S O ~ S L O W L Y – refitting Vogue 2615

I would like to pretend that I am taking things slowly with this remake/refit of Vogue 2615 because I am doing things properly and getting it right this time. The truth is I  am not quite sure yet just what I am doing.

rugs 003   rugs 004

The original fitting problems are no longer there since I have lost about 16lbs in weight since first picking the jacket apart and I need to start all over again.

So, when in doubt – research! I have several books on pattern fitting, but I couldn’t really find anything that exactly covered the problems I was experiencing here. I checked Craftsy and signed up for several more classes [when in doubt throw money at the problem].

Because I had done such a number on the pockets previously one of the first classes I signed up for was Kenneth D King’s ‘Designing Details -Pockets’. Worth every penny and although I probably started sewing before most of you were even a twinkle**, I learned such a lot and had so many ‘light-bulb’ moments, that even had I not had this project on hand I would have had to invent one just to try out his techniques. I don’t know if I then got side-tracked because I found myself signing up for more classes not directly related to fitting; i] Sew Smarter, 30 Professional Techniques. and ii] Sew Like a Designer – fashion details. Very useful for improving my sewing and finishing skills, but not specifically useful for fitting issues.

So how am I getting on with the fitting? s.. l.. o.. w.. l.. y, so slowly. I have been pinning, tacking, trying on and undoing ad nauseam. I got out the original paper pattern [which I had altered slightly on the Swedish tracing paper version] to see if this helped. It didn’t help as the bulging over the bust seemed to be inbuilt into the pattern.

In general; I am redoing the buttonholes. They are a little bit wider but not as clumpy, i.e. thinner ‘lips’ which I prefer. The hymo interfacing began to fray around the edging with all the unpicking and handling, so I stabilised the edges on the overlocker. The list grows exponentially longer it seems. As I do one thing, two more things pop up to be seen to. I have a feeling this project may well outlive me!

** years of sewing don’t always equal skill unfortunately!

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‘Change is the end result of all true learning’ Leo Buscaglia

Largely self evident I would have thought,[if no changes are necessary then you already know what you are doing but that’s just me, perhaps it is more profound than that]. It’s true nevertheless and some changes are having to be made if improvements are to be made around here. So I shortlisted a couple of previous makes to see what could be done.

We could start with this little number, Vogue 2615

rust jacket 002

 previously blogged a year ago in March 2014.

Then in April there was ;

metal shed 009 rugs 003rugs 004

As I realised that the horrendous fitting issues around my bust were just too much to ignore. The lining was unpicked and the princess seams undone, resewn and undone again and I got as far as accepting that all fit issues start at the shoulders and then it was put to the back o f the sewing closet shelf sine die [legal speak for ‘another day]

Although I vowed no more ‘that’ll do pig’ moments in my sewing, there were evidently quite a few with this make. So what was wrong, apart from the horrendous fitting issues around the bust? Well, as I was unpicking yet more of poor old Vogue 2615 I made a list and I don’t think it is yet exhaustive;-

  • the pockets were actually different widths!
  • the pocket flaps were different depths!
  • the buttonholes were ‘podgy’ [can’t think how better to describe them],
  • and the fitting issues in the princess seams were trying to be resolved by taking in sewing seams instead of manipulating the fabric and doing it properly!!!!!

It is now looking like this, a little sad for itself;

brown jacket 003 brown jacket 002 brown jacket 004

Seams opened, buttonholes removed [apart from the hole!] and pockets taken out. Then began the desperate hunt for the scraps of left over rust wool fabric. I hunted for days and thought I would have to opt for dark brown faux suede to redo the pocket flaps and buttonholes, but I eventually found enough to in the new craftroom shed to remake what I had removed, phew!

There is also the issue of dodgy shoulder seams and the sleeves will need to be refitted. Quite a bit to be getting on with don’t you think. So where will I go to learn how to correct this catalogue of errors? If indeed they can be corrected?

Fortunately for all us there is a wealth of blogland and internet help out there and I am currently trawling to re-find all of the excellent advice on fitting issues. I already have lots of books on the subject but you can’t beat actual examples that ordinary sewers like me have made.  I am also looking at other sewers’ works of excellence to give me the inspiration and impetus to keep on with this jacket. It may never be my favourite item to wear and it may look like a dog’s dinner by the time I have finished – but I shall have learned an awful lot along the way and that is what this exercise is all about really. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have been drafting and sewing a couple of skirts and lining stuff [skirts and dresses that didn’t have lining included either in the pattern or at the time of making]. I am waiting to be able to take photos of actually wearing the skirts, when I do I’ll post them.

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I got so wrapped up in my rant about the print on the Von Nordheim book yesterday that I forgot entirely what the whole point of ‘my back to school’ post was supposed to be. My A.D.D. is working very well at the moment, I just wish the rest of me was too.
Being the perpetual wannabe student I love learning just about anything, but the obvious flaw in that is even if you learn how to do something, you don’t necessarily excel at it and you could become a bit of a jack of all trades with the usual consequences.

Sewing covers so many bases. There is the obvious practical purpose of being able to make most things that you need or takes your fancy and that quite properly satisfies many sewers, me included for the longest time. Somehow that isn’t working so well lately. Spinners often categorize themselves as either ‘production’ or ‘process’ spinners. I tended towards being a ‘process’ spinner. So what kind of sewer are you? I strongly suspect that most answers will be along the lines of ‘it depends’, but usually you lean one way or the other for most of the time. How to know? I think that if you get intrigued by new patterns with quirky seamlines or if a technique sometimes thought of as difficult makes you just want to grab some fabric and try it, then you are probably a process sewer. If you are motivated more by the thought that you need a pink blouse or a blue skirt or a pair of jeans, then I would say that the product is the uppermost motivation. Most sewers are a bit of both. Product is important to me of course, I still love being able to dress each day in ‘me-mades’ but to be honest process satisfies me most of all, so on balance I would say I lean towards being a process sewer.

Don’t we all love and admire beautiful skills? From time to time I surf You Tube just to look and admire the tailoring videos. I can easily drool over the beauty of a bespoke suit. Likewise watching the seemingly effortless speed of beautiful handmade buttonholes in the hands of  a master. So back to school for me. I am revisiting old makes to critique my level of skills then and if I have raised my game now. I have already culled blouses that really don’t satisfy my current level of satisfaction. It may just be  wonky topstitching, untidy inside seams or uneven buttonholes [even if these things don’t show!]. Even if scrapped totally, nothing shall be wasted but reused. Some may even get correction and be back in circulation.

I am feeling happily anticipatory. I shall take things slowly on the learning side and practise, practise, and practise as much as I need, but that is not to say that I shall stop production sewing, that is essential otherwise there is no point is there? There has to be a final product. Sewers are lucky they can combine both. Our garments can get more and more technically difficult and satisfy our need to improve our skills at the same time. We just need to stop and take stock from time to time and see if we are still getting the same satisfaction from what we are doing, I do anyway.

From time to time I shall show what I am doing and perhaps where I went to learn how to do it. It won’t be geographical unfortunately, but then that is good in that others can get to ‘go’ there too. I hope it will be helpful to any who want to accompany me. Thanks for staying with it this long!

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BACK TO SCHOOL – and a moan

Not literally this time, unfortunately. I have just spent a frustrating week trying to perfect that dreaded thing that plagues us all – fit. In my case it is a bit like searching for the Unicorn [this post is heavy with mythical animals you’ll find]. Last night in frustration I rolled up the latest offering when I got to my third perfect collar which didn’t fit, shoved it into the drawer and muttered something like ‘back to the drawing board’, only not quite as polite and went down for a cup of tea, the panacea of all things. Unfortunately it didn’t work as well as normally and I decided to try something entirely different – buttonholes by hand! So I ‘Claire Shaeffered’ via DVD, Vogued,   You-tubed, beeswaxed and pressed thread, practised, and again and again, and went back upstairs muttering something like ‘back to the drawing board’ only not nearly as polite as when I was coming downstairs.

So, where is all this leading before I get like Ronnie Corbett rambling in a deck chair? The back to the school bit, I suppose [here come some more mythical creatures and ramblings] On my upward steep learning curve in my quest for ever developing skill in sewing [whew!] I had reached a nice sunny plateau. The view was pleasant and I could spend many happy hours picking daisies, i.e. making as many skirts, blouses, dresses etc., as took my fancy – and quite quickly too , quite the little production line and I soon filled my closet. But I soon realised that this was still only base camp and the climb was still in front. It wasn’t daisies that I was after. I  gained some skills of course, you can’t sew that amount without doing so, but the real skills were still as elusive as the Yheti [see?].

Right! enough of all that nonsense. I am not unrealistic in that I do know and understand that many of the skills I yearn to possess have been obtained by those with them after years and years and practise and learning themselves. I also know that although I would love to spend a week/month in class with Susan Khalje or Claire Shaeffer, this is just not possible. However we do have quite a few resources to call upon thanks to on line classes [Craftsy] other website where skilled seamstresses share their skills so generously and those most magical things of all in my. life – BOOKS. Which sadly brings me to my moan.

I own and value the Thomas Von Nordheim tailoring book. It is beautifully and skilfully written and he is clear in his instructions and his skill is unquestioned. The photography alone is worth the cost of the book, his explanations so clear and understandable.

Thomas von Nordheim 001 Thomas von Nordheim 004Thomas von Nordheim 003Thomas von Nordheim 004

So why the moan? His Publishers have let him down! No doubt they felt that such excellent writing deserved a really ‘classy’ look – but this is a book of instruction, a text book. One that you want to refer to again and again  in detail. Then here comes the difficulty, it is almost impossible to read.

Thomas von Nordheim 005

No , it isn’t my photography for once, it is light grey print on glossy paper. Straining to read this print for long can give you eye strain and headache. I shall certainly persevere, it is a lovely book and I can’t recommend the content and photography highly enough – but oh, the print! come on!!!      Rant over.

disclaimer, Ronnie Corbett is not a mythical creature, he really does exist.

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I still haven’t managed to get a picture of the cape I mentioned in my last post, but I have managed to take some of the Vogue 7469 dress I mentioned. So I will let the pictures speak for themselves, apart from saying that the beige dress is of wool crepe and turquoisy/sea greeny one is cotton jersey knit. Sorry that they are only on hangers, but I had to grab the camera when the Sun got lost and came out to find out where it was for just a brief moment.

catch up 009 front catch up 010 back

The one on the left, being jersey knit didn’t need a zip, but the wool crepe one did. I have to say they look SO much better when worn. When light returns I will try to get some pictures whilst they are being worn. They are comfortable, easy to wear every day but still can be ‘dressed up’ when you need to. A very simple but quite stylish pattern I think. It has a raised waist level, about 3cms above the natural waistline with front tucks in the skirt not darts. Very understated and grossly underrated, by me anyway initially.  As always when sewing simple patterns, care has to be taken to match the seams at the waist, sides and at the back darts at the waist. On the whole I didn’t do too badly. I intend to make this again in proper ‘bespoke’ fabric. These pieces were just in my stash and were really just hopefully wearable toiles in the beginning. Something to slip on and forget. My favourite kind of clothes really.

I was also able to grab a photo of this.

catch up 006catch up 007

Being pathologically unable to sit without something to fiddle with, I have been using up my stash of wools in the evenings to make this granny square throw. So far in this one I have crocheted 180 squares. It is getting heavy and fits the top of a 4ft. bed. so I have started another! Keeps me occupied whilst watching TV as it is pretty repetitive. The only challenge being trying to keep each square colourways different from each other. Hopefully I will have more to show next time, till then…..


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In keeping a record of my recent makes here on this blog I mean, not in the Mrs.Bucket sense! So much so that I have to read my own blog to find out what I have done. Not good.

Trouble is when I finish something and want to photograph it the weather is usually so dark and gloomy that I daren’t risk it with my level of skill in photography, which is quite bad enough when the light is good. So many grey days in Winter. But I did say that this blog was mainly to record my makes – so here goes on the more recent ones. I think I left off with the Little Red Dress and the satin lycra slip, shown below. [click to enlarge].

Simplicity 1609lingerie 7186red dress 004lingerie 002

Since then I have made three versions of the Simplicity 1609 and another slip in white cotton jersey and cotton broderie anglais trim, much cooler than the silky one for under Summer dresses. When the sun returns to the UK I will try to remember to take photos [such faith, I said when not if].

I also made the Vogue 8958 cape in a red/black wool. I made the shorter, hip length version. I made it quickly, finished on the overlocker and wore once. I am not enamoured with capes any more, I think curiosity was the driving force behind the make more than a desire to own one. I might wear it again with trousers and boots as it is more suited to that style than with the skirts and dresses I normally wear. It would have to be worn with a polo necked long sleeve jumper underneath [like the model here] though because I found it drafty, again my photo will have to follow, sorry.


I’ve also made a couple of dresses from a pattern I’ve had for a long time and have not really thought much of, but is a lovely make and very wearable. It is Vogue 7469, just look at the schematic of the dress. It is very easy to fit and so easy to wear. I haven’t made the jacket, but I have a wedding to go to in June so this outfit may be a contender.

better vogue 7 469      vogue 7469 schematic

Well having teased enough with a boring blog about patterns with no-show makes, I will try and have a good session of photography [if there is such a thing in my world] and have a show and no-tell session next time.

p.s. another fail; I haven’t managed to ‘sew along’ with Watson, but will catch up one day I hope. If you’ve lasted this long, well done and thanks.

P.P.S. If you really want a good read, go over to GoodbyeValentino, Cissie Wellons has done a guest blog for Sarah and is very inspirational.

Posted in Blouses, coats and jackets, DRESSES, dressmaking, FIBRE CRAFTS, handmade, Life a Work In Progress, me-made wardrobe, Sewing, Works in Progress | Leave a comment


Last Monday I went to pick up this little lady. A thirty odd mile journey in the pouring rain. I was feeling quite excited, the picture on Ebay showed a 1950’s Singer 66 in what looked to be beautiful condition.


The pictures didn’t lie. The decals and paintwork were pretty good for the age of the machine. It either hadn’t been used very much or the owner really looked after it, there is no way of knowing. What I did very  quickly find out though was that there was no plug/lead or foot pedal! It had been listed as a ‘barn find’, which I presume is a euphemism for lucky find.  I’d picked it up in the middle of a housing estate in the town that John Betjeman had written his derogatory poem, not a barn in sight. It appears that it had belonged to the chap’s mother, but neither he nor his wife knew anything about sewing machines and had no idea where the pedal had gone. A pity that little detail hadn’t been in the listings, but it was still a lovely looking machine and I could always get a new foot pedal from Ebay hopefully.

Once I got it home that bad news hit. It was seized up solidly. The fly wheel could not be turned at all, not a centimetre! On closer inspection it seemed that the whole machine was covered in thick Marmite and lint balls.

Now I love to get down and dirty [with machines that is]. So – long story a bit shorter [not much] – I stripped everything and washed it down with acetate and then cleaned it up. A clean oiling and everything was moving once again after some hours, I might add!

I then felt confident enough to go online and buy a new motor and foot pedal from the very helpful Martin at ‘sewingonline’ at Ebay. I sent him pictures of the plug socket, NEW KID ON THE BLOCK 001  but sadly he didn’t have a lead/pedal in stock for that, so I got the set brand new instead [cheaper actually to do that]. I also bought a new rubber belt, a neoprene belt came with the new motor but I used the rubber one anyway as it went on easier.



How glad I am that I did all that, because I now have this gem. It is a straight


stitch only machine with no reverse. It is however classed as a heavy duty machine on the lines of the 201, which I own and love dearly. So all in all I am happy with the machine, it cost me just under £80 in total which is a good result considering. I bought it for £40 [which I still think was a good bargain despite the problems] and I spent another £35 on the motor and foot pedal [including p.+ p.] and a couple of pounds on the rubber belt and a lot of elbow grease and enjoyable work. It still needs a little fiddling with tension, but it does sew evenly and fairly quietly. It is in a box base and that acts as a sound board I think, but it can’t be take out [I’ve taken it out to try] because the feed dog and stitch mechanism sits lower than the legs and would catch. I might pad the box, but it as it is fairly quiet anyway I might not bother. If you’ve managed to get this far without yawning, well done and thanks.

Posted in Life a Work In Progress, Sewing, Works in Progress | 2 Comments