Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


Sewing The Seventies – Hippy Jeans

I’m finally writing this post even though I finished my jeans a while back and worn them loads. I had a horrendous week of flu / cold. The weather has been really warm and it feels so odd feeling ill and indeed sunbathing whilst blowing my nose every thirty seconds!

Anyway, on with the jeans. I did a lot of measuring and fitting and re-fitting. I found this post here a very good explanation when it comes to understanding crotch seam shape.

I didn’t just alter the shape and shorten crotch, because that would have distorted the alignment of the front pattern piece and caused the front pieces to be longer than the back pieces. Fortunately, there was so much fabric in this area, that I was able to completely remodel the crotch seam – make it flatter or less curved and also shorter, which seems to suit my body shape. I think it is possible to see the original seam allowance line in the photo below (in pencil) compared to the new seam allowance line (in red)

Making buttonholes has always been one of my least favourite things. I think it is because you need to cut into the fabric and there is no going back if you make a mistake. (So, I check and double-check that I’m putting those buttonholes on the correct side of my jeans!). However, I think hammering the buttons into the jeans has now surpassed my fear of buttonhole-making. I dread to think how difficult it would be to get them out if a mistake was made and whether it would be possible to save the jeans from a very radical remodeling (or massive tantrum, for that matter!) if a mistake had been made. Anyway, I did manage to hammer the jeans buttons in and I think they look fantastic. They really do make my jeans look professional.

Seventies Jeans

The waistband was a bit of a pain. This was simply because I hadn’t managed to translate my waistline adjustment on my front and back trouser pieces properly to the front and back facings and I spent a good deal of head-scratching trying to work out where I had gone wrong. It didn’t help that the instructions were rather confusing too at this point. I did make one small change which I like to my facings. Rather than just finish the facings by making a standard hem, I finished mine with some bias binding. Even the inside of my jeans looks cool now! Thought about taking another photo of this, but it’s getting late now and the light has gone…..perhaps another day.

Bad pose, but I was in a silly mood!

Final comments on my jeans – wow these are comfy! I am been wearing them non-stop for a week. Yes, seriously, I think they may have to be prised off me to go in the wash. I would definitely like to make another pair, although these did take several weeks to make.


Sewing The Seventies – The results are in!

Camouflaged at Kew

We have a winner! Congratulations to Katie from Katie Writes Stuff who wins my seventies themed fabric. A thoroughly deserved win!

Thanks also to Meg from Pigeon Wishes who took part too. I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog.

For all of you who thought about entering or read these posts, I think you’ve persuaded me that “Sewing The Seventies” is a good idea and it will be back next year! I have lots more ideas (yes, already!) to make it into a bigger and more involving challenge.



Sewing The Seventies – What have we made? Get voting!

The last few days have been a bit manic for me I must admit. My brain is a little mashed, but I’ve got that euphoria that you only get when you’ve managed to get through a particular mind-scrambling exam. You’re probably wondering why on earth I made Sewing The Seventies coincide with an exam date – the reason is simple Sewing The Seventies was a definite in my diary before the wretched exam! What do they say about all the best plans……

Anyway, with no more ado, here are the participants:

Katie from Katie Writes Stuff

A very seventies bias-cut tartan skirt (Simplicity Pattern 6573) and a beautiful jumper with cables (Seventies pattern). You look cool even in 28 degrees heat!

By the way, melt downs are necessary when deadlines loom and does everyone I know who sews have a helpful cat? Watch the video here (That’s just a screengrab below from the video, just so that you get an idea of the outfit).

Meg from Pigeon Wishes

Meg has sewn a qipao or chongsam dress (Simplicity Pattern 5010). And if like me, you didn’t know, that’s the name given to Chinese-style dresses with a mandarin collar and slit skirt.

The dress is such a timeless classic design and the fabric certainly gives it a seventies vibe. There are more photos on Meg’s blog here.

You know what, Simplicity did such great wearable patterns in the Seventies, I don’t find it a coincidence at all that we’ve all picked one for Sewing The Seventies.

Vote below for your favourite. The voting lasts a week – I’ll announce the winner then! Good luck!


Sewing The Seventies – Link your makes up with this post!

A big thank you to everyone who has joined in and for all your comments and encouragement. I have really enjoyed the last couple of months sewing with a seventies vibe. It’s been great knowing that I have finally made some garments from my stack of vintage seventies pattern. I’ve also loved creating garments with designs that I just don’t see too much on the High Street – big collars and far-out flares! I hope you’ve felt the same too.

Is this a dress or a manhole cover?

To enter the competition to win the seventies-themed fabric (see this post), please enter a link to your post detailing your makes in the comments. For your post, please refer to the rules post here for further information.

I’m hoping that tomorrow I’ll be able to compile a post showcasing all your makes. I thought I’d carefully planned a good window of opportunity to devote the time I need for writing my posts, but somehow things never turn out quite as you expect. Anyway, if not tomorrow in the next couple of days I will write that post!


Sewing The Seventies – Nearly There! (and I reveal the prize!)

The deadline for Sewing The Seventies is almost on us. I’m really excited and I just can’t wait to see all your makes!

What I am planning to do is write another post on 26th March and ask you to link your finished post in the comments. Please refer to this post when writing your post. After this, I will then compile a post about the competition entries.

Today, though, I’m going to share the details of the prize – yay! The prize is two different fabrics that I picked which both have some connection with the seventies.

The first is actually a vintage fabric from the 1970s. It is a beautiful cotton lawn with a floral design in pinks and blues.

Prize 1

The second is a contemporary fabric. It is a Missoni-inspired chevron design. This is a viscose- elastane blend jersey and for those you might be interested in buying this, it came from Minerva Crafts.

In other news…..

I’m nearly there with my jeans, I just need to add the jeans buttons. To be honest I’m wary of making holes in the fabric and need to “work up to it” (That’s just procrastination by another name, if you hadn’t guessed!)

I also thought this article from the BBC about how politics affects the journey our clothes take was interesting – Enjoy!


Sewing the Seventies – Bell-bottom Jeans Part 1

As promised I’m finally writing a post about my third seventies make. I think I have been very ambitious for this project and it has been taking me a long while to sew. In fact, I’m roughly at the half-way stage and so this is a part 1 post.

My third make is going to be a pair of supremely seventies bell-bottom flared jeans. I’m using this Butterick pattern for my jeans:

Butterick 3065

This particular pattern was an Etsy buy. I’m not sure that home-sewers have really embraced sewing jeans so jeans patterns seem to be a little harder to get hold of. The thing I like about this pattern is that there are two quite different versions. Version A has patch pockets on the front, belt loops and a button fly. Version 2 has more traditional trouser pockets, a zip fly and a wider flare.

I’m not sure the world is ready for the dramatic flared trouser legs in Version B, so I’ve decided to go with version A. I did think about doing a mash-up of the two styles, but I decided to go with the button-fly option in the end. I’ve bought some jeans buttons specially for this make.

I bought my fabric at Sewn in Bristol. It is a medium-weight 100% cotton denim in a fairly dark indigo. I think this shade was reasonably popular in the seventies. I’ve also decided to use classic orange top-stitching. I think I have gone for more subtle top-stitching in the past, for example on these Peter and the Wolf trousers, but I wanted to embrace the classic jeans style this time. My confidence with top-stitching has grown and I feel sure I can produce some stand-out stitching that doesn’t wobble!

I’ve also decided to add some embroidery on the back pockets. I’ve seen some wonderful seventies jeans that have embroidery and I think it was quite a trend during this decade.

I don’t have an embroidery machine. My embroidery is going to be more limited in scope, particularly as I’m drawn to satin stitch embroidery. I settled on the idea of creating some Californian poppies for my pockets. I found a picture online that I liked and traced an outline drawing of the poppies on the computer.

I know there are many users of Adobe Illustrator in the blogging world, but I really can’t justify the expense of this software just for my blogging hobby. I have been using a freeware program called Inkscape for a while now. There’s a version for Windows here and for OSX here. I found it quite easy to use once I’d put in a bit of learning time. I have created various templates in the past using Inkscape, including this eye mask and this embroidery for a small camera bag. Perhaps I’ll do a post sometime to show the software’s capabilities. Being free it is certainly worth a look. I do think I need the latest version of it though, as I am missing some useful functionality.

Anyway, on with my process…..after creating my outline drawing, I produced a few different copies of the flower motif, changing the orientation, size etc, until I got the two flowers you can see below. These provided my templates for the embroidery.

I chose four different shades of DMC thread ranging from warm yellow to an orangey-red for the petals. I used a dark brown for the flower centres. The embroidery is just straight-forward long and short stitches, radiating from the centre of each flower, which I hope you can see in the photo below.

It was enjoyable to do, but rather time-consuming. Believe it or not, it took two weeks to produce my four flowers!

I’m now working on the waistband and figuring out how to approach the button-fly; the instructions for which are hurting my brain at the moment!




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Sewing The Seventies – Inspiration Part 4 Dresses and Jumpsuits

In the final install of my inspiration posts for the seventies, I’m taking a look at dress and jumpsuit styles.

I’ve found some great maxi dress styles. There’s the Alix dress from By Hand, which has a very seventies vibe:


There are also some re-released vintage patterns by Simplicity. I particularly like this flowing faux wrap front dress:

Of course, the most iconic dress of the seventies is probably the wrap dress. Originally designed in 1974 by Diana Von Furstenberg. The dress was so successful, Diana and the dress featured on the cover of Newsweek (see the montage at the top of this post).

There is a superb article here, if you want to find out more about Diana Von Furstenberg, her design style and philosophy

Diana also released a sewing pattern of her dress, but it goes for silly money on Etsy and Ebay, so I thought I’d focus on some more affordable contemporary patterns. First of all, there is the Diana wrap dress by Wardrobe By Me. This is definitely inspired by the original (note the name of it!) and even features a version with a collar:


The Ultimate wrap dress by Sew Over It is another wrap dress for jersey knits:


Or how about the Gillian wrap dress by Muse, which has long and short-sleeved options plus wrap top and skirt versions too?

Finally I love this fantastic dress from Victory Patterns. It is described as a fusion between a wrap dress and a kimono. It does look amazing in silk.

Now for the jumpsuits! I’ve seen lots of incarnations of the By Hand Holly jumpsuit online. It has a bias cut bodice with a slight cowl at the neckline. To me it looks perfect for summer.


I think this Vogue jumpsuit is very glamourous. I could see myself wearing this to a party – perhaps it is just the sparkly fabric, but it just says Christmas party to me.


The Sallie Jumpsuit has both a full-length and culottes version. Even better, there are pockets and interesting V-back feature.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my tour of dresses and jumpsuits. There is so much choice out there! I promise my next post I’m going to share something I’ve been making.