Monday, 4 September 2017

The Search for the Holy Grail or Sewing with Style - The Maker's Atelier

In mythology the Holy Grail is the cup used by Jesus at the last supper and there are lots of legends about knights in medieval times looking for this treasure, the latest being the film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. On Wikipedia the Holy Grail is also described as "a thing which is eagerly pursued or sought after". I am about to start on a search for my personal holy grail and it is something that has always seemed to allude me.

As Autumn approaches and the new school term begins I have been looking at my winter wardrobe and I want to make some changes. Since I started my blog in January I have sewn more regularly and I know my sewing technique has improved with practice. I have also made a lot more things from jersey fabric and learnt some new skills. But, when I look at my wardrobe and at my blog photos I feel as though something is missing and that thing is "Style". I have made some nice things which I am proud of and wear a lot, but I have a wardrobe full of individual items that don't really go together. My sewing has lacked direction. I have been tempted by the next lovely piece of fabric or interesting pattern without having a master plan.

Over the summer I decided to try to find a style that I could develop and make my own. I knew that I would need a lot of help since I have never been all that stylish. I always seem to have been too busy and other things got in the way. I had another birthday in July so I decided to put this to good use and asked for a copy of the new book, The Maker's Atelier: The Essential Collection, Sewing with Style by Frances Tobin, which was published in February. 

The clue was in the title "Sewing with Style"and Amazon had this to say,

"A career in fashion, a love of fabrics, a lifetime making clothes, a keen sense of styles that work for women of all ages and shapes: this is the perfect cocktail of skills and passion that make Frances Tobin's patterns for The Maker's Atelier so successful."

I fall into the category - women of all ages and shapes, so I took the book on holiday and I have read it from cover to cover. It is a really good read. Frances explains how she developed each pattern and talks about her lifetime of sewing and designing. The book tells an interesting story as well as being full of sewing instructions and advice on fabric choices. 

This is also a really beautiful book. It has a single colour pallet all the way through and the photographs are beautiful. The pale colours enable you to see the construction of the garments which are all accompanied with photographs suggesting how you can put the items together to make up your wardrobe.

Frances seems to have thought of everything. This book has a soft cover which closes with a magnetic strip on the back that holds everything together. The book folds out and the pages lie flat so that you can easily refer to the instructions as you work. 

All of the patterns are printed on sturdy paper and are folded into the wallet on the right hand side. The patterns are printed double sided and you do have to trace them off but they don't overlap so this is not a difficult task. 

The style is pared back and simple. I think this style looks achievable for me and will fit into my busy lifestyle. Frances Tobin developed these patterns for herself and there she is in her book looking very stylish. 

I have found some reviews of the book including a video on the Fold Line, which have all been very positive, but I haven't been able to find many examples of bloggers making the patterns, perhaps because the book is still quite new. So I am about to start out on a new sewing adventure. I have already begun with a stretch pencil skirt, all good so far, and will post this as soon as I have the photos. My plan is to work my way through the patterns adding ideas of my own as I go along to create a wardrobe for work that will inject a bit more style into my life. I hope that along the way I might find my Holy Grail. I would welcome ideas and suggestions as I go along, so please feel free to leave any comments to help me on my way.


  1. This looks like a really interesting read.
    It is going to be very useful in steering you towards your very own stylish hand-made wardrobe of beautiful clothes and co-ordinating items!

    1. I feel quite excited about this new venture. It has made me look at my stash with fresh eyes.

  2. Really love the Thai wrap trousers and I love the idea of using the pj pattern -I have lots of pj trousers that fit me better (and look better on me) than many of my trousers so this is a great idea. I just need the confidence to put scissors to fabric, but you are inspiring. Love the bit on the hula hoop too! I have used the Wii as that has a hula hoop session on it and it has always worked really well .... might try that out again. I have just taken up skipping and that also is great for a quick fitness session, not sure what it does for your waistline but it does make you feel better. Loving reading this blog!

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement. I have been so busy lately that I was wondering whether I had time for blogging but your comment has made my day.