattern or print is the spot.  They’re safe.  But I want to be more adventurous!!  When I look into my fabric pile – meaning the pile I want for myself, I see spots, circles and more spots!  And variations on spots & circles…  I think I have an obsession.

silks, spotty & plain
Silks, spotty & plain

One thing I have managed is to get more pants! Or trousers, if you prefer.  There were a couple of pairs of linen trousers from the summer box that still fit – and that I still like the shape of (or can re-cut a bit).  But their colours were all wrong.  I didn’t take photos, not that long-sighted!  One pair was a chocolate brown, like milk chocolate.  I have always found them tricky to wear, even though I wanted a pair, I stick with turquoise or white on top.  The other was an interesting shade…  It was a shot linen, a kind of teal-green and violet.  Sounds weird, but I liked the effect.  Again, there was a problem of what to wear that with!  This time I decided to take action, if I was to wear them, they had to change colour.

So I threw them into the washing machine with a box of Dylon Antique Grey dye and waited for the result.  I love the new colours!  Because I didn’t use a dye stripper first they have come out of the machine with their own take on the grey.  The chocolate is now a warm, rich grey that I LOVE, the shot linen has hints of it’s original shade, but overall looks a blue/purple black/grey.  They’re perfect!  I will re-cut the legs of the purple/grey to make them narrower, but the chocolate grey is a perfect match for some of the colours I came up with for the colour project.

Chocolate linen trousers now a lovely warm dark grey
Chocolate linen trousers now a lovely warm dark grey

While I was dirtying up the washing machine, I also dyed a lightweight beige linen black, & re-blacked a pair black linen trousers that will also be re-cut.  All in all a great result!  Now to sort the tops…..  I have 3 pieces of spotty silk, different weights, weaves & colours and one black & white “blob” silk-cotton blend I made a blouse from a couple of years ago that needs attention.  I managed to catch the back on a door-handle or something & ripped it.  So I need to come up with something that can re-use parts of it, it’s far too gorgeous to chuck out.

This is my current collection of fabrics to work with - help?
This is my current collection of fabrics to work with – help?

If you want to see where my whirling head is going with the Wardrobe Architect exercise, I have far too many ideas on my Pinterest board.  While I love a floaty, not too structured blouse, I don’t want to make them all look the same.  I seem to be taking the same shape at the moment, and just adding different sleeve & collar details.  Will they be different enough?

Three ideas
Three ideas

At the moment, my hope that me Made May would be giving me the opportunity to really see if my new wardrobe was working properly is off to a stuttering start.  I know there’s still a week left, but pattern making takes time!  If only I could just decide what to make – with the foresight that it will look fabulous, I wouldn’t be stalling so much.

I need input from you fabulous sewists.  The sketch above on the left shows what I was thinking of doing with the “blobby” blouse that got ripped.  I had the idea from seeing this great blouse on Kollabora.  I’m just not that willowy, so I need to be careful of where the contrast goes, and how much to use.  Ideas??

My apologies for what seems to me to be a rather rambling post, I just need to get my head round what I should be sewing – and fast!!