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!

Using my vintage pattern for a bit of 70’s and how to narrow a sleeve.


When I made up the pink printed blouse, from this vintage pattern, I had it on my stand waiting for a bright enough day to photograph it. Looking at it I kept thinking how much the collar looked like a 70’s collar shape, reminding me of how we placed these wide collars over the lapel of a school blazer with a loose giant knotted school tie! With this thought firmly planted in my head, I knew it was only a matter of time before I would make it again, in a 70’s appropriate fabric?  Ta Dah!

It seems logical to me that a paper pattern produced in the 60’s would feature elements that would still be fashionable into the 70’s? Yes!

This kimono cost £6. The only pattern pieces that were too wide to fit into the available fabric were the sleeves. So here is a quick tutorial on how to make your sleeve pattern narrower.

Redraw round the original sleeve pattern piece.

Divide the sleeve equally, I chose 6 sections because the original sleeve shape was very full.

Overlap the sections to fit the required amount. I followed the measurement that was the same as the given cuff. Look at how the sleeve head shape changes, as you overlap the sections!?

Redraw round the new shape. Keeping the original grain line.

Of course the pattern on this fabric had to be matched, across the fronts, from the bottom edge up, because it has bust darts, side seams and back. This meant extra care when cutting out from my limited amount of fabric.

The only other thing that I changed on this pattern was the back. I gave it two back darts to give it more shaping.


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!

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 HOW TO tutorial for creating the flared top with D-rings!

From the shape above to the shape below!

The basic pattern that I used to hack/alter to make this pattern is a very basic shape. If you want to try it for yourself, start with any basic, sleeveless pattern that you have used and that fits you well over the upper area, from the bust/underarm up, front and back. The images below are my original pattern pieces.


In fact the first top was already refashioned from a sale dress, I loved the print, the dress looked awful on me, so it had to be reused. I even went back and bought more! Who doesn’t make more than one from a favourite pattern? Anyway back to the tutorial!

Draw round the original pattern pieces and transfer any information, then put them aside.

Cut out the back and front pattern pieces. My seam allowances are 1cm, the neck and armholes have no seam allowance because they are bound. If its easier, this is the time to remove the seam allowances.

Split the back pattern into 4 pieces. Cut these lines from bottom to top, I usually leave these bits attached by about 2mm, in this instance, at the shoulder. The line positions dictate where the flare will sit. My flared top pattern measures 35cm across the half back at the hem. Measure and mark this to get this amount of flare. For me it meant only 1.5cm to be added between the cuts. The lines I have put in are slightly angled, to follow the line of the pattern piece. Open out the pieces, from 0 at the shoulder edge to the required amount at the bottom edge.

At this point I would be starting on the front pattern piece. This is difficult to show in images, but I always work on the back and front simultaneously, so that what I apply to one, gets applied to the other, if necessary. And so that I don’t forget what I’ve just done??

The shapes produced at this point for the front and back, above and below would be fine to use as they are. But I wanted to give a curve onto the side seam, without having to increase the hem measurement. Therefore I marked the 32cm from the centre front, overlapped 4cm to make sure the front was flat and reshaped the side seam to meet the 32cm point. I marked the side slit 11.5 cm up from the hem edge. I allowed myself the loss at the side seam of front panel because I knew it was full enough and I wanted to encourage the shape into the curve rather than it looking pointy at the sides!!

I measured 35cm from the centre back, along the hem edge and marked it onto the paper. This is how wide I want the half back to be. I laid the front pattern piece on top of the back piece, matching at the armhole, down the side seam to the 35cm mark. I want the curves of the front and back side seams to match.

These are images of the back neck opening and the side slits, although you can finish these in whatever way you prefer. Cut the strips for the binding on the bias 4cm x 50cm x 2 for the armholes and 4cm x 48cm x 1 for the neck edge, or check your own measurements. For the belt strips cut on the straight grain 9cm x 70cm x1, to finish 3.5cm wide and for the strip for the D-rings 10cm x 14cm, to finish 4cm wide. Or cut these narrower or wider to suit your own styling of the belt. For bigger sizes add to both lengths.

The belt position on the top is an odd one. I got the perfect position by trying on the finished top and pinning it at the best spot. I had tried several times to decide where it should sit as a marking on the paper pattern, but it ended up in slightly different positions, depending on the fabric. However I notched and inserted the longer tie into the side seam at 15.5cm and then 19cm down from the armhole. On the other side I stitched a thread loop but it could have been a belt loop, following the same measurements. The front and back can both be cut to the fold, meaning as one piece! My coral top was made from palazzo pants so had to have front and back centre seams because of the lack of width in the trouser!

This top and the measurements I’ve used are based on a size 10. If you have your basic shape, which already fits, I would add 1cm per half front and back, but only to increase the front and back width given measurements of 32cm and 35cm! This would increase each size up by 4cm. Or add as much flare as you want to!!

Pattern hack – Sewoverit vintage shirt dress for Indie sewing month

Spotting a pattern hack section in September’s Indie sewing month was just another reason to tempt me to order this pattern, I really loved the look of it from the drawing and well, any old excuse to buy it was enough for me!?

Initially I was simply going to shorten the dress into a jacket, which I did anyway, however the rules did not allow for such a simple pattern hack! Oops, change of plan! Can a pattern hack include bits of a garment hack? Maybe not, but I’ll submit it to the pattern hacking section anyway!

I had these pieces left over from a refashioned garment. They include, a collar and stand, cuffs, a front panel, button stands and the buttons. I wanted to remodel them into yet another top! I had already made up the Sewoverit vintage shirt dress, as a jacket, and it fitted beautifully, so I based my new idea on this pattern!

Scan 3

What I changed on the pattern? I kept the back the same but added 6cm to the length, used the tuck, but repositioned it, and added 2cm to the side seam and reshaped it. On the front I decided to not use the tuck so added nothing to the front side seam. I reshaped the neckline to a curve. The total front and back neckline had to measure 46cm, which is the measurement I took from the salvaged collar and stand. I kept the gathering at the yoke line. I added 6cm to the length, keeping it the same as the back length.

I didn’t want the gathering on the sleeve head so I pivoted the pattern and reduced this by 1cm on the back curve and by 2cm on the front curve, not to fit the armhole exactly, a sleeve should always have some ease in it, simply because it has to shape around the curve of your shoulder.

The sleeve hem edge was the perfect width as it was, and I formed the excess into a tuck to fit onto the already made cuff. I had decided the length of the band for the hem edge should be 90cm, to fit the hem edge of the pattern and to fit me. The width of the band to be as wide as possible depending on what I could cut from the front panel piece of fabric! The button stands I would reuse as button stands.

Now I needed to find a contrast fabric to make up the rest of this top! I had a look round the charity shops, nothing, and then spotted this on a sale rail, I couldn’t believe what a perfect colour match this dress was but realised I needed two! And there were two! I cut the sleeves from one dress and the fronts and back from the other. Still a bit of 70’s influence going on here!? And here is the finished garment.

Mmm!  I do love a pattern hack! – What will I try next with this one?