The Roshni Dress

I have drafted and sewn a dress , without using a commercial pattern ! And it turned out very well,  I think. So well that I feel it deserves a name, so I’m calling it the Roshni Dress.



I regularly modify and adapt commercial patterns in my sewing for my daughter, but this is possibly the first garment I have  made which involved drafting a basic block, constructing a pattern and sewing it up. I thoroughly enjoyed the process, especially so since I sewed up the final dress without even constructing a trial version, and was fortunately not presented with any nasty surprises . But I would certainly do a muslin the next time. Too risky.

I used the book ‘Metric Pattern Cutting for Childrenswear and Babywear ‘ by Winifred Aldrich. It was published in 1999 and is considered a textbook for students of garment design. I have had this book for about 5 years now, and have used it to make various pattern modifications, like this one – tulip sleeves : the original pattern, Citronille Dorothee , had puffed sleeves.

For this dress, I used my daughter’s measurements, which corresponded mostly to the measurements for a child of 98 cms height as tabulated in the book. I drew the basic bodice block following the instructions in the book, then added 1.5 cm seam allowances to the front pattern piece. For the back , I drew the back opening with a V at the neck and an arched cut-out at the lower part, meeting at a point approximately halfway up the bodice back, and overlapping by 1 cm. I then added seam allowances as before. The arch is connected at its base by an elasticated waistband. The other option would have been to add an invisible zipper , but that would have meant more exposed skin at the lower back when she wears it. I didn’t want the dress to look too sophisticated. She’s still a small girl.


The skirt was a half-circle, drawn using instructions from the book, but these can be found in lots of other places as well, Pinterest for one –  just calculate the required radius for the given circumference ( i.e. waist measurement),  draw a half-circle using twice the radius measurement, then draw the skirt using the length required. Mark centre front/back on the pattern. Finally add seam and hem allowances . Cut two identical pieces of the pattern for the skirt front and skirt back.

I used a ivory silk-cotton brocade remnant for the bodice and a teal cotton ikat for the skirt. Also some embroidered ribbon left over from another project .The construction was easy , a standard lined bodice with all raw edges hidden in the lining, except for the elasticated waistband incorporated in the back. Skirt and lining were done with French seams because I like things to look neat and tidy on the inside too. And finally bodice and skirt assembly joined together, with the joining seam finished off using my new serger. It really helps to have good tools ! I also did a faced hem for the outer skirt to retain a neat finish , but just went with a rolled hem for the lining. A single button closes the back overlap.


She loved it ! How did I know ? Because there was absolutely no mention of it not being pink in colour . No questions asked.




My Japanese sewing, and MMMay ’16 that wasn’t.

It is not easy to come by good paper patterns in India, mainly because so few people seem to sew for a hobby. Many seem to prefer gardening, embroidery, crochet, knitting and painting instead. So when I discovered that I could buy Japanese pattern books online, at least the few that have been translated into English, I enthusiastically bought five of them ! I don’t regret doing it, though- I have sewed at least two patterns each from all the books in the past two years, and plan to sew many more. My favourite remains Sew Chic Kids, perhaps because I have a boy and a girl under eight, and the book has patterns for both upto the age of 10.


My latest acquisition is Linen Cotton Wool Kids. I actually bought the book for the crossover back top , which I sewed up some weeks ago in a size 2 . I used a lace overlay for the front, bias binding for neck and armholes, and a button and loop closure for the back. Here she is wearing the top with a tiered skirt from Sew Chic Kids in size 2 again, posing next to her friend and confidante from the neighbourhood. What I also love about this picture ( besides it being a beautiful childhood memory ) is that her little friend is also wearing a handmade dress. Her mother was inspired by my daughter’s handmade wardrobe to start sewing for her child. That makes me very happy indeed.

P.S. The original photo does have her face in it : I had to crop it here to maintain privacy)



I signed up for Me Made May , and didn’t do any documenting of handmades being worn. I now realise I sew much less for myself than I used to , and am not quite unselfconscious enough to document it on my blog. I started reading some wonderful blogs as a result of following the MMMay ’16 Pinterest board , however. One of them was Mom Das’ blog. A lady with an amazing sense of style and exuberant talent. I marvelled at her handmade outfits chronicled daily on her blog and Pinterest during the month of May. Maybe by next May I will have sewn more for myself and worked up the courage to post photos too!

The story of ‘the dress that goes all the way down’

This dress was commissioned by my daughter, all of three years and 8 months, for a wedding we were due to attend. She wanted a dress that goes ‘all the way down’ ( to the floor ).  I looked at a few dresses on my Pinterest inspiration page  and eventually settled for a simple bodice dress with a long lace skirt. For the bodice I used a small piece of a brocade type fabric that a friend had donated a while ago, added some woven trim in front, and rickrack on neck and armholes for a Indo-Western fusion kind of look.  The lace was also from my fabric collection, originally bought to make myself a kurta. I have since realised that it was probably never going to happen ( the making of the kurta, that is).

I used the size 3 bodice from New Look 6767 for this dress, a pattern which I have in sizes ½ to 4 years. I altered the bodice creating a v-neck , and narrower shoulders by taking off about 3 cms  from the armhole edge of the shoulders. This gives it a more formal look, suitable for a special occasion. The skirt was two pieces of fabric each 60 cms long , hemmed to length after trying the dress on. I also put some matching flower buttons on the back just for that extra touch.(The back closure is a hook and loop one).

I am still marvelling over the fact was that my three-year-old daughter actually requested a particular style for the first time, probably something she observed at the last wedding we attended ( a month ago ) where a lot of young girls were wearing similarly styled dresses.  She’s started following fashion trends! A thought both amusing and mildly alarming at the same time.

The photo bombing attempt by big brother obviously has no effect on her composure!

Pattern review : McCall’s M5966

This dress was made when she was not yet three, and unused for a while because it was too big for her . It’s still too big , falling off her shoulders almost, but getting shorter at the hem, so it has been put into her regular wardrobe.From this experience and others, I have found that McCall’s patterns seem to run large in sizing, but I’ll come to that later.

The pattern features a gathered skirt, crossover bodice with three sleeve options, and a back zipper opening. I changed it up a bit inspired by the Library Dress from O & S.


I made a size 2, redrafting the bodice with a front waistband cut separately and attached with flat piping and lined on the inside for a smooth finish. I didn’t realise the bodice was going to be so wide, or I would definitely have redrafted the shoulders as well. My favourite part of the pattern, the very unusual tulip-shaped puffed sleeves , don’t show as well as they should have,  because of the wide shoulders.


IMG_0590 (2)


Coming to my little rant about McCall’s patterns – I am most certainly not the first person to discover this, but it is rather disappointing when a pattern has to be altered drastically to fit the child, despite her conforming to  the correct size measurements on the pattern envelope. This pattern for example, M 5966: The size 2  is obviously too wide , at least 1.5 inches off, on my three year old who fits perfectly into size 3 clothing otherwise. Oh, well. I like the crossover front and sleeve options on the pattern, and the next time I think I will use a basic bodice from my favourite New Look 6767 to achieve a better fit.

2016 sewing

imageSo I neglected my blog for more than a year, and then my teenager revamped it for me, so I am back to blogging. I never stopped sewing though. Most of my sewing is documented in my Flickr album, though there are garments that never made it there either. Generally because they were worn as soon as they left the sewing machine, never photographed while being worn, and then unfit to be photographed because they were in the laundry basket! And too wrinkly after they came out of the laundry , ha ha.

I think I may have to do another post about 2015 sewing.

My favourite project so far in 2016 is my modification of an Oliver and S pattern, the swing set top. I had seen dresses in the Flickr group which were created by lengthening the top to dress length. I wanted a tiered look instead, inspired by this dress on Pinterest.

I started with the size 2 bodice, and shortened the flounce part of the original top by 50%. I then cut two long rectangular fabric pieces  the same height as the shortened top tier ( original flounce pattern piece). Widths were calculated as 1.5 times the width of the previous tier, to allow for moderate gathers. I didn’t want too much fullness in the skirt. I cut the shoulder straps longer in an effort to make the armholes more roomy, this may or may not have been a mistake, as they keep slipping off occasionally when she wears the dress. Finally added some delicate white lace trim at the bottom hem for a overall ‘boho chic’ look.  We love it!

Hemming jeans: how NOT to break needles!

Ever tried to sew the hem on a pair of readywear jeans after you just shortened them ? Chances are you broke a couple of needles trying to do it. I have . The hem won’t match the original stitching and looks out of place as well.  I found this shortcut, which gives a better looking result, on the Internet some years ago. Finally got to try it out on my dad’s new jeans .

This is how it works. A tuck (the width of your excess trouser length) is made just above the hem, facing the wrong side. The excess fabric is then trimmed off and neatened according to one’s preference . This preserves the original hem. The tuck line is inconspicuous and no one is going to be inspecting your jeans hem that closely anyway!

Here are some pictures showing how I did this.

mark excess length , fold at mark and pin. Sew down the middle of this fold

I marked the finished length I wanted on the inside of the leg, then folded the fabric to the outside along this line. I then pinned it in place and sewed down the centre of the fabric to make a tuck half the width of the folded fabric.

images rim excess fabric and neaten edge with serger , overlock or  zigzag stitch

Press well, all done ! The tuck line is hardly visible.

I don’t have a serger, so I simply zigzagged next to my first line of stitching and then cut off the excess fabric. A good press and the hem looks good from the outside , and the jeans are the right length now !

This method worked because the amount I needed to take off was only about 5 cm . If a longer length needed to be reduced , then this might not work because of the way the leg tapers down to the hem. And again stitching down the middle of the fold might leave the tuck line higher up and hence more visible. So in that case one would have to do some more calculations and work out the correct position and width of the tuck.

Book Review: Sew Sweet Clothes For Girls by Yuki Araki

I am a big fan of Japanese pattern books for children. Since none of the Japanese or French versions are sold in India , I usually have to wait for an English translation to come out. (Not that I can read Japanese or French, but usually one can manage by just studying the diagrams. ) So far I have bought three, Happy Homemade vol 2, Girl Style Book and now Sew Sweet Clothes , which I am reviewing here.

The best thing I like about this book is that it includes patterns for the 90 cm size. That ‘s roughly 18 months to 2 years. The patterns are fresh and modern. There are patterns included for all the styles illustrated, skirts, tops, dresses and even knit leggings and a hat, which makes this a very good buy indeed. Conversion figures are given for centimetres and inches.

A line skirt from Sew Sweet Clothes for Girls, Yuki Araki

A line skirt from Sew Sweet Clothes for Girls, Yuki Araki

I made my 2 year old daughter the A – line skirt from the book . It is actually is a yoked style with symmetrical off centre pleats.

When I was looking through the book, I realised that the shorts pattern used the same yoke, so why not combine the two and make a skort ! So that’s what  I did. I also used the pockets from the shorts pattern , but put them on the front skirt piece. The skirt itself was gathered instead of pleated, since the fabric was a soft Ikat cotton.

Skort showing shorts underneath

The skirt turned out really cute. The fit is on the smaller side for my 27 month old, 12 kg girl though. This is probably better for girls up to 2 years. The book is great . I  see myself using this a lot, like all my other Japanese pattern books.

Sewing Classic Clothes for Girls

A line dress size 4 for a friend’s daughter

Sweet Dress as 2nd birthday dress . It was too big for her.

A line dress size 2 . This is a good fit.

I recently purchased this book from an online bookseller. It has lots of reviews on Amazon so I won’t go into detail. Suffice to say that it is a good book to have with basic patterns that can be modified to make lots of different looks.  Some of the details like armholes which are too wide , need adjusting to personal preference, but on the whole the patterns are a great fit. I made a few dresses from the A-line pattern, and also the Sweet Dress pattern , which is essentially a basic bodice dress. This one incidentally is rather generously sized.

Shirts and more shirts

Jalie 2111 size 12

Jalie 2111 size 12 in fabric woven so that both sides are coloured differently

Kwiksew 2973 size 4

I sew a lot for my boys – mostly shirts. I am still on the lookout for a good boy shirt pattern in the teenage sizes . I used Jalie 2111 a lot but now find it quite tedious to alter the pattern to get a good fit ( the pattern is a VERY loose style). I now have Kwiksew 2973( sizes 4-7) for my younger son and Kwiksew 2000 for my husband – both a very good fit. The boy pattern is available in short and long-sleeved versions, while the man’s shirt is actually a overshirt with long sleeves, but works well as a regular shirt with shortened sleeves.

Pattern review – New Look 6767 – toddler dresses

There are apparently two different patterns in circulation by this description, the one I use has sizes 6mo to 4 years while the other is sized  XS to L . Both are baby and toddler dresses with a basic bodice ; my pattern is sleeveless while the  other one ( which I do not possess) has sleeves and a sash. Both appear to be out of print now.

Anyway, the sleeveless New Look 6767 is my all-time favorite pattern for little girl dresses. It has a round-necked bodice, a gathered skirt of basic rectangles, a back zip opening  and cute pockets. There is also an accompanying bloomer pattern. The look can be varied by adding shoulder bows and a scallop at the waist. It comes in 5 sizes in one envelope, 6months to 4 years.

The great thing about this pattern is that it is a good fit and can be used to make lots of variations on the basic bodice dress. I have used it with back buttons instead of a zip, shortened the bodice to make a smocked front dress, created a wrap back from the basic bodice , and have plans to make a dress with a circular skirt .  The only regret I have is that this pattern does not have sleeves. A point to note is that if the dress is made adhering strictly to the pattern, the skirt is really long , almost  calf length, which is not really evident in the envelope illustration.  I always shorten the skirt pieces when using this pattern.