Category Archives: Skirts & Trousers

Finessing Fit for Trousers – 3rd time lucky!

Earlier this month I posted about some Navy track-suiting made up into trousers using Simplicity 2289 pattern.

The first incarnation using size XXL was so over-sized that when my husband saw them, he laughed. You could easily fit another, albeit smaller, person beside me inside this version. I finally got around to unpicking the garment. By that I mean really unpicking. Each and every seam, the top stitching around the waistband and the twin rows of stitching on each hem. I pressed each of the fabric shapes and laid out onto the pattern. I re-cut a size smaller (XL) and again constructed the garment, taking a ¾ inch seam allowance. Still too big. So for the second time, I unpicked the seams. Fortunately this time I had not stitched down the waistband, nor sewn up the hems. But by now I was fast losing any desire for a pair of track-suiting trousers!

For the third and final incarnation I would ignore the pattern! I retrieved a pair of cut off stretch denim trousers that do fit me. Using their measurements I re-cut the fabric shapes. Before stitching up, I made a paper pattern of this version.

The trousers do fit – not exactly as I would like but I believe as near as I am going to get without reverting to a traditional pattern of leg front and back pieces copied from an unpicked pair of existing trousers. It may well come to that but for now I have a paid of ‘relaxed’ fit, very warm and comfortable ‘leisure’ trousers.

And so the search for an ‘Ultimate Trouser’ pattern continues…..

Baggy Trousers!


I have used Simplicity 2289 to make three of the Tunic tops in fleece. For those I have made up size XL and they have proved to be ample size-wise. In preparation for making a pair of wide-leg satin-backed crepe evening trousers I thought it would be a good idea to test run the trouser part of this pattern. I checked the actual garment measurements and although I was pretty disappointed with the size (oh yes I know that it is only a number!) when I discovered that the best size was the XXL. OK, suck it up!

I purchased 2.4 metres of 150cms wide Navy track suiting fabric from Fabricland at a price of £4.99/metre.  I was pleased to see that this pattern has no side seams so construction was going to be really quick. No need for seam neatening, having stitched a couple of test seams, I could make  the entire garment on the sewing machine (no need to change thread on the overlocker just yet!)

Off we go – easy, peasy construction and within 1 hour the trousers were all stitched up. I tried them on. Yes they did fit – but there was sufficient room inside for another person – talk about comfy pyjamas! To have the crotch sitting in the correct place involves pulling up the trousers so far that I can tuck the waistband under my bra. The legs are the correct width at the bottom, but I really don’t need all that excess around the hips.

I am thoroughly fed up. I need to alter the trousers and refine the pattern, or trial another pattern before I can even consider making the evening trousers. There is just 9 weeks to go until the cruise and many other garments that I want to make, sew much to do and so little time……


I usually buy my leggings from Lands End when there is a sale on. However, one of my unspoken resolutions is to continue making more clothes than I buy “off the peg”. To this end I have ordered the Beth pdf pattern from Style Arc – it was on offer with a discount for Australia Day!

The Beth pattern is a new version of the award-winning Barb Pant. It features a wide waist band with inserted elastic for comfort. The front design lines add style to this pant which is perfect for the office or the weekend. This pattern has negative ease suitable for a stretch woven fabric (e.g. Bengaline).

I have not encountered Bengaline fabric before and a search revealed the following: The fabric was first produced in Bengal, India, from where it gets its name. The French began to trade for the fabric, and its popularity rose in the late 19th century as a material for dresses. It is often used in children’s clothing as well because it does not wear out easily. Bengaline was first produced mostly as pure silk. Cheaper textiles, however, were soon woven in with the silk because the resulting appearance still looked like silk but cost less to manufacture.

The ribbing that the material is known for can be made by first using a thin or fine textile for the warp, or vertical yarn when weaving. A heavier weft or horizontal textile is then woven in to create the raised rib. Bengaline can be both stretchy and durable due to this type of weave. Bengaline is a fantastic fabric for making all type of garments – particularly skirts, dresses, trousers and jackets.

Having searched the internet I found that Minerva Crafts stock the fabric. Their Bengaline fabric is made from polyester and lycra and stretches down the length of the fabric (rather than stretch across the width like most stretch fabrics do). It is a good medium weight and doesn’t require lining. The fabric is machine or hand washable. I ordered 2 metres in a Deep Purple colour, again a special offer price of just £2.99 per metre. The Beth pattern also calls for some 1 ½ inch wide elastic. Another search online and I have purchased 5 metres at a price of just £3.99 – enough for 5 pairs of trousers!

Burda 9772 – Child’s Denim Dungarees


Back to the Burda pattern 9772, this time made up in stretch Denim. Again I made size 3 and this time view A with the knee patches. Meg at New Threads Quilt Shop supplied the pattern, fabric and Bib & Brace closure for the straps. I provided the thread, a small piece of interfacing, the applique, some elastic and my time.

denim close up applique

I used an outline from the internet to make the White Rabbit applique on the bodice which is satin stitched in White with a Blue eye. Taking advice from Meg, I used elastic casing all around the hem of the legs. If the child is short then there will be a little more “blousing” in the trousers but as they grow, the blousing will reduce. Built-in room for growth! The knee patches are cut on the bias. The instructions in the pattern suggest that you leave a raw ” frayed” edge but I went “off plan” by lining them with a cotton print, turning through and then top-stitching in place. Top stitching was made in co-ordinating Blue. The straps had seam allowances pressed under before top-stitching in place thus I avoided having to turn the straps through which took a long time on the previous set of dungarees. Having sewn the pattern before I am now more confident and this set took just 3 hours to complete.

denim full length

Burda B9772 – Child’s Dungarees


Burda 9772

to fit 6 months – 3 years

In order to promote a new range of Lewis & Irene fabrics named ”To the Moon and Back” and a workshop to be held in March 2017, I was asked to make a sample set of Dungarees using Burda pattern 9772.

Meg at New Threads Quilt Shop supplied the pattern, fabric and Bib & Brace closure for the straps. I provided the thread, a small piece of interfacing, 8 inches of elastic and my time.


Using the cotton with a delightful print of Yellow Space Rockets on pale Duck Egg Blue, I prepared the pattern and made up view A but without the knee patches or elastic in the cuffs of the legs. I made size 3 which is the largest size in this pattern that includes a pinafore dress and elasticated waist trousers. I top stitched in Yellow to co-ordinate with the print and after approximately 4 hours I had completed the dungarees. About ½ hour of that time was spent trying to turn the straps and also to work out how to apply the bib& brace fixtures! But all sorted now and next time I will turn the straps using a short length of dowelling.


The next project is a co-ordinating boy’s shirt using more of this lovely cotton print and Burda 9792.

Daisy Print Wraparound Skirt

               front   back

This is one of my favourite printed Cotton Poplin fabrics from New Threads Quilt Shop at Weyhill Fairground. I already have a dress in this print and colourway and to co-ordinate with several Mustard coloured tops, I decided to make a wraparound skirt.

I used my TNT pattern that originated in the “Dressmaker” book by Ann Ladbury, printed and broadcast on TV in 1976. Just goes to show what a classic design this skirt is. It is also very useful to accommodate my waist measurement as it goes up and down!

As this is a cotton fabric, I lined with anti-static lining for two reasons: 1 – it adds weight and warmth to the skirt and 2 – it prevents the skirt from sticking to tights when worn during the colder months of the year.

I simply mounted each panel of the skirt to the anti-static lining, machine basted the two layers together and then stitched as one layer. The seams and all hem edges are overlocked. The hem and overlap/underlap edges are hemmed with my usual twin-needle. The finished length is approximately 26 inches an ideal length for me as it comes just below my knees.

There is a long buttonhole just to the rear of the right side seam through which the tie belt is passed before tying in a knot on the left-hand side.

This is a quick sew and I am sure will be worn a great deal from now until the Spring when I plan to start making and wearing a new colour theme.

A Good Turn – 50’s style skirt

One of our Friday sewing group Ladies will be attending a party on Saturday. The theme is to be 50’s vintage and so Mo wanted a skirt to wear with a fantastic can-can petticoat that she had purchased from eBay.

We checked the pattern and calculated how much fabric was needed and I gave Mo some hints and tips about construction. I then put that out of my mind whilst I concentrated on my own projects.

On Friday Mo arrived at sewing group with the fabric, a  White penny spot on Bright Red background,  cut into 4 panels to make a full circle together with wide elastic and a co-ordinating belt. Mo now asked how she should proceed as she no longer wanted to have a centre back zip, rather she would prefer an elasticated waist. We retired to another room where we had a fitting. There was not sufficient fabric in the skirt as it was to make an elasticated waistband, but there was enough yardage leftover to make another panel. As I knew this would become a little more complicated than perhaps Mo would be able to cope with just now, I offered to finish off the skirt.

The following afternoon, after a couple of hours stitching I had completed the skirt. I inserted an extra panel into the centre back, made a wide waistband into which I inserted the 2″ wide elastic and finished the skirt off with a twin-needle top stitched hem.

00 mos skirt

The skirt looks great and fits Mo a treat.  Hopefully she will be able to wear the skirt on other occasions. Rock On!

Summer-weight Denim Wraparound Skirt

denim wraparound skirt

When reviewing my wardrobe of Summer casual clothes I noticed that I needed a new denim skirt. This was an easy omission to rectify – I could quickly run up a wrap skirt from my TNT pattern. I used a lightweight denim with a little stretch purchased from Fabricland, Salisbury branch. This fabric comes in a wide width and therefore I needed just 2 metres to make the skirt. I cut out the panels and this time rounded the leading edge of the under and overlaps. All seams and raw edges were overlocked. I used an Orange contrast thread to double top-stitch the centre back seam and also the hem which was turned up by just 5/8 inch.

twin needle top stitiching

Twin needle top-stitching

I set pockets into the side seams, and this time stabilised the slight bias of the side seams with a little fusible webbing. It appears to be stopping the pocket openings from gaping so I will do that on future wrap skirts when I have side seam pockets. Another solution could be to top stitch the opening. For the waistband, due to the thickness of the fabric I used fusible interfacing only in the band that was attached to the skirt, the ties are not interfaced which makes tying a bow or knot a little easier. The entire waistband and ties are again top-stitched in the Orange thread. I have a couple of pockets which I intend to apply to the back skirt panels but before I do that I want to practice some decorative twin-needle stitching. Watch this space…..

Lily Ashbury Pears Wraparound Skirt

A few years ago I purchased a charm pack of Lily Ashbury prints. I made a quilt using the disappearing 9 patch block. The different designs in the pack “spoke” to me and I often looked at the quilt and thought – “that print would make a nice blouse” or “that print could be a pretty dress”. Several of the designs were recently offered in the “clearance” section of New Threads, Weyhill Fairground and so I hot footed it to the shop and purchased 2.5 metres of one of my favourite designs. I bought that quantity of fabric thinking that I would make a ¾ length sleeved blouse. When I got home I washed and dried the fabric and then laid it out on my cutting board. Hmmm… those pears could fall at inappropriate places on the front bodice of the blouse. What shall I do? I know, I will make wraparound skirt instead!

Would you believe it? It was only when I hung the skirt to take a photograph that I realised the pears at the centre front are all upside down! Just as well I did not go ahead with the blouse – who knows where those pears would have ended up?


As the fabric seemed to have lost some of its substance in the wash, I decided to mount the cotton onto anti-static lining. This has the dual effect of adding weight to give the skirt a nice drape and also removes the need to wear a slip under the skirt.

I wore the skirt with a co-ordinating tee shirt (from Bon Marche) when my friend and I attended the Sprat & Winkle Rooksbury Retreat Day. More of that later but it did cause a moment of laughter when it was revealed that one of the demonstration quilts also featured the same range of Lily Ashbury prints – I did not stand too close to it!

Wraparound Skirt Workshop

Saturday 16th April at New Threads, Weyhill Fairground found me and three ladies enjoying a  a fun and busy day as we I tackled a wraparound skirt.

We used a pattern that I had drafted from an original grid drawing dated 1976. The fact that this style is still current with the major pattern design companies just goes to show how enduring and versatile this design of skirt can be. Gemma 1, Gemma 2, and Yafit were all enthusiastic about finishing the seam allowances with Hong Kong finish – that is until they realised just how long it takes to apply 7.5 metres of bias binding with 2 rows of stitching. But the finished result looks so good and it was excellent practice for straight machining!

Pictured below is Yafit with a lovely smile BEFORE tackling the Hong Kong finish, together with another picture of my skirt. This was completed after the workshop as I to took the time to bind seam allowances and the hem in a contrasting Red bias binding. I also included side seam pockets which I  find so useful.

Yafit  my wrapover skirt

The fabric came from my stash of Fabricland cotton prints (when I was enjoying a cherry print phase!) and should be very versatile as it goes well with Navy, Red, Green and White. I still have some remnant of the fabric which I think is sufficient to make a sleeveless top or camisole but in the meantime I am finishing off another version of the New Look 6340  trapeze dress in a linen  cotton blend. I also need to make the sample kimono jacket to Simplicity 1318 so had better knuckle down and get stitching.