RTW fast 2014

I completed the RTW fast of 2014. This was great, though in many ways not much of an achievement since I did not need any new clothes! Really most gals could go a year or two without buying clothes as long as they didn’t dramatically change size or move to a different climate etc. The major advantage for me was that I had plenty of time (and money) clawed back form not going shopping to spend sewing instead and enjoy a slower pace of life.

I learned the effort that goes into making clothes. Sure many RTW clothes use poor quality fabrics and maybe off grain, but it takes a lot of skill and hard work to get clothes assembled so quickly and well. Consumerism has gone a little crazy. Sadly, people buy too many clothes in a rush for a specific occasion or a cheap thrill and because it’s not really to taste, doesn’t fit and it’s cheap to buy more, all too often garments get tossed.* I don’t know what the answer is and I’ve not updated my knowledge of the current state of the garment industry in any detail since reading No Logo by Naomi Klein over a decade ago, so I won’t comment further. Other than to say, I plan on carrying on sewing and hopefully if/when my clothes are well fitted and of high quality, people I meet will be inspired to choose their own clothing more carefully. That’s my contribution for the moment.

*It’s easy to buy unwisely in sewing too and I have tried to learn from my experimental eighteen months.

I also learned that I don’t need as many outfits as I thought and don’t need to wash most things very often.

Picked up in Christchurch with my chum Debbie, pretty line drawings

Picked up in Christchurch with my chum Debbie, pretty line drawings

Thea Porter and Lynda Maynard

The other day I was in the London Fashion and Textile Museum at the Thea Porter exhibition and found a book by Lynda Maynard on Couture sewing techniques – I bought a later addition of the book listed here. After ogling the Thea Porter dresses in voile and chiffon, this book made me want to try making dresses in those fabrics even more! I read half of it on the train home and the other half that evening, really excited to make samples of these and improve my technique. There are step by step photo tutorials so I know I won’t rely on the internet as much.

The museum allows one to take photos, so I’ve added some here of the dresses I found most dreamy.

The smocking here was breathtaking - and allows for different underwear etc. Fittingly the edition of the Lynda Maynard book has smocking on the front cover.

The smocking here was breathtaking. Fittingly the edition of the Lynda Maynard book has smocking on the front cover.


More dreamy smocking

More dreamy smocking



Voile, this would be dreamy flouncing around in the heat

Voile: this would be dreamy flouncing around in the heat

Special lily fabric - note the bottom of the top is cut to the shape of the lily

Special lily silk fabric – note the bottom of the top is cut to the shape of the lily


Anna Dresses

Posing in the sculpture park in New Orleans!

Posing in the sculpture park in New Orleans!

I’ve made 2 Anna dresses. These dresses I am extremely proud of and love them faults and all. The fabric on the burgundy fabric dress I love it, so soft. I get so many compliments on this dress and I feel a million dollars. I think I maybe need to bring the shoulder seam forward 5 mm and the back waist seam drops down a bit. There are some lines running from armpit to shoulder which I am not sure about. The invisible zip I installed in the side ended up breaking because of the bunching at the waist seam with all the gathers and I didn’t properly press the fabric before hand picking a replacement zip so it is a bit bodged but I don’t care. I carry this leaning with me.

Black Anna Dress phtographed in Natchez USA! Chuffed with the dress in this picture.

Black Anna Dress phtographed in Natchez USA! Chuffed with the dress in this picture.

The long black dress, well, wearing black in the summer makes me feel good. This was my first dress I ever made and the first flat felled seams I did after seeing how nice they looked in a Hermes top at the airport. The rough texture of the cotton-linen blend I know will soften, but it reminds me I am here on this earth, in my body. The v neck I love as it provide good coverage. It also reminds me that I want to make a perfect v neck bodice with a too low v neck because I love a too low v neck.

I’ve heard people bemoaning this dress because it generates mono-boob-  I evaluated this in the lift at work in my burgundy dress – yes the mono-boob exists, but on a smaller chest it makes them look a bit bigger, so pay your money, take your choice! Will re-muslin if I make this again.

Even though I'm pulling it down, the fit in the back is nice even though I think the waist seam drops a bit.

Even though I’m pulling it down, the fit in the back is nice even though I think the waist seam drops a bit.

New purpose for blog

The blog began as a way to record what I was doing and potentially meet other people interested in sewing. I don’t enjoy taking pictures of myself in garments and by the end of the day I’m tired of looking at a computer screen from my regular job so have not been able to stick to blogging and have been too busy learning the basics to be commenting on blogs and making friends – though I have a sweet little sewing club of real life friends. I’m going to re-imagine this as a sketch book as this will be useful to capture the ups and downs: if there is only one photo of the garment on a hanger, then sobeit.  I loved keeping a sketch book so much during A Level art and seeing this blog as a sketch book with small notes, might work.


Tiles in the lobby of the Paris Apartment I rented out in December

p.s. I’m posting a stack of unblogged items showing progress over 2013/2014 in the next few days.

2013 round up

The sewing blogosphere is rife with 2013 round ups, so I thought I’d add my own thoughts as NYE draws in. Since taking up sewing about 6 months ago, I have made 4 skirts (2 x Miette by Tilly, 1 x Beignet by Colette and 1 x self-drafted circle skirt). I made 2 x scout tees and 1 x tiny pocket tank from grainline studios. I re-lined my favourite jacket and made 2 quilts! I have 3 UFOs which I need to finish. 1 x blue crepe skirt which I had to stop making when the invisible zipper kept going wrinkly for fear of wasting the precious fabric in anger,  but which I will tackle before I go back to work by stablising the fabric. 1 x rayon/linen blend Zinia skirt, which is waiting for 8 more handworked buttonholes as my sewing machine chewed the fabric up when trying to insert the buttonholes. I think it’s becasue the placket was not interfaced….. And one almost finished skirt salvaged from my disastrous Christmas dress, but it’s tartan and in hindsight possibly a fabric choice error…. OMG almost forgot my first jacket – a wool Victoria Blazer by By Hand London! The fabric is not my style really, it’s purple and white, neither colours I actually wear and added to that it’s freezing and the jacket has an autumnal feel, so haven’t worked out how to style it yet, hence it’s unblogged. I am quite sure it’s a grower and will get some good outings, including on this blog, in 2014.

tiny pocket tank

Tiny pocket tank crazed look selfie

First quilt

Back of my first baby quilt. The front was checker board of the same fabrics but I like this freestyle side best!

Looking forward, my immediate sewing aims are to complete at least 2 of the UFOs I just described. Longer term, I joined Sarah’s RTW fast :) That’s no bought clothing apart from knickers and socks for all 2014! Aside from one scarf, I’ve fasted since August and am just really into the idea. While it’s taking me ages to make each garment, I have (almost) sorted out my sewing room and got lots of patterns, fabrics and notions ready and read lots of tutorials. Ideas are settling in my head – so good to be creative! I know I want to make a coordinating wardrobe so am going to take care (to try) not to keep buying lots of random fabric. It’s nice to do without spending all the cash and time wandering around clothes shops. I’ll say now that have decided to buy one hand knitted cardigan when I find one I like. I won’t regard this as breaking the fast because I have been planning this since October but not got round to shopping for one yet.

Here’s some pics of my best hauls of 2013 – apart from the Walthamstow haul which was epic.

Brighton haul

Brighton haul

Mabel's haul

Mabel’s haul

Here’s to a happy and sewing-filled 2014! x

My first me made day

It’s my first totally me made outfit (no I am not making my own bras or tights)! introducing the button down beignet skirt and my parenchyma scout tee.


The Beignet is from Colette patterns and was super satisfying to make, although petrifying to have to finish it and then do all the button holes – they didn’t come out half bad though! Thanks to my fancy Janome. The fashion fabric is from my favourite Tooting shop and was £4 for the meter – just the one needed.  I had some burgundy lining and cotton that I’d bought years ago when I was going to learn to sew and didn’t. Got the cute ivory buttons from ebay – they look a bit like shells – but art deco ones. The best bit of  making this skirt was sewing the fashion fabric together and seeing the transformation of flat fabric in to a curvy three dimensional object, it’s truly amazing. Worst bit was realising that not only was it a bit pointless binding my seams on the inside since it’s fully lined, but also that the process stretched the seams out due to the drape in the fabric. I think it’s only me or someone with a hypercritical eye that would notice the slight bulk under the seams – live and learn. Dead chuffed with it!


The top is the Scout Tee pattern from Grainline Studios. I french seamed the whole thing including the arm seams :) I love French seams, they are so pretty. Fabric is a geometric print lawn from Fabric Godmother, but looks like it’s all gone (apart from the left over bit I have for lining something special). Called it the parenchyma tee in honor of the print – I was thinking those onion skin cells which you look at in science lessons were parenchyma cells and that is what the fabric looks exactly like. Parenchyma cells are the bulk of cells in the body, so I guess that is the correct term. Lawn is a very finely woven cotton and you need a thinner needle – I could hear the thick needle I was using punching through the fabric and it was a lot quieter when I put a thinner needle in. It’s fun when your senses start to kick in when you are learning a new skill, there is only so much a book can teach you.



And one from the back – not great pics as we don’t have a light in the living room yet and it was raining out this September morn and don’t want to get a photo backlog.  Do love my orange shoes, but you’ll be glad to hear I found my grey brogues before leaving the house. OK, off to pop that invisible zipper in the next project…. only ripped it out three times so far.



Circle circle skirt

Circle Circle Skirt

I decided to make a circle skirt as it seemed like a good beginner project and fun to swish in. Wanting to make sensible block colour items, I went looking for fabric in Tooting only to come away with the last 2.8 meters of this black fabric with circles on it. Not sure if that counts as goes with everything – can I wear this to the office? It is synthetic of some sort, forgot to ask in the shop as overcome with excitement. Turned up my iron bit by bit until it melted – just checking! The iron doesn’t work on this fabric, but then it doesn’t crease easily, so who cares. I didn’t even iron until I started sewing.


Anyway, I used the circle skirt tutorial by By Hand London. Was going to mark it on my fabric, but ended up making ‘pattern paper’ by sticking a few pages of the metro together – only took a bit of head scratching to work it out – I had been hoping to cut a whole circle out, but wanted to make sure it was long enough so cut two semi-circles on the fold. I also used the invisible zipper tutorial from By Hand London – when I had finished inserting the zip I couldn’t believe that it had worked out so well first time round.  Was a great tutorial :) Certainly highlights poor quality in lots of the cheap RTW shops – not a concern of mine anymore! The tutorials were really clear and I’d already done a waistband on my Miette skirt, so was confident about how to do that. Managed to stitch in the ditch and everything this time. Finished my seams with yellow seam binding as I’d planned to finish the hem using same, but in the end decided I wanted to machine the hem so I could get started on something else and wear the skirt.  A rolled hem using Gertie’s tutorial – I think it was this video series  – worked really well and is nice and secure for swooshing and saved 4.85 meters of hand-sewing  :) Wore it out at the West Norwood Feast  – will be super fun with heels, but broke my stupid toe so am off those for the next couple of weeks.

That's me looking pleased with myself and Marvel  (next door's cat that I love).

That’s me looking pleased with myself and Marvel (next door’s cat that I love).

p.s. I’m going to try and make the pictures bigger, but first I just need to cut out that fabric…

I’ve started to sew!

I’ve started to sew!

Having been meaning to learn to sew properly after years of dabbling with making rough and ready xmas stockings and the like, I have finally got on with it and made my first skirt! I started going on about wanting to sew after watching Great British Sewing Bee and my friend Sarah told me to get on with making Tilly’s Miette Skirt. OK she didn’t tell me exactly, but I took her suggestion and downloaded the pattern and got started. First up I made one out of Holland Print in a big bold patter which I love. Made sure not to get a flower right on my arse and I think the effect is quite balanced – got a complement on it the very next day from the woman at the West Norwood Feast’s Retro Vintage Market who’s stuff I always covet. Anyways if you are thinking to start sewing, I couldn’t recommend this skirt highly enough – it’s straightforward, Tilly’s instructions and step-by-step guide are brilliant and easy to follow. Had my hand held every step of the way. Thanks Tilly!


(these photos made me realise this top is weirdly booby – it’s now in the trash)

I really wanted one with pockets and so got this linen (or some sort of lineny fabric anyway). It was much harder to press, cut and sew – it was all drapey and kept wanting to change shape. Then when I got the skirt all sewn up, the hem was much longer on one side. After reading loads of sewing blogs and thinking about it, I hung the skirt up on a hanger for a couple of days to let it fall out (giving me time to accept it and not start hacking with disastro results) and then pinned it where I wanted on the 2/3rds which were the same length and then drew round the pattern piece, crossed my fingers and trimmed off the extra.

Here’s the first photo shoot anyway, feel kind of weirded, but told myself I have to post the pics on a blog because I’ve started lurking around loads of cool sewing blogs and it’s only fair to share.


I called the blog ‘Sew pretty on the inside’ because I just love secret prettiness – shoes that are gold on the inside, cupboards with decadent or surprise decoupage on the inside – and Hollandaise pockets!! The waistband facings are in the matching print, forgot to take photos of the rest of insides…


…. which leads me to my next point. I named the blog to remind myself to learn how to sew garments that are well made on the inside as well as out. I just know if they don’t fit good and look pretty inside I won’t wear them. Excitement! x