Friday, May 3, 2024

Literary Sewing Circle: More Inspiration!


This week our sewing inspiration is coming from some of themes and elements in our story, as well as some of the clothing described in the book. 

I'll start with the outfits that might inspire a copycat. 

Verity first appears in a body skimming green dress as she comes through the Net. Ned says, "she had on a long greenish gown that clung to her slim body as if it were wet...the whole effect was that of a Waterhouse nymph..."

It could have been that she was arriving from the Victorian era, wearing a tea gown, like this one by Laughing Moon Mercantile

You could update that with a modern maxi dress like this Cardigan Dress by PatternsForLess on Etsy - even more of a bodycon effect here! 

Ned himself appears in a straw boater, white flannels and blue and white striped blazer on his first trip back to the Victorian era, preparing to take a trip down the river. You could copy this look, minus the straw boater of course, with the following:

Maison Fauve Manhattan Blazer  has a similar shape and details as a classic men's rowing blazer. Make it in stripes, or not. 

And you could also copy the wider leg, pleated look of a classic men's pair of flannel trousers with the Protea Pants by Paradise Patterns. 

You could copy Tossie's signature Victorian frills in an updated way, using the TATB Marnie 

Or maybe you want a more contemporary look, copying a young Lizzie Bittner in the lab circa 2018, in her calf length white dress. You could choose the Mattea Dress by Tessuti for a casual but work ready look. 

Or you might simply be inspired by a vague reference to a time period, like WWII which opens the story. You could make a Sew Over It 1940s tea dress that you might wear to a day event, or a more workaday outfit like a uniform inspired Butterick 6282! Perhaps you'll go full workwear with a Siren Suit/Coverall, using the Phyllis pattern by Wearing History

SOI Tea Dress

Butterick 6282
Phyllis Air Raid Suit by Wearing History

Ned's brief stop in Blackwell's Bookshop with his sight of three gossiping ladies in fur collars, or Willis' many references to Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie, might put you onto the 30s. You could try out the Parisienne Coat by Decades of Style to mimic the bookstore ladies. Or just some general 30s looks with a Matinee Blouse also by Decades of Style, or a day frock from Eva Dress

Parisienne Coat

Matinee Blouse

Day Frock by Eva Dress

Or Ned's erroneous hop to 1395 Coventry Cathedral may inspire a medieval influenced dress like the Maxi Ruffle dress by SD Patterns on Etsy. It's not too costumey but has those 1400s vibes. 

Of course you also have the whole Victorian style catalogue to choose from also! From Verity's long white day dress or modest white nightgown, to the fancy dresses described by Tossie and the Chattisbourne sisters when they are discussing the fete, there are many Victorian clothing elements to pick from. 

You could probably find a pattern to suit any era in this book, somewhere like Folkwear Patterns

Or you might want to go more conceptual, and use some of the imagery or themes that run through the story. 

Whether Cyril or Montmorency, the title of this book places a lot of importance on dogs! You could sew up your own Bulldog plushie using this pattern by Funky Friends Factory

Or you could sew something FOR your dog, using any of these 10 free dog clothing patterns collected by Swoodson Says. 

You could also knit yourself a comfy pair of Cyril socks, like these ones by Danielle Jorge on Ravelry. 

In honour of Princess Arjumand, you could choose fabric with a cat print. You would have thousands to choose from! Maybe one like this Timeless Treasures pick, from The Quilt Store 

Or this multicolour cat print -- among the many, many options at!

You could go simple and just make yourself a Kitty Dress by Maven Patterns

Or you might think about the other cat in this story, the very (don't say it) pregnant Mrs. Marmalade -- and make a Marmalade jacket by Waffle Patterns. Maybe even in a cat print! 

There are also many fancy fish who play a role in this story. Any kind of fish print fabric could be a reference back to Colonel Mering's fishpond, or you could try out this Koi Drape Front Top by SewInLove Patterns. 

If you know how to knit, you might even want to make this adorable Fishpond Dress by The Sassy Skein. So cute! 

Perhaps it's just the boat that Ned and Terence rent to go down the river that speaks to you, and you'll make the classic Mandy Boat Tee, by Tessuti. 

Or you could try this Float on Top by Forest & Thread -- since Ned and Terence do at least *try* to float on top of the river, and make it most of their trip! 

You could add a bit of flair to your inspiration by thinking French, and making the Bateau Garden Dress by WinterWear Designs

Maybe you'll be inspired by The Net itself, that shimmering circle in the air, by using sheers, net or sparkles in your project. You could even try some netting yourself, making this sparkly crochet mini-dress from the 90s, thanks to the Little Chick pattern by MyCosyHouseFantasy. 

And perhaps like one of our readers so far, you'll inspired by the very idea of travel. A travelling suit from the Victorian era, or something more comfy for contemporary times?  You could make the Traveller's Tee or the Two for the Road outfit from Saf-T-Pockets for secure travelling. And what would a capsule wardrobe for time travel look like?

Whatever your inspiration, I hope you're enjoying the read and are getting some fun ideas by now! Next week we'll look at some author info, and then be ready for some final book talk the week after that. 

If you have ideas for your own outfit, feel free to share and give others some extra inspo!


  1. Even though I couldn't get into the book, I am certainly enjoying your inspiration photos. I'd like to sew some of these patterns.

    1. It's so much fun sifting through potential patterns -- I always add ideas to my list when I'm doing it!


Share your comments, ideas or suggestions here -- I am always interested in hearing from readers. It's nice to have a conversation!