Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


#MakeNine2019 – Making a sleeveless top using a bodice block drafted from Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich Part 2

You may have noticed that we’ve gone back in time again to 2019. I suppose I just wanted to get my blog post titles to match up as this is a second installment, Part 1 being here.

My main aim with creating a bodice block was to use this to either draft my own patterns or to adapt existing patterns.

At the end of this post, I’d drawn my block on squared paper and I had made the necessary adjustments, such as raising the armscye required for a sleeveless bodice.

Step 4 Rotating the shoulder dart to make a bust dart.

I traced my front bodice block from the squared paper onto tracing paper.  The next step was to rotate the shoulder dart to make a bust dart. I drew a line from the side seam to the point of the bust and cut along the line. I closed the original dart, by hinging the pattern at the bust apex. I then secured it with tape. When the bust dart is in the final position for the design, I shortened it by 2 cm.

Step 5 Creating a basic bodice pattern

I then made a “neater” copy of my front bodice pattern by tracing from the paper piece creating in step 5 above. I added the seam allowances at this stage. I also made a back bodice pattern piece, just by tracing from the bodice block and adding a seam allowance.

Front and Back bodice patterns derived from the bodice block

Front and Back bodice patterns derived from the bodice block

Step 6

I used the new pattern pieces and cut out a toile. I used an old sheet.

Here are the photographs of me wearing this toile (not the most flattering pics, but useful for the process). First of all, I think I should have cut the back bodice piece in two parts so that I could get the toile on and off easily over my head, or perhaps made the neck hole larger. As it was, I pinned one side seam and one shoulder seam, so that’s why the left side looks a little wonky. The bodice fitted well enough at the bust. I can still see that I get a little gape at the armhole, although I don’t recall it being too irritating when I tried it on and I’m only now noticing this in the photos. I didn’t shape at the waist at all, since I was really only interested in the shape around the shoulders and bust, so there is a lack of fit around the waist. I felt confident enough to move onto the next stage. (although perhaps I might try making the bust dart a little bigger to reduce that armhole gape totally, in the future).

Bodice block from the front, side and back

Bodice block from the front, side and back

Last year I created these “Wrap and Go” trousers from a seventies pattern. I haven’t worn them much because I have realised that I don’t have any tops that seem to work with this style of trousers. I can see that a cropped or fitted top would be the best companion for these trousers and I don’t have any of these. I don’t often wear tops that fit snug at the waist. It is a style that I shy away from normally, as I like to hide my lack of waist. Basically, I needed to find a style that works both with the trousers and yet works to hide the protruding stomach. It’s a tall ask and although I have found several possibilities that may fit this description, I may need to make a few tops in order to get this right.

Here are the styles that I thought would work:

Sun Top Inspiration

Sun tops clockwise from top left: Fiona sundress hack from Closet Case Files, Grace Coset top from Named Clothing, New Look 6252, Simplicity 8130

I have New Look 6252 in my stash. Although, I would be far more at home with the long-line View B, I chose View C with the ties at the back of the garment. I’m slightly concerned that when I wear the wrap trousers the outfit is overloaded with ties, but with the top’s ties at the back and trousers’ at the front it should look fine.

For my first version of this top, I picked out a soft cotton lawn with feathers in reds, greens and oranges on a off-white background. It won’t team well with the trousers, but this is really a trial-run to see if I like this style of top.

Surprisingly, the New Look pattern doesn’t have bust darts of any type. Using my bodice block, I drafted a revised front pattern piece adding a bust dart based on my body measurements.

I followed these steps to add the bust dart into the pattern:

  • Draw a line from the highest point of the shoulder to the hem parallel to the centre front line
  • Find the bust apex (I know this from my original measurements to be xxx cm from the highest point of the shoulder)
  • Square across from the side seam to the bust apex
  • Draw a line into the lower third of the armhole
  • Cut up from the hem to the apex, then cut to the armhole, stopping just before it to make a hinge point
  • Cut to the hinge point at the armhole
  • Cut from the side to the apex to make another hinge point

    Marking the hinge points to add a bust dart to a pattern with no dart

    Marking the hinge points to add a bust dart to a pattern with no dart

  • Add paper underneath and pivot the pattern open as wide as the dart measurement on the bodice block
  • Tape in place
Pivoting the pattern piece to add a bust dart to a pattern with no dart

Pivoting the pattern piece to add a bust dart to a pattern with no dart

  • True the hem
  • Square across and measure the bust dart.

For reference, I found this on-line tutorial helpful

The back pattern piece was also widened slightly to follow the measurements on my bodice block. All the other pattern pieces (ties and collar) were kept as per the pattern.

The construction process was fairly straightforward and the instructions provided were reasonable. I did make a small change to the construction. The ties are drafted so they are just one layer and the edges folded over to the wrong side. I didn’t think this is the neatest finish and I decided to make my ties as a double layer, “lining” them with white cotton lawn. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough fabric to line them with the feathers fabric, but I can live with this compromise.

New Look 6252 Back View

New Look 6252 Back View

I created my own bias binding for the armscyes. These were quite fiddly to do and I didn’t end up unpicking them and re-doing them to reduce the bulk. Interestingly there doesn’t seem to be any gape at the armholes, so not sure how I managed to reduce that in the process. Perhaps bias-binding the armscyes took care of it.

New Look 6252 FrontView

New Look 6252 Front View

Altogether I really like this top. I have worn it with an old favourite red skirt, like in these photos. I think I may have found a style with a fitted waist that I like. My next step is to find a fabric that will look good with the Wrap and Go trousers. There are lots of different colours in the trousers, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to find something easily.

View this post on Instagram

Day 31 @sozoblog #memademay2020. Last day of Me Made May. So sad, it has been a fun diversion this year and it has been great to see everyone's makes. Thanks @sozoblog , as ever for organising this. The top is a new unblogged make teamed with a very old RTW skirt, shortened into a summer skirt by me. (The skirt is seriously old, nearly 20 years old!) Yesterday, the toilet stopped flushing, so we had to make a trip to BandQ today, to get parts to mend it. There's only so much you can do with flushing with a bucket. This was not pleasant trip, as we had to walk there in the boiling heat, and stand in the queue in the boiling heat. All in all, the trip took 3 hours. Still no flushing loo, as we are still missing a part (grrr….). #newlook6252 #newlookpatterns #lockdownchic #memade #memadewardrobe

A post shared by Nicola (@steelyseamstress) on

Leave a comment

Sewing machine out of action: what can I do? Using the overlocker to make colour-block t-shirts

My sewing machine has been out of action for most of the lockdown, although it is working now. So I thought I’d document what I did manage to do and sew, when I just had my overlocker in action.

I had quite a few jersey remnants and I decided that I could put some combinations together to create some new t-shirts. I decided to take a look for t-shirt patterns that used colour-blocking in different ways. I then got totally obsessed looking at different t-shirt patterns and colour-blocking inspiration.

Here is the colour-block t-shirts spreadsheet with the list of patterns. They are arranged, in alphabetical order, by pattern company.

I have also tried to stick to those patterns that are more suited to t-shirts rather than sweatshirts. There are lots of raglan-sleeved t-shirt patterns, which are good for colour-blocking as you can make the sleeves in one colour and the body in another. I probably haven’t included them all here as there are so many.

Apart from the raglan sleeves, there are a few, like the Ensis Tee where the colour-blocking uses different fabrics on the top half and botton half of the t-shirt. There are also some different ideas with side inserts or triangular blocks, which look interesting, like the Geodesic Top.

Of course, it is possible to go completely wild and do your own colour-blocking, so I looked at RTW t-shirts too for inspiration and saved the most interesting designs onto a mood board on Pinterest.

I also found some good tutorials for making your own colour-blocked design. This tutorial shows how to colour-block with the Sweet Tee from Patterns for Pirates to create a contrast yoke and upper sleeves. There is also a colour-block hack for the Hemlock t-shirt, which is a free t-shirt from Grainline Studio. This video from Angela Wolf, uses some unusual style lines and doesn’t specify a particular t-shirt pattern as the starting point.

I already had the Ensis Tee from Papercut Patterns as a PDF pattern in my stash, so this was the first colour-blocked t-shirt I tried.

Ensis Tee

Short-sleeved Ensis Tee

I used some plain white jersey for the upper half and a remnant of this berry red-white striped jersey for the lower half. As I had limited fabric, it is short-sleeved,rather than long-sleeved as per the pattern. And sadly, I couldn’t cut the lower back all as one piece, so it has got a centre back seam. I think this is an acceptable compromise rather than using another fabric. I don’t think the back seam is particularly noticeable as I pattern-matched it very carefully.

The pattern is a very simple t-shirt, but I was particularly happy with the shape and fit. I made no adjustments to the sizing and used the my size (XS) as drafted. The t-shirt skims the body rather flatteringly I think. It is tighter around the bust and shoulder, but less figure-hugging around the waist and hips. I have seen a few versions of this t-shirt before and noticed the combination of a striped fabric with a plain fabric has been made many times, it works well.

Short-sleeved Ensis Tee

A nice simple t-shirt that uses some fabric remnants

When I finally got my machine working again, I finished the hems and top-stitched the neckline.

I accomplished a particularly pressing objective with this project. Firstly, I have used up some fabric scraps. I have found over the last couple of years the remnants pile has become overwhelming. Secondly, I have found lots of inspiration to help me eliminate more fabric scraps. A win all round, I reckon!



#Blacklivesmatter: Silence, then think, then listen, then act…..

Empty plinth where Colston statue stood

Last Tuesday, like everyone else, I had an Instagram feed filled with black squares. I liked a few, and a few more appeared. I liked a few more, then more appeared again. Then I began to wonder what I was doing. Was this the best way to support #BlackLivesMatter? It wasn’t long before a backlash appeared. And then I wasn’t sure what to do. So, I took to the internet and had a think.

And whilst I read and thought, something happened, locally. On Sunday afternoon, the statue of Edward Colston in the centre of Bristol was toppled and thrown into the docks.  This statue has been in the centre of Bristol since 1895 and commemorates Edward Colston, an 18th century merchant, who bequeathed his wealth to the city. All that wealth came from human suffering; the transatlantic slave trade.

There have been many attempts, over the years (for more information, see the Countering Colston campaign), to have the statue peacefully removed. Campaigners have also tried to add a plaque to the plinth to recognise and acknowledge the people Colston and others in the city enslaved. However, there has always been opposition from the Society of Merchant Venturers.

There are other buildings and streets that commemorate Colston too. The author and historian, Phillipa Gregory attended the Colston Girls School in Bristol. Her book, A Respectable Trade is a novel about the devastating consequences of the slave trade set in 18th-century Bristol. She wrote it after researching the history that her old school had blanked out. The school has steadfastly refused to drop its name, although this week the replica of the Colston’s statue has been removed from the school’s reception. Colston Hall, Bristol’s premier music venue, has also removed its name from the building’s facade today, but a decision had already been made in 2017, that they would use another name when they re-open following building works.

For more reading on the slave trade and Bristol’s past, I would recommend this article by David Olusoga. He has also broadcast a recent programme that follows the history of a single house in Bristol.

Like many others, I have passed the Colston statue on the way to work, several times a week for twenty years. I’ve passed it and known, with discomfort, its history for years.

Discomfort. And Silence. These are the words that has come up again and again in what I have been reading over the last few days. To be someone without racist views is not enough. To be anti-racist is to be someone who speaks up too. I think in this city, the Colston statue is symbolic of this. Letting those few with racist views, “get away with it”, because the conversations are difficult.

I have a relative who gets carried away by conspiracy theories online. I like the way my son talks to him about his views. He challenges him, but always manages to continue to engage with him, making sure that differences in opinion don’t shut down the conversation. It probably helps that my son comes across as a young person wanting to question the world about him. I would do well to bear this in mind when I come across racist views; to have conversations with patience, care and diligence in a way that can influence the listener.

And, of course, I need to be a listener too. There’s always more to learn.  I’m the next chooser for my book group (fiction only). I keep a reading wish list so that I always have a something to suggest when it is my turn. I haven’t pinned down my choice yet, but I have been considering one Andrea Levy‘s or Ngozi Adichie‘s books.

I’ve been looking around for some book lists to share with my group too, which could include non-fiction too. So far, I’ve seen, the Guardian reading list, the Vogue reading list and Pink Mimosa by Jacinta has posted a great reading list, which has a fashion angle to it.

View this post on Instagram

Swipe left! Welcome to the PinkMimosabyJacinta book club! I’m no professor, but I am ready to share my knowledge with you (in addition to whatever knowledge I’ve been dropping in my stories lately) in this book club. Just for context, I have a degree in African and African American Studies with minors in history and art history from Duke University. I took classes in public policy, philosophy, cultural anthropology, and economics while a student. I’m a wide reader of history (as any of my long time friends will tell you) who favors Medieval history, 18th century French and Russian history, African American and comparative Caribbean history, and 20th century European history- specifically focusing on women’s roles before, during, and after World War II. So let’s do this! The first book is Liberated Threads by Dr. Tanisha Ford @soulistaphd (published by the UNC University Press) about Black women’s clothing during periods of unrest and protest, so basically all of the 20th and 21st centuries and the intentional symbolism behind their (our) choices. I’m shooting for July 11th so please pick up the book from a local bookstore (if your local bookstore doesn’t have it they can order it) and let’s get ready to discuss. I’ve included future selections because this won’t be your average book club. Politics welcome here because it informs and influences everything we do. See you July 11th on live and zoom! Dm me for questions! Also I recognize I have a misspelling somewhere but the horse is out of the barn at this point lol! #bookclubs #bookclubsofinstagram #virtualbookclub #bookclubpick #fashionhistory #historyoffashion #africanamericanhistory #happysunday #nationalmuseumofafricanamericanhistoryandculture #blackhistory #blacklivesmatter #blackmakersmatter #nonfiction #sundayvibes #liberatedthreads

A post shared by Pink Mimosa By Jacinta (@pinkmimosabyjacinta) on

If anyone has any more recommendations I would be very grateful.

I’ve also been thinking about how it is possible to provide more support for #BlackLivesMatter. First of all, I’m so glad the Sewing Weekender has chosen the Stephen Lawrence Trust as one of its charities and this is a list of ten anti-racist charities in the UK.

In the UK we have the Black Book, which is a directory of black-owned businesses. I also regularly browse through Kick Starter, which is a great way to fund and support start-ups. I often turn to it to support local businesses.

Black Makers Matter is great new initiative for supporting those who love to craft and make and affecting change in the sewing community.

Recent events should be just a catalyst for change and the small actions I’ve done in the last week are nowhere near enough. This won’t be my last post on this topic. So here’s to the future and to change.

Thank you for listening.

Leave a comment

Seventies Fashion: The Mafia Only Kills in Summer TV series Episodes 9 & 10

Welcome back for the next two episodes of “The Mafia Only Kills in Summer” TV series set in the seventies. The series is still showing on 4OD

Episode 9 – Money and Lice

Football fever has gripped the city with the Palermo team reaching the cup final. If Palermo wins could other dreams come true for all our charcters? Could Sebastiano’s dad finally return home? Could Salvatore and Alice finally kiss?

Lorenzo places rather a large bet with encouragement from his work colleagues. Perhaps his luck will turn, like the football team’s, and he’ll win enough for a deposit on a flat.

When Lorenzo gives Alice a lift to a tennis tournament, he is introduced to her father, the director of the Trinacria Bank, who promises to help him arrange a mortgage He invites Lorenzo to watch the football match at their house the following day.

Massimo and Patrizia attend a party where they socialise with new friends.

Massimo and Patrizia attend a party where they socialise with new friends.

Massimo, now released from jail, mysteriously has a new job, new car and new friends.

Will this be the night of miracles that everyone dreams about?

Patrizia's party dress

Clockwise from top left: Patrizia wearing her party dress on set, vintage pattern Simplicity 3000, Lliria dress by Pauline Alice, vintage pattern Butterick 5000


Open Back Dress

Minor character wears an intriguing open backed dress with a loud abstract print.

This dress reminds me a lot of the Dusty dress by Burda that I made a couple of years ago.

Dusty Dress (Burda)

Dusty Dress (Burda)

Episode 10 – Protecting Democracy

It’s summer, the elections loom and everyone is tense, particularly the politicians and mafiosi.

Boris Giuliani (police chief) has been keeping an eye on Alice’s father, the director of the Trinacria Bank and his close associates for a while. Alice’s father has disappeared, “in a puff of smoke” and not even his daughter, Alice knows where he is.

Angela and Marco (Torino) at the beach.

Angela and Marco (Torino) at the beach. I really like the smocking in different colours on this dress.

Massimo comes face to face with the reality of his job and new life.

Out of the blue though, the Giammarresi’s ideal flat seems to be on the verge of materialising.

Angela's sun dress

Clockwise from left: Angela’s sun dress on set, Mendocino Dress from Heather Ross, vintage pattern Simplicity 8351, vintage pattern Simplicity 7962


Simonetta's Sun Top

From the left: Simonetta’s Sun Top on set, vintage crochet pattern


Links to sewing patterns:

Patrizia’s party dress

Lliria Dress

Open-backed dress

Burda Dusty Dress

Angela’s sundress

Mendocino Dress

Leave a comment

Me Made May 2020: Week 3 – Less stripes, more sun

I gone for quite a variety of styles this week, but still fairly casual. Interesting how I can make the garden look different in the photos, by hanging out different clothes.

MMM-20 Week 3


Day 15 Me mades: Red striped long-sleeved t-shirt, Demin jumpsuit

Day 16 & 17 Me-mades: Red gothic shirt, Black skinny jeans, Grey hoodie

Day 18 Me-mades: Black surplice top, Black skinny jeans, Black/white Driftless cardigan

Day 19 Me-mades: Rainbow top, 70s hippy jeans, Grey hoodie

Day 20 Me-mades: Hip twist t-shirt, Grey hoodie

Day 21 Me-mades: Lilac 70s top, 70s hippy jeans

Favourite Outfit:

My favourite this week must be Day 20, the Hip Twist top worked well with the skinny jeans (Please ignore the weird shape around the pockets. I forgot that I had my house keys in my pocket for the photo and it doesn’t look good!)

Early takeaways:

  • Another week were the weather was varied. Starting cool and getting hotter. I even wore a t-shirt this week. The weather is definitely getting warmer.
  • I made a concerted effort to stay away from stripes this week (which I wore virtually every day last week) I only wore two outfits that had stripes this week.

Leave a comment

Me Made May 2020: Week 2 – The White Stripes?

This week I wore a new make, a lilac top, made from a seventies pattern. The jury is still out on that top. I liked wearing it more without the long-sleeved t-shirt underneath, but I keep on thinking that the colour isn’t really me.

That was the sartorial high-point for the week, because the clothes just ended up a bit repetitive and a bit stripy after that. I hadn’t even realised I’d maxed out on the stripes until I put this photos together today!



Day 8 Me mades: Lilac 70s top, Blue Wolfie jeans

Day 9 Me-mades: Lilac 70s top, Blue Wolfie jeans

Day 10 Me-mades: Blue/grey striped long-sleeved t-shirt, demin jumpsuit

Day 11 Me-mades: Black surplice top, Black/white Driftless cardigan

Day 12 Me-mades: Black gothic shirt, Black/white Driftless cardigan

Day 13 Me-mades: Black gothic shirtGrey hoodie

Day 14 Me-mades: Red striped long-sleeved t-shirt, Black skinny jeans, Grey hoodie

Favourite Outfit:

Most of these outfits I worn many times before, so just for the novelty I am going to say Day 8, the lilac 70s top and Peter and the Wolf jeans.

Early takeaways:

  • The weather was warm at the start of the week, but then got quite cold. I resorted to some favourite weekend clothes. I reached for the Black/white striped wool Driftless cardigan and the grey hoodie to cover up when it got cold in the evenings, even in the house. I could definitely do with another hoodie in my wardrobe.
  • I haven’t been wearing any skirts, and have been wearing mostly jeans. I don’t have huge amounts of choice when it comes to jeans. It’s not normally a problem, because I’m usually wearing more skirts or wide-legged trousers to work and the jeans at the weekend. Looking over the blog, I haven’t sewn any “bottoms” since last year, apart from yoga leggings. I’m overdue for a new pair of jeans. I repaired my last RTW pair recently in order to keep them going.


#MakeNine2020 – Seventies Pattern Style 1522: A Tricky Tunic Part 2

This particular make has had some dramas, it must be said!

I cut out the fabric quite some while ago (pre-lockdown), and the top has been picked up and then dropped on numerous occasions. I have suffered some mental blocks with the instructions. I was suffering from tooth-ache at the beginning of the year and I only really progressed in earnest once that had eased and we’d established a good household routine during the lockdown. Anyway, the instructions are not particularly good. I remember making this blouse some while back and the tower placket method was actually quite straightforward, even though there were lots of steps. In comparison, this simpler placket was devilish. There is also a serious lack of instructions for finishing seams with this pattern and that really annoyed me. I ended up going my own way with that using a mixture of flat fell seams and the overlocker.

Style 1522 top

Style 1522 top: This shows the inside of the top made as per the instructions. There are no instructions for finishing the bottom of the placket at all.

The second major problem I had during this make was that my sewing machine broke too. Nightmare! I had to finish the top by hand. The armscyes were finished by hand-winding the machine (my arm felt like it would drop off after that!) The hem was hand-stitched, which was different from the instructions, but I’m happy with the finish anyway. At least I was really near the end of the construction. I really want to add some under-stitching at the collar, but that will have to wait for my machine to be fixed.

View this post on Instagram

Disaster! My sewing machine has stopped working! #sewingfail #sewinghell The light still works so there is power going to the machine, but the foot pedal doesn't seem to work. Perhaps, I'll take a look inside the foot pedal later? It may be mendable, or else, I'm ordering a new foot pedal online and who knows how long that will take. Fortunately, this project is nearly finished. I finished off the armscye I was doing by winding the machine by hand. All that remains is the hem and I can hand-sew that. But what next? Cutting things out? Overlocking only projects? Embroidery? I am so going to miss my machine if it can't be used for weeks. #brokensewingmachine. Time for a cuppa and a long sulk……#cupofteacansolveanything

A post shared by Nicola (@steelyseamstress) on


I have worn this top twice so far. The first day I wore it with a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath. I didn’t like how the top looked on that day. I felt that the top just wasn’t “my colour”. A thousand times, I wished I had made the top in black, blue or grey (all more typical for my wardrobe). I thought that it was a colour my Mum would appreciate. I even thought I would donate this top to her (not possible at the moment sadly). Then……it turned really warm and I wore the top on its own all day with jeans and I enjoyed wearing it. The fabric (a linen-rayon blend from Like Sew Amazing) and shape were comfortable even though it was very humid. I was even coming to terms with the colour.

Style 1522 Top

Style 1522 Top: Worn over long-sleeved t-shirt, worn without t-shirt underneath.

The reason I bought the fabric in this colour was that it would team well with this skirt. I haven’t worn the two together yet. I am adverse to wearing skirts at the moment; I’m living in jeans at the moment. Perhaps I’ll try the combination soon.

Would I make this pattern again? I’m not sure. I didn’t like the construction of it. The instructions felt slapdash, so I think I will only do a repeat of it, should I find some different instructions that are easier to follow and finish the insides more neatly. My version has the 3/4 length sleeves and no pockets. A top with pockets (like View 1) would be a possibility, but I think I need to wear this lilac top some more to see how much I like it. Alternatively, I could just branch out and look for another top to fill that requirement. I’ve long liked the look of The Top No 64 top from Merchant and Mills. It has a similar boxy shape, pockets, but a much easier neckline. In short, I don’t love this top, but I may grow to like it, even love it. We’ll see.


Leave a comment

Me Made May 2020: Week 1 – Clothes on repeat

It’s the end of the first week of Me Made May. Unlike a lot of people, I still get dressed everyday! I’m just one of those people for whom getting dressed is part of a routine and I don’t feel that I’m “facing the day” unless I’ve got day clothes on. That said I have noticed that I have been more casual in my choices.

This week, unfortunately, my sewing machine decided to stop working. I know what the problem is (one of the wires that goes into the foot pedal) I’ll need to replace the whole cable “harness”, but as I have quite an old Singer machine, my choices for getting this fixed are limited and I expect to be without my machine for quite a while. So I’m going to be stuck with tracing patterns, cutting out fabric and using the overlocker for a while.

View this post on Instagram

Disaster! My sewing machine has stopped working! #sewingfail #sewinghell The light still works so there is power going to the machine, but the foot pedal doesn't seem to work. Perhaps, I'll take a look inside the foot pedal later? It may be mendable, or else, I'm ordering a new foot pedal online and who knows how long that will take. Fortunately, this project is nearly finished. I finished off the armscye I was doing by winding the machine by hand. All that remains is the hem and I can hand-sew that. But what next? Cutting things out? Overlocking only projects? Embroidery? I am so going to miss my machine if it can't be used for weeks. #brokensewingmachine. Time for a cuppa and a long sulk……#cupofteacansolveanything

A post shared by Nicola (@steelyseamstress) on

MMM20 - Week1

Me Made May 2020 – Week1

Day 1 Me mades: White linen shirt, Toasty Sweater

Day 2 Me-mades: White linen shirt, Teal Sweatshirt

Day 3 Me-mades: Red striped long-sleeved t-shirt, Black Driftless cardigan

Day 4 & 5 Me-mades: Purple shirt, Blue Wolfie jeans, Teal Sweatshirt

Day 6 Me-mades: Blue/grey striped long-sleeved t-shirt, Blue Wolfie jeans, Grey hoodie

Day 7 Me-mades: Rainbow top, Black Driftless cardigan


Favourite Outfit:

I’m choosing Day 7. It isn’t a full me-made day, but it was a perfect choice for a warm-ish day and the rainbow top always cheers me up.

Early takeaways:

  • The weather has been yo-yo-ing up and down this week and it has been a struggle to select the right outfit for the day. Some days I felt too hot, others too cold. I hope I’ll get better at this, but I suspect that with the weather lined up again to go from one extreme to another I’ll probably make the same mistakes.
  • I haven’t been wearing any skirts. This is primarily because I don’t want to change again, when the hour for exercise comes around. This may change if the weather gets much warmer as I like wearing skirts, more than trousers in hot weather.


Seventies Fashion: The Mafia Only Kills in Summer TV series Episodes 7 & 8

I’m back again with two more episodes from The Mafia Only Kills in Summer, still showing on 4OD. I’ve been realising that it has been taking a shocking time to go through the whole series, but finding all the pattern suggestions and editing the pictures does take a long time, so you’ll have to bear with me. On the positive side, I’m finding that I’m getting so many great ideas for future makes from this. I’m sure many will stay in my head, but I’m sure a couple might make the step into reality.

Episode 7 – A Cuckold and a half

Lorenzo does a little research and finds out why Pia didn’t manage to get her permanent teaching position after all. However, Pia is greatly troubled when her colleague, Antonio, persuades her to look into it even further.

Angela hasn’t had any news from her latest boyfriend, Alfonso, so she asks the police chief, Boris Giuliani, who her brother has befriended what could have happened to him.

Salvatore and his friends are starting an Easter project for school and ask the local priest, Father Giancinto for help, who after a brief account of the religious significance, spends the rest of the time talking about food.

Meanwhile Patrizia tries on wedding dresses for her upcoming wedding to Uncle Massimo and Lorenzo has a narrow escape, when he is unable to pacify his conscience, and decides not to turn up to a meeting that Massimo has arranged.

For this episode I’ve chosen another of Pia’s fantastic jackets. This one is white, with slightly cropped sleeves and top-stitching across the yoke.

Pia's white coat: I wonder what fabric has been used for this coat?

Pia’s white coat: I wonder what fabric has been used for this coat?


Clockwise from left: Pia's white coat on set, vintage pattern Butterick 3332, vintage pattern Vogue 1126 and the Marte Coat from Melilot.

Clockwise from left: Pia’s white coat on set, vintage pattern Butterick 3332, vintage pattern Vogue 1126 and the Marte Coat from Melilot.

Episode 8 – Stuffed Aubergines

This episode is probably the most absurd episode in the whole series. The main characters are, of course, fictitious. However, the more peripheral characters are real-life figures, such as Boris Giuliani, who also appeared in the last episode, a police chief from Palermo and in this episode, Tommaso Buscetta, a mafia boss. The mafia figures in the series are portrayed as caricatures, by turns narcissistic, like Buscetta or ruthless, but stupid, like Toto Riina, who also makes appearances throughout the series. In contrast, those who oppose the mafia are portrayed far more sympathetically, like Boris Giuliani, who makes several appearances in the guise of a confidant. I think this is a deliberate.

Patrizia's blue sheer blouse

Patrizia always seems to wear interesting blouses when she visits Massimo in prison.

In prison, Massimo strikes up a friendship with mafia boss, Tommaso Buscetta, who is also an old flame of Pia’s. He has a particular liking for stuffed aubergines, which Pia brings along to the prison visits. With the help of his new friend, Massimo and Patrizia’s wedding finally goes ahead.

Massimo and Patrizia's wedding

Massimo and Patrizia’s wedding

Salvatore is feeling sad because everyone around him is unhappy. But when he makes a shocking discovery about Sebastiano, one of his school friends, Salvatore realises he can at least make one person happy and arranges a special surprise for him.

In terms of the fashions worn by the characters, this episode is all about Patrizia. She wears a number of different shirts for her prison visits (see also above), including a fantastic embroidered western-style shirt.

Clockwise from left: Patrizia's embroidered Western shirt on set, vintage pattern Kwik Sew 454, vintage pattern Simplicity 7051, from Jolaine shirt Republique du chiffon.

Clockwise from left: Patrizia’s embroidered Western shirt on set, vintage pattern Kwik Sew 454, vintage pattern Simplicity 7051, from Jolaine shirt Republique du chiffon.

And of course, there is the wedding dress.

It was quite hard to find patterns that emulate the wedding dress, although I think the vintage pattern McCall 3329 comes quite close, with View B. For the modern equivalents it was even trickier. Ever noticed that bridal dresses hardly ever have long sleeves these days? Anyway View C in the Vogue pattern with the long sleeves, maxi length and v-neck comes fairly close.

Clockwise from top left: Patrizia’s wedding dress, vintage pattern McCalls 3329, vintage pattern McCalls 4207 and Vogue pattern V9328

Leave a comment

Me Made May 2020 – Some thoughts taking on Me Made May in lockdown

I’ve taken part in the Me-Made-May challenge since 2014.  In the early years, it was a challenge just to wear my me-mades all month. There was always a hunt for me-mades in the laundry and I was often wearing a hotch-potch of makes together.

However, last year participation took a different turn. I no longer needed to measure success by my ability to quickly turn around me-mades in the laundry or cope with weird style or colour combinations. Most of my clothes are now me-mades and there is plenty of choice.

Me-Made-May instead is a chance to record the combinations and styles I like to wear, examine the colours and pattern companies that I use and generally get a handle on what wardrobe gaps there are.

I thought this year I would be doing much the same, but events have changed that and although it seems rather frivolous to be talking about fashion and clothes at this time, I am finding it a welcome distraction. So thanks to Zoe for suggesting a “gentle” version of the challenge, it’s just what I need at the moment.

Since lockdown I have been working at home. I’m one of those people who don’t “feel right” working in pyjamas, so I don’t imagine that my wardrobe will change that much, but it will be interesting to see.

Here’s my pledge for Me Made May:

“I, Steely Seamstress of sign up as a participant of Me Made May 2020. I pledge to wear thoughtfully selected outfits each day of May and challenge myself to wear stylish, but casual looks that are practical at home while I continue to work, and home-school.”

This pic is from last year’s challenge. You’re going to see a lot more of the weeds in my back garden!