Sewing For Little Girls...So Much Fun!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I have so much fun sewing for the 2 little girls in my life, Julianna, age 5 and her little sister Brooklyn, and now that shirt orders have slowed down a bit, I have time to make some pretty things for them!

 Front of Ruffle Top-- washable "silk" flower accent added by me.

This top/tunic is super fast and easy to make. While I could have just looked at the photograph and drafted my own pattern, I do not think it is fair to get design inspiration from an Etsy shop, without paying the Designer/Pattern-maker for their ideas.  This pattern is called "The Double Ruffle Top", and comes as a download from the Etsy pattern shop, 
 "Little Lizard King"  (<--- link to shop)

Back of Ruffle Top-- The ties come through 2 buttonholes in the back bodice.

The pattern instructions are written for beginners (no interfacing, exposed seams). More advanced sewists will know where to use more refined techniques, and that interfacing the bodice will give a more "finished" look to this little top.

In addition to interfacing the bodice, I decided to add one of my -Washable "silk" Flowers- to the front bodice, in order to balance the bow on the back of this top. If you would like to see the tutorial I wrote about making these floral embellishments....CLICK HERE for The Washable "silk" Flower Instructions.

Back to school special!!!

Friday, July 27, 2012
Bring in you current valid student id in for 10% off from July 27th - Aug 31st! Shop Local, recycle , and creat your own style!

Magazine: The Rake

Tuesday, July 24, 2012
It's taken me a while to find a men's fashion magazine I really like. GQ isn't really my style, Esquire is often great but doesn't really cover the same sort of clothes as this blog. The fact is, of course, few people consider my kind of clothes exactly 'fashionable' so they just don't get that much coverage in most magazines.

I've heard mutterings about The Rake for a while - published in Singapore, with an annual subscription that would buy you around five years of Esquire Subscriptions, they claim to cater to the "mature-minded gent who draws his satorial inspiration from icons such as Cary Grant, Fred Astaire , the Duke of Windsor, Gianni Agnelli and Sean Connery"


No doubt partly the cause of its high subscription costs, The Rake is considerably lighter on advertising than other magazines, which often seem to blur the line between telling you about clothes, and just letting manufacturers pay to fill the magazine full of pictures of their clothes.

Instead, The Rake focuses on quality content, with lengthy articles and plenty of full-pages of nothing but text. As it says, it's inspiration is classic tailoring and style, with a healthy interest in the way clothes are made as well as how they are worn. Despite its headquarters, much of the focus is on London, with articles about specific organisations and individuals on the tailoring scene. It's all topped off with a healthy dose of lifestyle content, briefly covering food, drink and travel.
It's also beautifully produced in a slightly less glossy, more 'made-to-keep' style than most magazines, which may be some comfort considering the cost. Definitely worth the investment, and worth taking the time to read rather than simply glancing at the pictures and then leaving on the coffee table.

"Wrinkle Free" does not equal "Hassle Free"

Give me wonderfully fine Swiss Cotton Shirting any day....over shirting fabrics marked "Easy Care".

Ladies and gentlemen, it took me HOURS to sew this shirt...a design that should have taken 2 hours max.  Why?  It's made from "easy-care" aka "no wrinkle" fabric that I was foolish enough to buy during a sale when my regular shirting fabric suppliers were a little low on selection.

Can you even see that the contrast fabric is white with blue pinstripes?  Probably not, since the fabric has a strange sheen that made photography a challenge no matter what camera settings I used.

I hope my client likes it....because the only thing I didn't have to do twice on this shirt was match the checks and fuse the interfacing..those two things were easy.  The rest, like creasing folds and getting perfectly even topstitching, was a challenge.  And of course, I chose to add bias details, because gee whiz when the fabric is strange to sew with, you might as well frustrate yourself  further by placing crucial parts like the collar band and cuffs on bias, right?

Ah well..I will soothe myself today by working with some delicious Italian Shirting cotton..that's woven so finely it resists raveling. And so I will stay with "Ravel-resistant" and skip "Wrinkle Resistant" from now on.

Angled Yoke and Blue Checks too!

Saturday, July 14, 2012
This "Angled Yoke" shirt was made from some interesting reversible fabric that I received from an unexpected source. I used the lighter side for the left front placket, yoke lining, collar stand, inner cuffs, and as an accent on the hem of the pocket.  

The best part about making it was the surprised smile on Roger's face when I told him that this shirt was for him, not a client!

SEWING NOTES--I chose to interface this shirt with "Pro-Woven Fusible Light Crisp Fusible Interfacing", an exclusive product from  Both collar pieces were fused, as were both the inner and outer cuffs and both pieces of the collar stand. It gave the perfect amount of support to this novelty shirting.  The white buttons are from the "Light Assortment--Designer Buttons by-the-Scoop" also from

Top 5 items of clothing you need to own

Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Maybe you're starting at uni, starting a new job, starting a more senior position, or just growing up a bit. Whatever the reason, you've realised that your wardrobe needs a revamp. Three pairs of jeans, a dozen lumberjack shirts and a shapeless jacket for special occasions just aren't going to cut it any more.

The trouble is, starting a proper wardrobe is hard work. And expensive. Which is a bad combination. Starting from scratch and becoming the sort of chap who has the perfect outfit for any and every occasion takes time, money and effort. I can't promise to reduce the money needed (although I can offer some pointers) but I do have some thoughts on how to make a start with slightly less time and effort. Buy the following five items (I cheated on some, and combined items. My blog, my rules) and you'll be fairly well set for the modern environment.

A blue blazer
Not a double-breasted, brass buttons type. Much as I love them, they're just no longer appropriate most of the time, especially if you're a younger fellow. No, what I'd recommend is something single-breasted, made of softish material, with horn or wooden buttons (or, you know, plastic. That is fine too). Get something that fits nicely, and you can wear it at practically any occasion. Dress it up with chinos and a tie, and you'll be suitably dressed for a private club or client meeting. Dress it down with an open-necked shirt and a jumper, and you'll still be the best-dressed man in most restaurants.

If you're going to wear a blazer and chinos as suggested, then there's one more thing you'll need. Yup, chinos. You can get them anywhere, and it's easier to tell you what not to go for. Don't get ones with the twisted seams, or elasticated bottoms, or any other modern nonsense. By the same token, don't get ones with a high waist and double-pleats. My preference is for flat-fronted, straight-leg, slim but not skinny, and in a nice soft cotton. For your first pair, I'd recommend khaki as the most versatile colour, but after that feel free to go wild - red, pink and yellow can all work nicely, and blue is useful so long as you've got something other than a blue blazer to wear it with.

A suit (and a shirt, and tie, and shoes)
Yes, I'm cheating, this is four items of clothing, but otherwise this list would just be 'things you need to wear with a suit', which would be dull.
Ok, so if you're only getting one suit then I'd recommend fairly plain blue or grey, darkish, single-breasted with two buttons. It doesn't have to be expensive, but it does have to fit.
Other than that, a reasonably discreet shirt, a tie with no more than two or three colours, and a pair of nice black oxfords with round toes, and you're sorted. Job interviews, smarter dinner and drinks parties or client meetings need hold no fear for you.

Brown brogues
Loafers are also useful, but brown brogues are pretty well the dressiest casual shoe around, so they're a very handy thing to have in your wardrobe. If, like me, you rarely wear a suit but like to look reasonably smart, then you could probably wear brown brogues five days a week if you only had enough pairs. Wear them with those chinos and blazer mentioned above, wear them with jeans to smarten up a bit, you can even wear them with a suit so long as it's tweed or otherwise very casual. 

A tweed jacket
This last choice was a tricky one but, in the end, I decided on a tweed jacket. Why? Because it provides a crucial alternative to the suit or blazer options discussed above. When you want to dress smartly in the country, at the weekend, or perhaps even on a Friday to give the vague impression that, come five o'clock, you're popping on a train to your second home in Kent, a tweed jacket is the best option. Better yet, it's maybe the most flexible bit of clothing you can own: perhaps the only tailored jacket that actually looks good with jeans, but equally something that looks hugely smart with a pair of tailored trousers and a tie.

It's only a start, and I could offer so many other more possibilities, but I honestly believe that if you bought all of the above (along with a couple of nice shirts) you'd be able to make a pretty good fist of being appropriately dressed for any occasion you might come across.

Linen Jacket

Sunday, July 8, 2012
Twice this summer, in between our torrential rain, I've found an opportunity to wear a favourite new item of clothing. My Shepherd & Woodward linen jacket was an extremely fortunate last-minute find before January's trip to India. There, it got a reasonable amount of use. Here in London, even in July, it's stayed mainly in the wardrobe. Nevertheless, on the rare occasions where I do manage to get it out, it's a real pleasure to wear.

A good linen jacket is cream, not white, and usually unlined and fairly unstructured. Although a full linen suit is a wonderful thing, a jacket worn with darker chinos or flannels is slightly more restrained as well as being more resilient to wear in the office or on public transport. A casual (but not linen) shirt, probably with single-cuffs, and a reasonably plain tie tied with a narrow knot completes the look.

It's the perfect summer alternative to the blue blazer or tweed jacket, suited to most occasions where a suit isn't required from a client meeting to a cocktail party or dinner out. After a day of wear, it's bound to end up pretty crumpled, especially around the arms, but that is part of the charm. All that is generally needed is to hang it and give it a quick steam before putting it away.

Aside from Shepherd & Woodward (a venerable institution based in Oxford, and well worth a visit if you're in the area), such jackets are available from most tailors in the spring and summer months, but the key is picking a colour and construction you like. They vary in material from very thin and unstructured to fairly crisp and, in colour, from nearly white to pale grey and everything in between.