Lagenlook at last

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I discovered the patterns produced by Tina Givens, available at They took my breath away. I immediately purchased two pdf patterns, then a few days later downloaded a couple of freebies, then after the announcement of a half price sale, bought four more. That’s right. I now have eight patterns from one pattern company, all purchased within days of each other. I had to lie down and rest after that burst of spontaneity.

This is the first of them, something called “smock-it”. I liked the vertical lines of the loose princess seams and thought they would help me look long instead of squat. I also thought I could use those lines to determine fit. It can be so hard when making loose, over size clothing to know the “right” size. I first cut the size large, basted the pieces together and decided I was a medium after all. I took it apart and recut the pieces.

The fabric was from my stash, a couple of pieces that I had bought because I liked the colours. Other than colour, neither was something I was really fond of. Well, I loved the batik piece, but I knew I’m not a batik clothing kind of a person. But they were both thrifted pieces, and I figured I could always make toiles out of them. Pardon me for patting myself on the back but I do think combining the two was a brilliant idea.


This is a completely new look for me. I think it might take some time for me to be comfortable enough in it to wear it at home. Or maybe it’s just not quite the season for this yet.

Here are shots of a couple of details of the pattern.

I used some of the batik for the front pocket bag, and the other photo is of three pleats that occur on each side of the side back panels.

I’ve got a couple of other items in progress right now, but then I’ll tackle some more of these 8 patterns. I’ve got lots of great silks and linens in the stash that I want to use up.


They should make smashing robe-like tunics/shirts, don’t you think?


Refashion x 3

This is my third time to make/remake a tunic from this wool plaid fabric. I hate to give up on something you know? The first time I made a simple sleeveless high/low shift with a few pleats at the neckline to create some drape.  When I wore it a friend commented on how I always wore such baggy clothes. Ooomph. That hurt. So I remade it, by slicing it down the front and putting on a button band. I also tightened the back up with a pleat. The back was really nice. But I still didn’t care for it. This fabric is drapey and I always thought it needed pleats or gathers or something. You can see it here.

I thought it would be nice to make a tunic like this.


I had quite a bit of fabric left over and first I wanted sleeves. But after making sleeves I realized there wasn’t enough fabric left to add a gathered skirt all around. So I thought about the Grainline Alder, a pattern I’ve looked at several times, unsure if I liked it or not. Probably everyone has seen the Alder, which has two versions. In one version, the back is gathered. I went to the Grainline site and found the online tutorial for that version. It was pretty easy to follow it even without the actual pattern. That left doing something about the neck, which I had cut too big the first time. There’s not that much you can do when you’ve cut the neck hole too big. I decided to line up a bunch of scraps, sew a gathering stitch, gather them and pin them between the neck and the facing. I left their edges all unfinished. Go edgy or go home right? Then I decided I didn’t want to hem the bottom either, so I just serged around the bottom. I also did a wrist treatment of gathered scraps. So this is the result. The body is very much like the Alder.





I love the sideview, and the back. But the front? I’m just not a shirtwaist kind of a person …. I could have sworn it looked better in real than in this pic. And should I trim down the neck flounce? It seems kind of overwhelming.

This is warm and toasty and pretty comfortable. And I’ll wear it this winter partly to keep in view this kind of look that I’ve never had before. Do you know what i mean? There are so many things I like about this, but I’m thinking it’s still a fail. Luckily (!!) the fabric picked up a couple of small moth holes during the last year, so this is doomed anyway. I knew that going in, so this was an exercise in experimentation to see if I could find my way to a great look.

I’m interested in any comments or suggestions about what’s wrong and why.

Pink hack

In my last blog post, I said I was working slowly on a severe pattern hack. I’m done! It’s Vogue 9193, a Marcy Tilton, top. I made it fairly recently and you can see it here, in case you missed it. It caused me some grief because the batwing sleeve, as drafted, didn’t suit me and I had to make an alteration. I’m pretty happy with the top, but thought it might be interesting to make it longer and use normal sleeves.

That’s what I did. I added 3 inches to the top front and back pieces, which both lowered the waist-with-pocket seam, and made the whole thing longer. I used the sleeveless version of the top and went rummaging through my patterns looking for a sleeve that might work (I don’t know how to draft a sleeve to fit an arm scye). As it turned out, I found an exact match for the arm scye in a jacket pattern. So I simply used the sleeve piece that went with that jacket. It worked perfectly (although I did pinch in the top of the sleeve because I was making this in a knit fabric rather than woven and so didn’t want all the ease). In fact, to be totally honest, I made a toile sleeve and machine basted it in to check the fit before I cut out the sleeves in the “real” fabric.

I had been looking at a turtleneck t-shirt pattern before I did this project, and decided to also make this version a turtleneck. The pattern I was looking at had a turtleneck attached  to the front and back, rather than a separate piece for the neck. Following that pattern, I drew two lines from the neck/shoulder points to create a tube long enough to fold over once.


The fabric is a piece I picked up at Our Social Fabric for a few bucks. I thought it was wool, but turned out not to be. I expect it’s acrylic. It’s very lightweight and floaty, and has a nice design in the knit (well, I think it’s nice). It reminds me of some kind of old-fashioned knit fabric.


It has a really cosy look to it, which means I’ll think it’s warm and cosy and wear it a lot. I love the colour. In fact, expect to see a lot of pink in the coming posts, as Our Social Fabric had a lot of it the last couple of months and I snapped up a bunch.

Now on to a skirt I’m sort of copying from a mag picture. Not quite close enough for Designin’ December, I think, but maybe…

sackcloth and slink

2015-04-04 09.27.59I continue to experiment with fabrics I find at thrift shops, yard sales, and in remainders and roll-ends bins. The experiments are not always successful, as I never know what the fabric actually is, and sometimes I suspect it’s there because it didn’t get manufactured quite successfully (as in the lovely/horrible fabric of my Marcie Tilton trousers).

I’ve been fondling a large piece of what appears to be heavy-weight unbleached linen from a thrift store, wanting to make some kind of robe-like thing with it. First I washed it. That was a disaster. The chunk of fabric had been cut into. The picture above is unravelled warp and woof threads that I had to cut off after the washing. There was a lot of it. Then I had to try to heat and pound the now stiffened and wrinkled fabric back to the soft and smooth ‘hand’ it had when I bought it.

This is also a story about backtracking and backtracking away from my original intent. I had in mind a kind of jumper — something sleeveless you’d wear over a blouse or t-shirt. I didn’t want to design my own, so I went looking for patterns. There were none. I looked for dress patterns that I could alter a bit. Eventually I found this, boring looking thing that had panels. I wanted panels, something made of blocks. What I didn’t realize was that these panels curved for the bosom, making the item semi-fitted. I threw in the towel and decided just to make the d*mn dress. Did I mention I haven’t worn a dress since … wait for it … 1979?2015-04-04 09.27.45 Yup. I’m not sure why, since I have worn skirts from time to time. It’s not that I don’t like things that hang from the shoulders — I love robes, caftans, tunics, shifts, on both men and women. The biggest beef I’ve had with both skirts and dresses involves stockings and footwear. When I’ve worn skirts it’s been primarily in the summer, when I wore them with bare legs and sandals. But stockings? I grew up in southern Ontario, snow and sub-zero temperature weather, at a time when girls had to wear dresses to school, apparently in the name of decency. I’m not sure how mini-skirts and stockings and heeled shoes got designated more decent than jeans. Anyway, I had to walk the proverbial ten miles through snow and sleet to school everyday and “nylons”, as they were then called, do nothing for warmth. And they’re uncomfortable. So are pantyhose. So forget it. For, like, 40 years.

Two things have changed. Tunics and leggings. When I was standing in St. Peter’s Square in Rome over Christmas, I looked around to see what the women were wearing. This is what I saw in the most fashionable city of the world: thousands of women of all ages wearing tunics and leggings. Not a pair of pants in sight.

So, I haven’t sewn a dress. I’ve sewn up a tunic, which I can wear with leggings and tall boots in  colder weather, or with sandals in milder. To balance the sackcloth look of the tunic body, I combined it with the slinkiest velvet (another remainders bin find).

Since this dress was made up of panels and yokes, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to use two contrasting fabrics. And to add pockets. The only change I made was to shorten the hem, and narrow the bottom of the tunic (since this fabric was not going to drape, I added structure instead). Oh, I also eliminated the seam up the back. It wasn’t necessary, and the back yoke is in two pieces, which now abutt the single centre back piece. I really like the drop shoulders of this pattern, and whether you like the sackcloth- like quality of the main fabric or not, I think this version is a lot more attractive than what the pattern envelope shows.