One vintage pattern can look so different!


I don’t have many bought patterns, vintage or otherwise, because I prefer to draft my own. I’ve used this vintage pattern several times now, simply because the shape fits me really well, and as every maker knows, the fab thing about a tried and tested pattern is that the variations of it are limitless! These images show some simple changes to one pattern. The pink blouse uses the pattern as is, and I added double buttons as a feature. The zig zag gives it a 70’s look. The cotton presses beautifully to form box pleats from darts that I added to the front pattern pieces. The lace collar adds a nostalgic charm, and this one is sleeveless.

This pink blouse is refashioned from the dress and featured here, if you haven’t already seen this post? I have not had to alter this pattern in any way and better still I can use it as a basic shape to use and explore in many other ways. The most obvious way to change the look of one simple paper pattern is to use different fabric types.

Version 2, refashioned from a kimono, giving it a bit of a 70’s vibe! With this fabric, I added 2 back darts and narrowed the sleeve and added cuffs. How to narrow the sleeve pattern is featured here.

Version 3. When I decided to make the pattern in this Moda fabric, 100% cotton, I knew it would be a fairly structured shape. Anticipating this, I lengthened the front and back pattern pieces, and used the already redrafted version of the slimmer sleeve, adding turn up cuffs. The body, when made up created a boxier shape than the previous fabrics I had used, which were much drapier, and because of this I decided to sew tucks into the fronts and backs, to create some extra shaping. I had already marked the position of the back darts for version 2.

I made the collar slightly shorter, to give more of a collar and rever shape.

I had blue vintage buttons and decided on a vintage look belt.

Version 4 is a refashion from a maxi skirt, it is sleeveless, only because I hadn’t enough fabric.

I used the back dart shaping, added side slits and multiple buttons. You can find this top’s story here!

And I’m not finished with this pattern yet!

Miss Lemon inspired blouse using another type of binding.

I said to someone once that it would take me a couple of years to decide what I wanted to do, and, after an odd series of events, I am once again back working at Edinburgh College of Art! I know that the work there suits me perfectly! Regardless of this change, here is a recent refashion influenced by Miss Lemon, personal secretary to Agatha Christie’s private detective, Hercule Poirot.

I do love a vintage inspired blouse, and this one is worn by Miss Lemon, on the TV series, Poirot. I have been collecting images of blouses worn by Miss Lemon on pinterest. I love them and think they are very much worth an interpretation!

As is often the case I’m starting with a garment to refashion, this time, a maxi skirt. The maxi skirt is actually quite disappointing in the amount of fabric it uses, so this one is going to have to be sleeveless.

The main feature I wanted to include is a lacy collar taken from a polyester chiffon top I have had for ages and don’t wear any more because it annoys me that I have to wear a vest top under it. So a contrasting collar and multiples of buttons will be the feature pieces of this top. Sometimes I really enjoy unpicking garments, actually that’s wrong. I enjoy unpicking garments when I’m using them for a refashion and particularly when it means I discover a new sewing method or technique. This one was a different way of using binding to attach the collar.This method used a strip of self fabric bias binding which was pressed in half lengthways.

I cut out and made up the top. I used a usual 3cm wide button stand with the centre front sitting in the centre at 1.5cm. I sewed in a step in line with the 1.5cm, bagged out and pressed, snipped and released the 1cm neck seam allowance. The binding was cut on the bias 2.5cm wide, and pressed in half lengthways.

The collar is stitched onto the neck edge.

The folded, pressed binding is sewn on top, sandwiching the collar between the binding and the neck edge.

Press this, fold downward and stitch in place covering all the raw neck edges. The only tricky bit on this method, is folding in the raw edges of the binding, at each end. Above is how it looks on the inside.

And how it looks on the outside of the garment.

Once again I used my 60’s vintage pattern, bit boring? Or simply since it’s a tried and tested shape it’s a good one to use again….and again? In fact knowing that a pattern fits you really well leaves you free to decide on the changes and details. I had to piece together 3 panels to get enough fabric to cut out the back, and added darts for a bit of shaping. Then finished the hem with side slits.

It is a very pretty Miss Lemon collar! Now I know I have another lacy collar, somewhere!


Shirt refashioned to bomber jacket.

Fashion revolution week is 18th – 24th April. @Fash_Rev  #FashRev

Sometimes a refashion is simply a refashion, like this one. This is one from my wardrobe. I bought the shirt a couple of years ago and have rarely worn it. Bomber jackets are very on trend at the moment and can be seen in all the High Street stores. I love them, as long as they’re not too puffy! This is a very simple refashion and you could create from any loose fitting blouse or shirt.

I used a ribbed vest for rib fabric for the neck, cuffs and hem and, I’d love to say I found a thrifted, perfect length open ended metal zip in my stash, but I didn’t!

I removed the collar and rever and the cuffs, and put them aside, hopefully to use at another time.

I cut 25cm from the shirt length, this gave me enough fabric to cut 2 facings, 2 strips for pocket welts and the pocket bags. I added the welt pockets first, I like a pocket on a jacket. I removed the buttons and set them aside. The centre fronts sit in the line of the buttons and the buttonholes, and I cut these strips off. I will need a 1cm seam allowance to attach the zip. To compensate for this 1cm loss (each side) I sewed in the zip with the teeth and band showing as a feature.

I decided to keep a double length, 7cm wide finished, grown on band to sit flat as a band either side of the centre front. I folded this back on itself, sandwiched the zip in between, left a 1cm seam allowance to attach it to the bottom facing edge.

The collar shape is taken from the neck edge measurement and I didn’t want any tightness here, so the curved outside edge measurement matches the neck edge measurement, from point round the curve to the opposite point. And cut on the fold. Again stitched to itself, then sewn on.

I must admit I trimmed the point flatter when attaching, and started and ended the ribbed collar at the zip edge.

With the grown on waistband ready, and the neck rib attached, I then attached the facing, down the centre fronts, to the neck edge and finally attached it to the waistbands at either side of the zip. 

Every piece of rib I use seems to have a different stretch. I wanted this ribbed band to be loose, and not pull the jacket shape in too much. So I measured the remaining bottom edge of the top and only reduced the rib length by 5cm. I sewed the rib to itself, on the fold first, so that it doesn’t move or slide out of place when attached to the bottom edge of the top. Stitch and overlock.

I love top stitching, not only do I like how it looks, but it is functional in that it holds pieces in place.

On this jacket the top stitching holds the overlocked neck edge neatly and prevents the front facing from getting stuck in the zipper. To finish off, I added ribbed cuffs to the sleeve edges.


Miss Marple, the muse, a refashion and reusing a collar shape

My favourite of all the Miss Marples is the one played by Geraldine Mckeown. I love the costume work of whoever designed the garments for this series. If I was younger I would dress like this all the time, but now I’m too old for doing that, when I say this I mainly mean the hats! But that doesn’t mean I can’t poach little bits and pieces for ideas for the things I make!

Found!! One giant, masses of fabric in it, waterfall cardigan. This one is perfect to refashion into a Miss Marple coatigan?

Once I find a shape I like I see no reason not to reuse it.

I used the collar shape that I had copied from my 50’s jacket. It was simple to make it a bit deeper by adding on 2 – 3 cms onto the outer edge only. I transferred the neck shape and the front rever shape too.

Scan_090316However, turns out, I don’t suit this coatigan at all, it looks better on the dummy than it looks on me. Time to rethink it? I decided simply to shorten it, unpicked and moved up the pockets and cut 15cm off the hem, leaving a new hem of 4cm. I also changed the buttons to a bigger size. The sleeves had been slightly too short so I added a narrow cuff.

It has kept a granny look though, maybe because the fabric looks like big plain knitting stitches, I don’t know, but at this new length it has become one of my new favourites!


Faux fur collars and how to cut and make the one that stays fastened!


I found this DVD, this is one of my favourite films, and books, ever…the chameleon like charm of the lead man, played by Tom Courtney, seems oddly familiar!? Or perhaps its the comedy and everyday charm that belongs to the Kitchen Sink Drama movement that makes me love the film so much!! However what I found myself looking at was the fabulous faux fur scarf worn by Julie Christie, and this reminded me that I had recently discovered my favourite method for fastening such a scarf.

Now I’m not new to these cosy scarves, I bought my first one many years ago and have found them occasionally in charity shops and sales since, but it wasn’t until I decided to write a post about the best fastening for a fur collar that I realised just how many I had. Let’s just add faux fur scarves to my obsessive collections list which already includes buttons, brooches, clocks and mirrors! The two above are the favourites. The one on the left was the first to be given a new fastening, I mean, if it doesn’t have a fastening of some sort, how does it stay on??

I added giant poppers.

The scarf on the right is perfection. The loop created in the sewing together of this fur scarf means that the scarf can move up and down through the loop so that it can be worn loose and low or high up and cosy!! I’ll add the pattern and how to make this one up at the end of this post.

How many of these do I have…I’m almost embarrassed to say…13!! and there could be more but I’m not going to look. Seems I have definitely made collecting fur scarves a new obsession!

The traditional hook and eye doesn’t work for me – it slides out of place too easily. So I will have to add a popper!

The unusual clip, like a hairclip, started out quite well, but the more it was used the less the grip worked!

The giant, gap, almost like a buttonhole gives a good shape, but eventually it needed help? I added a clear giant popper.

The strip, worked like a belt loop, and looks like it should work really well, but it also got the help of a popper.

I altered this one, last year, the scarf was simply a double strip of fur fabric and it wouldn’t sit well tied, too thick and bulky, nor would it sit straight down, too bouncy! I slit two lines in the fur fabric and sewed in a tube of lining, sewing the two sides of the slit into a circle, on both sides, making it almost like a hand muff. This seemed like a good technique, but its not the best one.

These 4 are more like collars and each one has a series of small elasticated loops that button onto corresponding buttons on a cardigan or jacket. This method works really well!

Finally the best one of all and the pattern.

You will need

A fur strip 126cm x 18cm, 2 pieces of lining 96cm x 17cm and 30cm x 17cm, add the seam allowances you prefer to use. The 1cm difference in the widths is to allow for the fur to roll slightly round onto the lining.

With right sides of the fabric together, sew the smaller piece of lining to the fur. Sew from the raw edges to the spot marked with the vertical pin, a seam allowance amount from the edge of the lining. Do this on both sides.

Pull through to the right side and fold over to meet all the raw edges together.

Pull the lining pieces and the fur together and pin.

Machine stitch across, keeping the long piece of the fur underneath and out of the way of the stitching.

And sew across, this forms the loop.

You should only have sewn 2 lining edges and 1 fur edge, the stitch line does not go through onto the main body of the fur!

Go back into the loop and snip to the stitches on both sides. Time to add the longer lining piece.

Pin from the snips in the fur fabric, leave the lining seam allowance as an overlap, do not stitch it, and then stitch all round the rest of the scarf.

Stitched round. Now pull through this part of the scarf, or…

because I’m a bit lazy with the hand stitching, I went back in to stitch across the opening as far as I could with the machine, then I pulled the right sides through!

If the fur was bulkier, I would probably have hand stitched across this whole seam, since the tail of the scarf has to come through it.

Hand stitch to close the opening.

Finished. I gave this a hovering steam press, not actually touching the fabric!?

Wear it medium, low or high! Depending on the weather! Now I have faux fur scarf number 14! I should add that this faux fur scarf was made from an old faux fur scarf! A refashion! The fabric is so so soft and smooth that it used to slide off, not any more!

Matching checks for a fitted jacket

This piece of fabric, a poly/wool mix, and the buttons are from Edinburgh Fabrics. My intention was to make a fitted jacket from a block I had drafted many years ago from instructions from a book of 40’s blocks! I have never managed to find the book again. It was the 80’s and with the shapes being so different, at the time, I had used part of this block and modified it into a vintage look jacket but with bigger shoulders and deeper armholes, of course!

I redrafted it onto paper and checked it on the dummy and off I went, cutting out the 40’s shape.

When I cut checks or stripes I cut each piece individually. I’ve used the sleeve piece as an example. I find a vertical stripe in the check and match it to the grain line, pin occasionally and cut out. I remove the paper pattern and use the cut piece of fabric to finish the pair, and remember to flip it over to make the pair!! The third image above shows the matching of the checks, but since it should be perfect and therefore invisible, I placed the pattern piece back on to show how it works. The last image shows how invisible it should be. Cutting each pattern piece individually is time consuming but it is really worth it. I interfaced the hems, top collar, and facings.

I like to get the tricky bits of sewing done first, so matching checks on the darts and then to construct the welt pockets. These darts are pinned across the checks and I pick out several horizontal lines to follow, and pin the dart shaping.

With the checks in the darts matching I mark on the welt pocket position. I do these before sewing up the rest of the jacket, then if there is a nasty incident I can recut!!

Sometimes I make the lining and facings before I make the outer jacket, and this time I was so pleased that I had. It wasn’t until I started to make it up that I realised it was not going to fit well at all. The main problem being the sleeves and armhole shaping, and the entire shape from the underarm up? So almost everything, but my top collar had worked and I really liked the shape of it and I had to recut the fronts and back, but saving the darts and welt pockets.

A quick unpick of the sleeves meant I could recut them in a much smaller pattern that I already had, the fronts and back had the darts and pockets stitched in place, so no changing them, but a bit of manoeuvring meant they could be saved. What surprised me most was the amount I took off from the shoulder and neckline? Anyway the purpose of this post was to explain how I like to cut out checks and since I had to recut almost the entire thing I was certainly getting in the practice!!

I also want to include my easy way of putting together a lined jacket with collar and rever. With everything recut and resewn, I complete the outer pieces and attach the collar ready to attach the facings and lining.

I attach the facings to their corresponding lining pieces and make the entire inside. When I sew the lining to the facing I always have the lining on the top and follow the notches, it doesn’t slide about as much as it would if the lining was underneath!

With the outside and inside pieces ready, I sew the two together, literally with the right sides together I join them along the outside edges, from facing edge right round to facing edge, sandwiching the collar in between. The images show the collar attached and ready to be sandwiched, the facing side rever and the outside rever edges. Turn through, press and hem. Oops, the sleeve was going to be too short, so I gave it a false hem. Finished.

The collar and rever shaping is from my 80’s jacket, I’m feeling the temptation to try a remake of this!

For Designin December. Another pattern hack, how to and a refashion #DESIGNINDECEMBER


This is an great idea from Linda of Nice dress! Thanks, I made it. and I did check with her if it was ok for me to join in as a refashioner! My inspiration for #DESIGNINDECEMBER is a collection of floral’s from Milan Fashion Week. I couldn’t find one particular image to use so my outfit is intended to sit alongside these. Ha ha! can you spot me?? I’ll include all the elements I enjoy in my making of this. A refashioned vest made from a shirt, a £3 pair of trousers, narrowed and shortened and a lightweight jacket made from a pattern hack of the Sewoverit vintage shirt dress.

So I’ve been looking for a pretty floral, 70’s influence and found one in one of my favourite sources for fabric, a sale rail, with palazzo pants for £9. It does have that 70’s curtain fabric look, which I really like, and the fabric feels great!

I had another idea for a pattern hack of the Sewoverit vintage shirt dress! To eliminate the waist seam, but keep the tucks at the waistline. And to remove the gathering at the shoulder seam and the sleeve head. Here’s how to

I started by drawing round the front bodice shape. I wanted to take out the shoulder gathering from the front. I found the bust point by folding out the gathering and cutting open the dart line that would have originally formed the front tuck.
I started by drawing round the front bodice shape. I wanted to take out the shoulder gathering from the front. I found the bust point by folding out the gathering and cutting open the dart line that would have originally formed the front tuck.
redraw round the front.

The next bit

Cut it out and divide it into 4 pieces. Then cut the pieces apart. I always number pieces like this,because they look so similar to each other, to get them back into the correct order
As you fit the pieces onto the waist of the bodices, you can straighten them out. This gives you the side seam shaping and a reduced hem edge.
Draw round the back bodice, the new front is sitting alongside. The reason I cut the skirt pieces is because the original waist is on a curve and I need it to be straighter to line up with the line of the waists of the front and back bodices.

I redrew round the new front and back pieces, pinned them together, pinned the new tucks and fitted it onto the dummy, to check that the changes were sitting correctly. I then changed the neckline to be a band to fit round the front and back neck and hold the button and buttonholes. I also reduced the amount of ease in the sleeve head, to loose the gathering!


The pattern pieces are now ready to fit into the trouser.


I unpicked the inside legs and removed the waistband and pressed before laying out the pattern pieces.


And the finished jacket type blouse!

The trousers, bought for £3, are too long and wide. I chopped off 10cm and marked in 3.5cm each side, from the knee down, where I wanted it to be narrower. I always use the finished length line as a fold for the hem and mirror image from it. There’s nothing worse than a hem not having enough length to stitch round. This method guarantees enough length regardless of how deep the hem is!


Finally, to complete the outfit, a plain black vest top, already blogged about here and worn on very many occasions by me.

Cat’s back! His brother is totally camera shy! Anyway, complete outfit, I don’t usually find inspiration in this way, but I have enjoyed doing this. I’m out to eat with some pals this week and I’m planning on wearing this!




A 70’s Simplicity pattern

Recently I discovered the joy of working from a simplicity pattern. From it I discovered the perfect way to produce a V-neck. A V-neck tunic with a collar and facing. Ahhh! I’ve avoided one off these for a long time. However the instructions from the bought pattern were there for me to refer to and they were very clear.

Who would think that a Perfect V would be created from TWO stitches, and this made it very much easier to snip into turn through and press.

The images above are from the new menswear collection “formication” by KellyDawn Riot.

An upcycled gift saved by a shoe box!

In my years of sewing I have made very many things and I do enjoy a sewing challenge! A friend of mine, who has spent many years writing diaries, decided it was time for her to have a cover for the diary, which she could remove and use again and again. Before I started writing this blog I had not realised how massive the online sewing community was! So I decided to research and find a post on the production of this diary cover and let someone else do the figuring out for me.

The lovely fabric had been specially sourced. The band, as recommended, is a hair bobble, a button and a bookmark from a strip of the same fabric. The entire inside is interfaced. Finished. No. Look again. It’s wobbly!? Time to think again and make adjustments!! I needed the whole cover to be firmer – I searched the house for – card! And eventually found the best bits in the form of a shoe box.

This she will never know, unless she decides to read this. So now I had to unpick the edge and set in the card. This was very fiddley and annoying, but only because I did it as an afterthought! The end result is much better. I used the folded edge of the shoe box to form one of the edges of the cover’s spine and that worked really well.


You can see in the images how much firmer the cover looks.

And then I decided on a different, flatter button and changed that too! Hope she likes it?

While I was making this I realised that it would be a perfect gift and could be made from any scrap of fabric, patch worked, denim from old jeans, furry or something sentimental, as this piece was! And who doesn’t have an old shoe box to recycle?

Pin tucks

Kelly wanted pin tucks featured on some of the trousers she was showing in her collection. It’s very easy to make a pin tuck before starting the make-up of a garment! Just follow the grain line!

This reminded me of the fact that I usually use pin tucks on linen trousers because I don’t like how baggy and wide they seemed to grow when they’re worn. The plain trousers in the image above are made in a cotton/linen mix and they have the same growing problem? Rather than recycle them I decided to add a pin tuck, which really just redefines the pressed crease formed on the original trouser. I found the centre front grain line, which would be the pressed crease line, and repressed it, then stitched down this line at only 2mm from the edge. This not only looks smarter but keeps the trouser shape in a much more controlled way. I usually only apply it to the fronts and leave the backs pin tuck free!

Fold the paper pattern at the hem edge, at the centre point, forming a right angle, line up the side seams and fold the pattern piece up to the waistline. Draw in this line. I noticed that some produced patterns grain lines are marked differently, but the lines will run parallel to the grain line you have just made.

Mark the top edge (on the waistline) and the bottom edge in the centre of this line, hold the two notches length ways and press. It is the first thing to do while the trousers fronts are still individual pieces. Once pressed each tuck can be easily stitched at the required pin tuck depth.

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This image is close up, close up. The pin tuck I stitched is only 2mm wide.