Posted in Sewing

Completed: Gertie’s Princess Seam Bodice Dress with A-line Skirt AND Gertie’s Easy Knit Pencil Skirt

This is my latest make from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book and is the second of my completed garments for the #makenine2017 challenge. I finished it a couple of weeks ago but have been holding back on the blog post, waiting for some good natural light to take photos in. It’s not happening… so here’s some grainy indoor photos instead. 

If you don’t have Gertie’s third book, or have never made anything from it, then you really should. I can not praise it high enough. It is sort of a mix and match style of book with various bodices and skirt shapes that are all interchangeable.  

It seems like everything I sew at the moment has princess seams. I do really love them though and they are especially flattering on a bigger bust.

For this dress I chose to make it in a knit fabric – this dreamy black and white geometric patterned ponte roma that I picked up in the sale at Guthrie & Ghani.  I cut a size 8, but added some extra room at the waist and did a sway back adjustment. This dress was really quick and straightforward for me to make, mainly because I already have an adjusted version of the pattern from a bodice fitting class I took with Gertie last Autumn.

Gertie’s instructions for the dress include the addition of a zip and a lining for the bodice but I chose to omit both of these from my version. The super soft, super lovely fabric (seriously I love this fabric so much) is stretchy enough to pull right over my head so no zip needed. And instead of a lining, I just made a simple facing to go around the neck. But despite understitching and stitching-in-the-ditch,  the facing kept poking out and misbehaving. So in the end, I decided to top stitch around the neck line. I sewed all the seams with a triple stretch stitch which seems to work well on this fabric, and  I just did a simple hand stitched hem.

What do you think? I really love it. It’s one of the comfiest dresses I own too. I am all for looking stylish but feeling like I am still in my pyjamas. I believe the term for this phenomenon is secret pyjamas. Anyway, I am in love. 

Bonus Skirt

I had a little bit of the lovely fabric left over from the dress, so I whipped up a quick elastic waist pencil skirt from Gertie’s second book, Gertie Sews Vintage Casual. Again, I cut a size 8 and followed the very clear and very straightforward instructions. It’s not my most accomplished sewing project but it was such an incredibly fast make and a great way to use up that left over bit of fabric. Seriously, it was all cut out and sewn up in about 30 minutes! I’ll be making a lot more of these.

Posted in Sewing, Wendy Project

The Wendy Project – Style Icons

Hey there,

I have had the week off work this week for half-term break and have been sewing like a demon. I actually had all kinds of activities planned for the week including a couple of fashion exhibitions and fabric shopping trips,  but in reality I have barely left the warmth of my living room. I’m not remotely sorry about that.

It has been a half term well spent  – as well as some much needed time doing nothing, I have got two of my #makenine2017 projects completed. A Colette Patterns Anise Jacket and a knit version of the princess seam bodice/A line skirt dress from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book.

I’ll do a blog post on both of them soon but here is a sneak peek of my jacket – held together with pins as it still needs buttons. You can tell from my happy face that I am quite pleased with this one.


So I am still thinking about my style and how this translates into my making. At the moment my making goes like this: like a fabric – like a pattern – make the thing.  With no thought as to how much I will wear it, if it goes with anything, if it will suit me.

Case in point – I made this Colette Patterns Ceylon Dress a couple of years ago. Lovely pattern, lovely pink floral fabric. Looked absolutely awful on me and seriously, what was I thinking? Pink florals, and this style of dress, are so not me! All that work and I never even wore it. Soon after this photo was taken, the dress went into a charity collection bin.


I am hoping that through this little self-discovery journey, that I am affectionally calling The Wendy Project, I can identify my style as well as my clothing needs. I am hoping that it will help me to make better choices with regards to what I make rather than just churning out garment after garment.

This week I have been thinking about celebrity style, and the style of fictitious characters, whose wardrobes I admire. This was actually a lot harder to do than I imagined!

Here a few of those I came up with:

Louisa Clark in the film Me Before You. She is a lot younger than me, and this style is far too young for me, but I am drawn to the quirkiness of her wardrobe. All the way through this film I was ooh and aahing at her clothing.  The red dress  in particular is so beautiful.

Peggy Carter in Agent Carter. Love love love. I want to marry her entire wardrobe. That blue and red dress. Aaah be still my heart.  I don’t know how comfortable I would feel dressing like this all the time though.

Jess in New Girl. Dresses/cardigans/a bit cutesy. This is pretty much how I dress 80% of the time (the other 20% of the time my look is just lazy and a bit meh) but I am not quite as well put together as Jess.  I don’t feel particularly well put together anyway.


Audrey in Twin Peaks. Possibly a bit too preppy for me but she just looks cool a/f. Pencil skirts and tight knitwear are always a winning combination for me.


Paloma Faith. I am absolutely not a fan of her music but I can’t deny she has some great clothes. Well done Paloma’s stylist. These box pleats are just dreamy.


The entire female cast of Land Girls.  I love the 1940s blouses and I absolutely can not resist vintage knitwear. I really need to start tackling some vintage knitting patterns. So beautiful.


What have I learned from this? Well, nothing really. I have always known I love 1940s/1950s vintage and that I favour a quirky and feminine ensemble with some good knitwear. I think the key thing for me is to think about how I can now start to combine these features in my handmade wardrobe, to create pieces that work together as a collection and that I would want to wear.

Well that was fun. I have a sudden urge  to watch some Twin Peaks now.

Posted in Lifestyle, Sewing

The Wendy Project – Finding My Style

Hello again!

Firstly I want to say a huge thanks to everyone who gave me such lovely comments  – both here and on Instagram  –  for the princess seam bodice tutorial I did for the Minerva Crafts Blog. Even though I am a sewing teacher, it was the first time I have done a blog tutorial. I really loved writing it and I’m definitely going to start doing more of them on this blog,  as well as more collaborations with Minerva.

This week I have been thinking a bit more about my style and how I can direct that towards my handmade wardrobe plans.  After all my musings about not knowing my style in this post, I was teaching a lesson in school this week and one of my lovely 6th formers was talking to me about my current sewing projects  (currently got the Anise jacket and a Gertie princess seam bodice dress on the sewing table FYI). Out of the blue she told me: “I love that you have such a strong sense of your own style. Everything that you wear fits your style. It’s so great.”

Such adorable words from a 17 year old!

So perhaps I am not as lost with my style as I maybe thought I was, it just needs a little bit of tweaking and refining!

For my personal style audit,  aka the Wendy Project, this week I have been looking closely at my RTW wardrobe and picking out five things that I love to wear and asking myself why.

In no particular order then, here are five of my favourite pieces from my wardrobe (not modelled by me, obviously).

1. Box pleat black textured skirt by Gok Wan for Sainsburys.


I love this skirt and I especially love that it came from a supermarket! I really like the box pleats and the dramatic volume that the skirt has. I feel like a dancer when I wear it. That can only be a good thing, right?! This skirt rarely needs ironing. This could be a reason I wear it so often. I really,  really don’t like ironing. It is also a great winter skirt and looks fab with thick black tights. It’s fully lined and feels like a good quality skirt even though it came from a supermarket. I once had to visit Vivienne Westwood HQ for a meeting and I wore this skirt. I was really hoping someone would ask me where I got it from. Sadly Viv was not in that day and no one asked about my skirt!

2. Black cashmere cardigan from French Connection


I like close fitting, good quality knitwear and this cardigan is a perfect example. Soft cashmere makes me feel like I am being hugged.

3. Vintage reproduction sea-shell print summer dress from Collectif


I’m not crazy about the sea-shell print to be honest but I absolutely love the fit of this RTW dress. It seriously could have been made for me. A lovely fit and flare vintage shape which is insanely flattering. Nips me in at the waist and flares out perfectly at the hips. The fit of the bust is so good that I can get away without wearing a bra ( I am 40 years-old – scaffolding is usually needed!).

4. Blue and ivory v-neck t-shirt by French Connection


I rarely wear t-shirts but I really like this one. I love the low neckline and the ivory panel on the front is so flattering. It is just a t-shirt but the softness of the fabric (a lovely lightweight viscose), the slim cut and the panel detail make it seem a bit more luxurious.

5. Vintage reproduction jumpsuit from Collectif


This is a crazy print, and it is louder than I normally wear, but I love this vintage repro jumpsuit. It makes me feel like Agent Peggy Carter going on holiday!


So what have I learned and what can I take to my homemade wardrobe plans? Hmmm. Well I don’t like ironing and I don’t like wearing bras! Haha!  Also, I like good quality knitwear and fabrics. I like well fitting, structured clothes rather than loose fitting garments. I like vintage styles. If I am going to wear basics and wardrobe staples, like t-shirts, then they need to have something a bit luxurious or different about them. I like clothing that is a bit quirky and maybe a bit dramatic.

So maybe this is my style and what I should focus on. I’m making notes here for my sewing plans!

Join me next time, where I will share some celebrities whose style I admire and relate to.