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It wasn't until 10:30 AM on 12 February 1947 that a relatively unheard of Christian Dior unveiled his "New Look"

Taking inspiration from flower petals he celebrated femininity with defined narrow waists and full flowing skirts. It was a defiance towards the rationing which had restricted fashion for several years.


 Before this monumental event though , and even when WW2 had ended,  we were still gripped by austerity and it was getting worse. We were encouraged to take two very worn dresses and coats for example and somehow make the best bits of each into one wearable garment. Shoe leather had run out and women's shoes were made with wooden soles which were very much hated. Everything was becoming more and more difficult and it seemed never ending, so the advent of a new fashion house really brought excitement to life.


If you are after a 1940s look then many of today's styles are very similar. Go for a low heel, preferably a chunky heel, a brogue or a wedge sandal and they will be fine.


One item which did prove popular was the Siren Suit, Sir Winston Churchill loved his and had one made from pin-stripe suiting (of course)



But the rest of us loved them too, they were designed to wear over normal clothes, or night clothes when the air raid siren went off. Air raid shelters were dirty, cold and smelly and these garments were very much necessary.


Today we still wear a type of this garment in the form of jumpsuits. Take a look at the pattern range available from Jaycotts Jumpsuit pattern





I have a blog post too An easy Simplicity Jumpsuit so do take a look at the tutorial. Did you see the Sewing Bee 2019 As one of the challenges was to sew a jumpsuit and they all looked fabulous.


Factories were still being run by women - it took a long while before the men came home and women were forced out of work.  Supplies were still not reaching us so even after WW2 had ended we were still very much rationed - we were short of everything. Even those tiny ends of thread which we cut off and throw away were kept and treasured.


The women's land army wore dungarees, or trousers and jumpers much like my outfit below.

Slacks as they were called then were usually made from Gaberdine, this is actually fairly hard to sew if you are a beginner. True it is hard wearing and almost crease resistant but I would choose a plain heavy cotton drill or similar. Other than that choose a denim or other medium to heavy weight cotton.

The usual colour for utility suits, slacks, skirts and so on was Black, brown or blue - military colours.



The blog post for the trousers is Simplicity 1940s style trousers

And the blouse which is from the same pattern is Simplicity 1940s style. Blouse


I do enjoy wearing this outfit by the way, it is a good mixture of smart yet comfortable.



For most of the time hair was tied up or back. It wasn't always possible to have it washed and besides it was dangerous to have loose hair when operating machinery.

Hats were worn with coats but it became commonplace for headscarves to be worn even with pretty dresses.




To make your own take a triangle of fabric ( so that it can also be tied around your neck or the strap of your handbag) ,and hem using a narrow hem foot.

Narrow Hem foot there is quite a selection of types and makes so if you are unsure give Jaycotts a ring and they will help you.

They come with instructions and they are easy to use. If you struggle with corners then a little tip is to sew right off the end on one side and start again as soon as you can on the next side, then just complete the missed section with hand stitches. Nobody will know.

This fabric is Liberty Tana Lawn, but use any you have to hand. In "Make do and mend" style I am not purchasing anything new for these posts, I am using whatever I can find in my stash. Besides what is the point of relentlessly purchasing new fabrics when the one you loved a year or so ago is still there gathering dust?


The 1949's Dress

I love love love this dress. In fact it is my favourite and it was made from fabric so old I cannot remember where or when I bought it.



The fabric appears to be a linen and viscose mix, (not unlike the Rayon which would have been used back in the 40s) and it is beautiful.

I washed it before I used it, and I washed it again after I wore it this week. I hung it up to dry and it hardly needed any ironing.

It is easy to work with, easy to care for and swishes when you walk. Perfect.



It is a simplicity design again ( I love simplicity patterns, they always fit me so well)

And is available from Jaycotts Simplicity 8686

I just about had enough fabric but not enough for a belt .Which I am not worried about. I also did not want a collar so I left that off too.





If you are not familiar with patterns all the information you need is on the back of the pattern envelope. Your body measurements help you to choose the size you need to cut and the finished garment measurements give an indication of the wearing ease allowed so take that into account when choosing your size. Your pattern size will almost always be larger than your commercial dress size. That is normal. I chose size 12 and it needed no adjustments.


The pattern has some very nice design features which I love.  It has a side zip, gathers along the front yoke for shape,and a buttoned back yoke.  These are easily tackled even by someone new to sewing.


For the back yoke we need to make rouleau loops, and I made covered buttons too. I love gadgets of any sort and look for any excuse to use them.




Rouleau loops are totally a doddle to make if you have one of these clever little things which easily turn your fabric the right way out. This Prym turning set is incredibly easy to use and I find that I use it a lot. It comes in a pack of three sizes and for this i used the smallest size. You sew one long tube and cut it into smaller lengths after it is finished, so there is no fuss.




Another thing I like to use as much as possible are hand covered buttons. They are also fun to make, use your scraps of fabric and always match perfectly. What is there not to love?


You need one or two items ,all available from Jaycotts.

Firstly you need the buttons to cover. They come in various sizes. Self cover buttons These are plastic but you can also choose metal if you prefer .

And - to make it easier - a Prym Button Maker




They are very simple to make. There is a template on the back of the button pack which you use to cut your fabric. Gather the circle of fabric and place the button face down onto it and pull the gathers tight and fasten off. Put the button in the relevant part of the button maker and at this stage I like to add a couple of drops of Fray Check

This is optional but it ensures that the button fabric stays put and does not fray.

Press the disc over the fabric using the top of the button maker and that's it done.





These are my rouleau loops prior to sewing the buttons on. Make sure that your buttons are the right size, if they are too large you will struggle to fasten them, too small and they will annoy you by keep popping open.



I used small shoulder pads and covered them in my fabric . Shoulder pads




I used my Blind hem foot to make invisible hems on the skirt and the sleeves.

These are available for most models of sewing machine - mine is a Brother Brother sewing machines and I love it.





Whenever I use a stitch which I have not used for a while I need a reminder of the settings so I always make sure that the manuals for my machines are close at hand. It is particularly useful in reminding me how to fold the fabric for blind hemming.



This is the back of the dress, I do like the fact that there is no zip down the centre breaking up the pattern.



This style of dress with a calf length full skirt, short sleeves and high neckline is very fashionable at the moment - but at a price. The ones I have seen, which do not have the added touches such as shoulder pads and self covered buttons retail in excess of £100! If that is not an incentive to make your own I don't know what is.



This dress is so lovely that I would not hesitate to make it again.



The Trench Coat


Trench coats were extremely popular as were all things Military style.

They were normally made from a wool fabric and were lined with rabbit fur so they were extremely warm, shower proof and durable..

Faux suede is not shower-proof please note 




My pattern is a more modern take on this classic design Simplicity 8554

In my stash was a length of tan faux suede and a small piece of black. Faux Suede

It is unlined and has no fastenings so it is perfect for a beginner.





The pattern has vents up the sides but I wanted to change it to one vent at the back. You can use this method to create vents or pleats at the front or back of skirts and dresses too.

The coat back does not have a seam on the pattern. So we need to create one. In order to add a 5/8" seam allowance to the centre back I used this clever little gadget 

- it is an Ergonomic parallel tracing wheel and it is brilliant for measuring and marking seam allowances and hems all in one easy process. I have to say that it is my favourite toy at the moment 




As you can see I have marked the seam allowance and also the vent. All I need do now is to cut it out. You probably should make a new paper pattern, especially if you are doing this on something you will make again.


This coat as I said is unlined and it was obvious to me that in order to make the inside attractive I needed to bind the seams. This is called a Hong Kong seam. I realised that I would need several metres of bias binding and as I prefer to make my own this was my next task.

Remember the liberty Tana Lawn scarf at the beginning of this blog? Well this is what I used to make my binding. I never buy bias binding ready made, the quality of my own is so much better. It is easy to make with the right equipment too. 




Cut your bias strips to whatever size you need, remembering that a 1" binding takes double the width in fabric. Clover Bias Binding Maker

This set contains five different sizes so choose the width you need. It is a good idea to have a practice first. 

Cut the end to a point to make it easier to thread the fabric through - use your seam ripper point to help if necessary and pin this end to your ironing board.

Slowly pull the binding maker away from the pinned end pressing the newly formed binding as you go. 




What we have just made is called a Single Fold Bias Binding, to make a double fold binding - which is what we need - simply press it in half.

I knew that I would need a lot of binding so I had to join several strips together.




To keep the binding neat I wound it around a piece of card.

Attaching it to the seam is simple if you use an Adjustable bias binder foot there are other makes available so do contact Jaycotts for more details.




It is so easy to apply the binding, just thread the binding through the binding foot, put the fabric inside the binding and adjust the width so that the machine stitches just along the edge of the binding. And then stitch. It really is that simple, and makes a huge difference to the inside of any unlined garment.




I had a small piece of contrast faux suede which I used for the top of the front overlay.

It is very easy to sew, for any seams that you do not want to bind use a felled seam or a French seam - see All about seams my blog post showing how to achieve lots of different seam finishes.

I put binding all around the facing, the back seam, the coat and sleeve hems and for the sleeve and coat side seams I used a flat felled seam.



I think that with all the rationing and saving of coupons it is incredible how very well dressed everyone was.

The government really got people to rally round and take up the challenge and it couldn't have been easy.

Homes were bombed frequently and people were left with absolutely nothing, yet people gave what they could and they somehow managed.

Food was restricted yet people were healthy, clothes and furniture were rationed but people stood together and made the best of it.

I actually love 1940s fashion it was high quality,elegant and simple. Clothes were made to last and "throw away fashion" was a term which would have been abhorrent and to be honest should be today.





This Trench coat is in the style of the era in a modern fabric which I feel works very well.




It is very simple in design but looks great. Don't be afraid to experiment. The front overlay could be lined with the same fabric as your binding, you could add buttons or a really wide belt. Patterns are just ideas and are open to interpretation.




In these last two blog posts - my previous one is Dressing 1940s style - there is a Sew Over it tea dress to make too, so do take a look.


My next two blogs will continue with the advent of Dior's New Look, Chanel couture, and by complete contrast, poodle skirts, Rock and Roll and the 1950s in general. Very different to the 1940s




Remember to sign up for emails from Jaycotts and find out about sales, new products and all the new fabulous workshops which are now happening in their Chester store. 

Thank you for reading this post. I would really appreciate your comments 





War time Fashion 

The second world war started in 1939 and didn't end until 1945. During this time rationing of almost everything was in place and continued even after the war had ended until supplies started to become available again.

It was in 1941 that the government introduced rationing which greatly influenced clothing and how it was worn. Strict guidelines governed how many buttons were allowable and how many seams were acceptable and so on.

Don't think for one minute that fashion was dull though, far from it. The designs were high quality and the famous CC41 utility label was also  a sign of  excellent value for money and  you knew it was made to last. The CC41 designs were devised by a panel of top designers including Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell no less.


A combination of paying for your clothes with money and coupons meant that the class divide had no impact on what you wore - everyone was entitled to exactly the same.


These are the exact details of what a utility dress should consist of;-

"Examples of details of restriction orders when making Utility dress: it could have no more than two pockets, five buttons, six seams in the skirt, two inverted or box pleats or four knife pleats, and one hundred and sixty inches (four metres) of stitching. No superfluous decoration was allowed. It should be simple, practical, agreeable-looking, inexpensive and made of good material"


It should also be noted that one quarter of the population, women included ,were now in uniform of some sort and with women being ordered to maintain glamour at all times, these uniforms were also beautifully tailored. The most coveted being the Wren's uniform - worn with red lipstick and curled hair of course.

Coty produced lipstick and face powder which was not rationed, as well as producing such things as foot powder for use by the military.


It should be noted that selling these utility garments were a great source of income to the government.


This booklet was produced in the early 40s as supplies were becoming more and more scarce. The wool and cotton fabric, and dark coloured dyes  were needed by the military for uniforms and for blackout curtains .

 We were not receiving imports of cotton and silk because of the high cost of shipping  goods from abroad - China for one, and by that I mean the cost in lives as well as in monetary terms.


We must remember too that factories were used for war work and instead of producing the glamorous clothes of the 1930s ,were now making uniforms, bandages, blackout fabric and ammunition.

The only fabrics left to be turned into clothing was mainly fabrics such as rayon which was made from all sorts of fibres mixed together. There could be some polyester in there as well as wool, cotton, wood pulp and so on. This fabric was easy to take care of, was breathable and dyed easily. Perfect!





When  this booklet was produced the war had been going on for a long time and everything was in short supply. We were told to be inventive and not to waste anything - not even ends of thread.

New garments were made out of various part worn garments and knitwear unravelled to be knit into something else. Fair Isle patterns were used, as oddments of different colours were used to make the design.

It was necessary for women to be able to sew and if you couldn't, Sewing Bee's were set up around the country to help you. The Queen Mother held one at Buckingham Palace.

Tailoring was still exquisite because frankly clothes HAD to last for years. With the men gone to war women were told to alter their husbands and sons  suits to make garments for themselves and their children. Men's trousers were wide cut and a skirt or two could easily have been made from a pair.



This is a typical pattern of the era. Softly feminine, knee length and demure. We were told to use "cheerful coloured fabrics with a small print so that no pattern matching was required"

We were also told to be inventive and fashion a new blouse out of a man's shirt or a jacket out of curtains - and we did!

This pattern is available from Jaycotts click on the link to go straight to their web site.  Simplicity 8686


I will be making this dress in my next blog post if you want to be getting your supplies  ready





This is from 1943 but it is an American design and does not conform to British utility standards because it has a lot of pleats, which we were discouraged from having.

It is a nice pattern though and if you want to make it you can order it from Jaycotts on this link McCalls 7433


America was subject to rationing but it was not as strict as here which is why they had silk stockings to give away to British women and chocolate to our children. We had rayon stockings but they were unpopular so women resorted to gravy browning and a pencil line drawn with an eyebrow pencil, or if not ankle socks. Rayon stockings really must have been awful!




With women working on the land and in factories it became normal for them to be worn in everyday life. This pattern is very typical with its high waisted wide leg trousers. Plaids were very popular, so too was anything military looking as it was seen as being patriotic, so shoulder pads appeared in almost everything. If you have garments in your wardrobe left over from the 80's they wouldn't look out of place during the blitz years.


I have made this pattern already and links to my blog posts can be found on the following links .


The pattern is from Jaycotts again, Simplicity 8243

I have made the trousers and the blouse and the links to the tutorials are

Trousers . Simplicity 1940s style blouse

Notice anything wrong with the top? That's right. I used more than the regulation five buttons! 


The SewOverIt 1940s Tea dress pattern review and tutorial.


This is a lovely pattern, but be warned it is very short, I needed to lengthen the skirt by four inches.

It is very close to being a utility dress in style, however the neckline would have been higher - look glamorous at all times ladies but heaven forbid you look anything less than modest too!

The other detail is that the sleeve cuff folds over and double cuffs were banned. Why? Because by banning double cuffs under the utility scheme Britain is estimated to have saved 5 million square metres of fabric per year. This includes men's and children's wear, night clothes, coats etc. You can now see why the utility scheme makes perfect sense.





Before you start, decide what size you are and be honest with your measuring! The pattern gives the finished measurements too. If in doubt cut the size which corresponds with your bust measurement ( wearing the correct underwear) as this is the hardest area to fit. It is quite acceptable to cut out the skirt for example in a different size and merge the two together.


I know you are not going to make a toile,so I will tell you what I do. I always cut the seam allowance just on the side seams at 1" instead of 5/8"  to give a bit of extra play. And I never ever cut into notches - it weakens the fabric for one - and you may just need that extra bit of seam allowance. It's very bad practice so please don't do it!


I measured and cut the skirt length by 4" on each piece. You may want to alter the pattern itself first instead.


Rayon is very much available, it is a fabulous fabric to work with and there is plenty of choice at MinervaCrafts. It is inexpensive too. Gingham was a popular choice back then.

You could also in the spirit of "make do and mend" add a contrast top if you wanted to.



First tack the dress together to check the fit, don't skip this step, you will regret it if you do. To make it easy to fit tack straight up the back and leave an opening on one side instead.



Once you are happy and have made any adjustments put the bodice together and add the facings. Press every seam as you go.




The pattern doesn't mention this but the sleeves  look better and are more authentic gathered at the top instead of being eased in. To do this measure 2" both sides of the shoulder and run two rows of gathering stitches inside the seam allowance. Gather to fit.

The pattern instructions are fabulous so I don't need to go over every step with you, just follow them and I will add hints and tips to complement them




The dress needs shoulder pads. You need the small size Shoulder pads for set in sleeves

If they are still too wide for the dress then simply trim the top curved edges a little. And they look nicer covered so all I did was to fold some of my dress fabric over them and whizz round with the overlocker. Simple . Whatever you do though don't let a single pin anywhere near your overlocker when you are sewing, you can cause serious damage to your machine or to yourself!





This is the inside of my dress after the seams have been pressed and neatened. How is it that I never have exactly the correct shade of zipper? And thread for that matter. It doesn't matter that much because it will not be seen once it is sewn in place.


Zippers of all varieties ( I used a regular zip) are available from Jaycotts

All types of zips  this is the link to the fascinating complete selection. You want a regular dress zip for this project.



Measure the zip along the fabric and sew the centre back seam up to the bottom of the zipper teeth. Tack the rest of the seam, where the zip will go

Press the seam allowance for the entire back open .




Many people are scared of zips but don't be. Over many years of sewing I have discovered my own foolproof method.


Firstly lay the zip face down over the seam with the teeth exactly in the centre of the back opening and pin it in place.

This is the important bit - take some double sided tape - Prym wonder tape is brilliant, get it from Jaycotts Prym wonder tape


Use it to stick the zip to any part where a seam crosses another - at the waist for example. You will have noticed that quite often when inserting a zip and it crosses a seam it is difficult to keep the seams matching. This is because of how the machine works, the feed dogs work differently to the top tension causing the fabric to slide around a bit as you are sewing two entirely different fabrics together. Using double sided basting tape holds everything firmly in its place.

It's fabulous, try it!





The next magic step is to baste the zip to the seam allowance only at this stage. These stitches are permanent so use a matching thread. I used a contrast for demonstration purposes



And finally baste (tack) again through all layers, 1/4" from the edge of the zipper tape  these will be removed later so use a contrast thread and do it either by hand or on the machine


This .method is so foolproof and it works!


The trick with inserting any zip is to anchor it firmly in place before going anywhere near it with your sewing machines. I guarantee that your zips will be a thing of beauty from now on.

Of course if you are still not convinced then move the zip from the centre back  to a side seam where it will not be as noticeable. There is no rule which states zips have to be in the back seam, I often move mine to the side and sometimes to the front if I want to make a feature with an exposed zip.



This is a zip to be proud of and yours will be too.


All I need do now is to slip stitch the facing down at the top. You can put your shoulder pads in at the same time, extending them just beyond the shoulder seam to the edge of the seam allowance. Stitch them in place loosley.

Then do the hem in your preferred way. 



About sewing machines

Although we are entering into the spirit of the era I am not going to go to the expense of buying vintage fabric or machinery. The whole point is to use what you already have and try not to buy anything new. For that reason I used fabric from my stash. I know that we think it is fun to see who has the biggest and best stash of fabric, but I have been questioning what the point is and I am not buying any more fabric unless I need something specific. it's wasting money buying something you like and never using it.


I don't expect you to sew on a machine with a treadle or a hand crank, I learned on a treadle and boy do I love modern day machines! 


This is mine, the Brother Innov-is 1300 Brother Innov-is 1300 and I love it! It does everything you could possibly want a machine to do and more. 


But meanwhile grab a cup of tea and browse all the wonderful machines on offer , you will be full of inspiration .. Sewing machines at Jaycotts.   And again, please don't feel that you will be talked into buying a machine which is beyond your needs or your purse. Jaycotts sell great machines at all levels and at all prices and are famous for their customer service.




Utility dresses made at home were likely to have pinked seems or at best hand overcast seams. Pinking does not stand up to wear and tear or even much washing as the fabric will still fray and the seam will eventually split. Who wants to hand overcast every seam???

If you do not have an overlocker the best option is to use a zigzag stitch on your seams or better still your machine will most likely have come with an overlock foot

Overlock foot .I use mine a lot when I don't want to have to change the threads in my overlocker , and besides it gives great results. Again, give Jaycotts a ring if you are not sure which is best for your machine

And, if you do fancy an overlocker, they are fabulous and I use mine a lot, take s look at these - they are all good! Overlockers at Jaycotts


Adding unnecessary buttons to a dress which were not functional was not allowed,  but I think that they look pretty. Choose a flower or a heart shape or anything which looks great with your Rayon fabric 

There are some lovely Novelty buttons on this link,  or Decorative buttons .There are plenty more to choose from too. 


I am really delighted with my dress, it will be great to wear in the summer. I accessorised it with pearls and block heeled shoes. I promise to talk about shoes and accessories in my next post.


Cardigans were popular because you needed to be able to wear your dress all year round. The Ministry of information encouraged us to wear something white because we kept bumping into each other in the dark! So a white cardigan is perfect.



Hair was usually fastened away from the face in a "victory roll" I'm afraid that my victory roll wouldn't stay in place - I don't think they washed their hair as often as we do now.

Turbans and headscarves were also very popular



This dress will suit most figures and I am delighted with the fit and how flattering it is.

If you ever want to use a genuine vintage pattern there are some points to think about.

Depending on how old the pattern is there may be no seam allowances or darts marked in the way we are used to seeing them. There may be no instructions.

Our figures were very different and the underwear of the day was very different to what we wear now, waists were slimmer, bodies were longer and sizing was different. So you really cannot get away without making a toile first.



The sleeves look good folded over even though, as we know, it was not allowed.  Writing this post has made me think about my own sewing and collecting habits and I am already making changes.


I hope that you have enjoyed this post. Please contact Jaycotts for any machine or product enquiries and me for any sewing queries. I would love to see your photographs old or new.



Best wishes









Jumpsuits do not show any sign of going out of fashion, and no wonder as they can be smart or casual or somewhere in between. They can take you anywhere and come into their own on holiday for day or evening. They are so comfortable!



The pattern I chose is Simplicity 8178  I chose it because it is suitable even for sewing newbies as it has minimal pieces and does not have any fastenings - so no zipper or buttonholes to worry about.


There is a choice between straight and flared legs, I chose the wider flared leg.



I chose a floral crepe fabric for the main garment and plain crepe for the jacket, both widely available.

This particular fabric is rather busy! More suited to holiday wear I feel. A chambray or a linen would be good fabric choices, the pattern also suggests sateen which would be lovely and Ponte Roma but if you choose this then make sure it is not too heavy and that it has a good drape.

Wash, dry and press your fabric before cutting out as a lot of fabrics shrink.


If ever you want to use a fabric such as wool for a coat or jacket then don't wash it, when I come to do my next coat blog I will show you how to shrink fabric without washing it.



If you are new to sewing then you may not understand the sizing. Pattern sizes are not the same as your commercial dress size, usually commercial garments are "vanity" sized and as you know the fit varies a lot from store to store.


So the first thing you need to do is to take your measurements and compare them to the measurements on the back of the pattern.

You may find that your top and bottom are different sizes but that doesn't matter as it is easy to cut out the top in one size and the bottom in another and merge the two sizes together at the waist.









Inside the pattern you will find a paper guide giving all the instructions needed to construct the garment and the cutting layouts. These are important so keep the instructions handy, I have clips attached to a wall in my sewing room where I put my instructions so that they are easy to refer to.



On the major pattern pieces you will find additional sizing information and the finished garment measurements. Use this together with the size guide printed on the back of the envelope to determine which size you need to cut out.

Ease can vary from garment to garment, for example a shift dress may have very little ease whereas a coat may have several inches. Some stretch garments may have negative ease, which means that the pattern pieces are smaller than your measurements.

If in any doubt whatsoever always cut out the larger size as it is  easy to take a garment in if it is too big, but not so easy to out right if it is too small.



You wil see that each pattern piece has a Grainline. This is the direction which the pattern needs to sit on the fabric. If you fold the selvedge edge to edge and pin it together the the threads travelling up along the fabric are the straight grain. Measure each end of the Grainline arrow on the pattern piece and pin it in position with these two measurements exactly equal. I am measuring from the fold. If you don't do this then your pattern piece will be off-grain and will not sit straight, ever.





Some pattern pieces need to be cut on the bias as cutting diagonally across the grain is what gives then stretch. This is necessary when adding bands to a curved neckband for example

The direction of the grain  is clearly marked on the pattern piece.



If you measure your legs and arms and you compare them to the pattern and find out that they are the wrong length it is better to alter the pattern now. To shorten sleeves or legs put a tuck in the pattern at the lines marked lengthen or shorten here if the pattern is too short then cut all along the lines and insert a piece of tissue paper to lengthen the pattern. Usually if you make length adjustments at the bottom of the pattern you will lose shaping and the garments edges will almost always turn out too wide, so it is definitely worth using the correct alteration process.




A tip. It is easy to miss a pattern piece out when cutting out, or you may need a small piece of your fabric to test a buttonhole on etc so I put all my scraps of tissue and fabric into a bin and only throw them away when the garment is finished and I am certain I no longer need them.



To make it easier to put the garment together you need to transfer every marking on the pattern onto the fabric.

Notches should be cut outwards never snip into the fabric seam lines in case you need to let the seam out.

On heavy fabrics Dressmakers carbon paper and a TRACING WHEEL can be used as the markings will not show through to the right side of the fabric.




My preferred method is good old Tailors Tacks. If you use a good quality  Tacking thread the stitches will  stay put until you remove them. Tacking thread is made from short fibres of cotton so it has a rough feel to it and it really does grip the fabric.




You may also wish to use Chalk to join the tailors Tacks or to mark the front and back of your fabric and for many more things. I like chalk as opposed to marker pens as it comes off easily, you need to be so very careful with Marker pens as even ones which disappear in the air or with water can easily become permanent on some fabrics, especially if you iron the marks. They do have their uses though. I think the sensible thing to do is to have a selection and try them out on a spare piece of fabric before deciding on the right one for your project.





This is  what I meant by cutting notches outwards and not just snipping info the fabric at the little triangles.

My fabric frays badly so I don't want to risk any weak points fraying and coming apart during wear by snipping into the seam allowances.




The front edge of the jumpsuit top is cut on the bias and will stretch so it needs to be stabilized. To do this use Iron on seam tape interfacing ,I am also using it on the back neckline . This will stop the edges from stretching out of shape.





This is the seam tape in place. Clip it as necessary to make it fit the curve.



Stitch the shoulders together, tack the side seams and try it on for fit.






Then take the neckband and press it in half wrong sides together and pin and stitch it to the neckline, right sides together.



Press, then turn the band to the inside and top stitch in place

Do the same with the armholes


Matching up the centre front tacking or chalk marks tack ( baste) the lower edges together.




Make up the trousers, I omitted the pockets but that is personal choice. The instructions in the pattern are easy to follow so I doubt that you will have a problem.




Join the top to the pants and following the instructions make a casing for the elastic.

Make sure that the elastic is comfortable before you close the gap in the facing.




This is my finished suit. I made a narrow tie belt to cover the elastic waist. Do make sure that this garment is not over fitted as you will have problems getting in and out of it if you do! 

I added a metal popper on the front for decency. Or you could use a normal press stud. Press stud fasteners




Before stitching the hem decide on which type of shoes you will wear it with. I decided that my wedge sandals and trainers are the same height so I hemmed mine to suit both, but if you want to wear heels with yours you may need to have the length a bit longer and for flip-flops maybe shorter.



The Jacket.




I did make the jacket, but I doubt that I will wear the two garments together - it's rather busy I feel. For me anyway.

I made a navy dress and had a small piece of the fabric left to make a jacket with, but there was not quite enough fabric to cut every pattern piece out. I therefore cut the facing out in my floral fabric.





The front facings need to be interfaced. Choose your interfacing to suit your fabric weight but always choose a good quality

 For my fabric I would choose a standard or soft medium weight iron on interfacing , but there are lots to choose from to give the front jacket some stability Iron on interfacings

Press it on rather than iron it on, by that I mean keep lifting your iron and don't slide it over the interfacing, and don't have your iron too hot or it will melt.




The only bit of the pattern which you may possibly  need to think about what you are doing is constructing the integral facing and collar, but it's not difficult.

I found it easier to stitch the back section first then the sides rather than stitch the seam in one operation.




You now should have this.


Clip into the neckline seam to enable it to turn out correctly. Use a Pressing cloth to avoid marking your fabric, which is easily done if your iron is too hot for the fabric.



Pin the facing over the front jacket and pin and stitch in place. Cut out the triangle to make the notch in the front and clip all curves and corners.

Turn the facing to the inside and press the seams open - a Sleeve pressing roll makes this easier.


I tacked the facing down to hold it in place and gave it a good press with my pressing cloth.



Once you have got this far follow the pattern instructions and insert the sleeves and stitch the lower hem - it's easy I promise you!




This is my finished jacket which is really lovely. It could be worn with my jumpsuit but I like it with a plain have dress and it also dresses my jeans up.

I am planning on buying another length of navy fabric and making a new jacket to wear with my jumpsuit , with no contrast facings.






I am thoroughly delighted in his these garments have turned out. They are both so comfortable to wear and I know that they will integrate into my wardrobe nicely. The fabric hardly creases and if it does crease a little bit the pattern is so busy that any wrinkles will not be noticed




I really love this without the jacket - I feel a holiday coming on so I can wear it!



I do hope that you will make this lovely outfit, it is not at all difficult but if you do struggle then use the contact form on my own blog or send a message through Jaycotts and I will get back to you.




If you do not like this pattern then Simplicity 1355 is similar , very easy to sew and has different neckline options.

The other pattern New Look 6446 is more fitted, it has a close fit bodice and a centre back zip, this is the pattern I will be making up next.



Thank you to Jaycotts for all your support .


Contact Jaycotts


All the items  I use on my blog can be obtained from Jaycotts ,Contact them on  01244 394099

The address is on this page  Jaycotts contact details where you can also have a virtual tour of the showroom.


Do telephone them for more information on any of their products and if you go to the home page you can sign up for emails and be the first to hear of new products, special offers and read my latest blog post.


Thank you for reading this, and thank you for the lovely comments you leave for me, they are very much appreciated.




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Simplicity 8543 Amazing Fit Dress



This is a Simplicity Amazing Fit Dress if you have not made an Amazing Fit pattern before then you should.

This pattern has a choice of sleeves, a shaped midriff and a flattering neckline.

More importantly it has many different size variations within the pattern.

It comes in two choices of size ranges, 10-18 and 20-28.




The princess seams are very flattering for any figure and you have the option of sleeveless or a short sleeve - with or without a flounce.





The pattern gives comprehensive instructions on how the finished dress should look on your body, so I do suggest reading the pattern thoroughly before you get your scissors out!



The pattern has a very good guide on how to choose your correct pattern size and how to take your measurements.

There are separate pattern pieces for A to DD on the pattern size I chose which is the option for sizes 10-18. And there are also separate pattern pieces for slim, Average and Curvy fit.





Once you have determined your correct size - don't just guess - cut out the pieces you need. There are plenty of fitting variations within the pattern.



I took my measurements and determined that I am a size 10, C cup, average fit. I found out later that this was too big, but more about that later.




Instead of jumping right in the pattern instructions suggest that a toile is made. Not wanting to cut my pattern at this stage in case I needed to alter it I made a copy using

Tracing Paper  a ruler and Pattern Weights




I took a piece of fabric which I didn't want and cut the pattern out. I did not cut out facings or sleeve flounce as they are not needed for a toille. The idea of making a toile or test garment is to just tack together the main pieces for fitting purposes.

I really do feel that this is a very important stage and should not be missed out. It really is worth the extra effort.




You can either hand tack the pieces together or do as I did and use the Basting Stitch on my sewing machine

The manual gave me the correct settings and it was quick and easy to put the garment together this way.




My sewing machine is the amazing Brother Innov-is 1300 and I love it. I wrote a review about it if you would like to read it. Review of the Brother Innov-is 1300 it isn't machine I would certainly recommend to anybody. If you are interested then give Jaycotts a ring and have a chat about it.




The machine is so easy to use. The large LCD touch screen shows the selected stitch, the foot you should use and options for stitch length, width and tension.




This is the toile of the bodice. Hmm, in true Angela style it is far too big!

The reason I am having a situation with sizing at the moment is that I changed my diet to eating healthy food. The result of that is that I have dropped two dress sizes. I didn't intend losing weight, it just happened. Unfortunately ( or fortunately depending on what I am making) I was trained as a Tailor and it was drummed into me to always cut larger seam allowances, so " just to be on the safe side" I always add extra wriggle room when I am cutting out. I wish I wouldn't! I wish I would trust my measurements!

Also this pattern has a large seam allowance in key areas of 1" - almost twice the usual seam allowance of 5/8" . Plus it has a large amount of ease.

The result was that it didn't fit me anywhere at all!




So, back to the drawing board. I made three test garments in all and ended up with a much smaller size. I  remembered to tack each stage and try it on for fit as I went along.

The fabric I chose is a pure linen which frays notoriously and I did not want any strain at the seams or the seam would disintegrate with wear, so I did not make it too close fitting.

Had I chosen a cotton fabric instead I would have made the skirt closer fitting.




The fabric looks similar on the right and wrong sides so to make sewing the garment easier I used a cross in ordinary Tailors chalk on the wrong side of each piece.




Make the garment in stages, first the front bodice, attach the front skirt then do the same for the back.



The midriff panel called out for a touch of embroidery - any excuse to use my Brother Innov-is 800e embroidery machine.

I chose a very simple design which I have actually used before. The machine has many designs already built in, but there are plenty to download off the internet and many are free.





Jaycotts do stock some embroidery designs so please  telephone for more details. They also sell a wide range of stabilisers and accessories.




The stabiliser I used is Film-O-plast. This is a self adhesive stabiliser which is very useful when the fabric you want to embroider is slightly smaller than the hoop you need to use. Do make sure that the fabric is very secure though because if it moves around your design will pucker.

I absolutely love this Multi purpose screwdriver it actually revolutionised my embroidery as it is now very easy to tighten the screw on the hoop which makes for much better embroidery. If you have a Brother machine please seriously consider buying one - they are worth every penny.




If you didn't want to embroider the midfriff then consider piping at the top and bottom edge or even using a contrast fabric.



This is my dress front sewn, all seams neatened and pressed.




There is a pleat in the back which I neatened with a double folded hem. Tack the back together .




 At this stage I tacked the rest of the dress together for another fitting. I do confess again that it was still too large so I was glad that I had given myself the opportunity of making some more adjustments now before it was machined together



I also found that the back was a bit too loose, but be careful how much you take the dress in on the bodice because you do need wearing ease so that you can move your arms about. Also check that you can sit down comfortably.



Slight ( big!) adjustments made, I stitched the back dress together and inserted a zip. Either insert a regular zip or an invisible zipper,  Dress Zips which ever is your preference.

Jaycotts have the best selection of zips at the best prices I know, so they are my number one choice for any type of zip.



I wanted to add the sleeve flounce but thought better of it in the end because my fabric creases so much and it wouldn't look too great if I was wearing a jacket over the top and wanted to take it off.


So I thought that I would make a double hem and add an embellishment.




My sewing machine has 182 built in stitches, but don't just take my word for it, read my review and then call in at Jaycotts to try one for yourself, you will be amazed.

The square feed drive system means that it can stitch extra wide decorative stitches, and it was one of these I chose to edge my sleeves.



You need to change your foot to the ( included) monogram foot . This has extra room to accommodate the needle movement and allows you to see what you are doing easily.




It might seem odd at first using one of these extra wide stitches so do practise before putting it on your actual garment.

I quickly discovered that the decorative stitch was perfectly placed if I aligned the foot to the edge of the sleeve when the needle was at its furthest point to the right.  It does move around a bit. Once you have seen the machine sew this type of stitch you will easily see what I mean.




The facings are next. Do clip into the centre front down to but not through the stitching and clip the curves too

Press the seam open and then press the facing to the inside. The pattern instructions are very clear on what to do.

Do keep trying your dress on, it is the only way to get a perfect fit.



I wanted to hold the facing in place but I did not want any topstitching to show on the right side.

The answer is to understitch the facing to the seam allowance. The arrow on the above picture shows the understitching on the inside but not on the outside. Again, the pattern explains exactly how to understitch.



The bodice looks very neat, the seams are all perfectly matched and it fits well.

I finished my hem with a double hem just like I finished the sleeve hem.



This is a lovely pattern, it teaches you the correct way to achieve a garment which fits perfectly every time. The skills learned can now be used every time you sew something and it will always fit perfectly.

For information on any of the products featured, or to place your order or for more details of the fabulous range of machines give them a ring during opening hours on 01244 394099

Alternatively use the contact form  Contact Jaycotts


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We are delighted to have Christi join the Jaycotts team! 

Bringing along her sewing knowledge, skills and experience. Some of you may have already recognised her which is great because you already know what an asset she is. Christi has been teaching sewing since 2012 through her own sewing courses and workshops in North Wales. (She’s been sewing for more years than she is willing to admit !)

Christi will be happy to offer advice and demo's on a variety of machines, and chat about the latest sewing tools, sewing patterns etc. and will also be available to answer quick sewing queries (time and demand permitting).

Through having Christi as part of our team, Jaycotts will be providing opportunities for you to increase your sewing knowledge through our own taught sessions. These are currently in the planning stage so keep your eye on our newsletters, website and our facebook and twitter for details, and if you are in the area, do call in to say hello !

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