Hot! The “Is there Life On Mars?” Outfit


The Facts

Fabric: Skirt & bow – thrifted cotton sheet $2.99, only half used. Blouse – re-used lining from previously made circle skirt.
Patterns: Butterick 4686 and Simplicity 2154
Year: Contemporary (but latter a retro design)
Notions: Fusible interfacing for collar
Time to complete: 12 hours
First worn: 4th February 2012
Wear again? Yes, but not together.

Total price: Under $3

The challenge: “Return of the UFOs – This week, we’re returning to those pieces that have tormented us for longer than we’d like admit — the UFO”


So this week the challenge was to make something inspired by one of our favourite science fiction programmes….

At least I think that was the challenge. There’s an odd rumour going around that UFO doesn’t relate to unidentified flying object and therefore all things sci-fi….or as they say over here in the States, sy-fy, but instead means un-finished object. Nah, can’t be….

Well, even it it were, unfortunately I don’t have anything unfinished. Perhaps that’s because I haven’t been sewing long enough. It’s definitely not because I finish what I start. I have a ‘million’ decorating projects around the house to prove that theory incorrect.

So whatever the proper challenge for this week, I had to start from scratch.

And as I already have a Dalek costume, and I wanted to make some muslins for projects I want to make later in the year but don’t want to spoil expensive fabrics, and the fact that I’ve been making these around Mr. D having surgery this week and having to look after him – well, this is what I made: a sort of homage to Life on Mars (UK AND USA versions because unlike most Brits who started with the original, I don’t mind the remake too much, except for the end).

And as I say, I didn’t have a lot of time this week with Mr. D being ill….I’m still recovering from a trip to Emergency Services that didn’t get us home till nearly 3am, to the point where lyrics like “Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow” are actually beginning to make sense….and this is the excuse I’m using for the blouse being a bit of a tent, being so wide it didn’t need the prescribed zip and me not having time to make fitting alterations before the photoshoot (which was quickly taken at the end of our road, not on Mars, honest).

It looks ok if I have one hand behind my back pinching the fabric in like in this:

And yeah, I know…Life on Mars is 1972/73 and this blouse is strictly a 60’s throw back and the skirt isn’t quite A line enough, but still. It’s a god awful small affair…. the fabric looks a bit psychedelic and floppy bows stayed around for much of the 60s.

But when I make this blouse in the more expensive fabric I plan to, I will make it at least one size smaller and do some proper fitting so it doesn’t bag out at the back like this:

Other thoughts about Simplicity 2154’s blouse – watch out you don’t put the keyhole slit in the front too low. The knot of the bow is supposedly to anchor itself through this…..I can’t quite work out why, but mine was too low and if I’d made the pattern as instructed it would have ruched up the whole neckline. Instead I formed the bow and knot first and then sewed on in the centre top of the neckline. Also, I didn’t put any interfacing in the bow as I wanted it quite floppy and had seen this account of making it with interfacing.

It’s cool.

Actually, having just rewatched a few Gene Genie clips on youtube, I can not only see myself coming back to make some more authentic looking 70s outfits (bigger collars are calling me) but it might be time to get out my Life on Mars boxsets to accompany my sewing….especially as I’m now up-to-date with Downton Abbey, this week’s sewalong-marathon viewing.

Only one thing for it now though:



Tempest Devyne is a Brit who loves rain. She was therefore exiled to the deserts of Arizona. She started tentatively sewing about 3 years ago to make her own burlesque costumes. She'd now like to make pretty clothes for herself that don't rely on velcro and poppers to stay on. She's self-taught with help from the internet and lots of books from the library.


Comments are closed.

  1. I love the color and the print (…and how you managed to get away without having a UFO in the first place.) And the blouse is pretty cute. The background is perfect Mars territory and the shadow of the root in the first pic made me think one can see the shadow of some weird flying object coming from above. ;)
    If you’d like the blouse to fit a bit better (like in the pic where you’re holding the fabric in the back), you could probably turn it into a real UFO and tinker around with it until it fits for real. If it’s tighter you’d probably need a zipper in the back though (this might become a real pain when I think about it…forget about my suggestion….) How did it work in the original pattern? No zippers, no buttons? Pretty amazing.

  2. Hi Djamila, you’re probably right about tinkering with the blouse a bit more – the original pattern calls for a zip at the side…..but the good thing about this blouse are the centre seams on the front and back of the bodice. I reckon if I opened these up and did some ‘surgical’ removing of fabric, plus darts from armholes at bust level it would fit a lot better (although this would reinstate need for zip). Thank you :)

    • You know the blouse has quite a good fit in the front. I didn’t notice it was so roomy until I saw the back photo. Since the blouse has no sleeves it might actually be not so difficult to insert a side zipper. Don’t be scared of zippers. They are my best friends. Like them so much better than buttons. You outfit looks cute though no matter whether you’ll tinker around some more or whether you’ll just leave it as it is.

      • Remarkably I’m ok with zips and buttons, perhaps I’ve just been lucky with them so far. I think it was just I ran out of time and found when I tried the top on before putting the zip in that it could be done without. I might keep this one large actually, tried it on with a pair of capris and it looked pretty good. Next one can be more fitted :)

  3. I like that fabric, it’s very psychadelic, cute outfit

  4. I love your interpretation of UFO! The bow and collar look really good together.

  5. Great faux-UFO! I love that bright fabric! Thanks for the tip on the bow. I haven’t made the blouse of this pattern yet but, now I’ll watch out for that.

  6. Clever girl… No UFOs, so you use the opportunity to make a wearable muslin out of thrifted fabrics in between visits to the emergency room. That’s some righteous dedication to the cause, girl! I am inspired. I have that same Simplicity 2154 pattern and was leery about that bow collar. Seeing your pink version (love how the skirt’s print matches the bow) gives me an idea of how to make the blouse work for me. Hey! Your muslin is my muslin….kinda ;-)

    Oh, and for the record, it’s still “sci-fi” in America. Those cable network bastards at the SyFy channel have nearly ruined the genre with its killer gargoyle and Dinocroc programming. Ever since Battlestar Galactica (I was a hardcore groupie of that masterpiece) went off the air, SyFy acts like its trying to jump the shark with every thing it airs (well, except for the Star Trek, X-Files, and Hitchcock marathons they do every now then). But, I digress. The message is…Long live Sci-Fi! Down with SyFy! (If chanted like picket line protest, one must lisp while saying SyFy).

    • I love a girl passionate about her sci-fi. Perhaps its just the teens being swayed by the tv channel then, because I’ve noticed my daughter using the wrong spelling a few times.

      I wasn’t too sure about the blouse on the packet front, but then I saw Vintage Wardrobe’s check version: that won me over and this ‘muslin’ was a try out for a Cat in the Hat inspired one I’m meant to be making (with big red bow) for Dr Seuss’s birthday/release of The Lorax/Read Across America week….but not quite sure when I’m going to get it done with everything that’s happening at the moment.

    • I’m so glad you explained this! I was confused about the “sy-fy” reference, but I don’t have cable, thus didn’t know about this channel and it’s crappy spelling. And apparently programming. Ha!

      Oh, and Ms. Tempestdevyne, you’re looking fine in this color. Can’t wait to see the fitted fancy version!

  7. I’ll join you on that sci-fi picket line! Tempest, you’re on a serious roll and I can’t wait to see you in a big ol’ 70s collar. Speedy recovery to your husband.

    • Thank you so much for the best wishes Lee. Yes, I think I might have to track down some 70’s patterns and/or do some research. I need to rid my memory that the 70s were just brown, brown and more brown.

  8. Hi Djamila, I absolutly love that skirt! The fabric is so 70’s. This is a funny coincidence, I just bought that same sheet yesterday, at a thrift store near me! I’ll definitely have fun with that fabric too. It’s fun to use those colorful crazy prints when you’re working out the style and fit of a fabric. Love your styling in the photos.

  9. You look smashing in crimson, and that blouse? gorgeous! I cant wait to see the fancy version. I’m waiting for season 2 of Downton Abbey LOVE IT!!

  10. Space cowgirl! Love it!

    We should start a chat thread on Downton. I’m itching for people to talk to about it!

  11. Super lady-like with the gloves. Love the vibrant pinks.

  12. LOVE the colors and LOVE LOVE LOVE the Dalek costume!