Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


Study in Black

Remember my black blouse from earlier this month? Well, I’ve now finished it, I’m pleased to say. The blouse is a simplified version of the Lucinda Shirt I made back in July. This time I added short sleeves and a much less elaborate collar.

Black blouse

I self-drafted a pattern for the collar to fit the top of my blouse. I decided to make it form a triangular notch where the two sides of the collar meet at the centre-front. I had noticed this on a few ready-to-wear blouses and liked this idea. I had a vintage pattern from the 1970s, that I had thought I’d use as a pattern, but with the adjustments I made, I can’t really say that I used the pattern as a template. In particular the collar was just a bit to large and 1970s-ish, so I made mine quite a bit narrower.

However, I did use the instructions to help me attach the collar to the blouse. Getting the front to form that triangular notch at the front required a lots of adjustment, no end of seam trimming and a little origami. (I’m not sure that I can use the word origami, as it means paper-folding, but it was fiddly and required lots of folding and pressing to get it right!)

Black blouse

All in all, I’m quite pleased with the look. It’s been a little cold outdoors to wear it short-sleeved, so I’ve gone for wearing it over a long-sleeved t-shirt. I just about managed to brave late October without a coat to pose for these pictures, but I don’t think it shows the blouse off to best effect; it is looking a little crumpled.

Black blouse

The photos were taken at Ashton Court Estate, a country park near Bristol.


We spent a fair while enjoying watching the deer in the deer park. The stags were being quite noisy asserting their authority. The does were just ignoring them!



Black Blouse Variation

In July I made a Lucinda blouse from Be My Goth patterns. The pattern had required a small amount of black fabric for the collar. I had bought this online from Truro fabrics. Of course this meant that although I only needed enough fabric for the collar, when you buy on line you have to buy in metre or half-metre lengths. I decided to buy enough black fabric to make not only the collar, but also another blouse.

It had taken me a long time to make the original Lucinda blouse as it had quite complicated sleeves and a fancy lace collar.

Lucinda blouse diagram

This time I’m going for a simpler short-sleeved version. The instructions for the short-sleeved version were quite brief:

1. Sew the cuff, so itโ€™s a circle – fold it and iron it.
2. Sew it onto the sleeve, and serge/zigzag the seam allowance. ๐Ÿ™‚

I wasn’t exactly sure what to do from the instructions, so I just pressed the sleeve cuff by folding it in half length-wise. Then I pressed it again folding each side to the middle fold. I then stitched it to form a circle. The cuff could then be attached to the sleeve, just as I would attach bias-binding. Anyway, right or wrong, it seemed to resemble the picture of the short-sleeved version!

Short Sleeve Version

My next dilemma is the collar. I’ve decided to make a plain mandarin collar. I already have another blouse pattern with a standing collar and I’m going to use this as a guide. I’ll post about that once I’ve attached the collar.

Mandarin Collar

It has certainly been good to use the Lucinda blouse pattern again. I haven’t managed to make many repeats so far. I suppose as I continue to make clothes that will happen more. I also like the idea of each garment looking at least slightly different. For this reason, I’m fond of patterns that have more than one view. This way I get all the advantages of creating a new garment using things I’ve learned from its predecessor, but get to challenge myself with the variations.

Sadly, Parnuuna had to give up Be My Goth patterns since my last post about this pattern. There are plans, last time I looked, to get the site up and running again under different management. I’m hoping to see it again soon. I have certainly enjoyed the unique style of her patterns.


I’m an Indie Fan Girl

I’ve entered a second challenge this month on the monthly stitch, their final Indie Pattern Month challenge – Indie Fan Girl. I chose another pattern from Be My Goth, as per the rules of the competition. The pattern I chose is the Madelaine Skirt. This is quite a simple circle skirt. Hey, I needed something simple after that blouse!

The pattern is free as well, so check it out!

Whilst looking for the fabric for the blouse, I browsed a few online fabric sites and came across this striking paisley mono-print in cotton on the Croft Mill website.

The skirt itself was a very easy make. There is a comprehensive tutorial on the website, but I didn’t really follow it. I used my own method for inserting the invisible zip, and finished the hem by hand, rather than machine stitch. I think hand-sewn hems just make a garment look better. I can’t remember where I heard this, but women used to re-hem their shop-bought skirts and dresses to get that blind-stitch hem look. Can’t imagine anyone doing that now!

Madelaine Skirt

I love the way the skirt looks. The fabric has just enough “stiffness” in it to give shape to the skirt. The only thing that annoys me is my expanding and contracting midriff. This morning the skirt was too loose and this evening it is just right after dinner. Of course, I’m not tucking a t-shirt or shirt inside it as it is too hot today, so I think that I have got the waistband size right to account for winter and summer use. For the last skirt I made, at the beginning of the year, I added belt loops and made a belt. It just makes sure that the skirt stays on the waistline properly in the mornings. Perhaps I’ll do similar for this skirt. Does anyone else have this problem? Or am I just odd?


Madelaine Skirt

I’m trying at the moment to photograph my creations better. As I get home from work late, even at this time of year it is hard to get the light right. Rather than buying a better camera, I’m wearing more of my creations to work (especially since Me-Made-May) so that I can take photos in the park at lunchtime. It gets some odd looks as I walk backwards and forwards to set up the camera.

I’m really happy with the photo below. Quite an accidental pose, which looks very natural. It was taken on the timer while the camera was sat on a litter bin – you can see it at the bottom of the photo!

Madelaine Skirt



Lucinda Shirt (or how many pattern pieces? Really?)

The Lucinda shirt by Be My Goth is certainly unique and it’s good I’m patient, because this blouse took me a seriously long time to complete. I did have 22 pieces to sew together! Five weeks has got to be a record, but I’m very pleased with the result.

There are more details on the construction and sewing techniques used on the Monthly Stitch, where I’ve entered it into a Indie Sewing Month competition. If you like it please go and vote for it here.

Here are a few pictures. I’m not sure that the lighting in these photos really does justice to the fabric’s colour. It makes it look more vivid somehow. It is definitely a rich claret, you’ll have to take my word for it.

Lucinda blouse 2From the back:

Lucinda blouse back

The collar. I particularly like the constrast between the black lace and the red.

Lucinda blouse collar (small)

Here is a close up of the inside of the collar. I improvised a little with the instructions. The instructions suggested just overlocking the edge of the collar on the inside. As I don’t have an overlocker, I thought the addition of the satin bias-binding adding a nice finished touch.

Collar Detail

And finally a close-up of those fantastic stretch-lace sleeves

Sleeve Detail





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To toile or not to toile

I have a confession to make…..I’ve never bothered making a toile before. I suppose there are a number of reasons.

  • The patterns may have a loose fit like Butterick B5357
  • The pattern is very simple and just takes a couple of easy measurements, such as the Collette Sorbetto top
  • I think the measurements are enough and I’m too lazy to bother with any test garment. Definitely used this technique for my classic trousers

So why make a toile for this shirt? In a nutshell it scared me, there were 22 pieces of fabric to stitch together and I wasn’t taking any chances!

Lucinda blouse diagram

First of all, I did some extensive measuring. The pattern is available as a PDF only, but I must confess that in some ways I prefer PDF patterns. Generally, after Iโ€™ve printed them out, I trace my size onto tracing paper including all my adjustments and, in this case, the seam allowance (which isn’t included on any Be My Goth patterns). This way I don’t forget to add my adjustments and I have a customised pattern that I can go back to.

I made the expected adjustments for my odd shape โ€“ a slightly broader back and a little extra at the side seams to gracefully accommodate a little belly roundness!

I then made a toile just including the bodice. You may recognise the fabric โ€“ I used it to make a wrap dress last year and I had quite a bit left over. It fit pretty well. The photo isn’t great as I’m holding it on. I didn’t feel like trying to pin myself into it again just for the sake of the photo! I was actually quite taken with my toile and I may get round to finishing it off some time. I do like the idea of making a “wearable toile”, that way I’m not wasting fabric. I may not have enough fabric to do the sleeves, but perhaps I could make a sleeveless version with a white collar. Would look quite chic, I reckon?

Lucinda blouse toile