Sew Bouje

Dreaming up a fabulous wardrobe one pattern at a time

At Last! More Manequim Free Patterns! September 22, 2011

Filed under: General,Pattern Love — sewbouje @ 7:54 am

I LOVE Manequim magazine. It’s in Portuguese, which I don’t speak. but that doesn’t matter to me. I go just to look at the patterns, get a sneak peek at the new magazine issue and sometimes follow a link or two. If something looks interesting then I use Google Translate.

And then, of course, I keep hoping they’ll do another free pattern

Well, they have not 1,but 4, new free patterns.See here.

To me, the Vestido sem manga (below) is the Perfect Christmas LBD! I think this will have to be fit in with the Palette Challenge items.

BTW, if you’re like me and you swear that before the year is done you WILL do that subscription to the magazine, then you should go visit Melissa Fehr’s site where she shares how she did it. Here. Along, with her truly impressive sewing skills.

I’ve been a big fan of her work (and a frequent lurker on her site!) even long before she was kind enough to email me some patterns last year!


The (Kinda) Fall Palette Challenge September 19, 2011

Filed under: General — sewbouje @ 12:43 pm

 I know this is a bit last minute, but I’ve decided to take the Colette Patterns Fall Challenge. Well….kinda…..

In Barbados we don’t really have the Spring-Summer-Fall-Winter thing. We have more of a dry season and a wet season; the latter lasting from June to November. And, after August, when we have national carnival, things are in a bit of a lull. There are literally no public holidays until the end of November, which is Independence Day.

So, my challenge to myself is to loosely follow the Fall Challenge for some new things for the Independence/Christmas/Year-end season.

My company provides uniforms, so there’s no real challenge to find work-wear, so I’m thinking of clothes that can be dressed up or down, and if necessary can take me from work to something social afterwards with little fuss.

So, without further ado, here’s my attempt at a color palette/mood board, although I didn’t use COLOURlovers. Maybe next time.

I even included a snap of the hot new strappy shoes that I’m dying to wear!

I ’m currently going through my patterns to decide what I want to work on. Then its mad-sewing time for the next 8 weeks or so. I’m hoping to finish a little before the end of November!


Another rainy weekend September 17, 2011

Filed under: A L'il 'Bout We! — sewbouje @ 8:04 pm

We’re well into the wet season here in Bim, so this weekend was a lot like the last one. Rain, rain and more rain! Although, thankfully, it was only a trough system passing and nothing as serious as the tropical storm that threatened last week.

I’m adjusting to a new class in Property Management, so I wasn’t really in a sewing mood. I was just too tired, and its been a while since my brain has had to be in school-mode!

I think the rain finally held up about 5:00 p.m. and the twenty steps from my door to the beach rewarded me with this scene…..


…..not a bad sunset, at all!…..

….which gave me a great idea……

Since there’s no sewing, i thought I’d treat you to ‘A l’il bout we’…..which, tidied up in proper English, simply means ‘a little about us’. Barbados. Barbadians. Or in local dialect, Bajans. From time to time, I hope to share little tidbits about my lovely country, and if all goes well, I’ll be able to work some fashion/sewing into that too.

So, here we go.

We are the most easterly of the Caribbean islands, and technically, we not really in the Caribbean sea, but in the Atlantic Ocean. But, who’s quibbling! We’re barely 166 square miles, and most estimates say our population is about 250,000 people.

Ummmm…we’re predominantly a black society, but you will still find almost every other race represented in some form on the island. During colonial times our island remained solely in British hands…we were never Spanish, French, or anything else.

My half-sister had her first visit to Barbados back in August and I’ll describe our society to you the same as I did to her. Think about most things you can get in a big international city, and you can probably find it here as well…just really scaled down!

Well that’s my little titbit for today. Please feel free to comment. Tell me if you think that knowing  a l’il more ‘bout we would be interesting.


The Burda Tunic Dress September 14, 2011

Filed under: Pattern Love — sewbouje @ 8:41 am

Over the last weekend, we had a small brush with Tropical Storm Maria. It was very anticlimactic because the way things were looking on the weather reports, it was supposed to be a significant blow.

I woke up on Saturday morning to angry dark clouds, lashing rain, crashing waves and thunder & lightning. A perfect day to fiddle with sewing stuff because there was nothing else to do.

By the afternoon, however, the rain had stopped and although it was still overcast out, the skies weren’t that heavy black color anymore.

My plan was to finally start on the tunic pattern I had downloaded from Burdastyle back when it was a free pattern.  It was in the back of my mind to do this as a cute little casual dress for quite a long time…..item B on the tech drawing, but with 1 pocket like on D.


Last month I finally came across some fabric in my stash that fit the bill. Don’t ask me what kind of fabric it is, because I’m not sure at all!

I actually printed the pattern about a year ago, but never got around to assembling. Is it weird that I like putting together those print-at-home sheets?  Its like puzzles for grown-ups. And, if you like sewing, you don’t have to go out to the store to buy those crepe sheets that dissolve in sweaty hands.

Anyhow, I got my pattern glued….I don’t like the taping thing….and I cut it out. Then I had to figure out what size I wanted. I’m busty so my top half is one size while my bottom is another.

I haven’t actually cut any fabric yet because I want to use grey piping on the yoke piece, pocket, and maybe the sleeves, but none of my local sewing suppliers had the color I want.

So imagine my delight to find on this piping tutorial on

I should be able to find just the right shade of grey fabric I need in my stash, and I’ll get the added benefit of having a piping in something more interesting than ordinary cotton.


Start of a New School Year September 5, 2011

Filed under: General — sewbouje @ 9:50 am

Its back-to-school time here in Barbados. September 5th is the 1st day of the new school year. All over the island its chaos – orderly and organized – but chaos nonetheless.

There’ll be excited children, nervous ones, scared ones (especially those transitioning from primary to secondary school), and frazzled parents trying to readjust to the school run after a long, laid-back summer. They’ll be running a little late, stuck in traffic, trying to get their charges off to school on time and still make it to work, hopefully only a little bit late. Because, come afternoon (2:30p.m. – 3:00p.m.), they have to be back at the school to do the pick-ups.

Then, of course, it’s the students who are old enough to take the bus themselves, so public transport will be filled to capacity, and then some. No one wants to be late for the first day of school.

Yep, it’s the same chaos every year, and those of us with no children feel like we’re planning a complex covert mission to get over, around, and through the tangle of traffic just to get to work with as little fuss as possible!

My favorite part of back-to-school is seeing all those brand new uniforms – only tertiary students don’t wear them –  blues, green, turquoise, yellow, burgundy, grey, plaids, solids, etc. And the boys with pants in khaki, brown, navy, grey. Crisp white shirts & sparkling white socks, polished black or brown shoes. And everyone tries to express their individuality with hairstyles and backpacks.

My weekend was spent finishing off the little blue gingham uniforms for a friend’s 4 year old who’s off for the first time to regular school.

You’d think things would be different after so many years, but I’m always nervous to make things for people. I learned to sew free-hand – no fancy patterns – just the measurements, fabric, tape, chalk and a well-practiced eye for proportion. I always cross my fingers, say a little prayer and measure 3 or 4 times.

And, every time the first cut leaves me a little light-headed and wondering if I’m even as good as I think I am. And what if I ruin the fabric. It doesn’t matter that I’ve got plenty evidence in my closet that I actually do know what I’m doing. My saving grace is keeping a steady hand on those scissors!

So, this is what the uniform was to look like. The schools publish simple little booklets with drawings and instructions of how they want the thing to be.

Here’s my cutting table with the pieces – all except the pockets and little sailor color, which are in solid blue. My friend also wanted little knickers to go under the dress.

So, off I went……

Finally, my first prototype all finished and pressed for fitting. There were supposed to be 3 uniforms in all, so I made a paper pattern beforehand from the unstitched pieces so that any adjustments would be easy without ruining anymore fabric.


Hello World! September 2, 2011

Filed under: General — sewbouje @ 2:24 pm

My mother and grandmother did it for a living, and in my early days living the broke student life I did it too to cover expenses. Sewing.

There are a few things I’m passionate about in life – my job (in mortgages), decorating, sci-fi (reading & watching), crafting and, of course, sewing.

Hi, my name is Natalie. Welcome to my blog where I’m talking about sewing, styling and living in Barbados – the land of sea, sun, flying fish & cou-cou (our national dish), and of course the birthplace of Rihanna!