Man’s (failed) shirt: Burda 7045

Here’s a cautionary Christmas tale.

If you offer to make a shirt for someone else, you need to make a muslin first. Yes, muslin making is tedious beyond belief, but if you don’t do it, you might spend hours making something like this:


Only for it to be received like this:

shirt too big

I handsewed 12 buttons for this shirt, which I believe is the dictionary definition of ‘labour of love’, so I’m pretty gutted that it didn’t work out.

The pattern is Burda 7045. If you want to make your own version, heed my warnings:

  • Collar A looks normal on the envelope, but in reality is a monstrosity of David Frost proportions.
  • The sleeves are also massive, and the cuffs would fit round the upper arm of most men.
  • There aren’t any back pleats included in the pattern.
  • This shirt also doesn’t have a rounded bottom hem. I had to wing that.
  • However it DOES include neck measurements on the pattern instructions. Of course I found this out after I’d sewed this whole shirt. I didn’t even realise men bought shirts by their neck measurements – it never comes up in womenswear…
sleeve too big
Demonstrating the muckle sleeve

The back doesn’t look too bad. I did a narrow shoulder adjustment, but think it might need even more – are men’s shirts supposed to sit slightly off the shoulder?

gingham shirt back

It’s a real shame this didn’t work out, as the fabric was sent to me by Terry’s Fabrics and it’s a lovely, medium weight woven gingham. The small checks mean you don’t have to match up the side seams, and it feels really substantial. Tempted to buy more to make myself a blouse for the summer.

It’s nice to find a source for gingham in lots of different colours, as I find the stuff you get in fabric stores is often nasty polycotton.

So anyway, as Alex wouldn’t wear this, I tried to give it to my friend (also confusingly called Alex) when he popped round for a visit. He seemed to enjoy the shirt at first:

alex busting some moves

But 5 minutes after this he was saying the shirt made him ‘look fat’, so I fear it will never be worn (I made him take the shirt home anyway as it was depressing me to look at it).

There are two things I learned from this experience.

1. Always make a muslin first, as already discussed. I’m making my second attempt in this gorgeous Paul Smith cotton which can’t be wasted on another failure.

photo (1)

2. There is a gap in the market for a modern men’s shirt pattern! Every guy I see on the street in London is wearing a slim-cut checked shirt of some kind, but there aren’t any perfect patterns to make them.

This pattern needs to have back pleats, a yoke, a small collar with the option to button it down, and normal sized cuffs (with a cutaway edge). It should explain all the professional RTW methods like sleeve plackets, flat felling and the proper way of sewing the yoke.

Yes, I know I could collate all this myself, but wouldn’t it be handy to have it in one envelope? Colette have done a good job with their Negroni, but I don’t see many guys wearing this style of convertible collar, whereas the standard shirt is everywhere. Indie pattern designers of the world, I challenge you to come up with this holy grail!


Aubergine crepe New Look 6070 dress for the Minerva Blogging Network

I’d like to put in a vote for purple to become the official colour of Christmas.

purple dress 4

Red is played out, don’t you think? It’s so obvious, so Coca-Cola. Let’s all pretend we’re Roman emperors and drape ourselves in shades of aubergine.

Here’s my contribution to the cause, in the form of my latest project for Minerva Crafts. It’s another version of New Look 6070 which I’ve made before in a summery floral cotton – you can see that here.

purple dress 3

It’s made in a gorgeous luxury crepe from Minerva. This fabric is amazing. It’s drapey, heavy, and beautiful, and it makes the perfect winter dress. They have it in a range of beautifully saturated colours – I’m keen on the maroon, might have to pick up some of that for my next project…

This went together pretty smoothly. I had an issue with the facing, which required some tacking down, and the hem, which has annoyingly decided to flare out at the bottom. This fabric also frays like mad, so you’ll need to get the hoover out regularly when sewing.

new look 6070 dres back

I think the pleated shoulders stay just on the right side of being too 80s, although you may disagree. The fit is great, helped by the fact that this crepe has a slight stretch to it. It’s very comfortable to wear.

Top tip for working with this crepe – use a press cloth! You need quite a high heat to make it behave, but it’s easy to put a shine on the fabric if you’re not careful. You should also baste down all the pleats (I do it on my machine with a long stitch length), as you can’t iron them flat  as you would in a cotton.

Read my post about this dress on the Minerva network here, buy the kit here which includes two metres of fabric and a matching zip, and get the New Look 6070 pattern here.

Here’s to a purple Christmas!

new look 6070 dress

Sew Over It winners and dream patterns from Miss Betty’s Attic

Thanks to everyone who entered the Sew Over It Giveaway! I have the winners here – drumroll please….

Sew Over It Giveaway winnersKat, Jana, and Liz A, you have all won a shiny new Sew Over It pattern! Check your inboxes for details.

Thank you for all the entries, it was certainly enlightening reading about everybody’s dream pattern. I particularly liked all the requests for a pattern that fits right out of the envelope. I dream about this too, but sadly, I don’t think it’s going to happen in this world (maybe in the next one, where we’ll also get assistance from good-looking angels to cut out our patterns and hand-sew our hems).

Sorry for the delay in posting this giveaway. As a consolation prize, please accept the news that Miss Betty’s Attic, one of the best vintage pattern sellers on Etsy, is currently giving a 50% discount on all her stock. I have a horrible feeling this means she’s shutting up shop, so take advantage while you can!

Here are my dream pattern picks:

Gorgeous 1940s dress pattern with built-in boob pockets!
Gorgeous 1940s dress pattern with built-in boob pockets! Those ladies are giving somebody serious side-eye.
I know it's a bit Star Trek esque (down to the strange communicator brooch) but that's why I love it.
I know it’s a bit Star Trek (down to the strange communicator brooch) but that’s why I love it
Man tailored 50s jacket
‘Man-tailored’ boxy 50s jacket – I would buy this in a heartbeat if it wasn’t a size 30

Here’s the link to Miss Betty’s Attic – the code for 50% off is ‘TAKE50’

Sew Over It Giveaway! Ultimate Shift Dress, Ultimate Wrap Dress, 1940s Tea Dress

STOP PRESS – I’ve just added the 1940’s Tea Dress pattern to the giveaway too! So all three dresses from the new Sew Over It line of patterns are now on offer. Hooray!

New pattern company alert! Sew Over It (a sewing cafe in Clapham) have just released the first three dresses in their new line of patterns.

They’re all drafted by Lisa Comfort, who runs the cafe, and they’re all BEAUTIFUL. Previously they’ve only been available to people taking classes at the cafe, but now you can buy them here!

I have long coveted the 1940s tea dress, ever since I saw Zoe’s amazing version, so I ordered one within seconds of seeing it released. Ah, I love it.

photo (18)

The wonderful Lisa saw me gloating over my new purchase on Instagram, and kindly offered to send me the other patterns in the range.

And because it’s nearly my birthday and I’m feeling generous, I’m going to give them both away!

I’ve only just started fitting the tea dress pattern, but here’s what I love about this range so far:

  • Beautiful packaging, with a little booklet telling you how to make each dress, and an envelope style that means you can tuck the pattern pieces right back inside.
  • Comprehensive instructions with clear illustrations, AND the reminder to finish your seams at each step. It took me so long to get used to the fact that commercial sewing patterns don’t include this, which I think is very unhelpful for beginners. So hooray for Sew Over It for putting this step in.
  • These patterns couldn’t be any more reliable! They’ve already been tested and tested again on people taking the classes at the sewing cafe.

Here’s the two patterns I’m giving away:

Ultimate Shift Dress

photoGridImage (1)

This would be the perfect dress for a beginner – it doesn’t even need a zip. It’s a versatile one to have in your stash, as it includes long sleeves, cute cap sleeves and a deliciously 60s neck ruffle. I would make it in this bonkers Multicoloured Hippie Floral Print cotton from Minerva Crafts.

Ultimate Wrap Dress

photoGridImageI have to say, it really hurts me to give away this pattern, I am greedy and want to keep it, but I’m going to do it anyway just because I love you all. This is the perfect, simple wrap dress pattern for jersey fabric. I would sew it in this galaxy print jersey from Stone Fabrics that I have been coveting for ages.

NEW – 1940’s Tea Dress

Because I am the owner of the smallest letterbox ever (only bills fit through), I didn’t realise Lisa had also sent me another copy of the 1940s tea dress which was languishing in the post office. So I’ve now added that to the giveaway too!

Here’s the back of the tea dress pattern, which I think is my favourite of the three:

Sew Over It Tea DRess

How to enter the giveaway

I’m going to give away each of the three patterns to a different person, chosen at random.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post and tell me what your dream sewing pattern would be. A pattern you’ve been coveting for ever but just can’t find anywhere – it could be something you’ve thought up yourself, or an item you’ve seen in RTW and really want to copy. Or if you’ve already found your dream pattern, tell us what it is!

Leave a comment by Monday 18th November, midnight GMT, to enter. Open worldwide.

(You can buy all the patterns on the Sew Over It Shop here. You can also visit their sewing cafe in Clapham, which I fully intend on doing the next time I venture down to the wilds of South London. Huge thank you to Lisa Comfort for this giveaway!)

By Hand London Victoria blazer review and giveaway

Firstly – this is a great pattern.

Secondly – I haven’t totally done it justice here.

victoria blazer 7

I was one of the original pattern testers, but I’ve held off from posting my version for a few reasons. I’ll share them with you now so you can learn from my mistakes.

– Don’t use a thick denim-weight fabric for this pattern. It’s a casual blazer, it needs drape, and those sleeves will be impossible to ease in if your fabric is too heavy.

– Don’t pre-wash your fabric and lining together if one is pale blue and the other is burnt orange (you probably already know this).

– Don’t buy fabric from Ultimate Craft in Stoke Newington. It always ends in tears.

victoria blazer 5

I’m happy with the finished result even though the fabric is a bit heavy. The strange mottling that occurred in the first run through the washing machine has almost gone, so it has more of a pleasing faded look.

jacket back

The pattern itself is brilliant. It’s very quick to sew, and the By Hand London girls have put together really comprehensive instructions. I’ve never made a jacket before so I was a bit intimidated, but it’s easy-peasy. I finished it in two evenings!

The way the neck dart turns into the collar is particularly fun to put together, and the lining neatly finishes all your seams. The side seam pockets come together beautifully, but next time I want to add patch pockets to the front, which would make it even quicker.

blazer close up

I know a few people wanted to see a line drawing of this pattern, so here’s the back of the (beautifully packaged) envelope. You can see they recommend ‘light to medium weight’ fabrics, so don’t be like me, do what they tell you. I am dying to see a version of this in a chambray.

victoria blazer line drawing

I’m actually planning another Victoria in my Tesco-duvet-space-galaxy fabric but I think it’ll have to wait until after marriage/honeymoon/wedded bliss etc etc.

But you should check out Marie’s beautiful pastel cropped version here, and Clare’s gorgeous neon palm-tree version here. I saw the latter in person at the By Hand London first birthday celebrations last weekend, and it’s a beaut.

You can buy the pattern from the By Hand London website and it’s perfect timing, as they’re about to start a sew-along.

I’m very proud to support these ladies! Their patterns are ace, they are lovely people, and they know how to throw an EPIC party (they also mix some extremely strong punch).

sidevictoria blazer 4

Giveaway – own your own Victoria blazer!

I have a copy of this pattern to give away to one lucky person! I worked out that I’ve been blogging for exactly two years now, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate.

victoria blazer pattern front

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below.

To make it interesting, will you tell me about your best or worst matches of fabric and pattern? I’m fascinated by how some fabrics suit a pattern perfectly, and some are an instant failure. If I had this mastered I reckon I’d be a sewing wizard, so I’d love to hear about your successes and disasters!

You can enter the giveaway from anywhere in the world, and you have until 12 noon (UK time) on Tuesday 16th July.

If you want to comment but not enter the giveaway, (perhaps to tell me that I look like Phil Collins in this jacket, or that I should have ironed my skirt before taking these photos), that’s cool too, just mention it in your comment.

p.s. check me out being interviewed in the Guardian today about making my own jeans! Fame at last, courtesy of the lovely Karen.

Spring Sewing Swap!

Readers, do you swap? I am, of course, referring to exchanges of the sewing variety. I recently took part in my first postal swapping event, which was kindly organised by the lovely Kerrie of Kestrel Finds and Makes.

I was lucky enough to be paired up with Amy of Sylko Twist, who I first met at the HUGE swap earlier this year, and even better, she put me to shame by sending her stuff early!

Is there anything better than a big mystery parcel? I think not, especially when you get it at work and sneakily take it to the kitchen to tear it open and paw through all the lovely stuff. Amy sent me some gorgeous things. First, the fabric. This was all beautifully wrapped up in tissue paper and ribbon, unlike the sorry parcel I sent her…


Check out these beauties! On the left we have a semi-sheer knit in some fabulous colours. I think I’m going to leave this until the colder months (although that’s all relative in the UK at the moment), and maybe make a Hot Cocoa sweater. Or possibly another little knit dress. There’s loads of it so I have a myriad of options!

On the right is a beautifully drapey crepe type fabric – I’ve already decided this is going to be a Scout Tee with long sleeves, like Shivani’s lovely versions. The print is too awesome to let any darts or pleats get in the way.

Next, some amazing patterns. I have some cunning plans for the jumpsuit on the left. I am a huge fan of the pattern art (and the pattern) in the middle – Upper arm bangle! Manicure inspection! 60s hair! And the shirt dress on the right is completely perfect, will definitely be making a version of that.


But that’s not all! Amy also included a card of beautiful buttons, which I think she must have hand-stitched on herself. They are almost too pretty to use, I may have to just admire them. Plus there was some gorgeous ribbon and lace trim.


Finally, the icing on the cake – a parrot tea-towel! These may not technically be parrots –  if any Australians want to chime in to identify them, please feel free. They’ll always be parrots to me though.

And what’s that on the left-hand side? Could it be…I think it could be…yes it is….

parrot jumper

A parrot jumper knitting pattern!! Goodness knows where Amy managed to find this, but it’s made me very happy. At my current knitting speed it would take me over 20 years to make this, but I can dream…

Thanks to the lovely Kerrie for organising this swap, and the gorgeous Amy for sending me such beautiful things!

Vintage Maudella dress in coffee coloured polka dot crepe

Well what do you know – it’s a bank holiday weekend here in the UK and the sun actually came out! And having the Monday off means I have a bit of extra time to catch up with blogging.

I’ve got so many new things to show you, but our internet at home has been broken, which has made it a bit tricky. Anyway, I’ve managed to get online now, so fingers crossed it holds out until I finish this post.

This is a new dress I made for a wedding last weekend in Scotland. It POURED with rain but it was a lovely day, and everyone was safely indoors (except for the poor bagpiper standing outside the hotel, who had huge streams of water running from his cape.)


I won this crepe fabric in a giveaway run by the lovely Rehanon. I think the coffee colour makes enormous polka-dots look quite sophisticated, and it was gorgeous to sew with.

The pattern has the same shoulder treatment as the Colette Ceylon, but it’s actually a vintage Maudella pattern which I won on Ebay for 99p! You’ve seen it before, but here’s the envelope again, just cos I love it:

maudella dress front

I’d definitely make this again – it’s pretty quick to put together, and the shoulder yokes are so cute! I did two things that really made a difference. I bought posh interfacing from the English Couture Company, which made the usual stuff I sew with look like old cardboard in comparison. And I worked very hard on adjusting this dress around the shoulders, so the sleeves aren’t sliding off for once.

Unfortunately tissue-fitting didn’t show me that the centre front neck was far too big. It looks okay, but I’m going to rip out the facing and bring that front seam in a bit. I’m loathe to start making muslins for everything, so I’ll just chalk it up to experience.

dress bodice on hanger

I probably should have lined this dress, but I didn’t have the time or the fabric, so I took the cheater’s option. That’s buying a slip from M&S to go underneath. Specifically, this one.

I heartily recommend doing this. A lot of vintage dresses aren’t lined and were designed to be worn with a matching slip, so there’s a precedent! I kept thinking ‘well I could make my own slip….’ but then I came to my senses and realised I sew for fun, and that would not be fun.

I also added belt loops using this easy-peasy Colette patterns tutorial, and felt very smug about it too (although one broke halfway through the night, boo. I was dancing quite a lot).

dress belt loop
Belt Loop Action!

So, in conclusion, hooray for Maudella patterns! As well as this dress and this skirt, I’ve made another piece of clothing from this English pattern company in May, which I will post about soon (she said unconvincingly).

Here’s another photo just to prove that I can smile in pictures:


New favourites

New favourite colour combo:

My boyfriend put together this amazing tulip and daffodil bouquet which is eye-poppingly full of spring: sherbert orange, violet,  yellow and green all mixed together.


New favourite blog:

The Costume Rail 

I just discovered this blog by a professional costume designer and maker. I love her analysis of film, tv and theatre costume, and there’s also brilliant posts on fishtail dressesvintage underwear, and novelty knitwear.

(incidentally I am still using Google Reader to save all new blog finds. I’m living in denial.)

New favourite dress:

Picture borrowed from Me and My Polar Bear

This amazoid galaxy Elisalex dress sewn by Emily of Me And My Polar Bear.

Would you believe this fabric is actually a duvet cover from Tesco? As soon as I saw this dress on Twitter I bought the same bedding set (you can get it here). It’s pretty stiff poly-cotton though so I’m still working out what to make with it. I think another Elisalex would be a stalking move too far…

New favourite pattern:

McCalls 6531. It’s a kimono sleeve anorak pattern. I’ve still got some lovely khaki waxed cotton left over from the Peter Jensen sample sale (the gift that keeps on giving) and thought the two could combine into a summer jacket. I’ve bought a separating zipper and everything.


What do you think though? Too 80s? I was going to make the long version with the pockets, but on reflection the shorter jacket might actually be nicer… (Please ignore the McCalls styling, as usual)

Geometric 70s shirtdress: Simplicity 2246

We have a new record! Forget the Olympics, this is the fastest time ever between me posting about a potential sewing project, and actually making it. Normally there’s a time lag of at least 6 months. Here’s my shirt dress:

So, you might have noticed that Simplicity 2246 has an A-line gathered skirt, while this one is, well, a pencil.

I did actually sew the original pattern shape. I only just managed to squeeze it out of  two metres, which is why the back skirt panel has the little ‘A’s going right side up, instead of upside down. I don’t think anyone will notice though, do you? I find people pay a lot less attention to minor clothing details than you’d think (apart from fellow sewists, they’re a bit tricksy like that).

So anyway, I made the original A-line skirt version, put it on and looked in the mirror, and just HATED it. It was those mimsy little gathers at the waist. They looked so home-sewed, so apologetic, so little-girly. The geometric fabric just did not like them.

Normally what I’d do is stuff the piece away somewhere until I could face dealing with it. But because I’d already blogged about this I felt a weird obligation to finish the damn thing.

So my solution was to re-make the skirt entirely. This involved a lot of seam ripping (including all the overlocking, which was just as fun as you’d imagine). Then I took my trusty pencil skirt pattern and traced it on to the pieces, moving the darts a bit so they matched the bodice ones. Sewing it all back up didn’t take long, and then I overlocked the hell out of everything.

I figured the print was so blinding that it needed ultra boring detailing, so I just went for brown top-stitching and some very plain buttons.

This Lisette pattern is nice, but there’s a few annoying things about it. There’s way too much sleeve cap ease, which as we all know, is totally bogus. I really hate those tiny little gathers at the top that you have to do to make it fit (I’m being super harsh on gathers today, I know.). Also, it instructs you to cut out 4 placket pieces which just takes forever. There is no need for this! Cut the placket and the facing all in one, ladies!

Hmm, what else. Oh yes, I combined the bodice darts into one really massive deep waist dart, which came out a bit pointy but you can’t really tell in this fabric. I also added a little pocket with a button and cuffed the sleeves above the elbow.

So what do you reckon? I think this is one of those fabrics that you love at first sight, but become steadily disillusioned with over the course of sewing. I’m not sure if a plain sheath dress would have suited the print better. But I’m still pleased with myself for salvaging a potential disaster into something totally wearable.

The two types of shirt dresses

I’ve always thought shirt dresses are really cool. One-piece dressing and easier to wear than a full on Dress with a capital D. There’s so many variations as well. Check out this amazing Claire McCardell piece with an obi-style belt and a dramatic collar:

There’s a shirt dress sewalong going on right now at A Fashionable Stitch, but while I do like the pattern they’re using, I don’t want a zip in my dress. It feels like cheating! I want mine to button all the way down the front.

To get some inspiration, I’ve been doing extensive research (okay, browsing The online equivalent of wandering round Liberty’s and pawing all the highly expensive dresses, but without any sales staff to give you the evil eye.)

Here’s what I’ve determined. Shirtdresses currently come in two categories, which with stunning originality I like to call ‘Loose’ and ‘Fitted’. The loose style are MUCH more prevalent at the moment. In fact the ‘no waist’ look seems to be big right now, which is a shame for those of us who resemble a potato in outfits with no waist definition.

The ‘Loose’ category often has a half placket. There’s a lot of interesting sleeve applications, with raglan and kimono styles. There is no waist seam, and normally a self-fabric belt. Sometimes they have a collar, but more often not. Prints are big.

The 2nd category is a lot rarer in RTW at the moment – the classic 50s looking ‘Fitted’ dress. It’s got a waist seam, a big flared skirt, often sleeveless with a notched collar. Lots of cute details like a thin belt, or novelty buttons, or a big old bow, or piping. There’s a lot less of these around, although Miu Miu have come up trumps this season (I love the coral one below, with star-shaped buttons).

Okay, there’s loads of pretty dresses out there to copy, but here’s the problem –  I have serious issues with decision making. I’ve narrowed my options down, and have two possible combos, but I need your help! What do you think of these?

First up, we’ve got Simplicity 2246 (the Lisette Traveler dress), and some gorgeous fabric I bought from Ditto in Brighton. It’s a really light crisp cotton, apparently ex Christian Dior stock. I love the geometric pattern and the mysterious letter A which appears all over (A for AWESOME)

But I’m not 100% sure about the match. I’d make the full-skirted dress, but I wish it just had one waist dart. And a notched collar. I don’t like the girly puffed sleeves either, would have to use the cuffed ones. Also, is this pattern just too boring to do the fabric justice? Help! Too many thoughts!

Okay, second combination:

This is the oil-on-water digital print I got from the lovely people at Our Patterned Hand (pardon the wrinkles – it’s just dried). The pattern is an unknown quantity: McCalls 6520.

Nobody in the world seems to have made this dress, possibly because the envelope styling is hideous (see below). The raglan sleeves could go either way – I love them, but they’re hard to fit. The shaping is loose, but crucially there’s a tie to pull it on at the waist. As a huge bonus they’ve included my favourite thing, a tiny stupid chest pocket. But what do you think? Is this pattern stylish or frumpy?

Matching leopard-print shoes and headband? Oh McCalls. At least you try.

Are you a shirt-dress lover too? Any patterns to recommend?

Trend prediction for 2012: Unnecessary skirts

I’ve been slowing down my vintage pattern buying lately. When I do buy it’s exclusively online – old patterns in London vintage shops are usually hideously marked up, and when you’re used to Etsy prices, forking out a tenner for an 70s dungarees pattern stings a bit.

(reminds me of a late 60s/early 70s shift dress I saw at a fair in East London.Extremely ‘distressed’, unlined, and made from polyester. The price? £75, because, as the woman solemnly said to me “This is a very, very rare piece. It’s actually from the 1960s. It’s old!”. Er, thanks love. I’ll stick to online vintage shopping then)

Anyway, I had to break both of my self-imposed rules to buy Blackmore So-Easy 9422, because I’ve never seen a British-made sewing pattern for sale before.

Blackmore 9422 vintage sewing pattern

It’s a very simple shift dress, but I love the slim overskirt which buckles up at the front, or can be held casually over the arm if you… I don’t know, get too hot? Where would you wear an overskirt, anyway? I guess it would be handy for the Railway Children/runaway train situation recently discussed on this blog.

Some super chic accessorising going on as well. A flicky bouffant, long white gloves, pointy stilettoes, AND chunky jewellery? Nice.

I did a bit of online sleuthing on Blackmore, which was set up in 1845 by 8 siblings, who sound extremely interesting to say the least. 4 of them were deaf, one was a chemist, one managed a dress-shop, one was a ‘Professor of Shorthand’, and one was a mannequin for a fashion house (anticipating the work of Tom Cruise by over 100 years)

Anyway, it looks like my pattern is from the late 50s, as that’s when Blackmore were bought by the Associated British Paper Patterns Limited, the name written on the back of the envelope.

The tissue is marked with holes rather than printed on, and the instruction sheet is rather short and sweet. I assume that the phrase ‘Turnings are allowed on this pattern’ means that the hem allowance is included?

It’s a shame that there isn’t a home-grown British pattern industry operating at the moment. Even all the awesome new start-ups seem to be across the pond (Colette patterns, Sewaholic, etc).

I did find a few more Blackmore patterns on Etsy – click on the picture to see the listing.

Demonic Pippi Longstocking in a tweed cape, anyone? No?

Vintage Blackmore Cape Pattern from vintageblondedesign on Etsy
Vintage Blackmore Cape Pattern from vintageblondedesign on Etsy

This voluminous nightgown is actually rather sweet (and suitable for newspaper reading, apparently)

Vintage Nightdress Pattern from TheBrightonEmporium on Etsy

Shirtdress patterns are two a penny, but I really like the inverted pleat on this one (more redheads as well – are they related to the evil cape-wearing child, perhaps?)

Shirtwaister dress from kt3 on Etsy
Shirtwaister dress from kt3 on Etsy

That’s about it really, there’s doesn’t seem to be that many of these patterns out there.

Have you heard of Blackmore before? Do you know of any British sewing companies? And most importantly, would you wear a buckled-on overskirt, and if so, in what situation would you remove it?

Haberdashery shopping in the USA

(You can sing this post title to the tune of the Bruce Springsteen song, if you try really hard)

I only visited one fabric shop on my recent holiday, which I think is fairly restrained. It was G-Street Fabrics, which is just outside Washington Dulles airport in a little retail park which also contains a frozen yogurt shop (where I dropped off my boyfriend).

G-Street is a nice shop, but in the end I decided they didn’t carry any fabrics I couldn’t find in London, apart from these bizarre 3D cottons:

3D Fabrics

Yes, you do have to look at them through special 3D glasses. My favourite is the mournful looking 3D dogs. The mind boggles. I guess they are intended for quilters? Do you get the glasses free with the yardage, or do you buy them separately? So many questions.

Anyway, sadly I didn’t buy any 3D flame fabric (although now I am strongly wishing I had done). What I did get is some haberdashery bits and pieces I can never find in the shops here, including fold-over elastic in both pale blue and turquoise seersucker. I’ve always wanted to try this stuff. I also got a selection of tape-like products – Seams Great, Stay Tape, and Wonder Tape. I don’t know what the Wonder Tape is for, exactly, but the name made it seem so impressive. Anyone used these before?

haberdashery from G-Street

I also went to a Wal-mart and rifled through the fabric section there. Not having much use for High School Musical themed fabric, I didn’t buy any, but I did get two super-cheap patterns from the new lines by Simplicity and New Look.

Simplicity Sew Simple 2004

Simplicity 2004 is a very simple yoked dress pattern, but it has pockets and was only 97 cents so obviously I had to buy it. I’m slightly worried that it’s been described as a ‘muu-muu’ on pattern review, but I think it could work with elastic or ribbon round the waist to cinch it in. Hopefully.

New Look 6070
New Look 6070 was only 2 dollars, and I like the way they’ve included a line-drawing on the front of the envelope. It’s also the only commercial pattern I’ve ever seen which recommends using an invisible zip. I can see this with a peter pan collar and a fake button placket added, to give it a faux shirtdress feel. I’m thinking about using this John Kaldor fabric I got in Edinburgh ages ago, it’s a lovely rayon crepe which reminds me of the famous Marimekko gingko print.

That’s it for my pattern buying until I get a new job! I’ve bought about 10 new and vintage patterns in the last few months and I really need to get sewing some of them. I blame Colette Patterns for having too many nice designs.