Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


#makenine2021 Pine green seventies sweater: the finished look

The makenine challenge each year always feels like an almighty hill to climb. Perhaps I am too ambitious for myself, but including a knitting project in the nine, when I am such a novice, always makes the challenge hard.

The project I chose was a sweater using a vintage pattern. I hadn’t knitted a full sweater before, nor followed a vintage pattern: this really was a learning curve. Not to mention that this is only the second project where I had picked up stitches on a neckline, or used mattress stitch to seam. I laugh in the face of my ambitions! This said, it was no surprise that the process was slow, and I needed to consult youtube frequently to check on the techniques that I either didn’t know, or needed reminding about.

Sirdar knitting pattern from the seventies

Yarn choice

The only familiar aspect of the project was that I chose to use Lett Lopi yarn. I used the same yarn here and was so pleased with the result I wanted to used the same wool again. The yarn is extremely warm, perhaps because it comes from Icelandic sheep.

I had a conversation with my next-door neighbour recently where we talked about working from home and he shared with me his delight in a quilted gilet and fingerless gloves. This sweater is my equivalent and will help ward off the creeping cold that seems to penetrate your bones when you need to sit still for hours in a cold Victorian house.

One thing to note for those that have never used Lett lopi before; it has the very unusual property of being made of only one strand. Plyed yarns are stronger than a single strand of the same thickness so you do need to be careful when pulling on the yarn. I am quite a loose knitter so never have problems with this, but trying to seam my sweater together I did pull the yarn apart a few times.


My experience with my first vintage knitting pattern was better than I expected. I was nervous about diving into this project simply because I couldn’t tell what quantity of wool was needed, but after those initial doubts, following the instructions was simple enough and I used youtube to fill my knowledge gaps when I came across techniques or stitches I didn’t know. I learned a lot about different types of decrease and picking up stitches with this project. I was extremely pleased that I incorporate a beautiful alternating cable cast-on too.

Pine-green sweater styled: stood out in the wind and the rain just long enough for this photo!


My sweater is very warm; I would go as far as saying that I will probably only wear it inside at home or when it is very cold outside. My only regret is that it is quite tight-fitting and before you ask my gauge was spot on and I picked the correct size. According to the pattern, it is to be worn with no ease. I really should have read that, but somehow I didn’t. I think it fits with the seventies aesthetic, but I’m not convinced it looks marvellous on me with my lack of waist definition. I have been going through my wardrobe and experimenting with different looks. Here are my thoughts:

Three looks with the pine-green sweater

Look 1: Brushed cotton checked shirt (Lekala) with RTW low-rise jeans

The low-rise of these jeans meant that there was a definite gap between the bottom of the sweater and the trousers, so I wondered whether the untucked shirt would work. I’m not sure. I like the brushed cotton under the sweater though.

Look 2: Brushed cotton shirt with flared high-rise jeans

The colour of the shirt is probably not a great choice, but I wanted to see if this style fitted well under the sweater and it did. The high-rise jeans cover the gap between the sweater finishing and the jeans waistband.

Look 3: Floral liberty shirt with RTW Black velvet skirt

This was a surprise combination: I have never worn this shirt and skirt together and the sweater brings the whole look together. I like this! I have often seen dresses worn with cropped jumpers and this emulates that look as the skirt sits quite high on the waist.

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Extending the Life of an Old Favourite: My Picnic Mat

Have you ever embarked a project that you wish you hadn’t? One that really frustrates, and you are really not sure it has been worth all the effort? Well, that would describe the project that I have been working on for literally weeks.

Here’s some background: many years ago (possibly 15 or there about) I was sat in a park at lunchtime eating my sandwiches, when I was presented with a free promotional gift from a mobile phone company. It was a picnic mat and it turned out to be rather useful. It is made from some straw and the edges are bound with tape.

The picnic mat has, over the years, been taken to the park and the beach on numerous occasions. Sadly, it was showing its age and falling apart. I wanted to preserve / upgrade it for future use because it has been so useful. I decided to back it with some left-over fabric that I had used for making the base of the Closet Core Pouf and black-out fabric that was left-over from some curtains. I was super pleased with the idea for this project, mostly because I was actually enthused about doing this (not always the case with an upcycle) and it was going to use up some oddments that had been hanging around for a while. I forgot to take a before snap, so this is a photo from the internet to show you the mat as it existed before my modifications.

An idealised picture of a straw beach mat.

I really thought this was going to be one of those quick projects that I was just going to manage over a weekend, but no…..

I found out quickly how difficult this project was going to be. First of all, the mat is rather rigid and cumbersome to manipulate with the sewing machine. I always use the dining room table for sewing, but because the mat was so inflexible I had to remove absolutely everything from the table and the nearby shelf (I learned the hard way) to stop things clattering to the floor as I manipulated the fabric. Essentially, grabbing ten minutes to do this project was awkward because I had to clear so much space in order to use the sewing machine.

Next, I think I must have known this (but somehow forgot), but the reason that the matting was falling apart at the edges was that once you snag or lose one of the threads the whole thing starts to unravel. Anyway, as soon as I got to the point where I started to trim the original mat to get rid of the worst of the damage, it all started to come apart. The straw fibres went everywhere and it was a race against time to stop the shedding process. Luckily I managed to tie up all the threads before the whole thing unravelled but the mess was horrendous.

You can see both sides of the picnic mat in this photo. One side new waterproof backing (at the top) and the other has the original straw matting (at the bottom)

Finally, I finished the whole mat with some bias binding that I created originally, again for the Closet Core Pouf and hey presto, here is the result. I wish I had taken a before photo, but actually it doesn’t matter as it doesn’t actually look very different (on one side), it’s just not falling apart. I wish I could remember how the original was carried, the strap had fallen off years ago, so I will just go for a simple tie for carrying it.

The new improved picnic mat….just waiting for the sun…..

Well, a picnic mat isn’t going to get any use till next year, so I can’t really comment on how well my modification is standing up to wear. I hope it was worth the effort: I can’t help but think that most people would have thrown this out once it started to look tired or got damaged. I think this is why I had a hard time sticking with this project. After all, I was extending the life of an item I got for free. But, you know this is exactly how we should be looking after things.

Have you ever received a promotional gift that you have used endlessly? Ever given one an extended life because you loved it so much?


Bath Fashion Museum 2021: Shoephoria

Last year I didn’t make it to the fashion museum. I’m not even sure that they had a new exhibition. But with a day off and some time to myself, I jumped on the train to Bath for a day of museum mooching. This year’s exhibition is called Shoephoria and as the name suggests is all about shoes. Do check it out if you get a chance.

The curators have taken two approaches to the exhibit. First, shoes have been included in the permanent exhibition of 100 objects which traces fashion through the centuries. Then, there is a second exhibition totally dedicated to the shoes which are grouped in themes such as Walking, Dancing, Sport and so on. They have also done of fantastic job of including plenty of interesting local details in the exhibition.

Do you remember the TV series Sex and the City? Of course you do! And Carrie’s favourite brand of shoe? Manolo Blahnik, of course! I never knew that Manolo Blahnik is a Bath resident and many of the shoes in this exhibition are from his private collection.

Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City
Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City off shopping again for her beloved Manolo Blahniks

Manolo is particularly influenced by the fashions of the eighteenth century: “I definitely belong to the eighteenth century…The eighteenth century is the most feminine and remarkably elegant period in history. Even men had heels!” This is definitely something that I can see here with this collection of high-heeled shoes in brocade fabrics and adorned with buckles, beads and embroidery.

Manolo Blahnik shoes
Manolo Blahnik shoes – Eighteenth century influences

There are also a number of shoes which are exhibited with the original design drawings.

Manolo Blahnik boots
Black lace up boots, Manolo Blahnik: Design and boot

Must admit these striking boots caught my attention:

Manolo Blahnik boots
Manolo Blahnik boots

In the museum the first rooms feature A History of Fashion. The oldest shoes in the museum are the red velvet slippers on the left from around 1690. The petticoat pictured behind the shoes is from the same time period and is embroidered with crewel embroidery. The petticoat would have been visible at the front of the dress.

The fabric for the dress and pair of shoes below was woven around 1740. As is the case with many period dresses made of expensive fabrics, the dress was remodelled in a later style in the late 1700s. I’m impressed that the shoes still survive along with the dress, but perhaps they weren’t worn with the dress once it was remodelled.

Matching dress and shoes (1740s)

These are pattens. They consist of a wooden sole raised on an iron ring. The wearer would have worn their normal shoes and strapped the pattens on top, so that they were lifted several centimetres above the ground, protecting their shoes and hems. In Persuasion, Jane Austen writes

“the dash of other carriages, the heavy rumble of carts and drays, the bawling of newspapermen, muffin-men and milkmen, and the ceaseless clink of pattens…these were noises which belonged to the winter pleasures”

Pattens commonly worn by working ladies in Regency England, but sometimes, as Jane Austen put it “even by gentlewomen” in the winter season.

These boots date from the early nineteenth century. At this time breeches have given way to trousers and so men mostly wore shoes. But of course, going riding still called for boots.

Riding boots from the 1830s
Riding boots from the 1830s

These boots, from the 1840s have elasticated sides. They were a very popular design at the time, as they didn’t have fiddly buttons or laces. The use of elastic was the invention of Joseph Sparkes Hall of Regent Street, London in 1837. He presented his prototype to Queen Victoria who was apparently delighted with the design.

Elastic sided boots

The Shoephoria exhibition itself starts with a Wearer’s walkway. Each photo is a record of a local person and their life during the lockdown winter of 2021, such as Anthea below.

Wearer's walkway
“I bought this pair of Toffein clogs at the very beginning of the pandemic an they’re still going. As an ITU nurse I spend nearly 40 hours a week wearing the,. which involves endless walking and running around the hospital while delivering care to patients, and they never disappoint!”

In the Walk section, these Roman sandals feature with the other sandals. They were found in an archaeological excavation in the city.

Roman sandals (43-410 AD)
Roman sandals (43-410 AD), soles from Roman shoes, three for adults and one for a child.

Among all the walking shoes, there are these purple blades. They belong to Harmonie-Rose from Bath, who lost her arms and legs to meningitis as a baby. She has had lots of prosthetic limbs and these were her first blades. Apparently she loves walking on blades.

Harmonie-Rose blades
Harmonie-Rose’s first blades

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, flat shoes such as these lace-ups were becoming popular. They were ideal for Regency ladies going for a country walk.

Women’s lace-ups from the 1800s

Another part of the exhibition shows shoes for parties and celebrations. These party shoes are both from the early twentieth century. The ones on the left were worn for a presentation. This is where debutantes were presented to the sovereign in a ceremony to mark their entry into society.

Left: Shoes for a debutante’s presentation (1912) Right: Embroidered mules for dancing in the Assembly Rooms in Bath

These tiny slippers were made in China as wedding slippers and were for a bride with bound feet. The red silk has phoenix designs embroidered on them.

Next, there are all the different types of shoes for sport. Here, we can see the evolution of the football boot. In the top left-hand corner is a pair of boots from 1947 in sturdy brown leather. They were hardly worn as they were outgrown quickly.

Football boots 1940s to today

And for roller-skating….

Disco Roller Skates, 1970s

The dance shoes below were worn by Ginger Rogers in the musical Mame at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, London.

Ginger Rogers Shoes
Top: black leather court shoes worn by Ginger Rogers. Bottom: Dance shoes worn by Ginger Rogers

Then returning back to the every day, the slippers on the left were made at a Make Do and Mend class run by the Womens’ Institute in the 1940s. They have a crochet sole and rabbit fur lining. It’s hard to believe that the brown Oxford shoes in the middle of this photo were bought in 1933. They were polished and repaired impeccably by their owner.

From the left: Rabbit-fur lined slippers (1940s), Brown Oxford shoes (Moykopf, London 1933) Brown lace-up walking shoes (1920) with mending tag from Fortnum and Mason.

The final entry, as usual, in the museum is the “Dress of the Year”. For 2019 it is this pink confection by Giambattista Valli. The trend was further popularised by the the pink tulle dress worn by Villanelle in Killing Eve.

Dress of the Year
Dress of the Year 2019

This outfit represents fashion in 2020. According to Professor Webb, the fashion writer conversations surrounding fashion weren’t just changing, “the entire landscape had shifted.”. This outfit is created from khaki-coloured scrubs, and features a Black Lives Matter slogan; definitely marking a moment in time.

Dress of the Year 2020


Jenna cardigan with dinosaurs

When I was six or seven I was literally obsessed with dinosaurs. I used to pester my parents to take me to the Natural History Museum and I started collecting the dinosaur models that they sold there. From memory, because they are in the loft somewhere, I have Tyrannosaurus rex, Megalosaurus, Stegosaurus, Plesiosaurus, and Diplodocus. I also had some dinosaur books and a cool 3-d ruler which showed the dinosaur at one angle and its skeleton if held at a different angle. I suppose there weren’t too many toys for a dino-obsessed child, so that was it. Nowadays there is even dinosaur fabric……

I snapped up a metre of this fabric from Like Sew Amazing a couple of years ago (pre-pandemic anyway). At the same time I noticed a remnant of green jersey that matched well with the T. rex, so long ago my intention was to make a Jenna cardigan from Muse Patterns, where I could use the plain green jersey for the cuffs, hem and neck bands.

Dinosaur Jenna cardigan worn with jeans made with a Butterick pattern from the seventies

The two fabrics sat in the stash for a long while. I think I generally had a lot of reluctance to start this project simply because eight button-holes are required….seriously off-putting. However, now my stash is really small, this cardigan came up as the next item to make. I made the previous Jenna cardigan a long time ago (2016 according to the blog). I must have improved my sewing skills (or my sewing endurance) immeasurably in this time and this time it really didn’t feel like the lengthy make the first Jenna cardigan had seemed to be. Plus, I didn’t have to print out the pattern and adjust it as those steps had already been done. Overall I really enjoyed the process this time, despite the button-holes.

So we have T. rex, Stegosaurus, Diplodocus, Pterodactyl, Triceratops, Ouranosaurus (my guess) and Veloceraptor

I always look forward to an indie make, particularly after a run of more challenging (I’m looking at you, Burda) makes. The instructions were great and even though I don’t need a lot of hand-holding these days, I’m always comforted that they are there to help me along. Given that I made this pattern the first time when I was far less adept at sewing knits, I would definitely encourage those with less experience to try this pattern too.

Don’t judge! I think I need to adjust the button placement slightly as the dinos don’t look completely level.

I did have difficulties deciding on buttons. I picked some green buttons that matched the dinosaur that I believe may be an Ouranosaurus (unless anyone has any other ideas for a vegetarian with a sail on its back), but they are a completely different shade to the jersey I’ve used for the button band. I think this was a good choice, and adds to the quirky style of the make.

Sadly, being taken in by the dino nature of the print, I haven’t given a lot of thought to how I will wear this cardigan. Still, always good with jeans!


The wonderful concept of layering

My biggest goal this year, probably along with lots of you, is to better reflect the changes in my lifestyle in my wardrobe. I’m still working from home a lot and before the winter kicks in I really need to add a few more practical cold-weather items to my wardrobe for all those days when I will be sitting still in the house working at a computer.

At the beginning on the year I put together a #MakeNine, which included many warm items. So far, I haven’t made all of them, I’m currently on my fourth item. However, the very practical, long-sleeved jumper is coming along a treat; I’m on the first sleeve, having done the front and back pieces.

There are, of course, other ways to boost my warmth in the house during the winter months and the one I’m going to look at here is layering. How can I use my existing clothes to best advantage by layering them?

Googling on this subject just leaves me cold…..literally! I tried to find images of people wearing layers, you know t-shirts, shirts, cardigans, jackets, coats in combinations and I wasn’t very successful. In my opinion, a camisole with a coat on top, or a shirt and jacket worn with a scarf does not count as layering. In a cold, damp climate, like the UK, I can’t think when these combinations would ever work. Oh hang on…..thinking about the camisole under the coat recommendation ……perhaps on a cold day (wearing the coat) and arriving at a temperature controlled office (taking off the coat) – but that’s not part of my lifestyle anymore! You get the picture!

A few days ago though, I started to flick through past copies of Burda magazine and found that I got quite a bit of inspiration from there. There were lots of pictures where tops, jackets, coasts etc. of various types were worn together. So I thought I’d put together some mood boards grouping certain looks together.

For fun I then decided to see if I had used similar combinations myself in the past.

Mood Board 1 – Long-sleeved turtle-neck t-shirt under another layer such as a blouse or dress.

Verdict: Actually, a t-shirt with a turtle-neck is completely missing from my wardrobe, but I have been known to wear long-sleeved t-shirts under woven tops. Here’s are a couple of combinations I put together, the first one a t-shirt with a silk blouse over the top, the second a t-shirt with a short-sleeved sweatshirt over the top.

Warmth: ***

Mood Board 2 – Dress over trousers

Verdict: Not a combination I have tried. I do rather like the combinations in this mood board, I particularly like that shirt dress – quite radical with the checked trousers! I don’t have many dresses so I don’t think I will be experimenting with this much, but you never know.

Warmth: ****

Mood Board 3 – Blazer/ jacket worn indoors

Verdict: I’m intrigued by the waistcoat with the blazer over the top on the left, that could be really warm and actually doesn’t look too bulky. The picture on the right is a bit confusing as I’m not sure what she is doing with the flannel shirt – it doesn’t look like such an oversized shirt would actually fit under the jacket, and I’m not sure it would look right over it. I shouldn’t overthink things, after all it’s probably just being worn like this for the photo shoot. What’s the tartan item? Is that a blanket, or a coat? It does look like a rather cosy outfit.

Anyway, yes, this is definitely a combination I wear! I only have one blazer, but I have worn it quite a lot indoors over shirts or even jumpers in the winter.

Warmth: *****

Jacket worn over jumper
Day 12 - Country File Presenter
Jacket worn over shirt

What do you think? Are there particular items you team together to make extra warm outfits? Are there other combinations that I have missed that you put together for warmth?


#makenine2021 Pine green seventies sweater progress 1

I took the plunge last month and bought yarn for a new knitting project. I chose a very simple, plain knitting pattern for the project. However, the pattern is vintage and I had been worried that this would cause all sorts of complications.

Last month my problem was how much yarn to order, but using other patterns on Ravelry as a guide, I guessed the total amount I would need and ordered the wool. This month I’ve actually been making progress on the knitting. Have there been any more challenges?

Surprisingly, so far it has been a reasonably smooth process. The pattern is reasonably straight-forward, although just like a seventies sewing pattern it does assume a reasonable amount of knowledge. For example, when it suggests a decrease, it doesn’t tell you what sort of decrease to make. However, because there was no hand-holding, I have been forced to take to Youtube and learn. Actually, I always prefer this way of learning, the type of learning that relies on discovery. I’ve always found that the most rewarding type of learning. It means that you will always end up reading/watching more than you really need. However, I think this means that you acquire more understanding as a result, compared to a situation where you are just “told” what to do. I can certainly see with this make that my arm-hole edges are much more elegant and all my decreases are slanting correctly. Plus, because this is such a plain sweater, if I like the shape I could easily make another with stripes or other colour-work. (Clearly my dreams of being a proficient knitter well exceed reality)

The other thing I have noticed is the pattern is full of details that add finesse to the overall finished knit. For example, s1 stitches are used at particular points as the first stitch in a row. Essentially s1 is where you just slip the stitch, without knitting or purling to the working needle. The reason this is great is that it can tighten up the edges and give a better finish.

The Toasty Sweater I created last year was a very off-putting experience and mostly because the maths wasn’t correct. An example, the pattern would say decrease 5 stitches for 2 rows (so 10 stitches in total would lost overall), but then the total number of stitches left at the end of the decrease would be incorrect. It was very frustrating and I ended up re-writing sections of the pattern. This jumper, so far, has been prefect. Every decrease I have done has resulted in the right number of stitches for the row. For a beginner it is so important that these things are correct, otherwise you begin to doubt your own (limited) skills.

The back piece took quite a while to knit and it wasn’t the most interesting thing to do once the colour changes on the ribbing were completed. I only used 2.5 balls of wool, so I will have plenty to finish the project, which is reassuring. The front piece is very similar to the back piece so I know that the maths will be correct for that too. Reassuring again! I finally feel I am well on the way to a warm jumper!

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Simplicity 8424: Forest green wrap ballet top

I’m rather a reluctant knit sewist. Sadly, it just isn’t my forte, and my makes are are very hit and miss. I do think, though that my wardrobe could do with a few easy-to-wear jersey tops and t-shirts. I decided to use again Simplicity 8424. This pattern is a ballet-inspired fitness wardrobe. I’ve made the leggings (view B) and the faux wrap top (view D) before. The leggings have been very successful and get worn quite a lot. A good fit too. I’m not that smitten with the top as I think I sized up too much and it is too loose at the front. A hit and a miss, no surprises there.

I bought some forest green cotton-elastane jersey from Like Sew Amazing not so long ago. It is just the sort of dark rich colour that I’m drawn to. I only bought 1 metre with the intention of a long-sleeved top, but this was about 10 cm less than the pattern requirements. Being on an enormous drive to cut down the overwhelming quantity of scraps my sewing generates, I thought I could get away with this. Only just! Cutting out was a real tessellation conundrum and it took three attempts, folding the fabric and laying the pattern pieces out in different configurations. I managed! And I also created sleeve bands for cuffs and neck bands.

The construction was relatively simple and mostly used just the overlocker. The pattern would work just as easily with a standard sewing machine. I did improvise with the cuffs and neck bands as these are not in the original pattern. I had seen the neckline on the Papercut Copelia and I wanted to emulate that finish. I think in retrospect the bands on the neckline are too thin, but that was all the fabric that was going, so I just have to deal with that.

Ballet-wrap top worn under a cardigan – looking very much like a tree here in green and brown!

It is quite low-cut. Not sure if I will wear it without a camisole underneath, but that’s fine by me. I notice that on Instagram it gets modelled both ways – with and without a top underneath. I think it will make a good Autumn layering piece. I also like my slightly longer sleeves, which I wouldn’t have got without the cuffs.

Ballet-wrap top with camisole underneath – don’t feel that I’m likely to flash underwear like this. Also, without the cardigan, you can see the length of the sleeves and the cuffs.

I can definitely recommend this pattern, who doesn’t love a wardrobe in one pattern? And with three different makes under my belt, there’s still view F that I haven’t tried, which is another long-sleeved top. I’m not sure about the other two leggings designs, the dangling tie and the ballet-type ribbons might just be annoying, but you can’t argue with four decent designs in one pattern.


Revitalised or Style Blunder: Wrap and Go Butterick 6720

At the beginning of the month, I thought I would put aside some time to revisit one of those makes that has failed to live up to expectations. These were a pair of “Wrap and Go” wrap trousers using 70s vintage pattern Butterick 6720.

Interesting, I have seen two real people (i.e. whilst walking around in town) wearing wrap trousers just like these. I assume they bought theirs. Nice to see designers flick through 70s styles for inspiration too!

Anyway, back to the changes I made to the trousers. In the past, I have found that these trousers weren’t very comfortable to wear because they dug into my stomach too much. Here are the modifications I made:

  1. Re-cut the elastic so that it wasn’t too tight
  2. Inserted wider elastic
  3. Used a button instead of a skirt hook
  4. Converted the tie so that it also uses elastic for comfort, and is just finished with the fabric.
  5. Created wider ties

I can say that this step has been very successful. They are much more comfortable to wear and unlike before, I don’t have to adjust the waist during the day.

Wrap and Go Trousers (Butterick 6720) with wrap top – too much wrapping?

The other problem was that I didn’t have a suitable top to wear with the trousers. I made this top. Does the new top work with the trousers? Here are some thoughts: colour-wise the top works well, style I’m not so sure. Is there too much “wrap-action” going on, with a wrap top and wrap trousers? The top also doesn’t tuck in at the back because of the tie.

Butterick 6720: Too many ties? And this top doesn’t tuck in properly.

I don’t think I have managed to find the right top yet. Plus, I’m still not sure whether the style of the trousers suits me. I am not used to wearing long and floating styles generally so I hope, dear readers, you may help me out with this. Have I made a style faux-pas?

Butterick 6720: Action shot! Looks good when I’m wafting along (Sorry, not sorry about the bra strap there!)

When I originally posted the make many people suggested I should wear a short/cropped top or a top which was tucked-in with these trousers. However, I just don’t have any short tops in my wardrobe and I’m not into tucking tops in; I have a very short body and this look often just seems to accentuate my somewhat odd proportions.

However, more recently I looked online I saw similar trousers from modern patterns Simplicity 4192 and Vogue 9191 paired and these were modelled with longer line tops. The big difference with the two modern patterns is that instead of gathers around the waist the trousers had darts. Would less bulk around the waist serve me better and could I then wear these with a longer top? Can I be jiggered to take these trousers apart again to add darts and lop off the excess fabric?

You may have noticed that in these photos I am wearing the trousers with the flaps at the front. This is the conventional way, but I have worn them backwards too.

Lastly, I reminded myself today of another reason why I don’t wear these trousers often. A toilet trip in which I don’t drape the trousers all over the floor requires considerable ingenuity and several extra limbs! Ah well, some makes work out brilliantly, others don’t.


New Look 6252: Wrap top in pale yellow silk

I have had a small left-over of this beautiful eri silk from Weaving Destination for a while. Small pieces are always a challenge to use up, but are often ideal for making sleeveless tops. I paired the fabric with New Look 6252, which I have made once before.

New Look 6252 with fabric. Eri silk and spotted cotton lawn in pale yellow

For some reason which I can’t now recall, I decided immediately to make View C again. Possibly I was influenced by the success of my last version or it was just laziness. View C is the view which has the ties at the back and only uses 1 metre of fabric according to the envelope, although I think I squeezed it out of less. Like my previous make, I didn’t like that the ties were just one layer and finished by hemming. I decided to make my ties with two layers, so no wrong side of the fabric is visible when it is worn. Sadly I didn’t have quite enough of the silk to cut the tie piece four times, so I used some spotted cotton lawn for the reverse side of the ties. The colour isn’t really a match, but I think they look acceptable together. I also used the cotton lawn for the arm-hole finish.

New Look 6252 in Pale yellow silk

I just whizzed through the sewing on this one, because it was a familiar make and I think I made a really good job of the insides and making sure the finish was good. And I didn’t try the garment on once…probably a mistake, because I’m not that happy with the fit. I’m not actually sure what went awry here, but the armholes seem to be bigger and I have a bit of armhole gape. How did that happen? On top of that the whole top rides up too, so that I find that the bust darts don’t sit where they are supposed to. Given that the top is actually drafted to my measurements (see the previous post) this is not supposed to happen. I suspect I may be over-compensating for the larger armscyes and tying the top tighter? Then I have a problem with the fabric, it doesn’t want to behave! It “puffs” out and doesn’t want to sit correctly. I have under-stitched the facing and I gave the facings an extra iron before this photo shoot which seemed to help. I must admit I felt rather let down when I first tried this top on, because it hasn’t lived up to my expectations.

New Look 6252 with a cardigan over the top…let’s not look at those gaping armholes!

I wonder whether I am being overly harsh in my assessment though. I don’t think the photos look too bad. Please let me know your thoughts. Does that bust dart look way out? Can I tame the “puffiness”? Do I dare to take my beautifully finished arm-holes apart and take in the side seams a smidge to improve the fit? Will that make me fall in love with this top?

I haven’t yet finished my improvements to the wrap trousers yet. Once I have done that I’ll take some more photos with the two makes together.


Revitalising an old make: Wrap and Go Butterick 6720

I have noticed recently a frustrating thing with my wardrobe. I’ve now been sewing my me-made wardrobe for a while and I have lots of fantastic clothes, in colours and styles that I enjoy. But I still find that there are certain makes that I struggle to pair up with anything else in my wardrobe. It isn’t because of clashing colours. I’ve refined my colour choices more as time goes on and with a more limited palette it is so much easier to find good combinations. Plus, a little foray into more adventurous pairings earlier in the year (in #sewhappycolor2021) added a few more good combinations to the mix. No, my particular problem surrounds silhouette and style combinations. Sometimes I think two items from my wardrobe would work well together only to find that they look inexplicably awful in combination. Sometimes a voluminous top can look great with flares and then sometimes it can look overwhelming.

I made a pair of wrap trousers two years ago from a vintage 70s sewing pattern (Butterick 6720) and I have worn them only a handful of times and mostly on holiday because they happened to be in my suitcase.

This pair of trousers gives me quite a headache. The biggest problem is that I haven’t got a top that looks right with them. Looking back at the photos I took just after I made them, my preferred choice was the make-shift bandeau, although not really a look for out and about (only the beach). Clearly I need a fitted top with such a voluminous pair of trousers, but there aren’t many contenders in my wardrobe.

Wrap and Go PantSkirt
With a make-shirt bandeau top

I bought New Look 6252 specifically as a possible pairing with the trousers. At the time I bought it I had 1 metre of feather-print cotton lawn in my stash which I used as a trial. I loved the result; it was one of my favourite makes of last year. Sadly, I don’t think the two prints really work together, but I had always intended that first top as a trial run.

New Look 6252 FrontView
New Look 6252 Front View

Now it’s time for me to make a plain-coloured top to go with the trousers. I remembered that I still have a small left-over amount of this eri silk from Weaving Destination and I thought that the pale creamy-yellow hues of the silk would go well with the trousers. There isn’t much f the silk so I’m going to finish the ties with the spotted cotton lawn.

New Look 6252 pattern with eri silk and spotted cotton lawn

My second problem with the trousers is that I just don’t find them comfortable. So, you may ask, why am I bothering to put so much effort into trying to get a top to work with them? Well, I think the problem will be relatively easy to resolve. The elastic is too tight; I inserted it in a hurry just before I went on holiday and it was simply just the wrong length. Also, I wonder whether I would be happier with wider elastic at the waist. If I copy the elastic width and length from my pyjamas (which are very comfortable) I think that will resolve the issue. I think that converting the tie so that it is also elastic, with fabric ends for extra comfort, will complete the necessary amendments.

Given these problems I’m now working on resurrecting the trousers and creating another New Look 6252 to go with them. I have a few other ideas both for the trousers and another top if I don’t quite manage to reach the top/trouser combination zenith that I am aiming for.