Failed: Trousers in dark grey linen.

My drafting lessons this Summer ended with a final fitting of my practise trousers. CB had to be taken in a lot at the top. My teacher divided some of this to the side seams which have now become too shaped to my liking (I’m very straight at my sides).

Therefor I have taken the skirt pattern, which I developed over the Summer and which fits me well now, and have laid it on top of my trousers pattern. I’ve taken the main lines and measurements from my skirt and only the CB and CF and width of legs from the trousers pattern. I then drafted all the pattern pieces from that: yoke, waist band, pockets.

Over the past few weeks I took these SEWING STEPS:

  1. inner pocket
  2. waist band put together with its interfacing (non-iron). Including top stitching.
  3. staystitching
  4. attach yoke to back panels.
  5. sew the long seams, adding biais band to catch the raw edge
  6. zipper, good videotutorial from Threads here with excellent photo tutorial from Itch to Stitch here
  7. waist band
  8. fit.


bad at sewing trousers...bad at sewing trousers...
The pocket openings “lubber” terrible… even though they are reinforced.

And the waist band… is too wide. Again?? I keep keeping trouble with the width of my waist band. Even though it too is reinforced and shaped checked and double checked and fitted onto both the pattern and my body.
bad at sewing trousers...
It can be the woven cloth that duped me, stretching. I also remember sewing Centre Front, at the zip flap, freehand. Perhaps I veered off to one side, adding wearing ease. The sideseams of the waist band do not match those of the legs precisely either. All of the above together?

The back sits alright. That yoke is designed while drafting, just a straight line getting rid of waist darts. Not sure about its succes in real life:
bad at sewing trousers...

The fabric is woven linen, meant for curtains. It frays quite a bit. So I was careful with handling it and I enclosed most of the seams with biais band:
The back yoke, the side seams, the inner seams. Pretty much everything is enclosed.

I sewed a jeans zipper successfully, following this tutorial by Itch to Stitch. Very good. I feel confident about jeans’ zippers now.

The inside before installing zipper. CF is closed (basted at the fly) and the seam is enclosed in biais band.

I’m laying this aside for now. I want to start on a shirt. I think I’ll take these trousers to a sewing teacher to see if it can be salvaged. The waistband is not fixed permanently yet and can be easily ripped free. Then we can rearrange the front parts, while I wear it. Perhaps it can still become something wearable.


finished a lined linen skirt, on the bias

paarse linnen rok
Linnen, cut on the bias.
First picture shows accurate colour.

Waist band, pockets in side seam, lapped zipper in side seam:
paarse linnen rok

Lining with a rolled hem and french seams. Attached at waist band and zipper.
paarse linnen rok

Sideseams sewn, folded flat and sewn again. Finished with pinking shears.
paarse linnen rok

Pockets weirdly low as I tried to stay clear of the zipper. Next time trying to combine the two.
paarse linnen rok

There’s tape in the side seam, to prevent stretching. It has a double function in catching the lining. Later on the waist band is put over these three layers: fabric, lining, band.
Sewing skirtspaarse linnen rok

Everything was staystitched too, as soon as the fabric was cut. Fabric cut on the bias will stretch otherwise.

Lapped zipper, my first.
I’ve worn this skirt a couple of days now and some of the bits need refinishing. The end of the waist band popped loose, for one:
paarse linnen rok

Fabric cut on the bias wears very pleasantly. I want to make more.

Bantam dress in linen.

Started as Bantam shift dress.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

Two days ago I managed to prepare for yesterday’s sewing:

  • measurements of dress: bust 106; waist 98; hip 106 cm. Backpanel perhaps a bit less wide. Use green cotton shift dress as a template.
  • cut pockets right onto the panels
  • in the evening I made 8 m of biais band, following this tutorial that merely visualises The Dread Pirate Rodgers’ genius.

Making biaisband by hand

Yesterday morning I started with inspecting the biais band and fixing the last details.
Then I read through the pattern for Bantam Dress carefully, it’s in Merchant & Mills Workbook.
1. staystitching
2. hem
3. French seams
4. bind the edges
Oh how I love that measurements are in centimetres! Instructions are very clear, both in text and image. I especially appreciate that reasons are given for directions.
I live so much better when I understand the why.

Planned modifications: altered outline of the pattern pieces (add some shaping, a different neckline because I like my bra bands covered and add pockets); sew some back darts after stay stitching and before hem.

Then I read this page about sewing with linen written by Carolyn from Sewing Fanatic
– remember to press linen with a cloth, otherwise it will shine.

I folded the fabric twice so the sideseams would be mirrors. I took the bust measurements (106 cm) as a guide. The fabric is four layers and 51,5 cm wide + a little extra for seam allowance.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

I put an odd item at the point where I have to stop following the template and have to cut a pocket.
Started as Bantam shift dress.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

Two panels cut. Only room for pocket on one side.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

Started as Bantam shift dress.

PUT IN DARTS in the back. Freehand (after measuring and marking important points with red pins)
Started as Bantam shift dress.

CHECKING MEASUREMENTS before putting in FRENCH SEAMS. I have 1 cm seam allowance. That’s not much.
I pin precisely. Because I have cut precisely I can probably sew the two 0,5 cm seams.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

FIRST PART FRENCH SEAM. Following the last steps of Deborag Moebes’ tutorial about the pocket.
Started as Bantam shift dress.
trim where necessary and clip corners
Started as Bantam shift dress.

At the bottom of the side seams I leave a vent. I fold the edge under and again.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

FOLD HEM UNDER. First part. The fabric is already starting to fray, even though I do not handle it much.

PRESS ALL THE SEAMS. Trim and grade where neccessary.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

This happens so often with my French seams: bristles escaping from the finished seams. I ought to take my final seam allowance a little better. Or trim better before hand.
It’s because I work on an antique foot treadle machine: I can work slow and precise. That lures me towards too small a seam.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

SHOULDER SEAM and try it on for FIT
Ugh. Way too tent like. I’ll shorten the shoulder straps. Add more dart in the back. And a small dart at the bust because the armhole is flaring unflattering. The pocket is too deep, I’ll stitch it smaller (but won’t cut away the excess fabric because it lays nice and flat now).

I do get that free flowing feeling that shift dresses provide. I feel elegant and fluid.

Now I’ve amended the darts in the back, see how much extra I needed to take them in, I pointed both stitch lines out with my tools:
Started as Bantam shift dress.
These are not darts anymore, they are princess lines. They could even go deeper but I’m worried it will make the waist too small and I won’t be able to slip the dress over my bust.

BINDING neck- and armholes.
2 helpful tutorials on sewing bias binding by The Haby Goddess.
Make sure you catch the back.
Follow the curve. shows how important pressing is.

pinning the biais band around the neck hole. It’s very tempting to just stitch it on in one go. But this step is meant to determine the length and to close the loop.
For sewing on I want to press it properly, so it will lay flat.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

This is how far I got yesterday. All done except for the second arm hole. I just finished binding that.
How fast a finishing with biais band is! I really like that I made my own.

I still don’t understand biais band though. You cannot stitch in the fold of the back and then turn it over and expect the front to catch the back, if you like neat stitch lines close to the edge. Quilters promote to “stitch in the ditch” but how that catches both sides of the band is still a mystery to me.

I tried to solve it in the neckline with two lines but it makes the finishing look T-shirt like. Oh well.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

The split at the sides. Maximum usability.
Started as Bantam shift dress.

I still need to finish it properly: tuck away loose threads and give it one more press. But pretty soon the heat will be here so I’m slipping it on instead and enjoy my new Summer dress!

Shift dress based on Bantam dress
Shift dress based on Bantam dress

The measurements work really well, I only have to raise my arms and the dress glides right over my body. It wears very comfortable too, no need to tuck in my stomach (or keep a good posture… shift dresses might not be good for humanity after all)
I still look fatter than I am in it but who cares, you’re meant to move in a dress like this and the movement will flatter your body shape.

I’m really glad with the pocket (keeping earplugs and cortisone pills handy) and my alterations. It wears so pleasant!
The fabric is very cool too. I wonder if this is actually linen… it doesn’t wrinkle much. Was I a gullible costumer?

Finished: Hoezee! dress

I combined the bodice toile I made earlier with the skirt pattern I’m now using for all skirts. I swivelled the darts around into princess seams and it resulted in this practice dress that’s quite wearable:


It’s an ankle long dress in a bold patterned canvas. Add cat for scale:

Zipper in the side seam, lined with an old sheet. Top stitched.
I took care there were no “bulls eye” patterns over the apexes.

The lining is attached to the bodice at the top. I practised lining a bodice with it.

A high neck at the back because I get cold there. Two long darts, also in the lining.

finished: working skirt

I’ve brought the good sewing machine from the city to the cabin. It sews like a dream. Tension is perfect. Still a foot threadle, ofcourse.
As I somehow dread to continue with the toile for the basic sheat dress which will give me at least five dresses for the winter season…. I made a bag and a new working skirt.

My skirt is from sturdy cotton (“keper katoen”, a sturdy twill cotton) and I made one five years ago which I still use. But it’s at its end now. Full of stains and ‘cat love’ (she claws at it with her nails when she’s happy. It’s ok, it’s a working skirt. I usually wear a half woolen tight under it and her sharp claws don’t hurt me. That’s how sturdy this cotton is.)

I used my working dress as a template for the new one. I had some of the same fabric left.
Can you believe that used to be the same colour?

The top has a red ribbon and I just went over it a few times with the machine. I really had no idea back then. The center back zipper is curved outward here but when I wear it it curves inward, following my own curves.

Here’s a look at the inside. Even though I did not secure the seams they did not ravel irritably.
I cut around it, allowing a seam allowance. On the left the zipper I’m going to use. It is a contrasting colour but I’d rather use a zipper I have than a zipper of wrong length or having to go out and get one. Often I salvage zippers from garments that I throw out. Most of the garments I throw out cannot be reused, they are dead.

Back then I did not know about bias. That is why this time the skirt cannot be cut in one piece.
That’s ok. I tried it on for difference in size and I actually don’t need the wide skirt my former working skirt has. I can easily use the less wider skirt.

Here’s the difference in width. And a sneak peak in how I finished my seams all those years ago:
For the hem I just folded it over and then sewed a red ribbon to it.

This skirt has seen some serious wear! I felted dirty sheep fleeces in it; sawed trees in it; sat on all kinds of surfaces with it. I never once felt bothered by making it dirty or exposing it to all kinds of abuse. This is a working skirt. I love it. I also love that I gave it a red ribbon, it is a small everyday pleasure.

It’s only this week that this skirt has truely met its end. I was felting bright pink en bright orange wool and the dye was not properly set. It made stains on my skirt.

Well, having cut the skirt I sewed shut the center back seam. I clipped the waistband so it would fold over nice. Then I put in the zipper.

I used the special zipper foot my machine has. Wonderful tool.
I took special care to finish everything neatly.

The waist band I folded over, to the right side. I then masked the raw edge with a nice woven band.
This band comes from Marken, a Dutch town known for its historic dress. Just like Volendam. Only different. I bought it there, on a day celebrating its traditions.
This band is used for people who have lost a distant relative. It’s colours are half dark, indicating ‘half mourning’.

I finished it neatly. Now all that was left was to finish the hem. But first: try it on.

It didn’t fit….

With all the years of wearing and perhaps being cut on the bias, the fabric must have been distorted. The center back was way too high. The zipper bulked up in the small of my back, it looked awful!

The zipper had to come out and the waistband had to be cut…
On the right you can see how neatly I had worked *snif*
On the left you see how much debris tearing out a seam leaves. I decided to pluck away all those little threads. Because tearing out is bad enough, I don’t need all those little reminders making my work surface look cluttered.

This is how much I had to cut away to have the waist band follow my waist!
The pins show the line. The whole dress is laying flat, you can see the front band peaking through the zipper slit. That center back is ridiculously high! No wonder it sat all weird and bulgy.
At least I feel somewhat good reworking this without all the little cut threads from the previous photo still hanging around. Like a fresh, new slate.

I cut the fabric, reworked the zipper and the seam and the edge and the ribbon. This time there was not enough ribbon but this is a working skirt, the top will be hidden under my shirts so I don’t mind how this looks. The ribbon is mostly for my own pleasure. A little wave hello when I put on the skirt. And some reinforcement for this somewhat stretchy fabric.
The zipper looks alright.

The inside. At least the back is now in line with the front (a little nudge of it is peaking out).
It has more loose threads hanging now as before. That’s a nuisance as they get caught in the zipper. I could thread them through the fabric and hide them. But I don’t feel like finishing that task at the moment.

I worked the hem as follows: fold over to the right side and sew in place with biastape. All in one go:

Sew a line at the top of the biasband. Finished.

The inside. Not very pretty but functional enough.

I expect many years pleasure from this skirt.

FO: Japanese knot bag

My friend loves her new tote! Now I can show you what I did:

First I made enough fabric. I cut out fabric using the bag I already have as a template.

I then started sewing together fabric, within that form, to create interesting cloth. A pink strip here, a gnomey pocket there. Ad an extra line to a seam. For stability and as an eye pleasing thing.



Untill I had enough fabric for the two sides to the bag: an inside and an outside.


The fuchsia fabric is sturdy cotton. I chose to have the fabric fold at the bottom of the bag, making it unnecessary to cut the bottom.

Now the real sewing started. I made sure both pieces were laying with their right sides together.

I began by sewing together the top of the handles.


Then I sewed all around the bottom of the sides. From handle to handle. Obviously I interupted this line at the bottom of the fuchsia where no seam was necessary.


I then flipped one piece inside out and put it inside the other piece, right sides together.


I noticed that the inside of the handles did not play well together with the outside. The soft pink one was way larger than it’s shell and it was bulking up.


I carefully measured the difference and made a new seam at the top of the soft pink handle


now the inner and outer seam match up nicer and there’s no bulk:


I carefully pinned together the round parts at the top:


sewed it:


trimmed it, clipped it:


I folded the bag right side out. (As by miracle the inside was right side out too.) I pinned it.


The next day I carefully sewed a seam on the right side of the seam I had sewd the previous day.


I then folded the seams of the holes of the handles on the sides. Pinned them. Sewed them, from the right side. Here’s the big handle in the process of pinning. I pin the outer fabric first, then match the inner fabric to that measurement.


Here’s the small handle finished. It seems the seam has not caught all the inner fabric.


I had to do some repairing.

Then I reinforced the lower ends of the handle holes.

All that was left now was “to weave in the ends”. That’s what knitters call it. Sewists probably say something else. “Hide the loose threads”?






parcel send to my friend, she is a crocheter:


card from in Dublin. International shipping at a flate rate!

finished: Anemone Dress

Nothing to help me finish a dress than plans to make a skirt. I really planned to blog each day this week and make a simple skirt! I read the instructions, fondled my fabric. And then somehow spend my sewing time finishing the dress I’ve been avoiding for weeks.

Meet my Anemone Dress:

It’s a sheat dress, using my sloper as a pattern. I transformed the bust darts into princess lines. Only at the front though. And only after I tried it on for fit.

This is stretchy cotton fabric so I thought I might get away with zero ease. I did. (I started out with cutting the dress with plenty of ease, basting it together to check the fit and eventually it turned out zero ease was fine)


The fabric is a first for me: cotton with a bit of elastaan/elastine. I bought it by accident in the fabric shop in the next town over. I went there to support a small shop and to feel the fabric before I bought it. And to celebrate me with linen and make a dress as explained in the Craftsy Course The Couture Dress by Susan Khalje.

As I was chattering about that it was made clear that that was an old fashioned approach, using an interlining ánd a lining. Why not use a modern fabric that behaves all by itself? It’s so much easier! Here, like this one. Which colour do you like?
A zipper to go with that. Thread in the right colour. Some bias band. There you go, have fun.

I fell into that trap. The one where you doubt yourself and your plans. Where you rely on the expert. Only to come home and find you’re left with more answers. Like:

Q: How to finish the seam allowance if there’s no interlining to stitch it to? (And no serger or locking machine or zig zag on my sewing machine or even pinking shears)

Q: What kind of stitch does stretchy fabric require?

Now, a month later, I am very pleased with the dress I finished today. But I had to steer my head in a whole other direction to work with this fabric. I wanted to focus on the shape but instead had to focus on the material. For this I studied online and asked my sewist friends questions. But I’m still a bit annoyed that I let myself be taken from the intentioned path.

A: The seam allowance I folded under and stitched. Pressed open and left them as be. Some parts I gave a whip stitch finish.

A: for the side seams: just a straight stitch. Make sure you don’t stretch the fabric while sewing, let the machine transport the fabric. Having an old fashioned treadle machine was an advantage: it already has the small hole in the footer nowadays used for silks. My machine won’t “eat” the fabric and will not pull it down into the underbelly of the machine.
For seams that need to remain stretchy: the catch stich.

from the book Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire B Shaeffer, one of the best books out there. She not only shows how, she explains why. Which helped me to couple this stitch to this fabric.

I finished a lot of details by hand. The edges, the armholes, the hem, the splits. It’s ok. Handstitching is not that much of a job, it doesn’t take that long. 45 minutes for the hem. Take it outside, sit in the shade, enjoy a little calm.

Front panel folded down and stitched in place at the sides. Inside:

Right side:

The hem and neckline I folded under and sewed with the catch stitch, leaving small pricks of thread visible in the fabric, from the outside right side. With the wild print it’s ok.

Hem, catch stitch, from the inside and from the right side:

neckline at the back:

The inside of the dress is not very neat but the outside looks good and it wears well. That’s all I ask at the moment. Other people might find sheer glee at knowing their dress looks at good on the inside as it does on the outside but I am not there yet. I might never get there.

Now let’s talk about the shape of things.
First of all, on the cloths hanger the dress doesn’t look very good. It’s crooked. You can see how one shoulder is not the mirror image of the other one:
But on me it sits well:
(if you would kindly ignore the fold in my waist and just concentrate on the shoulder and neckline)
That’s a difference between Ready To Wear (RTW) and hand tailored dresses, writes Claire B. Shaeffer. RTW looks good in the shop, tailored clothes look good on a person.

OK, now I am ready to talk about that fold of fabric in my side. It is there because when I stand up straight I stand up crooked. Yes. I am standing straight in all these pictures. I am a twisted kind of person, I curve naturally. I really thought and felt as if I was standing straight up.

This is me standing straight:
SWOING! Would you believe it?! My one hip is higher, my one leg gets less weight, my shoulder compensates my being lifted. I should be called “Mrs. S”
(I wonder if this has to do with the knee surgery I had as a teen, for years I didn’t put weight on my left leg and still have to correct myself often and distribute weight to it. How very annoying! This way, I might grow into a twisted old lady.)
Without a mirror or these pictures I would not believed I was in fact standing not straight.

In the sloper there is a correction for the folds of extra fabric this creates. It’s both in the back and in the side:

I did not apply it in this dress because it has long princess lines and no horizontal cut at the waist where I could take out the extra fabric. I did baste in the side “thingy to take out the extra fabric” but it showed in the fabric print and just wasn’t nice. So that’s how I ended up with a dress with folds. It’s ok, I move a lot in dresses and it won’t notice much. But in a next dress I will certainly make a cut at the waist and take out some fabric. In the back at the very least.

From the side the extra fabric at the back shows very well:
That hem looks good though!

A look at the front curviness from the side. The princess lines take care of that 32G beautifully:
With room to breathe. I like breathing. And is that side seam acceptably straight?

I consider those folds the only thing “wrong” with this dress. There’s so much “Right” with this dress! In the back, at the top, the dress clings to my skin beautifully. No gap. Further down it follows the curve of my back. At the front there is no “side boob fabric” gaping. The skirt flares inward a bit below the hip, creating a flattering shape for my body type. The hem is fairly straight. All the things I wrote about in previous dresses are not problems here.
Yes, very pleased.

Another more twisted thing I noticed: I carry my right shoulder in front of my hip. My left is at the side. I twist my upper body to the left. You can see on pictures that my one hand is more turned inward than the other. Had I be wearing rings today you would have seen one on one hand but not on the other. Because again, I am standing straight:

I’ll leave it for now I guess. If I learn to adjust my posture permanently I might have to make new slopers…

(still, I guess I better learn to get a better posture before I grow old and crooked and set in my ways. But for the time being I want to wear my handmade, adjusting for crookedness, dresses. They already make me sit up straight and breathe better. The twisted posture thing I’ll tackle when I enter the final third of my life, at age 80.)
(what? I’m growing to be a 120 years, don’t you?)

finished! Wriggle Dress Butterick 6582



This too is a dress. I am more critical of this one though. The lining and the side seams are not good. There is way too much room around my hips, I could fit almost another set of hips in there. Or those cloggs, the big ones. Around the hem there’s one place where I had to pin up the lining because it was peeking from under the hem. The folding on the right shoulder is not excellent.

The overall form is quite ‘boxy’ and not very flattering from the front. It could be a much better bomb shell dress and I do have the curves to pull that off.

Look what can be had if the bottom is drawn in a bit (I am gathering a bit of the fabric with my hands, at the back):

But hey, it’s a dress! Lovely linnen. I made it myself. Learned lots. I am happy!

Trivia about the shoes: these are my Fit For Handknit Socks Shoes. They are a tad bigger than my usual size. I am wearing them without socks because socks distract attention from this dress (I tried). It was these shoes or those cloggs…