Pattern Magic shirt

Hmmm. I really hadn’t expected to take so long before I was able to show you my Pattern Magic shirt with the special collar. I have no excuses – I have just been unreasonably slow. But here it is!

Collar with two expressions

Collar with two expressions

This was my first attempt at anything using the Bunka block drawn out on my course at Morley College. This block was made using three (yes, three) measurements from my body. Bust, waist and back length. That’s all. Winnie Aldrich uses nine measures for her bodice block which I still had to adjust significantly. I confess I had little faith in this Bunka block being remotely close with only three points of reference – and also I am hardly a typical ‘Japanese’ figure. So prepare to be amazed. IT FITS!

I made few alterations to the body – the dart into the armhole was left there, I lengthened the body to hip to allow tucking, and I put a little shaping into the back so I wasn’t entirely shapeless. I can’t quite believe that it has worked so well – I would only want to narrow the shoulders a tiny bit if I when I use this again. I will also use a bit of seaming to lose the darts and add a bit more waist shaping. Other than that this is a winner.

The fabric is cotton with a little elastane which came from stash. It has lurked for a while as I was unsure of the colour – almost exactly the colour of Blu-Tack. There was already a matching thread in my stock, and even more amazingly I had enough abalone shell buttons in the right shade and size to complete the job. Who would have believed it – I didn’t need to buy anything for this project!

Collar with two expressions

Collar with two expressions – detail.

When I make this style again I will slightly reduce the size of the lower collar section as it is a bit big (It makes me think Travolta in Saturday Night Fever). The main collar section that sits over the top has to be a little bit larger than the two underpieces or it pulls a bit. I did use all the drafts from the pattern magic book but in all honesty it would probably have been a lot easier to just draft the collar to fit  a tried and tested blouse/shirt pattern. I know that without the time at Morley I would still just be stroking and admiring these books but I can see them getting out more now. I did struggle a bit to use their instructions for the sleeve block so when I work out the best way to explain what I did I will post. That doesn’t mean it is necessarily the ‘right’ way of doing the sleeve but it worked for me. Hopefully it will take less time than this post!

I am calling this SAM8 – and drawing a line under the SAM2012 as I think I have taken long enough. It would be embarrassing to still be finishing these after January. Still four short but since I am a glass half full sort of gal -Hey! I made eight shirts last year!

Pirate shirts!

The management requested another ‘fun’ shirt a little while ago. Not one to disappoint I decided that it would be a good project as part of his Christmas gift. As you might have predicted, a last minute panic ensued and one of these ended up as an IOU under the tree as it was still in pieces.

The self drafted pattern was already made so there were no fitting problems or other obstacles to prevent this being a really easy project. So…, to make the project more interesting to me I decided to make one of them entirely on the new to me 1945 hand cranked Singer (Molly).  One made on the ‘all singing, all dancing computerised Pfaff – and one VERY old school. Can  you tell which is which?

Which is which?

Which is which?

You want more detail, huh?

Pirate shirts

Edge stitching and buttonholes

Pirate shirts

Edge stitching and collars

Have a guess and I will say which the Pfaff and which Molly constructed in the next post.

I really enjoyed the process of making these – it is so easy to just rush headlong at something you have made before and this made me really slow down. That might have been irritating to some people but I found the repetitive movement really relaxing and almost meditative. The management came in whilst I was making the second shirt (on Molly) and is now convinced sewing is dead easy – ‘You just go like that (make hand cranking motion) until it’s done’. Thank you dear. Now that they are finished they count as shirts 6 & 7 in this years SAM. Clearly I am not going to be able to finish this challenge since it is December 31st now.

All that is left for me to say is Thank you to all of you who have followed my blog, and made a comment or two, throughout the last year. I wish you all (and all the other sewers in the community) a Happy, Healthy, and Wadder Free 2013.

Patrones 320/7 Blouse

Well I really hope everyone has had a happy Christmas!  Here, chez Hood, the mood has been a little mixed. The central heating broke down on Sunday. It was fortunately repaired on Christmas Eve –  just before I went to the dentist who confirmed that I had a stonking great dental abscess. Happy times. Lots of antibiotics and no alcohol.

My darling daughter was home for a couple of days so I was able to finish the blouse I mentioned in a previous post and have her model for you to see.

Happy with the shirt!

Happy with the shirt!

Patrones 320/7

Not a bad fit for a distance dressmaking project

The blouse was very straightforward to make – as I don’t read Spanish I can’t comment on the instructions from the magazine. I did change the front slightly and cut both centre front sections as one piece – I didn’t want to risk a break in the stripes running down centre front. I think I would also close the dart in the side front in any future incarnations of this that I might make. I really can’t think why I didn’t do it this time as I usually try to ‘lose’ any darts into seams where possible. I had to take the waist in a bit as my running DD is very slender. If she wasn’t so nice I could get cross.

As you can see, the daughter is happy with the shirt – there are a couple of issues I would change next time but it is still probably a better fit than ready made. There is another piece of fabric waiting to be made into this pattern but until I feel better (or it promises to stop wriggling every time I go near it!) it will have to wait.

The great thing is that this moves my Shirt a Month up to FIVE! And we are only in December which is month….er…..

However, I do have something else to show you very soon which might just change that again. In the meantime I hope you all had a great time in the holidays and are looking forward to New Year. When I will still be on antibiotics and alcohol free! (Do feel free to suggest good alcohol drinks for me to enjoy on New year – I am bored with what I have  now).

A belated Merry Christmas to you all!

A belated Merry Christmas to you all!

New Patrones – 320

My dear friends G & H have brought me another Patrones magazine – this time number 320.


There are a number of things this time that I like but I feel may be a bit ‘young’ for me. Not the lovely motorbike type jacket on the front cover – I would happily wear that (and I wouldn’t have thought of making it in cord, hmmm).


I also like this jacket with fabulous peplum detail, and lovely slim sleeves with a full head. Though I would have to leave off the front pocket detail in view of my build. Don’t need anything extra there. Oh no. This issue has nine jackets, all of which are appealing in their own way, but these were  my favourites.


I loved the tuck detail on this skirt. I would quite like to make this – I could probably get away with the boots and opaque tights route but I am not sure that the extra fabric will be flattering over my tummy. Only way to fine out is to try it , right?


However, I will be starting this fabulous blouse for my daughter. I know the short sleeves aren’t exactly seasonal here in the UK but it is so cute, and I know that she will look lovely in it. I have made a start in a lovely mulberry cotton mix stripe which I had from stock (there is a little left) which has a little elastane so it will stretch a bit with movement – always nice. She is coming to stay over the Christmas break so I am hoping to get it finished so that she can take it away with her. I wasn’t certain about the neck bow (which is separate so could be left off) but she has declared it as needed so neck tie it is. I have the pattern traced from the magazine, and the fabric cut out so I should have something to show soon.

I will be counting this as one of my very delayed ‘Shirt a Month’ offerings (Remember those?). These stalled after April (I am so ashamed) and I have no excuse. None. I can’t think why they stopped at four but I may have a late flourish. It might even include something from Pattern Magic. Possibly. (Hi Petra!)

Off to sew. Like a maniac.

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.

SAM4 – Not for the faint hearted!

Well I have stuck to my intention of working 30 minutes at the end of my working day on something for me. Or mine. As ‘The Management’ had a birthday recently and had no ideas as to what he might like as a gift I suggested a handmade shirt. In addition to solving my gift dilemma I also managed another SAM. Score!

I was kind of hoping that I might broker a deal such as Pauline has with her beloved (make 10 shirts in exchange for a designer handbag)  but not being a good negotiator – or really a designer handbag type (what I really want is a new set of diving fins….) I didn’t even try. I’m not sure this is the shirt to do that on anyway. What do you think?

SAM 4 - For The Management

Birthday shirt

SAM 4 - For The Management

Fabric detail

The fabric is a 100% cotton print that I saw a few weeks ago and just loved. It is a print that will divide opinion but you can’t not have an opinion on it. I pre washed it to prevent shrinkage, and lined the yoke with a plain white cotton to prevent the pattern showing through from the inside. All the seams are tidied up inside and topstitched outside so it looks  like a felled  seam which I liked (nice not to have to re-thread the overlocker). The buttons are a re-use from a shirt that was damaged and thrown away so I feel quite the thrifty dressmaker. The request was for a casual, short sleeved shirt for the summer so I think this fits the bill – and if it ever stops raining it may even be worn.

There is probably enough fabric left over to make a pair of boxer shorts – but I don’t have a pattern made for those yet. I may collect a selection of ‘bad taste’ cottons and make a batch for Christmas!

The 6PAC is proceeding very slowly (as I have been working on this shirt) but should get more attention now. Other hot news is that after Melissa posted about the ‘Pattern Magic’ courses being run at Morley College in London I have enrolled for PM1. I am looking forward to having someone else’s  input on these amazing patterns. I now have PM1 and 2 as well as Drape Drape which I think are wonderful, if a little baffling. Anyone else going to be there in November/December?

SAM 3 – Finished!

This was a project I was very pleased to finish. I don’t really understand why it has been so ‘blurgh’ to make, but this was trouble from the off. Despite that, I am really happy with the result and will definitely be repeating the style!




Seam detail

You may remember I wanted a shirt similar to Vogue 8747, but didn’t want to have to do all the alterations my (ahem*) assets would require. I used my basic bodice block (sloper) from the Winifred Aldrich bookI made some time ago. I think it went well – all the dart manipulation to move the gathering to the centre front went fine. I don’t understand what I did this time to make the sleeves so long! That may be something I put right in the near future – or more likely I will live with them long. I do intend to make this again so I will ensure I mark the pattern before I forget.

 I was determined to make this shirt without the use of the overlocker so used flat felled seams throughout. I had forgotten that on a long sleeved shirt this was going to be a bit of a challenge but the sleeves were much easier than I thought they would be! Even the seam around the armscye wasn’t as bad as I expected. I am very happy with how tidy the inside of this shirt is and will not shy away from repeating the ‘no overlocker challenge’. Though not for a little while. 


Inside on left - right side on right.


Tidy on the inside too

Despite being so long in the making I am happy with this shirt – I am wearing it now! I suspect I will make the ‘gathered front’ style more now I have discovered that it doesn’t make me look too UB (check out Shams for the explanation!) Tell me what you think.


Me - by me!

Clearly SAM 4 will be late since it is already 23rd April. Sorry.

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!

SAM 2 – Februarys shirt

OK. I know I am a few days late with this shirt – but like I said in my last post I was going away for a few days. Want to see my cabin?

Forest Holiday

Breakfast visitor

Forest Holidays Cabin

My little bit of heaven

Well  it was mine – but only for the week. It is in the lovely Forest of Dean and really belonged to Forest Holidays. We had a very reviving few days of unseasonably warm weather – and even had guests for breakfast on occasion!Joking apart – we had a great time, did lots of walking, and have come home refreshed and ready to get on again. So…..SAM 2 - February

SAM 2 - February

Bessie modeling

SAM 2 - February

Rolled sleeve detail

…I finished Februarys shirt. When I left the sleeves had to made and set into the body, and the buttons and buttonholes had to be made.The fabric is a very

SAM 2 - February

Rear view

stretchy cotton mix (from stash – I can’t remember where it came from) which caused a few problems with setting in the sleeves without it creating little tucks. After a bit of unpicking and careful re-sewing it looks fine. I wanted the buttons to be virtually invisible – the fabric does enough on its own – so I used very basic small white shirt buttons and I am very happy.

The pattern was basically Patrones 311 style 6 –  but as I detailed in my last post I made a few adjustments to make it more wearable in the wonderful UK summers. As I wasn’t able to get a decent photograph on me (and the management is back to work) I had to rely on Bessie to model for me.

I am very happy with this shirt(dress) and I will  probably wear it with leggings/footless tights unless it is really hot (and I get the fake tan evenly on my gleaming winter white legs). I will almost certainly make it again and may just fiddle the pattern to make this little beauty.

RLauren ruffled shirt dress

Fabulous Ralph Lauren shsirtdress

 It wont be too difficult to make the necessary adjustments to give this pattern – and I can steal the ruffles from style 26 to try them out! February is a winner. Lets see what I make of March.

A little progress….

but still not very much. I would love to say I had been sewing up a storm this week – but it really wouldn’t be true. During the time I should have been sewing I have knitted a tea cosy. Does that count as action?

Tea cosy

Tea cosy completed

The pattern is one from my knitting bag that was a hand written copy (thanks Mum!) of a pattern made so often by our family we could probably manage without the pattern. The past incarnations have been knitted with two colours making a chequer pattern and had a pompom on top. Our kitchen really wouldn’t suit that – but I am tired of making tea and coming back to find it has become cooler than ideal  in the time I have taken to remember it. If anyone would like the pattern I am about to type it into a word file and would be happy to share. 

I have tried to work out why I hadn’t started sewing the blouse I cut out in  cotton sateen and really couldn’t come up with a reason. Since I really didn’t seem to be enthused about this (despite the fact I really like it) I thought I should just get stuck in on something, anything,to get going again so I cut out a shirtdress in a very stretchy cotton with metallic stripes that was lurking in my stash. The shirtdress from Patrtones 311 (referred to in this previous post) was almost exactly what I wanted but I decided to curve the hem into a ‘shirt-tail’ shape’ (longer at the back than front) and make the sleeves long with tabs so that I can button a rolled up sleeve.

Shirt dress

Chevron on yoke

Shirt dress

Shirt dress front

 I saw a thread on stitchers guild a little while ago which referred to the chevron detail on back yokes and Ann Rowley was kind enough to point out that if the front shoulder on the yoke is cut on the straight grain that gives this detail. I was going to cross cut the piece to get this detail – but Anns method is much more sensible.
I have managed to do all of the body, collar, and hem but the sleeves and buttonholes will have to wait for a few days as I am going away with the management for a short break.

Maybe some long walks in fresh air will bring me back renewed and ready not only to finish this shirt but make up the other one before it gets buried and becomes a UFO. I hope everyone else is making better progress than me!