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Surf to Summit Top Pattern - Out now!

An extended weekend full of sewing

15 July 2014, 11:34

Last week saw the end of a very good but busy work project, so what do I do when faced with a bit more time and mental energy than usual? Why, I sew of course!*

Liberty, but not as we know it


I received some lovely Liberty gift coins for my birthday, and because Previous Me knows Future Me so well, I had stashed some extra birthday cash along with it in the suede pouch, knowing I’d forget all about it and be pleasantly surprised. Which is precisely what happened!

So now armed with £60 to play with in Liberty, I decided to take advantage of a rainy day and go shopping. Now, I know loads of you go weak at the knees for anything Liberty, but I don’t. I find most of the traditional Liberty prints to be painfully twee and nothing I’d ever, ever wear. So I was thinking I’d see what was on offer in their jerseys, but first I got waylaid by the remnants table, where I scooped up a vaguely-African print silk twill (1m for £25, seen lower left).

The jersey selection was really small and mostly ditzy print (gag), but I kept being drawn to a dreamy, blurry, triangular print that came in a few shades, but only in Tana Lawn. I finally decided that if I kept coming back to this print then I should buy it and figure out a project later. So 1.5m of the palest colourway came home with me (seen upper left above) and brought my grand total to £58. Now that’s budgeting!

Refashioned suede wristlets

A friend had recently given me two skirts which no longer fit her, a suede one and a silk one, and mentioned that I might want them for the fabric. Of course! So I chopped up the suede one on Sunday, making two of the free Cake mini wristlets.


(The colour on the left is more accurate…)

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The "Eyelash" black lace bra

30 May 2013, 16:47

After I completed my world tour, I had four and a half days at home to recuperate, so I of course spent a good portion of that in my sewing cave! The first of my finished garments is this bra, which I’m calling the “Eyelash” one because the layer of black lace on the top just made me think of the bra batting its eyelashes at me!

I used the same self-drafted/traced pattern as my third muslin, but with zero-stretch silk-cotton woven leftover from the slip I made almost exactly a year ago, and some black stretch lace I’ve had in my stash (not the same as I’d used in the slip, but that’s only noticeable if you squint really hard!).

The cups are fully lined and the wings/backs are made from a black power mesh that was in my lingerie sewing stash.

First I made each cups separately (two fronts and two linings). Then I basted the lace across the fronts and joined the fronts to the linings along the top edge. I could’ve then topstitched, but I opted to understitch instead, then basted around the other edges so the fronts and linings could then be treated as one for the rest of the construction.

Here you can see the cups as I was constructing them. You can see that the lace is hanging free, only really attached at the top edge, and for an inch or so at the sides. I carried on the lace motif over the bridge so it looks fairly seamless from afar.

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Golden silk asymmetric blouse

16 May 2012, 13:14

From a total loser of a silk blouse to a triumph of a silk blouse, all in one afternoon! After the Burda FAIL, I turned around, cut into my gorgeous butter yellow floral silk charmeuse I bought at Ditto in Brighton last weekend, and sewed up this blouse in about two hours flat!

The layout of this blouse is really cool, and the entire blouse is just one piece, with only one side seam (and two shoulder seams). I took a photo of my fabric when it was laid out on the floor, and I added some annotations in pink (below) to help show where the drapey side comes into play. I hadn’t realised it from the diagram, but the CF neckline is on the straight grain, and the CB neckline is on the cross-grain, with the only side seam on the bias. Very cool, and the design feels quite Bunka.

I used the leftover silk in the bottom left corner to make several bias strips about 4cm wide, as I prefer a narrow bias edge on my silk blouses instead of finicky facings. I also left off the shoulder bow, as I felt there’s enough going on in this blouse already!

We were very lucky to catch the “golden hour” on Monday evening, which just makes this silk come alive in these photos! I’ve paired it here with my grey leather skirt to try and give an edgier look to the twee floral of the silk.

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A rare dud of the highest order

14 May 2012, 14:08

Last weekend I cut into cut into one of the oldest fabrics in my stash, a dark turquoise silk charmeuse bought in January 2009, to make the cover top from the Burda April 2012 issue:

There are so many things wrong about this pattern that I’m going to revert to list form to get the rant out of my brain:

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Brighton & Bank holiday sewing

8 May 2012, 14:17

We had a long weekend here in the UK this weekend, and I’m pleased to report that I made the most of it! On Saturday, James and I made an impromptu trip down to Brighton, and we stopped off at Lewes on the way down. Our main objective in Lewes is always the Harveys Brewery shop, but I also discovered The Stitchery just across the road upstairs in the Riverside Centre, which stocks a wide variety of fabrics, embroidery floss, yarn, and haberdashery. I checked my handy “sewing shopping list” on my phone, and bought black waistband elastic and trouser hooks, both of which I needed. Very sensible of me, I know.

But the real temptation was walking right past Ditto in the North Laines in Brighton, and I told myself I was only allowed to buy ONE fabric there, so it’d better be a good one! In the end, this gorgeous butter yellow floral silk charmeuse won out over a similar yellow coloured, textured, ex-Blumarine crepe.

Florals really aren’t my usual fabric choice (and I would’ve never bought it from the terrible photo on Ditto’s site), but in real life, I was just captivated by it, and I’m thinking I’ll need to pair it with some edgier like jeans or my leather skirt to diffuse the twee-ness.

After our big day on Saturday, on Sunday we didn’t leave the boat at all! I spent most of the day doing sewing stuff, starting off with fusing all the interfacing onto James’s reversible smoking jacket pieces. I find fusing interfacing to be really boring at the best of times, but it’s beyond teeeeedious with a mini ironing board and mini iron! Once that was all fused, I then moved on to hand basting all the pocket placements (it’s a fantasy jacket, so there are five pockets!) and then basted the bound buttonhole placements, too.

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Temporary sewing

1 May 2012, 14:35

While our boat is in drydock for maintenance, we’re temporarily living on a very kind neighbour’s boat. Packing for a month (though possibly 2 weeks) was a challenge in itself, as you want to to give yourself choices (in clothing, entertainment, comforts, and cooking), but yet you’ve still got to physically move everything, so you don’t want to overpack, either.

I brought the bare minimum of sewing supplies, which for me means my JL Mini sewing machine, which is great for travel and beginners alike (speaking of, I have a friend who’s selling her identical red JL Mini as she’s upgraded to a fuller-featured machine. If anyone’s interested in buying it from her for £30, please leave a comment and I’ll put you in touch!).

I also brought a few patterns and the fabrics to go with them, and I set up a temporary sewing station in the bedroom we’re staying in:

I thought it was quite amusing that the only place in the boat that was suitable for sitting and sewing was a pretty dressing table, and my boudoir sewing station inspired me to start one of my transported projects last weekend – another Ruby Slip!

My first Ruby Slip was seafoam green with brick red lace and I loved it so much that I knew I’d be making another. If you missed the discussion then, Sherry offered a free pdf pattern and fantastic photo tutorials, which I highly recommend, even for beginners, as it’s beautiful and quite easy to sew (especially if you choose a thin cotton lawn).

To match my sewing station, I set up a pressing station in the kitchen, with a travel iron and mini ironing board which live on the boat.

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A seafoam green Ruby Slip (and matching panties)

11 January 2012, 14:03

The Ruby Slip is a free pdf pattern and comprehensive set of tutorials over at Pattern Scissors Cloth, and as soon as I saw it, I knew it was just the most perfect pattern ever for me and I had to sew it ASAP!

I had 2m of seafoam green silk in my stash that I’d bought at Bhopal Fabric on Brick Lane over the summer (at £6/m), so I took a swatch of that along with me to MacCulloch and Wallis just before Christmas to buy lace specifically for this. Their lace selection isn’t great, but I totally fell in love with this stretch lace, made up of seafoam green, grey, and brick-red flowers, and it was the required 18cm for the pattern. It was pretty eye wateringly-expensive at £14/m, but I ended up with a silk matching lingerie set for £40 exactly, so I think the economics of my decision were sound.

Sherry has done an incredible job going through all the ins and outs of lace cutting, bias silk sewing, how to do an FBA, etc, but I did get a surprise when I found that 18cm lace is not wide enough for the side front:

Since I went out and bought the lace specifically for this, I was a little annoyed, but I was also feeling flu-ish so I sat down with my copy of Bridal Couture and hand-pieced some lace from my scraps to make up the missing corner. It involved a ton of tiny hand stitches in both seafoam and brick to get everything to match seamlessly, but I’m pleased with the end result (she’s since posted some ways of dealing with narrow lace).

I also wanted to demonstrate how much you need to pay attention which cutting lace. I was paying heed to all of the scallops in order to get them in join up nicely at the seams, but I totally didn’t see that my motif was off at first. Happily, I had enough to re-cut that piece to have a nicer join over the seam (seen on the right).

Right, all that aside, and let’s see some finished photos! But, er, not modeled on me since there’s see-through lace and I’m not an exhibitionist. So you’ll just have to take my word that I squealed with delight when I first tried this on, because the fit is just perfect! The bias skirt really just hugs my curves without being tight, and everything just fits like it was meant to be. I made the “short” version, and the hem lies about 3-4 inches above the knee, which is perfect for me.

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The silk chiffon maternity maxi gown

9 January 2012, 13:10

I finished Holly’s silk gown on New Year’s Eve, so this is officially my last project from 2011. If you recall, it’s Burda 08/2008 #125 and is one of the designer maternity patterns from this issue (and in my opinion – a really nice maxi dress whether you’re pregnant or not!).

We muslined the bodice portion of this (minus the drape pieces) back before Christmas, and made a few changes: taking a few tucks out of the neckline here and there, and increasing the bust space on the standard size 44.

I totally missed the chance to finish this for her Boxing Day birthday, but I figured I’d be still in time for any January parties before the birth in late January, and we were even scheduled to go over for dinner last Friday, where I was going to bring the dress along and sew up the hem on my little red machine after we ate (the hem is just raw here, as I can’t do that without her wearing it).

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Upcoming Fall 2011 sewing - the fabric

21 October 2011, 14:29

I posted about my Fall sewing pattern plans weeks ago, but I never quite got around to showing off my lovely Fall fabrics at the same time, and then I went and bought a little more since I sewed through enough of my stash over the past year to make space for more.

Indeed, the first two fabrics were bought long enough ago from the superlative Ditto Fabrics that I’ve actually already used them!

This grey stretch wool suiting is finding a life in my Draped Jacket and Skirt Suit you’ve heard so much about lately, and I’m sure you remember this peach silk habotai from my recent blouse, right?

Well, the day after I bought the above from Ditto’s website, we determined I’d actually be going down to Brighton later that week, so I stopped into their store on the Saturday morning and picked up two more fabrics (along with a good gossip with Ditto’s lovely owner, Gil!).

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Peach silk shell blouse

4 October 2011, 14:53

As I mentioned last week, I made this blouse the weekend we got back from Hungary. It was a really quick make, with only a few seams and minimal closures, so even including some thread tracing and french seams didn’t really lengthen the project time. In other words, it was exactly the sort of project I needed right after a holiday!

Burda 09/2010 #110 is the sleeveless version of this top and one of the, oh, eleven must-sews for me from this September 2010 issue. It’s been one of my absolute favourite issues since the moment it came out, so it was nice to make something other than the cover dress for once!

I mostly made this to coordinate with my upcoming grey wool skirt suit, but with our unexpected hot and sunny October (29C/88F!!!) in London, you’ll get it see it worn now in a summer style, paired with my silver tweed KnipMode skirt. I imagine the weather will cool off enough by the time I finish the suit that you’ll get to see it layered underneath the jacket as I intended!

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A silk chrysanthemum Sorbetto blouse

8 July 2011, 14:11

Every now and then I mention a few people from my personal life when they enter into my sewing world for whatever reason, but regular readers will probably recognise the name of “Neighbour Helen” more than most. As a neighbour, close friend, and convenient fashion industry alumni, she’s helped me assess muslins, balance proportions, learn how to rotate darts, and she even drew the amazing illustration for my free ruffled wristlet pattern!

So I was very saddened to hear that she and her husband are moving their barge to France in a few weeks’ time, to travel through the French canals for the foreseeable future (ok, saddened and jealous!). Since it was also her birthday, my gift to her was to make her a silk blouse of her choosing.

She chose the gorgeous chrysanthemum silk that was leftover from my blouse and I even let her try mine on, but she felt my top was too blousy for her and requested a simple shell instead.

So I turned to the new (and free!) Colette Patterns Sorbetto top!

I made a few changes, though – the most obvious is that I eliminated the central pleat (which would have been too busy with the large scale print), and I lengthened hem by 3” as others said this came up short.

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The silk chrysanthemum blouse

1 July 2011, 13:58

As I discussed in my post on “pedestal fabrics” last week, I’ve had a ridiculously gorgeous silver and black chrysanthemum print silk in my stash ever since AllisonC gifted it to me two years ago when I was about to go into hospital.

But I’d brought it out again recently and thought about how I’d best like to wear it and I decided that I love and wear my silk blouses so much (and my birthday blouse in particular!) that I should sew this into a blouse to get the most wear and love out of this “pedestal fabric”!

In this case I chose to use the same pattern as my birthday blouse, Manequim Feb 2011 #158, because it fits great, I love the style, and I knew it worked well with a drapey silk.

You know what? I am so happy I took the plunge and cut into this fabric, because I just adore this blouse!

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A drapey colourblock top

24 June 2011, 13:51

I’m a big fan of the occasional “quick knit top”, but this time around, I wanted a knit top with a more challenging design to give my brain more of a 3-D spatial workout.

I was really intrigued by the pieces for KnipMode June 2011 #15 when I first saw the magazine, and even after tracing it out and laying the paper pieces together, I still wasn’t 100% sure how they were going to fit together.

I thought it best to make this up using scrap fabrics (just in case!), so I pulled out a couple of those awkward, less than 1m offcut fabrics from my stash:

To be honest, while I enjoyed the challenge of constructing the design, I wasn’t so sure about how the design would look on me throughout the entire construction. But as soon as I tried it on for the first time, I was struck by how well my colourblocking worked, and how nicely Jonathan Saunders the look is!

I get to tick three separate SS11 trends here – colourblocking, muted hues, AND volume! All in one top!

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Lowering the Pedestal

22 June 2011, 14:03

Can we take a moment to talk about “pedestal fabrics”? You know the ones – you saw it in a shop, it was too gorgeous to not buy, but now it’s too gorgeous to cut into? And now that you’ve put it up on that pedestal, it just sits in your stash, making you sigh with its beauty but ashamed that you haven’t used it yet…

I don’t often have this problem, but I have recognised that I’ve done this with a particular silk in my stash, a ridiculously gorgeous silk in a silver and black chrysanthemum print. It was a gift from AllisonC when I was about to go into hospital, and I initially didn’t cut into it because I’d gained some weight from my illness and I didn’t want to waste it on something that wouldn’t fit in a few months.

But I’ve been back to my usual size for a good year now, and it continued to sit in my stash, until I finally cut into it this weekend. It took some doing, but here’s some thoughts that helped me overcome this:

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Silver silk jersey Lekala cowl top

17 June 2011, 14:42

I feel like I made this top so long ago, but the delay in showing it to you really wasn’t my fault! First it got delayed for a week while I went and bought more grey topstitching thread for the shoulder bands (and then immediately afterwards I found my other spool inside the case of my vintage hand crank Singer machine! Isn’t that always the way??), and then I had another week delay in taking photos while we waited for a break in the awful weather (mid-50sF and rainy for the past week, guh).

But cast your mind back with me and you’ll recall that I chose Lekala 4020, only I opted to create echoing sleeve bands on the back to decrease the “coffin back” look:

I’ve got full instructions on this pattern alteration and my order of construction coming shortly (honestly, they’re ready to go – I made the wise decision to write them right after making mine), so if you like the design and you’re roughly a Burda size 44, you may want to snap up this pattern while size 44s are free on Lekala’s site for another few days….

I made this top using some more offcuts of silver silk jersey, either leftover from Gez’s bridesmaid dress or from my sister-in-law’s LMB tunic, I’m not entirely sure which. But this stuff is so lush and drapey and easy to wear that I just can’t bear to let a single scrap go to waste! And the cowl neck here definitely benefits from a nice, drapey fabric, too.

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Flashes of gold and silver

31 May 2011, 15:18

the gold


Yesterday I ran a 10km running race to celebrate my 2nd rebirthday of my bone marrow transplant (well, it’s a month early but this race is so much nicer than the July one I ran last year!).

The race went really well, and I truly gave it EVERYTHING I had, running the first 4 kilometers at an astonishingly fast 5min per km pace, and then I tailed back to a bit more realistic 5:30/km pace until the last 200 meters, when I gave an all out sprint for the finish!

Like last year, I ran with the memory of my three departed BMT friends firmly in my mind – this was for Vera, Rob, and David, who fought so so hard, and who even today inspire me to push and fight even harder on their behalf.

I wasn’t quite sure how well I did until I viewed the official chip times on the website last night… 51:21!! That’s only 7 seconds off my pre-illness Personal Best! I really was only trying to beat last year’s time of 53:38, and I honestly didn’t think I’d come anywhere close to that magical 51 minute point for me!

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(Vote for my) March Mini Wardrobe

4 April 2011, 12:45

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was first laying out my initial plans for this mini wardrobe, but now I’ve had some time to step back and have a look over what I managed to accomplish last month. I made this wardrobe mostly for myself, to use some luscious fabrics from my stash in combination with patterns that really appealed to me, but I also kept one eye on the contest requirements running over at PaternReview.com to make sure I remained within their rules, too. Here’s my entry into their contest, or you can just read on below…

I started with a blue viscose, draped knit top that I’d bought from ASOS and really liked, but I wanted to wear with both casual and dressy bottoms.

To coordinate, I sewed:

1. Jalie jeans – I’d made a muslin but the waistband was horrible so I had my work cut out for me on this pair using great quality stretch denim from Mood in NYC, plus some London streetsign fabric for the waistband facings and pockets. I used my vintage hand crank Singer machine for all the topstitching, plus I got to use my vintage buttonholer attachment and high quality rivets for the first time! I fixed all the waistband issues in this pair and these are now my favourite jeans. Read more…

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Manequim silk birthday blouse

25 March 2011, 12:49

I love this blouse!

It all started in Paris last June when I saw this amazingly gorgeous silk satin (charmeuse) in Tissues Dreyfus that I just had to have. But it was €22/m (zoot alors!) so I only bought 1 metre. But even now I still love it love it love it love it so it was worth it worth it worth it!

Ever since, I kept my eyes open for a good blouse pattern that only needed 1 metre of fabric, and along came Manequim Feb 2011 #158, which called for exactly the amount I had – 1 metre long and 150cm wide!

These two were clearly meant to be together! I don’t often do prints, but this one is just so gorgeous with the psuedo-floral/paint splatters of silver, black, orange, and fuschia that I wanted it to form both the centrepiece of my March Mini Wardrobe as well as be my special birthday garment this year!

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Silver silk jersey tunic

14 March 2011, 12:10

Cast your mind back a year ago, when I totally raved over a certain Plus-sized La Mia Boutique tunic pattern (La Mia Boutique 12-2009 #19)…

This pattern was SO in the style of my sister-in-law, Aileen, that I proposed it to her right away, and even made the muslin for her almost exactly a year ago! Thankfully I made all the changes to the pattern as soon as I got home from the fitting session, and I even bought the silver silk jersey she wanted from Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road… But then I totally lost momentum and the altered pattern pieces have been hanging on my pattern rack making me feel guilty ever since!

So about 3 weeks ago, I finally sucked it up and made this for her (rather belated) birthday gift. All in all, it only took an afternoon from fabric cutting to completion – why didn’t I just do this months ago! We finally visited Aileen yesterday to give this to her, so I can now post about it. I didn’t get to see her in it since she had her hands full with her 6 year old’s birthday party, but she texted later last night to say it fits well and she loves it, so hopefully I’ll get to see it at some later family gathering!

Until then, you’ll have to make do with Susan modelling:

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Foldover wool trousers

9 February 2011, 13:55

Let me start by saying that I hate drop-crotch trousers! Hate.

These are not drop-crotch trousers.

I chose these because the crotch is where it should be – they are in no way “Hammer pants”, let’s be clear about that! But there’s a large pleat that runs from the right knee up to the mid-left waistband that creates the drapey folded roominess instead.

I was instantly drawn to KnipMode 01/2011 #5 when I saw it, but since I made these I realise that the idea must’ve been stewing in my subconscious for quite some time, as carottesauvage made an awesome similar pair last year, Burda magazine actually had something similar in the Plus section back in August, and KnipMode had a less severe draped version all the way back in September 2009(!) that I found going back through my archives.

So even though these feel absolutely bleedin’ cutting edge, the idea has been floating around for a while now. I made these with a gorgeously soft made in 80% wool / 20% acrylic flannel (bought from Fabric.com in Dec 2008 for $14/yard) that tends to look either pale green, slate blue, or even brownish depending on the light. In order to shield my skin from the wool and prevent the knees from bagging out, I entirely underlined these in black silk/cotton voile. I had to hand baste these two layers together to keep them nicely aligned and not bubbling, and this took a couple of evenings.

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The Winter Coat

10 January 2011, 13:41

Hooray, my winter coat is finally finished! As you may have seen with all the coat sewing activity going on around the internet lately, making your own coat is no mean feat! While you’re perfectly able to take some shortcuts, it’s still a several week time investment no matter how you look at it. It’s for this reason that lots of us chose to sew them over the holidays, as it doesn’t feel like quite such a long ordeal if you’ve got several full days to devote to it at one stretch.

If you remember, I used Patrones 285 #29, but with the collar from #28 and major changes to the pockets so that I can easily put my hands inside while I walk to work (which I did today wearing it! yay!). After a muslin, the main changes I made were to lower the waist seam to match my natural waist, shorten and widen the front darts, add walking ease to the lower centre front, and change the pocket design.

I’ve already made a lengthy post about the coat construction and hair canvas interfacing, plus tons of HAWT handstitching action, so if you’re interested in the couture techniques I used or some interior shots of the coat shell, please click through before reading on…

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The Winter Coat - construction

4 January 2011, 13:10

About a year ago I bought some gorgeous, ex-Burberry wool coating fabric from Ditto with plans to eventually make another winter coat. The muted turquoise wool has a patterned herringbone weave on one side but it’s also very thick and un-drapey but has the advantage of not fraying at all (almost like a boiled wool or Melton).

The fabric is so thick that I knew had to choose my pattern wisely, leaving out coats with lots of pleats or gathers that would’ve meant lots of bulk here.

As soon as I saw the Armani knockoff coat in the September Burda issue, I thought I’d found the match for my fabric, but as you recall, that pattern was just downright awful. So I started looking through my coat patterns again for something suitable, and Claire (Seemane) suggested I combine Patrones 285 #29 with some elements of the other coats in that issue, which is more or less what I ended up doing (though I need to change my tech drawing here to show the applied welt pockets I finally decided on rather than buttoned welts).

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Happy 2011!

1 January 2011, 00:15

My favourites of 2010:

Standout moments in sewing land:

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Our DIY wedding - the dresses, makeup, and final photos

26 October 2010, 13:17

Either groan or rejoice, but this is the last of the wedding posts!

The bridesmaids dresses


If you cast your mind back, you’ll remember the selection process, how I fitted and then hand-pleated, the lined, silk jersey dresses for my two bridesmaids, but even after I finished them, there wasn’t a chance to see either P or G wearing their dresses, let alone together!

It was really nice on the wedding day to be able to see both of my great friends looking so happy and nice, and comfortable, too, in the bridesmaids dresses I made for them.

Their colour choices really suited them both, too, and even though I offered to shorten them after the wedding, I know P (in purple) is definitely keeping hers as a wonderfully posh maxidress. (S was my Man of Honour, but no, I didn’t make his suit!)

My dress


You’ve seen it in pieces and finally, in comparison with my grandmother’s original gown, but here’s some more photos where you can see the seamlines particularly well:

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Our DIY wedding - refashioning my grandmother's gown

11 October 2010, 13:30

I’ve got many, many more wedding photos to come, but as I was slowly going through all the photos from friends and our professional photographer, I realised that there were a lot of parallel poses between my grandparents’ photos and ours.

Big thanks to my Dad for taking the time to scan in my grandparents’ wedding album in hi-res format, and also to our truly INCREDIBLE and AMAZING wedding photographer, Paul Tanner. I’m pretty sure he was the best money we’ve ever spent.

Confetti toss:

Post ceremony posing:

Walking back down the aisle:

Cutting the cake:

Pre-wedding girly preparations:

If you’re new to this site, let me back up a minute and explain what went on here. First of all, yes, I sewed my own wedding gown. But that would be too easy (ha!), so I decided to sew it from my grandmother’s gown.

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Final wedding "in progress" update

15 September 2010, 13:18

This will be the last update you’ll get before the wedding on Saturday, so after this it’ll all be finished photos, which is rather exciting!

I almost winced trying on my gown for the final time on Monday night – I thought for certain there’d be some niggling problem I’d have to fix, but no, phew! Everything’s still good. My sister-in-law marked out a nice curve in the train, trimmed it to within an inch or so of the pins, and then I did the hem last night. As it turns out, I’ve still got a good two feet of train left, and the thumb loop is intact, so I’ll be able to easily lift it up for the dancefloor.

The original hem was just a narrow turned hem that’s stitched by machine, so I did the same thing on the new area to keep it consistent. First I folded the allowance over so the fold was at the marked hem line, and I machine stitched as close to the edge as I could get. I pressed this (with the indispensable silk organza press cloth!), then carefully trimmed away the allowance as close to the stitching as possible. I then folded over the hem again and stitched about 1/8” away from the edge, then gave it another good pressing.

But this wasn’t the only hem I sewed last night, no no! I also hemmed both bridesmaids dresses! My sister-in-law was a huge help here, too, by hand basting the hem of each dress very close to the cut edge of the fabric. So when it came time for me to send them through the coverstitch machine, not only did I have a nice line to follow, but the basting kept the silk jersey from twisting underneath like it loves to do.

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DIY Wedding Gown - Fitting

3 September 2010, 14:30

Pip came round last night for dinner, drinks, holiday food exchange (French cheese from me and Greek nougat from her!), and her final fitting on her bridesmaid dress.

If you cast your mind back to April and May, her gown is the long, purple, silk jersey Gant exclusive design gown from the Sept 2008 Burda magazine.

I’d completed the gowns back in May, but I left off the tiny covered buttons on the cummerbund and finishing the hem until closer to the day so that they wouldn’t have to worry about gaining or losing a few pounds, or deciding on different shoes before now!

Happily, Pip’s gown fits her perfectly, with minimal overlap at the cummerbund, and really her hem was just about perfect with her chosen heels. But then we realised that if she switched to her comfort flip-flops on the dancefloor, the hem would drag, so I’m going to pull up the hem by an inch.

Then Pip wanted to see me in my gown, and since I hadn’t tried it on since the skirt was attached, I felt it was a good idea. But even though I was capable of wrestling into the boned bodice before, it was proving impossible (and more than a little claustrophobic) with the attached skirt. It was apparent that I had to remove the brass bar at the top of the zipper to allow the top to fully open and give me extra room to squeeze into the gown. I’d thought I might have to, but I kept it in until now since it wasn’t a problem. So now I’ll just need to add one or more hook and eyes to the top of the zipper to keep it all in place.

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Honeymoon lingerie - two more nightgown muslins

30 August 2010, 20:20

After my first muslin of a potential honeymoon nightgown knocked that pattern out of the running, I turned to the slip dress pattern (#219) from the May 2010 issue of Manequim magazine as my next candidate.

This is a simple bias dress with bust darts and bias edge on the neckline. The pattern calls for you to have two lengths of bias edging – the longer one finishes the neckline from the front bust peak, under the arms, around the back and up to the other bust peak. The shorter length of bias finishes the neckline in the centre front portion and continues up to form the straps. Since I didn’t have any suitable lightweight muslin in my stash, I sacrificed this bamboo-printed Robert Kauffman cotton I’d bought on a binge at equilter.com about 6-7 years ago. I hadn’t decided what to do with it between then and now so I figured it’d be good for a wearable muslin.

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DIY Wedding Gown - attaching the bodice and skirt

28 August 2010, 14:27

Finally I can give you another progress report on the wedding gown! Don’t worry, as you can see below, I’ve been continuing to work on it on my weekends and Wedsnesdays, so I’ve got a lot of progress to cover!

For the first time I got to turn my attentions to the skirt, which is exactly as it was when it was attached to Granny’s dress, albeit separated from the bodice at the (very gathered) waist seam. But there was a prominent blue stain in the centre front (CF) panel at about thigh-height from the blue tissue paper it was wrapped in for 60+ years, so the first step was to unpick and remove that entire panel. I then moved the two triangular sections that had been on either side of it together to form a new CF:

I actually prefer the way these two look together, forming a beautiful triangular, almost art-Deco detail at the CF!

But back to the bodice, where I had completed prickstitching along the entire neck and arm edges. I just free-handed this without my post-it guide and I actually think this looks better than my zipper insertion!

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Bridal bodice - buttons, lining and shopping!

16 August 2010, 14:35

Ok after that little lingerie diversion (and a day spent being filmed for BBC1!), we’re back on the wedding gown!

First up was a quick fitting of the shell with all the boning pieces inserted and the waist stay hooked. And I can breathe a sigh of relief, because it’s looking good. A tiny bit of horizontal pulls around the zipper (which can be fixed by laying off the ice cream a bit) and a bit of boning show-through at the centre front (which I’m going to hold off worrying about for now, but I may just shorten that boning piece so it stops below the bust).

So I can push on ahead, safe in the knowledge that there’s no major fitting issues…

First up – I sewed on all 13 original covered buttons along the right side’s zipper, matching up with the original satin loops I placed along the overlap during the zipper insertion step.

On the surface, these look like ordinary covered buttons, but look at the underside!

I’ve never seen buttons like this before in my life! Instead of a shank with a hole, there’s a mound of stuffed fabric to sew through! What a strange vintage detail! I’ve learned so much from taking the original gown apart…

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Bridal bodice - finishing the edges, waist stay, and zipper

5 August 2010, 17:44

The next step in my epic wedding gown project was to properly finish the neckline and armhole edges in advance of the lining. Instead of most lined garments where you construct the outer shell, construct the inner shell, then place the two together, right sides facing and sew around the opening edges, in this case Bridal Couture advises us to construct the outer shell, fold in the opening edge seam allowances, then create the lining, with the opening edges similarly folded inside, and then place the two together wrong sides facing and very carefully fell-stitch along the opening edges, prickstitching the lining where necessary.

So here are the neckline and armhole opening edges, nicely clipped, pressed, and catchstitched:

The next step was to add the waist stay, tacked to the boning channels with bottom edge of grosgrain on the marked waistline:

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Bridal bodice - Piping and basting

30 July 2010, 13:45

…in which I work with more piping than a plumber and more basting than a Thanksgiving dinner!

When I last checked in, I had cut and prepped all the pieces of the bodice, so it was now the point in my plan to sort out the piping if I was going to do so (and you’ve probably rightly concluded from the title that I did!). I had about 80cm of piping from the original dress’s waist seam, but I realised this wouldn’t be enough to pipe both sides of pieces #2 and #7 like I’d planned. So before I could do anything, I had to make some piping!

Luckily, the dress’s collar pieces were nice and long and on the bias, so this was a piece of cake. I cut four strips of 5cm wide and joined the edges together to make one long strip, then inserted my 2m of satin rattail and ran the whole thing through the sewing machine with the zipper foot.

But as I’ve already established, I can’t be making errant needle holes nor can I afford to use the seam ripper any more than what’s absolutely necessary, so in order to get the piping inserted perfectly on the first try, some hand basting was in order.

First, I basted the piping to one of the pieces, aligning the piping’s stitches with the basted seam lines:

And I did that for all four piped seams:

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Bridal bodice - Prepping the pieces

28 July 2010, 17:57

I finally got the muslin fixed and finished! Thanks for all your advice, though I haven’t had a chance to reply to hardly any of you, for which I do apologise…

Muslin #3 changes –

  1. Unpinned the shoulder change, took off the waist stay, and since it seemed to be pulling everything upwards before, I reasoned that it must be too low. I repinned it a little higher and everything seemed to sit nicely and correct those weird problems it threw up before.

  2. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – I detest Rigilene boning! Only someone who hates women could’ve come up with those tiny, needle-like implements of torture. My spiral steel boning for the finished dress arrived and it just feels wonderful.

  3. No one actually came up with the fix I needed for piece #3’s weird bubble. As it turns out I just needed to flatten the curve a bit below the inset corner. (Before and After are below)

  4. There’s no way I’m muslining the skirt. It’d literally take a whole week of sewing time to even approximate the panels on the existing skirt, plus the drape and weight of the muslin fabric is totally different, and it won’t achieve much of anything I won’t learn in the actual skirt attachment anyway. End of story.

  5. Yes, I know about wearing proper undergarments. I’ve been wearing the bra I intend to wear on the day all along (though I got sharpie on it during my muslin marking process so I need to buy another copy of it, boo.). I was not being serious about the push up bra.

So with the muslin done, on with the dress itself!! Hurrah!

First step was to lay the pattern pieces onto the wrong side of my flannel underlining, fuzzy side down (I’d been transferring all my changes onto them and I prefer paper with no seam allowances over muslin with allowances). Once pinned in place, I then chalked the seam lines, waist, centre back and fronts, and the two notches onto it. Then I cut out the pieces with eyeballed seam allowances (when you’re dealing with seamlines, the size of the allowances are largely unimportant).

Next I laid the flannel pieces onto the wrong side of the satin, pinning only in the seam allowances because all the pin holes show on this fabric.

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Yet another bridal bodice muslin

23 July 2010, 13:45

I’m no big fan of muslins and fitting tweaks, so the title is really reflecting my impatience at still being in the fitting stage. I want to get on with the fun stuff! But I also really want to get the fit and design perfect here as I can’t really go unpicking the vintage satin (the needle holes remain), so here I am, still soldiering on, though hopefully not for much longer…

Yesterday was my day off so I devoted pretty much the entire day to this dress. Right after breakfast I made up Muslin #2 (not shown because no one was around to photograph me), which incorporated the neckline changes and better-drafted add-on straps. There’s no photos, but essentially, I just needed to pinch some fabric out in three places, which you can see here shaded in orange on my pattern pieces:

So I made those changes to my paper pattern, unpicked pieces 1 and 3 from the muslin, cut new ones out, and reattached them, bringing us to Muslin #3. And I was pretty happy with the fit, apart from a bulge above my right breast which I immediately knew the cause of and fixed it on the paper pattern.

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Bridal planning update

16 July 2010, 14:36

Apologies but this is a bit of a “brain dump” post as I’m understandably a bit frazzled right now, with the BurdaStyle book deadline looming on top of wedding planning and everything else I seem to list every time I post (ahh, just thinking about it is starting to stress me out, sorry!).

So I haven’t done much tangible work on my gown since I last updated because I’ve been focusing on getting the BS book dress done since it has a more immediate deadline, but I’ve been doing lots of mental sewing on the gown. Which, you’ll remember, is half the battle for me. So I took an evening out to read (really read and digest!) through “Bridal Couture” by Susan Khalje and the OOP Palmer/Pletsch “Bridal Gowns—How to Make the Wedding Dress of Your Dreams” book (the former being way way more useful than the latter IMHO). I placed copious amounts of Post-It notes sticking out the edges at places I want to refer back to later.

I’m also really glad I ended up taking that PR online Underlining class a few months ago now!! Though I just looked to see if I could link to the Underlining class somehow, and I noticed Susan Khalje herself is teaching a “Wedding Gowns 101” class starting Aug 15. If it were a few months earlier, I’d have jumped all over it, but you need time to devote to the classes most evenings and I’ll need all the time I can get to work on my gown!

After reading through the two books I had everything mostly straight in my head about this dress, but the boning placement still puzzled me because my pattern doesn’t have any obvious vertical seaming to place the boning along, and all three examples in Bridal Couture had some sort of princess seaming. Luckily for me, it was easily solved on the PR messageboard and by this Susan Khalje article, so I’ve got a full gameplan in my head now for the dress!

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Vintage wedding gown photos

5 July 2010, 16:30

So you’ve already seen a bunch of detailed photos of my Granny’s gown (from 1949) laid out flat, but I wanted some on a real person so you could really see the style lines and how it falls. And this way I can get some nice Before and After shots when I refashion it into my gown for September.

Big big big HUGE thanks to my neighbour Kate who not only fit into this tiny dress (respect!) but actually humoured me and let me take photos of her in it to post to the internet (Secretly, I think she had fun!). Kate’s also engaged and I was thrilled to learn that she’s not having wedding colours, either!

So let the vintage dress photos commence!

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Well-travelled silks

3 July 2010, 20:07

Yay! My friend Shasha was in Malaysia recently and she went to the massive Gulati’s fabric store and brought me back some silks!

I must’ve coached her well because she bought 2m each of this gorgeous turquoise silk satin which coordinates perfectly with the blue floral silk jacquard. You can tell she’s got such the eye for colour because these two just look like they’re born to be sewn together, and she said she thought the blues would go well with my colouring. You can see bigger photos of each on their on in my fabric stash gallery.

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Bridal Bodice update

1 July 2010, 14:26

When you last heard about my wedding gown, it was two years ago(!!) and I was leaning towards turning my Granny’s gown from 1949 into something with a cowl neck, deep back, and sleek lines, using Vogue 2965 as my starting point.

But recently I’ve been looking more closely at the fabric I’ve got to work with in my grandmother’s gown, and my recent cowl sewing adventure has reminded me that cowl necks need pretty huge amounts of fabric, can’t easily be pieced together, and on top of that, the silk satin in her gown is more of the heavyweight duchesse variety than something very drapey that would cowl nicely. And while I love a low back, it does make things awkward for bras and any sort of shapewear, too.

So I had a bit of a wake up call and told one of my bridesmaids to keep reminding me that “This is just one dress. It is not all dresses.” (thanks, Stacy!). Yes, I like cowls. But I also like other things, too. And I do not need to put everything I like into one dress!

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How to sew a narrow bias edge

21 June 2010, 14:04

I had a busy yet productive weekend – not only did I finish my Colette Patterns Beignet skirt, but I also made the Patrones 292 sleeveless bias cowl top, too! I didn’t have enough time for a photoshoot over the weekend, but I did remember to finally document my favourite way of finishing the edges of thin blouses like the cowl top so I can finally share this with you.

This technique is great for necklines and armscyes on sleeveless tops, and is my preferred way to finish any kind of blousey, lightweight fabrics like silk satins and the viscose (rayon) you see here. You get a thin, finished edge that looks good inside and out with a minimum of fuss, and you don’t have that awkward problem of facings flipping out or anything, either. As long as you’re okay with a small amount of topstitching on the right side, this is the technique for you…

So before we begin, sew one of your seams so you’ve got a C-shape. If you’re finishing a neckline, this means you sew one of the shoulder seams. I’m finishing the armscye of a sleeveless blouse here, so in this case I’m sewing both shoulder seams, leaving the side seams free.

Step 1



Cut out a bias strip that’s the length of your opening edge, plus a few centimetres just to be sure. For the width, I prefer a finished facing of just 1cm, so my width here is 1cm + (2× 1.5cm seam allowances) = 4cm.

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Bridesmaids dresses - finished!

27 May 2010, 14:00

Both bridesmaids dresses for my September wedding are now finished! Since I’m sewing both of these plus my own gown, I stipulated that these had to be knit so that I could sew them early and my girls could feel free to gain or lose a few pounds without too much last-minute alterations hassle.

To refresh your memory, the three of us chose the Gant exclusive design dress from the Sept 08 Burda magazine:

The previous posts about these dresses spanned over a year (from our pre-illness, original wedding date), so to help you find them, here’s a handy list:


  1. Choosing the pattern

  2. Going fabric shopping and choosing their colours

  3. Tackling those pleated cummerbunds

  4. Finishing the first dress

Here are both dresses together, so you can see how nicely their colours will go together on the day:

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Bridesmaids dresses - I pleat the fifth

10 May 2010, 15:18

While I’ve been showing you all sorts of books and magazine reviews and drafting up free bag patterns for you, what’s been going on in the sewing room, I hear you ask! Well, I set aside April and May to sew my two bridesmaids dresses, and after a long muslin period, I’ve been getting stuck in with the most time consuming portion of the dresses first – the pleated, silk satin (charmeuse) waistband/cummerbunds.

If you recall, I’m sewing the Gant exclusive design dress from the 09/08 Burda magazine:

The fabrics were bought over a year ago, so I fished out the bag and got to work on the reeeeeeeally long pleated sections using Burda’s magazine instructions (which are surprisingly helpful) and a bit of info from my The Art of Manipulating Fabric book (thanks, Cindy!). These are knife pleats, one centimeter apart, and Burda called for seven pleats down the band, but after my test piece, it looked a bit sparse at the top and bottom edges, so I decided to go for eight pleats in the final versions.

So in order to help any of you attempting this on your own (and sadly, a Perfect Pleater is way too narrow to help me here), or those of you wondering why professional designers outsource their pleating to professional firms, here’s what’s involved…

How to pleat

Step 1 – On the reverse of the fabric to be pleated, mark chalk lines exactly 3cm apart, one for every “mountain” pleat.

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The LMB draped birthday dress

25 March 2010, 11:36

Today is my birthday! Every year I like to make myself something new to celebrate in, and this year I’ve paired some luscious teal silk jersey from Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road (at £16/m) with a gorgeous draped dress from the Feb 2010 La Mia Boutique magazine, #6:

We thought we’d make the extra effort here to give you all a show of our neighbourhood with the dress…

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Champagne silk yoked blouse

20 January 2010, 21:47

Believe it or not, this blouse is my last project from 2009, and I wanted something both simple and silk, which isn’t a common combination! But the cover blouse from Patrones 276, #3 was exactly right:

Apart from being a really nice easy-going top, this pattern only has three pieces – lower front, lower back, and a yoke that’s got a slit opening at the back and goes over the shoulders seamlessly to the front. So not only is it great for <1/2m cuts of coordinating silks, but the yoke is perfect for prints you don’t want to interrupt with seams. And if you’ve got a healthy trim stash (which I’m strangely not really into), then the ribbon across the front provides the perfect showcase.

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Silk tartan overblouse

15 November 2009, 17:22

Sorry for the delays in posting these photos, but I really wanted to do some proper photoshoots, and last week I had 8 hospital appointments in 5 days, and it gets dark by 4pm now in London so it makes matters even more difficult!

But if you’ll recall, my neighbour Helen gifted me a bunch of fabric from her fashion school days earlier this year. You’ve already seen her wool tweed turned into a skirt, but now’s the chance for the silk to shine! I had a browse through my vast pattern magazine archive and discovered that overblouse 114 from the Nov 08 BWOF (on the right in the first photo below) was the perfect design as it actually called for the exact type fabric I had, and it didn’t have any fiddly button openings that would make a clean finish difficult here, either.

This silk is a semi-sheer crepe chiffon, with a wonderful tartan printed onto it. This was printed onto the fabric after it was made, as opposed to most tartans which are made with the pattern woven into it with different coloured thread. The extra cool thing here is that the tartan is actually printed on the bias, which gives so much more interest to a fairly plain top, without adding any visual width that a wide horizontal stripe might give to the wearer.

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Patrones spring coat

29 May 2009, 07:15

By now, you should be fully familiar with Patrones #261-17, the spring duffle coat I’m making in turqouise basketweave wool…

After all, first it won the public vote, then you heard about how I bulk fused the tricky wool, then you saw all about my muslin and the resulting fit alterations, then you saw how I dealt with the tricky hood seam allowances and finally, last week you got a chance to see the bound buttonholes and the finished shell.

I’ve been concentrating on assembling the lining (and the lining pocket) all weekend, and finally finished all the handsewing at Monday night’s moorings crafty club!

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Gold silk Eclair dress (and bonus purple bow tie!)

11 May 2009, 14:22

Sorry for the delay – I finished the Colette Patterns “Eclair” dress last week but couldn’t quite squeeze in a photoshoot until we were actually at the wedding venue on Saturday (the very nice London Canal Museum in King’s Cross. Though all the tiny canal boats made me feel like the 50 Foot Woman in comparison!).

If you recall from the previous post describing the invisible zipper details, I’m making this newly released dress pattern in gold silk crepe, with aubergine silk crepe ties and gold silk habotai lining.

I was a beta-tester for this new pattern company, so mine was only a rough photocopied draft, but it was enough for me to see that this is a definite keeper! I’m really jealous now after seeing the finished storybook packaging that I almost want to buy it again, just to have a pattern as beautiful as the dress itself!

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The disappearing silk zipper

28 April 2009, 12:26

The Colette Patterns “Eclair” dress is not a quick, one-weekend project, but it’s well worth taking my time over and going through all the careful steps in the instructions to get a nice finish. I inserted the side, invisible zipper last night (more on that in a second), so now I only have to attach the lining to the zipper tape, stitch in the ditch along the waistband to join the shell and lining, and hem the two skirts! I’m doing well on time, too, since the wedding’s not until May 9th and I’ve got a bank holiday between now and then, too.

So here’s the invisible zipper on the side seam (yes, I am rather proud of matching the waist seam there!):

You can’t tell on the tech drawing, but this dress has inseam pockets, too, and the instructions have a very clever way of dealing with the pocket, side seam, and invisible zipper area that makes it all nice and neat!

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Parklife!

22 April 2009, 13:07

Yesterday I had an all-day hospital visit, but instead of being the super dull day I was dreading, it actually turned into the most relaxed and chilled day I’ve had in months! Some women go to the spa, I go to Nuclear Medicine for a bit of radioactivity, ha.

Part of the day was that I had two hours free before having to report back in, so instead of wandering around Camberwell, I went into the big park next to the hospital. We’re having absolutely gorgeous weather in London right now, and everyone was out with their babies and dogs, having impromptu picnics and tennis matches, so I found myself an empty picnic table and brought out my embroidery. Here’s my view of my project, and of my view of the bandstand:

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30th Birthday Dress - completed!

25 March 2009, 07:25

Happy birthday to me!!

Today is my 30th birthday, and as such, I’ve made Burda WOF 03/09 #116 in emerald green silk charmeuse (satin) to wear to my big party on Saturday night!

I tested this pattern a few weeks ago and wrote all about the fitting and muslin work here, and thanks to popular opinion, I did indeed take a wedge out of the back seam to get rid of the swayback wrinkles. Apart from that, I kept the fit the same!

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30th Birthday dress - muslin

9 March 2009, 13:12

My 30th birthday is fast approaching, and even though I make myself something special every year to wear on the day, this year I wanted to sew a fabulous dress using some emerald green silk charmeuse (satin) I’d bought years ago and stashed away in the hopes that someday I’d recreate that Atonement dress. I was really excited to see in the Burda WOF March online previews that there was a dress that suited me perfectly – gorgeous gathered, yoked shoulders with floaty sleeves, falling down into a deep V neck with a swooshy gored skirt and plenty of back detail, and shown in my chosen fabric – Burda WOF 03/09 #116.

The timing would be tight, though, since I usually only receive my subscription copy on the 15th or so of the month, but I thought I could pull it off. But then Burda updated the website with the full information, showing it was a *&£@^% petite pattern! Argh! It’s always the way that the designs you like the most aren’t in your size, and with the timeline, I really didn’t think this was meant to be…

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Bridesmaids' choice

30 January 2009, 11:47

The bridesmaids have chosen their dress design! The only parameters I gave them were that it had to be a knit dress (no way am I undergoing extensive fittings for them on top of my dress!), and they had to choose the same pattern. Luckily, both of them have similar body types so picking a pattern that suited them both was relatively easy!

So, drumroll….

I will be sewing up two versions of BWOF 09/08 #132, the Gant Exclusive Design dress:

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The warmest winter coat ever

14 January 2009, 11:42

I joined The Great Coat Sew Along all the way back in May because I’d never made a coat before and it seemed like a great opportunity to gather together with like-minded people and learn an awful lot, too! Even though I (and others) really fell behind on the timeline, I’m really proud to have finally finished my coat while it’s still cold out and to have learned a huge amount of techniques that I never would’ve on my own! So I owe this coat to Marji, really, for setting up and organising the Sew Along, and I’m already planning my next coat…

But for this coat, the pattern was BWOF 09/2005 #102:

I made a huge amount of alterations on the pattern: raised the waist by 1”, lengthened the arms by 1.5”, added a wedge to the lower centre front for walking ease, widened the top sleeve (and shoulder seam) by 1”, and increased all the vertical seams below the chest by about 1/2”. And then on top of all that I changed the pockets and added the interlining, too! It’s probably more alterations than I’ve done on all my other 2008 patterns combined! But as much as BWOF usually fits me straight off the sheet, this pattern didn’t really have enough wearing ease to fit big sweaters underneath…

Previous posts about this coat

Ok, ok, enough with the backstory, here’s the photos!

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Purple silk Patrones blouse

29 December 2008, 13:44

What better to round out my current purple and grey kick than by using up the silk charmeuse leftover from Pip’s purple pyjamas! I used the Toypes top pattern, #76,
from Patrones 261 (borrowed and traced from my Patrones benefactor, Zoe), which I’ve had languishing in my pattern catalogue for nearly a year now.

I had just enough fabric to make this top and a full lining, though I opted to leave out the tie waistband and instead just lengthen the bottom by two inches to compensate…

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Blue silk cocktail dress

11 December 2008, 12:30

This dress has been in the works for quite a while now, but yet again I find myself with a new cocktail dress just in time for all the Christmas parties! I first noticed BWOF 09/08 #114 when the issue’s preview came up on the website because the seaming was exactly like a Versace dress worn by Kate Moss in the Fall 2007 Versace ad campaign. Besides being a great designer knockoff pattern, I simply just loved the seaming details, though I’m not terribly keen on Burda’s styling of it as a jumper (in the American sense of the word).

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When bias met straight grain...

18 November 2008, 14:23

I’m mostly finished with BWOF 09/2008 #114 (which, you’ll remember, is the spitting image of a Versace dress) which I’m making in navy blue silk with a square neckline. The silk is really lovely and drapes beautifully, and I love how it feels, too. I’m super pleased with how the whole dress is turning out, actually, but this morning I noticed the two front seam lines are doing a funny thing towards the hem:

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Christmas gift - Luxurious silk pyjamas

3 November 2008, 14:54

I’m continuing to toil away making Christmas gifts, but due to the fact that my family and friends read this site, I can’t really get away with spoiling the surprise by posting many photos here! But my friend (and will-be bridesmaid!) Pip is a lady who knows what she wants, and who knows to get her gift requests in early, so hers isn’t a surprise at all!

She had a pair of RTW pyjamas that she really liked, except that they were made in polyester satin and she’d much rather they were made of silk for comfort’s sake. So I took her specifications and found that Jalie 2686 was almost identical to her other pair of pyjamas. On top of the fabric difference, Pip also wanted to leave off the chest pocket and turn the half-elastic, half-drawstring waist into an entirely drawstring one, both of which were easy changes with this pattern.

So I ordered the pattern, got fresh measurements from Pip, and bought some beautiful purple silk charmeuse from Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road, which (you’ll recall) I ran all the way home with.

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Crafting for Christmas

22 October 2008, 12:17

It may only be mid October, but preparations for Christmas are already well underway at Chez Fehr. The electricity feeding my sewing room was out all weekend due to a bunf junction box (fixed by James’s dad yesterday, hurrah!) so I took the opportunity to do all the non-machine prep possible while that was out.

The craft table in the saloon is usually pretty clear as it’s where I do my cutting (conveniently, I can stand down the steps at the end so I’m not bending over too much) but right now it’s full to bursting with upcoming Christmas gifts:

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I guarantee you won't buy too much

16 October 2008, 14:16

I have a surefire way to guarantee you won’t overbuy at your favourite fabric store – run home from there.

Yesterday I took the day off work because we had some important but tedious appointments in the afternoon, but I wanted to squeeze in a quick trip to Goldhawk Road to buy the silk for Pip’s christmas pyjamas, and since I run Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, I needed to work that in somehow, too. So I was whining to Pip about how I couldn’t fit it all in because it was also a low tide day (long story), and she just said “Well, why don’t you just run to the store?”.

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Irish silk

28 March 2008, 11:38

We’re still very much in the grips on winter here in London – temperatures barely above freezing, constant rain and high winds, and over Easter weekend, almost continuous hail and flurries. Ugh. I’m nearly finished with my winter sewing, but with the weather as it is, I can’t really start sewing anything for warmer weather just yet. But I was just so in love with the silk charmeuse I bought in Dublin that I ignored all common sense and sewed up Burda WOF 02/2008 #119.

Such is my dedication to all of you that I went outside for this photo shoot when it was 30F/0C with high winds. I’m not sure if you can see the goosebumps or not!

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Dude looks like a lady

26 October 2007, 22:05

As part of my FW/07 Collection, I decided to embrace the menswear trend and create a pinstripe suit, borrowing from classic tailoring, but updating it all with feminine elements.

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Silky Secretary Blouse

10 October 2007, 13:41

Following on from the jedi jacket, I thought I’d stick with Simplicity 3631 a little while longer and make a blouse using the bodice from the dress and the poofy, cuffed sleeves from the long jacket. On closer inspection, however, I realised that the jacket and coat both have raglan sleeves, which wouldn’t work to just attach to the bodice (which needs a cap sleeve). So rather than go through some extensive redrafting session, I just used a cap sleeve pattern piece from elsewhere, widened the hem, and created my own cuff to button closed at the wrist.

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Copying Keira

4 October 2007, 15:05

As part of my fabric buying spree in the States, I bought some gorgeous emerald green silk charmeuse from fabric.com, with plans to make HotPatterns’ Deco Vibe So Pretty dress. As my FW/07 collection is keeping me rather busy, I hadn’t given myself a timeline to make this dress, even though I’ve got all the materials to hand.

But last night James and I finally went to see Atonement at the cinema, and I couldn’t help but notice that the beautiful 1930s evening gown worn by Keira Knightley’s character in the film is very similar to to the dress I’d already planned!

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Smock the boat (Don't smock the boat, baby)

6 May 2007, 23:33

Smocks have been in for the last few seasons now, but I finally got around to sewing this one up last week. I very happily used up some fabrics from my stash, a stripey polyester-rayon with a nice fluid drape, and the remains of an emerald raw silk that’s also been in a top for Gez and the lining of my Yamamoto jacket. The pattern was actually for a 34 inch bust (I’m 38”), but after deliberating whether to grade up the pattern or make a muslin, I did a very un-me thing and opted to throw all caution to the wind and just make it up as-is since it probably had a ton of ease in it anyway. And I’m glad I did, because my gamble paid off – I love the way it fits, and the only time it seems too small is squeezing my big head through the neck opening!

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Diamonds and silver

28 November 2006, 12:16

What better way to celebrate the start of the Christmas party season than with a luxe new top that shimmers in the lights? I made Burda 8132c for the pre-launch of BurdaStyle.com, a new community-based sewing site that’s launching in December 2006. I’ve written up a TON of tips and tricks for the site, so I’ll amend this article with a link to those once it goes live.

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Hello, 'moto!

17 October 2006, 09:16

I downloaded this jacket pattern by designer Yohji Yamamoto a few years ago, but I never really got any further than that until I discovered a late-open Kinkos in central London that could large-format print the free pdf for me (because, frankly, I have better things to do with my time than print and tape together 54 sheets of A4 paper!). With the pattern in hand, it was only a matter of days before this jacket was keeping me warm.

This jacket is such an interesting design – it only has two pattern pieces, and can be worn two different ways. I’m actually not sure which way I prefer it, so I’ll let you all decide (leave a comment telling me which view you prefer!).

View A:

View B:

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