My style – or style rut?

Every so often something happens that makes us question our choices. The prompt this time was a blog post I read by Sew Tessuti who was showing a selection of patterns bought over a number of years – and so many very similar patterns.

This weekend I bought a couple of Style Arc patterns using the discount. Great time to try out a new to me pattern company who seem to have a very good following. Then I looked at what I had bought in the light of what I had read.

The first was a pattern bundle which included the Stacie jean jacket, Sally jean skirt, and Diana top. I really only wanted the jacket but it was such a good buy… well, you know the feeling. The other option was the Ziggi biker jacket.Stacie Jean Jacket + Diana Top + Sally Jean Skirt








These were both styles I really thought I would use – but wait a minute – do these look familiar?

Start with Stacie. I love jeans jackets. I have made a few in the past, check out this post, this one, and finally this one. Also, in a recent Patrones post I showed a jacket that isn’t a million miles from this. See a theme developing? All OK, but none exactly what I wanted.

The first (McCalls 5860) was a great basic shape but I followed the instructions pretty much as is and hated the way the lining was installed from the word go. The second was self drafted and just OK. I still wear it on occasion but it has never really thrilled me. The third was from a Craftsy course. I learned a bunch of stuff from the course, have worn this jacket quite a lot, but it seems a bit of a compromise jeans jacket. A ‘home sew’ option. I have read a number of blog posts about ‘Stacie’ and most are positive – but the pockets are just decorative rather than functional, and the cuffs seem to come in for some criticism. It would seem that the pattern companies are on a hiding to nothing as we have very specific ideas of what we want, but we don’t all want the same thing. Clearly I am going to have to do a bit of adaption to make Stacie exactly what I had in mind.


Fabulous fully lined biker jacket with zip features


Now then Ziggi. I have seen some blisteringly good versions of Ziggi online. Check out Ruths version at Core Couture, or Shams at Communing with Fabric, or ….  any one of loads. Brilliant jacket. Perfectly biker – just what I want. But I have already got the Janet Pray MotorCity Express pattern as part of another Craftsy course (not yet started). I have put off starting the course because I had slight reservations about the pattern. I knew the lack of a collar was something I was going to have to change, and no matter how much I know I have gained from the other Janet Pray courses I have watched this one languished. Is Ziggi closer to what I want? I think so, but I really must watch the course because I’m sure it will help construction when I decide what I am to do.

Both of these jacket styles can be dressed up or down according to need but are arguably both fairly casual, every day jackets. That’s OK. Sadly my lifestyle doesn’t really have great need for spectacularly ‘dressed up’ clothing. However, my concern is have I just fallen into a style rut where I simply choose what is comfortable and familiar, or have I actually found that rare beast – My Style?



Fabulous Fashionistas

I have spent a fabulous hour this morning watching a Channel 4 programme recorded earlier in the week called Fabulous Fashionistas. It was wonderful to have a style programme on prime time TV , even if I did save it for later, that concentrated on ‘a more mature lady’.

Looking good: Jean Woods, Gillian Lynne and Bridget Sojourner show how to pose like you mean it

All of these ladies were fabulous, if extreme, versions of what I would like to be when I grow up. As dressmakers we are very fortunate to be able to make/remodel clothes so that we don’t have to wear something that is instantly recognisable as being a particular shop or brand. This makes me very happy.

While watching I was reminded of the post I reblogged some time ago about Advanced Style. This was a book I had intended to get at the time, and is still available on amazon. I love to see people, old or young, expressing their own style and that is very much in evidence in the blog world.

I am still fairly very conservative, having been very traditionally brought up, and sometimes find it hard to actually wear what I would like to for fear of being considered ‘odd’. You know what? I am going to just go with my feelings from here – I might look an idiot from time to time but I will be my own idiot.

P.S. I am going out tonight in a group of eight ‘ladies of a certain age’ to see The Lion King. And I can guarantee I will have a ball. Leopard print shoes at the ready.

I’m suffering ‘fabric frustration’!

Deep breath. Things could be a lot worse. But I had my heart set on making this –

Patrones ‘Trench’ Cape

– in this fabric.

Cape fabric?

Not enough for the cape. Aaargh!

It had been maturing in the stash for a good long time. I seem to recall buying it to make a very warm coat for my darling girl when she went to a school that was delightful – but on top of an exposed, windy hill. With Highland cattle in an adjoining field! (Yes, in the Midlands – not Scotland). Since she has now completed University and moved out I thought it’s day had come. The lining worked. The pattern was traced. All I had to do was press and pin, and cut out before smugly moving to the sewing room. It was not to be.I was about 20cm short. I spent longer than was reasonable turning the pattern pieces every which way. No way. After a short sulk I decided to make a second choice. It was from stock and there was more than enough left to cut for me.

Cape fabric - second choice

Cape fabric – second choice

This is a lovely Loden green knitted wool mix (533)  which I had earmarked for another garment. It was sold to me as ‘dry clean only’ but I did wash a sample – which shrunk about 20% on the length. I really wanted to know it would cope with the occasional soaking if I got caught in the rain (though it wont be showerproof – just another layer to get through) so I cut extra to cope with the expected loss in length,  and while I type it is being washed. Gulp. The fabric doesn’t look any different once washed, though it is perhaps a little softer. Having been pre-shrunk the fabric I should be able to wash the cape if I need to. The plan is for this to be a ‘throw it on’ layer for those times you don’t really want a coat but need a little extra warmth. I think it should work.

However, since I couldn’t get moving last night on the project I wanted I spent some time going through old Patrones magazines. I love to do that as there is always something that catches your attention after a break. Last night it was this from Patrones 285 –

November Coat

November Coat – and it fits the fabric! (Allegedly)

The Management can’t quite understand how this will fit the red fabric (according to the magazine instructions) yet the cape wont. Break for short lesson on the fabric grain. Don’t think it was worth it! Anywaay – the revised plan is to trace the pattern for this beauty and use my first choice cape fabric for this. Result! (Or it will be when I get it made). If I am very organised I will get the pattern traced before Downton Abbey tonight and cut out one of the two options tomorrow.

Gosh, don’t I sound productive!




Knitted Armour

Inspired by, not actual. Anyone who is more on the ball than me will remember I mentioned seeing these garments when I visited the V&A a few weeks ago for the Ballgowns exhibition. I do hope I haven’t taken so long to show you that the garments have been removed now. I was making my usual tour of the metal gallery (not sure that is what it is really called but it has lots of beautiful wrought iron work – I know I’m odd but as a defense I may have the metal gene as my dad was an iron-worker).

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All of these garments were credited to Julia Sissons, one of the V&A’s curators. It was particularly good to have access to her notebook (shown) and test swatches. I really loved the fact that someone could be so inspired by metal clothing of old to make garments that, whilst unusual, could be worn today. Admittedly if you did wear them you might get a few odd looks, and you would almost certainly have no trouble getting a seat on the tube, but these were truly wonderful garments.

If you get along to the V&A for any of their wonderful exhibitions (and I have just bought tickets for the Hollywood Costume exhibition today –  I am very excited!) please don’t just go to the exhibition and out again. Spend some time enjoying the other treasures that are available here. Who knows, you may be so inspired you make something as wonderful as these garments.


Advanced Style – Sewing Inspiration

Many ladies seem to see getting ‘older’ as a limitation. I want to be one of these ladies.

The ones in this book – not a ‘limited’ lady. I have just reread this post and thought I needed to clarify that.