Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life

Leave a comment

Pyjama trousers Part 1 – Selecting Fabric

I received Stylish Sewing by Laura Wilhelm as a birthday present last year and beyond looking at the pictures hadn’t made anything in the book.
I decided I would have a go at the Women’s pyjamas shown on the front cover of the book. I would dearly love to be able to make some trousers or even jeans, but I thought I’d start out cautiously with some pyjama trousers first. I particularly like the embroidered flower feature which gives the project an interesting touch.

One of the best things about this book are the full-sized patterns. I found it reasonably easy to trace the pattern onto tracing paper.

I bought two fabrics for the project before Chrsitmas. I’m not sure they quite live up to the “Stylish” standards in Laura’s book. In fact they are probably a combination worthy of sitting alongside my other “Coco the clown” pyjamas. I didn’t want to resort to expensive designer fabric ranges, but I did have a really tricky time trying to find two fabrics that looked good together and ended up with a red polka dot fabric and a blue check with small red hearts.

Pyjama trouser fabrics

Pyjama trouser fabrics

At this point I encountered a problem.  The project specifies 1.8m for size 8/10, but doesn’t seem to show the fabric width to which this applies. I suppose I could have worked out the fabric required from the size of my pattern pieces. However, being in a hurry to start the project I decided not to check and just went ahead and bought my 1.8 m. Even in the shop, I was thinking – “that’s way too much!”

When I started to cut out the pieces in the evening, of course, it was too much fabric. Then annoyingly, after much searching, I found at the back of the book, the width measurement for the fabric range. It was given as 115 cm, whereas my fabric was 145 cm. I think that there is an assumption that anyone using the book would use the fabrics in the book, which is a shame as us scrimping seamstresses, enjoy finding our fabrics at cheaper shops. Perhaps it would have been better if the fabric length suggestions had been calculated for both the standard widths and added in the book on the page with the project instructions. Never mind, I could make two sets of pyjama trousers, or more ambitiously, I could make a top to complete the look. Although perhaps wearing the two in combination would be migraine inducing for everyone else!

1 Comment


Happy New Year and welcome to my blog!

I’ve thought for a while about starting this blog. Last year I brought my sewing machine down from the wardrobe upstairs where it had been lying untouched for years. I bought myself a pattern and material and just started sewing. My sewing machine hasn’t been back upstairs since.

When I was in my teens I used to sew a fair bit. I liked making things at home and also used a sewing machine at school. Somehow, I managed to absorb some sort of knowledge, but it has been an untapped skill for a long time.

In recent years I have been fairly unhappy with my wardrobe for a whole host of reasons. I find that shopping is a fairly dispiriting experience. Generally I find that I am unlikely to find clothes that fit, and have the style and colour I like. My wardrobe is full of ill-fitting, style mistakes in a huge variety of colours. I’m hardly happy with any of my clothes.

I am also unsettled by the ethics of the fashion industry and, in particular, the modus operandi of the big global names in women’s fashion. A factory in Bangladesh, producing clothes for global giants, collapsed with the deaths of more than 1,100 people in April ( It is an outrage that the safety of their workers can be so disregarded.

Given all this, I made the inevitable choice to turn my back on clothes shopping and embark on making my own clothes.

It took me a little while to decide on the name of this blog. In fact, I couldn’t even decide on  a description for myself; Am a sewer? Spoken it sounds fine, but written down the word reminds me far to much of the disposal of excrement. A sewist? Is this a real word? A dressmaker? Well, that seems to suggest that I’ll be making dresses. I’m not the greatest fan of dresses and I probably won’t be making that many of them. A seamstress?

seamstress or  ( rarely ) sempstress  (ˈsɛmstrɪs, ˈsɛmpstrɪs)

— n

a woman who sews and makes clothes

A good description! I’m calling myself the Steely Steamstress as I’m determined to make this experiment last. Here’s to the next 12 months of creativity!