Archive for the ‘designers, trends’ category

Ornate coat

June 7, 2022

Some styles worn by performers at the Queen’s Jubilee concert on Saturday.

I’m always intrigued that many current ‘pop’ performers wear versions of a blazer, which I don’t consider a casual style at all !

pop blazer

There were also many very wide pants, though they do have to be worn with a very small top, and they make even dancers’ rears look large. But perhaps that was the intention. There were many different social and cultural attitudes on display, as there are now in our society. Very different to when the Queen came to the throne in the early 50s. And she manages to smile at everyone.

My main garment love was the stunning coat worn by the opening performer, Adam Lambert singing Freddie Mercury hits with band Queen.

ornate coat

Obviously a designer item. I’m delighted to know that both the design and making skills are still available.

Though of course the Queen taking tea with Paddington Bear stays most in the mind. We don’t often see her being light-hearted 😀

Ten years ago, for the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, she was collected from Buckingham Palace by James Bond, and she (a lookalike) abseiled down from a helicopter to the stadium.

Good Fortune and Blessings to her !

P.S. The coat is by Dolce & Gabbana.

And the poor little royals have already learned not even to wriggle, let alone jump up and dance or run around, when in public.

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Dungaree dress / Overall jumper

December 10, 2016


I was intrigued to see the pinterest board for a new Tilly and the Buttons pattern has over half a million followers. What is going on here ? Apart from the power of social media advertising.

As well as the relaxed comfort for nearly everyone, for the 50% of us with no defined waist it’s an easy way to wear a skirt. There are many patterns for small children. But surprisingly few for adults.

I thought I’d have a look around. I only found 3 patterns, and chris at makeandwear has pointed out another. But this style is ‘hot in the shops’, so no wonder a specific pattern is popular.


No obvious technical term to label this style.
The UK patterns are called ‘dungaree dress’.
The US patterns are called ‘overall jumper’.
There’s recently been a free pattern with UK ‘Simply Sewing’ magazine, and they call it a ‘Scandi style pinafore dress’.

A ‘jumper dress’ generally means a sleeveless dress which could be worn alone but is loose enough to wear as a layer over blouse or knits. The designer of this one calls it a “pinafore overall dungaree dress” !
Jennifer Lauren Handmade, Ivy


(mid 2017 – I’ve recently seen some US people using the word ‘jumper’ to refer to a jumpsuit. In the UK this word means a knit pullover !)

While in this post overalls / dungarees just have support from a bib and straps, not fabric coverage under the arms above the waist. Basically you’re unlikely to see these bibbed skirts worn without something underneath !

Though of course overalls / dungarees can also mean the wrist-to-ankle coverage of full protective workwear coveralls, often just called jumpsuits for women. I have fond memories of the very tough one I inherited from my father, worn for painting the bottom of boats. Many jumpsuit patterns. On a quick look I’ve only found a couple of true coveralls patterns, Kwik Sew 3389 and Lekala 6037.

A jumpsuit with shorts rather than pants is called a ‘romper’. Have just discovered, from the newest range of McCall’s patterns, that shorts with a bib and straps are called ‘shortalls’ !

I don’t think I’ve missed anything just because I didn’t use the right words !

Pattern hacks

Some simple ways of making your own pattern, if that’s what you enjoy.

Add a top to a skirt

Add a bib and straps to a skirt pattern.
Here’s a detailed tutorial for adults from Eggs and Daisies.

Change the overalls bottom from pants to skirt

Here’s a pinterest collection of bibbed overall patterns. Many of these pants could be converted to skirts, as in this image.


On this image I took it easy and used straight lines. But hem and side seam need to meet at a right angle. So if your pattern piece has sloping sides, you need to curve the hem shape. For fuller guidance on this see Make everything from one pattern.

If that is more than you want to do, on many patterns you could simply exchange the pants for a gathered rectangle to make a skirt.


But what about the many of us who love sewing and loathe pattern work.

Here are some bibbed-skirt patterns. All have usable pockets. No doubt there are many more.

Kwik Sew 4138 with back zip, includes pants (tissue, bust 31 to 45 in.).


Marilla Walker, Roberts with side buttons, includes pants, and a top to wear with them see photo (download pdf, bust 31 to 49 in.).


Tilly and the Buttons, Cleo with buckles or buttons on straps (tissue, bust 30 to 44 in.),
with some extra sewing tips here.


This pattern from BurdaStyle has a back zip – those buttons are decorative. This is between bib and jumper – does have some fabric under the arms, but probably not enough to be decent for most people. 2021 : Burda 10/2016 #117 – the Burda site now doesn’t go back to 2016.


Four very different styles – pretty, casual, classic, edgy ? I could wear a midi/maxi version of Marilla Walker’s design – which would you pick ?

I haven’t seen the instructions for any of these patterns, but from other experience with these brands I expect they go from most helpful to minimal in the order : Tilly and the Buttons, Kwik Sew, Marilla Walker, BurdaStyle.

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You haven’t got to do double rows of topstitching if the thought makes you shudder (as it does me, not either my style or a technique I can do well). Or make it in denim.
This style works perfectly well without those ‘heavy workwear’ associations. A fabric with some body or crispness is better, but you could use a decorative stitch or a pretty (or special occasion) fabric, and add a maxi skirt and some lace or embroidery to make a soft styled version 😀

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First published December 2016, links checked October 2021

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A capsule / core wardrobe for Autumn 2016

October 8, 2016

Here is what Sew Over It patterns in London think are the 5 current key items (City Break e-book with download patterns, bust 33-45″).


I think these are ‘current smart’ style, rather than classic / casual / pretty / dramatic. . . which is interesting, as most patterns from this company are vintage-style dresses.

They suggest this order of sewing difficulty :
Beginner – knit top / dress, skirt,
Advanced Beginner – shirt / dress (simple style – no collar band, cuff, sleeve placket),
Intermediate – skinny jeans, coat.

Sew Over It claim to write teaching patterns.
If you like video sewing support, Tilly and the Buttons have video classes on making an easier skirt and tee.
Sew Over It have video classes on slim pants (said to be a good intro to making these jeans), more advanced pants, a knit dress and top, two shirts more difficult than this, a classic blazer, and a lined coat.

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Add items to widen the scope

Want a 6 item group of
2 tops
2 bottoms
2 layers ?
Add a moto/biker jacket, such as Hot Patterns 1207.
Goes up a level of sewing skill, though you could leave out the exposed zips and use in-seam pockets.


For my own wardrobe needs I would want a pullover top and some non-stretch pants, such as Vogue 9063.


And a slouchy top such as the Tessuti Mandy Boat Tee.


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A complete 12 item core wardrobe

Those added 4 garments shift things up from the original capsule to a 10-item wardrobe.
4 tops
1 dress
1 skirt
2 pants
2 jackets.

A commonly suggested 12 item wardrobe would add 2 more jackets or other layers, for people in a climate with that need.
If you don’t wear many jackets, you could add 2 more tops – tees in your favourite colours, or Sew Over It have several pretty blouse patterns.

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Explore the world of jacket riches !

Starting from (tee + jeans / pencil skirt) or (shirt + jeans / pencil skirt), jackets have huge potential for completely changing the style of an outfit.

Special note on sewing jackets – if you wear under-layers with sleeves, especially long sleeves, always check the armhole and sleeve width of patterns for layering over them, and go up a size in that area if necessary. Most jacket patterns assume you only want to wear a tank/cami under. (Seems odd to me, as I always wear long sleeves.)

As well as waterfall and moto jackets (examples above), there are many other current jacket types which would go well with the slim fit of the original SOI capsule.
The first three can look more current at thigh-tunic or calf-duster length.

Kimono, such as New Look 6438. Sew Over It has a kimono pattern.

Classic knit cardigan, such as New Look 6735.
Make longer and at least 2 sizes larger for a ‘boyfriend’ look. Longer ones may be called a ‘coatigan’.

Casual shawl collar/neckband, such as McCall’s 6084.

Bomber / blouson, such as McCall’s 7100.
McCall’s had a sew-along for this pattern.

Denim ‘jeans’ jacket, such as McCall’s 7729, McCall’s 8011.

Trench / safari / utility jacket, such as this from Lisette, Butterick 6361. Or this example from Allie Olson at Indie Sew can have a hood.

‘French’ or ‘Chanel’ Style :
Basic, Vogue 7975.
Claire Shaeffer couture, Vogue 8804.

Blazer with notched lapel collar :
Basic, Butterick 5926.
Claire Shaeffer couture, Vogue 9099.

Sleeveless coat / long vest, such as this from Sandra Betzina, Vogue 1528. Or Simplicity 8177 from Mimi G with video tutorials.
Sew Over It has a video class about a lined coat which could be made sleeveless.

Most of those jackets are too fitted to wear over loose fitting tops. Here are some current styles to co-ordinate with looser tops :

Modern poncho, such as Butterick 6392. Or the group from Marfy Patterns (no instructions or seam allowances, scroll down at site).

Oversized hoodie, such as Hot Patterns 1179.

Cocoon, such as the coat by Wardrobe By Me.

Slouchy, such as Cali Faye Brenna.

Or step aside from fashion.

An unstructured jacket from Loes Hinse
or lagenlook frills from Tina Givens
might not go so well with the crisp basics in this Sew Over It capsule.

But you could go for an art-shirt-jacket by
Kathryn Brenne
Louise Cutting
Diane Ericson
Linda Lee of Sewing Workshop
Marcy Tilton

Or try fabric piecing with Koos van den Akker or Fit for Art,
and quilting with Mary Ray’s Craftsy class or the Grainline Studio Tamarack with sew-along.

Well that has got us rather a long way from the practical realities of a compact wardrobe starting with the Sew Over It capsule.
If you had to choose a maximum of four jacket / layer styles which are most true to you, that make you feel at home and at your best, which would they be ?
Your choices may be very different from mine – have you got a favourite pattern company that I haven’t mentioned ?
Hmm, I managed to get my needs down to five. . .

P.S. January 2017. I now have pinterest boards for
Jacket style elements
Cardigan styles.

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Some other sources of modern classic wardrobes

Tee, shirt, jeans, pencil skirt, waterfall jacket – the capsule styles are ‘modern classics’. So the Sew Over It patterns aren’t unique, though it’s good to have such basics grouped together. 

styleARC and Burda Style are also good sources of modern classic patterns.
The disadvantage of both those companies is the minimal instructions. They tell you what to do but not how to do it. So you do need to know what you’re doing to use these patterns.

Sew Over It by contrast gives detailed instructions with clear photos. Many of their patterns have been tested in face-to-face classes before being issued generally.

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For maximum wardrobe versatility, use your best neutral colours for the first of each item. I like to use texture and tonal variations.
Add accent colours and prints when you make more of the items.
Change fabric types, change hem and sleeve lengths, omit collars, and the alternatives are almost endless. . .

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Originally written October 2016, links checked and updated November 2019

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Update 2018 :
Sew Over It now have a second e-book – Work to Weekend.
Styles included (Edie is for knits) :

Many more easy options by changing lengths. And the two groups would combine well 😀

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Combine fabrics, embellish

November 2, 2013

The first ‘avant garde’ post was about architectural shapes.
This post is about adding interesting and unique design elements using all the possibilities of textile surface art – combining fabrics and adding texture and embellishment.

There are so many options for creativity. This post has these sections :
– patterns with basic shapes for fabric combining and embellishment.
– embellishment techniques.
– multi-fabric combining :
. . . different main pattern pieces in different fabrics.
. . . fabric combining in patchwork and other shapes.
– high fashion in ‘artistic’ colours and prints.

There’s many exciting and inspiring ‘art to wear’ sites and blogs, this is just a short guide to a few starting points.
And sorry, just some suggested links. Lots of attractive images if you follow up the links, but I haven’t included many visuals here. I wouldn’t know where to stop 😀

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Basic garments for embellishment

There are several patterns with simple shapes specifically for adding your own fabric combination or embellishment.

Fit for Art Tabula Rasa jacket (includes help with fit, other patterns for style changes)

Yvonne Porcella Jacket from The Sewing Workshop (simplest shape, terrible instructions) (gallery here).
There’s also a pdf guide to embellishment for it (not free).

Kayla Kennington has patterns built from rectangles. Her site is not active at present, but her patterns are available from

Or decorate the simple shapes of peasant workwear such as from Folkwear patterns.

If you just like doing the embellishment without doing the garment construction, use basic existing garments (such as from Though that isn’t a way of getting interesting garment shapes.

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Embellishment Techniques

Many many internet sources of advice on :
– fabric painting, dying, stencilling, stamping, foiling. . .
– hand and machine embroidery, appliqué, texturising, couching, beading, heirloom stitching . . .
– plus sources for delicious ribbons, motifs, trims. . .

And dozens of books too.
Sorry I’m not going to attempt to pick out the good ones !
Well, here’s one of them : Creating Couture Embellishmentby Ellen Miller.

Perhaps work through a CD by Marcy Tilton on Surface Design, or her many on-line tutorials.

More classes on heirloom and other embellishments at Martha Pullen/The Sewing Collection.

Several McCall’s patterns for making fabric flowers.

Here’s a pdf from Shirley Adams of Alternatives for making multiple different shells using different decorative techniques.

Multiple fabric combinations within one garment

This is the current ‘multi-media’ approach to clothes.

See the Fall 2013 trend reports Crazy Fur section (click on right centre photo) for designer inspiration on using fur, some in combinations.
and Spring 2013 trend reports Collage Degree section (click on left centre photo) for designer inspiration on combining patterned fabrics.

I love combining fabrics in a quilt, but find it much more difficult in clothes.
Easiest to use fabrics from quilt fabric designers, which are issued in groups of prints specifically designed to co-ordinate.

Whole pattern pieces

The most seen ‘high-street fashion’ multi-fabric look is to have whole pattern pieces in different fabrics, especially in princess seam styles. Many Big4 and Burda patterns in which this is done quite simply, with solids in ‘colour blocking’. ‘Texture blocking’ or ‘multi-media’ print combining are the newest idea.

At the extreme, if you add a CB seam and a waist seam to a princess seam jacket, you’ll have 16 different fabric areas to play with in the body alone. Then add on more fabrics for sleeves, collar, facings 😀

Try these sources for more casual patterns in this style :
Design and Planning Concepts
Indygo Junction
Serendipity Studio

Patchwork and other fabric shapes

If you love piecing and quilting, there’s plenty of fashion inspiration for using smaller areas of each fabric too.

And there are many independent pattern designers who provide patterns for ‘wearable art’ pieced and quilted garments. These are just some of them.
Dana Marie
Grainline Gear
Lorraine Torrence Designs
Pavelka Design (sewing patterns link at bottom of page)
Rag Merchant
Taylor Made Designs

Here are a couple of examples.

Silhouette 4013 dress for knits.


McCall’s 6712 top and circular skirt.


The king of print combination is Koos van den Akker at Vogue.
Here’s a slide show of his styles to click through.

And here’s a post by Rae Cumbie about ideas for fabric piecing, at Threads.

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‘Artistic’ high fashion

There’s another route, for people who aren’t so interested in architectural shapes and embellishment.

And that is to wear high fashion shapes in strong prints and strong colours.
YouLookFab gives an example here, from one of those style bloggers who appears to have an unlimited clothing budget.

As in the combining of contrasting prints and textures (see my post with an example), this requires a gifted artistic eye.
There’s a good article on mixing prints and textures here. [Ignore their Style Personality quiz, which only has one style.]

Note there’s no combining of colours or prints within one garment. They’re dramatically combined from separate garments.
But it is a rather different approach to wardrobe building than wearing a couple of neutrals and one accent colour with one quiet print 😀

Lots of attractive and dramatic prints around. But take care if you have low contrast colouring or a quieter personality – perhaps these fabrics will swamp your own looks. It is possible to choose prints, textures, colours which ensure people look at you, not the fabric !

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I grinned while pulling this list together. I delight in all clothes. But the styles I actually wear myself are a bit like this – though very quiet versions !

I’m definitely a follower not an innovator in this area, but I’m fascinated by all the possibilities.
I’m particularly entranced by an old embellishment set I have from Lois Ericson, which has stencils and machine embroidery software for the same shapes. Almost infinite potential.

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If you love this sort of jacket, enjoy being at the forefront of fashion this season 😀

There’s so much rich creativity available for clothes making. If this is your style I’m sure you have your own sources of delight and inspiration.

Do you show your personal style in the jacket shapes you choose ? This season there are quiet or striking versions of :
– tailored blazer,
– drapey or curvy shapes,
– assertive edgy shapes of bomber/ biker/ military,
– architectural shapes.

Or do you prefer simple shapes but delight in the bold or subtle combination of colour, print, texture, embellishment ? There’s a huge range – from overwhelming, challenging, sublime through to modest in scope.

No end to the delicious possibilities 😀
Apart from the pleasures of looking at all this – when it comes to what you wear yourself, which makes you feel most happy, comfortable with and true to yourself 😀

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Patterns and links available November 2013

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