DIY Couture

I have been sewing up a storm this week, but all for clients. I am quite enjoying myself as all the work has gone well – a nice change from my own last project. I have even made a start on my wardrobe edit and I have already identified a need.

As the weather has got colder my PJ’s with shorts have become a bit chilly at night, and I had  forgotten that I had already had a winter PJ clear out last year. Not very exciting but an easy project to go back to my 30 minutes for me routine. I am also contemplating shortening a couple of dresses into tops which may be worn more. It will be nice to have a wardrobe where everything is worn again. I must be more disciplined about what I make for myself when I get back to proper sewing again.

I was  in my local library I found this book by Rosie Martin and felt I had to check it out. It declared  ‘no patterns needed’ on the front cover – and that grabbed my attention.

DIY Couture

The book features 10 garments which were shown with slight modifications which made it clear how easy it is to make a style fit your own needs.The eight ‘collections’ shown all looked quite different but used the same foundation. Whilst all of the designs were in a ‘young’ style it would be perfectly possible to adapt to even my age with the encouragement given!  All patterns were made from very simple diagrams or from existing garments. This was very encouraging – and I am sure lots of people are put off by what they imagine are complicated patterns. I loved the way that the author had used flow charts to guide you from the very start to finished garment.

All of these garments would be within easy range (I think) of a beginner who wanted to create her own style instead of buying ‘throwaway’ garments from the budget stores. I imagine that anyone in this range would be reasonably happy with the result but there was no use of interfacing or other support in the garments so I don’t think that they would stand up to a great deal of use before becoming ‘sad’.

The author is clear that she feels it is unnecessary to worry about the details – and not get too bogged down in too much accuracy. As she rightly points out you will probably recognise some of the things that would upset us about our own work in garments for sale in many shops (and not just the budget end of the market). This is probably well worth even very experienced sewers taking on board – it is possible to take the pursuit of  ‘perfection’ to the point where you don’t like what you are making any more. A little relaxation would not hurt. This made me think carefully about my own sewing – and I know there are occasions where I over complicate things. It was good to be reminded that great looking garments can be made quite simply.

While I know I  would want to make a bit more effort with ‘the detail’ than is being suggested here I think this is a great book for a beginner. And anything that encourages people to try sewing is well worth it. Look out for this in your library!


Edit: I forgot to say that Rosie Martin has a DIY Couture website which is at

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!

Online learning

I have sewn for a very long time. I have been taught all sorts of things by all sorts of people. I even earned an advanced City and Guilds Fashion qualification. But I have never done an online sewing course.BUT that is about to change!

In my inbox today there was a message from Threads relating to a couture dress course being taught by Susan Khalje on Craftsys site. I have long admired her contributions to Threads magazine and numerous bloggers from the US speak very highly of her classes so I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn from someone I admire in a format I have not tried yet.

The dress I will be making is from a Vogue pattern provided. Sadly I didn’t take a note of the pattern number and I can’t get back to find it at the moment – but it looks like the sort of pattern that could be adapted to suit just about any age or size. Could be fun. I will start looking through the lessons until the pattern arrives but once it does I will keep you posted.

Back to school Kim! (Off to sharpen my pencils and scissors)

Edit:  The dress is this one, Vogue 8648:

I have made a start looking at the lessons, and did a little stash diving to see what might be good to use. Can’t wait for the pattern to arrive now.