FO: Vogue 9160 & The Eve Appeal + a Giveaway



Cocktails anyone? A couple of weeks back Vogue Patterns (The McCall Pattern company) launched a year long sewalong in aid of The Eve Appeal. Part of this includes a blogger tour which is where your’s truly comes in today. Yep I’m up….and….well….running a liiiiiitle late this morning. Might be to do with all the champagne and peach schnapps I had to drink last night. (My fave cocktail. Dunno what that’s called, lol!) So why the references to cocktails? Well you may remember I took part in last years event The Big Vintage Sewalong….and well….you gotta have a theme right? And this years theme is cocktails! Yum! They’ve even come up with their own recipe and you can sup it while joining in with sewists nationwide, by sewing up one of the patterns from a selection of 20, and raising money for The Eve Appeal in the process. Savvy? Good…here’s me with an empty glass having drunk the house dry…VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE (9)

Soooooo, what did I make then? Not being a cocktail dress kinda gal, (and actually not at ease in any kind of “formal/dressy” attire), this one really pushed me out of my comfort zone. But not one to shy away from a challenge (that would be super hypocritical of me considering what I put you all through every year with The Refashioners , ha!), I duly accepted said challenge and this is what I came up with. You know….if I ever get invited out for cocktails….VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE (9)

My Idea of dressing up is heels and a bold lippy, whilst keeping the outfit itself understated. Indeed this make (in a gorgeous grey washed linen from Ditto fabrics that I’m in love with) would look equally at home with a cropped stripey tee and birkies! I love clothes that do double duty don’t you?

The pattern is Vogue 9160….yep…. a jumpsuit pattern….Now I have been admiring the jumpsuit trend from afar since it emerged. But I’ve steered clear as I KNOW it won’t suit me. I’m too conscious of a tubby middle section right now (I’ve gone up a whle dress size recently!) One piece garments rarely do. So my original intention was always to adapt this into a two piece, with the appearance of a jumpsuit, by making it out of the same fabric.VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE

I knew I didn’t want the scalloped lace or lining elements of this pattern. I wanted to pare it right down and simplify it by just using one fabric for the whole thing. But I really struggled to find a fabric (in time) that would be substantial enough for the bottoms but not too heavy for the top. Crepe would be a good one I think.  Or a mid weight cupro or sandwashed silk. In the end I decided that the linen was not quite right for the top portion, which led me more towards view C.  A Contrast top and bottom with a tie belt. I swapped out the top portion of the pattern for a looser fitting top in a lurex knit (I’m not a fan of anything too close fitting up top), then set about turning the bottom half of the pattern into trousers by adding a simple narrow waistband and back zip fastening.

But what elevates this make to something dressier I think….is the tie belt. I made a slightly longer version than the pattern so I could wrap it round twice and wear it more Obi style…VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE

I like…..NEVER…wear anything tucked in. That’s how conscious I am of my (lack of ) waist. But I do have proportionately narrow hips so from a “glass half full” perspective, I try to focus on those instead. But what I like about this make is what the belt does. Aside from the added interest, it cinches me in at the waist and draws the eye down to hip level where I’m narrowast. The overall effect is actually quite slimming and I don’t feel self conscious at all in these…VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE


It even camouflages my Mum/crisp/bloaty/bulge at the front! So the obi style tie belt may be a bit of a revelation for me!

Vogue Patterns  are giving one reader the chance to win a copy of this pattern…VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE

To enter,  share this post on social media, then leave me a comment to let me know where you shared. Multiple shares gives multiple entries. Giveaway is open UK only (sorry) and closes at midnight GMT on Friday 24th March! Good luck!

More info on this year long event and the list of patterns can be found here and you can find out more about this fantastic charity and their other awareness and fundraising activities here.




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Perfect Pinning (+ a giveaway!!)

Pins. It’s just as simple as sticking them through the fabric right? Well, not quite. Firstly, there’s the type of pin you use. Right tools for the right job applies to pins as much as it applies to any other sewing tool. Some pins are longer/sharper/finer depending on the type of fabric and project you are undertaking. Some excellent info about pin types and their uses here, here, and here….pinning tips

Then there is the question of quality. As with many tools, not all pins are created equal. The best pins will slide smoothly through your fabric without snagging and without force; and they will last you many years without becoming blunt or rusting if used and stored correctly. My personal bug bear are cheap pins with plastic heads. Ack! I only ever use glass headed pins. They tend to be of better quality and most importantly, if you’re pressing around them, they don’t melt if you accidentally touch them with the iron! (I learnt that lesson early!)

But what about how to pin? It’s one of those things that, when I first started sewing, I assumed was a no brainer.  Stick it through the fabric. Job done. Right? Well no. There’re subtleties to pinning, as with any sewing technique. Little things. But things that collectively, can incrementally improve your sewing. So I thought I’d share a few of my “personal pinning protocols” (shameless opportunity for alliteration seized, ha!). Little things that I was taught when I first learnt to sew and stick to still…and the logic behind them…pinning tips

This is the way I pin the most. Always within the seam allowance. So if my pins do end up leaving holes (some fabrics render this likely) then they are not visible on the outside of the garment. It also means that I can leave my pins in place until the very last second as they pass to the side of the presser foot rather than the middle of it. So shifting of fabric is minimised. I will also always pin with the points facing towards the presser foot. It makes them easy to pull out as you go. (If they were facing the other way…well…cack handed!)

pinning tips

When sewing some seams, you’ll be required to stop at a given point and back stitch and/or switch to a different stitch length. (Think preparing a seam for zip insertion for instance). I always mark this point with a different coloured pin, pinned at right angles to my other pins. It just gives me a visual aid and a precise marker as to where I want that needle to stop.

pinning tips

When pattern matching is important I will pin at right angles to the seam that I am sewing. When sewing stripes for instance, I will pin stripe on top of stripe at regular and small intervals.  Pinning at right angles “locks” the fabric more effectively than pinning in a linear way. The difference on a plain and/or stable fabric is negligible. But even minimal shifting will be visually really obvious on stripes. I will also employ this method of pinning on more slippery fabrics. There is an argument for always pinning this way all the time. But I tend to employ it when I want to ramp up the accuracy and precision on seams where the slightest shift would be really obvious either visually or where accurate alignment is vital. (easing in collars, sleeves, necklines etc) If I can get away with just using a few pins, pinned vertically and spaced far apart then I will always default to that. Heck, I have been know to dispense with pins altogether. Some projects are more forgiving than others. But sometimes, when it absolutely has to be accurate, this is the method I go for.

pinning tips

Now I am right handed. And my pin dish sits to the right hand side of my machine. So actually the way that I have pinned in the previous photo is actually a bit illogical.  Because I end up pulling the pins out with my left hand, passing them across to my right hand (or worse, holding them in my mouth as I go!) so I can put them in the pin dish to the right hand side of me. It’s actually a tad cack handed for me. And I have no explanation for that. Used to bug my sewing teacher no end, lol! When pinning at right angles it would make more sense to have the heads facing to the right like this. Just saying. But the cack handed way in which I do it is now so ingrained in my muscle memory, it’s unlikely to change now!

How you pin isn’t just about the direction of pinning of course. It also has to do with how you hold the fabric when you pin. This is how I would automatically put my pins in when I first started sewing. I’d pick the fabric up and stick the pins in like so…pinning tips

That is until my sewing teacher walked up and slapped my hand! (Old school she was!) I will preface this next bit of advice by saying that, as with most rules, there are exceptions. There are times that you can get away with doing this and times you when it will affect the accuracy of your pinning. Depending on the fabric, as you pick it up like this, the layers can shift. On trickier, more slippery fabrics, the more you move them, the more they shift….

pinning tips

As a rule, if you can keep your fabric flat like so…

pinning tips

And pin on the flat, then there will be less chance of layers shifting and therefore, more accuracy across your project.

Talking of keeping things flat…pinning tips

Pins are not always the final step when you absolutely must have a completely flat and secure fabric sandwich before you pass it through the machine…zips are the most obvious example of a situation where it’s vital that everything lies flat and secure before you put a permanent line of stitching in there…

pinning tips

If you’ve ever questioned why you ought to baste a zip rather than just pin it…just look at the photo above and the effect that pinning can have on your seamline, compared to how flat the fabric edge is on the basted section! Now I’m not saying baste everything. Life (and sewing time) is too short for that! But when it absolutely has to be accurate, you’ll be pleased you added in the extra step. Promise!

So, if all of that has you wanting to up your pin game, then here’s a treat for you. The pins featured in this post (above and below) are Hiroshima pins. Japanese pins of superior quality. They come in the most gorgeous packaging (I’m such a sucker for packaging)…hiroshima pins
hiroshima pins


And they are like miniature works of art in their own right. In order below are tulip hiroshima glass headed patchwork pins, Akari pins and Shizuku pins…pinning tipshiroshima pinshiroshima pins

Aren’t they STUNNING! They are part of the newly expanded range of hiroshima pins now available at Beyond Measure. Grace has the most exquisite taste. And she is very generously offering one reader the chance to win 4 packs of luxury Hiroshima pins of their choice.

To be in with a chance of winning simply subscribe to Grace’s newsletter here. Additional entries for facebook and instagram follows. Then leave a comment here to let me know how many entries (ie what you’ve followed/subscribed to). Giveaway is open internationally and closes at midnight GMT on Sunday 26th February.

Good luck and happy pinning!!

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Giveaway: Nominette Custom Woven Labels

A couple of weeks back I was contacted by a representative of custom label specialist Nominette, asking if I would like to try out and review their product. Well naturally, I said yes and last week these arrived in the post….NOMINETTE LABEL GIVEAWAY

I was a bit indecisive about what to put on my custom labels. Although their custom label service provides the opportunity to stamp your “brand” on your makes (maybe with a blog name, or a logo), I don’t really see myself as having a brand, and I don’t have a logo as such.  There’s also the option to add fabric content and laundry instructions to your label. If you’re going into production this is of course, a fantastic option. Except for me, the things that I make are usually one offs, the fabrics vary, and they’re certainly not “production” quality…they’re better than that; they’re handmade by me and with all their little quirks and “faults” they are completely one of a kind.

So I opted for a simple little message that will remind me of this every time I put on a handmade garment….NOMINETTE LABEL GIVEAWAY

It’s simple. But it says it right? (I also wanted a generic statement so that I could split these up and give some away!) I went for a very simple design. A 25mm end fold label.  I chose the Helvetica font option (there are 5 standard font options available). The background colour I chose was beige/903 with text in grey/12.   I feel duty bound to point out that the colour of the finished label is very different from the screen colour on the site. And while they do state this clearly when making your selection, the difference is quite a big one. (You can hop on the site and pop in those options to see what I mean).

However, and somewhat fortuitously I actually LOVE the final colour of these labels. Much more so than the screen colour actually. So absolutely not complaining. I think they look subtle and elegant, and when you think about how they are woven, then the colour you choose for your text must subtly affect the overall colour of the finished ribbon. I’m calling this a very happy accident indeed!NOMINETTE LABEL GIVEAWAY

As you can see….I got alot of labels! The minimum order quantity is 100 at a cost of £37 inc VAT. (There are much cheaper options than this. The 14mm ribbon for instance comes in at just over  £16 for 100 labels). I actually think the 37p per label cost is pretty good value for money. I’m pretty impressed by the quality it has to be said. These will definitely add a touch of luxury to my future makes!

As a home sewer, and not a particularly prolific one at that, I pondered a little on the concept of ordering 100 labels in one go. If I make, say, 3 or 4 garments a month, it would take me 2-3 years to get through these labels.   Objectively I have to ask myself the question, had I not been offered these for free, would I have ordered labels in that quantity? (I understand completely btw that making these available in smaller quantities would exponentially increase the unit price. Simple maths).  Initially, I would likely have said no. But now that I’ve seen them, maybe. Like I say, the quality is great. I also think it depends how you look at it.  If you buy something that’s gonna last you 2-3 years, that’s not bad going actually, is it?  There was also some discussion when I posted about these on Instagram about the quantity and the initial outlay.  And a potential solution to that dilemma would be a kind of label co-op. Get together with a fellow sewist (or a few sewists) agree on a simple design, and split the quantity and cost.  Which seems like an awesome idea to me. Overall I think they are decent value for money, good quality, and the service is fast and efficient. While I think that smaller minimum order quantities would be preferential for us home sewers, there are cheaper options available and/or ways around the quantity issue if you box clever….NOMINETTE LABEL GIVEAWAY

So yeah, I’m not going to hold onto all 100 of these labels myself.  I’m going to create a little label co-op! I count myself as quite fortunate to be offered the occasional freebie to review and it just seems right, and nice, for me to share the love with my fellow stitchers a little. So I have set aside 3  x 20 labels to giveaway. I don’t want any “follows” or “sign up to this or that” in return. Just let me know in the comments if you fancy a set of these labels to finish off your handmade garments and you’ll be entered into the giveaway.  At the end of the week (Midnight GMT on Friday 18th March) I’ll pick 3 names randomly and each will receive 20 labels. Simples. Giveaway is open internationally….good luck!   **GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED**

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FO: The poshest pyjamas ever (+ a double Giveaway!!)

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling the need to “snuggle down” on winter evenings. And to be fair, on a weekend, I’d rather just lounge around in something comfortable than get properly dressed if I’m not going out anywhere; but equally I don’t want to look a total state when answering the door to take in the inevitable swathe of parcels that are arriving here ready for Christmas wrapping!

Enter the comfiest, most luxurious “pyjama” set I think I have ever owned! In fact they’re a little too luxurious to be called pyjamas. Let’s go all Margot Ledbetter and call them “loungewear”, lol!wendy ward pyjamas

The luxurious element comes in part from the style of these trousers but also the use of this delicious modal and silk mix jersey from Fabric Godmother. I’ve used the slate colourway (also comes in teal, plum & burnt orange) here in combination with a small amount of marl jersey in stone. It’s always tricky to relay the feel of a fabric in a blog post. Both of these jerseys are soft and drapey and similar in weight. But the terms were surely invented for the  modal silk jersey. My oh MY! Gah! SOOOO soft. The picture bottom right shows the underside and you should just be able to make out that it has a slight “fluff” to the underside. Yeah….the side that sits on your skin…I’m in love…fabric godmother jersey

In terms of working with it, it’s very stretchy. Hence the amazing drape. But that also means playing with your serger settings. I upped my differential feed half a notch to combat some slight stretching out under the presser foot (the marl is more stable). My Janome hates stretchy knits. Like crazy hates them. So I didn’t go there. (The tee and trouser hems are left raw on my makes).

Beginners Guide to Dressmaking - T Shirt

The Top and trousers are both from Wendy Ward’s “The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking” book. It’s a book that focuses on simple styles that are simple to sew which regular readers will know puts Wendy and I firmly in the same camp. (Except she’s a best selling author, teacher and designer and I totally fangirl her, lol!). For me, the top is not a resounding success. For me, a lover of loose boxy styles, it’s a little snug around my hips/tum. (I suffer with bloating that can make me look pregnant; making snugger fit tops unwearable some days). So next time I may add in a little more fullness there. By contrast I’ll probably reduce the width of the neckline. I wear a bra ALL the time and hate my straps showing. So there’ll be a little adjustment there too. All part of trying out a new pattern for the first time. The neckline construction is actually a pretty neat trick and I observed some subtle shaping in the drafting of this pattern which I found interesting. Subtle curves to the shoulder line and hips…that kinda thing. Nice.

Beginners Guide to Dressmaking -tshirt-page-001


Beginners Guide to Dressmaking - Trousers

The TROUSERS though….were a win straight out of the gate!! I LOOOOOOVE these and am never taking them off! If you want a super quick, easy and comfy pair of pyjama bottoms to sew up for Christmas…stop looking….you’ve found em! The waistband is a folded over band of jersey into which the trousers are gathered to the back, with deep pleats at the front. I cannot overstate how comfy these are. All over but especially the tummy. I would have loved these when I was pregnant, but they’re also perfect for days like yesterday when my tummy was particularly tender.  They’d make the perfect handmade gift too. The only alterations I made were to the waistband and hems. The fabric is super stretchy. So I had to cut the waistband much smaller than the pattern to account for this. The drape and stretch of the fabric also equated to additional length at the hems! I’ve left them long in these pics so you can see that…and how the fabric drapes and pools like liquid….sigh…

Beginners Guide to Dressmaking -trousers-

So….what do you think? Poshest pyjamas ever?


Wendy & Josie have joined forces to offer you a fantastic double giveaway in time for Christmas!!! One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of Wendy’s book. She’ll dedicate it in whatever way you like. So keep it for yourself or gift it to someone else for Christmas. PLUS Josie is offering 2.5m of the Venice Modal & Silk Jersey . Enough to make the trousers! This is a “follow to enter” set up so there are a multitude of ways to enter and each one gives you an additional entry into the draw so an additional chance of winning. You can enter by following:


So that’s 12 ways to enter! And a possible 12 entries into the draw. Remember to leave a comment here letting me know which of these you have done so I can tally up how many entries to put in for you! (If you already follow any of these, let me know too as that counts 😉 Giveaway is open until Sunday 13th December Midnight GMT.

Don’t forget…Fabric Godmother has 10% off for my readers when you use the code PORTIAXMAS at checkout until Christmas eve. I’m told there’s a limited amount of the slate left 😉


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