Mapping My Mood – Part One

Editor’s note: We are pleased to welcome London sewing blogger Karen Ball of Did You Make That as our first guest blogger at the Mood Sewing Network. She visited Mood NYC in March of this year and we were delighted to make her acquaintance. Karen will be sharing a few posts here about making a dress with some Marc Jacobs fabric from Mood.


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 challis 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 some free fabric.


Editor’s note: We have a smidgen left of this same black-and-white Marc Jacobs challis at our NYC store, and more in a pale blue colorway. Call 1-212-730-5003 and ask for our Wool department if you’d like to order some. We also have a wide variety of Marc Jacobs fabrics available at

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 Sewaholic 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:

  • Beth of Sunny Gal Studios reminded me that I’d bought and so far failed to use Craftsy’s Susan Khalje Couture Dress course.
  • I watched The Great British Sewing Bee. (Did any of you catch it? Of course you did, why am I even asking?) In the first episode, Mark made a dress with contrast panels. I had some solid black wool crepe in my stash…

mood fabrics new york

mood fabrics new york

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.

mood fabrics new york

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.

mood fabrics new york

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.)

mood fabrics new york

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.

mood fabrics new york

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.



  • Carolyn
    May 2, 2013

    Oh Karen, I can’t wait to see how this turns out! You picked an amazing fabric to start this journey with!!

  • Trisha
    May 2, 2013

    I have to admit, I wasn’t sure about that fabric… but I’m loving what you have so far! Can’t wait to see the finished make.

  • Gjeometry
    May 2, 2013

    Love how this is coming together! I quite liked that fabric, just enough sparkle added, and was wondering what you were going to make out of it.

  • didyoumakethat
    May 2, 2013

    Thanks for your comments and support. I need it – wibble, wobble…! And thanks to Mood for such a fantastic opportunity.

  • Sandra
    May 3, 2013

    I love the way Susan Khalje teaches, I’m looking forward to seeing your final masterpiece.

  • oonaballoona
    May 3, 2013

    that pattern matching would’ve driven me CRAZY. i love that you’re pairing this with susan’s class!

  • Lauren
    May 3, 2013

    This is so exciting! I can’t wait to see how the dress develops, because it’s already looking pretty ace as it is…

  • Sarah Gunn
    May 3, 2013

    Your dress will turn out beautifully! Susan Khalje’s guidance is superb. Can’t wait to see more, Karen!

  • Patrice
    May 4, 2013

    I have the Susan Khalje class and pattern but haven’t started it yet. I look forward to following your progress. I enjoyed reading your post!

  • Ginger
    May 4, 2013

    Ooh, I am SO EXCITED to see this dress! You can do it!

  • Lori
    May 4, 2013

    This is going to be such a fun and exciting series, I love the fabric and your pattern. It will be beautiful and I cannot wait to see the finished dress. Good luck.

  • Petra
    May 5, 2013

    Brilliant use of that unique fabric, great idea to team it with a solid, as it will perk the plaid up and calm it down in one go! Genius. I LOVE the photo of you and your workmate in your office bathroom, it’s very Edouard Vuillard painted 2013. I live in London but am in New York until the 13 May – if you make any cutting mistakes in this lush fabric, let me know and I’ll bring you some more!

  • Anne George
    May 6, 2013

    Love what you are doing with this fabric so far. I eagerly look forward to the next post and see how it finally looks.

  • Diana Deap
    May 17, 2013

    I love your take on this pattern. (Yes, I have it and have also signed up for Susan’s Crafty class). I’ll be checking back for more.