Well adjusted?

So. I am welcoming myself into the world of adjusting pre-existing clothing that isn’t right for one reason or another (also known as, the usual reason to make adjustments). It’s taking me SO long to make the dress and shirt with seemingly endless muslins that all look completely different. So let’s just focus on something that should take minimal effort to transform something I never wear, into a new favourite.

Let’s start with this little beauty from Joy:

Louche dress from Joy

Louche dress from Joy

So – cute little dress that I’ve had for a couple of years – but it’s just wrong. I’ve never been very good at dresses with collars, the sleeves are the wrong length, the shape of the top just does nothing for me, and the colour – well let’s just say pasty blonde doesn’t really go with mustard. But I absolutely love the skirt. Let’s chop it up!

You’ll see that the skirt isn’t just stitched on to the bodice in one nice straight line and I was reluctant to unpick everything and then have to reattach and risk things not lining up nicely, so I decided to keep some of the mustard. As long as it’s not against my skin it should be ok.

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Obviously I have no idea what I’m doing and no plan, so just taking it one step at a time. Firstly cut below the armpits but still above the top of the zip. Then another strip off so that I can hem the top over the 2nd button and have a sort of high waisted skirt top above the belt. Maybe weird, maybe not. I’ll have to take in the darts so that it’s nice and snug as it’s not interfaced. An experiment that I hope doesn’t go wrong. For the time being I have to wait to see what happens as I need practice using a walking foot and it’s after midnight and my sewing machine is much too noisy to use in a flat with neighbours above and below. To be continued…..

And another Louche / Joy dress:

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This doesn’t actually look too bad in the photos, but the way the sleeves were cut just looks so wrong on me – I think I have quite broad shoulders which also slope a lot, so I don’t want to make them look even wider, as well as having weird sticking out bits next to the bust. So – I released the folded cuff and am going to make a sort of fitted cap sleeve, which involves an adjustment all the way from the waist to the armpit, and then I think I’ll need to add some sort of dart to the outside of the sleeve to stop it pointing straight out. Same reason as above – noisy sewing machine – means I have to wait and see what happens. No idea what I’m doing.

It’s the next day and steps have been taken… Sadly trying to take photos myself is just not going to work, so a thousand words will have to suffice – I stitched the bottom of the arm hole closed parallel to the original seam, then pivoted and sewed down tapering to nothing at the waistline. Then I sewed a mini box pleat at the top of the sleeve to stop it sticking out. And it looks so much better! Sure, it’s quite a forgiving fabric, being black and stretchy, and this job is by no means perfect, or even great, but it’s an improvement.

But why stop there? Why not add my new favourite future sewing project – a Peter Pan collar? To be continued….


Dress & shirt

Well – finally I have moved on from ‘bottoms’. I’m sure I’ll be back but I think the fundamentals of skirt making have more or less sunk in. So now that I have some time off work I’ve got another full time occupation which is basically sharing my time between being hunched over fabric & pattern on the floor, and hunched swearing over my sewing machine. Oh and don’t forget the obligatory hours of internet research.

theatre dress

Burdastyle Theatre Dress

This time though, I’ve got help. I bought a really good tutorial on Craftsy called ‘Sew the perfect fit’. I am not saying for one second I can now fit any garment, but I CAN go running to the teacher asking a million questions every 5 minutes. Problem is she’s in California so with the time difference it’s slow progress.

During one of these time zone hiatuses I decided to have a mini break from the dress and try this great vintage shirt pattern. Muslin completed in a full day. Quite pleased with it but it’s too tight around the shoulder blades and bust. Reached for scissors. Watch this space.


Simplicity western shirt


The duvet cover

Possibly my greatest achievement to date. Not because of any great difficulty or challenge overcome, just because it means being way more comfortable in bed! I took 19cm off the top and 14cm off both sides of the duvet cover (no cutting – completely reversible) and now instead of finding yourself only covered with big swathes of empty duvet cover, it’s all big fluffy warm duvet. Loving life.



I love this fabric. I made the trousers from a pattern at the Ultimate Trousers class at Sew Over It. They fit really well and I like them a lot – want to know why? I tried on a pre-made toile in the class to work out my correct size. Maybe there’s a lesson I should learn there.


Long gored skirt

Another non-patterned project. Also turned out a bit too big in the waist. How to avoid this? Still at least I know ways to sort it out now, even if it’s a bit of a rigmarole.

For this one, I took some help from this very helpful blog. I used Casey Brown’s now un-viewable waistband tutorial.

I found this beautiful fabric in John Lewis in Leicester (adventurous, I know!), and bought the last of it. Originally I wanted to make a quarter circle maxi skirt like By Hand London’s one.


But I had nowhere near enough fabric. So – hours of research (becoming quite ‘my thing’, these hours). Firstly, grain. I was aware that I didn’t have enough fabric to make a skirt on the long grain, only on the crossgrain. Plenty of info out there explaining things, but I decided to go ahead anyway.

So, measurements made, fabric cut and sewn, lovely lapped zip put in as per these instructions. And, done.

Oh whoops. Too wide in the waist. Ignore. Wear. Does the crossgrain matter? Who knows.

japanese flower skirt


What’s the point of this?

Oh no point at all really. I just wanted a place to store info about my sewing projects. All my knitting stuff goes on Ravelry of course, but I thought it was a shame not to keep any records about sewing projects and the many mistakes I made that I could try to learn from if I had them written down anywhere.


Mini skirt


I had made a pair of trousers from this lovely thick woven fabric, I have no idea what it is made of. I had a strip left over, and decided it would make a lovely mini skirt which would somehow be nice and tight at the waist and full at the hem.

At first I thought a tulip skirt and went onto Pinterest to get some ideas. But then a whole world of pleats opened up, and weeks were spent on trying to find the best style that would use the most fabric – couldn’t bear to waste any!

Eventually I decided to just ‘try something’ which was of course a failure because I cut the back off the fabric in line with half of my waist measurement, forgetting completely about my hips and bottom!

So – just not knowing where to start I decided to cheat a little and use a pattern for a base for fitting and used McCalls M3830 which saved a lot of heartache. I made the back as per the pattern except used an exposed zip and various tutorials on youtube (this one was very good) to get me through the hours that took! (and I had to do 2 attempts).


With the rest of the fabric, I folded in half and pinned the pattern to one of the non-folded edges and cut around the outside only, leaving a long straight strip in the middle, to create pleats. After much measuring and faffing I sewed the tops of the pleats and released the pins, then the pleats didn’t hang straight so I sewed the tops down further down the pleats which worked better.

Waistband took ages – the McCalls pattern doesn’t have one, but I wanted one. I had been referring to Casey Brown’s blog which had excellent instructions for waistbands, but that seems to have gone offline now or something so I used the instructions from Kwik Sew K3852 which I had made recently and was pleased with.


As the zip is at the back I created extra length on the back right side of the waistband to underlap and am going to sew a button on and a buttonhole just to the left above the zip.

I’m so new to this that I seem to hit a hurdle at every turn if I’m not working directly from a pattern. I am sure these things get easier with time but it’s certainly a challenge.

Mostly because now the skirt is too big – as every skirt I have made turns out to be – why? So next I will need to do some serious unpicking and re-folding and re-sewing, and is the skirt actually that nice in the end?