Simplicity 1364 Summer Top

As part of the Simplicity Bloggers challenge I decided to enter the Best Vintage Make category. This was based upon the Simplicity 1364 pattern , which was supplied free of charge to entrants. One of the rules of the challenge was that bloggers could modify the pattern in any way they liked. So, my aim was to modify option […]

V8886 Dress with colour blocking

Last year I said I’d make this pattern again – and I’ve finally got round to it! This time I made it in a light wool mix crepe, and used colour blocking to brighten up a work dress.


Having made the pattern before I was happy with the shape and fit. This time I lined the dress body, although left the sleeves unlined.

This was the first time I’ve used a wool crepe. It won’t be the last. I found it a little tricky to work with as the fabric stretches and moves. That said. The effect is that it can stretch on the body, making it lovely and comfy.

Having just finished this dress, I smiled when I opened this month’s Sew Today magazine, (whilst wearing my winter top version). This pattern featured twice in the magazine. I think it’s a great base pattern for princess seamed tops/dresses which you can then adapt to suit your creativity. Below you can see two varieties that I’ve made.

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Gertie’s Vintage made Casual

I got the great new book by Gertie for my birthday – fantastic range of patterns along with a selection of pattern modifications to extend the selection.

As with her first book the descriptions are detailed and well explained. I enjoyed being able to follow the steps to alter patterns enabling you to create something unique.

This week I’ve tackled trousers – something I’ve not really done much of. First off I drafted a pattern for some shorts, similar to the Sailor shorts but longer. I used some leftover old fabric as it was really a muslin (although hopefully a wearable one!)

I made a few mistakes.. Missed the darts on the front as I forgot to trace them onto my pattern. Also messed up the length for my waistband, making it too short.

Having made them I used the book’s guidance to work out what modifications were required. Removal of droopy bottom, and baggy back.

Then I realised that what I really needed was light weight trousers not shorts!

Redrafted the pattern full length, keeping most of the extra width.

Success, a comfy pair of summer trousers. Perfect to fend of mosquitos.

To round off the evening I then rattled off a knit pencil skirt. Great idea to stitch in the ditch on the seams to hide the stitching for the invisible elastic waistband.


Next up was a long sleeve version of “the pin up sweater”. I found some rib knit fabric in Leeds market – perfect to emulate the jumper in the book. My fabric is green, so a little different from the blue in the book. I decided that as we’re approaching winter in the UK that full sleeves were called for. Drafted the sleeves by extending the short ones. Next time I might make them a fraction longer. They feel quite tight, but I think that’s the look. The only other modification I’d make is to widen the front slight around the bust. As there are no darts it could do with a little more room if you normally need a fba.


Overall, great book and patterns so far. Well done Gertie.

Spring jumper

Whilst the weather is improving its definitely still spring. Warm one day, then cold the next. A few weeks ago I picked up some light weight knit fabric which I thought would make a nice light weight jumper.

Having made the fitted jersey dress, I decided to modify the pattern and make a tunic length jumper, with 3/4 length sleeves. In keeping with the warmer weather I also lowered the neckline to, so that although its a jumper it’s not too wintry. Again I used my overlocker to sew all the main seams. This time as I was using the sleeves, I fitted the sleeves into the main body before doing either the main seams on the edge of the tunic, or on the sleeves. The side seams are then sewed in one long seam along the arms and then down the sides. I find this a great way to fit sleeves.

Another trick that I use alot when sewing with any stretch fabric is not to gather the sleeve head before fitting. As the fabric is stretchy I simply pin the cap of the sleeve to the shoulder seam, then pin both the start and end point of the sleeve head to the edge of the fabric. I then stretch the fabric and perhaps add one more pin in the middle (between the edge and the cap). Then it’s straight onto sewing the seam, making sure you stretch the fabric so that it fits between the pinned points. This same technique can be used when adding elastic onto garments too.

To finish the neckline, I used the overlocker to edge the neckline, then simply turned under and top stitched. For the sleeves and lower edge I did the same thing, however I tried to manually do a double seam. This didn’t work great – it’s almost parallel, but not quite. I have tried to use a double needle in the past, but had problems getting the tension right – maybe its time to try again?



As with the dress version it’s nice to have a slightly fitted shape.

Spring into the jersey dress trend

As spring approaches I thought it was time for a new Jersey dress for work. Jersey dresses have been in the sewing trends recently both the the Great British Sewing Bee, and the new book from Collete.

I’ve made quite a few jersey dresses as they are so quick and easy to make with a serger. My normal route is to start with a vintage dress pattern and ditch the facings. I then use strips of the fabric, folded and the served onto the neck and arm holes. Stretch the strip slightly when you’re attaching to stop it ending up baggy. This means it’s easy to reshape the neck into a new scoop shape as you want. Remember keep the new scoop at 90o in the middle to help keep it balanced.

The finished modern dress.


I think it looks a bit different from the pattern picture!


The sleeve picture really doesn’t do it justice. The dress has darts front and back which give it a lovely fitted shape and stops it looking like a big baggy tshirt.

A serger is great for jersey and I love using it to do a lettuce edge rolled heam.

Vintage tunic

Another version on vintage butterick 3460. This is the third dress I’ve made with this pattern.

Like the grey geometric patterned one posted previously I shortened the dress to make it above the knee. I made it slightly longer than the grey one so that it looked better with tights rather than needing leggings.


The fabric was a lovely burnt out velvet jersey from a German manufacturer. The mixture of jersey, with a hint of velvet made this a great, easy wearing dress to wear for winter night out, or even for smart occasions during the day. A great all-rounder.

Vogue 8551 Evening dress

First made this vogue dress 21 years ago! Last time it was in dark green velvet.

The pattern is for an unlined dress which I didn’t want to do. With having the high slit on the left thigh I made the lining shorter at the front than the back.

As I mentioned in a previous post – using the through the shoulders technique to attach and turn the lining is very difficult when the straps are as narrow as they are on this pattern.

Another problem encountered was that it was designed for a B cup. The front pieces for the ptincess seams need adjustments to give enough room for a C cup.

There were facing pieces on the front slit which I held in place using wonderweb tape to stoo them flapping out. With the dress being such fine fabric this was easier than my usual invisible heaming stitches.

I found that I didn’t like how it sat under my arms, was possibility a bit too low for me.


Dress was saved by making a quick shrug. Started making less than 2 hours before we were going out!

Traced the shrug from an old one I had. Three simple pieces. Used my overlocker to sew shoulder seams and underarm/sides. Then set the overlocker to a roll heam to finish neck and lower edge. Sucess.

Gertie’s Portrait Blouse – with Peter Pan Collar

As we leave summer and head into autumn I started thinking about outfits than can layer well.

I’d been thinking about trying to follow instructions to draft my own peter pan collar.

Having recently made Gertie’s portrait blouse, and liked it, I thought I’d use it as my base pattern. I used the instructions in Gertie’s book to help me draft the pattern.

Best tips, overlap the shoulder pattern pieces by 1.3cm on the outer edge when you draw the neck and edge shape.

Other fab tip wad reducing the lower collar piece by 3mm so that the upper piece curls over slightly, making sure the seam line is hidden.


I finished the top the night before my birthday – and wore it the next day.

I used some pale pink jacard from my stash – making the collar using the slightly darker side.

Was pleased with the finished top, and will be adding collars to other tops in the future.

Smart office Culottes

My most recent project has been a pair of Culottes to wear to work. I’ve started cycling as part of my commute to work,  so was looking for an alternative to my usual fairly tight shift dresses.


The above shows the finished article,  worn with my Gertie’s portrait blouse.

I used a basic pattern – See & Sew B5771.

The pattern comes in two lengths – I’d previously made the shorter version in linen,


however as summer turns to autumn a more traditional suiting fabric was called for. The fabric used has a slight stretch to it, making the final garment comfy to wear.

Instructions were easy to follow and I only made minor modifications. Having made the shorter version this time I took them in at the front seam slightly.

Wore them today and had an enjoyable cycle to work.

Gertie’s Portrait Blouse

Given all the good weather we’ve been having I’ve been making more tops recently.

This week I decided to try out a pattern from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. I’ve owned the book for ages, but to date only used it as a reference guide.

The book comes with patterns, however you need tracing paper as there are multiple patterns on the each page. I guess this was done as the book explains techniques to modify patterns,  providing example ideas as well.

I decided to make the original shape of portrait blouse first.

Sizes are always a bit of a challenge. Each range of patterns being a little unique. I struggled to find the sizing guide in the book. It is there page 125!

The blouse has a loose top, which is then very fitted below the bust. Have to admit the fitted waist worked well and the shorter length works well due to the fitted nature.


The top has a nice side zip (I used a concealed one).

I finished the internal seams using my serger, however followed Gertie’s instructions for the narrow heam for the sleeve. Worked well and will use this technique again.

Narrow heam: sew close to fabric edge say 3mm, iron in then sew again close to first stitching line. Trim rough edge using small scissors. Iron in again by folding just beyond stitching. Final row of stitches keeping even distance as this will show on outside.