Surprise Sewing Bee – I made it to round 2 !!

Phew, what a week! I haven’t sat at my laptop for long this week as I was working on my entry for round 2 of the Pattern Review Sewing Bee .  That’s right – last weeks A-Line skirt made it through yay!!  Which was fantastic…except it meant getting something else made in a hurry this week.  ( Using up to five mens shirts)

And this is what I came up with…..

My ShirtSdress !!

My ShirtSdress !!


And a few details….

Armholes used as pockets, Collar used on pocket edge




I used sleeves from on of the shirts as a waist tie




Back view


I have some more in process pictures, but my brain is fried right now so I’ll do a separate post at a later stage! There are some very unique entries in the contest gallery, and I now think that I might should have gone a little more “out there” with my make.   But there ya go, it’s done now….! In the meantime keep your fingers crossed that this passes with the judges….  Ps.. My entry can be seen in full on Pattern Review here.

My Surprise Sewing Bee entry

side view posed


I’m very happy to say I finished my A-Line skirt for the Pattern Review contest ( with a few hours to spare!). Half way through the week, I didn’t think it would happen.  I caught a bug during the week – nothing major – but enough to make me exhausted and in need of a day of r&r.  Thankfully by Thursday I was coming round.   So I decided to tip away at my skirt, and hope that it would be done in time – but if not I wasn’t going to stress about it.



skirt front posed


I made this from a black wool suiting fabric and some lace off cuts.  I had roughly  sketched out some ideas:



I transferred the lines onto my muslin and then traced the curved panels onto paper.  Then I cut them out from a cream lace and a champagne lace.

starting applique fronts



The lace pieces were zig zag stitched onto the skirt fronts and backs:  Which were then topstitched with a champagne thread


fronts pressed and topstitched


I then tacked the lining to the front and back pieces before stitching on the pockets:

lining pockets


And then the hip yokes /pocket backs:

pocket backs


The side seam was sewn catching all layers to just below the pocket join.  The lining was left to hang free from the skirt below the pockets:

skirt inside


All that was left was to attach a zip and waistband and hem both layers.


zipper and hook detail


And just in case you’d like to see a few more details! !


skirt back posed

skirt front flat


Overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. But there are always a few things that I would have done differently!  I would have liked to have added some more topstitching, but I didn’t want to run out of time.

If you’re interested, it’s worth checking out some of the entries – there are quite a few posted in the Contest Gallery – it’s amazing to see the variations on the brief of an A-line skirt.   So…. fingers crossed that the judges see fit to put me through to the next round!!

Surprise Sewing Bee – Planning

I mentioned in my last post that I had entered my first Pattern Review contest –  the Surprise Sewing Bee. The first garment is to be an A-line skirt. Not something I’ve made in years, so I thought it might give me an excuse to draft a pattern myself. (I could surely find one in my burda magazines- but I get lost for hours when I start flicking through them!)

But then I had a look through a box of very old patterns and found this:


It’s Butterick 5752 and is most likely out of print -I’d say it’s twenty years old! I have no recollection of why I bought this. The skirt is an A-line and has pockets which I like. I’ll make it to just below knee length so won’t include the pleat at centre front.

I quickly cut a muslin from some old curtain lining :



It fits ok – as usual I need to make it a little wider at the waist and shorten the back darts a bit.  Fabric wise I’m going to use a black wool suiting and then add some seaming or bands of other fabric to jazz it up a little.

For inspiration I’m looking to Herve Leger ….um… not aiming too high then..!! But seriously, I doubt it will look anything like an Herve Leger , I just really like some of the interesting lines and patterns used in the garments below:


You might notice the biro lines on my muslin-


I’ve sketched a few ideas and have no idea yet how I’ll make this work :


A close – up of my scribbled-on muslin:


I’m making the pocket opening wider, in the hope that it will give the illusion of having curvier hips. The curved pocket edge will become one of the panel lines. I have no definite idea yet for contrasting fabric and whether it will be panels or appliques but it’s starting to come together. I’m working over the next few days so will need to grab some time in the evenings ….. fingers crossed it goes to plan :)

Making & Doing…. & an interesting sewing competition

Hi there, I hope everyone had a nice Halloween? I got off lightly this year costume-wise, my kids all cobbled together outfits from a large box of previous years makes!!! So no last minute sewing this year.

Plenty of knitting going on though….


City Cape and yummy Flahavans porridge

My City cape is so close to the finish line. But it has taken longer than it should have tbh. Mainly down to poor planning on my part.
I haven’t had access to a printer so I’ve been using my phone to read the document. Which makes it difficult to pick up easily.  I’ve been scribbling a few lines ahead in the instructions onto a notebook and knitting away but it’s not the best way to work.

Otherwise it’s been a nice pattern to knit and I’m now on the yoke decreases. But my needles are about to give in:


Can you see the split at the join? I can’t get to town today so I’m hoping that they’ll hold out for another day or so! Fingers crossed!

In sewing news …. I signed up for the Pattern Review sewing contest. Probably a very bad idea as every time I’ve tried to make to a deadline something takes over at work and home! But I think it’ll be good to motivate me into sewing more even if I don’t keep up with the timeline.

The first challenge is an A-line skirt. Which prompted me to pull out a (very) old college book – Metric Pattern Cutting by Winifred Aldrich. :


I’d like to draft my own skirt rather than waste money on a pattern that I’m not sure I’ll even like! But it is adding more work onto the whole process.

I’ve been searching for some inspiration online but have nothing definite in mind yet. All suggestions for a contemporary style would be gratefully received! !!
Happy making , Chris :)

September Burda dress 122 09/14


Burda 09/14

Hi there:) Since the last post I’ve been knitting furiously on my City Cape from Purlsoho in a tweedy grey yarn. Unless Halloween costume-making takes over, it should be finished soon!

The dress pictured here was one of my favourites from the September Burdastyle magazine.  It has very interesting seam lines and not too many pieces to trace. I started buying Burda magazines over 15 years ago and once I faced my fear of using them (took about five years!) I found their sizing worked well for me. 



I made this from some lightweight (poly mix) suiting. The grey was a remnant bought in Fabric Select in Dublin and the black was leftover from an old project. I traced the size 36- but as my waist is the larger size, I cut it with 2cm side and center back seam allowances. All other seams were cut at 1cm to make it easier to sew the curved pieces accurately. I then assembled the front and backs and pinned the sides to fit my shape.

I traced a neck facing instead of lining it


Inside view showing neck facing

I understitched the facings and also held them with a handstitch to the inside seams.


I also needed to leave slits in the shoulders to allow for proper arm movement.  When the seams were fully stitched, it meant the entire dress lifted when I raised my arms. I suspect it was a combination of my straight shoulders and narrow sleeves which caused this.


Split at shoulders

I used a centered zipper


I also omitted the center front panel on the skirt by just extending the center front line on the pattern piece and drawing a new hemline.

It was a pretty quick make as I didn’t make any muslin and fitted as I went along which usually works out ok. I rarely spend too much time adjusting patterns unless I think I will be making more than one of it. My to – sew list is so long that I rarely make things twice!