Sewing My Autumn/Winter Wardrobe Part One and a Half

Well, I started in autumn and now it’s winter – tempus fugit and all that.  Plus, I showed you a mustard coloured blouse I made a few posts ago which I counted as autumnal so that’s why this post is numbered one and a half.   Just in case you have nothing better to do than wonder about the title of a blog post.

Anyway, behind the scenes of patchwork reindeer heads, crochet dogs, aprons made from tea towels and other various makes, I have actually been doing some dressmaking with varying degrees of success.

I bought the two most recently published patterns by Tilly and the Buttons – ‘Nora’ a boxy shaped sweatshirt type of top and ‘Ness’ a denim style skirt – mostly because I didn’t have anything similar in my pattern library.  In the case of the top, there might actually be a reason for that.

I’m quite short and top heavy so, if I’m honest,  a cropped boxy shape with stepped hem is probably not ideal for me and I feel a bit swamped by the style.  To be fair, I used some very heavy 4-way stretch black fabric I had in my stash which doesn’t help with the swamping and it doesn’t really work with this top – in fact, I’m not really sure what it would work with.  I think I might have had a wrap dress in mind when I bought it but it’s so heavy it would probably be akin to wearing one of those weighted vests you can get to make you sweat a lot and lose weight which would be both exhausting and not very pleasant for anybody you were spending the day with.  Anyway, I might try the pattern again in some french terry or some lightweight sweatshirt fabric which I did intend to do, thinking I had some in my stash, but there wasn’t enough of it when I dug it out from the depths.

A long distance photo (because I’m not happy with it) but you get the general idea from that and the line drawing.

Surprisingly, I didn’t have a classic ‘denim style’ skirt pattern so the ‘Ness’ pattern seemed to fit the bill.  I went for somewhere between the mini and the midi length.  I used the shorten/lengthen line which is what you’re supposed to do but it seemed to result in a slight pouch around my bum which I could probably fill with one of those ‘make your bum look bigger’ appliances you put in your knickers – and Lord knows I need help in that area – but maybe I’ll just do more squats instead.  Next time, I’ll just chop the surplus length off the end.  Still in my ‘mustard phase’ I chose some corduroy to make it with – which looks more camel than mustard in the photos.  I chose corduroy despite a previous nightmare experience with some black cord which I now realise must have been very poor quality – I found it in a charity shop so who knows where it had been, or how long it had been there,  before it came home with me to wreak its black and dusty destruction on my sewing room.

On the other hand – probably because I paid more for it and it was new – this cord behaved very well with only minimal shedding and the skirt instructions – as is always the case with Tilly & the Buttons patterns – are very well written and illustrated.  It all went together very nicely and I used some contrast fabric for the pocket bags in a bit of a fancy touch that nobody will see unless they prise those pocket tops away from my body and peer inside which, I can’t really imagine anybody doing unless invited.   I was very pleased with the fly front which is my third to date as I made a pair of shorts a few years ago and, more recently, a pair of jeans which will not be discussed here yet as I am still not quite over the experience.

Unfortunately, with just the side seams to sew up, my last fitting showed I needed to come down one size at the waist and two at that hips which then caused a bit of bunching which hadn’t been there before. – mostly due to the fact that the pocket bags were all nicely stitched in place so there were multitudinous layers of fabric being taken into the seams which had been laying very nicely before I actually decided to make it fit me.

(I don’t know why that right hand pocket looks curved on the left bottom corner – it must be a trick of the camera – see below for proof!)

Never mind, it’s wearable but not as perfect as I thought it was going to be with all my nice felled seams, fly front and patch pockets.  Mr. T. even put some rivets on here and there.

I was going to tell you about another make in this post but I would think you’ve had enough by now so I’ll leave it until part 2 (2 and a half??) which will contain yet another mustard make and another corduroy skirt – can you see a theme?

In a complete change of subject in an effort to keep my non-dressmaking readers engaged, my blocks for the F2F block swap have already been received by Esther in the Netherlands (a swap partner a little nearer to home for December), so I thought I’d add two of those on the end to show you.

Esther chose colours to match her garden pots which are a mixture of soft greens, mint greens and grey blues.

This is my first ever Churn Dash block which is surprising only because it’s a really popular block in patchwork and I’ve never done one before.  I used the central square to show off a unicorn because any excuse to show off a unicorn has to be seized with both hands and a sewing machine.

This is the Zeppelin block I’m making for everybody in the swap as well as one for myself in the colours chosen each month so I’ll have another set of blocks needing assembling and quilting to add to the ones I already have 🤔

Back to the sewing room now to continue with a ‘secret sewing’ project I am hoping to have done in time for Christmas – if not, I’ll be joining up to Amazon Prime for a next day delivery emergency gift to go under the tree 🤞




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  1. #1 by craftycreeky on December 6, 2018 - 09:37

    I think both Nora and Ness look great, we’re all so hard on our own makes…and figures 🙂 I keep looking at the Nora pattern, I’m still tempted! I love the colours in the Zeppelin block too.

    • #2 by tialys on December 6, 2018 - 11:23

      The Nora top is a very quick and satisfying make. I might try it again in lighter fabric – both in weight and colour – as it’s so quick to do, especially with an overlocker.

  2. #3 by thecontentedcrafter on December 6, 2018 - 10:10

    Well, I’m wishing I had your figure! I remember watching Trinny and Susannah )remember them?) a decade back and hearing how they dressed so differently to accommodate their different body shapes and coming away none the wiser on how to dress myself. The skirt looks fabulous. I’m not sure about the black top as you so cunningly made that photo long distance and I can’t find my glasses right now 🙂 I look forward to part 2 1/2. Very impressed with the blocks, they look most complex!

    • #4 by tialys on December 6, 2018 - 11:25

      I do remember them and enjoyed their programmes, even though I wasn’t always very sure about the makeovers they gave to people.
      The top itself is fine really – the main reason I don’t like it on me is because of the fabric I used – I’ll give it another go because it is ultra speedy to make.

  3. #5 by claire93 on December 6, 2018 - 10:31

    I actually rather like the boxy top style on you! Not keen on it being black, but the style itself looks good on you, for a very casual look. Your skirt is ever so well made, and looks like a great fit!

    • #6 by tialys on December 6, 2018 - 11:27

      The fabric is actually black with teeny white spots but does look fairly solid from a distance and I don’t generally wear such a huge block of black on my top half.
      I’m quite pleased with the skirt but, next time, I’ll adjust the pattern so I don’t have to make the alterations afterwards which will make for an even better fit hopefully.

  4. #7 by katechiconi on December 6, 2018 - 11:09

    The skirt looks good; it takes a slim backside to look good with pockets in that area, so take heart, the buns are steely enough. I see your problem with the top. What’s the construction of the stepped hem? Could you unpick it enough to put in a couple of modest darts and then re-apply the seams, to give you just the merest hint of shaping? I like a nice sack myself, but then I’m not very front-forward and things hang from my shoulders rather than my, ahem, poitrine. Besides, sacks are much cooler in this climate…

    • #8 by tialys on December 6, 2018 - 11:30

      Thanks for your constructive comments Kate but, to be honest, I don’t think that fabric works as a top at all. It’s far too heavy. Hindsight is a wonderful thing ain’t it? I have some left and it might make a good shortish, casual skirt to wear with boots. I’ll put it on the list 🤣

  5. #9 by KerryCan on December 6, 2018 - 12:34

    Every time I read one of your posts about making clothes, I wish I knew how. That cord skirt is just my style . . . but I’ll have to buy one since I could no sooner make it! Your quilt blocks are fun–the fussy cutting of the unicorn is perfect!

    • #10 by tialys on December 6, 2018 - 12:56

      Never too late to learn Kerry.
      Some fabric is more difficult to cut into pieces than others. I’m hoping to get more unicorns out of my fat quarter although it might mean sacrificing some other creatures.

  6. #11 by PendleStitches on December 6, 2018 - 12:42

    I love both makes, but I think it’s the black that makes it look heavy, mainly because you have such delicate features and colouring. But it’s still snuggly for ‘around the house’ so not a fail at all.

    • #12 by tialys on December 6, 2018 - 12:53

      ‘Delicate’ eh? You can come again 😊

  7. #13 by mlmcspadden on December 6, 2018 - 13:36

    Wonderful blocks for Esther! Love how you fussy cut the unicorn. And your top and skirt look great. I like that top pattern, but if I were to make it for me I’d have to put a v-neck in as I frequently do in most tops.

    • #14 by tialys on December 6, 2018 - 13:49

      I generally scoop the neckline of most tops and dresses as I can’t stand them up around my neck – plus it’s not very flattering for larger busts. I did do it here but it’s still a bit high for me really – I was a bit nervous in case I changed the whole style of it too much. When I make another one I will scoop further and see what happens.

  8. #15 by nanacathy2 on December 6, 2018 - 14:51

    Gosh where to begin. The black top to my mind looks great, but my excursions into dress making can be counted on two hands. The skirt is amazing and you look fab, Mr T has added some good finishing touches. I love the unicorn block and the other one is bright and cheerful. Just all round amazing!

    • #16 by tialys on December 7, 2018 - 11:04

      Well, with your patchwork classes coming up next year, I think you could probably put dressmaking on the back burner for a bit longer. You have smalls and babies to make for though – I wouldn’t be able to resist sewing up some gorgeous little outfits – although maybe not in grey 😉

  9. #17 by jendavismiller on December 6, 2018 - 18:32

    Well, I love both the blocks, with the unicorn winning my vote by just a nose hair. The skirt is so lovely! It’s evident that lots of work went into it. Re the top: your comment about being top heavy made me laugh, not because you are top heavy (really you don’t seem to be heavy anywhere) but because that left me with “middle heavy” as the only proper body description for myself. And like Kate, I like a nice sack, too. HAHA! And I do think the top could work for you in a lighter, drapey fabric. 😀

    • #18 by tialys on December 7, 2018 - 11:02

      I have another sack on my cutting table as we speak – it’s French terry so not overly lightweight but it’s blue and cream stripes so much lighter colour-wise. I’m also making it in the next size down. In a masterly touch, just to be different, I have the stripes going vertically instead of horizontally which might end up looking like a prison uniform or p.js.. Actually, I didn’t really want to be different but I didn’t have enough of the fabric to have the stripes going horizontally and get the stretch (which is minimal) going across the body. We’ll see what it looks like when it’s finished.

      • #19 by jendavismiller on December 8, 2018 - 20:15

        Haha! Prison uniform indeed! I’m looking forward to seeing the next masterful sack. 😀

  10. #20 by mariannasew2pro on December 7, 2018 - 00:40

    Nice work on the (very fashionable corduroy) skirt. The fly front is brilliantly done and having never accomplished one successfully myself I am in awe! I would perhaps raise the pockets an inch next time but if your hands can fit inside with elbows slightly bent then that’s the right placing.

    My problem with winter items is that I get very little pleasure in wearing them probably because the thicker fabrics mean they’re not comfortable so whatever gets finished ends up as work wear (where I spend most of the time sitting upright). And I enjoy work more when I wear lighter items. I might just skip the wool skirt I was going to do and go straight for spring/summer instead.

    • #21 by tialys on December 7, 2018 - 10:58

      I know what you mean about thicker items – although I’m just about to embark on a coat which I said I’d never do but what the hell.
      I’m imagining you at work sitting upright – are you one of those living statues? Or maybe it just feels like that sometimes.
      I refuse to believe a woman with your sewing chops has not successfully made a fly front – I follow the instructions to the letter and, if the instructions are good with lots of photographs, I haven’t found it too hard. As for the back pockets being higher, I see what you mean – I must try and put my hands in them and see where my elbows are. It might have something to do with my daughter always seeming to take photos as if she’s looking down at me from somewhere. I did place them as instructed but – on my almost done Ginger jeans, the pattern sort of leaves the placing to you for whatever shape your bum is. I think, on the jeans, I need them higher and slightly slanting inwards (or was it outwards?) but if I put them any higher they will cross the back yoke which can’t be right. A first world problem for sure.

      • #22 by sew2pro on December 12, 2018 - 21:57

        I’m always yelling at my photographer not to slant the camera from his height as I always end up with a massive head and small legs. But pocket placement can make a difference. I once moved both pockets from a denim shirt (flaps and all) because the placement made my boobs look droopy (yes, a first world problem!).
        Look forward to seeing Ginger!

      • #23 by tialys on December 13, 2018 - 09:14

        I can’t possibly wear pockets on my chest and certainly not ones with flaps. I just have the hems to do now on the unwearable Gingers. In the end, I undid the basting holding the pockets in position and just sewed them on – I was fed up with looking at them hanging in my workroom. I will pour myself into them for a couple of photos and then probably hang them in the wardrobe to remind myself that I can – and did – make jeans to a decent standard.

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