Tag Archive | sewaholic hollyburn

Really plain fancy dress and photos in daylight (I don’t catch fire! :-) )

So having discounted the blue dress from wearing at the Disney Party last weekend, I ended up with about a week to cobble something together. So I thought ‘what’s the easiest Disney Princess costume I could do that doesn’t involve a lot of work or spending actual money?” had a root through google and came up with this….

sleeping beauty

once again stolen randomly off google.

For those people who haven’t seen the film (which actually at the party was a surprising load of people), this is Princess Aurora from the original version of Sleeping Beauty (plus additional Prince Philip) wearing a costume so plain you could almost wear it down the office! Photo was chosen cuz its the only one I could find that was a full length shot.

So I thought that would be nice and easy, my hair has finally been sorted out, so is the right colour, I already own a black corset, its underbust, not overbust, but would do the job. I have a black headband, so all I needed was a beige/grey skirt and a beige/grey/green blouse with a white collar (lots of leeway in the colours of her outfit due to the shocking quality of the unremastered animation)

So I went shopping round Lewisham and Catford. Firstly can I say I am shocked and appalled by the fashionable state of todays charity shops, there was not one grey or beige granny skirt to be seen in any of them! This was not a big issue however as I ended up buying a lovely grey slightly stretchy lightweight tweed (of indeterminate fibre content) for £2 a meter from my favourite market stall. It came from Topshop apparently so is actually fairly good quality. This was turned into another bloody Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt , a pattern I am now thoroughly sick of, but the knee length version was not only perfect for an Aurora costume, but a useful basic to have in my wardrobe as well (at least it will be when the weather stops being so wonderfully lovely). As I am a complete sucker for too much work I lined it, so that when I am not using it as a costume it is proper.

I caught the lining into the skirt fabric as that is the laziest way to do it, and I used leopard print fabric I bought several weeks ago that I was going to use for a dress mock-up, but on closer inspection it was a bit thinner and shinier than I noticed when I bought it, so I am using it for linings instead. It is perfect though, and I think it looks awesome in there….


As far as the blouse went, I bought an £8 work shirt from Peacocks, removed the collar, tea dyed it, and then added the collar back on again, which was a lot quicker and easier than it sounds. It is a lower neck than Aurora’s in the film, which is a shame cuz I love that 40’s look, but it did the trick.

So outfit photos…..

Aurora - Sleeping beauty costume Aurora - sleeping beauty  Costume 1 Aurora - sleeping beauty costume 2

They are not great pictures as Jon took them when we got back from the party, so we were a bit tired. There are some taken, including ones of me taken by a good photographer at the party that haven’t been put up yet (hint, hint, kick!)  I’m fairly happy with the costume though. As far as the skirt goes, it doesn’t show in the pictures, but it was hanging all wrong, so I have rehemmed it since then and it looks much better. I am going to try and get better photos of it as a non costume skirt when the weather is a bit more appropriate.

Talking of getting better pictures of things…I went to a house party the weekend before and decided to give my new blue dress another outing, tbh, I was really not feeling much love for it at that point…. this time I added a black chiffon blouse and some goth jewellery…..

simplicity 2886 c simplicity 2886 b simplicity 2886

(outdoor photos! 🙂 )

I think it looks much better this way.

Heres a picture Jon took when we got back home with a close-up of the top half of my outfit.


The jewellery is from Claire’s and the spiky flower crown is from Topshop a couple of years ago.

Total close-ups of the jewellery…

IMG_3403 IMG_3400

I had to take the poppers out of the choker and add a bit of extra ribbon through the holes they left behind to make it fit, as naturally being from Claires it was aimed at being worn by a 12 year old. They were really cheap though, coming in at about £8 each, and they are actually really good quality, specially the long dangly cross. Someone on egl said they looked cheap for the price, but I totally disagree, they are just as nice as much more expensive goth jewellery you get from Camden.

Anyway, so I have decided the blue dress can stay for now! 🙂

next project is to finish the floral dress I am halfway through and got distracted by the fancy dress party.

accidentally 60’s skirt.

First skirt of the year. Had it already cut out before Christmas and took about 5 hours over 2 days to make it up at the end of last week.

wool damask skirt

This is basically another version of the Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt, this time using the medium length pattern view. I know its kind of boring using the same pattern over and over, but actually when I was thinner and could buy clothes easily on the high street I had about 5 virtually identical skater and slightly longer skirts in various colours and used to wear them with various victorian style blouses (something I have yet to learn to make) and actually decent basic skater/A-line skirt patterns are quite hard to find, & seriously the only skirt I have seen in my size comparable to this in quality and warmth on the high street was in Monsoon, so really can’t afford that.

Anyway, although from the photo it looks deceptively simple, it was a right nightmare to make….

First up, the fabric…..

wool damask

Close-up of the pattern. Its a really nice wool damask off the local fabric stall that I got for £3 a meter. Unfortunately there was just under 2.5m left, which left things a bit strained for having enough fabric. I cut the front on the fold instead of two pieces separately, this made it easier for pattern matching and worked really well, however there was not enough fabric left after that to cut the two back pieces at exactly the same angle, so they don’t match that well, and the pocket pieces are completely upside-down  as that was the only way I could fit them in. Luckily it is such a busy pattern it doesn’t really show.

It is also my first time sewing with wool. Apart from having to clean the inside of the machine every five minutes I didn’t really find it too difficult. The issue came because, as it was wool, and it is intended to be worn in the middle of winter, I felt I had to line the skirt, I also had to line the waist band as wool against bare skin would be incredibly itchy.

Visualising how instructions are going to work five stages ahead is one of my real weak points with sewing, and as it’s the first time I’ve tried to add a lining into this pattern I was kind of winging it. It has sort of worked.

The way the pattern works is you sew up the front and back panels into one long strip, add the waistband and then sew it all together at the back. I added the lining as a strip as well, at the stage before it was all sewn onto the waistband. This was the right thing to do, the problem came when I sewed the back together. The easiest way to do it seemed to me to be to overlock the lining and the wool fabric together and then sew the back seam through both of them. I completely forgot that doing this would mean that when I came to hem it, I would have to hem them both in together rather than have the lining hanging separately. I only really figured this out when I’d pretty much finished everything else, so had to go with it. I also decided to fold over the hem twice instead of overlocking it and folding it over once as I thought that would look neater, completely forgetting that a double layer of wool and lining would be much thicker than a folded over single layer of cotton is.

I inserted the waist ribbon by machine just before folding over the waist band and hand stitching it in place. This I am actually pleased with.

So I finished it, and it does not look like off the peg high street finished clothing on the inside, so I was a bit miffed, but then I looked at it again, and realised the finish was really similar to a lot of vintage I’ve seen down Camden when I used to fit into it all (sob!) so I rung my Mum and she confirmed that what I did was actually the way she would have done it in the 60’s when she was a teenager and not to worry about the hem being to thick as it would make the skirt hang better that way, which in fact, after it had settled for a couple of hours, it really does.

So pictures….

inside the skirt

Inside the skirt.


Closeups of the hem and the waistband.

wool damask skirt 2

Another picture of me wearing it, I think it does actually hang really nicely.

I am about to make a shorter version of the skirt in a red and black houndstooth wool and I am intending to line that as well. This time I am going to do things differently so hopefully it will have a free floating lining. It will be interesting to see which works best.

My main aim with sewing basics is to make them look as like high street bought garments as possible, preferably top end high street, or like they came from an independent Camden designer. I’m really not a fan of those drapey patterns with pleats (hello Burda) or weird little details that in the designers mind I’m sure make it look couture, but when sewn up by an amateur dressmaker just look a little bit odd and sloppy. And I’m a massive fan of my overlocker. However my Mum insists that the 60’s construction techniques are much more hardwearing and more of a couture finish (I don’t really get to see much couture, specially not from the inside, so really I wouldn’t know) and certainly they were common in high street fashion from that era as well, and so many things modern clothes manufacturers do are purely to save money. But I’ve grown up with high street clothes, and I have actually received quite snotty reactions sometimes when I’ve said I’ve made something myself, so I think blending in is quite a good thing. I’m really not sure what is the best way to go with this sort of thing.

Anyway, I hope to have the new skirt at least cut out by the end of the week, and I have signed up for a 4 week knitting course at a place called 57 Arts that thinks it is in Brockley, but is basically about 5 minutes walk from Lewisham Station, as I am getting progressively more covetous of scarfs and gloves and stuff I keep seeing patterns for on the internet and even though I have made several attempts at getting into knitting over the years I am still completely useless at it, so being shown things properly may be the way forwards.

entire winter wardrobe in a week!

For several months I’ve been going through a frustrating patch with sewing, making silly mistakes and taking ages over things, but suddenly in the last three weeks everything just seemed to come together.

It helps that I’ve made both these patterns several times before, but I’ve got the Renfrew Top down to two hours now and the Hollyburn Skirt to just under three, which means I can kinda churn them out. Its also an amazing help as because of my ME I can’t sew for more than three or so hours in one day so being able to make an entire garment in that time makes life considerably less frustrating than making half of something and then having to wait several days till I’m well enough to finish it.

So yeah, I made these three in a week and a half. (I then managed to catch the stomach ache thats going round so I haven’t touched my machine since!)


The skirt is a remake of the black skater skirt I buggered up a wearable mock-up of the other week. This time I knew what I was doing and it came out perfectly.

The first top is completely new and I think the fabric (off the market stall) has Campanula or Canterbury Bells on it, though my knowledge of flowers isn’t that great.

Here is a close up picture as it doesn’t photograph best in the world from far away…


I am so glad I’ve got round to making a top with this one as I really do love the fabric.

the second top is sort of a remake too….

About a year ago I found a version of the fabric with a mustard border at the fabric stall and made a top with it. Unfortunately as I was new to working with jersey I completely failed to realise that as the print direction ran across the fabric rather than up and down with the stretch, I needed to make it that bit bigger to be my normal size. The original version was written off as a learning experience and went to my Mum, whom it fits perfectly.

I was a bit sad as I really liked the fabric, but I thought nothing more of it, until a few weeks ago the fabric stall lady put out a load of clearance stock for a pound per meter and amongst it was the same fabric again, only with a blue border rather than a mustard one. So I snapped it up and this time I was really careful to prewash it and to cut it larger than normal. And it fits! I am so happy.

Heres two more pictures of the different outfits…..


I now have one more boring black everyday piece of clothing to make before I can start on some clubbing gear. I am massively short of stuff as I have totally become too fat for all my old outfits and as clubbing clothes are so expensive to buy (if you are into goth,steampunk and goblin themed nights) I am going to have to make some. As I haven’t tried to make anything spectacular for a couple of years, I’m really hoping my skill level has massively improved since last time round.

Unfortunately I’ve still got the remnants of the stomach germ, so not making anything for a few days I guess! 😦

grey skirt and frankentights.

We finally caught up on the ironing at the end of last week and so I had nice stuff to wear with the skirt I made……


top is self designed one I made ages ago. Skirt is my second attempt at the Sewaholic Hollyburn Skirt. And this time its come out perfectly. I was so worried after the disaster of the first one, but it turned out perfectly. I made it even harder for myself as I only had a meter of the fabric (£2 from market stall, isn’t it gorgeous!) and was determined to get a skirt out of it, despite the pattern suggesting you need considerably more if you are my size, so I cut the pocket pieces in half, roughly along the inside fold and sewed them back together as I was assembling the pockets.

I love the fabric though, it is a burnout/devore style fabric, with the top being black velvet and the base being some kind of thick grey jersey. It is very stretchy and so far the velvet bits have been impervious to being scuffed and put in the washing machine, which is often a problem with the cheaper of that sort of fabric.

New Look did a load of similar skirts this year, but for some bizarre reason they figured only people size 16 and smaller would want to wear them, so I am very glad to have had the opportunity to make my own (though slightly pissed off that I had to!)

Here are a couple of pictures where I faffed with the contrast to make the skirt pattern stand out more….


And here is a picture of the skirt laid out on my bed….


The other sewing project I did last week was a completely accidental one. I went to see Emilie Autumn, a goth/steampunk/cabaret act with my boyfriend and decided to dress lolita.


I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to wear this outfit for ages. Its my humbug top, my black Bodyline jsk and a pair of black and white stripy tights.  With hindsight and looking at the photos I think its a bit St Trinians, however those photos were taken after we got back, so not only was it midnight, but we had been enormously rained on as a torrential downpour had been going on all evening and so my hair was fairly wrecked and the skirt of the dress was soaked.

The tights however, are not all they seem from the outside….

I looked on the internet for a pair of plus sized black and white striped tights, which on the surface shouldn’t have been too difficult as all of the fancy dress shops carry them and there are loads on ebay and amazon. In the end I bought a pair of  2xl by leg avenue which purported to be large enough for someone my height and weight. When I opened them to put them on that morning (luckily I didn’t leave it till 5 minutes before the gig to get changed) they went about half way up my thighs and then stopped. I would say not recommended at all for anyone over 5’4″! As I paid £8 each for two pairs of these I was most pissed off.

I didn’t really have any other clothing options. I am dreadfully short on Steampunk/goth/clubbing clothes at the moment, so I didn’t have an alternative outfit planned. So I cut the tights off by the crotch (or about halfway up my thighs) and cut off a pair of normal black tights I knew would fit at roughly mid thigh length. I then sewed the stripy tights to the crotch of the normal tights, stretching out the nylon as I sewed so that the seam would fit round my leg. To my utter amazement it worked.

One side was a little prone to falling down and I had to keep pulling it up or it would show under my dress, and it wouldn’t be suitable for wearing with a much shorter skirt, but I have one succesful pair of frankentights! They’ve even survived the washing machine since.


Obviously if anyone knows a source of plus sized stripy tights that are actually likely to fit a 5’9″ size 18/20 without cannibalisation I’d be eternally grateful!

beautiful monsters – the ones that didn’t quite make it.

So I’ve actually been sewing quite a lot lately and am well behind in documenting what I’ve been doing.

A large reason for this is that two out of the last 3 things i have made were more or less disastrous and so i have had fairly little motivation to photograph them.

The first thing actually turned out competely wearable and is really beautiful, just not wearable by me I’m afraid! 😦


This was supposed to be the dress I was going to wear to my boyfriends cousins wedding. I had a little trouble during construction as the net on the petticoat slipped as I was sewing it and I had to unpick a load of it, but its really well made, really well finished and the same style/size as one I made a few months before when if anything I was a little heavier than when I planned this, so it should have been perfect.

However, two weeks before the wedding, the drugs company decided to ‘temporarily’ run out of the medication I’m on and I therefore had to switch from the syrup format I usually take to a lactose based tablet format. Apart from making me so tired that even two weeks later I had to leave the wedding early at 6.30pm as I was too tired to function properly, which is a side effect of messing around with my dose, I am completely allergic to lactose. This has given me loads of digestion problems and caused my stomach to swell and my waist measurement to increase by 4 inches pretty much overnight. 😦 ( I haven’t actually put on any kilograms at all with this, its all bloat)

As the dress is boned so was designed to fit very closely, this was bad enough, however to make matters worse, the fabrics I had used in this version (unlike the original unicorn version, which I haven’t actually tried on since this happened)  have absolutely no stretch in them what so ever.

So it doesn’t do up by about an inch (inch and a half to be comfortable) round my waist. I will have to wait till november for it to be possible to try it again, as that is when they think they will have my medication back in stock at the earliest. 😦

The fabric is so pretty though…


It is from a range called Nightshade by a company called Tula Pink (See link to etsy here, their own website is crap!) and is technically quilting cotton, but in reality is really good quality for dressmaking.

I even finished the petticoat with this amazing lace I found on etsy….


It has little skulls and crossbones on it! isn’t it cute! 🙂

So yeah, I am properly gutted this one doesn’t fit!

the next cock up was my first attempt at this pattern by Sewaholic…. I’ve been looking for a decent skater skirt pattern for ages, and I’ve seen very good results off other people on the internet, and actually despite what happened, I really like the pattern and have continued using it.

The entire fiasco was a major lesson in why one does mock-ups first, why I should not sew whilst tired and ill, and why if I get something wrong I should walk away for 15 minutes and have a cup of tea rather than try and fix it immediately and risk making the problem ten times worse by panicing.

Luckily I just used a thick black jersey off the two pound stall on the market, that I have plenty enough left of to make another attempt (indeed which is currently sitting in my sewing pile cut out.)

The problems started when i accidentally used the wrong weight of interfacing for the waist band, and continued when I didn’t really get the instructions in several places until after I had finished, used 3 different seam finishes as I folowed the instructions for the first seam, sewed a bit on backwards so needed a french seam, and then got bored and just overlocked things, which is not what you were supposed to do. I also ripped it as I was sewing which I had to fix, and failed utterly at topstitching the waistband on without catching pleats into the fabric, and god knows what happened with the zip, totally didn’t get the instructions till after I’d done it and so it just looked a state!

Anyway, heres a token photograph from a suitably far away distance you can’t see all the reasons its so awful…


Having made the unsuccessful first attempt, I am happy to say I have subsequently managed a version of this skirt that is pretty damn near perfect on my second go, however I haven’t photographed it yet as all my nice tops are in the wash so I’ve nothing to co-ordinate it with.

But I’ll have a picture of that next week. I have also cut out another version out of the black jersey, as I do actually need a black skater skirt, so it is actually a useful pattern. 🙂