Thursday, 2 April 2015


I nearly called this the 'stag weekend' dress because I spent a weekend locked up in my flat drafting this pattern while my other half was away in Dublin celebrating. (Whoop!)'s not often I get to spend 48 consecutive hours designing, dreaming, pattern drafting and sewing - but this is the result.

In fact, I can't even remember if I brushed my teeth or ate anything other than cheese on toast, but I do recall that the whole series of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt played on Netflix in the background until 3am, and I'm still not really sure if she went back into the bunker or not.
bought this super lightweight pink suiting for $1 a metre at a Fabricland blow-out sale, which I think makes it the most economical dress for a wedding I have ever made.

I'm happy with the overall result but it's one pattern I can't stop thinking about. Specifically, should I have cut the first radiating pleat on the bias or straight grain? (It's on the bias). 

Any ideas?

Happy sewing everyone!

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year...

...and Prosit Neujahr from Vienna!  Wishing you much sewing happiness in 2015.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

the stockings were hung...

Christmas stockings finished just in time for the jolly man's arrival.  To make these, check out Scandinavian Needlecraft and don't forget to arm yourself with a vanishing fabric marker pen.
Merry Christmas to you.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

pepita pepita, olé!

I've been mesmerized by all of the black and white hounds-tooth fabric we're seeing everywhere lately and nearly scaled a wall of fabric bolts to reach this bold black and white pattern.  My mom told me it's actually called "pepita", which it turns out is named after Pepita de Oliva, a 19th centurty Spanish dancer who toured under her stage name, Josefa de la Oliva.  The pattern is meant to mimic the pit of an olive.  How cool is that?
Since the fabric is named after a sassy flamenco dancer, I felt obliged to lift the hemline on my pattern and add a splash of fiery red. I dug out my beloved red heels (who also spent many early mornings on the dance floor WAY back in the day....) A great excuse to take them out for an encore twirl with my Pepita coat!



Muchas Grazias, Pepita de Oliva for putting some more sass into sewing!


Monday, 1 December 2014

not quite ready-to-wear

I have to start this off with a disclaimer - the information below may be glaringly obvious to a community of sewers, and I hestitated writing it...but maybe someone out there is in the same boat!

Ready-to-wear trousers always have the same fit problem on me - snug in the bum and too wide around the waist.   I usually bring them to a professional to take away the extra fabric in the waistband and centre back, rather than doing it myself - it always seemed to scary to try.

 Last week-end I finally broke down.  I armed myself with my seam ripper, a pair of scissors and a strong cup of coffee and attacked the centre back of a waistband on pair that I've been holding up with a belt for too long.
You know, it wasn't that scary!  It was kind of like unfolding the paper on a Christmas present and putting it back together to look like no one noticed...or maybe a piece of Japanese origami...

If you haven't already tried this yourself, here are some things I learned:

-  Baste, baste, and baste again (before you cut anything).  I used safety pins first, established the fit and then basted and took them off and tried them on again.  (A step I've always had to skip when I go to the tailor!)

-  When you are trying them on, walk around, sit down, do a downward dog, dance a jig...and do it again!

-  When you do sew, make a few rows of machine stitches for strength.  (You can never bee too sure)

- I used my ironing board to keep the back of my trousers flat as I hand stitched everything back together as it was.  (I never even had to get out the measuring tape)

If you have the same issue with your trousers, and you haven't tried this already, I promise it really is straightforward.  I wish I had done this years ago!

How do you guys feel about alterations?

Saturday, 22 November 2014

sewing for an 11-inch doll

I had to interrupt my regular sewing when I got call from Canada requesting Barbie clothes for Christmas ... My niece is only 5 but she discovered, in my mom's house, the box of Barbies my sister and I played with as kids - and now there is no turning back.  

(Luckily I had some scraps of pepita fabric from my coat project.)

 I hope this fits my niece's vision, because the last time I was home she had very definite ideas about what Barbie should wear, and even drew the pattern pieces out for me.
I wish I had brought these drawings back with me! They were so cute, I should have framed them.  
Hopefully this McCalls pattern for a cape with matching trousers, a hat and a purse will do the trick. Who knew there was such a thing as Barbie sewing patterns?  

In the meantime I hope to finish the adult size version this week-end.

Happy sewing everyone.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Burda 3/2012

I finished the first of my planned two coats last week-end and took it for a spin on a goregous leafy autumn day in Hyde Park.  
It's Burda's Collarless Open Coat, an easy and satisfying pattern to work with.  I found the fabric for the top part of the coat in a remnant bin, for about £12.  There was less than a metre to work with, so I had to split the pattern in two. I sourced the charcoal grey wool for the bottom from my local fabric store.  With lining the whole thing cost me maybe £30 (I've seen similar collarless coats are selling in Zara for £89)
 I love having the flexibility of a centre back seam, for a relatively quick sewing project.  I was too lazy to make a muslin for this (I had to get it outside before the leaves fell!) and from experience knew the back was going to be a little wide on me - it was easy to take out another inch of fabric after sewing and then modify the pattern for the lining.
It was really the perfect autumn afternoon and we couldn't resist trying to capture the feeling on camera.  If you don't care for self-indulgent-frolicking-in-the-autumn-leaves photos, look away now...
This is one I will make again, though I might put some heavier interfacing at the centre front, to stop it from popping out a little.  Or, maybe add a hook and eye closure.  Does anyone have a sure fire solution for this?

Happy week-end and happy sewing, I am getting started on coat number two!