Artist/Fisherman’s Smock

I am still hollygagging about trying to decide what I really want to make for myself in my daily half hours. I know I want it to be autumnal. I think it will probably be a jacket. I quite like the idea of a cape – but don’t want to end up looking like Batman. Oh dear – decisions, decisions.

Artists smock

Artists smock

Whilst I was in a mental muddle I had a job from a client to make  a copy of an artists smock. I loved how useful and easy it was, so I made another for me. The original was made in a cotton twill but I decided to make this in my cotton baby cord in a lovely chocolate brown. I suspect that I am going to use this quite a lot as the weather starts to cool.

The pattern was very easy to make and I have included my workings here for you.  I have not allowed for any seams or hems, or the turning on the top of the pockets so don’t forget to add that onto your pattern. I overlocked all the pieces before I made this up as it was much easier than trying to catch all the edges of the gussets! (Call me  lazy if you want).

Artists smock

Neckline/collar detail


I sewed the pockets and attached them to the front piece, then sewed the shoulder seams , then worked the neckline by sewing the collar piece into a loop and then to the neck edge (collar seam to the CB), then turning it in and sewing inside to secure it (I overlocked the raw edge and left it out but you could make a turn and ‘stitch in the ditch’ from outside). Stitching the top edge makes it look a bit crisper if you want to do that.

Centre the top of the sleeves over the shoulder seam and sew in place – leave the seam allowance free to enable you to insert the underarm gusset more easily. Sew the gusset into place – I used the marks on the main body/sleeves to guide me and sewed so that I could see the point I needed to stitch up to. When you have all four gusset seams completed  sew the sleeve seam, and then the body seam.

All you need to do now is to turn up a hem on both sleeve and body. Done!

In addition to this top the management asked me to knit more little hats for the Innocent Smoothie fundraiser for this year. Everyone in his office is knitting some and he didn’t want not to contribute. I think I may teach him to knit before next year! If you want to join in with this campaign check out their website. They are really easy to knit and raise money for Age UK.

My Innocent Hats

My Innocent Hats for 2012

Maybe I will work out what I really want to make soon – it would be nice to have something new that actually suited the season!

P.S. Bessie will be wearing the top for a little while. She is a bit upset at being found ‘naked’ by a client who remarked ‘That’s a big girl!’. I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was ‘me’ (I wonder if she has worked it out yet?). The diet starts …….whenever the chocolate runs out.

And one month later….

….life still seems to be a bit silly – but I am back!

I can barely believe it has been one whole month since my last post (Did anyone miss me?) I have been sewing just as madly as ever but did escape for a lovely weekend away diving in the wonderful Farne Islands which are just off the Northumbrian coast. This was a very sociable weekend organised by the North East region of the Sub Aqua Association and was probably best summed up by the fridge contents shown below. We had some lovely dives, and on some dives were joined by seals who seem to treat divers like toys to be played with – lots of fun! The organiser has promised to repeat this next year so I will be there. I also take the opportunity to visit my family  in Northumberland while I am there as I definitely don’t see them enough.

Diver fridge

Milk with your booze anyone?

My workload seems to still be slightly out of control but all of the ‘big occasion’ sewing has been done and sent on its way.I still have quite a lot of day wear and suchlike to be dealt with but I feel I can return to my ’30 minutes for me’ routine which has worked so well in the past.

To get me going I have made another two pairs of PJ trousers for my daughter – she liked the last pair I made which had pockets in and wanted more. I did make some a little while ago and posted them to her – sadly the British postal system ate them up and they haven’t been seen since I posted them. Not good. This pair (of pairs) will be held until I see her next. They are made from soft jersey bought from the Birmingham Rag Market for very little money – I think the 3 metres cost me about £5 in all – but the fabric is nice and soft and very jolly. The buttons came from my stash (using some from a donated button tin from a friend – thanks H!) and the elastic was also a Rag Market bargain – bought as a roll for next to nothing some time ago and still going strong. This was a very easy project which I know will be much appreciated, and which I thoroughly enjoyed doing.

PJ's for DD

PJ’s for DD

I am not sure what I want to make for myself at the moment. I am well behind on the SAM project so that may get attention. The summer has not been fabulous here in the UK and I have made very little for myself this year. I feel slightly wrong to be thinking about clothes to go into Autumn (Fall) yet but as I spent this morning buying fabrics for ‘The Material Lady’ for the autumn/winter it kind of feels like time. Sad.

I will spend my 30 minutes tomorrow stash diving and see if anything screams to be made up. Watch this space.

PJs as gift?

Not everyones cup of tea (or perhaps cocoa would be more appropriate?) but my visit to my wonderful daughter last saturday was an opportunity to deliver on my promise to make her some PJ trousers. I had seen the wonderful Pyjama Party sew along but was a little late to join in – so this seemed like a good alternative.

Daughters PJ's

Daughters PJ's

I made these in my poly cotton (526), the same as my own PJ trousers. I know that they wash and wear very well – no need to iron these – and whist nice and cosy they aren’t too warm. I hadn’t thought about putting a mock fly and buttons on my version but it sure makes the front easier to spot when you are tired.  Thanks for showing us yours Caroline! The buttons are ‘vintage’ and came from a button tin I was given as a gift from a reading group friend. I am sure she will be happy to know they are being used.The daughter was very pleased with these and will be getting more when the pattern has been declared comfy.

Bedtime reading

Bedtime reading

As part of the pyjama party we were asked to show our bedtime reading – I wish my cabinet was always this tidy! And I hope the book on the top delivers it’s promises.

 Sleep tight everyone!

Still no sewing….

…which is a bit frustrating. Most of the new ‘Material Lady’ fabrics have arrived (but sadly not all , so I can’t send anything out yet) and I have been cutting and tagging swatches ready to send out by mail. I am still waiting for one more delivery and then I can finish off and post them. I also need to photograph and get these new babies onto the website, I hope to do that tomorrow. There is a fabulous snakeskin print jersey that I can’t wait to make up – I think this is the perfect fabric to repeat the ‘yowsa’ dress.

I have started to work my way through the Susan Khalje Couture Dress course – so far so good. The videos are clear and the content very understandable. The pattern hasn’t arrived yet but I have decided to make the dress in one of the cotton sateens (503) from stock – I can’t decide which to go with yet as I like them all. I did go through my stash briefly on sunday morning but that just confused me. Too much choice!!!!

I am keen to make a start on this project but I will be guided by circumstances. If the pattern arrives before I get an opportunity to start the next shirt I will go with the dress. Otherwise it is SAM3.

I have to confess that I had a day out last friday and wore my favourite new suit this year…

Voyager Neoprene Drysuit by Northern Diverand I looked just as happy in mine!

Pyjama Drama!

I have (as you may know) just got back from a couple of days  visiting my DD. It wasn’t until I looked at the pj’s I was packing to take with me that I realised just how shabby the trousers were looking – I think I must wriggle a lot in bed or something. No time to do anything about it, so I just had to hope there were no fire alarms or such that would require a night-time evacuation (although the management can tell a funny tale about a night fire alarm evacuation at a corporate event he was at….).

Anyway, shamed by the lack of attention to my own wardrobe (all elements – must try harder) I made a new pair of pj trousers yesterday to go with a top that still had lots of life and is unbelievably comfortable. I didn’t even look for a ‘real’ pattern. I took a pattern I was happy with and put the pieces side by side on the fabric with the grain lines parallel and enough of a gap at the hip to give ‘wiggle’ room. I treated the two pieces as one big piece so I get trousers that have only an inside leg seam, and the body seam. I narrowed the width of the ‘leg’ from thigh to hem, so the bottoms wouldn’t be enormous, and cut a large enough seam allowance on the waist edge to use as an elastic casing. Much more complicated to write than to do. (Picture below)

PJ Instructions

PJ Instruction diagram

I used some really nice poly/cotton stripe from my Material Lady stock and these were cut out, sewn (french seams as I couldn’t be bothered to change the thread in my overlocker – lazy cat!), and pressed ready to wear within a ridiculously short time. The only detail on this garment was a tag in the centre back (so I can find which way to wear them easily) and a line of edgestitching around the top of the elastic casing. I know this isn’t done on RTW pj’s (or not the ones I checked) but it is something I do around all elastic casings as I think it just looks ‘crisper’.

Easy PJs

Back tagged, and top edgestitched


Easy PJs

Easy PJs

  I was pretty pleased with these but remembered a fabulous vintage pattern that Rhonda Buss was making for a trip. They were really glamorous PJ’s (for wear in a boudoir not bedroom) and I thought they were just fabulous. She had challenged readers to identify where they may be worn for the first time – and offered the right person a copy of the pattern. I commented – but didn’t expect to hear any more. Just to confirm what an absolute darling she is Rhonda is going to make a copy of the pattern for each of the five (yes, FIVE copies!) of us who commented. Thank you so much Rhonda!

The next PJ’s to grace this screen could well be very glamorous!

The All Points Skirt

I saw an intriguing skirt on the Artisan Square website by a lady called Rhonda Buss. She is kind enough to offer a Free Pattern Friday slot – and this was one of her free patterns. It is a long way from my usual style but I had decided that this year I really must try to experiment a little more so…

All points - back

All points - back

All points - front

All points - front


All points -side

All points - side

I made this in a heavy polyester jersey from my stash. It has a sort of bark weave on the outside but is plain black inside. I am very happy with how it turned out  – the instructions were very easy to follow (and the link to them is here ) though I did need to tighten the elastic waist more than I expected because of the fabric weight! 
I had hoped to have a photograph wearing it but my husband hasn’t been here in daylight to take a picture so I hope you get the idea with Bessie modelling.I plan to wear this with a plain sweater or t-shirt (still long-sleeved  – but it will depend on temperature) and long black boots, and a colourful wrap. We are going to the theatre  soon so I may give this outfit its first airing then.
Thank you Rhonda !

Shirt cotton

Also on Artisan square there are lots of ______ a month (fill in your choice of garment – its sure to be there!) and I thought I may join in with the Shirt or top a month (SAM or TAM – time to choose). Whilst I was stash trawling for skirt fabric I found this cotton which I thought would be lovely for a shirt – and as a bonus I could wear it with the Patrones purple jeans. It is just one of the many pieces I bought from Pamela at Material Matters before I took over as The Material Lady. I think it is probably sufficiently matured now to cope with being made up. I am going to self draft a very basic shirt pattern which I can adapt to the current fashion styles. Watch this space!


Had a Merry Christmas…

… ate too much, drank too much, did no sewing at all. As planned. I am now feeling a bit guilty for all the non activity and feel like planning the next move. But I haven’t shown you the Christmas prezzys I made yet! (Don’ t get too excited – it was a last minute thing – as usual).

Purple Organiser Wallets

Purple Organiser Wallets'Chez Hoodie' - How perfect!

'Chez Hoodie'!

'Chez Hoodie' - How perfect!

 Pre Christmas I saw a 12 Days of Christmas feature on LBG blog for a fabulous organiser wallet that I knew would be a good gift for my daughter and a good friend. I had just the right fabrics in my stash and with a visit to a stationers and the local quilt/patchwork store ‘Totally Patched’ for batting I was sorted. It wasn’t until I started cutting the Paris inspired fabric I realised just how perfect it was! If you looked closely at the shop signs one of them was ‘Chez Hoodie’ – as a Hood giving a gift to a Hood it was just perfect. I even remembered to put my label in them. (Just as well as when my daughter opened it she didn’ realise it had been made for her – praise indeed!)

Paper heaven!

My darling daughter is probably most responsible for the fact that I have done nothing for what seems like days. I know I never work as well when the house is occupied so having both daughter and husband home meant that the sewing was scuppered – but when you are given a bag full of Stylist magazines (weekly magazines given away free on the London Underground – saved by my fabulous daughter!) there is no possibility of work. Apart from meals and pauses for fabulous TV I have devoured these magazines this week. Fabulous! (Lots of inspiration for sewing so perhaps it does count as work? )
I have been looking at the thread on Stitchers Guild about sewing related gifts. I don’t usually expect anything sewing related as everyone seems to think I would be difficult to buy for (just try! I’ll be happy – honest) but this year my husband found an old book which he bought thinking it might be quite amusing. I could hardly believe it when I opened the parcel – my mum had this book over 40 years ago and I used to enjoy thumbing through it even then. Kindles could never smell like this !

The Art of Needlecraft
The Art of Needlecraft – Published 1935

Looking back on 2011 I haven’t done as much sewing for myself as I would have liked but I have made some real steps in other areas. I took over ‘Material Matters’ fabric sales from Pamela in April and hope I have been able to serve my customers as well as she did. I am still on a very steep learning curve but hope to find next year easier now that I have some things set up on computer to ease the process. That was next, I have completed a computer course this year (and now have a Nationally recognised qualification to show for it!) which I did not find easy. All the knowledge gained is being put into use and I hope that I will continue to improve (watch the website – I am working on another tutorial online which may show some benefits soon!). I have failed miserably to complete 12 jackets in the Jacket a Month challenge – but I have 3 more jackets than before so I win anyway!

Next year I hope to be able to improve my business and do more sewing for myself – it was one or the other this year. Lets see what next year brings.
Happy New Year to all my readers.

Patrones and planning

Yet again I am the lucky recipient of not one but 2 Patrones magazines! My dear friends came back from Spain with these issues last week and I have spent hours poring over them.

I absolutely love the neck detail on the cover picture of issue 308, and the grey dress on page 11 (2nd down, first column on the middle picture) is simple but lovely. I am also looking at several pairs of trousers to try a pair in a wool tweed to go with my next planned jacket – but more if that later!

The other issue was a ‘Patrones Extra Tallas Grandes’ Issue 8. Not quite so much in this issue that I really liked until I got towards the back. Pages 42-45 looked appealing – but also strangely familiar. I trawled my past issues and, sure enough, found these designs in Issue 274 (Especial Fiesta).

Same model, same garments – actually same photographs. Did they think we wouldn’t notice? I love Patrones magazine but this does rather cheat its buyers don’t you think? I still like the first and last tops in the pictures and may make them at some point – but I still have the patterns from Issue 274.


Enough of that – I have finally got to the end of my computer course and passed the exam (Hurrah! I hear you say – perhaps the quality of the blog will improve! – don’t hold your breath) so I have a bit more time to sew for myself. I have long planned to make McCalls 5860 – which I first saw on Gigi Sews site. Gigi made a lovely version of this jacket and I lusted quietly after it – silly really since the pattern was available and I could make my own (not quite as good as Gigi’s) jacket. I thought this would be a very useful ‘anytime’ jacket – the sort you can throw on to go shopping or dress up to go out. The fabric I am intending to use is the stretch velvet  I have in the winter collection. Now all I have to do is decide if I want blue or almond…….


Previous Material Lady!

Pamelas Floral jacket

Pamelas floral jaacket

Friday was a day out at Pamelas house – some of you will know Pamela as the previous Material Lady.  She was kind enough to come and guide me when I made my first purchases for this summers collection so it was a real pleasure to see her self drafted jacket from the floral cotton sateen (503) which I’m sure you will agree looks great.

 The jacket is similar to Vogue 8692  (which has a higher V front and shorter sleeves) or Butterick 4138 which is a more classic style.

If it wasn’t a big enough pleasure seeing the fabric made into this lovely jacket she also made me a delicious lunch. Thanks Pamela!

I give in!

Ok. I know I said that I had to finish the trench before I started anything else BUT I am having such issues with the haberdashery. The buttons have arrived now (and very nice they look too) and Harlequin did a fab job eyeletting the straps/belt. If only I had done as good a job checking how big the pins on the buckles were. They dont fit through the eyelets. All my fault. Doh! As my husband says ‘Proper planning prevents poor performance’ (except he has an extra ‘p’ i wont share here!) Because I have made such a dogs breakfast of this project through not checking I had all the necessary before I started I will certainly make sure that I dont do it again.

The bright spot this week has been that my friends came back from Spain with a new copy of Patrones (No.302) – thanks Hilary and Geoff! It has about 5 things that I really want to make. And you can be sure I will be checking I have everything before I start. And it will almost certaainly be finished before the trench (although I do have high hopes of finishing the trench in time for the April showers!).The garments I really like in Patrones are shown below.

I love the detail on this  top – although the front is quite plain. Looks a little bit ‘All Saints’ (the designers not the band!). Not difficult to make and apart from the fabric all I need to make sure I have is a hook and eye fastening!

This top and trousers are both very appealing. Its a little difficult to see from this picture but there isn’t a shoulder seam on the top (the back piece extends into the front over the shoulder). The belt only affects the front and should draw the often difficult bulk in under my bust. Again nothing difficult there and all in fabric. The trousers are a length I have never tried to wear – I think I like them but will have to try them and see. These are in the plus size section so I will need to fix the patterns but that shouldn’t be difficult.

However I think the next jacket to be made is this one. I really like – no –  I love it! The shape is lovely and I love that what looks like a shawl collar is actually an insert. I think I may have the perfect fabric in my new spring fabrics (yes, I know I’m supposed to be selling them but I’m allowed a bit – aren’t I?) and if I use that  I have a lining that will work so all I will need is buttons.  Whilst this is my absolute favourite I do need to just make something quick to get going again but I am itching to do this. The dress shown under the jacket is also very nice but up til now I just haven’t been a dress sort of gal. Perhaps I need to adopt Melissa from ‘Fehr Trade’s policy of making something lovely for your own birthday. That would give me just over a month ( and cover the use of new stock!) 

I’m going to be busy all day today with client work but I am all enthused to get on with something for me again. Watch this space!