A quick catch up

I’ve been working full time now since mid May, Aaaah! What am I doing! I left this job 20 years ago to have my first child and it feels like I’m going back to finish the job I started! I’m going to feel like the new girl for at least a year! I did teach pattern cutting part time here for 12 years, but even that seems like ages ago! So since some of you asked, here’s a glimpse of the workroom of the fashion technician.

Amongst these industrial sewing machines, one will be my favourite, I just haven’t found it yet?

One of the greatest irons, steam, with vacuum dress and sleeve boards. Nothing slips away from these babies! The sewing machine is specifically for sewing leather and suede, I need to spend time on these to familiarise myself with how they work! (Maybe I’ll make a bag).

Anyway, meantime, I’m still sewing at home, and I am thoroughly enjoying instagram, for the first time, I joined in with MeMadeMay2016 and I am currently enjoying the prompt challenges for The Vintage Pledge.

To catch up with myself, here are a few recent makes, this one’s a very simple refashion.

One top, from the wardrobe, and one thrift shop skirt, both heavy jersey, combined to make a cardi, because I find cardi’s so much more comfortable to wear. I literally cut up the middle of the top, and slightly shaped the front neck to meet the back neck, and cut strips of black from the skirt. Folded them over and stitched on, bagged out the bottom edges and overlocked. Already worn with a rust coloured top.

It is supposed to be summer here, so I am mostly obsessing about little tops. Sometimes I wonder why I can’t just make one, wear it and enjoy it, but as usual, I make one and then decide on another version, either to change or modify bits or to use another fabric?? It can pretty much be any reason! Most of these tops are made up from vintage patterns that I picked up at various events in Edinburgh.

A piece of vintage fabric, vintage buttons, just because I’ve had them for 25 years, and an old pattern. The interesting thing about this was the wide pocket band, which looks like it’s pretending to be a welt pocket, but was much simpler to sew. It is inserted into the dart, stitched into place and then the dart stops and changes to a tuck, lovely technique. The whole jacket didn’t show of it’s shape until the belt was added and it pulled in the waist and pushed out the pockets. I love the silhouette this made.

I very very rarely buy these patterns, but this one looked so pretty, and I do love a good illustration. Another bit of old fabric, old buttons and a pattern that had odd shoulders! I had decided to make this one according to the instructions, so I joined the shoulder seams and double turned the armhole hems…mmmm! What’s that little irritating upwards peak doing there. I could feel it stretch oddly as I sewed it but it is a bought pattern? Unpicked and tryed a bias binding, pulling it slightly more at this point. Naaaa! Looked the same? So I changed the pattern and evened out the shoulder line, adding to the front and taking off the back. Now it works, but I knew I’d have to test it sometime.

For a long time now I have meant to make up the 30’s top featured in series 2 of the Great British Sewing Bee. This top is available to download and I found this out on the pennylibrarian blog, where I was admiring the top and then realised it was the pattern I had been looking for! I made this in a washed silk, shorted the nape to waist to fit me, and I really like it. The pattern uses 5 rows of shirring elastic at the neck, I just used normal thread, pulled it to gather and top stitched to hold it in place. It also has a very cute sleeve detail, which I may feature later, or have a look yourself!

Now this pink refashion is the combination of yellow top and grey top. Starting with sale palazzo pants, I used the yellow top to the waist, making the darts into waist tucks and checking the shoulder seams alteration. The lower half is from the grey top, because this peplum part sits so nicely, and it is flared rather than circle based which is how the yellow top peplum is constructed. I need to try the yellow top circle peplum reduced in circumference, too much fabric in this can simply exaggerate your hips!! Not good!

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!

1 top x 2 refashions and a maybe.


This refashion, is a refashion of a refashion. Starting it’s life as a top, which I wore a lot, when I got bored of it, it then became a top with a neck detail.

Initially, I shortened the top, made side slits at the hem, and used the off cut for the neck tie. The full story of this remake can be found here. It almost became fur edged, but instead, now, months later, became a button up.

I can usually tell if I really like a refashion or not, simply by the amount of times I wear it! However it bugged me that the tie neck didn’t really show up in that busy fabric. I unpicked the neck tie and pressed it flat. Unfortunately the strip wasn’t long enough to make a button stand, so I split it in half lengthways and made it 3.5cm wide.

I always have bits of things stashed away and I decided to face the button stand with strips cut from an old black t-shirt. Because the fabric was a knitted fabric, it meant that the button stand strip, which was straight, followed the newly cut v-neck edge to form the cardigan neck shaping. I stitched it on, boxed out the corners at the hem, overlocked the seam and topstitched.

I don’t think I can make this into anything else, I do like it as it is now…but never say never!!


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.


Refashioning a vintage blouse, with a bit of guilt!


This is a story, where I did feel a bit guilty, but I also managed to save a lovely piece of vintage fabric, so I’m sticking to that as my justification. This vintage blouse was lovely as it was. It was bought by my daughter at one of the vintage fairs in Edinburgh. What we hadn’t noticed was the holes in the underarms, not just at the seams, but around the whole area. Not so nice! And a hazard of this type of shopping!

Fortunately the blouse was in a larger size than both of us, so it still had potential. I had tried reinserting the sleeves, minus the worn fabric areas, but the entire top was still too big and, for me, and it was shorter than I would normally wear. If I still wore high waisted trousers or skirts, and I mean when the waistbands that were cut on the straight grain and sat above the natural waistline, I would have kept this top in this styling for myself, because I think it is lovely, but since waistlines are lower, it would never have been worn!

The sleeves, and therefore the armholes, were so deep that I wasn’t sure if there would be enough fabric to reshape the sides, but luckily the front and back body pieces were wide enough for me to be able to move the side seams over and make the armholes the correct size.

I unpicked the waistband and buckle. I remade these into a self fabric matching belt and reused the buttons.

I used the sleeves to cut out bias binding strips for my new sleeveless armholes and cut out flared pieces to attach to the hem edge of the top, making it into a far better length for me. I had hacked the Sewoverit vintage shirt dress pattern into a top a while back, so I used the skirt pattern pieces minus the tucks, and further shortened it to 12cm.

Should I feel guilt free? Guilt gone! Originally it was a beautiful style of top, in such a pretty print, but with so much damage and being far too big, I’m glad I took the time to make it into something that can be worn again.


Dress refashion, twice and how to attach a neck tie

The dress, picked up in a sale, was ready for a refashion, mainly because I don’t often wear dresses and I don’t suit this type of neckline. I was going to chop the new top shape from the bottom up, giving it a wide hem and body, but then decided to keep all the pieces already made for me. I liked the raglan sleeve and the slightly fitted body shape.

I really do seem to spend a lot of time chopping off sleeves, or in this instance, hems, just so that I can attach yet another form of neck tie. So this is the method I usually use to attach them! OOh!! Look at that colour difference in those photos! Welcome to the contrasting days of a Scottish winter! It really is a before and after of the same garment, one day apart, same time of day?

I cut 27cm off the hem and reshaped the neckline. The neck edge, on the half measures 29cm, this leaves 2cm each side of the centre front. The space is necessary for the tie to be tied whether it is being formed on a one piece front, like this one, or on a button stand.

With the one piece front the gap has to have a finished edge, I usually bind this. mark the centre point on the front neckline, mark 2cm either side.

On the binding strip mark 3.5cm either side of the centre front. Sew across.

Double turn and stitch. This can be done on either side of the fabric, whichever you prefer the look off. I add the extra length to the binding, so that when the tie is sewn on it can taper over the bound strip.

Making up the tie. This tie has a centre back seam. Sew this and press. Mark the back and front neck measurements onto the tie, from the centre back. Sew from the mark round the outer edges of the tie.

Snip at the mark to the first of the stitches.

Pull through the ties to the right side and press. Decide which side will be on the outside and press this edge, between the snips, seam allowance amount up. This is how it will look on the inner edge of the tie.

And how it looks on the outer edge of the tie, seam pressed inside.


Attach to the inside of the neck edge first. Then press.

With the inside piece in place, above shows how the pressed outer edge simply folds over and covers all the raw edges of the binding and the inner side tie seam.

Pin the outer edge in place. This edge has already been pressed. See how easily all the raw edges are covered with this final row of stitching! I use the first stitch line as a guide to follow.

Sewn on and this is the inside view.

And the outside view. Only when the tie is completely attached do I press in the outside edge and all over.

So once this was finished, I decided I didn’t like it!? It felt bulky, maybe because the fabric was cut across the piece and not down what would be the selvage edge, or maybe it was too wide and heavy for the top, I’m not sure, I just knew that tie was coming off. I was shopping with my daughter and spotted several high street stores with simple shirts, made in jersey fabric. Problem solved. I remade this again! I cut a bit off the length, this I used for the collar stand, the second collar stand, the two collar pieces and the button stands were all formed from the neck tie.

And here is the new version, and just as well that I’m happy with this, because there definitely is not enough fabric left in it to remake it into anything else!

Now this post started out as a how to attach a tie to the neckline of a top. I had bought a piece of fabric from Edinburgh Fabrics. This was the second time I’d seen it and I still liked the knitted print. So I gave in to the temptation and bought it! This one I have kept as it is.

Cosy Jumper refashion and sewing in a flat sleeve

I seriously wondered about posting this one! I just couldn’t decide if it was a bit boring or not! This was a really quick remake, I wanted to wear it now and it’s so cosy! Sale rail, big enough size to use with one of my patterns, but with a change of neckline! There were several pieces, particularly necklines that I’d be storing away in my head , while watching the film Brooklyn. This one was worn by the landlady, played by Julie Walters, sitting at the dinner table in a fine cream wool knitted version, with a tie and knot neckline. The only image available is the one from my memory!?

I combined 2 patterns to get the neck shape and body shape that I wanted.

I had to cut the pieces out, leaving enough space at each side to form the ties.


However, I was momentarily distracted and forgot about the neck tie strips but here is where I took them from? The loop or knot for the ties is formed from the original band of fabric used round the neck. I love making up a shape like this, it’s so fast to do and it is a perfect shape for sewing the sleeves in on the flat.

However, when I say flat, I usually mean curved, curved to follow the body curve shaping, and this sleeve seam usually still look curved when it’s laid flat, but when this sleeve is worn, it looks visually flat and straight!

I joined the shoulder seams, overlocked the seams together, and pressed towards the back. Matched the sleeve head notch with the shoulder line and sewed across.

Then overlock the seams together and press. The views are of the wrong and right sides of the fabric.

Fold along the sleeve and shoulder and match the side seams. I added shaping on the side seam at the hem so that I can have a feature side vent on each side, so I will only sew 1.5cm past the start of the vent shaping. I kept and reused the original hems from the front and back, and on the sleeves. I love it when parts of a refashion can be reused! Already worn and it’s become my go to cosy top for a frosty morning!


I will make this neckline again in a finer knit!

Pink fabric to match pink vintage buttons

This is my first online fabric purchase – ever, from Ditto Fabrics and I am really pleased with it, particularly since I wanted it to match the vintage buttons I have been meaning to use for ages and my colour matching was done on a screen!

I’m sure when I ordered this fabric that I had it in my mind that I would make a version of this black and white checked jacket, which was based on an old 80’s pattern.

I was definitely going to keep the collar! However I wanted to try a reshape of the Sewoverit vintage shirt dress – shortened, replacing the tucks with darts, keeping the lowered front shoulder seam, minus the gathers – all of which I had already done here.

Also, I wanted to try yet another new sleeve draft but keeping the shirt dress turn up cuff! And there ends the list of reasons for what I decided to make. Now this sleeve I am pleased with!

To show that I do actually follow some of my own rules this fabric piece is a perfect example of  avoiding cutting out the pattern pieces on the fold. Even when it is washed, sometimes the fold remains, so for this piece I cut it with the selvages folded into the centre, avoiding the crease completely! You can find details of this here.


If I had stuck to my original plan I intended to have big square patch pockets on the boxy shape, like the original 80’s pattern, but the change of plan meant a change of pocket, I still wanted to go patch but decided on a neater shape and used my own tutorial in making these, and carried out with care, no scorched fingers!

Now this little jacket has a swing to it, not visible from the front and back views, but only at the sides! When I swapped the front and back tucks for darts I didn’t make the darts as wide as the tucks. If I increase the darts to match the tucks the shape will pull in, but for now I’ve decided to keep it as it is, already worn, it is comfortable and not restricting to wear. I do love those buttons!

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!