Month: June 2019

Finished – Vogue 9139 in Boiled Wool

A few weeks out of Me Made May and it was clear I both needed more pants and more outerwear. So I got planning. 

It was love at first sight with this pattern, a few years ago now. That neckline…. seriously! It’s out of print now, which surprises me, as the jacket is so lovely and so well drafted. I can’t comment on the pants (and to be honest I chucked the pants pattern pages as I’m hopeless at getting patterns back in the envelope at the best of times). I’ve had this beautiful tan-with-pink undertones boiled wool from the Cloth Shop at least a year. Maybe two. In this current period of my life my memory is now…. well…. shit. It was always destined for this pattern, that much I can remember…. And as such I’m writing this up a mere two days after finishing this lovely jacket as I love it so, and don’t want to forget the details. 

So, Vogue 9139. A short, unlined jacket with a funnel neck, dropped shoulders and quite deep armscyes giving a sort of bat wing look. It truly seems like I’m the second person on the internet to make this. The first was this lady, over at Pattern Review and I thank her for her advice to size down and shorten the sleeves. I believe I measured in at an XL, but as my pattern only went up to a M, and with some quick flat pattern measurements I felt a medium would be fine. I measured the finished sleeved length and felt pretty confident removing 5cm from the sleeve at the lengthen/shorten line, and ended up folding up another 1cm at hemming. For reference my current measurements put me at 178cm tall, bust 100cm and hips 110cm. 

As for adjustments that’s it! I measured the length of the armscye seams on both the front and back, and realised it had already been drafted with a longer back armscye, bringing the shoulder seam forward and therefore reducing the need for my usual forward shoulder adjustment. With the cut on funnel neck I didn’t want to muck around with the shoulder seem unless necessary so this was a great relief. 

This pattern is drafted for stable knits and the boiled wool was perfect. I deviated from the instructions in the following way:
  • cut the back on the fold, eliminating the CB seam which is straight
  • stabilised the shoulder seams with rayon seam tape to prevent stretching
  • understitched the neckline facing after grading the seam – just couldn’t get round those curves 
  • avoided topstitching anything. Instead I hand basted down all facings and hems and sewed them by hand for a clean invisible look. It took a few hours but I’m delighted with the finish as the stitches sink in and disappear like magic
  • used snaps instead of buttons for a similar reason. These are copper coloured snaps from Darn Cheap Fabrics and I’m thrilled with how well they tone with the fabric colour
  • Cut the sleeves on the cross grain due to fabric restrictions which worked out absolutely fine – the boiled wool doesn’t have an obviously visible straight or cross grain
  • Made a patch label on the back neck facing with a Kylie and the Machine label to use as a hanging loop

Despite boiled wool not really fraying I did overlock all my raw edges using a pale pink thread. I do kind of wish I’d bought some tan but I don’t mind the pink too much. I’d highly recommend finishing the edges separately before sewing (or doing them separately afterwards but my overlocker doesn’t like that) so that seams can be pressed open to avoid bulk. This is crucial for the deep underarm seam as 6 layers of heavy fabric would prevent the curve sitting nicely. 
I forced myself to slow down and finish this as well as I could. But I had a self imposed deadline…. I was given the delightful gift of a child-free day off work, and arranged to meet some lovely sewing friends so Of Course I really really really wanted to wear this jacket. 45 minutes before I was due to meet them I sewed on the last snap, sprayed off any trace of marking pen, had a quick final press and was good to go! 
After everyone tried it on we found a suitably cool laneway and Anna, directed by a chorus of other fabulous seamstresses managed to snap some great pics for me. Sewing friends are the best. Seriously I can’t encourage real life sewing friendships enough. It’s hard to make friends as we get older I find – it’s been such a joy to make new friends that share a common love. 
So these are my two tips of the day – track down a copy of this pattern and if you haven’t already make some real life sewing friends. You won’t regret either. 

Made by a Fabricista: Summer’s Hottest Pattern

New patterns are released all the time by the big four as well as indie pattern makers. Several go virtually unnoticed but sometimes there’s a hot new pattern that takes over the social media sewing community. A couple of years back it was Vogue 9253, remember that? (If not, maybe this will jog your memory.) Well this summer the viral pattern seems to be the Zadie Jumpsuit by Paper Theory. I feel like literally every sewist has sewn a version of this jumpsuit and for good reason this jumpsuit features no closures making it a breeze to sew and wear!

The more and more I saw the Zadie in my IG feed the more I knew I had to get in on it. It’s loose fitting style (and lack of closures) means the fitting doesn’t have to be perfect! This alone makes it a great pattern to sew if you’re short on time (or patience!). A loose fit might make you think you’ll end up looking like a sack of potatoes, but don’t worry the tie belt creates a flattering silhouette.

I chose this cardinal red cotton/poly seersucker which is tad lighter than the medium weight woven that is suggested, but I feel it worked just fine. It’s really perfect for the heatwave we’re currently having in the south. I don’t recall seeing solid seersucker fabric and just loved this rich red shade. If you’re not a fan of red it’s also available in true blue, Prussian blue, baby blue, cerise (bright pink), pink, marigold, emerald green, deep lilac, lavender and black. See all your options here. Which is your favorite shade?
The only potential hang up for a beginner sewist is the self binding that finishes the bodice. If you know how to make your own double fold bias tape I would recommend that as I believe it will save you some fabric. However if you are not familiar with the technique the two bias pattern pieces work perfectly. Either way if you’ve sewn bias tape of any kind you’ll be fine here. If you haven’t the instructions are very clear.
I already know I need another version or two! My next go around I will add a inch or so to the hem as these were a little short for me. Admittedly, these are designed to be cropped and I have a hard time deciding the exact right length that works for me. I think this length is fine, but I would try an inch longer for comparison. Also I will probably add another 3 or 4 inches to the ties as they seem a little short. 
I’m thinking a linen version is must and maybe one in a lighter, drape-ier fabric like challis or tencel. Have you made a Zadie yet? 
See you next month!

Finished – the snazzy sweater – New Look 6314

A nice simple one to share today….

Last year I was in need of a simple windcheater or sweatshirt (depending on what part of the world you are from). I had the Linden, but I’d tried on a couple of Anna’s and the raglan just wasn’t doing it for me. I thought about a couple of the other indies but I was uncharacteristically feeling a bit of a tightwad and had some issues dropping the cash on such a basic garment. I must have been at Spotty and found New Look 6314 – a very simple boxy slightly dropped shoulder top for sweater knits, with a slightly wide round neckline, a couple of sleeve and body lengths, and a circle skirt inexplicably thrown in (presumably to make the perfect capsule wardrobe). 

I made my first version in a lovely striped french terry from the Drapery, and have worn it a heap. I am however very disorganised and have no pics to share with you. You’ll have to trust that it’s a winner, because here is version 2! I can’t remember the exact sizing I used, but I know it spans three, to cater for my hips, and I suspect the length is somewhere between the two different views. 

The main fabric is a faaaabulous cotton quilted knit from the Fabric Store. I managed to get this out of about a metre (it was the end of the roll) by cutting it all flat and sacrificing full length sleeves (the pattern actually calls for cuffs but I wanted a less sporty look). The fabric doesn’t have much recovery or stretch (say what you will about Big 4 patterns, but that stretch fabric guide on the pattern package is actually terrifically useful!) so I used some cotton/poly ribbing from Darn Cheap Fabrics for the neckband.

Oh my was that ribbing garbage. SUCH shit. It stretched out and had absolutely no recovery whatsoever – the neckline ended up being 2 inches wider than my striped version and so gapey. I’d overlocked it on of course, and was devastated. I gritted my teeth and unpicked the overlocking AND the basting, managed to only create one hole, and redid the band with a little piece of black ponte from the Cloth Shop. So much better. It is a smidge wider than drafted due to losing a little of the neckline seam allowance but I’m very happy with the finish. So do ensure your neckband has a nice amount of both stretch AND recovery for a happy ending on this pattern.

I’ve worn this a heap already – it’s toasty, layers well and the fabric design adds the perfect little bit of interest to snazz it up beyond a basic black windcheater.  I suspect I’ll be wearing this until it disintegrates off my body.

The Cress Skirt – Free Sewing Pattern

As temperatures rise, I’m always on the hunt for a garment that’s equal parts boss and beach, and the wrap skirt trend delivers. Conservative enough to wear to the office while easy and breezy enough to throw over a swimsuit, our Cress Skirt free sewing pattern is as versatile as it is cute. Stay classic and comfortable by pairing a vibrant linen with a graphic tee, or go for a lightweight printed voile for days when you’re soaking up the sun. Want something that truly pops? Check out Mood’s African prints for some options that will instantly brighten your outfit! However you choose to style it, it’s sure to wrap up your summer wardrobe needs!

Purchase Materials Used Below:

Alternative Suggested Fabrics:


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All seam allowances are 1/2″ unless otherwise stated. See chart below for sizing specifications. Note, this specific pattern is available up to a size 30.

Mood Sewing Pattern Size Chart

First, sew your two skirt panels together at the center back seam using a French seam. Do the same with both of your ruffle pieces.

Using a French seam again, attach the ruffle to the lower edge of your skirt, lining up both center back seams.

Hem the edge of your skirt and ruffle. For the flat edges of the skirt, I went with a 1/4″ rolled hem, and then switched to a single fold and zig-zag stitch as I moved to the ruffle.

Next, attach your skirt to one edge of your waistband, leaving a half inch of waistband on either end where you’ll be adding your ties. If needed, add a few 1/2″ pleats along the waistline of your skirt.

Add a tie to either side of your waistband, matching up the shorter edges. Fold the waistbands and ties in half along the length and press. Fold your raw edges inward, press, and edge-stitch along its entirety.

Try your skirt on and place a large buttonhole on your waistband at one of your skirt sides. When wearing your skirt, loop your lower layer tie through this buttonhole, wrap around your waist twice, and tie!

The post The Cress Skirt – Free Sewing Pattern appeared first on Mood Sewciety.


It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve blogged…busy with puppy, daughters visiting, foot problems, sewing…the usual!

 Here is the travel tote I’ve been working on…it’s the Professional Tote by Creative Thimble, and I’ve made it once before; it was for my very first blog post, 5 years ago! I’ve had this marvelous black and white sashiko fabric for a while…I bought it on Etsy. I added some faux leather from Emma One Sock,

 a marvelous stretch cotton dragon print from Marcy Tilton for the inner pockets

 and a wine-colored nylon Taslan for the lining…

I’m planning to take this to Paris, as my plane carry-on; it has pockets galore, (I added several more to the inner pocket for my iPad), places for passport and boarding pass, water bottle, etc. It also has a strap to anchor it to my suitcase handle.

It closes on top with a chunky zipper…

 Maggie and David came up for the weekend a few weeks ago…more swimming with Teddy, Sunday Brunch. Always fun!

The next weekend, daughter Janet flew out from Salt Lake City for a few days…
and, you guessed it, swam with Teddy. That seems to be #1 on the activity list chez Houtz…

With so much time spent in the studio, I’ve listened to several good books: Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles, Nutshell, by Ian McEwan and just finishing up The Life We Bury, by Allen Eskens.
My favorite was A Gentleman in Moscow; Nutshell is beautifully written, but weird!

I bought a glass flask (borosilicate) to cook my beloved Rancho Gordo Marcella Beans, a la Romana…

They were delicious, of course, and so much fun to see them simmering away on the stove!
Here is where I got the flask.
Teddy is growing, losing his baby teeth (finally!), finding new ways to get in
trouble…we have a fountain in one of the gardens and the combination of water and mud is irresistable!

Supremely happy muddy dog…

and equally muddy kitchen floor! We had to drop out of Puppy Class; my injured
foot is very painful, and the surface of the class space, a rough dirt ring, was not good for the foot. I think we’ll try again in 4 or 5 months. I’m seeing a chiropractor for my foot several times a week and am hoping for a miracle in the next few weeks. I leave for Paris on October 28.

I made a pair of pajama pants in a pretty knit from Girl Charlee and paired it with a tee from Uniqlo

I used my TNT B5572 for the pants…for those innocent people who think a lifetime of sewing precludes foolish errors, my first attempt at pajama pants
(which are ridiculously easy to make) came out like this… (super high rise, super short legs)

and of course, by this time, I’d not only sewn the seams, I had serged them.
Live and Learn…NOT.

I think I’m almost done with Paris Wardrobe sewing…I have a pair of pants to make with a yummy cross-woven silk blend from Marcy Tilton called “Ruby Begonia”…and then the decision making/culling begins! I waterproofed my boots yesterday, so I am ready for whatever weather Paris has to offer!

That’s it for catching you up…I will be joining Patti’s Visible Women later this afternoon…providing she has power. She’s in the path of Hurricane Matthew and 
my hopes are for safety for her and all the people in Florida.


Angel-Wing Chambray-and-Lace Top & GIVEAWAY!!!


Angel-Wing Chambray-and-Lace Top

A few months ago Mood Fabrics seduced me in that way they do. I had purchased some denim and they sent me one of those “you may also like…” emails. It featured this Denim and Ivory Novelty Cotton Lace, and I was smitten. This fabric is a bit misnamed: it is not denim. It is a cotton chambray, but it is denim colored. 🙂

I purchased 2 yards. I rarely buy or wear lace, but I have been focusing on hot-weather clothing (for Florence and NYC this summer) and this was!

I played with the fabric and quickly decided that I wanted to use the lace vertically, rather than horizontally. (I posted these pics to Instagram and Facebook and most people thought I should use the fabric horizontally, but I didn’t like it as well when held up to my body.)

I quickly decided I wanted a simple angel-wing-style top. I didn’t bother with a pattern, so I started with a tape measure. The fabric is 60″ from selvedge to selvedge, or 58″ if you ignore the lace peaks. I measured from wrist to wrist and my wingspan is 52″.

What… you don’t tape your tape measure to your body?

That means I needed to remove at least 6″ from the width. I didn’t want to cut the lace, or mess with the lace at all, so I had to remove the extra fabric from the section between the lace. That section is 16″ wide. To complicate matters, I didn’t want to remove width in the area where I would have a neck opening, and I needed about 10″ for the neck hole, so I had to remove 3″ on each side of the neck opening (or 6″ total). I sewed the tucks so that they would end above the bust—they release above the bust, providing my full bust adjustment (FBA).

Sheesh, I didn’t have a lot of room because, as it was, I had only 3″ on each side of the neck opening. So I decided to take 1/2″ tucks, directly on top of each other, at each side of the neck opening. This required careful marking, sewing, pressing, and topstitching.

Next, I drew a standard round neckline opening, but it was too small for my head. I added a slit. It now went over my head, but I didn’t want a slit, so I turned the slit into a v-neck. (A boat neck would have been easier, but I avoid boat necks – I don’t like them on my frame and, anyway, I didn’t have enough width for a boat neck once the tucks were sewn in.)

I used a scrap of fabric to make a neckline facing.

I wanted to place the hem on a lace “valley”. The valleys occur every 4-1/4″, so I experimented pinning the hem at different lengths, but always landing on one of the valleys. I even tried a hi-low hem, but I ended up choosing a longer hem that was the same front and back. I thread basted the hem.

Thread basting
I hemmed the chambray portions by machine and the lace portions by hand

I finished the top by strategically tacking the front to the back at the side bust and side waist. I also tacked a pleat into the front, below the bust, to control the volume a bit.

This top was made from a rectangle and has no shoulder or side seams. I used a 60″ by 69″ rectangle, plus some tucks and tacks for shaping and taming the fullness.

Do I like this top? I think so. I made it specifically for hot weather and wore it over a cream tank top for these pics at 7am this morning. I was freezing, so I take that as a good sign, as far as hot weather goes. I wore it over a sweater for a local arts festival today and it is fun to wear with those lacy wings. I can’t wear a sweater or jacket over it, and I put my cross-body purse under it, which maybe wasn’t the best look, but I didn’t want to carry a satchel. I doubt I’ll take it to Florence, because the cotton has a tendency to wrinkle, but I think it will be a cool and fun wear on a hot day!

Style ’17 & Giveaway

Last year I blogged about Style ’16. The Style show provides a great opportunity to buy gorgeous wearable art and jewelry directly from the artists. I love events like this! I made sure to get Style ’17 on my calendar many months ago—April 29th and 30th. This year the event will be held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View—walking distance from where I work one or two days each week.

Then, last week, one of the co-producers of Style ’17 kindly reached out and offered me two free tickets. I bought my ticket months ago, so I asked if I could offer the tickets to my blog readers. She agreed, so, if you would like two free tickets to this fabulous event, please leave a comment indicating your interest! I will post the winner next weekend, so you have until Friday to enter.

For those who don’t win, you can still save! They offered my blog readers 40% off the ticket price, so it will cost $6 instead of $10. (To be honest, I don’t mind paying full price for this event because it benefits Art in Action, a national non-profit that provides visual arts curriculum to 75,000 students each year, including children in 185 Bay Area schools.)

To get the ticket discount, enter SHAMS40 on the last page of the checkout. If you do come and you see me, please say hi! In short… a fun day at the Computer Museum, great shopping, benefitting arts programs—it’s a win-win-win!

(By the way, two of my artist-friends have booths at this event. Winnie of Eccentric Designs jewelry, and wearable artist Carol Lee Shanks, who sometimes teaches at Design Outside the Lines.)

Can you believe it’s April already? My weekend calendar is becoming uncomfortably full. Things are heating in my History of Italian Fashion class. In fact, we are each giving a presentation while in Italy and I’ve selected my subject. I am giving a short preso on designer Antonio Marras. Mr Marras has been designing for Kenzo since 2005 and he also has his own line—his designs are quite compelling. I plan to visit his high-concept store while in Milan this summer. I hadn’t heard his name before, but it was instant love when I googled his designs. You might check out his Fall 2017 line.

I’ve just washed the fabric for my next Britex project, and I’ve selected a pattern, so that’s my activity for next weekend.

Please join me on Patti’s Visible Monday. I hope you have a great week!


Last blog post before I leave for Paris! I am getting SOOOO excited! I managed to make one last pair of pants to go in my travel wardrobe…

I used my 

“Trifecta”pants pattern and a gorgeous cotton/silk blend cross-dyed fabric

I am pleased and highly relieved that my foot is much better and will not slow me down in Paris. I went twice a week for three weeks to my chiropractor who specializes in sports injuries, and he performed the magic!

Teddy has continued to dominate our lives…he is growing so tall, and he 
LEAPS at the counters in the kitchen in the hopes of getting up there. Luckily, when we built the house, we added several inches to the height of the counters.
We’ll be safe for a little while…

Here he is, flying back from a run on the (covered) pool.He seems to like it equally, with or without water…

Even though we haven’t gotten lower temperatures in our area, the trees and vineyards are turning colors and my thoughts turn to heartier fall dishes.
I made “Drunken Beans” from a recipe from Rancho Gordo and they were wonderful!

This morning, I started a new-to-me recipe;Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder with
Caramelized Onions and Apple Confit. I chose not to use my Instant Pot, but to do it in a Dutch oven on stove-top and then in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Here are the onions, caramelizing…

and here is the pot coming out of the oven. I’ll serve it with wide noodles and roasted delicata squash. YUMMMMMMMY!

No, he didn’t get any, and yes, it was a fantastic 5-star meal!

I’ve done my travel wardrobe planning a little differently this year…here are the “finalists” from which I will choose:

Let me know what you think of this way. Now the hard part comes, deciding which items stay, and which have to go.

I will be joining up with Patti’s Visible Monday, so come on over and say hi!

I probably will not blog from Paris; I’ll have only my iPad and very little free time. I think I’ll 
follow Shams’ example and post pictures on Instagram instead. I’m mhoutz4 if you want to
follow me.


shop ’til you drop

i know i have a few other shop local blog posts up, but thought it would be great to compile my definitive – and ever-growing – list in one central space, to serve as a directory of my favourite independent artisans, curators, makers (and shakers) in the city.

this list comprises all the physical bricks-and-mortar stores that i love, with a list of further local designer/makers you can shop from online coming soon.


if there were ever an interiors store i’d happily just move straight in to, then moth on burton road in west didsbury is most definitely the one! owned by stylist and interior designer hazel marchant, moth has a beautifully curated edit of scandi boho design pieces that remind me of many of the dreamy australian design brands i’ve long coveted from afar on instagram. the whole store has the most wonderfully serene atmosphere with an organic eclectic twist that makes you want to pause awhile and just breathe in the beauty of it all. it’s even better if toy poodle monty is around to greet you with endless cuddles and excitable joy!

154 burton road, manchester m20

form lifestyle store

tucked away down a side alley between oldham and lever streets in the northern quarter, form lifestyle store may not be the easiest to stumble upon, but is definitely one worth going out of your way to hunt down. the form ethos is to champion slow-living, and this is reflected in store owners elly and harry’s thoughtful approach to buying; choosing to buy fewer, well-considered products that have been built to last and will take pride of place in your home. housed in an architecturally striking listed building, the store also plays host to regular intimate workshops led by many of their makers and other local creatives, including screenprinting, calligraphy and dumpling making! you can read my secret city interview with elly & harry here.

6 bradley street, manchester m1 


neighbourhood design store object had been on my radar as one to watch long before i moved to manchester. founded by husband and wife team rachael and alex otterwell, this small but dynamic store has a charm that extends far beyond its fantastic edit of menswear, womenswear and objects for the home. supporting small independent business is at the heart of object’s ethos, and all of their pieces are sourced directly from designer makers who have often been discovered via instagram and pinterest, to ensure an edit that feels fresh and unique. whilst the shop space is fairly small, it packs in a lot of beautiful scandi and californian inspired design pieces, and plans are afoot for a new expanded premises later in 2019!

519 barlow moor road, chorlton m21

fred aldous 

fred aldous is a veritable aladdin’s cave full to the brim with just about every kind of arts and craft product you can imagine. far from feeling stuffy though, the space is large, bright and cavernous, although every aisle is full to bursting with its wares. catering to all kinds of artistic pursuit, from traditional hobbies such as painting, model-making and knitting, to more obscure, niche pursuits such as laser-cutting, lampshade making and basketry. founded in 1886 as a basket-selling business during the height of the cotton mill era, the store has been handed down through five generations yet still feels fresh and contemporary, remaining a hub for the artistic community of the city.

37 lever street, manchester m1

nordic muse

nordic muse moved into their new home at hatch on oxford road in mid-2018, allowing founder jenny maxwell the chance to expand her product selection from her own-brand jewellery collection into a streamlined edit of contemporary and unpretentious nordic design brands. the space may be small, but its packed with hugely giftable items that are all so reasonably priced you won’t feel the pinch if you decide to duplicate your purchases and treat yourself at the same time! you can read my secret city interview with jenny here.

hatch, 103 oxford road, manchester m1

beaumont organic

stepping into beaumont organic is like stepping into a little oasis of calm among the hubbub of manchester’s northern quarter. specialising in luxury casual garments made from natural, organic materials, beaumont organic’s first bricks-and-mortar store is full to the brim with gift ideas for the ethical shopper, that extend beyond the brand’s own-label contemporary easy-to-wear fashion pieces, to include locally produced ceramics, naturally scented candles and handmade one-of-a-kind artisan homewares.

49 hilton street, manchester m1

rose & grey

having started as an online-only business, rose & grey opened their bricks-and-mortar showroom on an industrial estate in altrincham a couple of years ago, offering an eclectic mix of furniture, lighting, kitchenware and decorative accessories, including an extensive selection of wonderfully lifelike faux plants. there’s a definite vintage flair mixed with contemporary elements in store, marrying the natural wood and exposed brick of their warehouse location with splashes of vibrant colour, industrial accents, and scandinavian charm. there’s also a dedicated corner of the showroom for you to enjoy a cup of coffee, pore over swatches, chat with the team and get inspired.

31 atlantic street, altrincham, wa14


a super stylish lifestyle store meets coffee and wine bar, porter+cole is a great place to stock up on christmas gifts whilst also enjoying a masterfully crafted coffee or a large glass of vino after a hard day’s work. located on the edge of the northern quarter, right next to popular food hall mackie mayor, this is the place to dash in to for a last minute gift that looks considered and beautifully thought out. there’s a refined edit of table and glass ware from many of my favourite scandinavian design brands (think broste copenhagen and house doctor), presented alongside an array of stylish stationery, luxury chocolate and sleek beauty brands.

124 high street, manchester m4


new to the northern quarter in summer 2018, nola is the second outpost for the brighton-based boutique, offering stylish clothing, footwear, jewellery and accessories with a focus on considered modern design. they’ve recently opened up the second floor of their port street store, showcasing select homeware pieces from nordic brands such as skandinavisk, hk living and claystreet, to complement their stylish edit of fashion pieces downstairs, from the likes of selected femme, marimekko and kings of indigo. there’s also beautifully illustrated chocolate bars from edinburgh-based coco chocolatier, and perfectly scented candles from boy smells.

54 port street, manchester m1


located directly opposite the market hall in altrincham’s stamford quarter is quirky interiors and gift store idaho, which takes its name from the american state origins of the western cedar wood that gives the shop a warm, welcoming feel and lovely heady scent. founded by interior stylist amy bartlett, idaho stocks a colourful array of decorative homewares, ceramics, stationery, gift wrap and cards that make this the perfect place for finding an unusual gift for that difficult-to-buy-for person. there’s an emphasis on work from small designers and brands from europe and the states, with natural skincare from meraki sitting alongside organic linen aprons and woven basketware, plus unique jewellery designs from the likes of datter industries and marta pia.

56 greenwood street, altrincham

all photography © kate baxter, aka fabricofmylife 

The post shop ’til you drop appeared first on fabric of my life | UK interior design, lifestyle & travel blog.

Made by a Fabricista: Peachskin duo for summer

Once upon a time I had a beautiful drapey skirt.  It was out of poly chiffon, it was peach and it floated on the wind.  It was the stuff of magic, but as things sometimes happen to be, it wore itself out.

Man I miss this skirt!

 I blame the summer ground, my sandaled feet and also some extra style lines in the skirt that put stress on the seams of that not so sturdy chiffon.  Since that sad day when my skirt bit the dust, I’ve wanted to replace it, and maybe future proof the next one.

Past skirt, meet version 2.0 in peachskin.

Peachskin skirt: modified Burda Easy Fall/Winter 2014, 3D

I originally meant to make 2 versions of this skirt from the Fall/Winter 2014 Burda Easy.  For it, I chose this tiger orange peachskin print and this fern green geometric peachskin print.  But when the fabrics came in the mail, I decided to branch out.  
The green would be for my skirt and the orange print for something more dramatic and outside of my comfort zone.  What can I say?  The drape of this peachskin is dreamy and to limit it to one type of garment was too safe!  I’m pairing both the skirt and its culottes sister with this sleeveless raglan with a scarf neck that I recently made a tutorial for.

A pencil + a squircle

So much floaty!

The pattern on this skirt (#3D below) is really a pencil skirt on top with a giant square on the bottom.  The square that makes up the big drapey bottom sews into the top part of the skirt with a circle that cuts off in a curved edge all the way around the body.

image from Fehr Trade

I call it a squircle skirt, and boy howdy is it a fun sew.  Because of that bottom curved edge, the handkerchief hem edges hang at all kinds of interesting angles.

But as I said those extra seams are no good for delicate fabrics as I learned on my peach version.

To fix it, I combined the pattern pieces on the front and the back.  On the front, it’s now a plain front, and the back which used to have princess seams I replaced with 2 simple darts.

Because this print does all the speaking, I think the plainer design works.  And, if it means I get to wear this skirt as long as I did my peach version, I’m a happy lady!

It passes the swish test!

Winslow Culottes

I collect vintage scarves.  Whenever I see a pretty silk or a fine polyester scarf in a fun print in a thrift or antique store, I’m like a moth to the flame.  What impressed me about the peachskin is that it feels very much like my favorite scarves.  The hand is quite luxurious against your skin.  The more and more I sew, the more I find polyesters that don’t have that 70s feel.  If there’s good polyester and bad polyester, this is the REALLY good stuff!

For the tiger orange print, I decided to give the Helen’s Closet Winslow Culottes a try.  The legs are super wide, so this large scale print has a lot of room to breathe.

I see why this pattern has been really popular.  This is such a great beginner pattern!  With the wide legs, there’s very little fitting to do.  And isn’t fitting what terrifies most of us about sewing pants?!

As long as you pick a nice drapey fabric like this, I’m convinced you’re going to have a good sew.  Just a few seams and an invisible zipper in back and you’re golden.

Who knew peachskin was awesome for travel?!

One thing I didn’t expect from this fabric was it’s packability.  My husband and I wandered around the Botanic Gardens, sometimes succeeding in finding out of the way spots to take pictures.  I literally jammed the skirt into my camera bag and later the pants to keep our walking the crowded garden easy.

Both garments came right out of the bag free of wrinkles.  They also packed down really well.  The culottes alone folded into a neat compact square.  That’s pretty impressive given how much fabric is in these pants!  If you wanted to make some statement garments for your summer travel, I would definitely recommend it.

So how about you?  Have you discovered the joy of peachskin?

~Sew something creative

The Bluebell Dress – Free Sewing Pattern

With adorable puff sleeves and a tie-front bodice, The Bluebell Dress incorporates several of this season’s cutest trends. Made here in a Mood exclusive printed voile, transform this pattern’s garden party vibe with a velour for Fall or even a stretch sequin fabric for a night out! Its open, geometric neckline is perfect for showing off some statement jewelry; and I can easily see the Bluebell as the next LBD in my wardrobe, paired with some rhinestone tights. How will you be styling this new pattern?

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All seam allowances are 1/2″ unless otherwise stated. See chart below for sizing specifications. Note, this specific pattern is available up to a size 30.

Mood Sewing Pattern Size Chart

Since I used a voile for this dress, I chose to line the bodice and skirt with a basic cotton shirting. Rather than make two layers of the dress and sew the lining into the main layer toward the end, I sewed the bodice lining along with the voile as if the were one fabric, like you can see below.

To do this, begin by attaching the front panels and back of your dress at the shoulders and side seams using a French seam. This will hide the raw edges of your fabric inside the seam.

Next, hem the lower edge of your bodice that angles down toward the waistline of your garment.

Sew the center back seam of your main skirt layer and lining layer separately, so you’re left with two skirts. Again, use a French seam here.

Starting at the center back, pin your bodice to the waistline of your skirt, fabric faces together like you see below. Once they’re in place, pin your skirt lining on top so your dress bodice is sandwiched in between your main skirt and skirt lining. Sew around the waistline, sewing all three layers together.

Trim the seam allowance around your waistline, turn the garment so it’s right-side-out, and sew along the waistline again, sewing your skirt layers together and forming a sort of French seam (as you can see below) where you can now lace your elastic through. Be sure your elastic is cut to 2″ less than your waist measurement.

Next, form each of your sleeves by sewing the inseam and then set them into the armscyes of your dress bodice. Evenly gather them into your sleeve cuffs to finish.

Hem each of your skirt layers separately with a 1/4″ rolled hem. For the neckline of your bodice, roll your main layer and lining together into a single 1/4″ rolled hem like you see below.

Lastly, roll the center front edges of your bodice inward 1/2″ twice, like you see in the lower left-hand image, and edge-stitch to create a small casing for your ribbon. Lace your ribbon through both sides of your bodice from the bottom up, and tie together at the top to complete your dress!

Will you be giving The Bluebell a try? Let me know in the comments what kind of fabrics you’ll be trying out!

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