Skirt Parade

Finally finished the skirt featured cut and ready to go in the previous post.

I have been trying to track down this type of stretch denim for some time as I remembered having a skirt in this fabric many years ago and it was the most comfy and versatile skirt ever! Once I finally found the fabric online at Croftmill as Lightweight stretch denim, (unfortunately sold out, however they have another similar). I was then on the lookout for a suitable pattern and after I had made the chino skirt, well, Kismet! I was glad that I had a chance to practice the topstitching on the chino skirt because with this fabric I wanted to use a contrast thread and there was no hiding place for any mistakes.


I could have carried the topstitching through to the back welt pockets and back and side seams, (the pattern didn’t call for it) as I have seen this on other denim skirts but I thought it could end up looking a bit too busy.


I left it plain, which I am happy with. I made the zip shorter and to add a bit of interest I used the cotton ditzy flower print left over from the previous featured Jasmine and Sorbetto blouses as pocket linings on the front and back pockets and in the inside waistband facing. The waistband seam at the zip is slightly off, but I can live with it.


I had enough of the stretch denim fabric left over to make one of my stalwart 1940′S Straight Skirts and I was so taken with the top-stitching on the other skirt I thought I would incorporate it into this to give a more relaxed feel to the normally traditional tailored skirt. Incorporating the centre front topstitching is an easy adjustment to the pattern, instead of cutting on the fold add on the seam allowance and cut two front pieces instead of the usual one. There is no lining on either skirts, so a quick and easy make.


back view with top-stitched back vent.


I love how the choice of fabric can alter the whole use and appearance of a garment.


Tracing a Burdastyle pattern – and introducing Pepper.

I’m an avid fan of the Burda monthly mag. I think for the cover price and number of patterns in each edition, this magazine is a must in most sewistas’ pattern stash. Admittedly, on the odd occasion there is nothing worthy of note and more than once I have looked it over from cover to cover and been left a bit deflated. That said, I have gone back over the same magazine at a later date and lo and behold something I had overlooked suddenly inspires. Also, and this is more likely the case, another blogger’s make, often re interpreted, leaves me scrabbling for the referenced copy in an attempt to shamelessly imitate.

The biggest bugbear is of course the tracing of the pattern from the maddening pattern sheet!

Everybody has their own way of doing this, however I suspect the most common way is to trace the pattern through tracing paper.

I thought I would show you how I copy these patterns – in fact all my patterns.  I never cut from a pattern sheet, I like to keep the patterns whole – there is a particular kind of pleasure to be had from re folding the pattern back into the envelope – Yeah, I know, I don’t get out much!

I use a method which involves a pin tracing wheel through the pattern onto copy paper. This negates the need for tracing paper which one would have to peer through and given the number of pattern pieces in each sheet this can be problematic.

First up I cover my cutting table with a piece of towelling (this was leftover from a previous make) which gives a degree of thickness that allows for the spikes of the tracing wheel penetrate through, enough to leave their mark on the paper  but not the surface of the table

SONY DSCNext I cover with an old linen tablecloth. This does two things, it anchors the underlay and the texture of the linen gives a smooth surface to work on when using the tracing wheel.

The brown paper is laid over and weighted.


Pattern selected – in this case this an A- line casual skirt

SONY DSCNext up the tracing materials consist of the correctly selected pattern sheet, tracing wheel, pencil and for adding the seam allowance a seam gauge.

SONY DSCAs previously mentioned lay the pattern sheet over the copy paper and weigh down. I like to use a small puppy who goes by the name of Pepper!! Please let me introduce to you our new puppy girl, a little cocker spaniel who is just the cutest sweetest thing! We are totally smitten. She is 10 weeks old and is our second family dog. Our first lovely dog Barney died 3 years ago – he was a Beardie Collie, completely bonkers and the children’s best pal growing up. We have taken this time to come to terms with losing him and deciding on our next pet.


Locate the pattern pieces by circling and once traced with your tracing wheel mark off .



trace the pattern pieces, add the seam allowances use your French curve to neaten edges, the finished pieces prior to cutting out.

I tend to set aside a day for cutting out patterns, I almost never sew and cut out in the same day, I feel it’s a different mind-set and in actual fact I find tracing and cutting out fabric quite therapeutic.

Finished cut pieces ready for fabric cutting.


…..and my lovely assistant….


Quick easy make bias binding – Tutorial


How often do you make bias binding? The self-made edging for necklines, armholes, finishing inside seams on sheers etc. Not often I bet. Seems it’s a bit of a monster /palaver to many and any books on how to do it seem to advocate folding squares of fabric stitching together, marking and cutting making miles of the stuff! That has its place, but for ordinary garment sewing then cutting lengths for the treatment needed is the best approach.

For example, I find that all that is needed for most armholes is 15″ in length, so I just cut two bits that length. However depending on the fabric width you have it can be considerably  longer e.g neckline. This way is fairly straightforward with the added benefit of not having any joining seams, which invariably end up in the most conspicuous part!

So how to:

Firstly get yourself a standard ruler – this is the perfect width for bias binding, and mark a line approx 45 degrees on the ruler – if perspex then use Tipex (correction fluid). I have an old wooden ruler and the red pen mark is my “line”. Place the ruler on the fabric with the line mark parallel to the edge of the fabric and either mark and cut with scissors or if using a rotary cutter then cut along length, on both sides using the ruler as a guide – extend longer than the standard ruler length to your finished requirements. Extend by reference to the previous markings and always with consideration to the diagonal and parallel to the table/mat edge. This method can be used and each length can be joined, if needed, in the usual fashion.

I finish all my inside armholes this way – French seams can distort the armhole ease and I do not like overlocked/zig zag seams on very lightweight garments so when I’m cutting out my fabric I cut a couple of strips of binding at the same time.

Give it a go

I have demonstrated with a spotty fabric which makes finding the bias easier to see. I also have enough fabric so I cut in a continuous strip for the two armholes.

Firstly square up your fabric – use your table edge or cutting mat and lay fabric edge straight on this


On top of your fabric lay a ruler with your 45 degree mark across with the mark parallel to the edge of the table/mat  (mine is a red line)


next up cut along both diagonal edges

SONY DSCyou will then have a bias strip and the diagonal left on the fabric can be your guide for the next strip, if needed

SONY DSCfold your fabric from the edge into the middle – (I don’t use those bias gadgets – I find them fiddly and pointless on short lengths)



press along the length – without steam…..


….then fold again for double fold binding  Steam and leave to cool – this will pre shrink your binding, taking out any stretch. All manufactured bias binding is pre-shrunk.

SONY DSC                                                              ready for attaching to your garment

SONY DSC                                                                          finished bound armhole

1940’S Basic Block/Sloper Straight Skirt Tutorial

SONY DSC                                             SONY DSC



At last I have managed to do the necessary drafting tutorial regarding the basic skirt that is a staple of mine and most women’s everyday  wardrobe. I have featured this skirt many times in posts – usually highlighting a top or blouse, recently made, so it’s about time the skirt took centre stage. My favourite thing about this skirt is that it take around a metre of fabric which can often be picked up as a remnant. I have some beautiful cashmere suiting which to buy off the roll would be very pricy but which I can source very cheaply indeed, the resulting skirts wear well and look great. I have also been known to use furnishing fabrics, yes, you guessed, normally an off cut/remnant. I often like to use non conventional fabrics in dressmaking as it forces you to think a bit differently in its application. An example seen in the previous post  The love that is the perfect skirt. The fabric featured with the oversized flower motifs reminded me of many catwalk and high-end high street fashion fabrics. Always consider laundering requirements by testing a swatch of the fabric first. I do not go in for routinely washing fabric prior to making up, judgement requires to be exercised in this regard, many fabrics should only ever be dry cleaned.

First up is the drafting tools. In the picture above I have a set square, French curve, folding metre stick, paper scissors,  pencil/pen and rubber/eraser and of course paper. I use brown parcel paper (lightweight one is fine). All my measuring tools are metric and quite old, although I understand similar are readily available.

I shall narrate all the stages and plot each of the significant points (click on photos to enlarge) to show the process. I was taught both the Imperial and Metric system and as a result I use something of a hybrid. The original basic block formula is from the Vintage Sewing Info site which I mention in the earlier post and therefore uses the Imperial measurements. However, a conversion table to Metric should solve this issue should that be your preference.

Please therefore take your own measurements and make a muslin (add seam allowances) of your draft to adjust fit, perfect your block (without seam allowances) and you have the basis for the designing of a range of  perfectly fitting skirts.

First up, take your waist measurement – on the neat side and your hip measurement – at the fullest part on the slack side

Next up is to square up your paper by measuring in from the edge to plot X



1 from X = 8 inches down from hip level.

Square out from 1 to 2.


2 from 1= the half-hip measure plus 1/2 inch

3 from 1  half the distance from 1 to 2 less 1 inch


4 from 2 = 1 inch. Join 3 to 4 and square up from 4 to 5 the same distance as 1 is from X

7 from 5 = one-third of the distance from 6 to X


7 from 4 = 8 inches. Line from 7 to 4

Measure down the front skirt length from X to 8 plus 1/4 inch

Join X to 7 to locate point 9


9 form X = half the distance from X to 7 less 1 inch from X

10 from 9 = one-third of the distance from 6 to X

shape the waist level at the top


from X to 10 and 7 as shown

Line down from 10 to 11 through 3 the side skirt length plus 1/4 inch.

12 from 7 = the

back skirt length plus 1/4 inch

Shape the bottom edge run from 8 to 11 and 12


Measure from 7 to 13 half the waist size plus 1/2 inch

14 from 13 = one-third of the distance from 13 to X

15 from 14 = two-thirds of the distance from 14 to X plus 1/2 inch


Suppress the side-seams from 10 to 16 and 17 by the quantity shown from 13 to 14

Shape from 16 and 17 to 3 in a gradual run

18 from 14 = one sixth of the half-hip measure for the position of the first back dart

Square down from the waist line to 18 from 19

20 and 21 from 19 = half the quantity shown from  14 to 15

Shape out the back dart from 20 and 21 to 18, making the dart 7 inches in length

22 from 18 = one sixth of the half-hip measure

Square down from the waist-line at 23 to 22

24 and 25 from 23 = half the quantity shown from 14 to 15

Shape out the back dart from 24 and 25 to 22, making the dart 7 inches in length


26 from 3 = one sixth of the scale

Square down from the waist line to 26 and supress the front dart by the quantity shown from 15 to X at 27 and 28

Shape out the dart from 27 and 28 to within 2 inches of 26


to complete the standard draft for skirts

Building a Corset – Part One


As promised, ( – quite some time ago – I know, I know!) I am sharing with you all the techniques on building a corset. Due to the detail involved I will be doing this over a number of posts three, possibly four – small easily digested chunks – I don’t want your eyes glazing over and looking off into the middle distance, cause that’s when I’ve lost you and I’m not for losing any one, – not on my watch!.


Yes building is the term, not sewing, not making! The reasons will become clear by the end of the tutorial. NO! don’t go….Don’t be put off by the level of “perceived” expertise involved, take the time, do each stage at a time and practice, practice, practice!. Trust me, once you’ve mastered the basics people will stand you a drink in the pub, small children will present you with flowers and men who’s wives you’ve made for, will smile beguilingly at you in the street. Also, I am here for any questions, there are books and information galore on the net too. It is well within your capabilities! So Man up Girl!


This brings us neatly on to Tools! First off there is specific equipment needed to build your corset. Here is a picture of the basics- I know, its like instruments of torture! Raid your man’s tool box!- remember the amount of times he’s used your best fabric shears for cutting…… Fuse Wire!!!!!

Well ladies its payback time! He’ll think he’s going crazy – after-all what does a woman want with a pair of bolt cutters!!

Moving from left to right I will explain each tool and its purpose in building a corset.

1. Coutil – corset fabric

2. Stay tape – for housing the steel stays

3. Bias binding – for finishing the top and bottom edges of the corset.

3. Lace – for tightening the corset

4. Eylets – for holding the laces.

5. Busk – front opening closure

6. Steels – boning to shape and support

7. Eyelet die kit (use with 9.)*

8. Eyelet press tool

9. Hammer*

10. Awl – for making eyelet holes

11. Bolt cutters – to shorten the steels

12. Ruler.

*I prefer the eyelet die kit with the hammer as opposed to the eyelet press tool. Some people however prefer the press tool. You need only one or the other. I will be showing how to use both.

Second and of course of the utmost importance is the pattern. I have here a couple of basic Victorian Corset Patterns however I shall be making an under-bust corset the reason is firstly that I am making this for my sister in law and its her preference and second I shall dispense with the need for a proper fitting as its just for yourself. I will be doing a separate full post on how to fit a full corset at the end of the series of tutorials. Also an under-bust corset is fairly easy to do for the first foray into making a corset and it simplifies the instructions and focuses on building techniques.

Here is your pattern to print off full French Corset or Long line Corset Print off the pattern pieces to correspond to the grid matching 1″ key. This is a medium sized corset without seam allowances and if you are larger than the waist measurement (of all pieces at waist x2 ) then you will have to grade up dividing the excess between the middle pattern pieces 3, 4, 5 divided by 2. And conversely if you are smaller. When measuring your waist it is a cinched measurement i.e as tight as possible with your measuring tape.

The pattern pieces are the same for the under bust as they are for the full bust. The pattern pieces are for one half of the corset – right hand side and cut on the double of the fabric to give the left side- conventional cutting technique. Always, Always mark your pieces (number at the top and b= back and f= front as illustrated on the long line corset pattern) as they can look almost indistinguishable from each other when cut. This is a full bust pattern but to alter to an under-bust simply tie tape around you waist and measure from your waist to under your bust and then from your waist to your preferred finish below the waist. The pieces are without seam allowances therefore you need to add  1″ seam allowances to the sides of each piece, 2″ at the top and 2″ at the bottom – this will be adjusted to preferred finish. At the centre back add on 5″ as an extension for housing the eyelets and at centre front pieces a add  2″ to house the busk (hook and eye closing).

Your pieces should look,something like this – 1 to 5 left to right SONY DSC  Cut the pieces out in a stout canvas – muslin. We will be fitting this to the body without steels/stays using a machine tack stitch to close the front to determine the back spacing. Only once you are happy with the fit will it be cut in the corset fabric. All properly fitting corsets have a space at the back. If the back of the corset meet in the middle its too big! You can insert a modesty panel in the back but there should still be a gap of at least an inch between centre back pieces.


The notes I had taken at time of fitting in my sketch correspond to the finished length. This will determine the length of the busk to be used.


A word now on fabric, traditional corset fabric is known as coutil. This is a strong cotton so tightly woven that it is resistant to stretching. They come in a choice of finishes, all corsets featured here in this post are coutil. This fabric receives considerable strain as it can reduce the waist measurement by 2″ and often a good deal more, so great care has to be given on the choice of fabric. You might fancy a nice fashion fabric but this should be underlined with coutil,, (as I have done with the lace using a flesh coloured coutil), if you intend for your corset to alter your shape. Proper traditionally made corsets are expensive to buy for this reason and due to the insertion of proper steels any sold cheaply will invariably be due to inferior materials and will not withstand the strain of lacing. I personally am not a fan of tight lacing, quite frankly that level of waist reduction you can see on the net makes me quite queasy, but I do think for certain garments and special occasions a correct fitting corset can make you look and feel fabulous!

A great book for the novice I highly recommend is The Basics of Corset Building: A Handbook for Beginners: I dip into this from time to time for any number of reasons – usually acute memory loss!

Next time on Building a Corset we shall be looking at cutting your fabric sewing seams;  adding the channels for the steels and steel insertion – this will involve cutting the steels to the desired length.

SONY DSC                  SONY DSC                SONY DSC

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.

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.

Variations on a theme – the copy Marella

I have just finished the two blouses highlighted in the post “Reincarnating closet gems” featured previously.

I showed earlier how to copy a much loved vintage piece and I finished that post with a wearable muslin of the design. Today I feature variations of the design using the design fabric I had initially intended to use.

Firstly is a printed cotton voile, bought on my recent trip to the Paris fabric market – not for everyone I suspect – but I love its vintage feel to the design and feel it could be straight from the 40-50’s.


The treatment was to make the ties more of a feature therefore I changed so they would be wider with point finished ends and gathered into the neck, which has been lightly interfaced. This means I can leave loose for a more relaxed look or tie in a bow for a more severe take. I also changed the cuff detail adding a deeper two button interfaced cuff – black crystal buttons – love;

and widened the sleeve, down the length, for more gathers giving a bell cuff effect.

Second up is a fine printed silk bought as a remnant- this is so lightweight that on a number of occasions I was tempted to throw in the towel and just make a scarf! First trial was making up self fabric bias trim as I did not want any interfacing in the garment due to its shear-ness and weight. This was fiddly in the extreme.


The collar and ties are the bias trim, as is the front opening notch and placket and I finished the sleeves with the binding also. I lengthened and widened the sleeves and fixed a bow detail. There is no opening for the cuff and they just slip on. With this one I finished a lot of the work by hand as the machine stitches are a bit ruthless with this fabric and I suspected if I had to rip any out then that could be fatal!

Both blouses finish at hip level as I intend to wear them loose over jeans, however because both are very lightweight they can be worn tucked in to a skirt or trousers for work without adding bulk to the waistline. All internal seams are French seams.

The fabrics are lovely to wear and all in all I am very pleased (see expression!) with the result. I wanted to make something in a shear floaty fabric for a long time, more for the experience of working with them than anything else and this was the perfect exercise and I now feel more confident for future similar projects.

I hope this inspires to get out of your comfort zone once in a while – In any event, one can never have too many scarf’s

Reincarnating your closet gems

After the It’s a wrap! post I decided to have a look through my closet and pick out those garments that I enjoy wearing time and time again. For me it’s not about labels, and I suspect most people who sew do it, primarily, for the love of it. I decided to list the characteristics of these pieces and found that the main ones are:-

the fabric has to be good quality; wool suiting, silks, cottons, linens and rayon/viscose, principally natural fibres.

The next is of course the cut, it has to fit. I noticed that most of the shop bought items had been altered in one way or another.

The next is the design, I mainly prefer classic cuts, but I do enjoy looking at current trends, though I’d rather give a nod to them by way of accessories rather than incorporate high fashion details into my clothing, vintage designs for me are more aesthetically pleasing.

Finally its the fabric pattern/colour, I tend to stick to a particular palette, and without realising will constantly choose the same or similar colours, which I suspect that’s true of most people.

I think this is a good exercise to do once in a while as it allows for taking stock of the items in your closet and looking at it as a whole. This post is about going back to those much-loved items and replicating them, this time copying the garment without its destruction. This is a technique known as a rub-off, though when I worked in the theatre we called it duplication – this was usually because we would be copying the garment in all aspects, fabric, colour usually to replace a too worn costume piece or as a result of cast changes.

I have chosen to copy this much loved vintage Marella blouse which is now deteriorated to the extent there are holes in the body of the fabric, a fragile viscose, however I don’t want to cut up the blouse as I still on occasion wear it and love the colourway.

The pattern pieces which make up the garment have to be transferred from the garment to the two-dimensional paper. This is best done by pinning through the garment at the seams onto craft/graph dressmakers paper the pinpricks show the pattern.  I use my ironing board as a pinboard – conveniently it has holes along the base which the pins can go through. Place the paper onto your work-top plot a straight line and pin the source garment part against the line on main straight edge.

Find the centre front of the garment by doubling over matching side seams exactly and pin it along the straight edge (c/f fold), next up I pin the bottom and note where the side seams are. Then do the neckline releasing the bottom pins and pin mark the neckline and armhole edge.

The back is done in the same way as the front, separating the yoke from the back portion. Again noting the bottom (hem) and armhole.

The sleeves are always the more tricky – find the centre of the sleeve along the length (folded in half), position this in the middle of the paper and then mark the left side and then flip – still keeping the middle of the sleeve on the centre line and mark the right hand side along the sleeve arm holes.


These pattern pieces are without seam allowance so it is best to tidy up pencil in the lines and then add 1.5cm, 5/8″ seam allowance before cutting out the paper pattern. I would recommend doing up a toile (muslin) and then any tweaks on making up can be transferred back to the paper pattern.

This technique can be used for all garments and as each pattern piece is done separately, the ironing board is usually a large enough work surface, though people who do this regularly have cork tiled surfaces at their disposal. Trousers are more difficult in the main due to their length – though just the “seat” area is the most crucial, adding the trouser length on the cutting table, thereafter so  not insurmountable.

I finished the basic toile (from old cotton curtains, above) and noted any alterations and I then cut out  and made up my next draft – a wearable toile in cotton lawn. I also wanted tie cuffs and not the button cuff of the original design. I shortened the body length as I wanted to wear it tucked into a skirt.

….bit school  marm!

I am now feel confident enough to cut it in printed silk and printed cotton voile with slight sleeve variations.

A tip I use when cutting lightweight, slippery fabric is to place the fabric (in this case a light cotton voile) on a linen tablecloth over the cutting table, the lightweight fabric seems to adhere to the linen. Also serrated scissors are useful.

I shall post both blouses once finished.

…and now for the science bit.

As mentioned in an earlier post I am an advocate of using the useful technique called the burn test. This is used when you have an unidentified fabric, for example a thirfted piece, or as I found recently coming home from holiday with a bag of remants from the bargain bins; and the usual means of identification i.e hand, labels (or you don’t have a microscope handy!) give no clues to its composition. The test gives a general indication of the type of material, depending on how the fabric (thread) burns and the residue left behind.

This is useful, if like me, you enjoy wearing natural fibres or if you wish to factor in for example, pleating etc, some fabrics lend themselves to these applications better than others and picking the right fabric is crucial in the success or otherwise of the finished garment and its after-care.

The test obviously has to be done with a degree of caution and it is anticipated that anyone doing this has in place reasonable precautions regarding personal safety. That is, please exercise usual common sense.

The results are of course a generality, however I still use this in times when I am stumped, a nice viscose rayon can on occasions replicate a fine silk, however you wouldn’t use it in a parachute! Granted, picking the wrong fabric is hardly a matter of life and death; but it’s up there : D!

These entries are from my old college notes – I don’t have crucible tongs or a bunsen burner  you’ll not be surprised to hear, I use the flame from the gas hob and a pair of old tweezers and that works fine.