In Which A Bit of an Enthusiast Wraps That Challenge Up

By Hand London Victoria Blazer in chambray

Oh reader:  our time has come.  Thanks for sticking here.  I may have stretched the rules a wee bit by allowing my challenge to end in (cough) June when a year was technically a month ago.

Now I’m going to state the blindingly obvious-  I made more than six garments this last year.  But I’m jolly pleased with how it’s all turned out!  My technique has improved vastly and my speed (whilst not exactly hare-paced) is better than when I started out.  Heavens- I even pin faster!

Before we continue, shall we look at my final piece for the Six Pattern Challenge?  I present my By Hand London Victoria chambray blazer.

By Hand London Victoria Blazer in chambray

This was last minute sub for a bra which was the substitute (less said of that mess the better, she says shaking her fist at the tatty pile of threads and elastics that’s masquerading as a half-finished toile in the sewing box…)  for the rain jacket.

The rain jacket pattern, by the way, I still like a lot.  I simply decided towards the end of the year that I’d had enough following rules and I wanted to make something that I really wanted.

By Hand London Victoria Blazer in chambray

So let me wrap up (with a fist pump, yeah!) my year of six patterns.  I started with the notion that if- if- I could only accomplish making these six (and if I’m honest this time last year I wasn’t convinced I could) patterns that would be an awful lot more making than before.  I’d been aching to make more…stuff.  Wasn’t sure what direction to take for the longest time.  So now I’m properly on this me-made clothes wagon I’m pretty chuffed I’ve made it this far with many more than six items to wear with love and pride!  Will I wrap up the blog now I’m done?  No.

By Hand London Victoria Blazer in chambray

This has been excellent impetus to keep making, keep getting inspired, keep learning new techniques, keep the conversation going with other makers who I now call friends.  I’m part of the community and I love it.  It’s such a joy adding my own little thread into the always-weaving story that’s happening amongst people who love to distil some of themselves into a handmade, hand worked, hand crafted, personal item.  Thanks for cheering me on here, on social media, in real life.  Now to enjoy some rule-free sewing, hurrah!

By Hand London Victoria Blazer in chambray



Pattern is the By Hand London Victoria Blazer  for my Six Pattern Challenge.  

The Chambray One- view A- the outer is of a dark blue chambray from Rolls & Rems (Lewisham) and the lining is a lovely cream polyester (I think!) something-or-other (very heavy and very drapey) with tiny black- adorable- bows from my expert-enabler mother.  Because of the nature of the lining it will not lie flat which is a burden I can bear considering it- as before noted- has tiny black bows on it.  It was shortened a small amount so I can wear with skirts and not flatten them.   Look, the pockets are wonderful.  I’m rather proud of my fabric combos.  Could probably do with a bit more room in the upper arms but my arms are skinny twigs so I’m not sure I want to grade up to the next size (any advice on such things gratefully received!).  Adios, friends.  I’m celebrating with a cup of tea and sewing a couple of darts into my next project!

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In Which A Bit Of An Enthusiast Takes On Frilly Trews And Loses

Kwik sew 3882

Dear Reader: I think I’ve been hoodwinked.  I’m pretty sure anyone who used this pattern was.  Let’s talk pyjamas.  They’re simple, surely?  In this case, a simple jersey (stretchy fabric) vest top and a simple pair of long bottoms with drawstring.  How many pattern pieces d’you reckon the trews would take?  Two?  Four?  Six?

Kwik Sew 3882

How about 10?!  I’m afraid this is very much a Case of the Over-Engineered Pyjama Bottoms.  Is it too dramatic to suggest I was exhausted after cutting all those pieces out?  Never mind stitching the many bits and bobs together until we finally- finally- had a working pair of pj’s!  The other problem is this:  there’s a massive great FRILL along the top- just where a gal wants extra fluff, right?  Wrong!

Kwik Sew 3882

She was delighted she had, at last, learned to read

Should’ve guessed when the pattern packaging showed the models wearing their vest tops tucked in.  Really.  Who on earth wears their pyjama top tucked in?  Butlers?  Statisticians?  No-one, that’s who.  Unless you have a ruddy great frill on your trews that looks weird unless you’re neatly tucked in like a starched sheet on a matron’s bed.

Kwik Sew 3882

See what I mean about that frill?  Unnecessary fluff!

That aside, the vest is fine.  I’ve worn these to death thanks to the very soft and drapey fabric.  But next time I think I’ll stick with simple and make the Margot bottoms out of Love at First Stitch!

Kwik Sew 3882

Yes, I always look this put-together (stop sniggering) and relaxed after catching my z’s…

In other news– and here’s a bit of a spoiler (wink)- I’ve successfully mastered the Six Pattern Challenge I set myself a year ago.  I haven’t, however, made myself Mistress of Time and therefore we’ll all have to wait till next week for the finale…


Details: Jim Jams are the Kwik Sew 3882 pattern, made up with a cheap-as-chips drapey something-or-other from the lady on the corner near Deptford Lounge.  It was about £2 or so for three metres!  After a zillion washes (yup, I made this quiiiiiite a long time ago!) it’s almost flannel-y and wonderfully soft.  The vest is a grey marl jersey from Rolls and Rems in Lewisham, reasonaly priced undoubtedly but not something I remember now.  It’s lovely and soft too.  It’s fairly roomy but cosy and I’m sure could be used for tank tops for general wear, if I were tempted, without any problems.  The trews are made with a 6mm/1/4″ seam allowance for some bizarre reason- now I’m a Grown Up Stiticher I know that’s a SA you’d use for quilting- not a pair of oft-washed bottoms!  Consequently, they’re sort of falling apart.  All that aside and even with the unloved frill, these get worn all the time!  Except in public (until today, that is…)

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In Which A Bit of an Enthusiast Has Her Apple Cart Upset (to Delightful Result)

Friends, what do you do when a beautiful shirt dress pattern comes your way?  You incorporate it into your Six Pattern Challenge, of course.  Now, when I added M6696 to the challenge, it was my favourite (if you’re a regular sewing blog reader I’ll bet you know which one it is without even having to look).   I couldn’t wait to sew this one up!  But first, get some skills, woman.  So I did.McCalls 6696 Shirt Dress

First we had what turned out to be a wonderful pleated skirt pattern (here and here).  Then we had a cute jersey Summer throw-it-on dress.  Then came the over-engineered pyjamas (to be blogged) and The Dress That Must Not Be Named.  All good for working those skills and building up to a glorious fit & flare style shirtdress.  And then something happened to pique my pride.

McCalls 6696 Shirt Dress

It got popular.

Shirtdress in Liberty seasonal Farhad, grey

M6696 became the pattern to blog about in 2014 and it somewhat upset my apple cart.  The apple cart being my imaginary world of uniqueness.  What to do when everyone makes your (how proprietary of me!) dress?  Pondering here, pouting (a little) there, I finally smelled the coffee and decided just to get on with it.  It’s one of the challenge patterns and not one I wanted to swap out (I’m allowed, according to my totally arbitrary set of rules, to do so to one pattern only).  So I swallowed my foolish pride and just went with it.

McCalls 6696 Shirt Dress

I’m glad I did!  It’s as lovely a dress as I’d hoped and, aided by a speedy make thanks to a few days at my parents’ house with my mother’s sewing room available all hours (lucky me!) I realised that this must not be a one-off.  No!  I have at least one more of these to make (with sleeves next time).  I so enjoy wearing this dress!

McCalls 6696 Shirt Dress


Details: Dress is the McCall’s 6696 shirtdress pattern, made up with another wonderful Liberty lawn second (style: Farhad available here)in just the right, soft, grey with a great little early-mid 20th century print detail.  I made the sleeveless version and kept the gathered back.  Because I’m daft I made three bodice toiles for this- but the first was cut in the wrong bust size- the pattern comes with separate pieces for various bust sizes.  Once I’d put that right I ended up doing a small bust adjustment (toile the third) which was a first and I’m pleased with how simple it was to do!


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In Which A Bit of an Enthusiast Allows True Love To Flourish in the Form of a Sencha Blouse and some Beautiful Threads

Hallo ducks!


A long, long time ago, in a life before sewing my own garments, there was a piece of fabric. It was beautiful. It was fluid. It was textured. It was grey. It was patterned in a navy all-over thirties-style/modernist geometric thingy.  It belonged to Someone Else.

The lovely hoarder that is my mama kept this gorgeous fabric tucked neatly in a drawer- who can blame her- but every time I went for a visit I would sneakily fondle this luscious pile of threads in a covetous manner. I mean, I didn’t go all Gollum or anything quite as tricksy Hobbitses as all that but… you get the idea. Then one day I discovered Colette Patterns (still pre-garment sewing) and knew that the Sencha Blouse and this fabric were meant for each other. They made a secret avowal of their love in my head and finally- finally- I convinced mama to hand the goods over. It was a mental battle of wits and not a little glint in mother-dear’s eye told me this fabric had better find a good home with me or I might never inherit the family collection of sewing items (I have it on good authority- my sister’s- that if she can have the oak four poster and the jewellery then I can have my pick of the China, Books, Vintage Ephemera and Sewing Related Goods. My brother (the youngest) will get the House because, of course, he’s the male and it was entailed on him by a stroke of good fortune on my (the eldest’s) part since I am just No Good at DIY or house projects. I also think the weather Up North is abysmal. He can have the place.)

Back to the handover. Glint dealt out, I swiftly put the precious goods in my suitscase and never looked back. Today I present the finished project. This blouse is every bit as lovely as I imagined and although there are no crisp lines to my darts, this georgette? Chiffon?- I’m still no good at identifying fabric- never was going to hold them. It feels lovely on and I’m extremely smuggety-smug at my muslining.

This is still a brave new world for me- I sewed the muslin of view 2 up (although the eagle-eyed among you will spot that this is version 1) and stared at a mirror for a good long time. No ideas. Google searched. Realised that I Just Need To Get On With It: i.e. opening out the tight bits and pinching in the excess from the loose bits. Well, it worked. Hence the smugness. To wit: I will be posting in the future a pointers post about changing the neckline and the armholes for personal comfort since there was very little out there to go on- perhaps it will help someone else. Oh- more smugness- the whole is French Seamed and rather pleased I am with that.

Please tell me you love the buttons? Grandma’s tin is coming in wonderfully useful- and I hope I’m not imagining that these are probably vintage glass buttons reclaimed from some elderly garment a long time ago. They look old. The feel old. And they’re just beautiful. I like to think a former family matriarch wore these in an-altogether-different era.


By the way-  I am working on the next pattern of the 6 Pattern Challenge but this just had to be sewn first!

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