Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


#MakeNine2022 Final Update

I must admit I have been struggling with my nine projects this year. My completed count is currently at 2 and a half. I managed to make the underwear and also the Lander trousers. I have also started on the Nikko top.

It isn’t because I’m not excited about my selection, it is mainly that I haven’t been able to do much in the way of in-person fabric shopping. If there is anything that my chosen Make Nine have in common it is that they use fabrics that I haven’t sewn much with before, which for me necessitates the need to make decisions based on fabric stroking.

But fear not, I told myself, when Sew Brum was on the horizon! The Birmingham emporia are sure to provide for my every whim! It was one of the highlights of my year to finally get out and be among like-minded sewing enthusiasts, after two years of Covid restrictions. We enjoyed the day mooching around the Rag Market, Fancy Silk Store, Barry’s Fabrics and Guthrie and Ghani. The fabric shops didn’t disappoint either and I now have fabric to make some of the more challenging projects on the list. Here is what I bought:

1. A window pane checked green wool fabric. This is going to be made into the Zero Waste Clair Skirt. A proposed make that has been on the cards for a while. This fabric pairs well with my super-warm green jumper. This is definitely going to be a warm but elegant outfit.

Clair Skirt Fabric (Green windowpane check)
Clair Skirt Fabric (Green windowpane check)

2. A tartan checked wool fabric in muted shades of fawn, mauve and blue with an orange accent. I think this will be great for my hooded Dropje vest. This is going to be one a wearing-round-the-house item, since anything to be worn outdoors in the south-west of the UK needs to be waterproof. I haven’t bought any lining for this garment yet, but that will be an easier online purchase. This fabric looks super with my recent Lander trousers.

Dropje Vest Fabric (Muted shades of green, fawn and blue with an orange accent)
Dropje Vest Fabric (Muted shades of green, fawn and blue with an orange accent)

3. A cream ribbed jersey. I have made a few t-shirts this year, but I really would like a Nikko top and this will be to replace a much-worn RTW cream t-shirt that has a hole in it and rather nasty looking armpits.

Nikko Top Fabric (Cream rib jersey)
Nikko Top Fabric (Cream rib jersey)

4. A striped silk fabric. This was an impulse purchase; surely I was allowed one? I loved the idea of making a top that positions the stripes in an interesting manner. I like the idea of this Burda top, but I fear I may not have enough fabric for it, but you never know.

Striped silk fabric
Striped silk fabric

In essence these are all projects I have probably already talked about, but I may actually get to make now I have the fabric. I’m really looking forward to finally getting on with these. And as I have knocked nearly three items from my list, I can come up with a new three to add to my list. I’ll post soon with my new ideas too!


#MakeNine2022 Madalynne x Simplicity 8229 Underwear Part 3

The Simplicity 8229 by Madalynne is the only bra I have made and my first attempt was made using the pattern in kit form. This made the whole process a bunch easier as I didn’t have to source all the fabrics and findings from scratch.

Fabric and other supplies

For my new bra, I sourced all my supplies from the Sewing Chest as individual items and not as a kit. I decided to go for a cream / off-white colour scheme and selected lace and findings accordingly. However, it did seem like I spent an age on the website trying to figure out what to buy. If you have a look on the site, you’ll just see how many pages there are of little coloured rings! I don’t think I made the best choice with the rings and sliders (they are supposedly “fawn”), but I don’t think I did too badly with all the other components.

Pattern adjustments

Although I can say that the original 8229 bra fits, after some wear I have come to some conclusions on suitability of the style. I have a very short torso, and as such the extra fabric under the cups just bunches up and settles at the level just under the breast and above my stomach. I wouldn’t say this causes any discomfit, but it doesn’t look right. For comparison, here is a (very old and comfortable) RTW bra (black bra in photo below) that I wear compared to the Simplicity 8229 (white bra in photo below). As you can see there is nothing below the underwires on the black RTW bra, whereas the Simplicity 8229 has extra fabric in this area.

Comparison of two bras. Top Simplicity 8229 (white), Bottom RTW bra (black) – note the extra fabric between the bra band and the underwires on the white Simplicity 8229 bra.

I thought that I could make another version with some adjustments that would make the bra more in line with the style that seems to work better on my body. These adjustments included:

  1. Making the bottom band come directly under the underwire
  2. Reducing the height of the back band and front band at the top too
  3. Adding bones where the front band joins the back band to prevent the fabric “scrunching-up”

Another problem that seemed to occur is that the straps were always falling off my shoulders. I really don’t know what caused this. I don’t like changing things unless I know they will make a difference, so I’m not sure the adjustments here will work, but I hope so:

  1. Decreasing the length of the straps (yes, I adjusted them to fit, but there was a double thickness of the elastic for virtually half the length of the strap)
  2. Making the strap elastic wider
Simplicity 8229 – note the stupidly long strap. This is adjusted to fit me (just shows how short my body is!)


I remembered to look at the short video that Madalynne provides online. It’s not really a sew-along, however it helped me improve the finish of the bra, with lots of tips on how to hide raw edges etc.

It has been a long time since I made the original bra, and I don’t remember whether I used Wonder tape to the extent I used it this time. Anyway, it was brilliant for holding straps down where using a pin just wouldn’t work.

I felt sure that I would have lace left over for a pair of knickers, but sadly I seemed to use it all up making sure that the bar cups were cut symmetrically.


It looks great; every bit as good as underwear from a shop. I wouldn’t normally be flabbergasted that this is the case, but being still a novice at bra-making (and definitely a novice at selecting the right components for bra-making) I am delighted with the way it looks. I haven’t worn it yet, but will do tomorrow.

Cream Madalynne x Simplicity 8229 bra: very pretty!


#MakeNine2021 When I can’t sew, I dream….Underwear Part 1

I’ve got off to a very slow start with my sewing this year as some building work in my house has necessitated putting my sewing machines away and the dust being generated means that there is no way I am going to get any fabric out. I have mostly been trying to content myself with planning and preparing for my makes, but don’t want to dream too much in case I get carried away! I’m starting off my Make Nine this year with the underwear. This is where I actually have a need. I confess I have several bras bought in a German department store in the nineties, which still get worn! I haven’t made any underwear for a long time and when I did I didn’t make that much of it. I find making underwear fiddly and time-consuming and as a result other makes have jumped the queue.


I have made the Madalynne 8229 bra before. It fits well enough, but I need to make the body of it less deep. This is because I have a very short torso and the extra length below the wiring wrinkles up. It bothers me more from an aesthetic point of view than a comfort one. I have bought a few supplies from Sewing Chest and after long deliberation, I selected cream-coloured lace, fittings and straps.


I’m also looking at making some knickers. Now that I have the cream-coloured lace for the bra, I think I might have enough left over for the Grace Pattern from Ohhh Lulu. I also found an RTW top, made of silk in my wardrobe. It is too small for me and has been there for forever and a day, but I didn’t want to discard it as I liked the fabric. I reckon I could use this for the Grace knickers too. The combination will look somewhat like the photograph below, as the silk fabric is mostly black.

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Ohhh Lulu Grace Knickers

For my less fancy knickers, I have had a change of plan. I happened to be passing Flo-jo Fabrics the other day and I noticed that they had knickers kits. These include a pattern, instructions, fabric, lace, ribbon and label. In essence, at £15 I am getting the fabric, lace and a pattern for my money. The pattern, obviously can be re-used, if I like it. My pack contains rainbow cotton jersey.


Actually, I prefer the term “vests”. Camisole is just too fancy a word for this type of garment, that gets worn as a base layer through the winter months! Anyway, I have a metre of black cotton jersey. I have made my own pattern for this using an old RTW garment as my base (I’ll post about how I went about this another time). I don’t really know exactly how much I’ll be able to squeeze out of the fabric, but I hope I’ll be able to make two camisoles, plus one or two pairs of knickers. We’ll see what happens.

I think this plan will add some sorely-needed pieces to my underwear drawer. I’m really looking forward to actually having some fancy, matching undies too!


#MakeNine2022 – Ambitions for the new year

Review of Make Nine 2021

I’ll start with a short re-cap on my progress for 2021. Overall, I didn’t manage that many on the list, just four. However, I did tackle the biggest project, the jumper!

1. A Winter Jumper

Finished! This took a long time and I learnt many skills along the way with this make. My confidence in my knitting skills has greatly improved too; I feel that I can tackle whatever Ravelry waves at me now!

2. A Long Wool Skirt

Still on the list. I am still keen to do this make as it will complete an outfit with my winter jumper.

3. Grey Burda Trousers

Finished! I loved the style of these, but found the fabric wanting (too much pilling happened in the first wash). I’m sure I’ll make another pair of these, but not for the moment.

4. Nikko Top

Still on the list. The fabric I had originally ear-marked for this make didn’t have enough stretch so I didn’t get to make this.

5. A Skirt with Scottish tartan

Still on the list. This skirt has been carried over more than once!

6. Wearing a square from Pattern Magic

Finished! I’ve really enjoyed wearing this top, it is unusual, but rather cool! It is also a zero-waste pattern, so the process of measuring and cutting out was very different.

7. Black Palisade trousers

Still on the list. Another carry over from 2019!

8. Corduroy trousers

Finished! I made these beautiful chocolate-brown corduroy trousers using vintage Butterick 3065.

9. Dropje Vest

Still on the list. This make suffered from my inability to go fabric shopping in person last year.

Make Nine 2022 plans

Plans for Make Nine 2022

I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t a little disappointed that I didn’t manage to make more of my 2021 list. I suppose the intersection between ambition and shopping constraints was the main problem. For a good part of the year in-person shops were closed and then later I didn’t have so many opportunities to go places on my own (i.e. not boring Mr and Master Steely in a fabric shop). I should be grateful that this meant I was able to use more of the stash, but the stash seems to contain overwhelmingly fabrics that can be used for tops and there are hardly any heavier-weight lengths in there. So Make Nine 2022 will have many projects carried over from last year, so first a reminder of those:

1. A Long Wool Skirt

I’m really keen to make this as I intend to pair the skirt with my winter jumper. The cold weather hasn’t gone away yet, so it may well get worn before the summer.

I’m going to use the Clair pattern which is one of Liz Haywood’s zero-waste designs. It’s a little out of my comfort zone and I’m not sure about the fabric yet. I’m most worried about the weight and drape. How can I achieve the look of the skirt below, which is a cotton gabardine in wool? I’m really not sure about the colour either, the skirt in my drawing is red, but I’m equally drawn to blue and even using a tartan.

Zero-waste Clair Skirt
Zero-waste Clair Skirt

2. Nikko Top

I bought a small remnant of ribbed cotton jersey at Guthrie and Ghani’s, but I discovered that it didn’t have much stretch. I need to rethink fabric ideas for the Nikko top and probably have to take a gamble and buy on-line, so I could go for neutral navy blue or perhaps another colour. I feel that this garment could well become a work-horse in my wardrobe and get worn under my jumpsuit or pinafore in cool weather.

True Bias Nikko Top
True Bias Nikko Top

3. A Skirt with Scottish tartan

I am scared of the precious souvenir fabric I want to use for this make and I’m not sure how to squeeze my intended skirt out of the narrow width and limited yardage that I have. I’m hoping that I’ll find a more peaceful and organised house this year, that will mean these more challenging projects, like this, will be possible.

4. Black Palisade trousers

I keep on putting off making these trousers. Again, they require me to buy fabric that isn’t in my stash, but I am sure that I would like to make these in a black cotton-linen blend, which will be easy to find on-line. I did make a pair of shorts using some cotton-linen blend left-overs using the Palisade pattern, so this should be a relatively easy make, although I do need to amend the fit a little by reducing the rise.

Papercut Palisade Trousers
Papercut Palisade Trousers

5. Dropje Vest

I’m still thinking about improving my cold weather clothing! This is very much a necessity rather than a whim. Working from home can be very cold and I don’t like using the heating excessively. I’ve worn my winter jumper a lot in the house to keep me warm and I’m thinking that this vest would be a useful addition too. Again, I’m going to have to buying some more wool fabric, so I may not dive into this immediately.

Dropje Vest
Dropje Vest

Now, for the more fun items which are new to my list……

6. Underwear

I’ve made this a broad category, but I intend to make one bra and a few pairs of knickers. I have made the Madalynne 8229 bra before. It fits well and I’d like to make another one. There is one change that I would like to make and that is to make it less deep. I find that with my short torso the extra length below the wiring wrinkles up, so I think I will adjust the shape of the pattern pieces to exclude this extra length.

I’m also looking at making some knickers. I like the look of either the Wonder Undies by Waves and Wild or the Wonder Unders from Scroop Patterns for practical, no non-sense undies. The Scroop pattern also includes a slip /camisole. The Waves and Wild pattern is designed to use knit bands instead of elastic and I rather liked that idea. Having said that I am also toying making something a bit more fancy using some of the lace from the bra to make matching knicker such as the Grace Pattern from Ohhh Lulu

Ohhh Lulu Grace Knickers

7. Navy cardigan

With the fabric originally intended for the Nikko top, I plan to make a cardigan. I like the style of the Marlo sweater from True Bias, but I have a pattern from Burda that is very similar, namely cardigan #111 09/2021.

Burda cardigan #111 09/2021

I am also inspired by the photo below (also from Burda) to use some red and white rib knit for the bands.

Burda jacket #110 03/2020

8. Cortland Trench

One of things that I would really like to try is making a coat. I’ve always been a bit stuck because in the south-west of the UK, a warm woolen coat just wouldn’t get much wear. It rains so much that going outside the front door without something waterproof is almost anathema. I have lots of coat patterns in my magazines, but I’m wary of sewing a first coat using the inadequate instructions from Burda. When the Cortland Trench by Grainline Studios was released I was immediately drawn to it; I like the short style and it has many of the trench coat details that I was looking for. I suspect this may well not get made by the end of the year, but here it is, on my wish-list!

Cortland Trench by Grainline Studios

9. “I got through this” Jeans

I definitely need more jeans in my wardrobe. I wear jeans a lot and I have a couple of pairs that are already featuring multiple repairs. Whilst I like to repair, there is only so much you can do when the seats get wafer-thin. Anyway, I have had this idea floating around my brain to make something to remind myself of the last two years. I think most people have been through the wringer in some way or another and I want to just acknowledge this and have a more permanent way of saying to myself – “That was hard, but I got through it”. So, this pair of jeans will figure some embroidery…. you’ll have to see what it is in a later post! I may use the Lander pants from True Bias patterns for this.

There are quite a few things that didn’t get to the list, and I know they should have. We are doing some changes to the living room and I should have added the curtains to my Make Nine. But they will be a dull make so I didn’t fancy adding them. I didn’t include a knitting project either, but I think I need a breather from knitting for a few months and I really couldn’t decide what to do next, or rather I had plenty of ideas, but no idea what to prioritise! My ambition, with absolutely no pressure, is simply to complete more of my list than last year. I think that is achievable!