That’s Sew Cinematic presents

a Sewing Horror Picture Show



(a barmy domestic)

and her amazing contrast collar’n’cuffs dress

contains scenes unsuitable for sewists of exacting high standards and nervous dispositions 


Collar with Stand (she winged it, totally)

Loop and Button Closure (a bit risque)

and Introducing:

The Turnback Cuff

(a tutorial)


The plan wasn’t to draft the Magenta dress myself.  I bought the pattern for the rather demure Burda 7494 and meant to alter the shape of the collar then add sleeves and a decolletage.  But the Back View of this pattern revealed a sudden departure of a collar!  Lovely as Burda 7494 is, its back zip meant that the design wouldn’t have worked with a “collar with a stand” and so had to be shelved.  

I got Googling which threw up the Anal Retentive Rocky Horror Costume List. This website details the costumes and props of all the Rocky characters and  is aimed at fans who attend stage and cinema viewings of the show dressed as characters from the film (which doesn’t sound like a bad night out at all…).  It told me everything I wanted to know, even how to wear the dress: Unbutton dress so it’s about even with bra (which shows a bit)…”  Oh, OK….  “... unbutton it from the bottom up to about crotch level”.  Hm!  Presumably, this is to enable one to slide down banisters?  It also revealed that the dress – designed along with the other costumes by Sue Blane  – has pintuck pleats on the front and on the sleeves.  Beautifully detailed as these would have been, they weren’t noticeable in the grainy Youtube clips of the Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite that I kept playing, so I left them out and decided to concentrate on the more essential components of the distinct Magenta look: the loop and button closure, the collar with stand and the turnback cuffs.  Oh, and the black and white.

Loop and Button Closure

Making these for the first time wasn’t difficult and there was plenty of instruction and encouragement from other blog posts which  helped. But, I would caution against using this kind of closure on a “normal” dress: the risk of gaping is too great.  If you like Loop and Button, I recommend that you either keep the loops and buttons close together and use a stiff fabric, or insert a “business at the back” zip beneath to keep things together.

Collar with Stand

Being a collar-with-stand virgin, I was wary of drafting my own from scratch and instead used the collar in Vogue 8252 as a template (I also copied the sleeves from this pattern).  I made a size 8 collar which seemed the perfect proportion to the dress (no Harry Hill comparisons, d’ya hear!) though the stand was too wide for the neck and had to be messed around with till it fit! 

The V8252 collar attachment instructions were very confusing though and I did run screaming to Reader’s Digest CGTS for help.

The Turnback Cuff tutorial

My favourite part of the dress and another “first”.  Adding a turnback cuff to a sleeve creates a rather distinguished finishing touch so imagine my surprise when I discovered (by referring, as ever, to the sacred tome) that it was dead easy and simple to do.  The turnback cuff works well on a full-length sleeve (although avoid white if you’re messy!) and I imagine it works more splendidly still on a “bracelet sleeve”.  In fact, I can’t wait to do it again.

Here’s a step–by-step guide.

1. You begin with the sleeve pattern.  This is where you mark the style line of the cuff.  You can have a design like mine where the ends meet in the centre front of the sleeve but there are other options: they can overlap, the top can be scalloped, or the cuff can be continuous like the facing, etc.

Draw the cuff then draw its seam allowance – I did 1cm.  (Note that this cuff doesn’t have a side seam.  It’s a single piece cut on fold that rolls around the prepared sleeve).  Cut 4 of fabric and 2 of interfacing.

Draw the facing by copying the bottom of the sleeve.  Add  a seam allowance (1.5cm).  Cut 2 of fabric and (this is optional) 2 of interfacing.

2. Sew the cuffs.  Trim, turn and press.

3. Sew the side seams of the facings, press open, then edge finish the top edges.

4. Sew the gathering stitches for the sleeve, then complete the sleeve side seam.  Press open.  Working from the right side of the sleeve, attach cuff to sleeve and tack.

5. Attach facing over the cuff.

6. Stitch and remove tacking.  Trim SA’s then press to embed stitches.

7. Extend the facing and seam allowances away from the sleeve and with the right side up, understitch the facing and the SA’s.  Turn facing to inside, rolling in slightly and press.  On the inside, stitch facing to the sleeve seam allowance.

A note on the direction of the bust dart

The dress front is shaped by a single underarm bust dart that goes all the way to the bust point.  I designed the front so as to press the bust dart upwards after reading this fascinating explanation as to why this may be best from the brill blogger Pattern, Scissors, Cloth.

Sew Cinematic: a Preview


I’m getting excited at the approach of the deadline to the That’s Sew Cinematic group challenge.  This exceptionally inventive initiative manages to marry our love of sewing to the love of the visual narrative: participants are to copy their favourite silver or small screen outfit, or capture the sartorial style of an inspiring screen goddess.

The big reveal is at the end of this month and I’ll no doubt find other bloggers’ completed projects an inspiration for months to come (sometimes all it takes is a detail on a dress to fire up the imagination and set off a new design).  From reading other blogs, I suspect that Downton Abbey will be a popular source.  Being unable to get enough of Megan and Betty, I hope for lots of Mad Men-inspired creations.

Now, those of you who know me in Real Life also know that I’ve yet to miss an episode of whatever Scandinavian drama BBC4 happens to be showing, so you might suspect that I’m using Sew Cinematic as an opportunity to knit myself a Sarah Lund:

Or, maybe you’re a pal from my trouser-cutting course, and wonder if I’m fashioning myself some Saga Noren-inspired leather trousers (which I do so want, along with the matching Porsche). 

These would be great outfits: we’re going to need warm clothing in Summer 2012!  But nope.  Being somewhat stuck in a time warp, I’m entering Sew Cinematic with a copy of a dress that I’ve had a crush on since I was 15.

Would you like a clue as to what it is?  Here’s a trailer:

It’s a late evening in May, and half-term.  I’m 15 and staying for a few days with a friend of my grandmother’s.  We’ve just been to a theatre matinee with some friends of hers and I’m still wearing my pale-mint dress bought from Miss Selfridges in the Vicky Centre (reduced from £25 to £10!)  The dress is beautiful, long and feminine, in a fabric woven with flowers, possibly damask.  Why on earth was it in a sale?  Actually, it’s a bit low-cut.  Earlier, on being introduced to a married, middle-aged man, I caught him leering at my decolletage and nearly gagged in his oily face…

My guardian, a wonderful and warm widow, isn’t canny enough to send me to bed, so we watch telly.  There’s a film just starting.  It’s on Channel 4.

The film is rude. Bawdy, as my Lit teacher would call it.  It’s rather silly actually, and kitsch. OMG, it then gets ruder….

We giggle occasionally and keep watching.  Actually, I’m enjoying it.  Certainly the tunes are catchy.  And the cast perfect.  And featuring in it is the dress of my dreams!

This one also shows cleavage.  But who’d dare look?

I keep an eye on such a dress in shops.  Once, I glimpse a vintage, woolly lookalike at a stall on a Friday in Greenwich Market but it’s too small.  Mid-1990s, there’s an up-market, to-die-for lime green version in the window of a Covent Garden boutique but I’m too poor so I just forget about it.  For years.  Till May 2012 and this:

In front of the whole nation, a flame-haired temptress  (to use Sun-speak) is wearing my dress to the Leveson Inquiry!  Oh, I understand that it’s not exactly the same.  The collars are demure and obscure my original’s slut credentials.  And the colour I understand is navy rather than black, but the overall impression is enough to take me back to May 1985 and the first time I saw it.

Only now, it might just be possible to sew it.  All it takes is a little jump to the left….