all my own work by ann

Sewing and textiles with Ann

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual – and so does Ann….



I have had the book for a couple of years, but never made anything from it, so these projects represented two opportunities: use the book patterns, and try, yet again, to find a good fitting trouser pattern.

I was quite hopeful, as Gertie purports to design for ‘curvy’ figures, although of course, all curves are slightly different, so I was still expecting some alterations. So both of these were intended to be wearable toiles, with the intention of spending more on fabric if they worked out OK. Both fabrics are from Fancy Silk Store.

The only other Gertie pattern that I have used is the Butterick lingerie pattern, which was a bit of a challenge, but came out Ok. I quite like patterns like that!

So, let me start with the Sweetheart top, because it is easier.

It probably only took me a couple of hours to make on the overlocker. I cut a straight size 16, tried it against my dress form and it seemed to be OK. Although the main pattern has capped sleeves, the longer length sleeve pattern piece is included in the book, but the neck binding isn’t. You have to add that. By cutting the sleeve out of the selvedge side of the fabric, I had plenty of fabric on the fold side to cut the binding. I thought the dart and pleats at the centre front might be fiddly, but they weren’t. I carefully marked the pleats on the wrong side, folded and tacked them. And the dart, although very small, sort of falls into place naturally once the pleats are tacked. I could have used a stretch stitch, but I didn’t, in case the back and forwards movement pulled the delicately prepared pleats out of place. I used a normal straight stitch.

My favourite part is the button. It was part of the gift that was given out at SewBrum 2014, at Guthrie Ghani, and I have been looking for a use ever since.


This being a wearable toile, I bought a drab colour, albeit, it is very soft, and will go with nearly everything. I predict a lot of wear. So I brightened it up with a smiley button. It makes me smile every time I look at it, so hopefully it will have the same effect on other people. A winner!

And now to the trousers.

This is my third attempt to find a decent fitting trouser pattern.

First attempt – Butterick 5391   I am actually wearing them right now, but after much effort to get the shaping right, I finished them a bit too short, and they don’t go out very often.

Second attemptSew Over It Ultimate Trousers . I have two pairs. I have worn the stretch denim ones quite a lot. The linen ones I made late last summer, and have hardly worn. I rejected packing them when I went away earlier in the year. I got the fit OK, after much help from a friend to take in excess side seams, but the ‘waist line’ is too low.

Third attempt – Gertie’s Cigarette Pants 

I measured. I graded the pattern sheet. I traced. I cut my tissue. I attached it to the dress form. It didn’t fit. That’s happened before!

I cut more tissue, in a straight size 16. I attached it to my dress form. I was more hopeful! As I tweeted at the time, I have bought trousers that don’t fit as well as that!IMG_0450I cut my stretch denim, and sewed, mainly using a long unfinished stitch for the major seams, so they’d be easy to unpick. Significantly, I made a note of all my alterations, and even more significantly, I then cut the tissue pattern when I had finished, so that, all being well, I have a template for future use!

Luckily, the one seam that I didn’t touch was the back seam, which is where the zip is, so unlike with the Ultimate trousers, each adjustment didn’t need the zip re-inserting. As has always been the case in the past, I had to take quite a lot out of the side seams, which in this case, means the side and pocket as well. But that is all under control. The part that I don’t understand is that I took 2cm out of the front seam, and yet the facing, which I didn’t even trace until I had a satisfactory waist line, didn’t need any adjustment.

Getting all of this right on your own, is quite difficult. So as not to make the same mistake about length, as I did with the Butterick trousers, I tacked a biggish hem, and then wore the trousers round the house for a while, so that I was happy with the length. Then I cut and sewed.

I need new trousers. The shop versions at the moment are generally terrible, so I am going to make another pair quite soon, which will validate my template, and maybe explain to me why the front seam adjustment doesn’t seem to have had any impact on the facing requirements! Although I think I will add a narrow waistband next time, just so that they are different. Wish me luck!

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