Monday, 30 January 2012


Chanel 2012 (JBB)
Doobee posted the other day about where she finds inspiration from - and boy she can not only find it at risk to her personal safety but also uses it. So I got to thinking about where the inspiration comes from. Mostly I pick ideas up from the Internet - other blogs, reviews and the like including a quirky French blog I follow - Folie de Mode - where JBB takes surreptitious photographs around Paris including the windows of the big designer houses. At the beginning of January she posted this image taken at Chanel. I fell in love with this suit, not just because it is Chanel though that's a big reason, but I loved the skirt - that extra panel at the bottom just made a plain pencil skirt a little bit different.
Chanel 2012

Then lo and behold at Fashion Week, what walks down the catwalk (runway) but the same suit. Note the button changes for the fashion show compared to the window display.

This was going to be my next project. Now that I have a stash - I dutifully selected one of the Shetland wools called deliciously, Watermelon, and set to. Got a problem. I only ordered 2 yds (2.2m) and this is very limiting when you want to make a below knee skirt and jacket to match. Careful pattern selection, placement and cutting is essential. 
Burda 01/2012
Around the same time I purchased Burda magazine and they featured a 6 gore pencil skirt. It's supposed to be made up in their lingerie section but when have I ever listened to advice? Looking closely at the Chanel skirt - it has a centre seam (which I don't like) and a yoke (which I do). So using the 6 panel skirt pattern I looked for a yoke. This probably falls into the vintage era: a 1980s DKNY American Designer pattern, but the centre skirt has a yoke. And better still it's 6 panels! Perfect.

 So the yoke from Donna, the skirt pattern from Burda - appropriately modified to allow for the yoke- and off we go.  I opted for a side zip instead of a back placement to keep the yoke intact.

While making up I decided to add a few extra touches. All the front and back seams are topstiched and just sit back and admire the matching of those seams. I added the bottom panel, just like Chanel, but put in a small kick pleat at the back so that I could walk.

The zip is an old fashioned non-invisible one so I put this in by hand and that's when I went retro......
I needed a jacket that didn't use up too much fabric but looked right with a straight skirt. So internet image hunting produced some further inspiration. I've moved a decade from the late 1940s (vintage suit) to the early 1960s

There's Jackie O in nearly the same colour as my suit - must be an omen!  I like the Butterick pattern on the right, but I wanted to sew this weekend not wait around for a pattern to arrive via post. So I went to my pattern stash - oh yes I have one of those - and dug out Vogue 1127 for the jacket. The jacket is unlined apart from the sleeves in the pattern instructions but I line most of my clothes and this was not going to be the exception. 

To make a lining for a jacket without specific pieces is easy. Just cut the same pattern pieces in the lining but remove the extra for the front facings. Lay the front facing piece on the cut lining and mark in 1.5cm (5/8") for seam allowance. Stitch the front facing to the lining and then sew the lining and the jacket together at the edges, right sides together. Do not sew the hem. Then turn right way out and voila! a lined jacket. You might have to put a small pleat in here and there but this helps with ease when wearing the jacket. I went for the 3/4 sleeve length again

The skirt is finished - ready for a final press but the jacket needs hemming on the sleeves and bottom. I'm at a dilemma about the buttons though. 

What do you think? Covered as in catwalk style or large and fancy for statement?

Thanks for reading. Ruth

Saturday, 28 January 2012

The International Language of Fashion

Добро пожаловать на мой блог швейные. Спасибо, что нашли время, чтобы остановиться и посмотреть на то, что я делаю. Я надеюсь, что вы можете понять это сообщение, и найти то, что вас интересует.

Ласкаво просимо на мій блог швейні. Дякуємо, що знайшли час, щоб зупинитися і подивитися на те, що я роблю. Я сподіваюся, що ви можете зрозуміти це повідомлення, і знайти те, що вас цікавить.

Спасибо за чтение. Рут

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Bad company

I've never had a stash.

I know that is an anathema to many of you - but here's how it worked..... I'd decide on a garment that I'd like to sew or maybe needed, source the pattern, buy the fabric and make it. While hemming or finishing up I'd start to think about the next project and the process would start all over again, ad infinitum. No stash! Buy what I need only. My stash consisted of leftover scraps, really not much use to man nor beast.

Then I started to get involved in the online sewing world - and there's just no two ways about it - you lot are a bad influence on me. While reading Unzipped, Robyn mentioned that Fabric Mart had a sale on. Well I just had to have a look didn't I? No harm in that.

Then at the start of the year many of you posted about your wonderful sewing rooms and closets full of stashed fabric that was systematically ordered and catalogued, draped on hangers, just waiting to be sewn. See Pretty's here: Susan has an impressive one: Slapdash regularly updates hers. And I understand, if a fabric is gorgeous and on sale better to buy it there and then rather than full price or miss out all together.

There were many postings posing questions about what do you do with your stash: stash busting challenges etc etc etc. Well, I just couldn't comment or join in, could I?

Eh mm. See below.

The sales in America were so good that it was worth paying the tax to the customs man to bring it into the UK. If I lived in the States I'd be penniless but I'd have wonderful fabric. Now I know this meagre offering pales into insignificance in the face of some of your stockpiles but this is extravagant for me.

Either I'm in bad company or I'm easily influenced because now - I've got a stash.

Thanks for reading. Ruth

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Vintage a la mode

This was not a suit of two halves:
Vintage Vogue 2476 - original from 1949
now OOP


  • Muslin mock-up
  • 18 pattern pieces (cut twice)
  • 10 weeks of (intermittent) hard labour
  • 2.5 m fabric
  • 2.5 m organza
  • 2m lining
  • 1.5m canvas interfacing
  • 3m cotton tape
  • 1m twill tape
  • 600m navy thread
  • 300m tacking (basting) thread
  • 4 steel buttons 
  • 3 hand sewing needles
  • wax
  • 6 pints water (steam pressing)
  • Bleeding fingers
  • Frustration - Ennui - Perseverance
  • 1.7m fabric
  • 1.7m lining
  • 4 pattern pieces (cut twice)
  • 200m navy thread
  • 1 zip
  • Length of interfacing
  • 2.5 m twill tape
  • 3 hours - cutting out, sewing, trying on and pressing
Notice the difference?
The pattern says advanced and most definitely this applies to the jacket, but the skirt is tres facile!

The jacket as was last seen but with shoulder pads and sleeve heads attached.

Say goodbye to all that hard work and say hello to 

vintage a la mode......

 The lining of the skirt can just be seen here as I straighten the seam on my 1940s stockings - it matches the jacket.

But look, I can move in this fitted jacket! I can bend and stretch and sit without too many puckers or wrinkles.

It is a jacket that buttons high up so no blouse is required underneath, just a lovely 1940 style silk camisole (if I had one).

And the shoes.... These are almost as old as the pattern that I've forgotten where they came from. I call them my "cartoon shoes" 'cause they remind me of a female cartoon character's footwear. Anyway, they're navy, so match the suit and I noticed the other day in a movie that two-tone court shoes were popular in the 1940-50s - so quite in keeping with the era, I think.

Oh, there are wrinkles on the sides of the jacket where there shouldn't be, I machined the skirt hem instead of slip stitching, the points on the lapels are not sharp (in fact they don't resemble the pattern at all), my bound button holes do not deserve a close up, etc, etc, etc.... but boy! do I feel a million dollars in this suit. It is comfortable, smart and most importantly - FINISHED.

Problem is - what do I do now?

Thanks for reading. Ruth


Sunday, 15 January 2012

The Real Suede Says......


When I posted about the Vogue Guy Laroche dress made from synthetic suede, I tried to come up with an interesting and fun title - so I played around with the idea of designers/fabric and stuff like that and it resulted in Suede Says..etc....  Anyway, the internet being what it is alerted the real Suede (Project Runway 5) that I'd used his trademark (only slightly). He commented on the post and has been in contact since.

I don't normally do product endorsements having such a busy schedule and all, but seeing as he asked so nicely and took the time to write to me, I've made an exception.

Hey Ruth:

My pleasure.. Keep up the great work..
not sure if you know but starting 1/24 is the first ever
SUEDEsays™ SEWalong 4 a Cause.

Would love you to join and write about it.  I'm not the moderator of the closed group but please feel free to join if you can..
Should be lots of fun.

Details below..


Hi Fellow Fashionistas....

SUEDEsays™ SEW 4 a CAUSE: Overnight Bag Sew Along.

Create a hot overnight bag with SUEDEsays Simplicity Patterns #0109 ( and support Keep a Child Alive.

This sew Along will include video tutorials with tips and techniques for zippers, piping and much more.. Great for this bag and so many other projects....

ROCK in the New Year2012 with this AMAZEballz overnite bag.....

ROCKon my fellow FASHIONISTAS!!!


Note: I am not the moderator or the leader of this group.. Just so honored that its the firstever SUEDEsays™ SEWalong...


I've never made a bag, apart from some crappy, floppy things with left over fabric that after sewing still look like left over fabric. So,  why not have a go?
Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Padding on about Vintage

I think I'm still getting used to routine again after the Christmas holidays and it's taking a little while to re-adjust to setting aside time for sewing, blogging (reading and posting), while being back at work and dealing with everyday stuff too. Anyway, seem to getting there and while nothing new has emerged from the sewing room for the last 10 days at least I got on with the vintage jacket. 

I started this on November 21st and set myself 10 weeks for completion. At what point does a project become a UFO? In that first post on the subject I also stated that I wasn't going to update you dear and patient readers with tales of pad stitching, but I had my figures crossed when I wrote that so it doesn't count and therefore now follows a tale about pad stitching........

Scott Perkins - Garb for Guys
Pad stitching is when you sew the shell fabric to hair canvas and/or wadding not just as an interfacing and stiffener but for specific shaping. Most commonly used at the collar and lapels of tailored jackets, and in men's tailoring can also be used on the inside chest shield to add extra firmness and prevent wrinkling between arm and neck. You stitch parallel to the fold or roll line for shaping with small diagonal stitches - smaller and denser stitches for shaping and sparser, larger stitches for firmness. the stitches go through all thicknesses of fabric, so exactly matching thread is essential and neat hand stitching is a must. the stitches shouldn't show on the outside at all!

There is a wealth of info out there on how to and where to and why, with video, blogs and books galore for you to explore. I would draw your attention to a perfectly simple and short explanation by Scott Perkins of "Garb for Guys" . Now Scott makes historical costumes and not really for everyday wear but that goes to show you how old and well tested pad stitching is. It is a very effective method of controlling shape and adds that touch of je ne c'est quois to a hand made outfit. There are no short cuts - it's hand sewing and a good light.

Here is a picture of one lapel pad stitched and the other not. You can clearly see the difference it makes to the roll and lie of the lapel - once pad stitched the lapel falls naturally and easily to the outside of the jacket front, while the other side just wants to stand away. This hasn't been pressed yet either.

I know my photography leaves a lot to be desired but the above pic shows the outside of the lapel and you can just about make out tiny ripples in the fabric - this is the pad stitching - barely visible but a signature mark of a hand made jacket.  I don't think I have perfected the technique yet as I end up with pad-stitched fingers too! See, suffering for my art!

Ultimately this jacket is a slow make, and not helped either by my wayward sewing projects over the holidays instead of concentrating on this. But there has been some progress.

I've gone from this..............                                            and this...................

to this .................and this.....................

And here's the very ugly, but beautiful to me, insides. The fronts are taped along the lapel roll lines, the front edge of the jacket and part way along the hem. This ensures the fronts hang perpendicular to the floor when the jacket is open; catches the raw edge of the constantly fraying canvas and gives you a great sense of achievement when it's done.

The button holes are bound in the shell fabric and hand stitched in place. I added a much softer and looser canvas across the shoulders and back for extra shaping and firmness.

You can see how this fabric frays like mad - so every raw edge needs some sort of treatment otherwise the whole jacket would unravel like a jumper.

Sorry I don't have  pretty pictures for you to look at - maybe soon.

I have teenage son's summer school graduation in two week's time - that's also coincides with my 10 weeks construction prediction. Haven't started on sleeves yet or lining, shoulder pads still to do, finish the collar and front facings!
Will the vintage jacket be completed on time?
Stay tuned.....

Thanks for reading. Ruth

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Suede Says Guy Laroche

Original on the catwalk
Vogue 1268

Make your own version using Vogue 1268.
Wrap over short dress in synthetic suede with snap fastener closures.

Looks simple doesn't it? Many of the plainest and unadorned garments are the trickiest to do well as there is nothing to distract the eye from the flaws and imperfections.

I went internet diving for advice, reviews, experiences on this one and surfaced with only one. SewBarbie was halfway through hers when the festivities arrived and so her sewing had to be put on hold.  I'm a wee bit glad that everything is returning to normal - something to be said for normal.

Keeping to my philosophy of never wearing anything above the knee, my intention was to make this to wear as a tunic over my (p)leather Clovers. It also falls into my "now for something different" category  as I have never sewn with synthetic suede before.

However, I had a bit of bother with this one: photomentary follows.......

The blouse and skirt are made separately and then stitched together. Here are both items pinned on Doris and everything is going well at this stage.

The whole dress is fully lined - down the sleeves too. On the right is the blouse inside out with the facings and the body lining - sleeves yet to do. The Yeti very kindly gave up its lining so that this little designer number could be completed. I quite like the black against the sand- coloured suede, especially as I intended to wear this with black Clovers.

Then I sewed the blouse to the skirt, matched the waist lines on Doris and just look at the gap! My bust isn't going to fill that!

So I pinned it out and look how much has to be taken off. At this stage I'm now very concerned that I've done something wrong because it is so far out. Believe me, I wrapped and jiggled and breathed in and out, I thought I'd forgotten how a wrap dress worked, but nothing would raise that right hand waist line. So out with the ripper and start again. This is easier said than done. At this stage in the construction the linings are attached to the front facings on both the blouse and the skirt and the two halves are sewn together in one big loop. So the lining had to be ripped out as well and pinned to roughly match the outside.

In the end a whopping 7" was removed from the right hand side and 2" from the left. At least the left and right waist lines match up now.

The instructions say to sew about a million snaps across the front with scraps of suede as reinforcement sewn into the lining. Honestly, I couldn't be bothered. It was 4.00pm on NewYear's Eve and I was hoping to wear this at our house party that night.

Unless I'm missing a page from the instructions there is no mention of hemming the skirt. The blouse is so well finished that this seemed a bit odd to me. So I dug out some old craft glue and stuck the hem up.

I was a bit unhappy with the cuffs. They are floppy - meant to be - but the interfacing I used was maybe too stiff and my cuffs were 'heavy'. I sewed little wooden beads to both sides to keep the cuffs folded up and to prevent drooping and flopping into my champers.

It all worked out OK in the end. I did indeed wear the dress on New Year's Eve with opaque tights and knee high boots, not Clovers, and added a belt. These photos were taken before hair, make-up and other accessories were added.

Close up of cuffs and label.
 I sewed over large plastic snaps that were in my bits box to suede squares and then sewed the squares to the dress. (On the night, the inside was held in place with a safety pin!)
 Fully lined.
My fabric was purchased over the internet so I had no idea about hand or weight. Ultimately, I think this synthetic suede is a little too thick for this dress. When you compare my version with the original picture and the Vogue image, mine doesn't drape as well and my blouson gathering at the waist puffs out too much rather than softly caressing the body.

Ah well, live a little, learn a little.

Actually I quite like it - though I will shorten it by a few inches and wear it as intended - as a tunic with Clovers. Talking of which a dark brown (p)leather has just arrived - so guess what?

Thanks for reading. Ruth