Learning About Patterns with The Thrifty Stitcher

The Thrifty Stitcher

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to go to a workshop with the Thrifty Stitcher, aka Claire-Louise Hardie, aka the Sewing Producer and chief of sewing knowledge and pattern designer for the TV Show the Great British Sewing Bee. She a WI member too, belonging to the London Stoke-Newington group. (Here is a story from the WI Life Magazine all about Claire-Louise). We learned that there will be a Series 3 of The Great British Sewing Bee and it might be filming pretty soon! You can do sewing classes with Claire-Louise and her colleague Rosie at her studio in Stoke Newington and are guaranteed not just to learn how to make a dress, but a dress which fits you perfectly.  I can’t recommend her classes more, I learnt so much- she has been making clothes professionally for stage and screen for years, but is also familiar with commercial patterns used by a home sewer and the problems of getting stuff to fit. She knows easy methods for copying existing clothes to. Read More »

Sew For Victory – Tara Starlet Tribute

I just remembered to share my inspiration for the Sew For Victory dress!

Top two Tara Starlet Lace Collar dress, bottom two my Sew For Victory dress
Top two Tara Starlet Lace Collar dress, bottom two my Sew For Victory dress

As previously mentioned in my Sew For Victory challenge posts, this is the “Blitz” Dress from Sew La De Da Vintage patterns, but what it really reminded me of was a dress from a few seasons ago from Tara Starlet – a wonderful vintage inspired fashion label, both ethical leaning and local to me. I have a few pieces from Tara Starlet and if money allowed I’d buy more. Unfortunately this one was out of stock in my size before I could afford it.

Read More »

Sew For Victory Second Try and a trip to Liberty

My Disaster Dress

Oh my! Did I get over ambitious and oh did it go wrong. But finally I have a wearable dress and a bunch of fabric and stuff happened. This is the Blitz dress pattern again, for the first time made out of fabric rather than an old sheet, but not yet made with the very expensive fabric. The lovely lacy collar was a thrifted find, from Leona who has a online shoppe called Thriftola.

Read More »

Sew For Victory – The First Try

So I have my Blitz dress pattern and a sheet. First job was to trace from the printed pattern sheets onto tissue. I normally do this so I don’t have to cut the original pattern, in case I want to go back and cut a different size, but on this occasion it was also necessary as the original pattern is on such thick paper, it would be difficult to work with. The pattern handily has the the different sizes marked with different colours, so no following a dotted line, I just followed the purple one.

After the chat I had with Caroline of Sew La Di Da Vintage when I bough the pattern at the Selvedge Winter Fair, I decided to cut a size 12. She had mentioned the discrepancy between UK high street sizing and sewing pattern sizing and told me her patterns follow the high street.

The pattern looked a little strange, as the grain lines were abnormally enormous (see photo below). Tilly assisted by sitting on things when ever she could, and occasionally trying to eat the tissue paper.

Wondercat on pattern

Read More »

Sew for Victory – Beginning and Pinspiration

I’m taking part in a vintage fashion sewing challenge from Rochelle of Lucky Lucille blog, to make something 40s style between  March 15th 2014 and 30th April 2014. Have a look yourself at http://luckylucille.com/2014/03/sew-for-victory-2-0/. The challenge allows for new and vintage patterns with a forties style, that can cover some late 30s and early 50s patterns too.

I already had a Pinterest board dedicated to every decade from the 20s – 90s. Here is the 1940s one.

Read More »

Craft Plans for April and something from my UFO closet

I’ve got a holiday coming up, which I am really excited about. It’s quite a niche sort of thing. I’m off to Torquay, which is on the south coast of Britain, to stay in a barn ten minutes from Agatha Christie’s house (shown below). I’ll be spending the week visiting country houses, castles, going on a steam train ride and having afternoon tea with scones with Mr Useful. Agatha Christie called the area the loveliest place in the world.


In preparation, I’ve bought a book of her short stories to read before I go and an audio book of a play called The Spider’s Web to listen to while I sew up some vintage style outfits to wear.

Read More »

A top book to help make your own clothes (plus my first making disaster)

The Encyclopedia of Sewing Techniques

The Encyclopedia Of Sewing Techniques by Wendy Gardiner

Before I bought my sewing machine, when it was just a whim that I might make my own clothes, I checked out this book to see what kinds of thing I might need to learn. It convinced me that it was a sound idea and so I bought my sewing machine and haven’t yet regretted it (unlike the knitting machine, much regret there). It was so useful that I ended up with library fines for not returning it on time and had to buy my own copy.

So with this book, having read the sewing machine manual and bought some charity shop sheets, cotton saris and curtains to practice on, and some sewing patterns from eBay, I got on with making stuff. I had some disasters, but that I made anything at all is down to this book, as I’m completely self taught. (More after the jump, this is a long post!)Read More »

Hollyburn skirt from Sewaholic

Thanks to a website called TrixieLixie this pattern went from being an idea late at night looking at images on Pinterest, to  ordering the next day and then having the pattern in my hand at 9am the day after.

It seemed like a shame not to keep up the momentum, like this skirt wants to be made now! I’m having a fabric quandry, as I think my corduroy might be too heavy and also a trickier fabric to sew than cotton, but I’m seizing the day and getting out some burgundy cord from eBay which has been in my stash for four years.

Sewaholic is a Canadian company I have learnt about from other sewing blogs. The packaging a good and the pattern is on real tissue, so extra points to them (as some indie pattern companies are just on regular paper).

Clever Fabric Shopping – Tip 1 Using Pinterest

The pitfalls of fabric acquirement –  Friends have seen my piles of fabric and told me I don’t need to buy any more. I’ve made all the mistakes you can make. Now I am trying to practice clever and well planned fabric shopping.

So imagine this – you are in Walthamstow, Goldhawk Road, Liberty, The Knitting and Stitching Show or Soho, absolutely surrounded by fabric choices and fabric shops. This should be heaven, but after ten minutes your brain will have a melt down. It is fabric choice overload. So many prints side by side. Your eyes glaze over as each bolt leads to a mental conundrum of “What could I make with that?” The danger of unsuitable purchases is high. You want to avoid:

  • too little fabric for the pattern you plan to make
  • fabric you have no pattern for (and so might never use)
  • buying it just because it is a bargain (and never using it)
  • buying too much fabric for the pattern
  • over spending

These will all lead to a massive fabric hoard, rather than an amazing new wardrobe of made by you clothes. But then carrying a large collection of patterns to the shops is difficult. Taking a list you have carefully prepared with exactly how much you need for that vintage style pair of trousers, would be a good idea, but what happens if you find a surprise, exactly the perfect fabric for a dress at a great price?

The solution is Pinterest

I have photographed all my sewing patterns and pinned them directly from my phone. So as soon as my eyes start to glaze, I can remind myself with a quick swipe through the pictures and I am back on track, shopping for a purpose – Genius! Even cleverer is adding text- It doesn’t take long to tag that photo with exactly how much fabric it needs and the size of the zip or how much interfacing is needed.

I’m an avid Pinterest pinner. For those who don’t know, it is a site for bookmarking websites by making “pins” which are a photo from the site and a bit of text added by you. But why it is brilliant for general purposes is that you can follow other people and search everyone’s pins. By following lots of crafters, I get a daily pick of the web, curated by people with the same interests. If I search for something, it will bring me pictures which have been chosen by other people, so it adds some quality control that a Google image search wouldn’t. And it works brilliantly on a phone. (The web version annoys me by having a too busy layout).

Here is a link to my sewing pattern board, for a bit of pinspiration.
Follow Caroline Brooks’s board Craft: My Sewing Patterns on Pinterest.