Sew Your Basics: Prints

front view

This was a quick last minute make to fit in with Sea of Teal’s sew your basics theme of prints for the month of June.  Originally I had wanted to make something grander but I have been so busy this month making face coverings for family, friends and local businesses that I suddenly realised I was running out of time.

I bought the leopard print fabric at a craft fair last July with a button up skirt in mind.  Leopard prints seemed to be all the rage last summer and although perhaps not as much this year they are a perennial favourite. At the time I was unsure what the fabric type was but from my last project I now know that it is a double gauze with its typical crinkle look appearance and two layer construction.  It is actually a good weight for a skirt as although lightweight it is quite opaque and so an underskirt is not entirely necessary.

The pattern I have used is from Patrones magazine 408 (April 2020).

patrones skirt

There are only three main pieces to the skirt – front, back, waistband – and so is very quick to sew up with 4 darts, side seams and front band self facings.  Then attach the waistband, hem, buttonholes and buttons.  The instructions are in Spanish and you could do a translation but for an easy skirt like this it is not really necessary. The pattern does have patch pockets on the front and I  do like this feature a lot. I actually did cut out and make up the pockets but once basted on the skirt they were just ‘camouflaged’ plus I did wonder if it would give people headaches seeing a clashing piece of leopard print on top of another so in the end I left them off. However if I were to make this skirt in a plain fabric I would definitely include them.

The pattern requirements suggest five 28 mm buttons and although I really love the drama of the large fastenings I was worried the spacing between the buttons might cause gaping especially when sitting  down.  Instead I have used six 20 cm buttons.  I felt black or wooden buttons would work well but in the end decided to use dark tan ones as I wanted to add more pop to the skirt.

I am new to Patrones patterns but I absolutely adore their designs.  I thought being European the sizes would correspond to Burdastyle but beware as when I double checked they are different.  I usually sew a Burda size 38 (which is roughly a UK size 12) but in Patrones the same sizing is a 40.  Also the Patrones sizing is more ‘hourglass’.  So when bust and hip measurement correspond to Burda the waist sizing is smaller meaning if you choose Patrones by hip size you may need to make the waist larger.

Overall I feel this will be a good basic skirt because of its neutral colour scheme.  It will look good in summer worn either with a black t-shirt and sandals or a cream t-shirt and plimsolls but it could also work into autumn/winter with a black polo neck jumper or loose fitting beige jumper with either ankle or knee high boots.  I will say the one thing I really enjoyed about this project was the relief of sewing long lines again after all the small seams on those pesky masks!


#Make Nine Number Two – Shirtdress

best dress

I wanted to like this dress more than I do.  I like it but I don’t love it.  I was excited when I saw Vogue V9371 last year.  View F with its elongated shoulder line which gives more coverage than a cutaway sleeveless armhole really appealed to me and I was looking forward to having a stylish shirtdress to wear during the summer.  I know it is designed as a slightly loose shirtdress with the tie belt to hold it all together but the problem is that it feels slightly big on me.  To be honest no-one else would probably tell but it is one of those things where you know how something feels on you and although not uncomfortable, I’m just aware that it is a tad too large.  To my shame I have actually had the pattern and fabric to make this dress for about a year and decided to add it to my #Makenine2020 plans to spur me on.  I was given further impetus to complete this project when I read that Sea of Teal’s SewYourWardrobeBasics theme for the month of May was dresses.  This seemed the ideal opportunity for me to complete my dress to include in Sea of Teal’s monthly round up for May.


I read a few reviews beforehand and one commented that style F felt tight on the hips so as I was prevaricating between cutting a size 10 or 12 and, going by my body measurements on the envelope, I settled for a 12.  I needn’t have worried as once tacked up the 12 felt huge on me and even though I had chosen the straight version of the dress I could nearly wrap it around me twice.  The armholes were also gaping (showing underwear type gaping) and so I had to take the side seams in by an inch each side to try and eradicate some of the problems.

There were a few other alterations I also made.  One was the collar which I made slightly smaller (although the neckline still feels a tad too big) and the second was that I reduced the width of the sash.  I do like the sash and think it is a lovely feature but it just did not look right in the fabric I had chosen which, although a lightweight double gauze, does have a heavier appearance.  I feel it would suit something either more floaty or very structural to make a statement.  On a positive note the dress is very easy to make up as it is basically just a long shirt.  The only time consuming part is hand sewing the front edge of the band down before turning it in to make the button band facings.

best button

Despite these hiccups I would definitely sew this pattern again but with the following adjustments:

  1. Cut out a size 8 on the bodice going out to a size 10 over the hips
  2. Redraft the collar to the smaller size that I prefer
  3. Reduce the size of the side splits by around two inches in length as at the moment they are split to well above the knee
  4. Add an extra button on the button band for a similar reason as the splits
  5. Any alteration to the width of the sash would be dependent on the fabric being used

So although I wanted to like this dress more than I do,  it is still very wearable and comfortable but I hope my next attempt will be the perfect shirtdress I was hoping for.

#Makenine Number One – Vintage Blouse

blouse front

I thought it was appropriate that the first garment I would use my prize winning Janome Atelier 6 sewing machine to make should be vintage.  I already had a 1970 blouse pattern cut out since December 2019 and so this was the perfect opportunity to get it constructed.

The pattern I used is Style 2949 which has three variations – sleeveless, short sleeve tunic top and, the one I chose, a long sleeve blouse.  I’m not sure where I acquired this pattern but I think it was among a batch I bought a few years ago.  The size 14 is one up from what I would normally choose but I figured that 1970s patterns were not as generously cut as they are today and that minimum alterations would be required for fit probably just being limited to taking in the side seams slightly.


The fabric I had chosen for this project was a patterned polyester with a silken sheen in ‘de facto’ 1970s brown.  I had chosen this fabric partly for its retro feel but also to pair with some RTW brown corduroy trousers that already had a seventies feel to them.  From a distance the fabric also has a jersey like appearance.  I actually think this pattern would look good made up in a medium jersey or even towelling both popular fabrics from the seventies. I don’t know about you but I think it is about time for towelling to have a resurgence.

Construction progressed well considering I was getting used to a new computerised sewing machine.  The front has unusual long curved darts which involved some easing along the top curve.  I really loved the large collar on the pattern but made up it felt huge and so I reduced its width by half an inch which keeps its style but doesn’t feel overwhelming.  The topstitching on the collar, yoke, notch opening and cuffs is a nice feature as it is sewn 3/8 inch away from the edges as opposed to the usual 1/4 inch.  The zip on the blouse neck is inserted by hand after creating and topstitching the notched opening.  I guess I could have risked sewing the zip in using the machine but I am quite happy to hand sew and in some cases feel it offers more control than machine sewing especially in difficult areas.

IMG_4655 zip open

The long bishop sleeves are gathered into a cuff which fastens with two buttonholes which gave me the chance to experiment with the one step buttonholer on the Janome Atelier.  Having not had much success with the buttonholer on my Janome Sewist, which you can read about here, I wasn’t expecting much but the operation of this machine was pretty amazing and impressive.  Maybe I am now converted to one step buttonholers!  The finishing off was done seventies’ style with small hems on the facings and zig zagging of the seams.  However, this fabric did fray considerably and the overlocker would have sorted this but I just didn’t feel like rethreading the overlock machine which is already set up in the colour of my next planned project.

blouse done up2

All in all I’m very pleased with the result. As much as the fabric was difficult to work with due to its slippy nature and constant fraying and given that at the same time I was acclimatising to a new machine, I feel the blouse has turned out well and is the perfect partner for my RTW trousers.


#Makenine 2020


I’ve read about the #Makenine challenge for a while now but have mainly been introduced to it through reading the interesting posts on the topic by the Steely Seamstress.  The challenge sounds a good way of adding focus to creating items by limiting it to just nine things.  Sometimes there are just so many ideas floating around in the brain that it can all become overwhelming just like that stash of fabric always lurking in the background.  This seems a good way to tackle both the ideas and reduce the stash by planning a fairly achievable number although the challenge in no way puts pressure on to complete all nine articles either.  It also seems a very popular challenge with the online community because of its flexibility.  Items can be sewn or knitted.  These can be garments for yourself, your friends, your family or items for your home and crafting.

So with this in mind and I have put together the following nine items based solely on patterns and fabric that I already have in the stash and this is in no way a ‘capsule’ wardrobe.  I’m sure some of the things will be able to be worn together but others are designed to go with items already in my wardrobe or are purely stand alone.

Black Trousers – I’ve had a remnant of back fabric bought a while ago with the intention of making a plain pencil skirt but in reality I wear trousers more. So I have been wondering if I can squeeze a pair of trousers out of a metre of fabric. I only want a fairly basic pair of ever day flat fronted trousers and I remembered some I had seen in Burdastyle 01/2012 style 122.  They are fairly hidden away in a very small photograph in the magazine but surprisingly they are the topic for the in depth sewing course in that issue which means lots of instructions and diagrams.


Jacket – I’ve actually got a length of speckled black and grey jersey which could be used for making a jacket.  I purchased this with the intention of creating a biker jacket but for some reason I just cannot get on with biker jackets so I am looking at a more casual slightly tailored design.  I really like style 116 in Burdastyle 05/2009 but I’m not sure if it is too boxy plus it is sized for extra tall so I would need to check the back length to waist measurement.  I also realised it is fully lined whereas I was thinking unlined or half lined.  So I am still ruminating on this one.


Sweater – I picked up some mustard knit fabric that has a slight sparkle to it in December last year – I think with a Christmas sweater in mind! Despite having an overlock machine I don’t work with stretch fabrics that often so this will make a change for me. I just want a basic sweater similar in style to a Uniqlo RTW one I already own.  I’ve got my eye on style 118 in Burdastyle 12/2019 or Simplicity 8529 which, although I’m trying to avoid new purchases, could be a good buy as it has useful pattern variations.

Dress – Shirtdresses are the only style of dress that I enjoy wearing and so I am very happy that they are in fashion right now as it also means there are a multitude of patterns out there.  Vogue V9371 captured my interest when it was released last year because I find some sleeveless shirtdresses a bit too cutaway on the armhole and so the slightly extended shoulder line of View F is particularly appealing.  The shaped sash like belt also adds a small touch of flamboyance and I already have a length of spotted mustard fabric perfect for this style.


Seventies’ Blouse – I think one of my aims for the year is to make and wear more garments made from vintage patterns.  I’ve actually got Style 2949 from 1970 already cut out and ready to go in some suitably retro looking brown patterned fabric and am particularly excited about this project.


Cargo Skirt – I haven’t made any skirts for a while now yet at one time they used to be the one thing that I continually made.  The cargo style skirt in Burdastyle 2/2018  has some nice detailing but I also like the wrap skirt in January 2020 Knipmode.  I’m still prevaricating on the fabric. I was hoping to use up some fawn needlecord but as I would like to wear the skirt in summer this may be too warm.  Beige or khaki drill does keep coming to mind but I so want to diminish my stack of fabric and not go out buying some more fabric!

Drawstring Trousers – These fulfil the need for some lightweight summer trousers and I have some lovely striped linen in the stash suitable for them.  There are lots of paperbag type trouser patterns out there but I will probably use M2004 in My Image 20 Magazine.

Knitted Hat – I wanted to include a knitted project but knew if I chose something too large it would be a challenge for me to complete within the time framework.  I always start off with a flourish but then get bored and put the project away sometimes for as long as two years.  Therefore I’m going to use Sirdar pattern 9060 for a cabled chunky knit beret as I do like knitting cables and I feel a hat is fairly achievable in my terms!!


Wild Card – This could be another vintage garment, a more flamboyant outfit or maybe something ambitious such as a coat.  Who knows???

So that’s the plan but in reality I’m hoping that if I manage to get four or five of these completed amongst all the other projects I’ll undoubtedly end up working on it will be a success.



Simplicity Hackalong 2020 Prize

The results are in and I’m overwhelmed that my seventies inspired garment based on pattern S8888 which I entered into the Simplicity Hackalong Challenge 2020 was chosen as the winning garment in the vintage category!

As I am a lover of all things seventies fashion related I am over the moon that the garment I created by adding seventies style features was recognised and appreciated by the judges of the competition.

The prize I received is an incredible Janome Atelier 6  which has so many features I was wishing for in a sewing machine and I know it is going to make my dressmaking so much easier and enjoyable.

On top of that my dress will be featured in an article in Love Sewing magazine alongside the winners of the other two categories – Day and Occasion.  So I have provided pictures of my garment being worn by my model Sineade and photographed by Mark Clayton Photography for the publication.  These photographs will be accompanied by a paragraph I have written about my hackalong process of transforming S8888 into a vintage style garment.  I can’t wait to read it!

JL garment a (924 x 1410)