Mind Like a Sewer…

It’s only just begun…

Sewing! Bee? Bug?  Whatever…I’ve certainly been stung by it. For me it’s all part of the ‘il faut cultiver votre jardin’ experience. Voltaire would no doubt be spinning in his grave to see his words so stretched to encompass an ageing women making ill-fitting dresses. However, all  ‘Candide’ purists had better get used to it as this Blog is all about cultivating that garden and sewing is just the start. And as for ‘Frock Friday’! It is my intention to make and wear a new dress every Friday. Watch this space…


When I was a young girl I would make dresses without patterns. Thread would dangle, hems would be ‘interesting’ and for every attempt that I dared to wear two more would end up in my ‘to turn into a patchwork quilt’ pile. I was poor. And mean. Now I am not so poor but still unfortunately mean ( a trait against which I forever rail with limited success) but I have persuaded myself to invest in a …pattern. And I nearly choked when the shop assistant at John Lewis told me how much it was. But now I have it. V8789 – a vintage vogue pattern from 1957 with drawings of wasp-waisted women with frou-frou skirts.

Here is my first attempt! In a large floral print. And so was born ‘Frock Friday’  –



Material from John Lewis (about £14 a metre). Cardigan from M & S.

The lack of waspy waist hasn’t escaped me… However, pleased with my first attempt I’ve decided to make another one…Again, ready for ‘Frock Friday’!




This time the material was really cheap (£2.99 a metre, Calico, Bristol) and I’ve even knitted a matching cardigan. Loved this so, yes, I’ve decided to make another one…again for ‘Frock Friday’.



Material £2.99 a metre again (Calico, Bristol). Oh! And I had better make just one more…Again for ‘Frock Friday’.




I love these dresses and am delighted that I’ve managed to make them and (miracle of miracles) wear them . But after 4 dresses in the same style it looks like it might be time to change the pattern, Wave goodbye dresses…




But what is ‘Frock Friday’?

‘tu m’as donné ta boue et j’en ai fait de l’or’ ( or something like that – Baudelaire)

Oh, and I was forgetting to explain ‘Frock Friday’. ‘Frock Friday’ initially started as a day (Friday, of course. We had thought of Tranny Tuesday but that didn’t seem quite right)  when I, along with some friends, thought that it might be a good idea to have a bit of fun and dress up. In a dress. The older we have got the more transvestite-like we have felt (hence T T). I think it’s the need to slap on more make-up (or that could just be me. Sorry girls!), wear higher heels (I, for one, have worn flats for most of my life apart from a brief spell when I was 12 to 14 when my mother still chose my footwear…) and choose brighter colours. All in an attempt to fight that invisible woman feeling that has slowly crept over us since the age of 40.
So, alright, all these things might simply refer to me but nevertheless the others were more than keen for an excuse to frock it up.
Our first ‘Frock Friday’ took place at a vintage-styled tearoom called ‘Cox and Baloney’ in Bristol. It was a perfect venue for our first sortie – Tom Jones on the record player (yes, you read it correctly, on the ‘record player’ or perhaps it is Tom Jones at whom you baulk…surely not ), Mr Darcy tea in the bone china tea pot, mis-matched but ever-so delicate porcelain teacups. With saucers. Old-rose patterns clashing everywhere and a boy ( young man) dressed in a white dress. (He wasn’t with us.)
Just when I thought our first Frock Friday couldn’t get any better the last one of our group arrived. Mid-blue sleeveless dress with large old-penny polka dots  ( can polka dots be large?) , cerise wedges, matching cerise fabric bag covered in cerise fabric flowers (it was the bag that Dotty had tried to give to me the day before but which, I now see, I had too hastily refused on the grounds that I had – erroneously – judged it to be over-the-top and , quite frankly, a tad vulgar…), a large cerise fabric flower in her hair. And, to take the look to its highest point she had applied … matt, cerise lipstick. And if all that was not enough to make us feel even more inadequate Flossie smiled and said, ‘I made it. The frock. I made it.’
My sage green frock with its old-rose design suddenly seemed understated. Very understated. Barely visible.  Even dowdy. Oh no, I must be nearly 50!
So now ‘Frock Friday’ isn’t just about wearing a frock, it’s about making one. One that’s loud and bold, intended to make it impossible for any woman not to be seen (excuse the brain-scrambling double negative). And to give ourselves a laugh! And next time Dotty tries to give me a boue-bag ( cruddy and muddy)  I will endeavour to turn it into something wonderful. As dazzling as gold. And, of course, I will make a dress to match it…

It must be ‘Frock Friday’!

Yes, ‘Frock Friday’ is here again and I am off to Cox and Baloney’s  later on for a delicious cup of Mr Darcy. Hmm. That sounds so wrong…So very, very wrong…
But what shall I wear?
I have a confession to make at this stage. I have not managed to make a dress. Instead I have made a top, lured by the ‘Easy’, ‘Make in 2 Hours’ promise on the pattern sleeve.

Well, to make one dress a week is a tall order. For me. I’m going to wear what I, and probably only I, see as my Vintage Rock Chick look.


I love the square neck on this. I only needed 1 metre of this strawberry flower material which cost £3.50 a metre from that most ugly of all fabric shops – Fabricland.

Oh, and this is Fifi, a friend’s dressmaker’s mannequin. She models many of my creations. She may be blue but she’s perfectly proportioned and, better still, you can’t pin an age on her.
Wish me fun! Let’s hope the seams don’t fall apart (not such an outlandish prospect when you see my sewing machine – but that treat can wait for now as I have a date with a cup of tea).

 As Brown is the new Black so Top is the new Frock…

Or not.
But before I go any further there’s something you need to know about me. When I do something, make anything, I like to do it again. And again. And again.  Okay, perhaps that puts me somewhere on the obsessive compulsive disorder spectrum (or perhaps that’s more my habit of not touching handles in toilets with the skin of my hands or any other part of my body. I prefer to use tissue to come between me and the flush, door handle, door … and then I quickly throw open the bin and drop it in. Before I have to touch it! Of course. Too much information?), but (back to the sewing), I like to feel I’ve completely mastered, in this case, a top pattern.
As ever Fifi looks great in them. Here she is ( that really freaks my boys out when I call the dressmaker’s model ‘she’. Something creepy about giving a gender to an inanimate object…). image

I love the square neck and you will see that I do not deviate from my first top design (although I have gone off-piste with the actual pattern…). I’ve added side vents and, to avoid inserting a zip at the back, I’ve simply replaced it with a button and loop. Much easier.
 Then I made another one…
This time choosing a deep red material with an old rose design.
It’s interesting to see how buxom the flat-chested Fifi looks with a belt. Hm. I’d better be careful myself as I am indeed much more amply proportioned than the perfect Fifi and so I would no doubt look as though I were sporting a huge and voluminous squidgy shelf upon which to rest my cups of tea. Darcy or no Mr Darcy that is not the look for me.

But wait. I’m racing ahead. Not wanting to slave over the Vogue vintage pattern that I had started with I could suddenly see that I could get the same volume of fabric and so fullness of skirt (well nearly the same) by just attaching 2 metres of fabric to my very easy top!
Can you see what I’ve done?




So it might not be the most sophisticated of looks and without the belt it would most certainly turn into a sack (even on Fifi). And yes, it looks a little long, but it does attract lots of positive comments. Perhaps they could be the sort of comments people feel compelled to make because they can’t quite believe the monstrous nature of what they see before them. Perhaps. But I like to believe that it doesn’t look too frightful.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

So it is only me who is imitating me but it’s good to like what one wears oneself. Isn’t it?
Yes, I’ve decided to make another one. This time in black –


So it’s not the LBD. And it does look a little long for Fifi but she is quite short. I, on the other hand, am reasonably tall.



Possibly a little on the witch-y side but I do like this black, sack-like dress.
Not least because it only cost  £10 to make. Fabric approximately £2.50 a metre, again from the incredibly cheap Fabricland.
However, I think I need to have a break now from this particular style. It does look a little long…


A Change is as Good as a Rest

Bored with tops and sacks and reluctant to return to my Vintage Vogue I have been persuaded to invest in a new pattern. This time a Vogue Options model.

New Dressmakers beware – when you look for a pattern most of the images look either dated or truly tasteless (really! They make Fifi look positively wonderful. Style, Simplicity, Vogue I do believe that you need me and Fifi to promote your ranges).

Consequently it took me many hours and abandoned trips to John Lewis perusing the same pattern books before I found something that I wanted to make. And I really wanted to make something. I finally decided on  this –

While in John Lewis I also bought some material. Considerably more expensive than either Calico or Fabricland I plumped for material in John Lewis because I needed only 2 metres to make the dress. Not a bank-breaking amount. I also happened to like the material design.

The first piece of material was cerise pink batik. Just about £8 a metre. Thin ( the correct term might even be ‘lightweight’), but fine for the summer. I had a few challenges as this pattern had …lining. It also had an 18 inch zip. As my deluxe sewing machine (irony really intended) does not have a zip foot (or if it does, I certainly do not know how to use it), this part of the dress promised to be particularly challenging uncharted terrain. I also made the dress longer than the longest length of the pattern.
I must be ever so tall…




This dress has a lovely neckline and accentuates whatever waist I have.
Looks fab on Fifi…



Mind like a Sewer

Pleased with the shape, which, although fitted I found flattering, I decided in true Issie Morg fashion to forge ahead and make a couple more. It made me look slim and shapely (for me. It is all relative after all…) and so I would have been foolish not to continue the miracle that is a good pattern. Finding some Amy Butler fabric reduced in John Lewis (about £6 – 7 a metre) I glued myself to the kitchen table, pinning, cutting, ironing and sewing. For hours. And hours.  And then some more hours. Here are the end results –

So the zip hasn’t been put in particularly well but look at the match-up on that pattern!
Improvement at last!

With hand-knitted cardigan
(although it looks as though the dress needs a good iron…)

Attention to fellow ‘can’t-wait-to-wear’ sewers such as myself. Just make sure that you’ve finished what you’ve made. Truly finished it. As usual I thought that I looked stunning in this green, very patterned creation which I put on as soon as I finished the hem. Cutting no loose threads I went out, loose thread embellishment a seemingly necessary extra, waving joyfully in the summer breeze. It was as I walked (or rather tried to walk) up the metal staircase of the Mud Dock Café, a very pleasant place with an outside terrace overlooking the docks in Bristol, that I realised that I hadn’t added my own little finishing touch to the dress. 
After having lengthened the first dress, I had inadvertently created a Japanese creation which had the effect of causing me to move from the knee (not the hip) and so shuffle, making tiny Geisha-like footsteps.  I easily remedied this by adding a split in the centre-back seam. Instant freedom. 
I had forgotten this.
It was only as I attempted to walk up the steps, moving from the knee and going up on my toes for maximum movement  that I remembered.  Fearful of tearing my lovely new dress at the seams I yanked it up and strode into the cafe, looking very much what indeed I was – a middle-aged woman who was wearing a dress that she hadn’t managed to finish.
Surely next time  I would remember to leave a split at the back. And I might even be bothered to trim the dangling thread…

I remembered to make this dress with a split in the back. 
 The dress is in Amy Butler material from John Lewis about £6 a metre in sale. A decent weight fabric that was lovely to work with.





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