McCalls 6885 and Simplicity 8295: DIY Kameez Tops and Churidar Legging Bottoms

McCalls 6885 kameez top with self drafted stretch churidar legging bottoms

Hi Everyone,

Way back in August we visited India for a short holiday. In terms of clothing for women in India, things have changed a lot in the years that I have been visiting (over the last 40 years). Whilst women – especially women over a certain age – are still expected to dress in a modest fashion, especially in the smaller cities, towns and villages, wearing more modern styles is acceptable. I can not recall my mum ever wearing a salwar kameez (long top over loose bottoms). She would always wear a traditional saree with a short blouse underneath (more typically worn by Indian women rather than salwar kameez which was favoured by Pakistani/ north Indian women). But more than that, the availability of ready to wear outfits and the range of sizes (including plus sizes) has vastly improved. All this to say, I made a couple of kameez tops and three pairs of churidar legging bottoms in anticipation of not being able to readily find anything in the town we were visiting, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Simplicity 8295 kameez top with self drafted stretch churidar legging bottoms

In terms of the patterns used for the kameez tops, I have made both of these patterns before. For the block printed cotton kameez I used McCalls 6885. You can see my first version of this pattern here and my second version here.

McCalls 6885 kameez top with self drafted stretch churidar legging bottoms

The alterations I made to this version were that I did a 1 inch full bum adjustment and I shortened the sleeves by 4 inches. Just to add a bit of interest I used a plain contrasting cotton lawn from my stash for the inner collar stand and the under placket.

McCalls 6885 kameez top with self drafted stretch churidar legging bottoms
McCalls 6885 kameez top with self drafted stretch churidar legging bottoms

For the white cotton (voile?) version I used Simplicity 8295. You can see my first version of this pattern here. For this version I dropped the bust dart down by 1 inch, shortened the sleeve by 2 inches, lengthened view B by 14 inches and omitted the sleeve plackets/ cuffs etc.

Simplicity 8295 kameez top with self drafted stretch churidar legging bottoms

Sorry, I know you can’t see the detail very clearly, but I added an off-white mini pompom trim around the placket, again, just for a little added interest. Also, I made a soft cotton lawn Ogden cami slip to wear under this kameez. You can read all about my first Ogden cami dress and thoughts on that pattern here.

Simplicity 8295 kameez top with self drafted stretch churidar legging bottoms

Now a quick word on my self drafted churidar bottoms. They are essentially extra long leggings. The extra length of bunched up fabric at the ankles/ calves is supposed to be flattering. I basically traced the pattern off an existing pair of RTW churidar bottoms I had and eliminated the outer side seams. Gosh, so easy to sew using a combination of overlocker and sewing machine to finish hems/ elastic. I whipped the three different pairs that you can see in these photographs in no time and am super pleased with them.

The one thing I will say is that I made my churidar bottoms from viscose-lycra (I think 4 way stretch). This was because I found cotton-lycra to be rather expensive (you can’t help but compare to the cost of these items you can buy in India!) The viscose is very soft and comfortable, but I think I would prefer the cotton-lycra if making again. The viscose is a tad thin and I think a cotton-lycra would just hold up better.

Until soon!

McCalls 6885 kameez top with self drafted stretch churidar legging bottoms

True Bias Ogden Cami: DIY Floral Cami Sun Dress with Ruffled Hem

True Bias Ogden Cami modified to dress length with ruffled hem.

Hi Everyone!

Has it really been more than 6 weeks since my last blog post? Wow. We’ve been away for almost 3 weeks in India and I was busy prior to going, sewing things for the trip which I will share in due course (you get to see a sneak peak of some stuff in this post). And…well, just sewing! Anyway, today is a very much long overdue post on The Ogden Cami by True Bias Patterns, a stalwart of the Indie pattern sewing scene. Believe it or not, I actually first made this pattern up just over a year ago, but chose not to blog it. Let me explain….

McCalls 7745 modified – viscose polka dot wrap ruffle skirt

So, what you can see above is actually my second version of this cami, that I made in a silk crepe de chine. I initially made my first version up in a scrap of viscose crepe that I had and this silk version followed on (no photographs of first version). Let me be clear from the outset. This is a great pattern. It’s well drafted, I like the fact that it is not cut on the bias, and therefore very economical in terms of fabric, I like the use of facings to finish the neckline and the instructions are very clear. As a layering piece it’s great. BUT….I am currently a G cup and I just don’t like the fit around the armholes in terms of bra exposure. It just…shows too much. This is in spite of me making various alterations (see below). And I know in these photographs you can’t see any bra, but that is because I chose to wear a strapless bra with this dress.

True Bias Ogden Cami modified to dress length with ruffled hem.

Don’t get me wrong. I love this dress. I love the fabric (viscose; purchased from Sew Me Sunshine). But after all the alterations I am left feeling a little frustrated with the fit and I think it’s time to widen the search for the perfect camisole pattern. BTW, over on my Instagram account, I saved a whole story worth of lots of alternative woven camisole ideas that people suggested…well worth skimming through to see if anything appeals to you (you do have to have an Instagram account to view).

True Bias Ogden Cami modified to dress length with ruffled hem.
True Bias Ogden Cami modified to dress length with ruffled hem.

Anyway, going back again, I actually thought that even though I was frustrated with the fit around the armhole, I needed a slip to wear under an Indian kurta top I made to wear in India (post to follow with details). Someone alerted me to an alteration which Clio had shared on her Instagram account (again, saved in her highlights) in which she shared how to raise the armhole on the Ogden cami. I followed her instructions and raised the armhole by 1 inch and thought I had cracked it! You can just make out the slip version under this kurta top below (this version came before the floral dress version). But, I don’t know? Maybe the weight of the ruffle pulling the floral dress version down just made the armhole drop again?

True Bias Ogden Cami lengthened to slip length. Worn under memade Indian kurta top.
True Bias Ogden Cami modified to dress length with ruffled hem.

Ogden Cami Initial Alterations

  • I cut a size 18 for the cami but a size 14 for the strap length
  • I did a 5/8ths inch FBA which brought in a bust dart
  • I did a 6/8ths inch sway back adjustment and added the removed length back in at the hem
  • I redrafted the facing to include a bust dart and deepened both the front and back facing by 2.25 inches.
  • Raised front armholes by 0.25 inches.

Ogden Cami Dress with Ruffle Hem Alterations

Working with the above alterations, I further

  • Lengthened the cami by adding 27 cm to the length (that was also for the slip version in white)
  • Raised the front armhole by 1 inch
  • Did a 0.5 inch full bum adjustment (for the dress only; not sure it was entirely necessary though)
  • Added an 8 inch deep ruffle at the hem
  • Pieced together a skinny tie from scraps


Like I say, this is a great pattern. The number of versions that have been made, and continue to be made, is testament to that. But if you have made this pattern and found it didn’t work for you, then don’t beat yourself up about it. Our bodies are all so unique and individual that some patterns just aren’t right for us. I think my next choice might be to try the Jalie Michelle Tank (and dress), but I have already been forewarned that even with that I should expect to do an FBA at the very least. In the mean time, I will continue to make the Ogden cami as a layering piece. And I love my summer dress. I feel happy wearing it. At least the weather has been good enough to get a few wears out of it, so it’s not all bad 🙂

Until soon!

True Bias Ogden Cami modified to dress length with ruffled hem.

OOP Vogue 8849 and Butterick 6179: DIY Indian Lengha Gown


Vogue 8849 and Butterick 6179 Indian Lengha Gown

Hi Everyone,

Trying to play catch up on blogging stuff I haven’t shared yet. I still like to blog and have a proper record of things I have made, but like everyone else, it’s so easy to just go with the flow on Instagram and get behind on blogging. Anyway, here’s an outfit I made in August to attend my cousin’s wedding in New Jersey at the beginning of September. It was a meeting of cultures (you may remember I made Simplicity 8292 to wear to the church ceremony), with my cousin marrying a Canadian. The dress code for the evening was Indian attire.


Vogue 8849 and Butterick 6179 Indian Lengha Gown


Vogue 8849 and Butterick 6179 Indian Lengha Gown

So, the fabrics were all ordered online. The blue and gold viscose/ silk brocade and the plain navy blue dupioni silk were ordered from one particular ebay seller who shipped the silks to me from India using DHL. I couldn’t fault the seller on their shipping time, but actually, when I realised I needed more of the brocade (for pattern matching purposes), the seller didn’t respond. In fact, they now seem to have come off ebay, and appear to have set up a website, which you can see here. So, whilst I have no experience of buying through that website, certainly through ebay it was a smooth enough transaction.


Vogue 8849 and Butterick 6179 Indian Lengha Gown


Vogue 8849 and Butterick 6179 Indian Lengha Gown

Details on other materials used:

  • The sheer fabric at the top of the bodice is silk chiffon
  • The whole gown is lined using a navy cotton lawn purchased from Minerva crafts
  • The silk dupioni bodice is underlined using silk organza (from my stash)
  • I used Hemline Featherlite cotton covering boning for the bodice. It was very easy to cut, sew and work with
  • I cut all of the (8?) brocade panels in a single layer in order to preserve the pattern flow and get some pattern matching (at the centre fronts and backs). It turned out I didn’t have enough to cut all the panels that way, full length. So I ended up ordering some gold lame and created a 11 inch deep border at the bottom of the skirt. The lame came from Midland Textiles on ebay
  • The dupatta (the long scarf thing) that I have draped over my arms was part of a set I already had. I didn’t really want to have a dupatta, but it’s pretty much a standard part of most Indian outfits. In the end the colour was a good match with the border fabric


Vogue 8849 and Butterick 6179 Indian Lengha Gown

To create this gown I used a combination of (OOP) Vogue 8849 for the bodice and Butterick 6179 for the skirt. I recommend both patterns. Really, I did minimal alterations to achieve my look, and I have never felt so comfortable in an Indian outfit. There was no pulling or yanking or tugging all night long 🙂 The Vogue pattern in particular is great because it is a multi-cup size pattern, so no FBA required.

Pattern notes:

  • I used Vogue 8849 for the bodice (view E), and cut a size 18 through the bust and shoulders, C cup, grading out one size at the waist.
  • I lowered the bust fullness by 1 inch (Tip: remember to do any fitting with the bra you intend to wear with the outfit. For me, that was a strapless bra).
  • I ended up removing 0.25 inch from each of the front princess seams at the top of the bust, and taking a corresponding tuck out of the upper front pattern piece.
  • The pattern instructions don’t seem to mention adding boning to view E, but I chose to add some for extra support.
  • I did a 6/8ths inch sway back adjustment on the bodice.
  • I used french seams to sew the sheer silk chiffon upper bodice, and did narrow baby hems 0.5 inches from the cut edge.
  • I did a 1 inch full arm adjustment.
  • I used Butterick 6179 for the skirt (view B).
  • I added an 11 inch deep border to the bottom of the skirt, cut on the cross grain, from lame.
  • I did a 1 inch full bottom adjustment and adjusted the skirt seams to ensure they matched with the bodice seams where necessary.
  • I added a 5 inch deep interfaced hem.

All in all, yes, this gown was a fair bit of work. Using well drafted solid patterns really helped me to achieve my vision. I loved how this gown fitted me, and the fact it was constructed from all natural fabrics (with the exception of the border). It felt light, but supportive, and fits me better than any RTW Indian outfit I have bought in the past. The day of the wedding I noticed there was a small tear where the sheer bodice had joined the silk dupioni bodice,  in the front. I ended up patching it together, and it held fast. I will have to go back and check it some time. The dress, and the wedding, were a grand success. Here’s wishing the married couple enjoy many years of happy married life ahead.


Vogue 8849 and Butterick 6179 Indian Lengha Gown



The Tunic Bible: DIY Babycord Tunic Dress + Book Giveaway


Babycord tunic dress made using The Tunic Bible by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr

Hi There Friends!

One year ago Julie Starr and Sarah Gunn asked me if I would be interested in sewing up a tunic to be featured in The Tunic Bible, which has now been published. To say I was flattered to have been asked was an understatement. I have long admired both Julie and Sarah’s work and the book seemed like a great concept. There are SO many options for collars, neck plackets and sleeves as well as lengths, styles, fabrics (including knits) and trims….this is not just a one trick pony. If you don’t believe me, head over to The Tunic Bible website to check out the gallery (you might see some familiar faces). A group of bloggers were asked to sew samples up to be featured in the book and every single one of us made something completely different and varied.


Babycord tunic dress made using The Tunic Bible by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr

Anyway, I chose to make an autumnal version from a soft, fine printed babycord with an outside-facing wide split placket, an angled collar and sleeve cuffs sewn in a contrasting corduroy. All the details for all the options are given in the book. I barely made any changes whatsoever to the pattern: not even my usual FBA or sway back adjustment. Aside from fiddling with the length and dropping the bust darts 0.5 inches and including back darts, that was it. I was very impressed with the fit. Note that the size range goes from XS to XXL.


Babycord tunic dress made using The Tunic Bible by Sarah Gunn and Julie Starr

I am still waiting to receive my hard copy of The Tunic Bible (on its way), but have seen the full final version electronically and it is beautifully photographed, presented and written. Incidentally, anyone interested in sewing Indian style Kurta tops; this book is perfect for you and before I go to India next time I would love to sew a couple up.

If you would like to be in with a chance to win a copy of the book and check it out for yourself then there is a giveaway. Winners in the USA will receive a hard copy of the book; outside of the USA winners will receive an electronic copy, so this is open to all. All you have to do is leave a comment below before midnight GMT on 12th October 2016. If you want to be in with more chances to win then here’s the list of other participants of this book tour; you can enter on every single site if you wish 🙂

October 3 – C&T; Pattern Review

October 4 – Cloning Couture; Generation Q Magazine

October 5 – Oonaballoona; Featherstitch Avenue

October 6 – Allie J; Thanks I Made Them

October 7 – Sew Busy Lizzy; Jennuine Design

October 8 – Inside the Hem; Girls in the Garden

October 9 – Sewmanju; My Love Affair with Sewing

October 10 – Evolution of a Sewing Goddess; Creating in the Gap

October 12 – House of Pinheiro; The Tunic Bible

Good Luck and well done Sarah and Julie for making this idea a hugely inspirational success.


DIY churidar and anarkali kameez


DIY churidar and anarkali kameez

This is my first attempt at sewing an Indian outfit. I bought the material months and months ago and it was sitting in my closet waiting to  be either taken to India to be sewn by a tailor, or for me to be brave enough to sew it without a commercial pattern. Guess I got brave enough!

For those who don’t know, churidar refers to the lower part of the outfit (the “bottoms”) and kameez is the name given to the top part. I think this particular style is anarkali kameez, named, I imagine, for the slave girl Anarkali who, during the Mughal period, was supposed to have had an affair with Crown Prince Salim. Prince Salim’s father, Mughal-e-Azam, did not like the fact that his son wanted to marry a lowly slave girl, and so the story goes that in exchange for keeping her lover alive, Anarkali agreed to give up her life, and was supposedly buried alive between two walls by Mughal-e-Azam. Romantic or stupid? You decide. Anyway, Anarkali was a dancer I think. And so the Anarkali kameez would have given her freedom to shake her booty to her hearts content.

Churidar are like long leggings and are supposed to be tight fitting around the ankles/ calves, with the excess material falling in to gathers around the ankles/ calves (like bangles around the leg: “churi”; bangle, “dar”; like). This is supposed to give a graceful and lengthening appearance to the leg. True churidar should be cut on the bias, as this gives the material more stretch and allows it to fit more easily to the contours of the leg. So I did cut my churidar on the bias. First lesson learned: to make bias cut churidar you need A LOT of material. Like maybe double the quantity of material you would normally use. I did not have this much material and had to use a different material to sew the top part of my churidar, but hey, no one will ever know! I will probably put up a tutorial on cutting and sewing bias cut churidar when I get the chance, but I basically used an existing churidar as the pattern.


DIY churidar and anarkali kameez: close up showing gathers at ankle/ calf

Overall I am quite pleased with the finished outfit. The churidar could perhaps have been a bit tighter all over, and also I don’t like all the excess material that appeared in the top part of the churidar (will post pictures of that in the tutorial). The kameez was not very difficult to make. I just had to sew up the sides and attach some sleeves. As  you will see from the pictures, this kameez came with the neckline already completed. I wish it was lined but, frankly, I could not be bothered to cut a huge amount of fabric to line it. I am considering making a separate slip instead.


View of unstitched kameez fabric. I had to sew the sides and cut armholes, and cut and sew the sleeve pieces.

We are off to India in about 10 days time, so maybe I will have an excuse to wear it then, if I don’t buy a zillion other new outfits when I am over there!


DIY churidar and anarkali kameez


DIY churidar and anarkali kameez with dupatta (the long scarf that makes the outfit a 3 piece set)