Thursday 27 October 2016


A good friend of ours is having his 50th birthday party in December...with a disco theme. Oh yes! Now don't worry, I'm not going to come over all mid-life crisis and turn up in full spandex tights and boob tube, I'd just like to make some kind of fabulous evening top to wear with skinny trousers and heels. Maybe with a hint of Studio 54 about it. Although the late 1970's is not really one of my favourite eras style-wise, I do think there's something utterly, utterly glamorous about the fashions.

Amidst all the slashed-to-the-waist dresses and transparent blouses, I also found this top/tunic worn by Farrah Fawcett. It still says disco to me and is a bit more age appropriate! 

Let's just take a moment to admire that guy's perm!! 

Back to Farrah's top…. it is quite voluminous so I won't try and totally replicate it, but I'll use it as inspiration for a modern day version. I did find a vintage Halston pattern from the 1970's that looked promising but I've decided to use something that I know fits me well. 

The Anita Tie Top from Sew Over It Vintage is what I have in mind: it's drafted to my measurements and is already adjusted to be slightly slimmer fitting than the original. I'll need to lengthen it by a good few inches (which I forgot to do with my first version, hence the shorter length). And possibly widen the neck for an off-the-shoulder look.

For fabric I'll be using a remnant of luxury crepe left over from my Big Vintage Sewalong dress - I love the colour and the drape is perfect. If it still doesn't have enough disco-ness about it once it's sewn, then I may make it again in gold or silver! Let's see how the first version turns out - and how brave I'm feeling! What do you think? 50th disco party-appropriate or mutton dressed as lamb (I can take it!) Any other pointers on late 70's disco glamour ?

I'll leave you with this effortless moustache and boots combo. Have a good day! x

Monday 17 October 2016

No. 3 Kastrup Blouse

Ta-da, my finished No. 3 Kastrup Blouse from How to Do Fashion

This vintage-inspired pattern comes in three different versions: short sleeved, cap sleeved or short sleeved with volume to the back. I chose the straight forward short sleeved version which incorporates some lovely design features. These include Princess seams to the front... 

Double layered raglan sleeves which fit snugly across the shoulder

And a deep keyhole opening at the back, fastened with a button and thread loop.

Before I get onto a full review though, there are a couple of points worth noting about the pattern. The pattern itself is printed on good quality paper and comes in a smart, stylish folder, but no instructions are actually included with it! The instructions for each separate version of the pattern can be found on the How To Do Fashion website. It's all very comprehensive and includes additional advice on common fit problems and extra sewing tips. But I do still think that for £16 the basic instructions could have been included with the paper pattern. Also, the pattern is printed on both sides of the pattern sheet so you still have to trace off the pieces. This I found really annoying. Why pay a premium for a printed pattern if you still have to trace it? To be fair, the tracing didn't actually take that long, but it still annoyed me!

Anyway, enough grumbling, back to the pattern….the pattern comes in UK sizes 6 to 20 and I cut a straight size 10. I based this on the finished garment measurements (printed on the actual pattern sheet) and by studying the sample garments on the website, which helpfully tell you the sizes they're sewn up in. I made no changes to the pattern pieces but did make a couple of small modifications once the blouse was constructed. I shortened it by 3cms as it was quite long on me and took in the side seams from the waist down by 2cms at each side. For any future versions I'll probably go down a size at the waist and hips to avoid having to adjust the side seams. One other important point to note is that the seam allowances throughout are 1cm rather than the standard 1.5cm (or ⅝"), so don't forget or you may get a tighter fit than you were expecting!

The instructions are available in English and Danish and were pretty clear on the whole, although the names of some sewing techniques get a bit lost in translation (e.g. understitching is referred to as topstitching). There are illustrations for each step and links to online videos for trickier sections, but I think a few additional diagrams for some of these sections (such as the sleeves) would have been useful. The sleeves are double layered and sandwiched between the front and back neck facings. It took a bit of head scratching for me to work out how it was all supposed to slot together, but I got there in the end. I think this is how they should look from the inside - all very clever and neat. 

The pattern states that any type of light fabric can be used and I think the key word here is light. I used a lightweight poly chiffon and wouldn't really have wanted to sew with anything much heavier as there are lots of layers around the facings. There are no instructions to stay stitch in the pattern, but I did stay stitch the necklines and the seams around the raglan sleeves as they're cut on the bias and were liable to stretch out.  

Overall I was very impressed with the pattern and would definitely recommend it. Yes, having to trace it is a pain, but it's a pain I'm prepared to overlook because the drafting and construction is so good. I achieved a great fit with minimal effort, and now that I've used one pattern I'm quite tempted to try another. I'll certainly be making another version of this top that's for sure, I love it!

This blouse is my official entry into October's #sewdots challenge, which you can read more about it in my last blog post and on Rosie's blog here. Happy Monday! x


Wednesday 12 October 2016

#Sewdots Challenge

This month I'm joining in the #Sewdots challenge hosted by Rosie at DIY Couture. The challenge is to sew a dotty item of clothing during October, share a picture of it on social media and make a donation to support RNIB and raise awareness of braille. As the parent of a child with sensory issues, this campaign struck a chord with me so I was more than happy to get involved. Ha!! As if I need any excuse to sew polka dots! If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know I'm a big fan!  

Looking for inspiration was no hardship. To be honest I can envisage pretty much any pattern working with polka dots, so my "research" was focused on a particular colour combination. My fabric is a poly chiffon-y type mix that I picked up from Scruffy Badger at a fabric swap years ago. I think it was left over from this blouse and it's only an 80cm remnant, but that's fine as it's just enough for what I have in mind. The colourway of red polka dots on a white background is one you don't see very often, but a quick perusal of my Pinterest Polka Dot board soon gave me the inspiration I needed:

This image of a polka dot bow blouse worn with jeans and a fitted cardigan is one of my favourite pins ever and is also the most realistic in terms of how I plan to wear my new blouse. But there were a few others that also had me sighing over my computer.

1950's vintage dress with waistline bow detail…..

1940's flutter sleeved blouse….

And Ava Gardner looking splendid in a simple blouse with Peter Pan collar.

In the end I decided to use the No 3: Kastrup blouse from How to Do Fashion as my pattern. It doesn't require much fabric (a key consideration) and has really interesting details that I love.  I've already made good progress, so look out for another polka dot post pretty soon.

You can read more about #Sewdots on Rosie's blog here. It's a fab challenge and there are some great prizes to be won. So what are you waiting for? Choose your polka dot fabric and join in, it should be a lot of fun!  x

Saturday 8 October 2016

How to do Fashion

How To Do Fashion is a Danish pattern company I discovered over the summer via the Dragonfly Fabrics blog. I have no links with the company, the designs just really caught my eye and I thought you might be interested too. How To Do Fashion was founded two years ago by Nanna, who has a background in tailoring and pattern construction and a passion for vintage clothing. The designs focus on vintage details and achieving a great fit and there are currently eleven patterns in the range (two are brand new).

I haven't yet sewn any of them, but one pattern - the No.3 Kastrup Blouse - is next in my sewing queue, so I'll be reporting back shortly! In the meantime, here are my favourites. 

This is the pattern I bought - the No. 3 Kastrup Blouse.

It has fitted raglan sleeves (short or capped) and princess seams and can also be made with more volume to the back. I like that it has a very different look in different fabrics. For instance this is the standard blouse made in a light drapey fabric, which gives a smart, retro look.

And here's the cap sleeved version made with two jersey fabrics, which gives a completely different casual feel.

Other designs which caught my eye were No. 8 Svaneke.

I actually like all three pieces from this pattern, even the crop top (although I'd probably lengthen any version I made!) The crop top and pleated skirt look so elegant together.

And I love this striped version of the buttoned blouse.

This is the same blouse with an additional frill placket which changes the look of it completely (there are instructions on how to make your own on the blog).

And finally, No. 6 Kobenhavn - a fifties inspired wiggle dress.

The halter neck would be great for a special occasion.

But it's actually the more sombre version made from wool that appeals to me. I love the collar and the deep V back view. 

It looks like the perfect pattern to re-create one of my favourite movie-inspired dresses from Two Faces of January.

If you like the look of them, Dragonfly Fabrics and Sewbox both currently stock eight patterns in the range. If anybody has any experience of working with their patterns, please do leave a comment, I'd love to know how you found them. I'll be back soon with a full review! x

Monday 3 October 2016

Corduroy Rosa Dress

My recent sewing has largely consisted of quick, easy projects (namely New Look 6217) due to a lack of sewing time and brain power. I did however find time to make a shirt for the Ginghamalong a few weeks ago, and apart from one moronic mishap (sewing the collar on upside down) it all went to plan. This definitely whetted my appetite for shirt making, so when Tilly kindly gifted me a copy of the Rosa shirt pattern, I decided to dive in. 

Hmmm may have to re-position that third button...
I went down the shirt dress route - I wanted my version to be an everyday dress that I could wear with tights in autumn and winter, nothing fancy, just practical and easy. For fabric I chose a lovely grey corduroy bought from Badger and Earl just before their sad closure earlier this year. From this point on, the project was as much a lesson in working with corduroy as it was in shirt making…. 

I've worked with cord a couple of times before but only on simple skirts requiring very few pattern pieces. The Rosa dress has princess seams, front and back yokes and a two-piece collar and stand, which means lots more pattern pieces and a thousand times more mess. Take it from me, corduroy is a filthy, dirty beast of a fabric and the fluff it generates gets everywhere!  If you're thinking of working with it, I'd highly recommend you read this post beforehand, especially the super helpful reader comments. I used a denim needle and a walking foot, both of which came in very handy when navigating multiple layers of cord.

Because of the thickness of my fabric I used scraps of Liberty lawn (left over from this top) for the button band facings and collar stand - I like the contrast and the pop of red against the grey.

If I had my time again I would have cut the under collar in lawn too, as even with careful trimming there was far too much bulk to contend with. The pattern recommends fine needlecord but the cord I used was probably more of a mid-weight so therefore a bit too heavy. The princess seams and yoke are finished with mock felled seams (overlocked or zig-zagged inside, then top stitched), which did help flatten them down.

I took my time making this dress and construction was a slow but stress-free process thanks to the clear instructions. If you're new to shirt making, this pattern would be a good place to start. As the instructions include photographs of each step I decided to sew the collar according to the pattern rather than by my preferred method. I achieved a good result using Tilly's method, but I still prefer the order of construction Andrea uses - it's just one of those things! The sleeves are set in flat and went in without a fight first time, I really should get into the habit of sewing them that way every time.

To give you an idea of fit, I sewed a size 4 with no fit adjustments to the pattern. This includes the length, so do bear this in mind if you're taller than 5'2" as the hemmed length is above the knee, even on me!

The finished bust measurement for my size is 38 inches, which I hoped would give me just enough room without having to do a FBA (full bust adjustment). My gamble paid off and I'm pleased with the fit of the princess seams over the bust. I think the only fitting change to consider for next time would be a small shoulder adjustment as the shoulders seem a tad wide to me. 

I also made two style changes to the original pattern: I omitted the pockets as I find breast pockets really annoying and decided against the turned-up sleeves. I did intend for them to be turned-up but they felt too casual, as if I'd just rolled my sleeves up rather than an intentional design feature. Instead I simply tapered the width in by an inch at the wrists and hemmed them. I have the arm length of a T-Rex so happily they're just about full length on me. It also solves the problem of cold wrists in winter! 

The weight of the cord does give the finished dress a different feel to what I was expecting, it's almost like a coat dress! I'm still really pleased with it though - this particular shade of grey happens to suits me and it will co-ordinate well with lots of other colours. I've styled it here without tights as we were still clinging on to the last few days of good weather when I took the photos, but from now on I'll definitely be wearing it with tights and brogues on a regular basis. Have a good week! x

The Rosa pattern was given to me free of charge. All views my own.


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