Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


All the stars and constellations: Merchant and Mills Fielder Top

This top was a really quick straightforward make. This is the first Merchant and Mills pattern that I have tried – the Fielder. It comes as a top and dress version.

I have been slow to get on board with the Merchant and Mills patterns. I suppose I’m not sure that I like the presentation on their photo shoots. The photos seem very dark to me and somehow remind me too much that I live in dark dingy England.

Merchant and Mills Fielder

Take a look at the photo on the pattern envelope – looks like some run-down back alley, turn the corner and you bump into the wheely bins.

Or this one for the Strand – looks like it’s taken in a grimy school sports hall.

Merchant and Mills Strand

Yes, I suspect that some of my blog photos look like this, but hey I’m not trying to sell anything. It’s only been since I’ve seen other people’s makes on line that I have truly come to see the potential and style of these patterns. Yes, the designs seem deceptively simple, but these are the garments that will make my everyday wardrobe.

For my fabric, I decided to use some beautiful cotton gauze that I bought last year at Guthrie and Ghani when I was at Sew Brum. It has gold stars and white constellations on a grey background. Cotton gauze isn’t one of the fabric recommendations on the Fielder pattern envelope and I’m not sure why as it is a fabric that perfectly suits this type of make. I really had some trouble figuring out what rib knit to use for the cuffs, neck and waist. I bought some plain grey rib knit, but somehow that didn’t work well with the grey background in my fabric (you know how you can get a colour match to be close, but it somehow looks wore than if you hadn’t tried to match it). So I bought some, rather expensive ready-cut cuffs (Albstoffe) which are cream in colour and have bands of gold. I think these look better, but I must look out for more reasonably-priced rib knits when I make this pattern again.

Fielder top (Constellations)

The instructions are laid out well, and it felt unusual for me to have instructions that were this detailed and easy to follow. I guess I’m too used to those dreadful Burda instructions these days. It was a pleasure not to be challenged and I felt it all went well without any unpicking (for a change).

Fielder top (Constellations)

I make a size xx, but I did widen at the back (which is a usual adjustment for my wide shoulders). One thing that I would say is that I wasn’t exactly sure how long the sleeves were supposed to be. I actually lengthened mine a little and will probably make them even longer, when I make this again. I also noticed that the website also offers a crew-neck hack. I like the idea of making this version too – as this could make a good winter choice. I’m undecided about whether I like the short-sleeved version.

I haven’t worn this make much so far as it has been a bit too warm for it, but I’m sure it will get plenty of use come the autumn.



#MakeNine2019 – Progress at the half-way stage

It’s now the half-way stage in the #MakeNine2019 challenge. I thought it was time to review my progress and since this is the first time I’ve tried a year-long plan, I need to figure out whether I like working to a plan.

Here’s my progress, make by make.

Faux fur jacket

Fur Jacket

I started off with the 70s makes. The first item I made was this jacket. I used some beautiful soft viscose faux fur and used a vintage 70s McCalls pattern. I have completed the jacket, however, I am not 100% happy with it. The pattern is described as “easy” and because of this, there are no facings and therefore my fastenings are attached straight onto the jacket lining. I think these will pull with wear even though I have been very gentle using this jacket. Plus, the hood, being made of viscose is very heavy and I think will drag on the lining too.

My conclusion is that I need to take the jacket apart, add some facings, put it back together again and reattach the fastenings. I do have enough faux fur for the facings left, but this won’t be a particular quick job. As it is summer, and I’m not using the jacket, I haven’t had a great deal of incentive to do this job.

So, what shall I say for this make? Three-quarters made?

Faux Fur Jacket

Faux fur jacket worn without the hood

Denim Jumpsuit

This was my second seventies make and I love it! It took quite a long time to make and I deviated a fair bit from the Burda pattern, adding different sleeves and making a belt for it.

This one can be ticked off my #makenine – Done



Wrap and Go Trousers

Another seventies pattern. This was a quick make and is definitively for the hot weather. I’m ambivalent about these trousers at the moment, but I think that I just haven’t got a top that will look good with these, hence I’m wearing a scrap of fabric as a bandeau here, but I wouldn’t go out dressed like this.

Wrap and Go PantSkirt

With a make-shirt bandeau top

Works in Progress

I’ve also made a start on two more makes. First of all a white linen shirt, which is coming along nicely.

Finally I have a started on a jumper. I’ve just make the back, but the weather has warmed up nicely, so the rest of this will have to wait – I can’t really knit with sweaty fingers.


I’ve made three garments from my nine, although one of these needs some alterations. I have also started on two more. I’m calling my count about 4.5 makes, which is exactly half! I suspect that I am more than half way through, because I have made or made progress on some of the more lengthy projects such as the shirt and the jumpsuit.

So far, I have been quite happy with working to a plan. There may be a couple of reasons for this; firstly I haven’t been entering any on-line challenges which usually throw me off-plan and secondly, I thought very carefully about my sewing plans and have chosen items that I really wanted to make (and in many cases needed to make).


I have a dilemma! Vintage 70s Wrap and Go “PantSkirt”

This make was taken to California a couple of months ago, but I still hadn’t got round to blogging about it. I suppose, it was a bit of a rushed make that only just got included in my suitcase, but I haven’t got many hot weather clothes and I wanted to pack another pair of “trousers”.

I found this pattern, Butterick 6720 on Etsy. There are quite a series of these; they’re called “Wrap and Go” by Butterick, although the other pattern companies have done similar designs. I really wanted to try one of these seventies wrap patterns and was inspired by this version by Kelly at Seam Racer. This Wrap and Go pattern comes either as shorts or maxi length.

The weirdest thing about the pattern envelope is that includes instructions on how to wear the item! I did my own version of this, as I actually prefer wearing them back to front so that the elasticated waist joins at the front. I think this makes more sense, as this way, both closures are at the front and easier to manage.

I found a light-weight viscose for this pattern with a border print from Fabric Land. Obviously, the pattern is a complete fabric hog, so I decided to go for something relatively cheap. That said, I do like the colour combination on this fabric. Cutting out was a pain as you need a lot of space too.

The sewing is simple and not very exciting; mostly just a load of hems and a casing for the elastic. However, being a seventies pattern, the hem is hand-sewn, which takes a long time. In fact I gave up on the last bit of the hemming as I was running out of time and took my trousers as they were on holiday. It wasn’t exactly a problem, but I think they were a little too long, so I’ve had to adjust the hem since I’ve got back.

Do I like these trousers? I think I’m still unsure. They are quite voluminous and most of my clothes are not. It may take time to get used to this. But this isn’t my main problem with my make. I haven’t found the ideal top to go with them at all. A tight top would look best to balance out the volume in the silhouette. As Naomi of Spare Room Style pointed out, when she saw this photo on Instagram, this top would look much better tucked in.

So here it is tucked in, and you can see my dilemma. My lack of waist! This combination of top and trousers is just not flattering.

Anyway, I decided to try out my Wrap and Go trousers with a variety of different tops, to see if I could improve the look.

…..actually pretty awful… can see every bulge…, no!

Wrap and Go Pant Skirt with light blue t-shirt

Wrap and Go Pant Skirt with light blue t-shirt – not a flattering t-shirt

….this one is black so not an ideal colour with the trousers, but does the silhouette work better now?

Any better with this style of top?

…and here’s a woven top (again try to ignore strange combination of colours), does this work? I chose to include a belt too. Does this help me achieve waist definition?

Wrap and Go Pant Skirt

With a woven top and belt

…and here’s a make-shift bandeau top. So, I’m now bravely modelling as per the pattern envelope. Too much belly on display and it would only be possible for the beach. But does it work? There’s enough left-over fabric to make this up properly.

Wrap and Go PantSkirt

With a make-shirt bandeau top

In short, I don’t think I have nailed wearing this garment at all and any suggestions would be appreciated. Does anyone know of a top pattern that would work well with this pair of trousers? Bearing in mind that I need it to flatter in the waist department.

And what colour should this top be? Any ideas here? Would a t-shirt be best or could a woven top work too? There are so many different colours in this fabric, that any of these colours may work – moss green, dark blue, terracotta?

Of course, now that I’ve actually make something for the summer, the summer has stubbornly refused to arrive! I’ve only worn this once here in the UK, but apparently, this week is going to be hot……

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May 2019 Travels to Copenhagen

My second trip of the year was with my friend to Copenhagen in Denmark. Neither of us had been to Denmark before, but we are both fans of the Scandi Noir dramas and crime series that work their way over to the UK. There was a certain familiarity to many of the locations on the city and we were both humming The Bridge theme music as we descended in Copenhagen on the plane.


Radhus Plads

I took quite a few photos of what I ate. The smørrebrød (Danish open sandwiches) always looked so appetizing.

Smørrebrød! (Or Danish Open sandwiches)

The Little Mermaid

Tivoli Gardens is a lovely place to spend the evening and the food hall adjacent is great as an eating venue.

The Christianborg Palace isn’t the highest up on the many tourist agendas, but I really enjoyed walking around it. It isn’t just a museum, but is also still a working venue as it is the official seat of the Danish Parliament and provides the setting for the Queen to carry out her official duties. The Great Hall is lined with tapestries depicting the history of Denmark. They were designed by Bjørn Nørgaard. The one below shows the Vikings.

Tapestries in Christianborg Palace

Stables at the Christianborg Palace

The Rosenborg Palace was used mainly as a summer residence by the Danish Royals until it was opened to the public in the 19th century.

It contains many treasures that had been gifted to the Royal Family. To be honest I found it a little overwhelming – room after room stuffed full of all their wealth.

Room in the Rosenborg Palace

These pictures were taken in The Cisterns. This is an art installation in the old water reservoir under Søndermarken Park.

The Cisterns

The Cisterns

We braved the weather, which wasn’t too kind at the beginning of May to visit the beach outside Copenhagen

Amager Strand

Amager Strand

Øresund Bridge (aka “The Bridge”) between Denmark and Malmo, in Sweden

View across to Sweden, taken from The Round Tower

Cannily, my friend, who chose the hotel, managed to choose one a stone’s throw from Stoff and Stil in Vesterbro and she didn’t even realise this! I kept on sneaking out to make purchases!

Stoff and Stil Fabric Shop

I came away with some navy stretch cotton velvet and army green cotton jersey (the exact colour isn’t available on the UK website, but this is the fabric in a different shade) and lots of pre-cut ribbing which is available quite reasonably there.

Skipper Stoffer is another fabric shop in Copenhagen, and it seems to specialise in designer fabrics. I did make one small purchase (it is rather a pricey store) and bought some light-weight seersucker by Armani.

Skipper Stoffe

If you want to know more about fabric shopping in Copenhagen, I would recommend looking at these guides by Sewrendipity and The Last Stitch.

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Me-Made-May 2019: Summary and some graphs

I thought I was late in writing my last post on Me-Made-May, but there seem to be a crop of them this week. After posting my MS Excel spreadsheet up, Jane of Sewliloquy commented that graphs would be even better than a spreadsheet. And being a woman who believes that a picture is worth a thousand words (and a graph at least a miliion), I bring you the required graphical delights!

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

There aren’t too many surprises here. I think that it was going to be obvious that the Burda patterns would win out. I think the reason may simply be that I have a fair few Burda magazines and when I want to create something new, my first thought is to flick through all the patterns I have, including the Burda magazines looking for a suitable design candidate for my needs. It’s only when I’m completely lacking inspiration or when I simply want to avoid doing lots of pattern hacking that I’ll buy something new. Out of the Indie companies I wore my Grainline Studio makes loads, particularly that blue cardigan which I thought wasn’t the right colour (just shows that time in the wardrobe can change an unloved item into something I wear continually). Coming in third, were my Butterick makes – but that may be because of the 70s hippy jeans that were on constant rotation this month.


The cardigan I have worn endlessly in May:

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

I’ve continued to keep data on my colour choices because this is an area of my wardrobe that has long held concern. When I bought RTW clothes, my primary concern was whether the garment fit me, and so all sorts of colours seeped into my wardrobe and it was very cohesive. Given a few years and the colour choices are now more streamlined and only occasionally do I find that an existing item or a new item doesn’t have a natural pairing in my wardrobe. As can be seen in the grpah, blue wins out (mostly jeans in here to be honest), but black and grey featured too. These I suppose are my neutrals. Then I have quite a few teal, green and purple clothes. The outliers are the browns, oranges, reds and beiges. Thankfully I seem to have pretty much eliminated yellow and pink (they’ve never been favourites). I think I do need to create more black and green items in my wardrobe, just so that the mixing and matching is even better. I keep on meaning to do the Wardobe Architect series from Colette or some such equivalent with a view to properly recording my style / colour preferences, but have never got around to it.

PerColourI need more black in my life!

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

I love this graph! I get such feeling of accomplishment, just gazing at this! As you can see there is a gradually increasing trend for more me-mades since 2015. There is the weird blip that is 2017 – that year a deliberately went all out to wear 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 2019 is 74.7% and I think this probably reflects my wardrobe as a whole. I know I could throw out all my RTWs tonight, but that would just be wasteful when I can get more use out of them.


A favourite outfit with mix of me-made and RTW items:




Me-Made-May 2019: Week 4

This is my final round-up for Me-made-May. And whilst I couldn’t post on @SteelySeamstress at the beginning of the month as I was travelling, I have managed a daily photo on Instagram since then and these end of week posts too! Surprisingly, I didn’t get too fed up with taking photos either, but then as you’ll probably notice there’s only rain in one of the shots below.

I thought I’d just put this post out there and save some graphs from my painstakingly recorded spreadsheet data for another post. After all I now have 5 years of data and I think it will take some time to examine the trends and see the progress of my wardrobe with that to look at.


Day 23 Me mades: Tissue knit top, Blue Wolfie jeans, Petrol Jenna cardigan, Helicopter jacket

Day 24 Me-mades: Purple Sorbetto top, Blue Wolfie jeans, Petrol Jenna cardigan

Day 25 Me-mades: Drape drape 2 top, Blue Wolfie jeans, Petrol Jenna cardigan

Day 26 Me-mades: Denim jumpsuit

Day 27 Me-mades: Liberty shirt

Day 28 Me-mades: Hidden kittens top, Blue Wolfie jeans, Grey Burda hoodie

Day 29 Me-mades: Fielder top (unblogged), Grey Moss skirt, Grey Burda hoodie

Day 30 Me-mades: Cherries t-shirt, Blue Wolfie jeans, Grey Burda hoodie

Day 31 Me-mades: Paisley 80s top, Beige Wolfie trousers

Favourite Outfit:

This one was difficult as there are a few combinations here that I like, but I’m going for Day 28 – the hidden cats top with the blue jeans and the grey hoodie. It’s a good casual combination.

Early takeaways:

As always thanks to Zoe for organising #mmmay19 Long may it continue!


Me-Made-May 2019: Week 3

At the beginning of May I read this post from Karen at Fringe Assocation on how she records her outfits. She uses a bullet journal and she describes the types of records she makes; how often she wears me-mades, the average percentage of me-mades in an outfit, categories of garments and wear counts. I love the look of hand-written journals and the idea of a tangible record that I can hold in my hand. However, I have a long-held aversion to paper – I hate the way paperwork accumulates in our small house and I find the most efficient way of storing data is digital. So, a spreadsheet it is for me! I have been recording Me-Made-May on a spreadsheet since 2015 and throughout that time this spreadsheet has evolved considerably from recording what I wear and whether it is me-made or RTW, to now emcompass these other statistics:

  • garment category (trousers, skirts etc)
  • pattern company (Simplicity, Named Clothing etc.)
  • colour
  • wear count

I’m now fully equipped at the end of each Me-Made-May with a bunch of data that reflects my wardrobe use and it has been really useful. It shows me exactly where the gaps are in my wardrobe. Of course, I think sometimes that my spreadsheet is overkill for the task in hand, but now I’ve kept this record for 5 years I can even provide a report on how my wardrobe has changed over the last five years……can’t wait to finish this month and examine the data! Anyway, I’ve attached my sad spreadsheet, should anyone else like to use it here – MMM-template

Anyway, taking a look at this week’s outfits……


Day 15 Me mades: Hidden kittens top, 70s flared jeans, blue Driftless cardigan

Day 16 Me-mades: Red Sorbetto top, Black Burda Jeans

Day 17 Me-mades: Denim jumpsuit

Day 18 Me-mades: Blue pinafore dress

Day 19 Me-mades:  3/4 sleeved t-shirt70s flared jeans

Day 20 Me-mades: 70s flared jeans

Day 21 Me-mades: Tissue knit top70s flared jeans, Petrol Jenna cardigan

Day 22 Me-mades: Wrap trousers (not blogged yet), blue Driftless cardigan

Favourite Outfit:

I’m choosing Day 21 which is a full me-made day – tissue knit top, 70s flared jeans and Jenna cardigan. I’m sure I’ve worn this combination before, but I love the combination of the top and the cardigan. I may have grumbled hugely about that t-shirt when I made it; the fabric was a beast, but it is so light-weight and delicious to wear.

Early takeaways:

  • The lack of summer tops is bothering me. I couldn’t find a top that I felt really worked with the voluminous wrap trousers and I must say that since I’ve started this May this has been the only occasion when I’ve truly felt stumped about how to put an outfit together. I suppose that is good news in a way.
  • This week I’ve worn a range of garments from one of my oldest (the red Sorbetto top) to my most recently finished make (the wrap trousers).