Friday, 10 April 2015

A bit of perfection

Mersea Island is one of my favourite local beauty spots. It's a proper island, but only just, separated from the mainland Essex by a very tiny strip of water called The Strood. It has marshlands and wildlife, houseboats, good sea food, shops including a butcher, two delis, a cafe and charity shops. So basically, it's a bit perfect.

With all the sky and open spaces Mersea is a suitable place to appreciate weather, and we were promised "blood rain" and "Sahara dust" today, according to the Telegraph (echoed a bit too seriously by Radio 4).

I didn't see any blood or any rain, or combination thereof, but check out the Sahara dust in these pictures!

I've got the skirt, now I need the matching houseboat.

Ok, sand, plus some Sahara dust. It was a bit murky I grant, but really not much more than usual.

This skirt was my bank holiday project. It's made from a 1950s panel, one of those do-it-yourself kits which were quite popular then. It was over 2.2 yards long and around 34" wide. It has lots of body which is good for crisp pleats. I think the print is of Hong Kong or another exotic island, so very appropriate to the setting.

These long panels are so simple to make up. You put in a seam in the back, pleat it up (or gather it if it's soft fabric) add a zip and hem it. The end. Even so, it took a day and a half as I hemmed it twice by hand. The first was narrow and it just looked messy, so I took it out and added some wide bias binding to the edge and that added some weight.

I used 2" from the blue border for the waistband. Pleats wise, once I put in the seam, I folded it and marked the centre front and the two sides. I put in 2" box pleat at the front, then added knife pleats, making sure there were the same number of pleats to each side.

Close up of the skirt print.

I have done very little sewing so far this year just lots of dreaming, and some mending. So a simple skirt is the perfect way to start the year off, a year which will be mostly full of separates. There will be blouses, there will be skirts and my first trousers.

And a jacket. The jacket will not be simple at all. Firstly, I have never made one. Second, I am hoping to copy this one:

It is the ideal jacket for me. It's has a nipped in waist and it's short. But it's also at least 3" too small. I decided to copy the pattern, and looking at how the jacket is made I will first add 3" extra width to the front which has 6 pieces, and if that isn't enough I can add more to the back which has only two.

I have copied the pieces onto Swedish Tracing Paper, pinning it piece by piece onto a cardboard cutting surface, with the paper underneath and using dots which were then joined together. If you ever need to copy something, get one of these boards and about a thousand pins. It was tedious but the Swedish Tracing stuff made it easier. It's really easy to draw on and doesn't slip around as much as paper. It's soft and it can be sewn together like fabric, for fitting. But it is hard to get hold of so I use it sparingly.

The jacket front has three panels, a centre one, the one with the sleeves, and a curved piece which goes under the arm and joins to the back pieces.

I transferred the pattern onto normal paper (so I could keep the originals) then I slashed them and added 0.5" to each piece (in red) which will make up 3" across the two sides.

And now I have a muslin of the jacket bodice cut and pinned and placed on my dummy. 

A side view. The vertical seams end where they should.

My dummy is a such a lady she insists on being fully clothed. Actually I am too lazy to take this dress off her at the moment and it's good to have an added layer when you fit a jacket, that's my excuse anyway.

With the original over the top you can see the added width (without a seam allowance).
Next I need to sew it up, try it on and tweek it. It has so many panels fitting should be easy-ish.

As I am making the whole thing up as I go, it may come to nothing, but I am going to learn a lot at any rate.

And to finish, we have Mersea Island's cake shop and second hand shop, which are next door to each other. They should have a connecting door so you can go in through the Cake Hole and out through the Poop Deck. Absolutely perfect.

Linking to Sewingadicta Share in Style, freestyle edition.


  1. Nice to see you again! And looking so gorgeous too - what a fantastic skirt, the print is stunning.
    I am in awe of your pattern drafting skills and I do hope you make a version of that jacket which fits you, as the shape is perfect for you.
    Ha, the shops made me laugh! xxx

    1. Thank you Curtise, good to be back. I am holding out great hopes for this jacket, finishing it will be a triumph of will over actual skill!

  2. Hurrah, you are back! Your skirt is beautiful and suits you so well, that shade of blue is perfect on you. Can't wait to see your finished jacket xx

    1. Ah thanks so much, that's lovely of you. I love this skirt so much already. I can't wait to see the finished jacket too! Here's hoping. xx

  3. What a splendidly beautiful skirt - I am swooning up nothing short of a total storm over here from it. You look sensational, dear gal!

    Big hugs & many joyful weekend wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

    1. Ah thank you Jessica, that's so nice to hear. I am lucky to have found it and so pleased to be wearing it, can't wait for summer proper to give it more outings.

  4. Beautiful skirt and otherwise beautiful combination! Blue is one of my favorite color.

  5. I just finished rubbing a pattern off a vintage dress that was perfect for me... It took so long I'm hesitant to even try out the finished pattern yet! I'd love to see how your jacket comes out, I hope it's a success. :)

    bonita of Lavender & Twill