Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

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April 2018 Travels in California

I didn’t get much time for making during April, but I did do quite a bit of travelling. Whilst I usually limit myself to craft related exploits on here, I did visit some beautiful places and I thought I’d share some of the photos I took. Enjoy.

San Francisco bay


Alcatraz island

Western Railway Museum

Near Suison City

Near Suison City

Near Suison City

Wildflowers in California

Wildflowers in California

Of course, I made a visit to Britex Fabrics whilst I was in San Francisco. I was slightly perturbed when I went to their address as it was closed, but they had moved recently to a new location just around the block.

Britex Fabrics

Britex Fabrics

Anyway, I didn’t buy too much as it is a rather expensive shop, but I treated myslef to this cotton lawn and matching buttons. There are also a couple of jeans buttons in there as they do such attractive ones. Well, jeans buttons are never “pretty”, but these are as attractive as they get.




Me-Made-May 2019: Week 2

MMM-19_Week2Day 8 Me mades: Black surplice top, Black and ivory striped Driftless cardigan

Day 9 & 11 Me-mades: Grey Moss Skirt

Day 10 Me-mades: Denim jumpsuit

Day 12 Me-mades: 3/4 sleeved t-shirt, 70s flared jeans, blue Driftless cardigan

Day 13 Me-mades: Purple patterned Sorbetto top, Blue Driftless cardigan

Day 14 Me-mades: Paisley summer top

At home all this last week so much easier to choose my outfits. The week started cold so I was wearing tights, but now it is bright and sunny; wouldn’t say it is beach weather, but definitely getting warmer.

Favourite Outfit:

This was a tough call as there have been a few combinations that I hadn’t tried before this week. I’m choosing Day 12 which is a full me-made day – 3/4 sleeved t-shirt, 70s flared jeans and blue Driftless cardigan. I’m not even sure why I’d never tried this combination before, but perhaps it is because I made this cardigan towards the tail-end of the summer and it didn’t get worn that much immediately after it was made.  Anyway, the colour combinations are all blue and it pleased me.

Early takeaways:

  • My Driftless cardigans have done sterling service this week. I’m so glad I finally followed through on the wardrobe gap I repeatedly found in previous me-made-mays.
  • Possibly my wardrobe is lacking summer tops and this may bother me more when it gets warmer.


Me-Made-May 2019: Week 1

I’m very much behind with my blogging and I’ve quite a few posts to write, but we are in Me Made May and I’ve made a pledge to participate:

I, Nicola @steelyseamstress, sign up as a particpant of Me-Made-May 2019. My aim is to wear my me-mades in glorious combinations, and sometimes with RTW items that I still have in my wardrobe. I endeavour to put neglected items back into rotation where I can.

I can’t believe that Me-Made-May has reached it’s tenth anniversary – it is amazing how much it has captured the imagination. Even more surprising is that this is my sixth Me-Made-May!



Day 1 & 2 Me mades: Over-sized sweatshirt, Black skinny jeans, Helicopter jacket

Day 3, 4 & 5 Me-mades: 3/4 sleeved t-shirt, Dark blue Wolfie jeans, Helicopter jacket (no photo)

Day 6 Me-mades: Denim jumpsuit

Day 7 Me-mades: Black surplice top, Black and ivory striped Driftless cardigan

This last week I’ve been travelling a lot of the time so have needed lots of practical jeans and sweatshirts. Not only that, I was in colder climes and by day 3 ended up wearing virtually everything that I could in one go. The me-made items were supplemented with a long-sleeved t-shirt, a sweatshirt and a waterproof coat. It was hardly a put together outfit and unsurprisingly, I wasn’t in a hurry to document it, so sorry about the gap there. Perhaps my friend managed to take a picture of that and I can add that in later.

Favourite Outfit:

Day 6 – Obviously, my new denim jumpsuit. I liked it very much in combination with this rainbow coloured long-sleeved t-shirt, which isn’t a me-made. Somehow I don’t normally wear that t-shirt, but this was a really useful combination.

Early takeaways:

  • Don’t go on holiday without enough clothes! My famed ability to travel light let me down and I was seriously cold. Yes, I had watched the weather forecast before I went and stupidly I had packed for that. The temperature was 5-10 degrees colder!
  • I’m also keen on wearing my black and ivory Driftless cardigan in combination with khaki trousers and a black top.  So pleased I actually got around to some serious cardigan making last year.


Sewing The Seventies: Make 2 – Denim Jumpsuit Part 2

Yes, I will admit that I’ve taken my time writing about my makes for Sewing The Seventies. Somehow the start of 2019 has been so busy for me. I’ve found some time to sew, but not a lot of time for all the blogging I’d intended to do.

Anyway, I’ve finally finished my jumpsuit! The jumpsuit pattern I used was a Burda pattern taken from their seventies vintage special magazine. My previous post describes the decision-making process for this jumpsuit as I deviated quite a bit from the original pattern. The pattern is designed to be made with jersey and lined, but I made an unlined jumpsuit in non-stretch denim. For this reason, I had to be very careful about making sure I could still move in my creation. I sewed the top and bottom of the jumpsuit, tacked them together and then did a lot of bending and stretching in the garment to make sure I was satisfied with the fit.

Cher Catsuit (V2-70)

Cher Catsuit (V2-70)

I made some changes to the pattern, I was concerned that if I made the pattern as it was in denim it would just look like the boiler suit Mr Steely wears for working on motorbikes! I thought the addition of all the top-stitching and the short sleeves took this it out of blue workmen’s boiler suit territory, until I put the finished garment on for the first time and Master Steely’s commented it was just like something a mechanic would wear. (Oh well, what does he know? He’s a teenager!) Perhaps I should have chosen a different colour, Mr Steely was all into the idea of a Kill Bill-style yellow suit. Really? I think I shall ignore that suggestion.

Kill Bill

Kill Bill – A yellow catsuit?

Anyway, I decided to make short-sleeves and used the sleeves from this seventies blouse as a substitute. I also decided to max out on the pockets adding patch pockets to the front and the back. The front pockets were taken from the Lander pattern and the back pockets from this seventies jeans pattern. Altogether this make was a real mish-mash!

Cher Catsuit (V2-70) – from the back

There is one thing I haven’t quite managed to do and that is create a belt for my jumpsuit. I’m still pondering what belt buckle to use, so the jumpsuit is still missing the belt loops and a belt, but at least I can wear it. Perhaps it just looks fine with the belt I’ve already chosen?

Bond villain pose?!

Bond villain pose?!

The jumpsuit was actually quite hard to make. The Burda instructions were essentially impossible to follow and this is the first jumpsuit I’ve made so it wasn’t easy to rely on my own experience here. I found the zip insertion instructions a complete nonsense and I probably over-manipulated the placket. It isn’t as tidy as I would have liked, but I’ll just have to live with that.

Cher Catsuit (V2-70)

Cher Catsuit (V2-70) – top.

I’m hoping that the jumpsuit can be worn with a long-sleeved t-shirt or jumper underneath in winter and on its own for summer.

Cher Catsuit (V2-70)


Sewing The Seventies: We have a winner!

We have a winner! I am delighted to announce that jenlegg4 won this year’s competition with her beautiful wrap dress. Well done, Jenn, it’s a beautiful dress, I love the way it hangs in the scuba fabric.

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My entry for #gbsbsewalong organised by the lovely Sheona is this vintage pattern I loved when @elisalex posted a few months back I think the 70’s is my favourite era I sourced the vintage pattern from Etsy ♥️ I’ve made mine from the floral scuba from @sewisfaction . . You can’t notice my blinking eye #iritis never heard of it before @versusarthritis the disease that keeps on giving ! #versusversace To see @pmjofficial tonight @sage_gateshead with my gorgeous man ♥️ Thank you to the sponsors @creativeinduk @ernestwrightltd @suzymagazine @sewhayleyjane . #healthiswealth #pissedoclock #everyoneidfightingtheirownbattles #bekind #sewistsofinstagram #behindeverypictureisastory #love #sewingbee @sewover50 #sewover50 #mysewisfaction #sewingtheseventies2019 @steelyseamstress #sewingtheseventies @janomeuk @sewessentialuk #janomemakes #sewmaxiformothersday @crystalsewsandstuff @crumpetsteaandsewing

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If you want to go out and make your own, the pattern Jenn used was Simplicity 6563

Thanks to all those that participated this year. It has been a delight to hold the contest and share the seventies with you! The entries were all fantastic and you’ve inspired my hunting on Ebay and Etsy.


Sewing The Seventies: The Entries

The end of March is truly upon us and it’s now time to share all your fabulous makes from Sewing The Seventies.

By the way, I noticed that all I could find were Instagram makes. I hope I haven’t left anyone off the the poll, as there were a couple of people with blogs who expressed an interest. Let me know if I’m missed an entry (I truly hope I haven’t), and I can update the poll.

Here are the makes so you know what you are voting for and good luck!

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The 70s week #gbsbsewalong sewing challenge calls for 70s dance moves! Here are more details for those interested: . I chose view A of vintage #butterick5848 , but happened to have the fabric color and bias binding of view C, so I went for it. This was my first time sewing a vintage pattern, and I approached it as a wearable toile for a future #ImAllAmal dress. I learned that all the markings on the pattern tissue are important, while the printed instructions expect you to have a working knowledge of basic sewing. Example of the directions: “Insert zipper in back opening.” That’s it! . Mods: shortened bodice by 1”, shortened skirt by 3”, left off the zipper because of my very stretchy knit fabric, and thus simply sewed the center back 6” from the neckline, then closed opening with a hook and eye after finishing raw edges. Finally, because the length was so short already, I put in a 1/4” hem rather than a 1 1/4” hem on the dress. . I recently laughed @curious__fi ’s post where she said, “Don’t believe everything you see on the Internet kids”, because I feel the same way about my dress. I did the opposite of my prior GBSB Sewalong Cotton wrap skirt—instead of working early, diligently, carefully, I procrastinated and left off the sewing of this dress until rather late. If Patrick Grant were to scrutinize it, he would turn to me and say, “I think we can agree that this is not your best work.” I would mutely nod in acknowledgement of the shiny seams where I didn’t use a presscloth, the dodgy 2 AM stitching that is NOT in the ditch, the meandering stitches along the hem. 🙍🏻‍♀️🤦🏻‍♀️I admit all this to show that truly I am still learning and I make mistakes. I will say that the dress fits well, and I’ll most likely wear it at home. . Swipe to see the fabric for my headscarf – if that bright floral poly crepe doesn’t say 70s, I don’t know what does! That, and the teal interlock fabric, purple bias binding, pattern, even vintage seam lace on the inside are courtesy of @austincreativereuse . . I’m entering this into three sewing challenges – #sewthatpatternnow #makeyourstash #sewingtheseventies2019 . #b5848 #butterickpatterns #WakeToMake #ShortSewists #POCWhoSews

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My entry for #gbsbsewalong organised by the lovely Sheona is this vintage pattern I loved when @elisalex posted a few months back I think the 70’s is my favourite era I sourced the vintage pattern from Etsy ♥️ I’ve made mine from the floral scuba from @sewisfaction . . You can’t notice my blinking eye #iritis never heard of it before @versusarthritis the disease that keeps on giving ! #versusversace To see @pmjofficial tonight @sage_gateshead with my gorgeous man ♥️ Thank you to the sponsors @creativeinduk @ernestwrightltd @suzymagazine @sewhayleyjane . #healthiswealth #pissedoclock #everyoneidfightingtheirownbattles #bekind #sewistsofinstagram #behindeverypictureisastory #love #sewingbee @sewover50 #sewover50 #mysewisfaction #sewingtheseventies2019 @steelyseamstress #sewingtheseventies @janomeuk @sewessentialuk #janomemakes #sewmaxiformothersday @crystalsewsandstuff @crumpetsteaandsewing

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Sewing The Seventies: Make 2 – Denim Jumpsuit Part 1

Don’t forget, it’s the Sewing The Seventies deadline tomorrow. It’s been such fun seeing all the cool seventies makes. I’ll be doing a round up post after that, featuring all your creations.

To be honest I have had some problems with my seventies makes this year. I had a disorganised start to the year and was away from home for about two weeks. I then bought a 70s pattern from Etsy that took an age to arrive. I’m not making anything from that pattern at the moment, because if I was never going to finish that before the end of March. So I embarked on a project for my second make than I would not have otherwise undertaken. That said, it is a fantastic make that I’ve really been able to get my teeth into.

Abba-esque jumpsuit


Line drawing of Burda “Cher” catsuit (V2-70)

I decided to make a denim jumpsuit. I had a pattern already for this. There is a jumpsuit pattern in the 70s Burda special. It’s called the “Cher” catsuit and is a rather Abba-esque all-in-one made from jersey. But it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. I was leaning towards making a jumpsuit in denim. I took to the internet and pinned various images into Pinterest and here’s a compilation of the images that I liked:

In a nutshell, my aim was to create a jumpsuit using the Burda pattern, with a few key changes. I favoured short sleeves and pockets with top-stitching. The Burda pattern also includes making a lining for the jumpsuit, which I have done away with.

I chose some light-weight, non-stretch denim locally in Calico Fabrics. Yes, I know you’re thinking that this pattern has been designed to be used with jersey! It’s a dark indigo denim, which I always associate with a 70s look. I opted for the contrasting orange top-stitching.

The instructions that come with the pattern are truly awful. Yes, Burda strikes again, but they really surpassed themselves with this pattern and it was a challenge to sew this. I took to repeatedly reciting the pattern instructions out loud in the hope that they would make more sense… didn’t work.

I’ve never sewn a jumpsuit before and I was worried about how I was going to get the fit right, particularly given that the pattern is designed for jersey. I made the trousers and the top separately and then tacked the two together to investigate the fit. Wisely, I’d anticipated that once you get the zip in, a change to the jumpsuit would be very difficult. The fitting involved some interesting antics such as bending and touching my toes and curling up into a ball to be sure that the crotch didn’t cut me in half!

The pockets were taken from two other patterns. The back pockets from this Seventies pattern. I did some top-stitching on the pockets in two different colours. The effect is perhaps a little too subtle, since the two colours weren’t too dissimilar. The slightly darker top-stitching thread was a left-over from another project. The front pockets came from the Lander pattern.

I’m nearly there with this make now, but I’ve still got to add the collar and the sleeves. Actually, I haven’t even cut out the sleeves yet! I need to find some short sleeves, preferably with bands (that I can top-stitch).