Mapping My Mood – Part One


Back in March, I travelled from London to New York and was lucky enough to hit Mood Fabrics not once, but twice. On my first visit, I spotted some plaid and glitter polka dot wool that I fell in love with. Yes, you read right – plaid and glitter polka dot. Big glitter polka dots. But I was too overwhelmed with choices to make a purchase and left empty-handed. On my second visit, Mood very kindly offered to gift me enough of this fabric to make a dress. All they asked in return was that I blog about my make. I ran around a corner and did my happy dance. Then I went back to Meg and said that I would reluctantly find room in my suitcase for this Marc Jacobs wool challis.


Now, this is how it works for me. The moment someone gifts me fabric, my life gets crazy busy and I can’t do anything with it. This time was no different, but fortunately Meg had encouraged me to take my time.

I took my fabric home and stared at it quite a lot. It had a gorgeous drape and I could feel the quality, but the print also dipped a toe in the ‘novelty’ arena. I’d have to think carefully about my chosen project. Originally, I’d planned to make a Hollyburn Skirt, but I felt I had to up my game in return for Mood’s generosity. Two things happened to help me make my final choice:



Bingo! I’d found my make. Some solid black panels would break up my plaid/glitter polka dot mix. I was off and running! A slow run, but running nonetheless.

I made my toile out of stash linen and some old men’s shirts. I took it into work so that a colleague could fit it to me in the office bathroom. The fit was pretty good, other than being a bit roomy. Increased sewing wisdom meant I’d already done an FBA on the toile, which saved a lot of hand-wringing and head scratching.


Next, I had to trace off the toile pieces onto my organza silk underlining. The trace lines weren’t showing up when placed down on my fashion fabric, so I went over them in bright red washable felt pen. Now, if you’re thinking, Sacrilege! I can’t believe she’s doing that to her silk organza! I say to you: Get over it. You should see what Susan Khalje does to hers. Seriously, that woman would write her shopping list on her underlining, given half a chance.

Silk Organza Pinned

Then came cutting out my fashion fabric. Phew-boy. I’d set myself a challenge and then some. Those glitter polka dots? The rows didn’t run true to the rows of plaid. Each glitter dot had an incrementally different placement. If I was going to cut anything out to line up I needed… No, not a stiff drink! That was the last thing I needed. I needed a good night’s sleep, a clear head, buckets of optimism and patience and the self-knowledge to take things really slowly. I also needed lots of fabric. It helped a lot that I knew I had plenty for my dress. It doesn’t matter, I told myself. If you need to re-cut a piece, that’s fine. Seriously, guys. If you have a pattern to match, buy extra fabric. It will save your sanity!

I only cut out two pattern pieces at a time and basted them to my silk organza. Then I would press over a seam and start trying to find matching glitter dot and plaid placements on my fabric to line up with. This took a loooonnnnng time. No doubt about it, the most intense cutting out experience of my life. (I still have the skirt pieces to cut out and wonder if I’ll foul them up or not.)

Pieces Coming Together

It took an entire weekend to cut out some – some! – of the bodice pieces and baste to the silk organza. One whole weekend, of extremely careful work. Even then, I felt very unhappy about how things were matching up. The fabic had a fluidity that made sewing plaid together very difficult, even when carefully matched. But basting together the front bodice section got me thinking. I might see a way forwards. Maybe.

Basted Bodice

In the Craftsy course Susan talks about the psychological highs and lows of a make at this level. The excitement of choosing your fabric, the dreary admin of making your toile, the frustration of trying to make everything work and then back to excitement as things start to come together. Susan Khalje is a very wise woman. She’s also a perfectionist, winkling out my perfectionist streak.

So, onwards! We all know that this project has one of two possible outcomes: success or failure. Time and other guest blog posts will tell. In the meantime, if you have any hints and tips for working with plaid/glitter polka dot I will be for ever grateful…

A sincere thank you to Meg and Mood for giving me this opportunity to test myself. This post first appeared as a guest post on the Mood Sewing Network.

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33 Responses to Mapping My Mood – Part One

  1. Patty says:

    I’m taking this craftsy course too! for the time being I watch it like a film, I’m so mesmerised by all the steps involved…

  2. puu says:

    i think that is a brilliant idea for an unconventional piece of fabric. keep it up! you’ll get there in the end, with patience like that… 🙂

  3. Merje says:

    Can you tell me what that pattern is? I’ve been obsessed with it since seeing the Sewing Bee

    • Eep, I’m afraid I don’t know what pattern Mark used. It’s different to the one I’m using.

      • AnotherKaren says:

        Mark and Ann used the same Simplicity 2146 Project Runway pattern for their dresses. Its an Armhole Princess Seamed Front with two Contour Darts Back. The round neck is quite high for my full-busted frame, but there is a v-necked option. I much prefer, and my shape is best suited to Karen’s choice of pattern. Thank you for your detailed description of the process so far, Karen. Sounds like a lot of pressure as well as pleasure.

  4. Adrienne says:

    Keep up the good work Karencita! It’s looking really good!

  5. Colleen says:

    Ooooooh, I LOVE what I’m seeing so far. That’s so lovely!

  6. Sewer From Across the Pond says:

    I hope you tested the red marker before using it. Just because something is marketed as “washable” does not mean it always comes out.

    I’ve watched the Susan Khalje Craftsy class. The instruction in general is good, but fitting that pattern is not easy. I don’t like it.

  7. Tense times. We’re all willing it to work out for the best!

  8. Catherine says:

    Am loving the Mood fabric and the pattern – meant to send this link to you a while back when you were looking for a solution to fitting

  9. EmSewCrazy says:

    Wow! That is going to be stunning when it is done!

  10. Ruth says:

    That is so good! I’ve been wondering what you would (could?) make with that fabric and your plan is great. You’ll be able to wear it almost anywhere. Looking a cut-above the rest, of course.

  11. creative pixie says:

    Good work, you must be a very patient lady. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished dress.

  12. I am a mere 90 minutes from Mood but have never been there. The fabric you got is really cute. Re the dress pattern shown on your blog – is that particular to Susan’s couture class or is it one available for general purpose? I really like it. If you are a reader and get back to NYC, try to visit Rizzoli’s Book Store near 5th and 57th, right near Bergdorf Goodman’s and FAO Schwarz toys.

  13. SewingElle says:

    What a fabulous idea to match that novelty fabric with black. You will have a stunning and unique dress. Ooh, and your patience is impressive

  14. Clare says:

    OOh i will be very interested to see how your dress turns out. Stay with it! Have faith! Power on! I have the Susan Kahlje course myself, and though I have not made the dress (really no where for me to wear it), i LOVED watching/listening to the process. The woman is a genius. Good luck!

  15. Amanda says:

    Wow, I really love how that looks with the solid black in the middle. Can’t wait to see the reveal! Mood is really on their game with sewing bloggers – how awesome is that?! I’m taking a swimsuit seminar there a week from tomorrow. 😀

  16. Danka says:

    Good luck with it all, it’s very exciting to read about the progress of the dress. Can’t wait to see it completed, I think it will be a stunner! xx

  17. Darling you are doing swimmingly. I took 5 hours to cut out MrC’s peacock shirt with its ridonkulously large pattern. This is NINJA sewing at its best!
    Not that I think it could add to your amazing success to date, but I did a bit of a tute on matching patterns: The principle applies to any pattern matching, not just pockets. xo

  18. Sandesh says:

    I love your posts, taking some of the seriousness out of sewing whilst being so creative and informative. I must admit I didn’t ‘get’ the fabric when you first blogged about it but the dress looks like it will turn out a stunner, especially after so much patience and attention has been poured upon it. Can’t wait to see it completed, well done

  19. Lordy that looks lovely. Your work is definitely paying off so far. Keep the faith…it will be beautiful.

  20. Susan says:

    What you’ve done so far is amazing. I love Susan Khalje’s course. I wish she would do another one on the Chanel Jacket for Craftsy. I made the Alma Blouse using some of the techniques from the course. I underlined the blouse as i though the fabric I had purchased was a little see-through. I thinnk it made the blouse a bit too stiff. I still like it !
    I’m in the process of making a shift dress and going through the class again using the same techniques. I’m definitely going to line the dress but I’m not sure whether I should underline it.
    Do you have any advice on when to underline and when to lline.
    Will be so excited to see your dress finished. I’m sure it will be amazing.

  21. Jenny says:

    Wow, that is going to be one fantastic frock!
    I see only one outcome: success!

  22. Helen says:

    Wow! I would be too terrified to cut this! Good advise about buying extra fabric. Unfortunately I never recognise fabric as being something I have to match until I get home! This is the reason u haven’t yet cut out my coat I was planning to make last year – I’m too scared I get it wrong!

  23. Ashley says:

    I’m enrolled in the crafty class too, I just haven’t started it yet. Oops! I am loving the black contrast panel. It really helps tone down the polkadot sparkles and makes them look very chic. Can’t wait to see the finished product!

  24. Thea says:

    I’m really looking forward to the reveal – good luck until then with the matching, fingers crossed it works well for you!

  25. gingermakes says:

    I love this! It’s looking great so far! Can’t wait to see the final dress!

  26. IngeMaakt says:

    oh wow, matching plaid AND the polkadots, that’s taking pattern matching to a whole new level! I bet this will be a wonderfull dress.

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