Here’s a great winter wardrobe staple. This Shawl Collar Vest (option A) is made in a soft fleece fabric and the raw edges are bound with a contrasting (extra wide) bias tape for a professional finish.
This is the quickest and easiest garment that I have ever made! There is no pattern. It only requires a rectangle of fabric measuring 60″ wide. You can choose your own length. Mine is 28″ long though I would recommend 27″ long.
The fabric is a soft and medium weight fleece. It makes a wonderful winter warmer.
To make the poncho, fold the fabric (right sides together), and from the fold, leave a 12″ gap or a little more for the neck hole, and sew along the remaining width until the end, that’s it! As the fabric is fleece, it does not require hemming. If you choose a woven fabric that is prone to fraying, then it needs to be hemmed. The asymmetrical hemline makes it look very stylish indeed.
I have admired Church/Sacred Art and embroidery/tapestry/linens for a long time and it has been a dream of mine to sew for the Church. Well, my dream has come true!
This is my first pair of custom made curtains and they are now hanging up behind the statue of a Saint, inside a sacred and public place of worship, a Church. It was an honour for me to be asked to undertake this task, although it was at first a bit daunting and I had to be careful as I had never made curtains. You can see from my blog that I am a dressmaker and not a curtain maker.
This rich red fabric is beautiful and from an Ecclesiastical fabric supplier. It was my first time working with such an exclusive and expensive fabric. A special experience.
My long dining table is used to measure and cut fabric. Usually, I use my sewing room upstairs for the actual sewing but my table is far too small to accommodate this vast amount of fabric. The dining table was most handy in this respect. The ironing board/iron were moved to the dining room as there was much pressing to be done.
My late mother, Edith, who was a professional seamstress, would be so pleased if she knew that I have made curtains. She loved curtain making, having made several pairs for her home and my home (including the cream curtains in the above photo). When I had started to sew clothes, she told me to make curtains instead. She said that “if you can make clothes, you can make curtains”. This is true.
With curtains, it is really about taking the correct measurements and calculating the required amount of fabric. I did take my time in measuring the fabric before cutting it. You know the mantra ‘measure twice, cut once’. Better to be safe than sorry, especially with beautiful and expensive fabric that belongs to someone else!
The bottom hem corners are mitred by hand, using the blind hem stitch. My mum taught me this valuable stitch which I use a lot.
For the header, I attached tape in order for the curtains to be gathered and hang from curtain rings. For gathers, double the width of fabric to have adequate fullness.
Regarding the curtain making process, it was far more time consuming to measure and press all the hems (top/bottom/sides) with the iron than to actually sew. The Hemline sewing gauge is a wonderful gadget to use.
I must admit that I did pray for the curtains to turn out well, which they dd. Alleluia!
I have finally jumped on the bandwagon and made 2 pairs of the Safiya trousers by Tilly Walnes from the book Make It Simple. One pair was simply not enough as these trousers are so me! Thanks Tilly, for this simple, super sewing pattern – its an absolute triumph and my favourite.
Wide legged trousers/culottes and anything in a relaxed fit really appeal to me so it made perfect sense to choose these trousers as the first project in the book. It was the sight of the Safiya dungarees on its front cover that made me want to buy it.
Regarding the fabric, I had changed my mind and used the grey chambray that was ordered weeks ago but dismissed as being too lightweight for trousers (usually, I wear thicker fabric in a darker colour for trousers). Chambray is recommended as one of the drapey fabric choices in the book. Being lightweight works well for the design of the wide legs and makes the trousers feel more cool and airy which is perfect for the summer. I also made a blue pair using a lightweight cotton denim which I love. No doubt, I will wear these Summer Safiyas a lot.
Making my own trousers is a necessity as its difficult for me to find a good fitting pair in the shops, being pear shaped. Wide legs look more feminine and dressy than other styles. I cut a size 5 (UK 14) but used a 2cm seam allowance for a better fit. The blue pair has french seams for a more professional and neater finish which is ideal for a lightweight fabric.
There are only two pattern pieces (without pockets), the flat fronted waistband is flattering, with side/back elastic only, so its easy and comfortable to wear. In addition to the trousers, there is the clever option of making dungarees – all you need to do is attach a bib. Cool and comfy.
It really feels like I am wearing secret pyjamas!
Here is a great wardrobe staple, the basic blouse, from the Nani Iro Sewing Studio book (Japanese Dressmakers) which is displayed on its front cover (with raw edge neckline). The book has been translated into English. I am a fan of Japanese clothing design, favouring the relaxed fit which is so comfortable and easy to wear.
Its a lovely sewing book with 18 beautiful designs, made in stunning Nani Iro fabrics, which include the T-Shirt Dress (longer version of the Basic Blouse), Tapered Pant (on my sew list), Wide Leg Pant, Everyday Jumpsuit, Cocoon Dress, Cape Dress, Pocket Dress and Tank Dress.
As this blouse is an oversized design, I made a size S/M. It is recommended to go down one size. The sleeves and body of this blouse are combined into one pattern piece creating a soft, relaxed silhouette. A 1 cm seam allowance needs to be added when tracing the sewing patterns. However, I did not include the seam allowance (as the design is oversized) and the blouse is a good fit
Both blouses were made in lightweight viscose fabrics which I had in my stash and they suit this boxy design. I really do like the high-lo hemline and side slits. There is the option of making a raw edge neckline – hand washing is advised to minimise it fraying. I chose to make the finished edge neckline for a more polished look.
I have paired these blouses with my denim Baggy Capris from Simply Sewn (Japanese) sewing book and it works well.
One word of warning about this pattern – the front is extremely short. Thankfully, I did realise this when I had measured the pattern piece before tracing and I did add a few inches to the front. More inches were added to my blue blouse to make it even longer at the front, resulting in a shorter side slit.
I am waiting for the fabric store to reopen for me to buy the right fabric to make the Safiya trousers. I did order some chambray fabric online, but when I had received it, I was disappointed to find that it is too lightweight for trousers and more suited to a dress/blouse. The store will reopen from lockdown in another 2 weeks!
With more free time on my hands than ever before, it made sense for me to make a garment, the Lottie shift dress by Christine Haynes. Prior to lockdown, I had been far too busy to sew garments and write blog posts. For me, the silver lining of lockdown is having the time again and it feels great to be back in sewing world!
The fabric, a black/white gingham print, was sitting in my stash and so was the Lottie sewing pattern, and I knew this would be the perfect combination. The fabric is a medium weight cotton mix so the dress is more suited to be worn in Spring and Autumn.
This sewing pattern was re-launched at the end of last year and includes three lengths (view B is now a tunic), three dolman sleeve variations and the option of big patch pockets, side vents and a waist belt. It pulls over the head so there are no closures. Christine has made some clever sewing hacks (colour blocking) to the Lottie too.
There are bust darts and a bias bound neckline, although Christine has now introduced a neck facing in her Lottie pattern re-launch. I love the big pockets! This design feature was a big draw for me and so was the classic design of the dress. I did lengthen the dress (View B) as the pattern is above the knee and a short dress does not suit me or my knees!
Originally, the sleeves were 3/4 length but I did not like them on me, so I cut them to elbow length, and the lower sleeve which was attached, now looks like a big cuff, which I like. The front and back of the sleeves are two different pattern pieces. If I make the Lottie again, then I will omit the lower sleeves completely. There is a lot of ease in this pattern. I had cut a size 12 and took in the side seams quite a bit. Next time I will cut a size 10.
Lets face it, I will not be wearing my Lottie dress until the lockdown is lifted and I am able to socialise again. Its not a garment to be lounging around in at home, though its great to wear out.
I am in need of a new pair of trousers, so next on my sewing list is the Safiya by Tilly.
Has lockdown changed your sewing habits?
It was an amazing experience to be in Iceland, with its dramatic landscape, outstanding natural beauty, many waterfalls, geysirs and rainbows. This beautiful rainbow had appeared by the waterfall (below) and was an ideal photo opportunity. It really did make my day!
A view of colourful rooftops in the capital city of Reykjavik from the tower of the Lutheran Church.
By the harbour at Reykjavik.
I did go on a whale watching trip (from Reykjavik harbour) and we were all warned by the crew beforehand to take an anti-sickness tablet as the sea would be rough. This filled me with dread as I had no intention of being sea sick so took a tablet pronto! It was rough out there, cold, rainy and windy but exhilarating and exciting at the same time. I did spot a dolphin and a minkie whale.
The Golden Circle tour in Thingvellir National Park. There is a lovely walking trail from the wonderful wall (above) which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a filming location for Game of Thrones. This walking trail leads to the above waterfall.
The magnificent and gigantic Gullfoss waterfall on the Golden Circle tour. There is a narrow walking trail which leads down to it for a much closer look.
On the South Coast is Reynisfjara, the world famous and beautiful Black Sandy Beach – yes, its black sand!
The location of the beach is extremely windy and the waves are most powerful.
Watching the geysirs (in the geothermal area) bubble and the giant one erupt was fascinating.
If you plan to explore Iceland (to endure the wet, cold and extremely windy weather), you will need to pack the essentials of a waterproof/windproof jacket, fleece, gilet, hiking (quick drying) trousers, hiking boots, knitted hat and rucksack. We did have a few lovely days but still had to take our waterproof jackets as the weather is very temperamental. We went in mid-September.
One word of warning, Iceland is extremely expensive (more than Norway), especially alcohol and eating in a restaurant, though the food was excellent.
If you love stunning scenery (especially waterfalls), don’t mind the weather and would like a different type of holiday, then try Iceland! Check out Justin Bieber’s music video, I’ll Show You, which was filmed in Iceland and shows its dramatic landscape.
Yes, its a real cat (not a toy), cosy in a shop A colourful display of knitted hats
I love Japanese style and so had to make this origami bag.
The Triangle Eco Bag is from the lovely book Sewing Happiness by Sanae Ishida. It consists of only 1 rectangle piece of fabric which is folded 4 times (origami-style) to create this brilliant bag! I like this design so much that I have made 2 bags.
It is also known as a Japanese Market Bag and there are some tutorials on Youtube to demonstrate the origami folding which makes it so much easier to follow.
Denim bag measures 16.5″ x 48.5″. Print bag measures 18″ x 52″.
This bag can be used on a day out, is great for shopping, it looks good and is eco-friendly. Say goodbye to plastic carrier bags forever.
Sanae is working on a new sewing book and it should be published in 2020 – it’s on my list!
My obsession with aprons (and apron dresses) continues. They are so appealing and practical that I just cannot help it. This handy no-frills apron is from the Sew Everything Workshop (S.E.W.) book by Diana Rupp. Polka dots is my other obsession so it made sense to combine the two to make me twice as happy!
In the book there is a diagram with measurements and instructions. I had to use this information to draw my own apron pattern. Instead of the enormous pocket (1 yard of fabric) in the book which fills the lower half of the apron, I chose the much smaller and pretty pocket from the Dottie Angel Tabard Apron. This is my preference.
Two packets of extra-wide double-fold bias tape (3 yards per packet) in a contrasting colour was used. Alternatively, you could hem the raw edges and attach neck and waist ties to the apron. The book recommends using medium weight canvas or denim. My choice was a medium weight cotton fabric.
This apron would also make a great gift and could be used for cooking, crafting, painting or gardening. So practical. Everyone needs a handy no-frills apron!
Many a sewist has made this dungaree dress from The Roberts Collection by Marilla Walker, although mine is a dotty one. This sewing pattern contains an amazing 4 garments (dungaree dress, dungarees, jumpsuit and t-shirt). Its a winner, Marilla!
I think that you cannot beat this style of dress as its so practical, versatile, comfortable and its great for layering. You can wear it with a t-shirt in the summer or with a long-sleeved top and cardigan in the winter. My clothing style is more utilitarian than girlie so this dress is right up my street.
This polka dot denim (medium weight) is perfect for a dungaree dress. I made View C (midi length), size 2 and the dress has enough ease for me to put on without side closures. For my first Dungaree Dress, I had cut a size 3 but it was far too big and needed altering. The side pockets are nice and roomy.
The first time my hubby saw me wear this dress, he asked me “Are you about to cook?” (implying that it looks like an apron)!
I have also made the Dungarees but I do prefer the dress.
A dungaree dress is a good wardrobe staple, and once you make one, you will be hooked!
Hola! I’m standing by the sandy San Sebastian beach in Sitges. We were blessed with lovely sunny weather in Sitges, Barcelona and Montserrat during our short stay in Catalonia.
Sitges is a smart coastal resort (known as the St Tropez of Spain) with several sandy beaches and an incredibly long promenade lined with palm trees and restaurants. I did indulge in some delicious paella, of course!
During a pleasant walk, I had stumbled across what I though were people but, on taking a closer look, were in fact stuffed toys dressed in colourful outfits sitting on top of some rocks on the beach. Bizarre indeed!
The Old Town is the oldest and most picturesque part of Sitges (located near the church) and is made up of narrow and winding streets.
Outside the magnificent Cathedral of La Sagreda Familia (the Holy Family) by Gaudi. Both the exterior and interior of the Cathedral are most impressive. I would recommend booking the ticket for entry in advance otherwise you could be waiting a very long time – this is the no.1 tourist attraction in Barcelona. It only takes a 30 minute train ride from Sitges to the city of Barcelona.
A mother duck and her 9 (baby) ducklings enjoying a swim – cute!
We took a private taxi to the Benedictine monastery and shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat (the patroness of Catalonia) which is on a mountain. It is a lovely drive and the scenery is stunning. All people can appreciate the beauty of the place, whether they are religious or not.
The piazza outside the Basilica. There is an art museum on the left which displays a wonderful and vast collection of antique/modern paintings and sculptures. It is a beautiful collection and a feast for the art lover. The antique Sacred art had really impressed me.
The location is remote and tranquil which is ideal for rest, relaxation and prayer. There is nothing more relaxing than just sitting and admiring the wonderful view. Heaven!
The holy image of the Black Madonna which is venerated by pilgrims in the throne room and it is a spiritual and worthwhile experience. Arriving early is recommended to avoid the long queue (before 10am, preferably earlier). Because I had arrived at 9.30am, I had been able to spend 10 minutes with the image and pray before the crowds arrived, otherwise it is only a few seconds each as people need to keep moving, such is the demand.
To reach and see the image, you need to ascend the stairway which leads to it’s golden and ornate altar. There is only enough room for 1-2 people to stand at a time as the space is so small.
(Front view of the image on balcony) (Back view of the image on balcony)
For people who have limited mobility and cannot manage the stairs, the image can also be viewed at a distance, from inside the Basilica and looking up at the balcony. There are also several chapels inside the Basilica.
At 1pm, the choristers gather to sing in the Basilica and they sound angelic. This is very popular with pilgrims/tourists. Even though I was inside 30 minutes early, there was only room for me to sit on the marble steps to the side. Many people had to stand.
Have you ever thought about clothing which makes it easier for disabled people to get dressed? Well, I have a lovely disabled sister, Marion, who is quadriplegic and a wheelchair user. She also has contractures in her arms which make her arms bent at the elbows so she is unable to straighten her arms to put on a jacket/coat. Therefore, any outer wear must consist of a poncho (which just pops over the head), a wrap or a cape.
I had a good reason to make another poncho (on the book’s front cover) for her from the super Stylish Wraps book. The first one was a winter fleece version in a check print. This pretty plum poncho (without the funnel neck) was made using a ponte roma knit fabric to wear for the Spring.
Instead of the oversized bow in the book, I have made a smaller bow in a pretty stretch lace trim which was in my stash and attached it to the poncho.
There are disabled people, especially wheelchair users, who have difficulty in wearing certain types of clothing. There are a few specialist companies who offer Adaptive Clothing which makes it easier for disabled people to get dressed and it is a great idea. However, it is not mainstream and I think that it should become more widely available.
Marion also cannot wear shirts and blouses. Her clothes consist of jersey fabric with stretch for easier dressing (as she requires full assistance) and also for comfort. Elastic waistbands are in, skirts and trousers with zips and buttons are out.
Even though there are restrictions to Marion’s wardrobe, she always looks good. Her clothing style is casual as well as comfortable and looks like the clothing label Maine (New England), and it suits her. She has also been a recipient of my Vintage Style Hats!
It has been a pleasure for me to make another Japanese (my favourite) style garment from Stylish Wraps Book by Yoshiko Tsukiori, author of the fabulous Stylish Dress Book.
A relative of mine has been a delighted recipient of my handmade hats as birthday gifts. Its another birthday, but this time I have made a headband from a blue boiled wool which has been lined with a soft blue jersey fabric.
Its been a long time, no sew. I had to put sewing on hold as I have been busy doing other things which were important. It does feel good to be back in sewing world!
As the weather is turning chilly, I have made a Winter dress from a soft corduroy fabric. I do love the print of this dress! It is a similar design to Marilla Walker’s Maya and Stylish Dress Book’s Box Dress sewing patterns. This dress has much larger pockets.
Simplicity K1620 sewing pattern features a jacket, dress/tunic and trousers/pants (View C). The trousers sit 1″ below the (elastic) waist and have a straight leg (slightly loose) which is perfect for the summer. They are so comfortable, that it feels like I am wearing PJ’s! However, I do prefer the silhouette of the (tapered leg) Owyn Pants by Lotta Jansdotter.
Above, taking it easy in Eastbourne. Trousers are made from a light cotton chambray.
Hope that you all had a great summer – it was a hot one!
This little (brown/turquoise) polka dot headscarf is a sweet and simple project to make. I like to wear a headscarf or headband to keep my hair back when the weather is hot – this was a hot summer, that’s for sure. This headscarf can also double up as a neckerchief – 2 for 1!
It has been a very long time since I have made a skirt as it feels more comfortable for me to wear trousers. However, this is a very comfortable skirt due to its attached elastic waistband and that it is worn 1″ below the waist.
Its time for a beautiful bralette (polka dot), using a stretch jersey fabric and stretch lace, finished with a cute bow. The difference between this one and my striped bralette is that I have used thin bra straps instead of stretch lace and the upper back has a thin strip of elastic for support.
This camisole (view A and B) sewing pattern (for stretch knit fabrics and stretch lace) was discovered by me whilst browsing Gertie’s blog for better sewing, and here is her tutorial on how to alter this pattern to make a brilliant bralette. There is also the option to make a slip and panties.
There are two bust darts in the lower front of the bralette for some shaping. I cut a size 14 as I am a 36B and it is a perfect fit. This bralette gives me some support and a decent shape. It is so comfortable that I can hardly feel that I am wearing it.
This bralette is a beauty and has the style reminiscent of the vintage/retro pin-ups (above). Here’s to lovely lingerie!