Brodie Dress aka Burdastyle 12/2013/124B

Inspiration struck as I settled down to watch the wonderful Maggie Smith in the film adaptation of the equally wonderful Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I really recommend this film, not least of all for the fabulously affected Edinburgh accent! The clothes however were the revelation, the colours, the shapes. I set about recreating something similar and I found the perfect  little dress pattern  in a previous months Burdastyle magazine and I moved all else aside to make a start on it.

I spent some time tracing the pattern from the crazy Burdastyle pattern sheet. The next step was to find the perfect fabric in a colour reminiscent of the film and the period it was set in.

Inspiration …..      the wonderful Maggie.

As luck would have it I had been given some vouchers for a local fabric store from colleagues of a firm I used to work in and wanted to make something that would remind me of my time there. I found it in this deep burgundy crepe, with a wonderful hand, quite heavy with a beautiful drape, perfect for my Brodie keepsake dress.



covered button deep cuff


covered button yoke

I love this pattern, its very elegant and I could see it in a black crepe with silk sheer chiffon sleeves. It moves beautifully due to not only the crepe fabric but the design of the skirt with the deep centre front pleat and slight flare. The shape on the body, because of the separate waist yoke, gives a nice fit through the torso and of course the sleeves (which I had to shorten slightly) are an absolute favourite. If you can dig this pattern out it’s well worth the effort. I would recommend a muslin/toile though as the v-yoke detail really needs to be perfect so some practice in insertion would be advised.

More of Maggie as Miss Brodie



Maggie now as you may know her in Downton Abbey.


Westwood homage

I have always been a great fan of the designer Dame Vivienne Westwood. I love how she manipulates and shapes fabric to contour the body. Her Red Label is her ready to wear, more accessible line, examples can be seen here. I also love what she does with plaid/check, tartan and tweeds, in particular the wonderful Harris Tweed for which she is an ambassador.

Vivienne Westwood Red Label - Floral print draped crepe skirt  Vivienne Westwood | Red Label AW12/13    Westwood Womenswear

This is my little attempt at the draping of a wrap skirt a la Westwood! The fabric is a remnant leftover from a make from many years ago, I had forgotten all about it, unfortunately there is not a lot of it. Challenge number one!



Challenge number two was the fold placement on the waist and corresponding drape, (the extended folds on the waist would be chopped off and waistband added) if not done correctly this could add bulk to the waist and stomach region – not a good look! Matching the plaid of the over-lap to the side front – as seen in the first photograph, was a bit tricky but crucial for the finished garment to look professional. I will of course have to cut a front and back to allow for shaping at the side hips and waist and for seam allowance to be added, I think I have just about enough for that and a bit for a front facing on the overlap. I will incorporate a full lining and I have managed to source a lovely pale burgundy bemberg. I will finish the hem by hand blind stitching and not leave frayed as seen in the photo, as although not unattractive with it being a plaid/check its a bit too Braveheart. So an element of tailoring is called for.

I am unsure as to whether to have the back darts converted to folds, my worry is that it would draw attention to the derriere region, which I could do without. I am also toying with the idea of making the skirt sit lower down on the high hip as opposed to on the waist, for two reasons, firstly, I think it would work well and give a more relaxed look and also because I would have to find the fabric for the waistband from the piece. I think though this may move away from the Westwood aesthetic as her clothes, skirts in particular, emphasise the waist – she is after all a lover of the female form. More experimentation needed I think!

SONY DSCI made this skirt previously without a pattern by manipulating the fabric. With this one, there too were restrictions on the amount of fabric, this was a couple of bits of a curtain remnant. As a result there is no waistband and no hem but it doesn’t suffer because of it. I probably get more compliments on this skirt than any other I have made, which when you consider it cost almost next to nothing, that’s a real result.

Therefore this is an approach that can be quite successful and it is very satisfying, paradoxically because of the constraints when using up a left-over piece. A tailors dummy/dressform is a must though.

200 followers milestone – Coco and Igor DVD Giveaway

I have reached the remarkable milestone of having over 200 followers to my little corner of blogland and I am thrilled to bits.

I started this blog as a way of documenting my makes and to share some of the tips and techniques I have learnt over the years. However I was not expecting the many wonderful upsides of blogging with fellow sewcialists coming back to say that something I have posted has inspired them to have a go, whether it is something entirely new that they would not have attempted before, or a little tip they were unaware of. This wonderful sewing community with its funny, inspirational, generous, insightful, clever …I could go on, participants, has turned out to be one of the most joyous aspects of my sewing life.

By way of a thank you to all my followers, first up – group hug (oo0oo) and secondly a little give-away.


I recently watched this DVD, principally because I watch pretty much everything to do with Mme Chanel and because it was billed as being especially stylish and I have to say, it did not disappoint.

Almost everyone has seen Coco, the film with Audrey Tatou, which is an absolute favourite of mine, as I believe it to be the most accurate depiction of her life and Audrey seems utterly believable to me as she has the charm I understand the real Coco possessed, displaying the single minded determination which would have been required to make it, especially for a girl of her background and means, at that time.

This film differs in that it is based on a fictional account of the possible affair between Coco Chanel and the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. I won’t go into detail on the story nor offer a critique of the film but just say that the clothes, as you can imagine, are especially wonderful…..a little taster…..










Please note that this DVD is particularly saucy, so you might not want to watch it in front of grandma!

To win a copy of the DVD just leave a comment below and I will draw the winner on 1st July 2013.

Good Luck and Thank You x

Sewcialist Emblem Competition – I’m in….OMG!

SONY DSCoriginal sewcialist drawing

 Hi just a quick post to let you know that my design was shortlisted for the Sewcialist Emblem Competition! I am cock -a-hoop!  Thank you to all who have voted for me so far #6. I am in esteemed company indeed as all the designs are great and much thought has gone into each one. The competition is open until May 8th – so if you have not done so already, get yourself over to the Jury blogs and cast your vote!

Swing Your Pants! – Give-away


Well I wasn’t sure I would ever get to this stage with these but we are here! I rolled up my sleeves, stiffened my resolve and my upper lip – no tears here – no Sir, I kept the faith. I would be lying if I said we didn’t fall out -and then there was the rugby tackle- less said about that the better! Yes me and my Swing Pants have been through a lot, but I never gave up and in fairness they stuck (or should I say clung by me) and that is why we are standing here, together today; and it has to be said, with a modicum of happiness.

SONY DSCHow did we meet I hear you ask – Well! I remember as if it were yesterday, It was one of those slow days, a Sunday just after lunch lolling on the sofa minding my own business, mooching around, browsing as you do, when there quietly lounging on a low slung chair – at the wonderful Vintage Fashion Library – WW2/Swing 1940s.  were the pants of my dreams – literally! I’ve been hankering for these for some time;  you know that way you can’t describe what you want but you’ll know when you see it? Well that’s what happened to me. You see the reason is that, …..well how can I put this?,….. its like this, well….. erm…its just that, well…………………. I HAVE A BUM! There I said it! phew!, feel so much better for that! You see me and my bum, well we get along mostly but my bum is not a fan of trousers (pants). First off it likes to be fully covered, no builders bum, no low rise, no skinny, cropping, boot cut – my bum joins forces with my thighs and its armageddon in the trouser department.! The other thing is that I’m not too tall and the distance between the ground and my bum is getting less every year – despite the lunges. Now I don’t want  ya’ll coming back to me saying ” Call that a bum? This is a bum” and sending me pictures of your magnificent posteriors – like anything its all relative or in my case my mother to be precise!!


So what to do? I get fed up with skirts and dresses all the time – which I wear a lot to work so when the weekend comes round I want to lounge, I’d love to slink but that just looks ridiculous and could cause an injury.

My answer was to go back in time, yes when all else fails and the tyranny that is modern fashion has given you a bitch slap then its back you go to a time when grass was greener, summers where warmer – Could it be that it was all so simple then?…. or has time re written……..Sorry I’m back! sneaky old Gladys and her pips! So back in time to when practical pants where in vouge and Vouge, they covered, they skimmed, they covered your shoes so you could wear a heel, there’s no fly front – cause we don’t need that, bit baggy in the crotch – this is good – no camels round here thank-you-very-much!, just a proper pair of women’s trousers for someone of my shape and ahem… vintage!


The fabric Woman! tell us about the fabric I hear you cry! ok,ok…. the fabric is a linen and I think poly mix I bought a batch when I was in Paris last year at the market in the Fabric District for a next to nothing – the buttons cost more! It has a chalk-pinstripe and a nice charcoally grey all adding to the allusion of lengthy limbs. The pockets and side buttons are my favourite detail as is the fact that they sit properly on the waist.


So to share the joy I have decided to host a give -a-way of this most sacred of Pant patterns. I won’t lie to you, you will probably have to alter the pattern but you should be making a muslin anyway for all your garments – you know that- so this is good practice for those of you who like to wing it and then regret it – so two gifts really!! The pattern is designed to have button openings at both pockets, bit like sailor pants – but I just put them on one side ( a zip would work too) and I can still get in and out of them. The pattern said 28″ waist but came with a caveat that a previous maker felt they were more of a 32″, I just made the darts wider. The crotch was a bit low, even for me so I measured my rise (sitting on a chair) to my waist and folded the excess of the pattern at the crotch-line and lowered the waist.(and of course the pocket placement) accordingly. These are fairly simple alterations and ones you would probably have to do for any pant pattern. You won’t be disappointed after the extra effort.

SONY DSC brown paper copy pattern – adjustment at rise

To be in with a chance of winning the original pattern complete with instructions, just leave a comment below. I will pick one at random before the end of the month. Good Luck.



As an aside, in Scotland to”swing your pants” is a colloquialism for dancing.!!

The blouse is featured in an earlier post Jasmine by Colette Patterns.

Happy New Coat! Burdastyle 12/2012 Coat 117


Super excited about this pattern. I’ve been looking for a coat pattern for a while, one which was quite dressy but can be worn casual too, bit of a tall order I know.

I will be making two (why have one when two will do!) one in a beautiful camel wool coating with a check on reverse, I won’t be using the reverse only the plain side, which has a nap, lovely and tactile. Also this navy blue coating which is so dark, almost black. Both are to be lined in viscose satin, I just love the jewel colours, feel and breathable nature of this lining fabric.

The Coat

The Coat

This is a collar less coat so quite a nice introduction to coat making and tailoring as no need for the usual basting of the collar., with canvas and copious hand sewing.  However the coat will be interfaced in the front, with the insertion of shoulder pads and maybe the addition of sleeve heads. No pesky button holes YaY- another plus, though I may on one, add a frog fastner at the bust area and leave off the belt as I love the side panel and pocket detail and would like to show this. I am also toying with the idea of a separate fur collar which can be added to change the look.

Muslin  Toile coat     SONY DSC  SONY DSC

SONY DSC                          SONY DSC                             SONY DSC

The only alteration to the pattern is to the width of the shoulders, a necessity for most garments I make for myself – I am an avid swimmer so have to accommodate the ubiquitous swimmers shoulders! Other than that the toile (muslin) came together quite easily. On one I will add a belt but with a wide taper edge, inspired by the beautiful coats shown on catwalk – I think the one called for in the pattern is a bit skimp and mean – taking the coat into dressing gown territory!

Now this is more like it!

Wishing You and Yours Health, Wealth (in all its forms) and Happiness in 2013

1920’s Chemise – re worked

You probably already know of the terrific blog by Casey at Elegant Musings wonderful whimsy of vintage inspired makes and tutorials etc, The link features a tutorial on how to draft a simple pattern and make this useful little chemise. This is an ideal project for anyone new to sewing and pattern drafting as both elements are relatively straightforward and there is great satisfaction in making something entirely from scratch and to your own measurements and design.

Sometimes you just want to create a useful little pretty and this uses up those spare bits of silk, viscose etc leftover from other projects.

This lovely piece is so easy to make and the addition of the pintucks to the front allow for the top to sit nicely across the bust and the lace and ribbon trim elevates it out of the ordinary. You can have different looks by experimenting with different trims, fabric, thickness of straps, pleating in the front, adjusting the length etc. Or as outerwear as a summer top using a broderie anglaise cotton with waist ties and ric-rac trim. Possibilities are endless.

I’ve made three in different fabric and trims which will cover most occasions. They are cut quite short so as not to add bulk at the waist and I do love wearing these with the lace trim and tucks peeking out from under blouses or jumpers. If you have a spare mo – have a go, you won’t be disappointed.

Countdown to the Pattern Pyramid Draw

The moment has neeeaarly arrived Yay!

I shall be drawing this tomorrow morning and to be honest I’m not sure if I will get a wink of sleep! sooo exciting!

The runners and riders are:

Ann of Petty Grievances

ElleC of Ellecsews

The Material Lady

Lynne Will

Tia Dia

Kaitui Kiwi



Sew Exhausted

Sewing Elle

Jeanette Stork


Place your bets!

The Switch

The Switch

Merry Chirstmas

Happy Holidays