Christmas tree barnEveryone has been busy on the farm getting ready to sell Christmas trees. There’s a long list of “things to sort out” before we open and all of it seems to need doing in the last two weeks of November, which makes life a little fraught some days.

To offset the Christmas tree mania, I’ve done a little sewing in the evenings. As a teenager I decided to make a dressing gown from an old candlewick bedspread. My mother told me it wouldn’t work as I had no dressmaker’s pattern and only a vague idea of my intended design. Well, it worked, even if it was a little bulky under the arms, so a few years later I bought Betty Foster’s Adapting to Fashion book convinced that I would design all my clothes. The idea of the book is that you take all your measurements to create a master pattern unique to your body shape and then piece the bits together, adapting as necessary, to make garment patterns. I made several skirts, tops and dresses that I was pleased with and wore (though in retrospect most things look fine when you’re young and confident so I’m not sure how good they really were).

I made several dresses for my daughters when they were younger but got out of the habit of making my own clothes. Dress fabric seems so expensive nowadays and gets harder to find and of course the days have passed when you wandered into a shop and selected a pattern from the book, which would then be handed over. I haven’t the patience to find a pattern, order it and go back to collect it. The moment will have passed.


I kept looking at the dresses Jane sews and intended to make something to wear for the summer, but of course we didn’t get much summery weather and what I needed was a raincoat not floaty summer dress. Then I read Elizabeth’s post about skirt making without a commercial pattern, remembered my “Master Pattern” and after a bit of searching around, pulled out the book. Thirty years and four children on, my measurements aren’t quite the same but, with a little adjustment, I drew out a pattern for a skirt and started cutting.

skirt facingskirt hem

I copied Elizabeth’s idea for the hem and used a contrasting fabric for the facing. It’s a very simple skirt (and I put the darts slightly too far apart in the back) but it fits and I’m happy with it. It’s certainly very satisfying to make something to wear and I suspect I’ll make another one.

Do you sew?

Do you use commercial patterns?

18 thoughts on “sewing

  1. Mrs Thomasina Tittlemouse says:

    Yayyy! What a fabulous skirt Anne! Love that raspberry pink needlecord and the contrasting fabric for the facing and the hem goes beautifully. I find this method takes all the angst out of hemming – folding up a double hem always risks getting lumpy and bulky especially in a thicker fabric. Have you still got your dressing-gown convert? I hope so – it sounds a triumph! Happy Sewing! E x


  2. sophiezest says:

    Hello! Very interesting post. Yes, I sew, but not as much or as well as I would like. I would love to be able to ‘make to measure’ or do away with commercial patterns, but 1) I’m not creative enough and b) I lack the skills! However, I’ve joined a sewing club here in Brussels with an instructor who is keen to go ‘off piste’, so who knows what I may produce next year.


  3. walnut95 says:

    I can still remember the horror of needlework lessons ! I can remember making a three piece dressing table set (yes they had them in those days !) which was done by cross stich on a green material. Then we had to make the cookery apron and cap for next years cookery students who would need one (last years needlework students had made ours ). Now my sewing is limited to a button falling off or patching something up. I have skills but they never were in sewing in a million years and spent more time undoing and putting right ! ah happy days …


  4. knitsofacto says:

    I do sew – I used to make all my own clothes, I even made my wedding dress – but it’s years since I used my sewing machine for anything other than curtains and repairs. I saw Elizabeth’s skirt and yours is just as lovely, the zing of the facing print against the red is gorgeous. I hope you’re going to wear this with pride 😀


  5. Ainsley says:

    My sewing machine sits idle, covered in dust. I did pull it out 12 months ago to mend a pillowcase. It was interesting to note that my little children, who live in such a techno type world, were fascinated by the workings of the sewing machine!!
    The sewing bug is festering inside me, waiting to see the light of day, if the amount of patchwork quilts I have pinned on Pinterest is anything to go by…In short, sewing is on my list of things to do in 2013.
    Christmas trees look amazing!


    • Anne @GtSlamseysFarm says:

      If my sewing machine was always out I’m sure I’d use it more but it’s such a performance to get it our and clear a space to sew that I tend to put it off. So, patchwork quilts on all your beds in 2013? That would mean a lot of sewing.


  6. Jane says:

    The skirt looks fabulous – I love the hemming and cord is always a winner in my opinion. So glad to have been an inspiration! Skirts made to my own measurements were my kind of ‘gateway garments’. I found a book called ‘Sew What – Skirts’ that made it all seem achievable and I was so excited I made skirts for several friends as well. Along with the made-to-measure approach, I think many independent pattern designers make their patterns a lot more approachable than the traditional tissue-in-an-envelope ones now. Sewing kids’ clothes has been good practice too and uses only small amounts of fabric!
    The Christmas trees look beautiful… put our shaggy little radiata pine in a pot to shame, ha!


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