Steely Seamstress

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Seventies Fashion: The Mafia Only Kills in Summer TV series Episodes 11 & 12

Welcome back for the final two episodes of “The Mafia Only Kills in Summer” TV series set in the seventies. Yes, I know that it’s been a while since I wrote one of these posts, but if there is one thing that 2020 keeps on teaching me, it is to relax and not fret when I don’t have time for things like updating this blog.

The series is still showing on 4OD and my previous episode recaps are here:

Episodes 1 and 2

Episodes 3 and 4

Episodes 5 and 6

Episodes 7 and 8

Episodes 9 and 10

Episode 11 – Men of their word

It’s the penultimate episode of the series and the Giammarresi family are facing some tough decisions.

The Giammarresis’ new flat seems to have finally materialised, a flat where the water supply is reliable. However Lorenzo finds it hard to share his family’s happiness at their good fortune; he is still plagued by his conscience.

The Giammarresi family stand around in the new flat

The Giammarresi family stand around in the new flat

Massimo is finding his new job demands a heavy price. Will he be able to continue on the path he’s chosen?

Angela has realised too late that she has feelings for Torino, but seems unable to put things right.

Most serious of all, Salvatore is worried that he won’t manage to win Alice’s heart before she moves to Switzerland. He enlists the help of his friend, Boris Giuliani.

There weren’t too many interesting outfits in this episode, mostly because the story was focussed heavily on the male characters (who were also wearing rather dull clothes), but Patrizia’s halter neck dress in a floral print and Angela’s shirt with its interesting stripe placement stood out.

Clockwise from left: Patrizia’s halter neck dress on set, vintage pattern Simplicity 5626, vintage pattern Simplicity 5561, Burda 113 02/2017

The Practical pattern is probably the closest match to Angela’s shirt, although the Frances shirt from DG Patterns has very similar design lines, even if it is a much looser silhouette.

 

Clockwise from left: Angela’s striped shirt on set, vintage pattern Practical 6992, Frances shirt from DG vintage pattern Simplicity 6228.

I also enjoyed the interior of the Bank Manager’s Officer in the scenes with Lorenzo. How quintessentially seventies is this? Actually those easy chairs look rather comfortable.

Lorenzo visits the Trinacria bank to finalise the deal on the new flat

Lorenzo visits the Trinacria bank to finalise the deal on the new flat

Episode 12 – Little Heroes

We come to the final episode of the series. Lorenzo, as usual, reflects on his family’s dilemmas and Massimo, berated by Patrizia, for skulking off in the middle of the night, has his own problems to consider.

Patrizia and Massimo seem to have fallen out.

Patrizia and Massimo seem to have fallen out. Is that rik-rak I can see finishing the neckline?

Meanwhile, on the night that their lives all change for ever, Salvatore arranges a magical final date with Alice and Angela finally sorts out her love-life.

Angela sulks in her room

Angela sulks in her room

In short, will the Giammarresi family live happily ever after in Sicily or have their choices made it too dangerous for them?

Just for something a little different, I looked for Pia’s dressing gown. The Buchanan from Gather is a very close match, although the vintage patterns have length of the one worn by Pia.

 

Clockwise from top left: Buchanan dressing gown by Gather, Pia's dressing gown on set, vintage pattern Style 2656, vintage pattern Simplicity 5685

Clockwise from top left: Buchanan dressing gown by Gather, Pia’s dressing gown on set, vintage pattern Style 2656, vintage pattern Simplicity 5685

One of the things that I love about the character’s clothing is that they all have their own individual styles. This is just the kind of dress Patrizia wears with a plunging neckline (see also above for a close-up of the bodice).

Clockwise from top left: vintage pattern McCalls 4028, Patrizia’s dress on set, vintage pattern Simplicity 6661, vintage pattern Simplicity S8875


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Jumping on a least two bandwagons…..African wax print lounge pants

Judge: I put it to you, did the accused blatantly and conspicuously sew in an African wax print fabric? Did she without regard for plagiarism, sew loungewear ?

Me: Guilty as charged on both counts!

I haven’t had a great deal of time in the last few weeks for sewing and blogging, but I have found time for a simple make. I was attracted by the Peppermint Loungewear set when it popped up. I thought they would make a fantastic pair of pyjamas and I have just worn through the seat of my favourite PJ bottoms.

The pattern is available for free or a donation. The Loungewear pants extend just beneath the knee and are reasonably wide-legged. They have sizeable pockets at the front. There is provision for making a shorts version of the pants too and the top is simple in design, somewhat cropped, with short sleeves and drop shoulders. I’ve seen a few versions on instagram and thought they were just what I needed.

Peppermint Loungewear Pants

This got me thinking, what actually is the difference between pyjamas and loungewear? I realise that they are supposed to be worn at different times; pyjamas in bed, loungewear during the day as casual wear. But, is there actually any difference in how these garments look? Does the length of the Peppermint lounge pants, make them lounge pants? Can pyjamas ever have pockets or does this break some sartorial code? Can pyjama tops deviate from having buttons down the front?  I know these bottoms will be used as pyjamas, because I’m not a wearer of loungewear (even in lockdown!), but I’m still keeping those pockets!

Last year I bought I length of African wax cotton at the rag market in Birmingham while attending Sew Brum. It’s a full 6 yards, so this is just my first make with this fabric. I was attracted to this particular design, because I liked how the orange and yellow motifs popped against the dark blue background. According to this BBC article, many of the designs actually have a name and I wondered whether this one had one? Does anyone know? The fabric itself was produced by Vlisco in Holland. African wax print fabric has such an fascinating history, spanning continents. It originated as batik in Indonesia, was mass-produced in Europe and found a market in West Africa. This article on the history of African wax print also has a great video of the batik process.

I wondered what I was going to do about pattern placement when I cut out the pattern pieces, but with such a busy print and its infrequent repeat, I decided not to worry about it, so long as one of those large triffid-like flowers didn’t end up being placed in an awkward location…..you know what I mean….

Peppermint Loungewear Pants

I made two changes to the pattern. Firstly, I extended the leg length so that it is full-length. I find trouser legs ride up in bed, so I like them long (in the hope that they stay put). Secondly, I ignored the instructions for applying the elastic waistband. I had worries that I would end up stretching the elastic out (this has been a long-standing problem using my old singer with stretch fabric). I decided to make a casing instead. This is actually suggested as an alternative in the Peppermint Pattern loungewear instructions although it isn’t described in full.

I’ve worn these for a couple of nights now and I couldn’t be happier. They are so comfortable to wear – they fit well, the length is just right and I’m loving the pockets. At the moment the cotton is still quite stiff, but I know that the fabric should soften up with wear and washing, so I’m looking forward to them being even more comfortable.

Peppermint Loungewear Pants

I wonder what I should make with the remaining fabric? There is still plenty, for making a jumpsuit. Alternatively, I could make a matching top and complete my Peppermint Patterns loungewear set. I could even make two sets. What do you think? Any ideas about that pattern placement on a top or jumpsuit?

Peppermint Loungewear Pants


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Capri Trousers in blue linen

My latest make is more or less a repeat of a previous make. I made this pair of Capri trousers in 2017 using a pattern from the Italian magazine Modellina. The original Capri trousers were made from a cotton twill with a small amount of elastane. I found these trousers very comfortable, but because the fabric is essentially white (what was I thinking?), they haven’t had as much wear as I would like.  I just wouldn’t wear this pair of trousers to the beach or to eat anything difficult or do anything where they were likely to get splotted in a conspicuous way.

For my new pair, I needed a more practical colour. I bought some beautiful linen from Like Sew Amazing. There are still lots of colours in stock. I wasn’t sure what colour to get, and in the end decided to get the “denim” blue. Although, not the most radical choice, it matches well with many items in my wardrobe. The original Capri trousers were made in a stretch twill, and although straight-legged they aren’t too tight, so I made these new trousers using the same pattern size. The instructions in the magazine aren’t particularly good (well, hey were the usual magazine quality), and I followed the Closet Core Patterns ginger jeans tutorials for inserting the zip fly, adding the waistband and attaching the belt loops.

Blue Capri Trousers Front View

Blue Capri Trousers Front View

I did come across some difficulties when I decided on the finish for the hem. I decided that rather than adding a split at the side, similar to the white floral trousers previously, I wouldn’t add the split, but finish the bottoms of the trouser legs with a turn-up. I then came across a problem. I hadn’t realised that the trousers would be too tight around my calves to do this. I never knew that my calves were so prominent, is it all this lock-down cycling I have been doing, or have I always had calves of these dimensions?  Either way, I knew I would have to stick with the same hem style as before.

Blue Capri Trousers back view

Blue Capri Trousers back view – doesn’t linen crinkle, you can tell I’ve already sat down in these!

However, this time I’ve finished the hem with a facing which gives a more “refined” finish. I am a little disappointed, because I wanted to this pair to look different to the previous pair of trousers; I love diversity in my wardrobe and seldom make exactly the same thing twice. Obviously, I could make another pair of these trousers in the future and adjust the calf dimensions so I can get the different hem finish.

Blue Capri Trousers Side View

Blue Capri Trousers Side View – and view of the prominent calves!

All in all, these trousers were a much-needed addition to my summer wardrobe and I’m glad I’ve made them.

Blue Capri Trousers

Blue Capri Trousers


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Swedish Tracing Paper – A review

When we first entered lock-down back in March, I really hadn’t given much thought to sewing or more importantly what sewing supplies I had. I suppose I was mostly preoccupied with what I needed to be able to work from home and for Master Steely to study from home. But as the dull days ticked by I turned to my hobby. Then my machine stopped working and I was left with quite a limited sub-set of possible projects / activities. Essentially, I thought doing some pattern tracing would fill the time, so I ordered some Swedish Tracing Paper. I’d never tried this before, but had heard that it was more resistant to tearing and you could actually sew with it, so I thought I would try it out.

Patterntrace – 10m Swedish Tracing Paper

What is Swedish Tracing Paper?

First of all, mine isn’t actually Swedish, but produced in the UK! Also, it isn’t actually paper either, or at least not the conventional type! It’s made from Abaca fibres. Abaca fibres are extracted from the leaf sheath around the trunk of the abaca plant (Musa textilis), which is a close relative of the banana, native to the Philippines. It is quite widely used for making tea and coffee bags, cigarette filter papers and even banknotes (Japan’s yen banknotes contain up to 30% abaca). This means than any left-over pieces can be put straight in the food waste / compost bin.

What are my impressions of the product?

The Swedish Tracing Paper was supplied as a roll. I know this seems like a small thing, it was immediately obvious that even this made tracing patterns easier. I could manipulate the roll and only unroll what I needed. Much easier than using the huge map-like sheets of paper I have used in the past. There are also 10 metres on the roll, so it can be used for multiple projects.

The paper itself is quite translucent and this makes it easy to use to trace off my patterns from my vintage patterns or PDF patterns. Despite this, it is still much more robust than normal paper. I didn’t manage to tear it when I was doing the tracing. (This often happens when I’m trying to trace normally, manipulating my tracing paper in a relatively small floor space).

Swedish Tracing Paper

The Swedish Tracing Paper is quite translucent and it is easy to see pattern markings through the paper.

It also responds well to being taped together. Because I often alter patterns for fit, I often tape extra paper on and normal sticky tape could be removed easily without tearing too. I think this tracing paper will be very useful for those patterns that I repeatedly use since it is far more resilient to folding and pinning than normally paper. In fact, I scrunched up a piece of it and it is indistinguishable from paper that has never been used, once it has been flattened out and then ironed.

Scrunched vs flatterned Swedish Tracing Paper

Swedish Tracing Paper showing 1. Before where the paper has been scrunched up 2. After the same piece of paper has been ironed flat.

It is also easy to write on it. The results were good when I used biro, pencil and tailor’s chalk. However, when using Crayola felt-tip pen, the ink spreads. I included this type of pen because Crayola Washable felt-tip pens are one of my favourite means for marking fabric.

Marking on Swedish Tracing Paper

Marking on Swedish Tracing Paper: 1. Biro 2. Pencil 3. Crayola Washable pen 4. Tailor’s chalk

For comparison, below I’ve listed different tracing papers to show how the Swedish Tracing Paper compares. I’ve also included greaseproof paper – I haven’t used it myself, but Hila at Saturday Night Stitch apparently uses catering size baking parchment as a cheap alternative.

Name of Paper Company Dimensions of pack Price per pack Price per metre
Swedish Tracing Paper Patterntrace 1000 cm x 100 cm £15.80 £1.58
Pattern Paper Prym 1000 cm x 100 cm £8.90 £0.89
Tracing Paper Hemline 3 sheets – 76 cm x 102 cm £3.20 £1.36
Tissue Paper Burda Style 5 sheets 140 cm x 110 cm £5.96 £0.77
Greaseproof paper WIlkinsons 5000 cm x 37.5 cm £.50 £0.03

I haven’t used it yet for sewing or draping, just because I haven’t tackled that type of project this year, but it could prove useful for making a rough sort of toile.

Final thoughts

It was only when I folded up several patterns and put them back on the “pattern shelf” that I noticed another benefit of using this Swedish Tracing Paper, a bonus not mentioned by other people who’ve reviewed it. It folds up really flat compared to paper. I can see my stack of traced papers really diminishing in size if I carry on using it. (So greater storage space for more patterns, of course!)

Swedish Tracing Paper folds up much flatter than paper.

Swedish Tracing Paper folds up much flatter than paper. Left: paper patterns, right: Swedish Tracing Paper patterns

I would thoroughly recommend using the Swedish Tracing Paper. It makes tracing easier; it’s easy to manipulate and resilient to folding, taping and pinning. It is also translucent, so I don’t miss any notches or critical markings on my pattern by accident. However, it is quite pricey and for this reason, I will limit its use to those patterns that I intend to use time and time again.


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Me-Made-May 2020 Summary and some graphs

I’d almost got to the point where I’d thought that it was pretty pointless writing this post (It is July!) I’ve been busy in the last few weeks and I’ve had toothache again. I’ve got a referral to have the problem sorted out, but due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic I will be waiting weeks. In short, my blog-posting has been neglected.

However, one of my favourite parts of Me-Made-May is the analysis I do of my wardrobe. Looking at data and graphs, especially now I have a few year’s worth of data, gives me a geeky pleasure and once I’d filled in my spreadsheet (here’s the MMM-template spreadsheet), I thought it would be worth just writing a short post.

Grpah 1 – This describes the number of wears in the month of May by pattern company.

 

Wears per pattern companyOnce again the patterns from Burda Style magazine seem to have the most wear. I suppose I have made quite a few makes from my collection of magazines. In particular, though I did wear my grey Burda hoodie loads of times; the weather was dry and it was a convenient extra layer.

Graph 2 – This describes the number of wears in the month of May by colour

Like last year, the two most popular colours in my wardrobe are blue and black. This year that particularly reflects my lock-down wardrobe as I’ve worn a lot of jeans. I used to wear skirts to work quite often, but working from home, I’ve found that I’ve wanted to quickly have a cycle ride at lunchtime or after work and getting changed again seemed like an additional hassle.

 

wears per colour

Red and purple / lilac seem to be present in my choices more this year. I suspect this is mainly due to two newer items in my wardrobe, my red and white striped long-sleeved t-shirt and my lilac linen top.

Graph 3 – This describes the percentage of me-mades each year since 2015

Here’s the evidence I’ve been sewing my me-made wardrobe for a long time! There is the weird blip that is 2017. I deliberately wore only me-mades, which at that point was just about possible. Since then, I have fallen back into just wearing what feels right each day. My %me-made for 2020 is 82.9%. Interestingly, I didn’t even realise that I was wearing such a high percentage of me-mades, I just chose something from my wardrobe (or the pile on the floor!) each day and that was it.

Me mades per year

One of the few days when I wore a skirt in May. It was a very hot day.

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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

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So, for the future, I can see that I need to make more jeans, as these seemed to be a preferred “working from home” option. Also, another hoodie would be good too, just for some variety.


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#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.

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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

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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!

 


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#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.

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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

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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.


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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


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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.