Adventures in African Wax

Lucy jumpsuit New Look 6446

Be careful what you wish for!

Last year I was only thinking that I should up my sewing game a little. Make it a bit more of a challenge. Take on some sewing commissions. It’s all very well making clothes for me. I’ve had a fair bit of practice at it now and I’m pretty sure I know what works on me, how to source a pattern and self-draft any modifications and what adjustments I need to make to make it personalised and fit good. I’ve sewn a few things for others (a flapper dress here, a man’s shirt there and a skirt for a friend name a few), but mostly I sew within my comfort zone.

I’m not about to launch myself as a full on dressmaker – I don’t have enough hours outside of my job – but I’m certainly ready for sewing different shapes and sizes, and I’m definitely up for creating some cool and original garms that don’t exist on RTW rails.

As I said, I was only thinking. Then I saw a plea for help on FaceBook from my daughter’s friend. For a dressmaker who could help with some outfits for her baby’s Christening. I couldn’t help myself!

Though what I was agreeing to was a little bit daunting, bearing in mind I have never made a pair of trousers to date – Lucy wanted a jumpsuit. But quite specifically a jumpsuit with a flounce, no gathers at the waist, and with very, very long legs!

Well, I thought. What is a challenge if it’s not challenging? I didn’t have time to sweat the small (or big) stuff – it was wanted for the end of January! I had 4 weeks outside of a full time day job to create a jumpsuit and a baby dress. All hail the deadline, for the prevention of dilly-dallying!

New Look 6446 provided the basis of the design. Was great to find that Handmade Jane had made a lovely dress version and could report that it was dead easy to make. Although I was about to complicate matters!

After a few idea swaps on Pinterest, I asked Lucy to send me a photo of the fabric she’d chosen so I could do a rough bit of Photoshop-trickery and show her the proposed changes to the pattern design. I’m a visual person myself and can always explain in pictures, better than in words!

New Look 6446 with modifications

It was already apparent that the legs were going to be super wide if I just extended them so I had this very firmly in mind: Elegant wide leg trousers. Not so much of the ‘Lionels’!

The changes to pattern included: an extension of the front bodice piece, by incorporating the band; ditching the straps and instead, drafting a flounce (which is fundamentally a circle piece); adding a lining to the bodice; lengthening and tapering the leg and reversing the direction of the front pleats.

I visited Lucy with the first toile proudly folded in a bag along with a box of pins, a tape-measure, some chalk and a notepad and pencil. Felt like a proper dressmaker, I did!

Of course, nothing can really look that beautiful in calico and I was a bit nervous that she would be disillusioned by the sight of her bod being swathed in so much of it. But when she tried it on and stood in front of the mirror I think I might have squealed louder than she did! It pretty much fit first time. Just a few more changes – mostly because this lady is loosing baby weight at the rate of knots!:

I duly pinned and made notes to shorten the flounce, take a couple of inches from across the arms, some excess from under the arms, shorten the back bodice, take a pinch in from the waist, and add even more length to the trousers. Lucy’s legs properly do go up to her armpits!

Lucy jumpsuit notes

The only thing left bothering me was how to handle or prep the fabric. This was my first time working with African wax fabric and I dreaded a prewash in case all the colour would come flooding out. Or would it turn to a drapey mess? I wanted to loose a bit of the stiffness but I didn’t want to forego a wash in case it shrunk thereafter!

This is where it helps to be part of an amazing sewing community. We all indulge in love of sewing but we all have our own specialities, different experiences and best of all a willingness to share them.

Dolly Clackett of course has made a plethora of pretty dresses, many of which are of said fabric. And she was my first point of call. She gave me all the confidence I needed and I duly prepped a sample piece by washing at 30 degrees. The result was beautiful. It softened slightly but retained body. And lost next to no colour. I can’t quite describe how the fabric feels inside but it’s akin to a fine suede!

So I used that first washed sample to rustle up a dress for baby, first.

New Look 6745 modified

The pattern I used was New Look 6745. Which doesn’t look to be in print any more. I made this dress for my daughter about 25 years ago so I’m delighted that the pattern got a 2nd use. Just had to add a ruffled, cap sleeve though! Was fun sourcing little pink buttons to go on the back. I used pink satin bias binding to face the neckline and arm holes.

The success of this and the reception it got on Instagram was the next confidence jab that propelled me into cutting the pieces for Lucy’s jumpsuit. That, along with less than a week to go!

I can’t tell you what a joy it is to cut, how beautifully it behaves under the needle. No fraying to speak of and so easy to press. I’m so using this fabric again.

Lucy jumpsuit New Look 6446

As Handmade Jane said, the pieces sewed up with no complications. I had however, underestimated the time difference in sewing a toile v sewing the actual garm! Overlocking open seams of trousers seemed to take forever. The curved inside edges of the flounce against the straight top edge of the bodice was a little tricky to keep neat so that meant some slow-sewing and there was a fair bit of tiny hand stitching to finish the lining against the zipper tape and the top edge of the bodice. And of course the tiny hemming of the flounce and the hand-hemming of the trousers.

Lucy jumpsuit New Look 6446

But it was worth it. So many people at the party said so many lovely things about it. Bursting with pride, I was! Such a great feeling to see someone feeling so good in something you’ve made.

The party was lovely. Lots of friends and family had had their outfits made in the same fabric by various dressmakers across London. But I got to make for the stars of the show!

Do you sew for other people? Would love to hear of any experiences you’ve had, good or bad to help me on my way. Any tips will be most appreciated!


ooobop review: Burda Style June 2015

burdastyle june 2015 cover

The skies may be grey and the sun may not be out but the June 2015 issue of Burda Style magazine most certainly is. And that’s enough to brighten my day!

There’s all sorts of summer fun going on this month. Opening with a cool, light and breezy dress (A). I’m not so sure I can pull off as much elegance as the model wearing it, but with a careful fabric choice, perhaps. I’m intrigued by the wide collar top (E). Moreso that it’s linen. I love linen.

Burda june 2015 section 1

Dress (G) looks like a comfy number. I don’t do comfy as a rule but if I can get over that fabric choice I think a plain colour jersey would make more of that gathered front detail.

The floral dress (B) is for teens and definitely not for my pear-shaped bod but I’d quite like a lace dress like (B). Burda suggests adhesive bra pads to avoid a bra strap. No big pants allowed here either!

Once again I’m having to get past the crazy print on top (C) to envisage a slightly translucent white or black lightweight cotton fabric. The skirt looks fun and easy though.

Great to see some teen designs in this issue. Almost always the kid stuff is for the little ‘uns. Just how cool is that Sergeant Pepper jacket (H)? I so wish my daughter would let me make that for her. She’s more likely to go for the parka though.

I’m so tempted by the jumpsuit (D), even though I haven’t worn a pair of trousers in years. Sold by the midriff. I do like a midriff! I might have to do something about the halter pieces though. Looks like a lot of fabric going on there.

I do like the seamlines on dress (F). Bit difficult to see here but they are panelled seams in corset-style. But I like dress (J), more. The front rouching and the neckline has a certain Asian chic about it. It’s made of jersey, would you belive it? So no zipper going on here!

The Happy Hour section takes us on a night out with lots of black and gold going on.

Burdastyle June 2015 section 2

I love the contradiction of a lace bomber jacket (K)! The interesting front seams are highlighted with satin binding and it has pockets, of course.

Top (Q) looks very elegant tucked in here but the contrast definition with the skirt doesn’t work for me. Especially with all that front drapey pocket business. Too much volly where I really don’t need it!

Ah see… I much prefer this dress (L) in one colour. Though I don’t think the shot does it as much justice. Looks a bit lop-sided here with one shoulder shorter than the other. It is an ‘easy’ make so it might be worth a try.

Cute little tube dress (P) here for all you daring ladies. And this certainly would be an easy one to put together for an emergency going out dress… just two side seams needed in that metallic jersey print.

I love how Burda fills the void in my lack of fabric knowledge. This dress (O) is made of metallic twill! Never have I come across such stuff.

And I love the corsetted detail on dress (N). One would totally have to pay attention to perfect fit and stitching on this one though. That satin highlights every glitch.

Lace is a great choice for this elegant top (R) A shortened version of dress (L). The armholes and neckline are beautifully bound with organza. Not sure why the hem would stay raw though.

And I maintain my love for the jumpsuit (M). Especially if I could get my hands on some gold metallic, viscose linen weave! Super stylish!

Next up is the Sunshine section, kicked off with this pretty shirt dress (S). A Peter Pan collar is enough of a change to give it a cute edge but I think I’d ditch the lower flounce. Not sure why that section appears to be cut on the bias too. Bit jarring with those stripes.

Burdastyle June 2015 section 3

Love the paper bag shorts (T)! Not sure if I could carry them off with a detailed top section though. It would have to be a plain T or similar.

Really like the yellow ensemble (Y). Especially now I can see more detail on that skirt. The buttons could contrast and be a lovely feature. The collar feature adds a little vintage-style twist. Gorgeously cool for picnic days in the park.

Love the shirt dress (W) cropped to a shirt too.

However I’m not too impressed with the colour section. Mostly because I don’t like the chosen colour palette. All too much for little old me, I’m afraid. And I’m finding it hard to see past the colours to focus on the designs. Short of my latest make, I tend to have black or red as a base colour and work up from that. My pick would be the Kaleidoscope tube dress (6). In black, probably. Call me unadventurous!

burdastyle june 2015 section 4

Plus Fashion goes all out adventurous on us though . . . on safari…with some mad sleeves!

Burda style june 2015 plus section

You can’t really see the detail in dress (9). The volume of fabric is concealed by the detail of the print but you can hopefully pick out the rouched seams all the way down to the wrist in dress (12). My favourite piece in this section of the mag is the ankle length lace coat. Or ‘chasuble’ as Burda calls it. Learn something new every day!

So whaddyafink? Have you got yours yet? Have you already whipped something up? Do tell x


ooobop review: Burda Style March 2015

Burda Style March 2015 cover

Can you feel that spring sunshine, desperately trying to squeeze though your bedroom window in the morning? Well if that isn’t happening, the March 2015 issue of Burda Style magazine will do it’s best to brighten your days.

There’s some lively goings-on this month, with all sorts of asymmetric, geometrical, hankerchief-hemmed and draped goodness!

Beach Pearls sets some scenes for a summer wardrobe: I just love that maxi dress (A). It’s not dissimilar to the viscose jersey one I made here, but the bust detail is right on the money! A lot more support I would think and what a flattering silhouette!.

beach pearls burda march 2015

It also translates into a lovely strappy top (B).

Now I like where the asymmetrical skirt (C) is coming from but not quite where it landed up! Way too much like a sack tied round the middle for me. Further on it is redeemed with some better styling, I can assure you.

Nice Jumpsuit (C), btw. If jumpsuits are your thing. You might want to add some ‘fashion tape’ to the list of required notions, though. Click here: Hollywood Fashion Tape if you’re interested in buying any from Amazon!

Flared trouser suits (E)? mmm…and bat wing empire-lines (F)? double mmm… Lets move on to the shirtwaist dress with ‘maxitail in the right seam’ (G). I do like that. And I love the biker-meets-Mao jacket too (H)!

Uh oh. There’s that batwing-empire-line again (I). Swiftly moving on to the Flowers and Stripes section!

Flowers and stripes burda style march 2015

I’ve never made or owned a pair of culottes (A). But I bet they’re a far safer than a full skirt on a windy day. And looks lovely in a largish print. If you like that sort of thing.

And there’s that shirt-waist dress (B) again with ‘cut-on-dipped hem’ like last time! It would be better to use a fabric that has a reverse as good as the good side, I would have thought.

Look how that lovely maxi translates to a cute beach dress too (C).

This month features a chic wrap dress (D). There is some assurance of a button at the side and concealed snap fasteners to keep the wrap in place. Potential for a Bucks Fizz moment there!

The peasant top addict in me (see two of them here and here) is quite drawn to this ‘relaxed tunic’ (E)! Would need a fine drapey jersey to pull off with any sophistication I would have thought.

And there’s some more geometric delight in the shape of a simple v-neck dress with symmetrical ‘cut-on tails’ (F)!

Any weddings occurring this year? Loving both these bridal party dresses (A) in The Big Day section.

The Big Day Burda March 2015

The bride’s dress (B) is the same as (A) with a flowy underskirt of crêpe chiffon. That’s if you haven’t been put off by the chiffon adventures in The Great British Sewing Bee recent episode.

Can’t help thinking this dress (C) is a bit cake-like with all the tiers an’ all.

And although I usually embrace a bit of invention, I still wouldn’t want to look like I’d been dragged behind the wedding car, en-route in this dress (D)!

This fairytale dress (E) is far simpler and much more sophisticated though. Just get rid of the batwing-empire-maid who’s ruining the photo!

Oh this is much better (F). Lovely wide-dipped hem again. Bust darts for shape. Cotton lace overlay, crepe satin underlay. I’d wear it with cowboy boots. Or even DM’s. Or is that just the hippy in me?!

Now there’s that asymmetric skirt again (centre, G), styled much more favourably with a gorgeous jacket: standing collar and 50s style winged lapels. See, it does have potential to work. Nice suit on the right too!

I’ve picked out the following three from the Reader Favourites section:

reader favourites burda march 2015

Jumpsuit (A) made short for all you lovely long-legged people!

Lovely floor-length dress (B) in striped jersey with side slits and a ‘hankerchief hem’. I can definitely feel some more maxi’s coming on this year.

And a cute little dress (C) based on the short lace wedding party dress design. Not my cuppa tea fabric-wise, but I’m always sold on a midriff piece!

Not overly inspired by the plus section this month I’m afraid, though the trench coat is rather amazing, I must say.

plus size trench coat burda march 2015

But, there is cuteness for small people at the back.

Childrens section burda style march 2015

The best design and the garment most fitting to the Colour Splash section by far, is the paint-spattered dress (A) with tying bands that resemble the sleeves of another garment. Hands up who wants an adult version? Genius!

Wild Thing for World Book Day

Where_The_Wild_Things_Are_costumeI think I may be subject to mass mum-hate if I proclaim a love for World Book Day. But I do. (Eek!) Don’t get me wrong, I get my knickers in a knot as much as anyone else but I secretly relish the challenge. After all, it involves a must-do sewing project. And that’s always a good thing.

My daughter was very clear about what she wanted to be this year. I’ve come to realise recently, how very grateful I am for people who think for me. I constantly have head soup! Someone thinking on my behalf is better than doing the dishes for me or hoovering the stairs. I’d even go as far as saying that it was better than someone cleaning the bathroom for me. Not that I know what that’s like but you catch my drift?


Anyhows, youngest dort was dead set on Max from Where The Wild Things Are. Easy I thought. A white onesie and we are sorted! Not. Not when youngest dort has other plans, like a white onesie in a faux fur of the furriest kind. I kid you not, this stuff is horrid and has left serious evidence throughout the whole house!

Where The Wild Things Are costume

I’ve never attempted one of these before and certainly didn’t have a go-to pattern but this is where I can justify my 3 year collection of Burdastyle magazines.

Low and behold in January 2013’s edition…. a wookie jumpsuit! Thank you Burdastyle. Really. Thank you!!

wookie costume

The only problem I had was that the size only went up to age 8. My daughter is 9 but a good 4 inches taller than a regular 9 year old! And so I cut and spread and taped and so properly graded the jumpsuit pieces. But then I looked and shook my head in disbelief at the sheer size of the pattern and took out an inch and a half.

Well you can guess the rest. The first test garment was too small. But no biggie because it was only a tester and better still made the basis of a Thing One costume for her bestie! Bestie’s clever mum did a very fine job of sewing on the the all-important detail as well as taking care of  the gorgeous Hermione Granger!

Thing One costume

So once I added those inches back in I just cut and sewed… and got fluff everywhere!
The good thing about this stuff is there is no necessity for neatening of seams, no hems and no need for careful catch-stitching. I actually did double interface the ears with sew in canvas to make them stand up but not be too stiff. The zip was surprisingly ok to sew in, by hand but trimming the fluff so as not to catch on the teeth was really annoying!

Where The Wild Things Are costume

I can’t take all the credit for this one. LMO made and hand painted her own fabulous crown and check out that wonderfully fluffy tail. A tail that Max himself would have been soooo proud to wear. Mr Ooobop himself took on this task while I was at work. He chose the fur and shaped it perfectly before stitching it with his own fair hands. I am so uber impressed.

Where the Wild Things are CostumeI think we can safely say that Little Miss Ooobop was suitably impressed too! And what better place to hang out after school than the local park, in the trees, being photographed by her multi-talented dad!

Where The Wild Things Are costume


Where The Wild Things Are costume

Hope your tales of World Book Day were as fun!
And wishing you all a lovely sunny weekend wherever you are.

(One can dream!)


ooobop! review: Burda Style May 2013

May 2013 Burda cover

Well this review very nearly didn’t happen. Firstly because I was in a grump when I bought May’s issue – there was no way that anything was going to impress me that day – and secondly the usual onslaught of work that is always determined to steal my blogging/sewing time!

But do you know what? The delay in between purchasing the mag until now has been enlightening. I am seeing much more potential in designs that I had initially dissed and I am seeing some valuable ‘easy makes’ that might just dig me out of a hole for Zo’s ‘Me Made May ’13’! Admittedly I am in a better mood now the sun is shining so that also helps the different slant!

So without further ado, let me present Full Bloom, the Flower Fashion section.

Lots of pretty lightweight floral loveliness going on here. I so wish I had the guts to go for one of these jumpsuits/playsuits whatever you like to call them. They look such fun. I just don’t think I could take the heckling from the smalls!

May 2013 burda playsuits

A bit difficult to see the detail, but the gathered drawstring top (below, top left corner) looks to be one of those easy ones. I have a fine bit of floral chiffon that I think should do it justice. The bikini below that looks a bit homemade if you ask me. Possibly the fabric – metallic poplin? But that aside I do think with a long skirt attached to the bikini top, it could be transformed into a gorgeous maxi. But my fave by far, out of all these flowery numbers, is the green print dress, on the right. It has a flattering midriff section which I love and some cheeky patch pockets on the skirt front. Total win!

Burda May 2013 flower fashion tops and dresses

The top (below, top left corner) is a super easy make. Its a tulle lace top over a shorter jersey one, sewn together at the bateau neckline. If you don’t fancy the belly button action, you can always make it longer and I’m sure it would be just as pretty. The denim shorts are included too, though surely easier to cut some jeans down?

I keep coming back to the green, v-back flounce dress but I’m not sure I’ve got Twiggy enough bod for that. Pretty though.

The dress at the end couldn’t be simpler. A long straight cut shirt with low-cut armholes. Pretty much 4 rectangles! Made from transparent chiffon and worn with an underdress. In fact the underdress is far more complicated! Perfect for the beach or a picnic or wherever the sun shines!

Burda May 2013 flower fashion

Top Stars is next up. A great little collection of funky tops. The gathered draw-string top features again, in a plain brown crepe this time. Not much of a variation except for the length, I think but great to see it in a block colour. If it really is quick to whip up, I would love a few of these to stick in a holiday suitcase.

Burda May 2013 topsIt wouldn’t be a summer issue without a ‘whites’ section. So here are some of the more romantic looks this month. I personally could never leave the house in a dress as white as this and certainly wouldn’t survive more than half an hour in London if I did, but they would be well-placed on a sunny beach. The dress on the right probably shows in more detail how the upper section of the green print floral dress works.

Burda May 2013 white dresses

Add some blue to the white and behold my favourite section of the mag. The Vintage Style. This little beauty gets away with being so stylishly modern despite its top spot in the fashion charts circa 1965. Tricky to see but underneath the deep V-neck, it has a fabulous seamed empire line, finished with a cutesy bow.

Burda May 2013 Vintage dress

Given that my chances of a tropical holiday are very slim this year (or any year to be fair!) I’m finding it a bit hard to relate to the styles and colours in the Tropical section. 10 out of 10 for innovation though. I’ll wait till someone else tries that green knotted skirt!

Burda May 2013 Tropical

But I did pick a few tropical delights. Check out the gorgeous Maxi dress (below, left) in large print satin! How divine would that be as you floated off for a pina colada all tingly from a day on the beach! The centre top is a must-have too. I love all the rouched detail is in the back. And the dress on the right is such fun!

Burda May 2013 tropical favouritesI think the kids section is a little strange this month:

May 2013 Burda kidsApart from this little red number that I’m trying to persuade LMO to like!:

Burda May 2013 kids

But hey! I’m not going to push it too much. It’s not like I haven’t got enough on my list already!

And last but not least is the Plus Section. Not so hot this month. But some pretty functional pastels all the same. I really don’t think the shot of the pink jersey top and the grey taffeta skirt (bottom left) best portrays these styles. They both have fabulous details. The top has side gathers just over the bust and to the hem. And the skirt is a double layer, the over-skirt being pretty much a square which creates those lovely flounces. It also has a jersey waistband which would add a bit of comfort to the class!

Burda May 2013 Plus sizeSo there we have it, lovely readers. I do so apologise for the delay in getting this to you. No doubt most of you already have it in your clutches. But for those that don’t yet, I do hope it helps to bridge the gap until you get hold of your copy.

Happy sewing everyone! x