Shopping list!

I am looking for some simple dress patterns to get a bodice fit that’s perfect (some day I will show you my Peony issues but in the meantime I would love to find a basic shape that I can play with).  And a skirt with a bit of body!

Here’s what has made it on to my wishlist:


Sorry about the crappy pictures – they are the best the website could offer!  I have yet to make a long sleeved dress that looked good.


Love anything with neck pleats –  but would it be worth fitting a new pattern when I already have a bodice block with these?




Intrigued by the  draping over the front of this one but not sure what fabric I would want to use?


I’m a sucker for a red dress (not sure if it is really appropriate regular wear for a doctor?) and this features a lining to help the knit skim.  I don’t fancy another shot at knits for the time being though.  Hmmm. I’m off to pattern review… anyone made these or have an opinion?



Still no machine…

It seems that the belt has broken or come off the machine so its been out of use for nearly a week! And no sign of it coming home anytime soon 😦 It may be time to retrieve the back up machine from my mum’s….

Thankfully I managed to run up the muslin for my dress bodice block just before this disaster occurred, so at least I can play with the fit in the meantime.  I know it looks like there are waist darts in the picture – in fact its my Sharpie markings where I drew around my pins!  You can see it’s still quite boxy here, which makes sense as Sorbetto is a loose top without closures.  As it fits quite well across the shoulders it still makes sense to use the pattern.



I’ve pinned where I think the neckline and armholes should go.  I also have a little bit of room across the upper chest – all you can really see is that there isn’t much contour there.  I may need to pinch out a little pleat horizontally.

Next step:


I was too lazy to try to pinch out extra fabric at the upper chest area in the end – I’ve added at little 0.5cm dart at the armpit, and will probably just add the extra onto the side dart to make life easy!  Another option is to extend the waist dart higher which will pull the top down a little overall.  Tempting when the seam allowance is still on your neckline and it is sitting right over the notch there.

You can see I’ve also pinned out the fabric below the breast until it is snug (I can be quite severe as I already have a top on to take some space).   I like this area quite fitted so my darts will often be an odd shape!


Back darts are much trickier!  Some truly scary markings when I took it off – in the end i guesstimated the length of these.


Repinned and made more symmetrical.  Of course normally I would restitch the new darts and check.  But no can do!

To transfer the changes my preferred method is to unpick the muslin and re-pin it to the pattern before placing pins or basting through the new dart legs and other markings to make them show on the pattern.  Although if just a side seam adjustment I will often just eyeball it…


So I will be doing a lot of this instead (Peacock Eyes cardigan –  Sigh.  Have you ever had a forced break from sewing? It’s maddening!

Oh, s***

All hold on the sewing front here.  Although my buttonhole things arrived in record time (full marks, The Lining I noticed an awful “catching” clunk when using my machine.  I always have problems when I use my scrap Korbond thread for muslin making.  After I fiddled with the hand turn wheel I now have a total disengagement between the pedal and the needle! It still works with the hand wheel though.  And now one screw is lost inside the machine.




So until I can get motivated to have another look at it or get some professional help it’s all pause around here 😦

Pre-blog – copycat Sorbetto tie bottom

Yes, it’s a total rip off of one of the Seven Days Of Sorbetto tops:


I changed the side darts to two neck tucks in my version.  Slimmed down the sides as I wanted a more fitted shape and was willing to put a zip in to achieve that.  Other than that I used the tips from the website.

The fabric is a bit of a mystery – I bought it in John Lewis where it was not tagged with any branding but cost around the £13 a metre mark.  Then I saw it referred to on the web as Liberty.  Which wouldn’t make sense – a) because if it’s Liberty you make sure people know; and b) I don’t think a rival department store would stock their fabrics!


I have found it here online although I’ve never seen this site before.


I drafted an identical facing piece to apply to the bottom of the top as the fabric is not reversible at all.  It doesn’t look too obvious in the picture – but disappointingly that’s because the fabric faded on the first wash!  I now don’t mind how it looks so much except for the zip which was well blended in before:


But what can you do? Getting it in to a curved side seam was work enough.


Striking resemblance to silk blouse tucks (no coincidence!)


Rabbits are indifferent.  That’s all for now; happy sewing!


Silk blouse – take 2

Or more like take 5, as I can’t make a lot more progress on this until my buttonhole thread comes through.  Last week I basted the sleeves to set them in (flat, as per the facings tutorial in my last post).  The sleeves were drafted as a free pattern to accompany Sorbetto from  There seemed to be about 5cm of ease in the cap. And seeing as my experience with setting in so far has consisted of trying it, getting annoyed, giving up and pleating instead I was a bit worried about getting it in smoothly.  I don’t much like gathers, especially over a puffy sleeve (shudder).  Conquering this on silk was not the right battle!


I wussed out and pleated 5 1cm sections across the cap and eased the rest in.  Truth be told I prefer the way it looks.  In future I will subtract the excess from the pattern as I always shorten the sleeve anyway.

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Yes this is the same fabric – just in and out of direct light!  In the interests of experimentation (read: laziness) I false french seamed one shoulder (which also included the raw edge of the facing).  This was a bit too bulky, so the second time round I folded this raw edge under and stitched it invisibly to the seam.  I much prefer this method in the end.


I started the French seams for the sides and sleeve seams but have not completed them (and commited myself – the silk marks once stitched).  Until I can get hold of my buttonhole bits from The Lining Company (UK) this project is on the back burner!

I might use that as a excuse to start a muslin for a fitted/circle skirt dress I have in mind for this coral faille:


It has a lovely ridged texture and slight sheen.



Baby steps

Finally knuckled down to ANOTHER muslin for my silk blouse and can now move on.   Thankfully all it needed was the neckline redrawing to finish at around 13cm from the midline.  It is still quite fitted, so I’ve chosen 2cm seam allowances to give me some room for error and also to simplify the process if I do use French seams:

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Various methods to avoid using pins! The coppers are great – you can tip them out in the middle of the pattern pieces and spread them out evenly from the centre and get them right along all the edges. Even my silk/bridal pins have marked this silk.  I’ve had to cut out with pinking shears and thread trace the seam allowances.

Lots and lots of basting around the neck tucks:

tucks tuckss

and on the facings:

facing button

Speaking of which, I originally planned to finish the top with bias binding.  But then I saw this set of tutorials on learning to love facings and decided that would give a much cleaner finish (particularly with sleeves).  It also means I don’t have to give much thought to the construction steps.  Yah!

I turned the facing hems under by stitching as close to the raw edge as I could:


Then, trimmed the excess quite aggressively and folded up again before stitching a similar distance from the edge:

weave hem finish

I usually start an inch or so from the beginning and then turn to try to avoid that awful silk-beneath-the-plate moment.  Actually that STILL happened – like an idiot I forgot to swop my needle for a shiny new 60 size.

Ta da:


Gah! Look what all my marking has done to the poor table.

I have to decide now whether to baste the basic pieces minus the facings to double check the fit or just go ahead.  I’m still not confident after three muslins!  I think I know the answer already…


Fitting silk button blouse

I am mid way through the fitting and drafting stages of my green silk blouse in this lovely fabric:


I am envisioning a button back sleeveless (probably…) blouse with four tucks at the neckline and a relatively fitted shape.

I use my sorbetto to fit all tops at the moment.  I rotated the side dart to the neck and turned it in to two tucks near the middle.  I think I need a very small FBA with slightly larger darts though – you might see what I mean later on.


Er, apologies for the endless mirror selfies.  My husband just isn’t that into taking pictures for me (it can be difficult enough to get him to pin me up!).  As you can hopefully see I have pinned into the centre back where the buttons will be until I was happy with how it sat over the curves there.  In the end I measured how much excess there was and took it off the side seams before restitching and checking.

And yes, I keep accidentally ordering ACTUAL muslin then remembering that it’s a touch too lightweight for many purposes. Bah.

There is quite a bit of gape at the back there (hard to see from that angle but we are talking a good three inches!)  I have heard that you can pin out a dart where you have the excess and then rotate that excess elsewhere which I tried when I starting the pattern in this sail boat cotton:

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Yep, that’s it at the back arm scythe.  So the next step is to get rid of it from there (darts I guess) and also lower the opening at bit as its a tad high:

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These diagonal drag lines on the bust suggest to me that I need a little more room just to the left and below the bust but I am not entirely sure.


After the addition of small bust and back darts:

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Much better! I think I will hash the changes on to this wearable muslin and find some buttons but probably go back to the muslin fabric to do a final check before using the silk – and make the dart at the neck on the back!

So…thats three muslins so far then. Sigh.  At least I can still remember how to knit:


How do you feel about taking a long time to get a fit right? I think I am still not experienced enough to see exactly what will happen when I have made changes and perhaps in the future it will be clearer and take less time.  For the time being I am learning each time and enjoying it!

I FINALLY finished the Ginger skirt.  Actually I don’t mind projects taking a long time, as long as they are not frustrating from start to finish.  I have had my fair share of annoying moments (mostly due to own stupidity) with this – like stitching the in seam pockets between the front pieces of the skirt and so on.  Gah.

I added the vent and vent lining using tutorials from Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch.  Her blog is quite technique focused and clear enough that I was willing to give the vents a try for the first time.  I suspect I did not spread my pieces enough though as the vent lining curve does not sit where it is meant to (and then got topstitched over anyway…)


IMG_2667[1] Vents edged with spotty ribbon 🙂


I stitched blue ribbon to the hem and turned up with catch stitches

Please note I didn’t sew the vent lining on as instructed.  I just couldn’t get my head around it! Essentially once I had secured the lining to the zip I fudged the seams between the vent and the lining on the machine however they looked and hung right.  I think it’s ok and will leave it at that.

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In typical British fashion when I managed to get my other half to take some photos it was wet and horrible, but the last day was sunny and bright.  Can you see the curved pocket?  I used some quite chunky twill tape along the edge to prevent stretching but it seems to still want to curve away from the body.  Probably not such an issue when stuffed full of things!  This has happened before so if you have any bright ideas I would love to know.

All in all I am quite pleased with it; it’s perhaps not as curve hugging as I would like, but as I can only JUST sit down wearing it thats probably as good as it’s going to get!  The top is inspired by various renditions of Jalie 2921, but I didn’t fancy it in a knit.  I altered my Sorbetto draft (I use the pattern minus the pleat with a few adjustments as the basis for most tops now), adding length and a curved V neckline.  The neck tie is just a 10cm strip of the fabric, turned and stitched into tie shapes at each end and attached to the neckline.  The inner side of the band was stitched to the neckline wrong side (ie inside the top) and then turned to the outside to be topstitched.

I may have to wear the tie in a bow at work as dangling ties are a no-no now in hospitals.

So what next? I am currently re-learning to knit so I can make this lovely cardigan:


But I will try to blog some older clothes in the meantime.  Then after that I have a gorgeous green silk from Stone fabrics to play with (but not to be rushed so I am waiting until I can give it proper attention).  For now I will have to make do with occasionally rubbing it on my skin.


Hands out of the notions jar!

Colette Ginger – So far

So, all, I finished the wedding dress nearly a year ago now.  I was too stingey to pay for it to be dry cleaned again so it is still a bit muddy and creased!  It is hung where I can see and appreciate it every day though.

After that marathon I didn’t sew for about six months – then what I did produce was surprisingly poor quality.  Maybe I was overconfident?  Anyway, maybe I will get round to blogging them in due course but I now have a bit of a backlog.

My current work in progress is Colette Ginger:

     I LOVE the curvy waistband, normally I would shy away from a high waisted skirt but it’s enough of a feature to make it      irresistible!

I wanted to put boning in the waistband, following this tutorial by Gertie.  I used boning in the dress, so not too big a deal.

I also wanted to convert it to a pencil skirt, and being not too curvy (about 10″ difference waist to hip measurements) I’ve just brought the side seams in to more of a hip hugging shape.  If I were to do it properly I should have used some darts at the hip but it doesn’t pull too much.





Like an idiot I wrote on the RIGHT side of the front piece.  And with biro.  I’m hoping something will happen in the wash – otherwise I will tear my hair out even more.

Many bloggers suggest using silk organza to strengthen zips and various other areas to avoid adding extra thickness.  I found some organza-like ribbon which seems to work in a similar fashion (at least, it doesn’t stretch on the grain and is lightweight).  And I like that you can easily wrap your seam allowance in it for a tidier finish.  Obviously my ribbon above needs a little persuasion under the iron!


This is my “basted fitting” – i.e., with the final fabric, cut with a larger seam allowance (I often use about 1.5″) and stitched together with longer stitches (sadly, my machine only goes up to around 4mm in length which is still a b***ch to unpick at any speed).  Hence the unpressed state of my seams.  I’ve already made up a muslin in size 0 which was toooooo snug so I stitched this as a 2.  It’s a promising start.

For some insane reason, I’ve been cutting randomly around my pattern pieces with the wider allowance, then marking on the seam lines from the pattern, either with pencil or a long stitch.  Why am I doing this? Surely it would make infinitely more sense to cut a uniform seam allowance of two inches or whatever and then use that to guide my seams? Duh!  I think sometimes I just breeze along with my sewing without thinking too much.

Which brings me to point out – part of the reason I started this blog was to equal up the balance a little.  By which I mean, there are many many blogs out there which I devour, look at a finished item, think, I MUST have one of those and make a mental note or, oooops, go ahead and buy the pattern in readiness.  Which is wonderful, and does a lot for independent pattern makers etc.  But I suspect lots of people wouldn’t want to post their work unless they were happy with it as a result.

So, I decided to jump in the deep end and start putting up my mistakes as much as my triumphs – because I sure as hell have learnt from them, and maybe a few fledgling sewers would be heartened to know how many mistakes it can take to eventually turn out a beautiful and well-fitted garment?  Maybe I am wrong.  I’d be interested to know what the general opinion is though?

 In the interest of full disclosure, here’s a disaster for you.  I initially had in-seam pockets in the skirt, but placed them a bit low and they gave me awful saddlebags over my hips!  Being a doctor, pockets are absolutely essential as bags are not really permitted on wards and there are pens/patient lists/pentorches/neurotips/medical tape/spare forms to be carried and kept to hand.  So I thought I could use the welt pocket technique on the front and reuse my pocket pieces while putting the pockets on the area of the skirt with a little room to spare – you know, between the thighs?

THEN, I thought I didn’t want the fuss of the welts, I just wanted a slit in the skirt to lead to the pocket.  This technique doesn’t exist on google, but it was just an adaptation of something I had tried before, so fine right?




Here are my little welt facings, folded and pressed back towards the inside of the skirt.  Because the opening was about 1mm wide, there’s a nice little slit in the fabric.  However, you can see how awfully it has puckered around the edges – probably due to not being able to clip neatly into the corners as you would be able to on a standard sized window.  And because the stitched line and the cutting line are adjacent, essentially the whole lot pulled apart the instant that I pressed it back – there’s no seam allowance!

So, people, slit “welt” pockets don’t seem to exist.  Unless there’s another way?  I guess bias binding or something might work.

The current plan is to re cut the centre piece and stitch it in in place of the destroyed piece! Gah.


I also have some possible fitting issues to sort:

But I will keep you posted.



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