New Look 6000- swirly version!

So, what did I actually wear to Royal Ascot, then? This:

DSCF4492cAnd a hat/fascinator is a must, too:

IMG_1166cIt’s what I call the “swirly” New Look 6000, it’s view A, without the rose.

The pleats are a really nice styling effect, but very easy to sew! The pattern maker has pivoted out the bust and waist darts into the pleats, and so if you haven’t needed to make any major alterations to the “plain” NL6000 pattern, you’re probably good to go. (I think if you have expanded the bust darts, you can probably add equivalent space/fabric into the pleats and that would be a good place to start any fitting?)

DSCF4493cI actually started this dress centuries ago, and at first with the 3/4 sleeves with cuffs. I didn’t really like it… And so it sat in a pile of “do something with this” for a long time. And then I had my Ascot decision, and I hacked off the sleeves, and I love it. It was that simple a change.

I was encouraged to come back to it because of this:

DSCF4514cI’ve worn this to work soooo much in the winter/spring months. It’s the swirly NL6000, but in a heavy navy jersey that has some sort of let’s-call-it smocking effect in the knit. Unusual.

DSCF4517cAs it’s a knit, I just took out the need for a zip at centre back, and cut the back in one piece. I also reduced the seams at the waist (no darts here), and it fits pretty well just doing that. A teeny bit of sway on the back (I do need darts!), but there was no way I was darting a knit dress.

DSCF4508cThe hem is just turned and top-stitched, so is a wee bit bulky, but that’s OK too… This knit doesn’t run, so I could have just hemmed straight, or even cut with pinking shears, which is what I did with the sleeves, and that looks really good with the texture.

Putting on the much-worn dress for photos today made me think that this would look nice cut off as a knit top… So that’s now on the list for this pattern! It’s the pattern that keeps on giving…


Fit for a Queen

I was going to Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot, and what self-respecting dressmaker would wear Ready-To-Wear?! Not this one… I made this for the occasion:

DSCF4476cI should at this point say I was going to the cheap seats. This is as close as I got to the Queen: IMG_1169cDSCF4479cI should also at this point say that the above dress didn’t make it to Ascot! Another me-made did; a New Look 6000- swirly version- not yet blogged (along with many many others…). That said I love this dress and have worn it many times already, but at Ascot the sensible money is on wearing shoes with wedges, and this dress needs shoes with dainty heels that would spend all day going into the grass. And sinking into the turf all day is a miserable way to spend a day!

It’s my princess seam bodice block with a cut-out, and is merged with the skirt from Simplicity K2588, a Project Runway I hadn’t made before. The skirt has pleats to create the fullness (there is a vertical pattern in my fabric, and so I couldn’t do a circle skirt). This fabric is quite a stiff cotton with some stretch, so holds the pleats nicely.

DSCF4482cPleats at the back too…

DSCF4483cThe cut-out was easy to do, I just figured out how low was decent and then went a smidge higher to allow for bending!

Facing was a pickle that got my brain all confumbled. I made the facing long enough to go below the triangle, and I knew the triangle needed sewing first, right sides together, that was easy enough. Clip into the corners, turn through, press press press, and cut-out is done. But could I figure out how sew the neckline together on the machine right sides together?! It took a while…

I thought I was going to have to topstitch in place, then finally realised I could pull through half and half and do it on the machine. That might make no sense, I have no photos… but I basically pulled the right side through to the left and sewed into the centre, and then pulled the left through the channel to the right and sewed that into the centre, to join the previous stitching. Leaving a narrow strip fully faced at the neckline. Finished off with edgestitching as per normal, just as far along as I could, and done! Hurrah!

DSCF4489cIt was sleeveless, and I used bias binding and sewed it in on the machine, and then turned it all the way inside, and catch-stitched to hold in place. I shaped the bias first with steam, using the flat armscye as a template, and this really helped it to lie flat (I’ve had issues with this before). DSCF4484cYou can see on the inside, it’s a bit of a hash on the seam allowances/edges. I originally just pinked them, and it has been through the washing machine three times now (worn!) before these photos, and this fabric is not holding up too well with that technique. I was gifted an overlocker last weekend (thank you!), and so I’ve tidied up some of the seams, but of course, can’t get right to the edges where they meet other seams. I might handcatch the other rough edges if they start getting worse, but maybe I can live with it! We’ll see.

Also, I hand-hemmed the skirt, using a herringbone stitch. Quite loose, as the fabric has a bit of stretch in the weave and I didn’t want the thread to be too tight against this and possibly break if the fabric stretched.

DSCF4487cAnd so, that’s the dress that didn’t meet the Queen. (To be fair, the one I wore didn’t either!)


Sew Dolly Clackett

Hey! It’s me! It’s been an age, but I’ve been sewing.

You will probably know this, but for those that don’t, the lovely Roisin is getting married and, as a gift, Sarah has created a celebration where we sew a dress in the style of Roisin (aka Dolly Clackett).

And here is mine:


This dress was made quite literally months ago, in fact, Roisin saw it in person when Busy Lizzie in Brizzy came to town, and we welcomed her in Soho as is generally the Spoolettes way – with cocktails! So, with a Kir Royale in hand, I was really taking on the Dolly Clackett vibe!

It’s also been taken to Paris… a work conference on my birthday (boo!) that I ran on into the weekend (yay!), so to la Tour Eiffel it went…


Very Roisin… this dress is like the red shoes, non-stop Dolly Clacketting all over the world…

It’s a really nice fabric, a bit of a light wooliness, with some metallic ribbon woven through.


I made the worst handsewn french tacks/chains for belt loops, but they are doing what they are supposed to, and so they are just fine, thanks very much. (I did just read about machining them on Coletterie, so I might do that next time…)


The pattern is pretty much the strapless wonder of my rosy number, Simplicity Amazing Fit 1606, and I just blended that into the shoulders and sleeves of New Look 6000, which I’ve already fitted. So we have princess seams on the front, darts on the back, and a half circle skirt at front with two quarters on the back. I can’t be doing with buying a new pattern, when all it needs is a little tweak to one I know already fits!


And these skirts… they make me feel so girly! All twirly!


I hope you have a lovely wedding day and honeymoon en Pareee, Roisin and Nic!


Drape Drape deconstructed and demystified…

I had heard of the Drape Drape books when they were just in Japanese and brave seamstresses dove on in hoping the illustrative instructions would be enough! I was not that brave…

But I then saw Lizzy’s fabulous version of Pattern 4 from the English version of Drape Drape 2 – I loved it! And I was planning on buying the book… then in a crazy moment, decided to draft it myself! As you do!

It worked!

DSCF4382cLizzy’s photo of the pattern laid out helped, as did her gentleness when I asked if the ruched bit involved elastic… How she stopped herself pointing out it was Drape Drape not Gather Gather, I’m not sure! Thank you Lizzy!

When I mentioned on Twitter I was doing this, a few people asked me to share the secrets I discovered… And so herewith…

It starts with a basic T-shirt pattern. If you have made a Renfrew, then start with that! (If not, take a rub-off of a RTW T-shirt that fits.) Mine was the pattern from Sew U Home Stretch. Seriously: if you can sew that, you can do this.

You’ll usually have three pieces to a T-shirt pattern like this:

DSCF4387cIn order to make this up, you need to trace up and make “complete” each piece, so you have a full front piece and two sleeves. Now, most T-shirts are pretty much the same size front and back, so I don’t bother doubling up the back piece. Cut two sleeves though.

Mark up the CF and waistline, and prepare another piece of paper with a vertical line marked. Cut all the way across the waistline, leaving a teeny bit attached as a “hinge”.

Line up the CF and the vertical line, and stick the top section in place, leaving the lower section free.

DSCF4392cSee where I’ve marked that star? You’re going to take that down to meet the CF vertical line.

DSCF4393cSee that big bit of green I’ve now exposed? That’s your drapey area, right there.

Fold your sleeve pattern in half, and line up against the shoulders.

DSCF4394cThe next thing we’re going to do is square off the draped side. Now there’s a trick to the length you choose that I only figured out when my sleeves weren’t as balanced as I wanted them when made up.

DSCF4397c3On the right side of the photo we have a “normal” sleeve and armhole. Measure the shoulder seam (minus hem allowance), and mark this on the left, so that the two blue lines are same length.

Measure the armhole on the right (arrow). Extend the left shoulder seam by this amount. That arrow on the left of the photo is pointing at the armhole.

Yes. Really.

Join with a straight line the lowest point of the hem and weird armhole, also seen in the photo above.

On the “normal” sleeve side, just draw a scooped curve, to create a bit of a batwing, and then trace the whole thing (this is because we don’t want to do the whole splitting thing on the back piece too.) If your back neckline is going to be different, mark this. Also mark the weird shoulder seam armhole on this too.

DSCF4400cStick it to the front pattern and you have this unusual complete pattern:

DSCF4401c2And traced again, if you’re a tidy sort:


(The weird shoulder seam armhole, it’ll be right in the middle of the long shoulder seam.

Centre front is your grainline. Cut one!

Making up is pretty quick. First, that armhole in the shoulder needs binding or turning over and hemming. Once you’ve tidied it up, fold the T-shirt, matching the neckholes, so it looks a bit more recognisable. You can then sew the rest of that shoulder seam, and then the “normal” one.

Then sew the (one) side seam. Bind or turn and hem the “normal” sleeve, the same for the neckline, and hem the bottom. Looks like this when done and thrown placed carefully on the floor:

DSCF4385cWhen you wear it, lift up the lower hem onto your hip to match the other side and you get drape!

DSCF4380cNext time I’m going to make the sleeves a little longer (I had to faff in the fitting cos I hadn’t figured out the extra I needed for the weird shoulderiness), but I’m still happy enough…

I hope the oddity of the final pattern makes a bit more sense now! Do you think you might have a go?!


Teddy Bear Coat

It’s so cosy!!

DSCF4355cThis pattern is a rub-off of a heavy knitted batwing cardigan/jacket with a roll-over neckline that I got at Top Shop about five years ago. The cardi has a short season I can wear it in though…

So when “teddy bear” coats became popular, I remembered the fluffy velvety furry stash fabric I got the other year (!! You know how it is…!) in Walthamstow as its intended use as a lining for a long black coat is clearly not happening. And carpe diem etc! A plot was hatched!

DSCF4356cBut its intended use as lining is still happening – what you see here is doubled cosiness: it’s self lined!

The original cardi version has some buttons on the neckline, but buttonholes in this fabric?! No thank you! So it does up with eight jumbo 21mm poppers.

IMG_0706cWhich was a bit of a chore. Six holes to sew, times sixteen. Black thread on black poppers on black furry fabric, and in diminishing daylight? And only when I got to the end did I spot what you can see in the photo: they could have been put on all the same way with the centre wires. But that’s just pernickety!

If you want to make one of your own, be aware that your house will look like there has been a teddy-bear massacre! I cut it out on a cream carpet, and wherever you cut, fluff falls. And lots of it! And then you pick up the pieces and more falls. Like “is it falling apart?!” more. But then it stops!

When I vacuumed, I felt like I was on a shopping channel, nice clean stripe throughout the mess!

But oooohhh, so cosy!


New Look 6006

This coat has been a long time coming!


(Apols for not-so-good photeys, the weather is just so horrid here that the light is rubbish indoors!)

It started with a pattern picked up at the Goldhawk Rd meet-up and swap at the back end of the summer. (Oh summer, how I miss thee, even with nice new coats to wear!)

The meet up was quite big, so the swap was a mystery free-for-all (but polite!), and some clever lady has already done an FBA for me on this pattern – you are awesome, lovely mysterious seamstress!

6006I made version A, but without the belt. I also put the pockets in as instructed, I do like a pocket in my coats, but they go in the side seams, and when I tried it on for a fitting I felt like I was dislocating my shoulders to get my hands back in there, so out they came. I do miss them though. If you are making this, I’d consider reshaping the pockets and maybe whacking them into the princess seam instead – that feels like it’d be a more natural place for them.

The artwork for A makes it look like it’s double-breasted, but it isn’t really!

I had a panic right at the start of the make, which (along with Chrimbo and illness) is one of the reasons it’s taken me nearly two months to finish. I bought only 2m of this fake melton fabric from my favourite roll-end shop, and, of course, for a coat this length you need more… Numpty. And I didn’t notice until all was cut out, as I’d forgotten that you need four fronts on a coat as two are used for facings. Facings are often hidden, but on a coat there they are wafting about in the wind for the world to see! I just knew that the shop wouldn’t have any more (they have a quick turnover on stuff this gorgeous), but I did go back to see. And then I had to get creative!

I bought some camel-coloured fake melton online from The Remnant House and cut a facing from that, and also used it to interface the collar, as I wanted to make sure the funnel neck had the strength to stand.

DSCF4330cI was originally going to have a contrast lining, but instead I bought some new, much more matchy lining (also from Remnant House), and covered the camel facing with that. So I had a new facing in the right weight but with the right colour showing.

It’s not ideal, but is OK.

DSCF4340cStill a wee bit visible when done up, but I can live with it.

DSCF4336c The coat is fully bagged. This is pretty easy, though you can get in a tangle if you don’t concentrate! Two really good tutes for bagging are Jen‘s and Sherry‘s.

I’m a bit concerned about the strength of this lining, it was very very fray-ey and “pulls” quite easily (see that run in the upper back). And the needleholes are already showing in the stress points. And I didn’t put a pleat in the back lining. Derp. Keep my fingers crossed for no riiiiiipppp noises, then.

DSCF4341cBoth fabrics are really hard to get a decent press in too! (Look at the state of that! Good job it’s normally inside!)

But I wore it today, and it was toasty warm. Even outside of the flat!😉


McCalls M6752

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so goes the old saying, and I’m all about imitating the lovely Miss Dibs in this make!

DSCF4311cIt’s a McCall’s cowl neck dress (M6752), but extended to make it a maxi, a la Dibs here.

Quite an easy pattern, and quick to run up. Just had to stop and think about the self-faced cowl, but that’s only cos I forgot to slash it at the start.

I cut a 14 – just a week or so after I bought some size 8 jeans in the Phase Eight sale. Why can we not just have real-life inches or, when sewing, numbers that just relate to their being a smallest to biggest size printed on the pattern (eg 1 to 6)?! I’m not normally a UK size 8 or US 14, so it’s a confusing and slightly annoying pointless nonsense… *Rant ends*

I just made one fitting alteration to keep the top a wee big more snug on my lower ribs before scooping out to the kimono sleeve. I thought this was a bit more flattering to my shape, as the top is really quite flouncy.


new cutting line in pink…

This pattern, strictly speaking, needs me to add an inch in the bodice length, but I knew this fabric was heavy, and with a maxi skirt I knew it would weigh it down to put it in the right place! Must remember to extend if I use it in lighter fabric though.

This fabric is so lovely! It’s from my favourite roll-end shop (£2 pm! Bargain!), and is a weird combo of knit and woven, which means it frays quite a bit, so I did have to finish the seam edges. But I just zigzagged them. (Oh, I do want an overlocker…)

fabricSo, that was my first finish of 2014, and a pretty-much immediate blog post (its coat-hanger premier was on twitter last night…!). I can’t promise such a quick turnaround usually, but I do have several unblogged makes, so maybe today is the day for a photo sesh!

I’m really happy with it, the weight of fabric makes it surprisingly warm. It’s a short-step dress though- I got the last of the fabric and it had a random cut across the bottom, which can be the way with roll-ends, so the skirt hem is a couple of inches snugger than ideal, but I can wiggle along😉



So, back in May I challenged myself to clear out a big old pile of my fabric stash by the end of the year, and with not long left… How am I doing?

Not bad…

stash bustedWhich looks like this…

stash busted collageSome haven’t been blogged- like these PJ bottoms that were a 45min project one evening

IMG_0389And that pile of stash fabric doesn’t include any of the other things I’ve made with new purchases. Ooops. But they were made pretty quickly after purchasing, and that is clearly the answer to a smaller stash in the long-term!

I got rid of some of the fabric as I was out of love with it (just look at those little broken hearts…), but the remainder I do have firm plans for. Some of it unseasonal though, so the stash may not be busted before year-end.

Do I care? Nope. Not when this is happening to new-ish fabric…


Over-excited top-stiching on the binding, but those pleats?! Oooh…

It’s only a bloomin’ twirly-waisted New Look 6000 in a stretch cotton… Ooooh! Just needs hemming now. Not long, my pretty… Not long!

small spool

And have you joined the Spoolettes? Lovely Clare from SewDixieLou (and some other lovely peeps) have decided to spread the sewing meet-up love around the world… Clickety click here to find out more and join the fun! (Fair warning: Facilitation of fabric buying and therefore anti-stashbusting behaviour may occur.)

New Look 6000- polka dot frock!

I’ve been planning a navy polka dot New Look 6000 for yonks! And now I have it…

DSCF4230cI made a New Look 6000 last year, as part of Scruffy Badger‘s polka dot challenge but it wasn’t properly dotty, and this was the dress in my head!

I decided to make quite a plain version, without collar and swooshy waist pleats options, but I hope it does have some style in its plainness. (But it maybe does need to belt or brooch action to lift it!)DSCF4247cI didn’t put the cuffs on the sleeves, but looking at these photos, I think because of that they may need narrowing slightly. I’ll see once I’ve worn it properly… Can you tell I’m trying to avoid the unpicking!

It’s a stretch cotton sateen, and has this inside!

DSCF4248cIt’s a hot pink in real life, and is that acetate lining that I don’t like so much (and its clickety-click noise when sewn), but it was all I could find in that colour without delaying the dotty dress even further! I decided not to line the sleeves, and this means that I can probably make the sleeves narrower due to the stretch in the cotton. (I see that unpicking coming my way…!) I just turned over and top-stitched the lining to the sleevehead seam allowance.

It was the first time I have pinked as a seam finish, so I’ll be interested to see how it takes to going through a washing machine!

DSCF4234cI’m happy I’ve finally got my dotty dress!