Hot Weather Hat – Simplicity 5631 #VintagePledge16


I love the idea of a hat in hot weather.  Something to shade one’s face.  Something to look elegant and sophisticated beneath.

The reality of a hot weather hat is that I can’t get one to stay put.  The merest whisper of the most gentle of on-shore breezes and pooft, my hat is cartwheeling its way into the nearest rock pool.  Ah me.  Perhaps I’ll stick to gazing lovingly at my handiwork:

Simplicity 5631

I adore the colour and texture of this fabric.  It’s a brocade-y, terry-toweling-y, stretch something and it is an absolute blighter to work with.  Every manipulation is an opportunity for this cloth to fray and distort.  The hat band?  A bias strip some 62 centimetres long .  Knowing a bit about bias I kept the band carefully folded with the pattern piece.  Over the course of one night it grew a whopping 8 centimetres. 8 centimetres.  Overnight.  I know fabric can relax but this hat band must have spent the evening at an expensive spa resort.  In the hot tub.  Being massaged by attentive staff.


Despite having reservations about the whole concept of a hat for hot weather I found the construction entirely engrossing.  Crown.  Brim.  Decorative top-stitching.  Inner ribbon for stability.  Teeny-tiny shiny bead at the top.

I want to have another go!  Would this work in a wintery fabric?  Must put my thinking cap on!


#VintagePledge16 small print.  This is Pledge Number 6.  Previous pledges took the form of, a pink floaty top, an orange jumper, a black shirt, some purple pants and a zebra scuba jacket.

Posted in #vintagepledge, fabric scraps, jersey, Sewing, Simplicity 5631, Stretch, Vintage | 4 Comments

annual rhythms – sewing, not in circles, but in cycles


I sometimes wonder if I know myself at all.  There’s a rhythm to my sewing productivity and I’m astounded that I have, until now, been so blissfully unaware of this that at the beginning of the year I made a pledge that involved a monthly sewing target.  A monthly sewing target! I’m putting in a request to HR that the figure be annualised because, well, because I should have known better.  Nothing gets made or blogged in the summer.  There’s so much else to be done.  The thrill and disappointment of the new raised beds:  Will the rambunctious pumpkin/courgette-cross that has already escaped the confines of the bed make it to the end of the patio?  Will I get more than 3 purple mangetout?  Will the tomatoes ever ripen?


Then there’s the decorating.  Sewing has to take a back seat when you’re convinced that the sills, soffits and fascia might part company with the rest of the building and the two teens request (quite sweetly actually) age-appropriate decor.

All of this is a very long way of introducing my latest vintage pledge.  A seventies Style, number 1834.


(Nearly) view 4 in a fine, gauzy, (vintage?) fabric find.  It’s a very simple raglan sleeved top.  My sleeves don’t have much puff because I didn’t have enough fabric.  I never have enough fabric.  It’s not a tricky sew, apart from threading the neckline, which was tricky at the sleeve seams.

Style 1834

The matching beads were a late addition and please me way more than I think that they should.  What also pleases me is that the fabric could have been fashioned from my palest pink, grown-from-seed-i’ll-have-you-know hollyhock. Look:

That’s it my lovelies, that was, and indeed still is, my fifth #vintagepledge.  In reverse order the previous pledges were:

4. orange jumper

3. black shirt

2. purple pants

1. zebra scuba jacket

Posted in #vintagepledge, foraged fabric, Sewing, Style 1834, Thrifting, Vintage | 2 Comments

#SimplicitySewingChallenge – Simplicity 1365 – View C by the sea

Simplicity 1365 is a sassy seventies sew.  Think Barbara Bach modelling Bus Stop, think Farrah Fawcett in Charlie’s Angels , think Linda Carter in Wonder Woman.

Think middle-aged lass arsing about in America.

Simplicity 1365

#Holiday #ByTheSea #SaltMarsh #MultipleInsectBites

It’s mostly rendered in a liberty print called Beth’s Flowers and it’s jersey.  Rendering this is jersey meant that I could cheat somewhat and miss out the buttons at the back.  This wasn’t entirely out of laziness.  To me the slim and sexy silhouette said swimsuit and a swimsuit needs a bit of stretch. This is a test of sorts:  Will I be able to make some bathers from this pattern?

You know what else yells swimming and summer and sun and sea and sand?  These ties:

Simplicity 1365

I think that your swimmers would be secure with these.

Simplicity 1365

I was so taken with the idea that this would work as a swim thing that I tried it on top of my swimsuit.

Yep, I think that there’s two-piece potential there.  I’m imagining a high-waisted shorts-style bottom half, I like plenty of coverage.  The top pattern, as written, is fully lined with a neat and fully enclosed finish at both the top and the bottom edges.  There’d be plenty of scope for slipping in some swim cups and maybe some other secret support.

Simplicity 1365

There we have it my lovelies.  Simplicity 1365, a super summery top and, for me, possibly a swimsuit!

Simplicity 1365

If you want to find out more about the #SimplicitySewingChallenge, you can, there’s more information here.


Posted in #SimplicitySewingChallenge, jersey, Liberty, Sewing, Simplicity 1365 | 14 Comments

Weird Crush


Dear Sewsan,

What’s a ‘weird crush’?  I get the crush thing, several years as a teenage Duranie taught me that, but what makes a crush weird?  I mean, surely all crushes are a little bit weird?

I’m not asking for me.  It’s for a friend.  She’s got this pattern and ever since she made her first pair of pants she doesn’t seem to be able to make anything else.  Fabrics that were bought for other patterns have mysteriously become additional pairs of pants.  It’s like she’s addicted!  She keeps asking if she can ‘re-purpose’ my Grandmother’s tablecloth or the throw that I bought in Morocco mid-gap year.  I knew that I had to write to you when there was an incident during our usual Monday Meet-Up.  You know the kind of thing, a few ladies, some lemon tea and Loose Women on the telly.  Well, my friend disappeared upstairs on the flimsy pretence that she needed the bathroom.  Twenty minutes later Loose Women had finished and I had become concerned.  We’re all of a certain age, what if she’d had a funny turn on the toilet?  No such luck:  I found her in my linen cupboard rifling through my antique coverlets.  

I’m as broad-minded as the next person, I could fully understand the fascination if she were making floor length evening gowns or dramatic velvet-collared coats or, or, well more or less anything else.  Pants are so mundane!  I’m worried that in a year’s time she’ll wonder what on earth the attraction was and she’ll regret spending so much time with this single pattern when she should have been shopping around.

A concerned friend.


Dear Concerned Friend,

Whilst your anxiety for your chum is admirable I cannot see that she is doing either herself or anyone else any harm.  Yes, she could widen her repertoire, but from what you have told me the crush is neither overtly strange nor radically out of control.  I’ve come across needleworkers who compulsively quilt and are not content until every bit of fabric they encounter is both pieced and padded.  Needless to say they often encounter intimacy issues.  After all, a padded brassier is quite traditional but quilted boxer shorts? 

I would also take issue with the word weird.  It is an unkind word.  How much more tolerant would we be if we thought of your friend as having tastes that are unusual or unconventional.  They are possessed of a rare gift, they can see  the beauty in this every day workhorse of a pattern.  We can’t all aspire to the red carpet my dear, some of us have laminate flooring.

My final word to the wise would be to lock that linen cupboard when hosting future luncheons – lest your best duvet cover ends up gracing your friend’s derrière.  

Remembering to always sharpen our shears, 

Auntie Sewsan





Posted in #vintagepledge, Butterick 3581, Sewing, Sewsan, Vintage | 5 Comments

Operation Orange #VintagePledge

Would you intervene if you thought that my obsession with all things orange was out of control?  I’ve banged on before about my passion for pumpkin, my craze for carrot, my tangerine tomfoolery.  It’s ongoing.  Orange with everything!


That’s me shamelessly using something botanical to legitimise my colour choice.  Perhaps I need to add another reason to pick such a gloriously gaudy shade?  How about a trip to The Netherlands where orange (and indeed oranje) is BIG?

Have you been to The Netherlands?

Why, yes I have, thank you so very much for asking.

Does that post box look a teesnsy bit damp to you?  Wry smile.  Although I am at pains to point out that we had a truly lovely few days near Eindhoven, the weather was apocalyptic.  Jake Gyllenhaal taking shelter in the New York Public library apocalyptic.  Thunder, lightning, plenty of localised flooding.

Good job I’d made me something long-sleeved.


What a delightful expression I have on my wrinkly old mug.  Can you see why I mostly crop my face out of photos?  Let’s focus our attention on the top.  It’s this:


With a few modifications.  I didn’t bother with gathered cuffs or a drawstring bottom and I popped in a short zip rather than a full zip.


I did curse myself for that last design choice as the wrong side of the zip was then visible… which meant that I felt the need to beautify the zip tape with home made bias binding.

These sort of ad-hoc design decisions add hours to a project and I utterly resented myself for it at the time.  Now, it’s one of my favourite features.  It’s the sort of detail that would make me look twice at a ready-to-wear top.  Sounds like I ought to be taking some sort of life lesson from that.

There we are then my lovelies.  Something over-the-head in orange for my fourth #VintagePledge.

In case you have missed them , there has been:

a black shirt for my third pledge

purple pants for my second pledge and a

zebra jacket for my first pledge.

What could possibly be next?


Posted in #vintagepledge, New Look 6111, Sewing | 18 Comments

New Look 6483 – I saw this and thought of you

IMG_2068Browsing in the magazine aisle of my local superstore I saw someone that I recognised but couldn’t quite place.  They were well out of context you see.  You know the feeling.  You’re at frozen foods before you realise that the person that you have just waved cheerily to was in fact the nurse who conducted your last smear test and the reason that she didn’t respond in kind is that she probably doesn’t recognise your face.

Where were we?  Oh yes, who did I see in magazines if it wasn’t the Practice Nurse?  In the crowd of crafty periodicals I spotted my old friend New Look 6483.  New Look 6483 is to be found free alongside the latest edition of Sew Style & Home.  I enjoyed sewing New Look 6483 and I haven’t yet told you that, so I’m here to correct my omission in the hope that if it takes your fancy you might avail yourself of a copy.

Here’s my first bash, View D in a leftover of grey slubby silky something:

New Look 6483 View D

New Look 6483 View D

Size 8 at the top grading to size 10 at the bottom, finished with bias binding rather than facing.

I admit to being searingly underwhelmed when the last stray thread had been snipped but, on reflection, this has been a stalwart separate.

Looking at the fit of the grey I figured that a nip and a tuck from the back neck would be required should there be a Mark II… Which there was:

New Look 6483 View C

New Look 6483 View C

View C in Liberty Tana Lawn, using facing not binding.

Do you see improvement in the fit at the back neck?  I think that I do.  I also think that I was at one time in search of a sleeveless shell.  I’m not sure that I need to look elsewhere.  New Look 6483 has several neckline options and asks for a metre of fabric*.  What more might I want?!

Finally, much thanks to my kind neighbour who, when clearing out, found this pattern and though of me.

*I got away with less, but I have a lackadaisical attitude to layout and I often thumb my nose at pattern matching


Posted in New Look 6483, Sewing | 8 Comments

Pattern and Pieces

Growing up, time spent with my grandparents, my Nanny*, my Great Aunt and her mother, my Nan, always meant games.
Mostly these games required pen and paper, packs of cards or empty paper cake cases. However, if my Great Aunt was involved, the games would always be elaborate affairs.  There were rules, explanations and very often a performance.  I’m resplendent with sepia-toned memories** of the hours spent building rickety towers from cake cases or discussing character motivation in the freezing hallway prior to a group charade.

One of my favourite games was The Tray Game – the one where you endeavour to remember all of the items under the tatty tea-towel after desperately eyeballing them for a meagre 30 seconds.

Here’s a sewing version what I have invented.

Here are some pattern pieces.  On a tray.





Three pattern pieces. Three patterns:


To which pattern do each of these pieces belong?

That’s it!  #HoursOfFun.

*My Dad’s Mum, it wasn’t that sort of childhood

**It was the 1970s

Posted in Advance American Pattern A106, New Look 6111, Sewing, Simplicity 9192 | 6 Comments

Advance American Pattern A106 #VintagePledge

Tick, tock, another equinox and in the needlepoint of the native British hedgerow spring has started with the bright white stars of the blackthorn blossom.


Misleadingly there’s still a fair nip in the air so I’ve been working on a long-sleeved thing. A long-sleeved, vintage thing. How much work in a long-sleeved shirt? A lot. A lot of work in a long-sleeved shirt. Collar. Cuffs. Button holes. Buttons.  Darty tucks (tucky darts? Tarty ducks?)


Is it worth the work?  With this pattern I’m thinking yes.


I’m very much Team Raglan when it comes to sleeves. I find them (relatively) easy to insert and something about the way that they lie suits my square shoulders.

IMG_9667What else to relay?  This might just be the oldest pattern that I have worked with.  The pattern paraphernalia is undated and the briefest of brief searches gives me a date range of between 1933 and 1966.   The pattern pieces were marked with perforations rather than print and the envelope is not an envelope, it’s a piece of paper folded into three.

Also.  Sheer fabric that frays freely = lots of seam finishing decisions.  I’m thinking hard about those tricky, tricky decisions in at least one of these photos:

Small print

This is my third #VintagePledge

The Purple Ponte Pants of Pride were my second.

We started the year with a Zebra Jacket.

I have no clue what is to come but I’m excited to find out.

Posted in #vintagepledge, Advance American Pattern A106, Sewing | 7 Comments

Purple Ponte Pants of Pride #VintagePledge 2016

These pants got me thinking about pride.  Well, these pants and this set of morality plays.  You see, when I tiddled about in the rockery in what I imagined was an era-appropriate pair of pigtails, I did not get a set of photos that made me feel proud of the pants that I had just made.


These pants:


although wide of leg are slim of hip.  Bless the drafter, the crotch is dropped enough to avoid one set of fitting woes but another emerged in the photos.  My belly bulge.  In particular, the way my belly bulges over the ridge of my (unplanned) caesarean scar.

You probably can’t see it because I deleted a googolplex of images before I settled on the hand-picked few that would be allowed a public airing.  Such pride, such vanity.  I feel that it begs a question or five…

Am I proud that I have grown children in that belly?  Yes.

Do I like how my belly looks under certain clothing?  No.

Am I going to spend the rest of my life doing The Plank for two hours a day?  No.

Do I need to get used to an older, lumpier version of myself?  Yes.

Have I lost the point of this post?  Yes.

Pride, let me make it a force for good. Encouraging me to work precisely for a fit and finish of which I can be proud.  Ladies and gentlemen, these are The Purple Pants of Pride.

Small print :  This is my second #VintagePledge 2016.  Here’s my first.  Squee (very excited noise), this might be the next one:






Posted in #vintagepledge, Butterick 3581, Sewing | 13 Comments

My #VintagePledge 2016

Do you do vintage?   If yes, you have my full permission to skip this paragraph.  If no…  What if I tell you that patterns from the 90s can be included in your #VintagePledge?  Or that workers of yarn, needle and hook are also welcome, would that sway you?  Shall I tell you a little about what I have planned before you decide?

*Takes visible deep breath as she is preparing to make an announcement.*

I’m planning to make and blog one vintage pattern a month.  That doesn’t look much like a pledge.  Let’s try:

I, Penny, pledge to make one vintage pattern a month.

That looks a little more pledge-like.  Now.  One a month.  Is that a little or a lot?  For me it represents A LOT.  I’ve just had a quick tot-up of the makes that made me blog last year.   By my reckoning there were 14 finished makes with a direct 50:50 split between ‘vintage’ and ‘other’.




There was a definite shift towards vintage towards the close of 2015 and that has carried on into 2016 with a vintage jungle jacket

and a little something with flare from Butterick 3581 in progress.


What do you think?  Were you already firmly in Camp Vintage* or have you found yourself swayed?  No matter, whether you are Camp Vintage, swayed, swaying or indeed, totally un-swayed –  travel here or here to find out more.

* totally ought to be the name of a shop or specialist website

Posted in #vintagepledge | 9 Comments