Vogue 1247 Giveaway

This is the Vogue 1247 top, designed by Rachel Comey and sewn hurriedly by Marianna as she felt an immediate need for a garment that would disguise her mince-pie-thickened, post-Christmas waistline!

Today was an unusual day in that it rained less and actually dawned.  After going stir-crazy from eating and drinking solidly for a week, we took our sluggish selves for a walk along the Thames Path in Greenwich (and a long walk, I may add, hence the trench boots).  From the scandalized-looking faces of the passers-by, I got the impression that standing in the cold wind with one’s coat off posing for photos is not the done thing these days….  😯

Was it, I wonder, that strikingly revealing gash of a neckline?  Not my favourite feature of this top.  I wonder if it looking like a shark bite wasn’t something of an oversight after the interesting design that went into the front, the shoulder pleats and the sleeves?

Or maybe the aghast glances were aimed at my fishnets, i.e. Mary Portas for Charnos fishnet Armery, a Christmas present from a friend.  Though a very warming addition to the outfit, I can see from the black-pink sausage arms in the pic that fishnet doesn’t photograph well!

Quick Capsule Pattern Review for the V1247 Top

Accuracy of difficulty rating:

They got that right!  The pattern is “intermediate” for a reason.  It takes the attention to detail of a rocket scientist to line up the back and front shoulder pleats and the French Seams connection at the front.  The best my patience could afford was this:

If I make this top again, I’ll first invest in a walking foot!

How much did the result look like the pattern cover:

Nah.  My Liberty-style lawn wasn’t slinky enough and neither was my figure!

Were the instructions easy to follow:

Yup, even for a panic-lover me.

Getting away without modifications

Er, dream on…

  • Firstly, drop some sizes (I made 8 and I’m a 12 top).
  • I would make the neckline narrower and less plunging.
  • You might feel the need to add contour darts to an otherwise shapeless back.


Yes, but not for hourglass figures: this top does now’t for poor Anne, she of the wasp waist!!

The Story of the Skirt

The skirt pattern has received some rave reviews and I’ll be making it soon as I find some good pinstripe as Sew Ruth did here.  The denim skirt I’m wearing above is actually a copy of the V1247 design where I used my Basic Skirt Block instead of the patternI’m especially pleased with the zip at the back, made by following Gertie’s exposed zipper tutorial.  It’s given the skirt a RTW look, though those metal teeth and in-yer-face-stitching creep the hell outta the kids!  🙂

It’ll be interesting to see how the two versions compare.

The Giveaway

For a chance to win one of the most blogged about patterns of 2012 (sized 6-12),  leave a comment below by January the 10th midnight (Greenwich Mean Time, natch!).

Gifts IV: Cossack Hat

Only two sewing days till Christmas!  What to do?!  How about adding to the mayhem and stress by making a Cossack Hat?  You know… so as to stylishly meet the oncoming Siberian winter?!  Here is daughter’s, rustled up from the leftovers of her coat

The thick, fluffy fur is from Jeff Rosenberg.  I used leftover acetate lining for the inside.  You can get away with a quarter metre of fabric and lining, though you might need twice more if you’d like the nap of the fur sweeping in a particular direction. 

For my hat, I used shearling-like fur leftover from a Christmas stocking I once made.  Whilst daughter is Empress Lara, I’m more Taras Bulba

Since the fur is doubled at the point where it wraps around the head, the outside of the hat is bigger than the inside.  When making your pattern, base the inner part on the hat size and make the outside larger, tapering towards the crown.


The Pattern

You’ll need paper, a compass, a ruler and a pencil.

Step 1 The Crown 

Begin by measuring the head circumference, work out the radius then using a compass draw a perfect circle the same size as your head.  If you’re making this as a surprise for someone, use one of the online hat size charts like this one to estimate.  Head size can vary quite a bit but if someone looks like they’ve got a big head, they probably do and vice versa!  Big or thick hair also adds on a bit! 

Just for reference, my head is 55.5cm, the dummy’s is 55cm, daughter’s is 52cm and OH is 60cm!!  My radius is 8.8cm, i.e. 55.5cm divided by 3.14 (Pi, or Π) divided by 2.

Once you’ve drawn your circle, add a seam allowance of 1.5cm (the compass comes in very handy for this as you can draw another, larger circle around the first one), or more if your fur is very thick.

Step 2  Pattern for the Side of Hat and Lining 

If you aren’t in a rush, you might want to experiment with a few paper shapes.  The simplest thing would be to cut a rectangle, the width of which is the same as the hat size, plus seam allowances.  I made such a hat out of paper and thought it too Pork Pie (Pork π?) so I decided to go for a slightly tapering shape (above right).  As for the height of the Hat, anything over 10cm looked a bit Nefertiti (left) atop of my small face.  A height of 9cm looked just right: this on the inside is 3cm of fur sewn to 6cm of lining.  A shorter hat might blow off your head in the wind!

Making the Hat

1. Sew sides of fur.  Fold on fold line and try on for fit.

2. Sew sides to crown. 

3. Repeat 1 and 2 with the lining fabric. 

4. With right sides together, sew lining to fur, leaving an opening of 20cm.  Turn right side out, pin at fold line below opening and slipstitch the opening closed.

Tips for Sewing Fur

  • Sewing faux fur gets a bad press but I think it’s very forgiving on those seam lines which hardly show.  Using a seam ripper, when necessary, is pretty quick too.  Trim fur at the raw edges if all that lovely fluffiness is obstructing the seam guidelines on your machine.

  • Use a medium zigzag stitch.  On the right side, comb out the fluff around the seam.  I use a wire pet brush or a pin.
  • Vacuums and lint rollers ready!  If you’re secretly sewing fur for someone who lives with you, allow plenty of time for clearing up.  Otherwise, your loved one might come home and wonder what poor creature you sacrificed!
  • Buying fur: white fur looks great on very dark or very pale skin but may not be great for the in between complexions.  Check fur colour against your skin (and teeth).  Avoid grey fur if this is close to your hair colour as people might confuse the hat with your actual hair and will think you’re looking unkempt!  Avoid faux leopard if you resemble Mobutu Sese SekoKids on the other hand look good in anything, especially monster fur.

Merry Christmas, everyone x x

Gifts III: Quick Pencil Cases

These pencil cases are super easy and great for using up leftovers of favourite fabrics.  It’s also a good project for beginners wishing to practise sewing zips; however, do watch out for fabrics with a geometric pattern that has to match across the two sides of the zip (such as in the top example).  An irregular print will be easier.

Buy an ordinary zip, not concealed, and bear two things in mind.  Firstly, it has to be of a sufficient quality to put up with frequent use.  The other thing to remember is that the zip has to be the length of a new pencil, or slightly longer.  Mine are 24cm.

Step 1: Cutting the Pattern and Fabric

Make a paper pattern for a rectangle that’s the width of your zip plus 4cm and the height of at least 24cm.  Do make sure your angles are square!  Cut one rectangle of your fabric and one of your lining.  My lining is babycord which is velvety and soft yet with helpful parallel lines:

Next, trim just one zip side of the lining by 2mm:

Step 2: Sewing the Zip

Open zip.  Put the fabric and lining wrong sides together, raw edges even.  Using them as one, and with the fabric and zip right sides together, edges even, sew together.  Start with a back stitch.  On approaching the zip pull, leave the needle in, lift up zipper foot, pull the zip closed and sew to the end.  Backstitch.  Repeat on the other side.

Tip!  If you can’t get the zip pull past the zipper foot even when it’s raised, you could try doing as I do:  pop the foot off, close zip, replace foot.


Step 3: Making Pull Tabs

This step is optional – skip if you’re in a hurry!

Find or make a design for your pull tabs, adding a 2cm seam allowance.  Interface a scrap of fabric (this is where to use up those off-cuts of interfacing that normally get thrown away).  Draw your tabs x4, cut around them and sew.

Turn inside out (I use old tweezers) and press.

Pin tabs over zip ends, keeping raw edges together.


Step 4: Sewing Short Ends

With the pencil case inside out, sew the short ends using your 2cm seam allowance.  This should cut out the unsightly silvery stops at the ends of the of zip.

Two things to note: 1) keep the zip exactly in the middle.

And 2) Very important: remember to leave your zip partially open!  Otherwise you’ll sew the pencil case shut inside out….

Trim seam allowances.


Step 5: Making Corners

This is another optional step by which you convert from a flat to a boxy shape.  Still working on the wrong side, pinch each corner so that the seam is in the middle and the short end seam allowance is away from the zip.  Sew with either a 2cm seam allowance (for a boxy shape) or 1.5cm (for a flattened box shape as in my first image).  

Trim seam allowances, turn right side out and you’re done!

Let me know how it goes… and how long it takes!  I made four in an hour.  The first was to jog my memory and took up half the time.  The other three were a production line.  If you’re making several at once and in different fabrics, it helps save time if they all take the same thread.

Gifts II: Space Invader Cushion

This cushion is a Christmas surprise for my son (he’ll get other stuff too, don’t worry… ).  It’s to help gradually transform his bedroom from a little boy’s abode into a cool grunge lair.  Making it is very simple.  At the back, there’s a 10cm of overlap of fabric which eliminates the need for a zip or buttons.  The bright piping adds interest and is beginner-friendly, though be sure to make more than you think you’ll need!

I’ve had a go at this before, many years ago when I used a print fabric (a sweet “Ready Steady Robot” design from Alexander Henry, long discontinued) and it was quicker still, but this time I wanted to use applique after seeing the gorgeous asterisk cushion made by Vacuuming the Lawn.  My OH and I looked at various Space Invaders images and agreed at once which little dude would appeal to our first-born the most:

Drawing him isn’t difficult: he’s basically a bunch of squares on an 8 by 11 grid.  Should you want one of your own and you’re in a hurry, I’ve put him on a Space Invader Excel Graph for you.  Or would you prefer the version of him cheering with his hands in the air!?  Here it is: Cheering Space Invader!

I chose cotton sateen as it’s washable (this is a cushion that the cats will sneak up to sleep on).  It has a richness of colour and a shine that isn’t unlike the brightness of a monitor.  One bonus of working in this bright yellow colour was that even after I interfaced the fabric, I could trace the design through it from a sheet of paper.

Oh look, once you cut the dude out, you can use the offcuts to play Tetris!

The Space Invader Cushion Tutorial

You will need: a cushion, 0.75cm of full-width fabric (more for a bigger cushion), 0.25cm of applique fabric plus fusible interfacing.  2mm piping cord.

1. Firstly, buy (or somehow obtain) the cushion and design a template for the applique to fit.  My cushion is a 55cm square and the Invader is printed onto an A4 sheet.  I cut a 55cm paper pattern for the cushion, plus 1.5cm seam allowance all around (that is, a 58cm square).

2. Fuse some interfacing onto your applique fabric and cut out your design.  Stitch the applique to your cover fabric.  I use a stitch length of 0.4 and a width of 2 on my Elna zigzag.  It takes a good 45 minutes to do an A4-sized Invader!  For  the piping, I cut 4cm bias strips and inserted a 2mm cord inside.  This creates piping to fit a 1.5cm seam allowance.

3. Next, pin piping to the cushion front seam allowance, lining up the raw edges.  Overlap the ends of the piping and clip piping seam allowances at the corners:

4. Add cushion backing.  Make the pattern first: half of the pattern for the cushion front + 5cm for the overlap + 3cm seam allowance for the overlap side.  Cut twice.

5. Pin and stitch the backing, first one side then the other.  Stitch twice over the overlap, especially if your cushion is a firm one.  This will prevent the stitches ripping when you insert the cushion.

I really hope my son doesn’t read this but when I was his age, we had an Atari 2600, an early video game console, on which I’d blast away at Space Invaders for hours each day, or till my mum realized and chased me off into doing something more useful.  Don’t remember the little buggers looking this cute though…