Tag Archives: dressmaking

Chatty Sailor Trousers

Why Chatty Sailor? Because goodness me I have a lot to say about these trousers…

Simplicity 6407 Sailor Trousers Front

The Pattern

Simplicity 6407 was snapped up the moment I found it in a size close enough for me to not be overwhelmed by grading. I was happy to pay international postage and wait 4 weeks for delivery because 12 years ago, at the start of my student days, I knew a girl who had amazing bib-front trousers… and that’s how long I’ve been wanting a pair. I guess good things come to those who wait… and sew.

Simplicity 6407 Sailor Trousers Side

The Fit

As trousers go, these were very easy to fit for my shape but the fix was not immediately obvious. The toile turned out huge, as falling to the floor huge (I blamed 1970s ease). Once hoisted up, the crotch curve and crotch depth were a good fit – a relief as these are the hardest areas to fit in trousers and it’s somewhat of an iterative process. The front bib wasn’t overwhelming my frame so all that remained was way too much fabric the full length of the trousers. Easy fix? Sew up another 3cm in from the original seam lines right down the front leg and back leg seams (there’s four pattern pieces per leg compared to the usual two).

Simplicity 6407 Sailor Trousers Back

I marveled at what a difference losing 12cm of ease made! Now that the toile trousers were staying up on their own accord (pins where the buttons would be) I was able to see that a little curvature between the waist and hip at the side seams (the previously untouched seam) and a lengthening of the darts would lead to a pretty good fit.

Simplicity 6407 Sailor Trousers Slight Side

The Fabric and Notions

I made my first fabric purchase of the year, treating myself to some navy cotton drill from Calico Laine in the absence of anything of suitable weight and length in my stash. While I haven’t broken any of my self-imposed Stash Diet rules, I did feel a little disappointed with myself for tarnishing my unblemished record… but that only lasted till I started sewing. The fabric is lovely to sew with and presses well without a clapper (unlike some drills and gabardines I’ve used previously). Once I knew that I was going to love the end result all guilt was banished!

Simplicity 6407 Sailor Trousers Buttons

The navy buttons I found at Stitchery Do; perfect colour, perfect size, I’ll take eight please – you’ve got to get these things when you see them! I do enjoy visiting this shop… fabric, haberdashery and wool all beautifully presented in a quaint Grade II listed building.

Simplicity 6407 Sailor Trousers  Inside

All other components were sourced from my stash: Navy thread, organza (more on that in a moment), navy twill tape and spotty bias binding (more on that to come too).


I’ve been reading a lot about underlining with silk organza (can you guess where this is going?) and decided to try it out on something not too risky using acquired stash dark blue/purple organza. I did a burn test but it was inconclusive as to the fiber content. I also tested it under my iron as I’d read that melting, even on a low heat setting, was another way to spot a cheap synthetic but it was very melt-resistant even at the hottest setting. So I’m not going to say ‘silk’ organza as I can’t be sure.

Organza underlining

After cutting out my main fabric, I laid these pattern pieces over the organza, pinned, cut and basted around the seam allowances (and other markings like darts and button hole positions) before removing the pins. If you know a quicker way then please enlighten me because I had four pattern pieces per leg so this was not a quick basting task. I wanted to do some fancy seam finish to enclose the edges but I couldn’t tame fraying organza so I just overlocked the drill and organza together. Nevertheless, I’m totally sold – this really is a ‘worth it in the end’ technique. It feels lovely to wear, not much creasing and it looks kinda fancy on the inside too.

Inside corner bias binding

Simplicity 6407 Sailor Trousers Inside 2

The trousers were sewing up so quickly that I took a detour into inside corner bias bindings. It would have been easy to finish this edge any number of easier ways (I even had my overlocker threaded up with navy) but I whipped up a few samples and came up with a workable and neat way to bind the inside corner with one continuous piece of binding and mitered corners.


In my opinion, wide leg trousers benefit from a deep hem to help them hang nicely. So I supersized the hem allowance on these bad boys. To hold the organza underlining and drill together, I overlocked the raw edges, attached navy twill tape then blind hemmed by hand.

Simplicity 6407 Sailor Trousers Hem

I desperately wanted to make these trousers long so I could wear my beloved red peep-toe wedge shoes (can be seen in here and here) but I decided to be sensible and hem them to wear with flats for work (damn Me Made May reflections on needing more work-wear!). So I’ll have to settle for red flats instead.Sailor Trouser Montage

The End Result

Can I use this section to just brag beam about my lovely new sailor trousers with a couple of extra but completely unnecessary photos?

Simplicity 6407 Sailor Trousers Leg Front Simplicity 6407 Sailor Trousers Leg Back

Okay. I’m done.

So have you had a 12 year garment crush, sewed any inside bias bound corners, have organza underlining tips or made a sensible post-MMM’14 decision lately?


Damson Gin Dress

When I posted my brown NL6000 dress I asked for help with an ‘n’ shaped ripple of fabric under my bust.

Brown 6000 Fitting IssueI had a few suggestions and speculations but no one seemed confident. Returning to the dress in the New Year I wanted to be able to see the fitting problem in a new light. I took a long hard look in a full length mirror, I pinched, I prodded, I fidgeted… I even tried on un-padded and really, really padded bras (self-SBA and self-FBA without surgery if you will). And then…

Brown 6000 Fitting Issue b

If I imagined the lines of the bust darts and the waist darts extended… *gasp* they didn’t cross at the apex of my bust! The waist darts needed to be moved towards the centre by 1 inch.

Dart position

With no fabric purchases allowed I shopped my stash. At first I went for some mystery black suiting that I had no plans for but when I had the pattern pieces laid out, it dawned on me that it’d be hard to see or photograph fitting issues and the whole point of this make was to get rid of that ‘n’ shaped issue! A quick re-think and I sacrificed this purple suiting that was meant to become a pencil skirt.

Damson Gin Dress 6000
This make made me realise that although we have the same measurement, my bust is different to my dressmakers dummy. The darts look ridiculously close on her. So, has moving the darts solved the mysterious fitting issue on me?

Damson Gin Dress FrontLooks okay from this angle… and more ease in the hips helps smooth things out in that region too.

Damson Gin Dress SideStill no bust ripple from this angle either.

Thank you sewing gods for reminding me of dart positioning.

Thank you sewing gods for reminding me of dart positioning.

Yeah, I think the ripple has been banished. I’m also happier with a bit more ease round the hips.


So why is it called the Damson Gin dress? Ah well the damson purple is on the outside and the gin part is on the inside…

Damson Gin Dress Hem

Over 3 meters of this gorgeous silvery white lining was languishing in my stash. It reminds me of the silvery blue sheen that gin has. I was feeling quite chuffed with my stash shopping and even used the bias binding I’d made from the leftover scraps of my blouse to bind the raw edge before hemming. Bother, that blouse would have gone great with a purple pencil skirt! Nevermind, I’m still on track with my Stash Diet.

Damson Gin Dress CuffI’m considering switching the buttons for fabric covered. Undecided yet.

Want to see more details? I took loads of photos, I think the number of photos in my posts correlates to how pleased I am with my make!

Damson Gin Dress

I fully lined the dress including the sleeves. It’s pretty easy due to the sleeve cuffs but does require some extra understitching to stop the lining rolling to the outside. I found myself swapping the different coloured threads on my sewing machine constantly. Perhaps I’ll stick with matching lining to make things easier in future!

Damson Gin Dress Zip

Another cool lining detail was attaching it by machine to the zip… I thought it’d be difficult but it’s actually pretty easy (following Tasia’s instructions).

Damson Gin Dress Vent

I shoe horned in my favourite skilllining a vent.

It's not easy demonstrating a lined vent while wearing the dress!

It’s not easy demonstrating a lined vent while wearing the dress!

Like this? I’m going to be telling you all about how you can get involved with lined vents tomorrow!

Damson Gin Dress Lined Vent

Stash Delve: Snood, Buff or Neck Warmer?

The ‘smaller scraps’ part of my stash seems to ebb and flow with a high frequency. One day the box will be neat and tidy, then I’ll cut out a toile or two and the lid won’t go on properly. I focused this stash delve on the main fabrics causing the lid problem – jersey.


I used this tutorial at Sewn Studio. My largest piece of scrap jersey (left over from my ticker tape maxi dress) was a little small so I have a snug-fitting snood but it doesn’t strangle.

Seeking Vintage

I had my eyes peeled for months for four vintage/retro patterns on my wish list. I use these terms loosely because I learnt during endless searches that ‘vintage’ and ‘retro’ have no fixed definition and sellers make their own rules up! Personally, I’d define pre 1920s as antique, 1920-1969 vintage and anything from the 70s as retro. The fashions of the 80s and 90s are best forgotten!

Simplicity 4647 Simplicity 7045

I managed to track down Simplicity 4676 on  eCrater  and Simplicity 7045 from 1967 on Canadian Ebay. Shortly after these two were delivered, The Monthly Stitch voting for the September theme was decided as ‘Vintage Patterns’. Good timing or what?!

The Monthly Stitch

I was super keen and made my vintage garment before September even started… but then work got busy for me and my trusty photographer. We still haven’t taken the photographs and no photographs means no blog post! I hope that by posting this primer it’ll jolt us into action and I’ll be able to post during the final third of challenge month.

Are you taking part in The Monthly Stitch Vintage Patterns for September? And how to you define vintage and retro eras?

Staple Dress for Autumn

staple dress e

During August we took a camping/walking trip in Cornwall… not too far from Truro. ‘Hmmm…. Truro’ I thought, I’ve heard of that before with the word ‘Fabrics’ afterwards. And so a fabric shopping expedition to Truro Fabrics was scheduled into our journey home (despite it not being exactly on the way home… the complete opposite direction in fact!).

staple dress c

Fabric: This lovely drapey viscose caught my attention because it is matt, no sheen or shine at all. The colours were ideal for beginning autumn/winter sewing. I immediately paired this fabric with the April Rhodes Staple Dress in my mind.

staple dress fabric

The dipped-hem version requires fabric with plenty of flow and movement while the style could be just as good with bare legs and flat shoes as with tights, boots and a chunky cardigan. Also it’s difficult to tell the right side of the fabric even close up – a good thing for dipped hems where some of the wrong side will be on show.

staple dress b

Pattern: The Staple Dress pattern is great for beginners and April really holds your hand through the pattern instructions if you need it. Personally I read them through once before beginning then only consulted the instructions again when I needed to add shirring to the waistline – this was a new technique for me.

staple dress a

Alterations: A very quick toile helped me to confidently remove an inch at each side seam and an inch from the hem of the pattern pieces before cutting into my fashion fabric. I made a fabric belt (above photo) but I prefer my tan leather belt (all other photos)

And I’ll leave you with this photograph of me finding it hilarious that it was such a bright day I couldn’t keep my eyes open!

staple dress hilarious

McCalls 2401 – Round Two to Clipped Curves

In round one I was defeated by McCalls 2401… but I wasn’t going to let the pattern go. I was ready for round two in the sewing ring with this featherweight of a basic shift dress. Yeah that’s fighting talk!

M2401 b

I weaved and blocked a whole new set of punches this time in the ring: A near-fatal cut to the neckline while attaching Vilene edge tape, two cones of run-out overlocker thread (first time re-threading my overlocker!), a broken overlocker needle (a re-threading error I think) and being sold a 22″ zip that only measured 16″.

Ok, enough of the boxing ring metaphors….

M2401 a

I lowered the neckline to erase my cutting blunder and retraced the new line onto my facing. The facing was now a little narrow so I stitched in the ditch at the shoulder seams to stop it flipping out. When I casually mentioned stitching in the ditch in an earlier post, Caroline requested a close up photograph of my skills. So here, just for Caroline, is an in-progress close up. The left side of this shoulder strap is attached to the facing and the right side raw edge will be attached to a sleeve.

Facing attached to shoulder seam by stitching in the ditch - left side is attached to facing, right side raw edge will be attached to sleeve.

Stitching in the ditch… nothing to see here.

I used my first traced pattern piece – size 6 at the bust and graded to a size 8 at the waist and hips. I basted first to fit on the fly. This allowed me to remove 2 inches either side at the waist and an inch either side over the hips and I could still breathe deeply and sit down! But I am wary of transferring these alterations to my pattern pieces or just using size 6 all-over because I’m still smarting from the first make this fabric has some horizontal stretch. A non-stretch woven may not be so forgiving.

M2401 d

Since making this dress, I have seen a lady in a jacket of the same fabric which left me wondering; is the fabric a bolt end from a ready to wear clothing line or was this another home-sewer I passed in the street?

M2401 c

Although the flowers are abstract… this floral number is really pushing the boundaries of what I’d normally wear. I changed out of the dress after the photographs were taken and haven’t worn it since. I love the fit but I don’t know if I can bring myself to wear floral!

Movies in the (Great) Park Shorts

This summer’s heat wave highlighted my lack of appropriate sunny weather clothing. Dixie DIY’s Movies in the Park shorts swooped in to rescue my wardrobe dilemma.

Movies shorts 2

Location: The photographs were taken in Windsor Great Park (hence the title) and in the background is Windsor Castle. Please excuse the creases and picnic belly – I should have gotten the photo shoot out of the way before sitting on a picnic blanket and scoffing an epic picnic lunch!

Movies shorts 3

Pattern: I think Dixie is underselling herself as the PDF pattern is only £2.64 ($4 USD). The pattern pieces fit together perfectly and the pattern instructions are clear and concise with helpful line drawings. You can adjust the fit by moving the buttonhole and button placement as part of the last construction steps and in the future move the buttons to accommodate a changing waistline. Clever huh?!

Back pattern piece with crotch and waist adjustments.

Back pattern piece with crotch and waist adjustments.

Alterations: Making a toile first, I was able to transfer my alterations to the pattern pieces ready for next time. I needed to remove 4 inches at the waist but nothing from the hips. The easiest way seemed to be chopping a 1 inch wedge out of the side of both front and back pieces tapering to meet the regular cutting line by the fourth button (and similar for the waistband, pocket and pocket facing). I also made a ‘wedgie adjustment’ gouging out a deeper curve from 2 inches below the waist and tapering towards the crotch on the back piece only. My final adjustment was to extend the back piece darts by 3/8 inch.

See... no wedgie!

See… no wedgie!

Fabric: The main fabric is from Mermaid and the binding I made out of an elephant grey light weight polycotton from Dalston Mill Fabrics. The seams were finished by overlocking.

Movies shorts 5

I successfully matched the stripes of the front pieces and pockets (but not the waistband *sigh*) and wooden buttons provide some extra sewing eye candy if pretty buttons do it for you.

Movies shorts 4

This summer I’ve enjoyed wearing these shorts as much as I did sewing them. Thanks Dixie!