Tag Archives: cloth

Pattern Cutting and a Little Arrogance

DCL Pattern Cutting

I have just bought my first book on pattern cutting. It’s a bit late. I know.

I’ve been sewing for 30 years (I started young) and have figured out a few things (I’ve examined very expensive jackets in fitting rooms, raising sales assistants’ hopes of a sale, watching their eyes glaze over when I hand it back with a convincing reason for it not being good enough – I’m quite good at fakery), taken things apart, fitted and fitted and re-fitted. Some things still give me trouble: the correct angle for the back seam of a pair of trousers; the proper gradient of the front seam of a sleeve.

The comforting thing is though, that I seem to have been doing many things correctly: I make blocks and paper patterns and toiles. I can fit a placket pocket, make a decent shoulder and pleat to perfection. I do like a puzzle: it’s gratifying when you crack it for yourself but I’ve been arrogant enough to think that I didn’t need instruction. Wrong. 

The point is that mustering the courage to experiment is so much easier when you have the crutch of knowledge and I wish I’d bought this book sooner: sound knowledge underpins creativity.

Hats off to Mr Lo…

(And perhaps there’ll be more ‘How To…’ on here rather than faits accomplis….)






Filed under dressmaking, fashion, sewing


Decision made. Credit card flexed. Easy.

The once fuschia pink armchairs which have faded to dust are to be reincarnated in  Bute Fabrics‘s Ramshead, a glorious wool designed in collaboration with Glasgow’s Timorous Beasties. Teal blue. Or burnt orange…or that lovely purpley grey? No. It’s teal…(and the colours are more vibrant than these photographs might suggest).

It’s a tricky one to track down but I found it lurking on Liberty’s 4th floor, an unassuming, small book amongst the brash and the embroidered and the glorious, all elbowing for attention. Just there. Quiet. And every colour subtle, perfectly judged, enticing.

There is something deeply comforting about teal blue and petrol and Prussian and cobalt: they are colours which remind me of Arts and Crafts houses, of carefully crafted interiors. They are the sort of house which appears solidly settled in the earth, dependable and constant, an antidote to the boiling repetitive relentlessness of the daily grind, of excess and plate glass.

And fitting then that I shall be making them myself, although for a 1960’s concrete house.

Thanks to Bute Fabrics website for the swatch photographs.


Filed under sewing


Sun’s out. Daffs are out. I’m out. Shuffling along Berwick Street in my sandals in the search for cloth for a very lovely client. I love this. Finding things. I can feel my eyes twitching, taking it all in. I’m on the hunt for silk satin for a wrap over dress. Sadly, both things fill me with horror: ‘silk satin’ because it has a life of its own especially on the cutting table and ‘wrap over’ because it’s a devil to get the angles right so that the front piece sits perfectly across one’s cleavage without that dratted gape. And don’t assume that having a flat chest makes it any easier…

My jolly forays to the cloth shops on Berwick Street are always tinged by a bit of discontent, though. I’ve been coming here for the best part of two decades and must have spent the equivalent of the GDP of a small country by now, but still, in some places I get no glimmer of recognition AT ALL, even though much of the time I’m wearing their fabrics. In other joints I have goodly chat, put the world to rights, ask about their children (and am asked about mine) and come away very happy, having spent a vast amount of cash. No prizes for guessing which establishments get my vote of confidence and my business.  It doesn’t take much brain to recognise a regular customer and say ‘good morning’ does it?

Berwick Street has changed a great deal since I first started coming here. If you’ve never been, it’s a long, narrow, busy street closed to traffic at one end where market stalls are set out . One time mostly fruit and veg stalls, the old boys rasping  ‘twofr’a paand’  at full lung and there are still one or two but most are now pop up food stalls, a chichi baker run by boys with beards and the fish man. It’s a street alive. Coffee house next to chippy next to cloth shop next to hardware store. It’s one of my best places and where some of my ashes will eventually be scattered (the rest split between Liberty – clearly surreptitiously done as I don’t want to end up in an industrial vacuum cleaner, Primrose Hill and a field in Wigan).

Anyhow, I’ve found the most glorious silk printed with fuchsia pink and indigo feathers. Sounds grim. Sounds a bit Dame Edna. But it will make the most glorious frock. A swooshing frock that makes a breeze.

I just have to make it now……

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Filed under oddbods