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Needlepoint rug in progress by rubywo on Flickr.

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Needlepoint rug in progress


When the nights draw in, the evenings feel very short. I don’t always feel like going upstairs to sit at my sewing machine, but still have a burning desire to create. Time for some small, fun crafts…

Two old hats, made a bit more fun with the application of some furry bobbles


Dodgy phone photo due to finally acquiring a smatphone

Very simple to make. I applied a running stitch round the edge of a circle of faux fur (stranded embroidery thread is best for this as it’s less likely to snap), pulled the thread to draw up the edges, and stuffed the fur bobble with some wadding. Then I just stitched it on to my hat using the embroidery thread. Hey presto, a new hat to make me smile on my way to work.



And just for fun, a crochet bear (made by my sister) and a knitted sheep. How could these wee chaps fail to warm your cockles?

A simple t-shirt drew with gathered skirt, made a little more interesting by the drop waist and longer skirt length. I still haven’t mastered a way to eliminate lumpy bits where overlooked seams cross each other. This dress makes me feel like swanning round the French Riviera, even though I’ve never been…



This skirt ended up as a toile. Draping the front left some scrappy joins and tricky facing edges. However, it will become a pattern when I get round to taking it to pieces and have a better look at the inside.

A recent shopping trip left me bemoaning a lack of interesting, yet work appropriate skirts, which are lightweight enough to wear in an office which regularly reaches 30 degrees in the summer months. I decided to try draping a skirt front. I started out with a pencil skirt base, with the front drawn asymetrically so it scoops up at one side, so this skirt was not draped completely, rather the front panel was draped.


The ‘base’ skirt



adding the draped panel – I tacked down the pleats where they intersected the side seams before cutting round to form the final front piece


A request for an evening bag had me struggling. Of all the things I’ve made (including a couple of everyday bags) surely this would be simple. “All the ones you can buy look cheap” I was told, which worried me. How can I make something that looks, if not expensive, at least not cheap?  The answer, it seems,  is all in the hardware.

I ended up making two bags.

The first, to me, looked very home made. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it’s just not what I was after.



I stepped my game up with the second, adding a chunky metal zip, brass coloured fixings, and leather tabs, resulting in a wholly more professional looking handbag.



Now this is not your typical evening bag, but after racking my brains to come up with something suitable for a person whose taste does not veer towards decorative, I think this might be the ticket.

The process of designing and making this bag reminded me that while I often panic at a first request, it’s much easier to come up with something I’m happy with if I don’t force the idea, but give myself a bit of time to think it through. I forget that I have often spent hours working up sketches of items I make for myself. It also reminded me of how tricky it is to topstitch leather neatly…


Pretty neat


Not all so neat…

To make the denim bag I used the Bag’n-telle blog zippered clutch purse tutorial, thanks to Don Morin for the great content he posts there.

I recently finished this dress which challenged my overlocker to say the least. The multiple drapes were a little too thick for a domestic machine, I think I will have to select very fine jerseys in the future for similar projects.


It’s probably the most glamorous thing I’ve ever made fo myself and I really like it. I had to take 4cm off the centre back and centre front to stop it being indecent. I did this by slashing the pattern pieces with the grainline and redrawing the neck and hem lines. After the screw came out of the handwheel on my overlocker while sewing this (I think because the fabric was too thick), I didn’t want to risk my Bernina on finishing the armholes so had to fold and use a herringbone handstitch to secure in place. Not ideal, but ok.


Working on this dress got me think about having a go at some draped garments myself. I started working with my dress form and a large piece of fabric, but found it very difficult to have an idea for a whole garment in mind as I was pinning away. It made me realise how much work must go into the designs in the Drape Drape books. Also, if anyone knows of an affordable draping book I’d be interested in hearing.


The photos don’t really show it off to it’s best.

When out browsing the shops at the weekend I saw a lovely, lovely example of a Pattern Magic-ish “wearing a balloon” (PM2)  type structure on a dress in All Saints. I could only get a tiny picture from their website, but click on it to see the webpage.


All Saints “Marilyn” dress



I’ve been thinking about a way to try this kind of structure. the All Saints dress uses a similar principle for the “balloon”, but blends it into a crossover front piece, making the piece flow seamlessly from inner bodice, to collar, then down to the waist. I had a go at drawing what the pattern pieces might look like, then got totally confused. But this dress was too perfect to try to recreate anyway. Now, if only I could find £165…

I recently went on holiday to Brazil. While there I was surprised, and pleased, to come across this stamp by Hector Consani, featuring a ‘costureira’, which translates as seamstress. I can’t find much about the artist in English and the translated page offered by Google is the usual gubbins. The range of stamps also featured a cobbler, and manicurist from what I can see. I thought it was interesting to see the celebration of old and newer creative professions side by side.

Also, while there, my friend’s mum gave me this lovely scarf knitted by her mother. It’s so cuddly and soft it feels like wrapping a teddy bear round my neck! I really love being given things that people have hand-made.

In keeping with my tailoring kick, I visited this exhibition last week. I really enjoyed the show, here’s a few notes I made afterwards;

  • It was nice to see an exhibition of mainly menswear – I don’t think it’s that common
  • the exhibition design was fun, I really liked the  mock-up workshop area
  • interesting pockets – sometimes including sleek pleats and other details. One I particularly liked was a patch pocket that extended down to become part of the hem of the jacket
  • I don’t think I valued a good curve till I saw these suits up close. I don’t know quite how to describe it, but the shapes were very fine. It made wonder – how does one go about drawing a really good curve? Probably a cycle of practising and sampling…

I feel I now have a fairly good idea of how to make things fit, but looking at the suits made me think more about how the cut of a garment can make it look refined and sophisticated. I’ll try to consider this in my own projects.

Since learning how to make patterns, shopping for clothes has become, for me, an opportunity to have a snoop at how things are constructed. One of my favourite shops to do this in is Cos. I find that their clothes often have interesting construction features, and unusual shapes for the high street. Often you can see elements of construction from the outside of the garment, a dart will be reversed to make the folded area visible from the outside of the garment, for example.

The other day I saw this jacket on

Jacket See by Chloé, image –

Jacket See by Chloé, image –

I was really intrigued by the set in sleeve at the front, with the raglan at the back. I was convinced this was some incredible feat of pattern cutting and drew up the following diagram of what I thought the pieces must look like.

How wrong I was! Look closer at the gallery of images and it’s clear to see that the raglan shape at the back is just an insert, and the sleeve is a plain set in one. I’m sure there is a good reason for this, the sleeve would probably not fall very nicely in my version.

And the moral of the story? That it’s infinitely easier to learn about construction by looking at the actual garment, and that things that seem to be very cleverly constructed, are sometimes an illusion. I do like the mix of formal and sporty style of the jacket, but unfortunately the construction no longer excites me.