A very wearable toile

So as many of you will have gathered from my post about the shrinking Bettine dress, I have many bad sewing habits. These range from not pre-washing my fabric to ignoring notches (about which more soon). One of my bad habits is not making toiles before I make garments.

For those of you unfamiliar with this term, a toile (pronounced twahl) is like a mock up of a garment made to assess fit, usually in a cheap fabric called muslin. However, one may also make a wearable toile from a cheaper but similar fabric to the one you plan on using eventually. I never usually make either of these. Usually I see a pattern as either a first time lucky make or one that I will get better at making with subsequent attempts if the first doesn’t work. I also try to buy cheap fabric anyway so I don’t have to worry too much about messing it up.

However, because I had just under 2 metres of some lightweight rayon, this time I decided that I should try a wearable toile of a pattern I’d had my eye on for a while. The pattern in question is one of my famously ambiguous freebies from ‘Love Sewing’ Magazine, the Key hole blouse. I thought it would be a nice top for work and casual wear,so the perfect addition to my home made wardrobe. It has the option to put pleats down the front, three sleeve lengths and has a cute pleat at the back of the neck (which it turns out is totally necessary- who knew?). I opted for no pleats, 3/4 length sleeves, and not to make my own binding but to go with a plain black shop bought one.

I just about squeezed the pieces out. I had slightly less than I thought. The fabric was a slippery thing from one of the remnants baskets in abakhans in Manchester. It moved a lot while I was pinning and cutting so it probably wasn’t as accurate as it could have been. But I cut it, pinned it, sewed it.  AND WORE IT!


It is a work in progress. The key hole opening is too large, but I can wear a vest or bandeau top underneath to hide gratuitous cleavage. I will make this smaller in future versions. The bias bound neckline is too thin and done in a rather haphazard way (due to its narrowness – twas the only binding I had). This is being redone as I type (well not literally, I only have two arms) and will be remedied in future versions with a wider, better quality binding. Also the curved hem was stupidly difficult to sew. In my next attempt I’m going to use bias binding as a facing to hem it. Hopefully this will make the curve easier. I also took the bias tape across the key hole in by about a centimetre just to decrease the gaping hole across my chest.

But generally, I love it. I wore it to lunch with my boyfriend and then to an open air Shakespeare performance that my friend was in last week. It was light and comfortable, looked really good with jeans and I think she is gonna be a firm favourite year round.

My next version will be orange. I’m very excited.




Dinosaur PJs

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I really love the movie Jurassic Park and dinosaurs in general. A while ago I saw an item of clothing that I knew I needed in my wardrobe, desperately. Dinosaur print PJs.

As you saw in one of my previous posts I traced off the Margot pyjamas from Tilly Walnes’ book ‘Love at first stitch’, so I already had the pattern handy. Then a few weeks ago I was rummaging in a charity shop (this particular shop is in Urmston and has the uncanny knack of always having exactly what you are looking for) and I hit the upcycling jackpot. I found a bedsheet set (single duvet cover and pillowcase). white cotton, printed with green dinosaurs. £2.99. A steal. It became mine.

Side note, I really enjoy making things from pre-existing items like bed linen. It’s incredibly satisfying to give something a new lease of life as a garment. I like to think of it as liberating the fabric, allowing it to find its potential. But then, I am a tad pretentious.

Then last week I had a big cut of fabric and cut out the dinosaur fabric using the Margot pattern. I decided to shorten them to just below the knee, and make a matching button up shirt from the GBSB book (bowling shirt) to make a nice lightweight summer pj set. But to begin with, Margot.

Construction was basic. Sew the front and back of each leg together then turn one the right way round and put it inside the other leg to sew the crotch. Then I made a small hem to the top, so that my casing line for my elastic wasn’t a raw edge. I inserted some 3cm wide elastic and closed the casing gap.

dino pjs 1


I had waited until this stage to shorten them so I was sure I had the fit right. I cut the bottoms off with pinking shears and turned the hem up about 2cm. And somehow I still managed to cut one side shorter than the other. ah well.



I also sewed in a little tag of green satin (left over from the Merida dress) at the back to remind me which way round they go.

dino pjs 2


Overall, I’m really pleased with them; they are comfy and cool, were quick to make (took me about 2 hours) and most importantly, they have dinosaurs on them. I can’t wait to trace the Bowling shirt pattern to make it a matching set.As they were so quick to whip up, my other half may get a pair of these pants for xmas though. Watch out Jack.

dino pjs 4



Meet Rosalind

A while ago my mum asked what I’d like for my birthday. Usually I would um and ah for a few weeks before saying “surprises”. Then a week before my birthday I would think of something and it would be too late. Not so this year. I had wanted an adjustable mannequin for ages so when the question came I had my answer ready. My family all decided to chip in, and I was able to select the mannequin for myself. Many I looked at online either didn’t cater to my exact measurements or I was barely within their boundaries.

But finally I found one. The measurements started a few inches below mine and went up to a good few inches above. I like to call this wiggle room. She is printed with little pink roses and has a hem marker. As is my tradition, I have named her. This took more thought than finding her to tell the truth. My sewing machine is called Guinevere due to my love for Arthurian Literature. This time I wanted to commemorate my love of Shakespeare, but none of the names seemed to fit. Until I thought back to the Shakespeare play that started it all; As You Like It, and decided to name her after the main character.

So here she is. Say hello to Rosalind!


I’ve already had lots of fun dressing her up as you can see. Here she is  sporting a home made outfit (TATB Arielle skirt and a Simplicity sleeveless blouse, which you may remember from previous posts).

rosalind dressed

I have lots of plans for sewing to come so you will certainly be seeing much more of her in the future.