Category Archives: fabricland

My Sew Arty Challenge 4 : Paul Fischer Yellow Dress

Paul Fischer
Paul Fischer

It’s the one. The yellow one that I’ve chosen for my next Sew Arty Challenge. Perhaps not sunny Kimmy Schmidt yellow but on the spectrum. And as I’ve been feeling rather pale and lying down on the sofa quite a lot recently, the Paul Fischer painting entitled ‘Day Dreams’  really couldn’t be better.

So. step one : choose a pattern

I made a style of dress a few years ago using my trusty New Look sew in 2 hours pattern –

IMG_3709[1]I made a square-neck, sleeveless top to which I attached a  gathered 2 metres of fabric.  With a few further adjustments I really do think the design has potential to turn into the yellow dress of our daydreamer.

Not seeing it? Let’s look at the evidence –

the dress design has a square neck, no sleeves and a full, long  skirt.

So all I need to do is to add an extra front panel for the front tucks / pleats and then two decorative tucks / pleats around the bottom edge of the skirt.  Easy… Pattern chosen.

Step 2 : choose the material

3 metres of yellow cotton material

mustard yellow...
mustard yellow…

so it’s not as pale as I’d intended but I was feeling in rude health when I went to buy it, thereby illustrating how mood affects colour choice.

Buy matching thread and one button.

all purchases made at Fabricland – approximate cost £10

Step 3 – set up machine, cut out pattern, then sew!

Paul Fischer
Paul Fischer

Still lolling on the sofa…might take some time.

Sewing for Men…the Easter Waistcoat

Sewing for men, how did I start?

Last month, on a trip to John Lewis, Simon and I walked through the men’s department. We usually walk on through (we have to go through it in order to get to the material department, which, although more expensive than Fabricland I still cannot resist).

Then he saw it. That rare item of clothing that spoke to him in a ‘Buy Me’ sort of way. We talked back to it for a while – Simon even tried it on . In both colours available. I had to admit that it was a fine piece of kit but then we looked at the price. Too pricey for a whim buy. Then, to my very great surprise….that’s right. Simon said, ‘You could make me one.’

The Easter Waistcoat.

Woah. Steady. I can make The Dress but a waistcoat. For a man. This would mean going into very alien territory. Very alien territory indeed. Even more alien than making pinafores for girls ( which must have been a disaster as, since I sent them I’ve heard nothing…They couldn’t even muster a ‘Thank you! They’re great!’ before burying them in the back of the wardrobe, safe in the knowledge that I’ll never know…although on my next visit to their house I will be sure to have a little rummage!)

A waistcoat? And there it was on the front of a Sewing Bee freebie.  A man’s waistcoat , sewing instructions enclosed.  Serendipitous indeed. How could I say no?!

Well, let me tell you how. It all started well with the purchase of some cheap-ish material from Fabricland just in case…( Strangely they did not stock  wool worsted in navy or teal of the quality used in the John Lewis waistcoat and I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford it even if they had.)

not the best photo...
not the best photo…

Then I had to scale up the pattern from a magazine page. Not known for my accuracy with pattern cutting even when the pattern is full size I certainly had my work cut out here. But I think I managed it.

Then I could cut out the fabric and away I went.




For a first attempt I am delighted. Okay, perhaps it is a little on the ‘giant’ size but the proportions are pretty damned good! Simon keeps moaning about the shoulders not being even but really Simon!  A tad baggy? A teensy bit uneven? In the vernacular of our time ‘Man up’ . It looks like a waistcoat to me. And sadly for you, you cannot hide it at the back of your wardrobe as I live with you. You did ask for it…


worn with a jaunty pair of pyjama bottoms ‘Oh Izzy! Give it a rest!’

Buttons coming soon!



As I was looking round Fabricland, going up and down the aisles just waiting for some material to leap out and grab me, I was stopped dead in my tracks by a loud deafening roar of a pattern. Soft almost velvety to the touch. Brown, black, sand and cream in colour. Pattern… hmm, yes. Coming to that in a moment. It was cold outside and I was feeling a little shivery and the material just looked and felt right. Comforting.  Dare I say it,  dare I? oh, what the hell. It was even purring. Is that a big enough clue?
So yes. Time to come clean.
Last week I went to Fabricland and bought

                                           leopard print.

I’ve told you now. yes, that’s right. chuckle away. leopard print. As I said to some organic purple-cotton-wearing, grey-haired, dangly-earringed  ‘friend’,  ‘No I do not want to work in the Rovers Return’. (no prizes for guessing what she said)

But back to the sceptred aisles of Fabricland where the material jumped off the bench and held me by the throat (moments later it would have me pinned to the floor). I managed to shake it off for a while but only long enough to find a Burda coat pattern, pictured in…leopard print. The fact that the pattern had ‘Young’ emblazoned across it put me off , but only momentarily. I would do it. I could do it.

I have never made anything so big. But now I have a new sewing machine ( a Janome) I want to push myself. And the Burda pattern has very few pieces…How hard could it be?
I rushed back to the material, suddenly taken with the thought that everybody would be wanting to make a leopard skin coat. I’d better get in quick.

So I picked the huge and heavy roll up and held it purring to my chest, as if afraid that another sewer might grapple it away from me. I hobbled up and down the aisles again. I was on a roll (or rather a roll was on me) … and found myself dragged towards some cotton leopard skin print. I had to get that too. In my mind I could see a dress – dress/ jacket combo? No. Perhaps not. Not even my mind could make that work . I then pictured them separately. I struggled but some part  of me told me to just get it. 3 metres of cotton leopard to make a 3 quarter length sleeved, scoop necked, waisted, fullish midi lengthed dress. Yes. That might work. I limped to the cutting desk, dragging my now reluctant beasts with me. 5 minutes later and 32 pounds spent and I had done it.
I am woman. Hear me roar…

grrreat length
the collar was a killer to do – Burda patterns may not have too many pieces but they also don’t have too many instructions, leaving whole steps out
I spent hours and hours trying to work out how to do the collar
Wore it out, collar pinned not sewn…Ouch!
But thankfully not with the dress…
autumnal colours…

scoop necked…

3 quarter length sleeves…
full skirt…
well done me!
I’ve successfully managed to make the sexiest fabric pattern in the world look frumpy…


Ever since having to wear navy knickers for school as a small child I’ve loved the colour navy. So now I get to make a dress in it. Lining and all.

It’s my frock for Friday  – perfectly plain but hopefully the best yet in terms of finish ( as you know, I’m a little slack when it comes to the finer details…but as I am not accustomed to wearing dresses inside out I’m not particularly bothered).
So, here it is –

and here it is  again with a handknitted red cardigan…

and again with a hand-threaded button necklace and a green cardigan.

And it’s lined. Completely. I think I’m getting better at this sewing thing.
If only I could wear it inside out! And track down some navy knickers.

Cost of dress information
2 metres material at £2.65 a metre (Fabricland)
2 metres navy lining at £1.05 a metre (Fabricland)
navy zip  £1.65
navy cotton £1.65
TOTAL = £10.70




auntie Mabel’s Morris Minor

It’s my birthday soon. And I’m hoping to get a new sewing machine. I’ve grown attached to my very old Brother, it’s true. Even the slack seams that it’s given me I’ve learned to live with. And love. Sort of. As for it’s chug-chug speed, it’s heaviness – these qualities I find quite charming. But…

But only because I’m going to get another one. 

Once I get that lightweight, speedy, tight new model I won’t look back.
Bye bye Morris Minor! Hello Porsche convertible!  

As I myself am a Morris Minor of a woman I feel a little guilty to not sing the praises of age and experience in my machine (I did try), to not see it as ‘a fine wine’ full of body… But to take the triangular  machine-woman-car metaphor a stage further I will reveal to you that I too intend to trade myself in and up. Sick of feeling like I’m slowing down to a halt, I’ve started to embrace that which throughout my life I have derided. The …

mid-life crisis.

Mid-life crisis = Toad of Toad Hall (parp!parp!); old people ageing disgracefully (‘Have they no self-respect?’ ‘What do they look like?”Why is that woman wearing heels when what she really needs is a pair of surgical stockings?’), men with no hair driving sports cars, or worse still, having pony tails …You get the picture.

But somehow that no longer bothers me. It’s all part of the joke. Indeed, I think that I am the joke. Whether that’s because I can now rib people my own age engaging in ridiculous youth-grabbing gestures and get away with  it by adding ‘…oh and that’s just like me!’ I’m not sure. Could be.

But back to my own youth-don’t-leave-me-yet pointless gestures. Obviously it will be a gargantuan , perhaps impossible, task to transform my solid Morris Minor bodywork into a streamlined Porsche (I was going to say ‘streamlined sexy Porsche’ but really, that would be going just too far. Even I, in the throes of my mid-life-crisis mania, cannot see post-menopause as ‘sexy’. ‘Elegant’ – yes. I’m happy with ‘elegant’. But  ‘sexy’ – no.) Yet I shall endeavour to become sleek(-ish), (nearly)slender and fast(er than I am at present). To match my sewing machine (if you’re reading this Buyers of the Sewing Machine, don’t take this as a sign to buy a plodder just to make me feel better.).

But before I transform myself through the medium of speedy sewing I do have a little unfinished business with some auntie Mabel fabric and a Morris Minor of a sewing machine. Oh, and the pattern? My favourite Vogue V8555…It must be time for a change soon…

the auntie Mabel fabric
(Rowan fabric bought in John Lewis sale about £7 a metre)
the Morris Minor of sewing machines
Ta da! one very slack-seamed auntie Mabel dress …

with matching cardigan and contrasting bag and shoes
(Mid-life Crisis Me would have heels)
Mid-Life Crisis Me will sit-up her way to a washboard-flat tummy.
Or invest in a pair of Spanx…or some other brand of superknickers for the flabby
phew! that’s a better angle!
and that’s even better!
A swing jacket that covers up
my nan (whose name was Maud incidentally. Good name.) would have been proud-
co-ordinated at last
ooh! I even found a velvet coat…
Very auntie Mabel
Time to roll up the sleeves auntie Mabel and take on…I’m not sure what yet, because I did really like the auntie Mabel look,  but it’s time to take it on, whatever it is…
Life. Yes. That’s what it is. Life.  It’s time to take on life.
Let the mid-life crisis begin!
‘Parp!Parp!’ (the ridiculous Mr Toad)

2 metres Rowan fabric = £14 (John Lewis)
1 18in zip = £1.50 (Fabricland)
gold-coloured thread = £1.50 (Fabricland)
Total cost of dress = £17


Cherries or strawberries?

This post is for my sister-in-law Claire.

I’ve not got round to posting my Friday frocks for a week or two and I must confess that I did start to miss it. Instead I foist myself upon my sister-in-law Claire in Newcastle and wore them there. Not all of them but as many as I could.

Oh breakfast, let me put on my yellow cherry dress.


Oh, are we going out for lunch? I’d better change into my red polka dot frock.


Oh, we’re sitting in the garden, I’d better rush imageand put on my rosie green number.
Claire has just moved into a new house – boxes everywhere – and, worse still, NO INTERNET.
So I subjected Claire to a frock frenzy. I couldn’t show her my dresses on the blog so I would have to wear them.
Sometimes I think that I must have been a really irritating child.
Then Claire said , ‘Did you make that dress?’
By this time even I was beginning to find myself insufferable. Also,  most shameful of shamefuls, in my desire to finish my latest frock I’d not got round to buying her a housewarming gift.  I’d fully intended to  (yes I know, the road to hell and all that…)but I’d somehow got stuck to my sewing machine.
But she really seemed to like my rosie green dress. She even tried it on.
Then I had it. That lightbulb -, Eureka- , call it what you will, moment.

I could make her my dress.

I could make her a dress as a ‘Good Luck in your New Home’ present.

As soon as I came home I went down to Fabricland to buy some fabric (unsurprisingly). Claire likes pink but try as I might I couldn’t see anything suitable. I went up and down and up and down and up and down  the rolls of material.
 Could we get away with pink cupcake material? Or a little pig design? I could hear my sensible self screeching ‘Don’t do it Isabella!’ 
Then I saw it. White with a strawberry design. But then I saw another one. White with a cherry design. What was I to do?
I bought both. That is, after all, the joy of Fabricland!
And here they are –  two fruity frocks.
So what’s it going to be Claire? Cherries or strawberries? The choice is yours.

The case for cherries…
The material is slightly thicker than the strawberry fabric
the pattern is busier, more colourful and less likely to show marks

cherry red
cherries in the garden
cherries with handknitted cardigan

                                          and yet more cherries – with chunky belt

And now the case for strawberries…
there is a white heart detail on the material which you can’t see in the pictures
the skirt is lined

very white – what not to wear when you eat spaghetti Bolognese
the strawberry material is thinner than the cherry

big skirt


Look! It’s lined!

(to avoid the Lady Di effect when standing against the light)

                                         No zip, just a button at the neck

So Claire, cherry or strawberry, what sort of fruity frock girl are you?
You would look beautiful in either so the choice is yours. Let me know and I’ll send it up. Thank you for having me to stay!
Oh no! But what are we going to get for Andy?

Summer in the City

As the temperature cranked up to ‘scorchio‘ last week I realised that I needed another dress for the summer as it was clearly going to last for more than three days at the start of July. So I abandoned my auntie-Mabel dress and rushed out to Fabricland for  blue polka dots (about £3.50 a metre – total price for dress £10).
Less Cox and Baloney. More Mud Dock Café.
So that’s where we went to cool off when the thermometer hit 32 degrees, sitting on the balcony overlooking the water after my (un)trusty machine  had done its best and knocked together a frock for Friday. Again. Against all odds. That machine shouldn’t really be here at all. It’s a functioning miracle, still working away when it should be sitting with its metaphorical machine legs up watching ‘Cash in the Attic’, enjoying a nice up of tea and a digestive biscuit. Oh, and what a surprise, it’s churned out another V8555. Like all old machines it’s not good with change…

no jacket required (isn’t that an album by Phil Collins?!)


I hate to say it but say it I will – ‘ship shape and Bristol fashion’. There. I’ve said it and I promise I’ll never say it again…


Move over Mr Darcy the Mud Dock cappuccino is here…

A Dress for the Summer


Can this dress take you all the way to a Hollywood boulevard…?


It’s another V8555! This time with the full skirt. The E-model. And it’s another yellow dress. It may be Saturday but it’s Sefton Park Road’s street party and that calls for a sunny summer frock. With red cherry pattern.

Not quite your Hollywood Boulevard look (but then again, lovely though it is, Sefton Park Road isn’t quite Hollywood Boulevard),the V8555 E  has a full, swishy skirt that is cool on the legs in the heat so that you can parade around in it without swathes of material clinging to you. Never a good look. Talking of which…

             Unintentional cleavage

Only weather as blisteringly hot as we are currently experiencing could induce me to flash any cleavage. This has been a drawback (hate to admit it) of the V8555 for me as I have to yank my dress up at the front every so often.  As you can see from this shot, it doesn’t always work…

After having splurged my hard-earned pennies on the Amy Butler fabric I returned to my first discount love, the unimaginatively named ‘Fabricland’. You can see why as this material cost £3.60 a metre (or thereabouts) and the yellow lining just over a pound. Along with the thread and the zip the materials for this dress cost a princely £15. Unaccustomed to paying so much in Fabricland for the materials to make one dress I nearly said, when presented with the total, that I didn’t want the material after all.  Also, the thought ran through my mind of the appropriateness of the fabric design. I mean, how often does a female over the age of twelve get the chance to wear a big-sun yellow dress covered in pretty red cherries? Ironically that did it for me and I haven’t regretted my decision. Thankfully this dress has been a sunny and fruity delight (wasn’t that some addictive drink  popular a few years back? Very bad for children?)  And great in the very surprisingly sunny weather. I think I’ll be wearing it until it falls apart ( and considering the state of my machine that could be very soon…)

Where’s my red cardigan?

Perhaps the weather is getting a little too hot…

red dress with yellow cherries…

Perhaps this is what happens to the Sunny Dress when you’ve had too much of it…

Oh, and I nearly forgot to reveal the identity of the person who said ”…this ladder can take you all the way to Heaven”. As the answer is (Ta da!)  Holly Johnson from ‘Frankie Goes to Hollywood’ I’m guessing that ‘Heaven’ is a reference to the famous gay club in London back in the 80’s. As for the ladder, let’s not go there… But it just goes to show that you can find meaning in the most unlikely of places and elicit wisdom out of the most inauspicious (?) of mouths.