Karen, does this qualify for Ugly Amnesty?

You is UGLY


Ooh I was full of such high hopes for this project, but things just didn’t quite turn out to plan. Who knows what caused it – the fabric choice, the lack of lining and therefore body and structure, a few extra pounds around my waist… all I can say is – this is a big fat fail of a dress, and in the interests of public sewing health – I’m sharing it with all of you.

When the fabric first caught my eye I was fresh off my Mad Men challenge and itching to use Simplicity 5961 again. It was just such a pretty little shape and so easy to run up. I decided NOT to add trims and details (like I did with the Mad Men version) because I thought the stripes would be quite enough as it was.

I then made what might be called the fatal decision – not to add a lining. The fabric is floaty, yes, but not overly so. However I think this pattern calls for something sturdier. What flowed beautifully with wool crepe and satin is disastrous with cotton seersucker! It just… wilts on the body! I feel like me and this dress have just done ten rounds in the washing machine!

Don’t even get me started on the zip. It took two machine attempts and one hand-picked zipper to get to this point, and I ain’t doing it again, no sirree. LOOK at it undulating along my spine like that, just look at it! My zipper’s doing the rhumba! And where did the swayback come from?! WTF? I haven’t got the heart to redo this travesty of a mockery of a sham of a zip.

Yikes - what a nasty zipper

Did I do this with my eyes closed? Hilariously – no!

To conclude my friends – this is not a dress that will be worn often, if at all. True, it can be saved with a slip, a cardy and a pair of sturdy Bridget Jones underpants, but only just. I haven’t even hemmed it yet – it’s THIS CLOSE to going in the bin.

Ummm – will this do?

What do you think – should I finish it off? Stitch? Or DITCH!


Here’s to 2011 sewing (and a sneaky peek at 2012)

What a year it’s been my fellow stitchers. After an action-packed first half of 2011 (I got married which is more than enough action for anyone, trust me!) I started this blog back in July with no idea as to whether I’d keep it up, or whether anyone would even be remotely interested in my witterings on re-learning to sew and the projects I’d work on. It’s been a total eye-opener, a huge learning curve and a downright chuckle too. But enough of the cliches. Here’s what I made this year:

The year in pics

Phew. I seriously am astonished at how much I’ve got through 🙂 This is what I wrote in my first blog post:

“I want to get good at sewing. I want to improve on my very basic skills and be able to approach a new project with a good dose of confidence. I want to make cute buttonholes, sexy zips… I want to set sleeves dammit. I want to make trousers! Yes! Trousers!”

Trousers aside, I’m so SO incredibly delighted and I can’t wait for 2012. However I do know that I need to work on my techniques, finishing garments correctly, not taking shortcuts, reading pattern instructions BEFORE I start, reading them properly DURING the process, etc etc… basically all that fundamental stuff you guys do so well…

Here are the projects to help:

2012 sewing plans:

  • Having recently discovered Victory patterns I’m going to try out the Hazel dress. It’s too cute for words… so just look at the pics and I’ll shuttup…
  • The love affair with Colette continues. In 2012 I’ll be trying my hand at the Violet, the Ginger and the Negroni, as well as all those patterns from the Colette Sewing Handbook when time allows. Plus I’ll probably revisit the Peony.
  • My first sewalong with Sewaholic will commence in January with the Minoru jacket (as long as I get the right fabric in time)
  • I have yet to make New Look 6000  for Scruffy Badger’s fest but that’s something I’ll turn my attention to between Xmas and New Year – the perfect January dress.
  • I have a bunch of vintage patterns I want to do, including this adorable Simplicity 7845 (middle view and also a Scruffy Badger steal) and this Le-Roy 3133 (view A).
Vintage patterns
2012 sewing aspirations:
Less about specific projects – more about expanding my repertoire and developing my creativity…
  • I’d like to make some trousers: Specifically a pair with a high waist and a pair of pedal pushers.
  • I’d like to make a frothy romantic summer dress, gauzy and light with chiffon and satin and lace and something else gauzy and light but I don’t know my fabrics well enough to say what it is.
  • I’d like to get to know my fabrics better.
  • I’d like to get to know my body better and perhaps make a sloper or two that’s a perfect fit for me.
  • I’d like to draft an item all by myself using my new sloper.
  • I’d like to get into Pinterest a bit more. I signed up but haven’t really used it so much yet.
  • I’d like to really sort out my sewing room so it feels less like a cupboard I struggle to keep the cats out of and more like somewhere to dream/create/get inspired. (Who am I kidding – it’ll still be a mess and the cats will still get in…)

Lastly but most importantly, I’d like to meet (in person) some of you AMAZING women that have made this last six months such a fantastic time.  You are all awesome. Here’s to you <pops cork, clinks glasses>.  Have a blooming lovely Chrimbo and a very debaucherous NY. See you on the other side. Joanne xxx

A cocktail and a beignet

So long seersuckers! Simplicity 3835

Ola lovely readers. Just one week of sleeps left to Christmas, eh? Hasn’t it come quickly! I’ve been spending the last couple of days (in between Christmas dos and drinks of course) finishing up my first Simplicity 3835. Although I was desperate to get this finished so I could start on New Look 6000, I just know that’s not going to happen this week. So this is probably my last finished dress of the year. Here it be, the So Long Seersuckers! dress:

Simplicity 3835


I see my husband is getting a little enthusiastic about the quirky angles. Hmm. Anyhoo, I made this from some uber cheap seersucker cotton from Abakhan fabrics – it was just under £3.50 a metre. And of course it’s one of my favourite colours – teal, so I’m chuffed.

The pattern ran quite large so I cut out an 8 according to the finished garment measurements, rather than the 12 recommended for my size and I’m glad I did – there’s plenty of room.

Simplicity 3835

The hardest parts were attaching the little ties on the sleeves – lots of steps, each of which you just  had to trust. ‘So I have to sew round the edges between the dots? Why? For the love of God why?’ It all made sense in the end. Attaching the collar was tricksy too – the arcs don’t match! One is convex the other is concave (or something). It’s simply not natural, I tell you. Also I’d bought an invisible zip, and the pattern instructions called for a lapped zipper. Now I have no idea if you can do that with an invisible zipper and I wasn’t about to try it out. I ended up winging it a bit at the back but it’s alright.

simplicity 3835

I’d definitely make this again, but I’d work a bit on gathering more at the front than at the sleeves and I’d like a version without the ties (so I can pop a cardy on over the top). I’d also like to find a good walk through online first – anyone know of one?

By the way – how much of a show-off is our Gracie? I can barely take a pic without her sashaying into view with her tail in the air. Proper little madam.




Paying my dues to the pattern blues

Faced with the self-realisation that I am a sewing slattern, brought on by last week’s tussling with a certain Peony we shall not mention, I decided to turn over a new leaf this week and make a bladdy muslin.

It was inevitable really, since I wanted to adapt the pattern anyway. I’m hoping to transform Simplicity 4082…

Simplicity 4082

…into something resembling Trudy’s elegant jacket in Mad Men. Given that I’ve never adapted a pattern before I’m pretty circumspect about the whole thing. But if we don’t try children, how can we ever lean how to f@$! things up as adults, huh?

I started by checking out the back of the pattern to work out which size to cut. According to that I needed to cut out a size 12. But when I looked at the pattern pieces it was obvious even to my untrained eye that these pieces were humungous. Come on Simplicity – at this rate you’d have me in a deflated beach ball. So I chanced my arm and cut out a 6 which looked way better, although even still slightly billowy and boxy.

Simplicity 4082 - before the chop

I wanted to create that nice curved edge that Trudy has on her jacket opening, as well as reduce some of the extra roominess under the arms and around the shoulders. So I got my pencil and my scisssors out – and this is where I’m at for now.

Simplicity 4082 - after the chop

Simplicity 4082 back pleat

I think there’s a lot more still to do if I want to try and copy Trudy’s jacket. Mine is still very roomy, and those shoulders (is that a raglan sleeve?) don’t fit the Trudy brief, nor does the pleat at the back. Or the high neckline. Hmpf! I’m slightly worried about veering too far off-pattern though. What do you think? Should I ‘channel’ Trudy rather than try and copy whole-sale? Does that way madness lie?

A cute little jacket inspired by Mad Men

Call me Ginny-come-lately if you like, but I’m finally getting into Mad Men. We got series 1 & 2 on DVD recently and we’re already more than halfway though (no spoilers please!). So now I see what all the fuss is about. It’s not just some flippant little period piece with less substance than one of Christina Hendricks’ bra straps, oh no. But I’m not going to wax lyrical about it – it’s all been said already. What I will say is ‘hello you little swingy cheeky polka-dot jacket you’, modelled so prettily by Trudy, Pete’s wife.

Isn’t it so cute? Inspired by Handmade Jane‘s latest coat project I went off in search of a suitable pattern to bring this little baby to life. I figured as long as I got something in the right dimensions with the Peter Pan collar, I could  adjust the front to be a little more curved and swingy. I found Simplicity 4082 for that very purpose.

Simplicity 4082

Cover shots aside (hello? can someone call the granny out of Golden Girls and tell her someone’s stealing her style?) this is a very cute jacket pattern and has the possibility of infinite (well alright – let’s say ‘lots of’) permutations.

I’m toying with two possible versions: a polkadot (naturally) for a sort of indoors jacket to be worn over a long sleeve top with jeans, and a light coat for spring (or even a mild winter’s day if over a jumper) using the remainder of the teal corduroy I used for the Betty Blue Beignet. I feel it’s a suitable stepping stone towards making my own coat, something which I’d love to do at some point next year. There’s no way I’m ready for it at the moment, and to be honest nor do I feel the inclination to start such a scary project this side of Christmas. So this is good.

P.S. I’ve just realised that the title of this post indicated some kind of finished project for you to view.  Whoops. I haven’t even started it yet… I’m just thinking aloud…