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The Sonata is Saved

19 January 2015, 12:32

My main sewing machine is a Joann Sonata, metal-body sewing machine, produced in 1984 and running on a voltage converter since my mom brought it over in her suitcase 12 years ago. It was a gift from my sister-in-law, having been in her family for the past 30 years, and it has been sewing like a dream through pretty much everything you’ve seen on this site since I started writing it in 2005.

The Sonata in 2006(?), pre-boatlife

In all that time, I’ve never taken it to be serviced, and – I’ll admit – I’m not the most regular oil-er, either. But everything was fine until a few months ago, when the foot pedal started to feel decidedly jerky. I’d have to press down quite far before the machine would respond, and then it’d be off at positively industrial speed.

This I could live with.

But then it started to continue sewing even after I’d left my foot off the pedal, sewing off happily into the beyond at lightspeed, leaving me to scream and kill the power switch. Obviously this could not really continue, so I begrudgingly rang up the Maury sewing machine repair shop I’d used a few years ago when my overlocker looper got bent out of shape. The shop isn’t that far away, but since the machine is heavy, I’d been dreading taking it up there, as I’d need James to drive me out on a Saturday.

I’m going to reiterate again that my machine is some random-ass brand no-one’s ever heard of, running on a foreign voltage. But he listened to the issue, and without even needing to open up the case to look at it, told me several ways he could fix it (he’d usually just graft on a new pedal, but with mine being 110v that’d be a long eBay wait). Plus I wanted a few other tweaks and a good oiling, and he said he’d give me a ring when he knew more. I should digress at this point to say that I also brought my overlocker along because I’d bought a replacement upper blade but didn’t have the special Bernina wrench required to take the &%^#% old one off. He swapped it over as I stood there (no charge!), then as we were leaving, ran out into the rain to tell me exactly which wrench to buy if I’d like to change it myself in future. What a dude!

On Monday (2 days later!), he rang me on my mobile to say he’d taken apart the wiring inside the pedal, cleaned it out, tightened up some connections and when he reattached it all, it was working fine. Plus he straightened out my needle position and oiled it so it is so much freaking quieter now it’s like another machine. All for the sum of £42. And the weird voltage and random brand didn’t even phase him – he was going to replace the entire motor to something 240v should nothing else work, just so I’d still be able to keep my beloved machine.

I’m going to say it again – what. a. dude!

The Sonata today, after her first repair.

Londoners, if you’re in need of an awesome sewing machine repairman, definitely speak to Mark at Maury Sewing Machines on Hackney Road (between Shoreditch and Bethnal Green). He can work miracles. Plus, the shop is absolutely crammed with a million random cool machines to look at!


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Pattern Review Activewear Contest

16 January 2015, 14:31

If you’re a member of Pattern Review, you may have already noticed that they’ve announced the contests for this year, one of which is an Activewear sewing contest! This is super exciting because it’s not only a great acknowledgment of the importance and popularity of sewing exercise wear, but also a fantastic introduction for anyone who hasn’t yet started themselves.

PR Activewear contest

The contest started yesterday and runs through to 15 February, so you’ve got one month to sew some activewear, post a review, and you might win some prizes – gift certificates from Mood Fabrics are up for grabs this time! I’ve entered some of the PR contests myself over the years and found them to be hugely motivating to focus my attention and actually sew within a timeframe. Seeing what other people are making in the contest gallery always sparks ideas of my own, too.

I’m not affiliated with Pattern Review in any way (I’ve just been a regular ol’ user for years), nor with this contest. As a “professional” I don’t feel right about entering this one, so I’m just going to advise people when I see questions I can answer, and hopefully some of you may choose to sew up some of my patterns, too!

In fact, to help sway your pattern decision-making my way, I’ve created a special discount PRACTIVEWEAR” code for 10% off all my patterns, through to the end of the contest, 15 February! This is the first time I’ve ever done a discount outside of a new pattern release, and it’s just my way of lending support for more people to know the joy of sewing up their own activewear.

And speaking of joy, I am so far behind at showing off all the amazing gear you all have made with my patterns, so get ready for a behemoth inspiration post next week! But for today, I’m going to carry on with the early stage muslins for my next pattern (oh yes!), still several months away I imagine! The first early ideas coming into life is my favourite stage of the whole process.

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A black wool Oslo cardigan

14 January 2015, 12:29

Last Friday I talked about the new digital magazine, Seamwork and my article on activewear fabrics in the latest issue. Each issue comes with two quick-and-easy pdf patterns, which you can get on subsciption for $6 USD an issue (so they’re $3 each).

I’m a little behind, but on my last day of the Christmas holidays, I decided to sew up the Oslo Cardigan from the first (December) Seamwork magazine. Since this is from a former issue, I’m not sure whether you can actually purchase this pattern anymore (if you subscribe now, you’ll get the January patterns – a very nice bias cami and cuffed leggings). UPDATE: You can buy past issues’ patterns here now!

My measurements fit pretty neatly into their size Medium but all the Seamwork patterns go up to 3XL, which is brilliant for plus-sized sewists! I was really happy with the fit on this cardigan – it’s nice and slim without being either baggy or tight, and the sleeves are the perfect length for me (a little over the wrist). The hem comes down just over my bum.

All the Seamwork patterns claim to be able to be sewn in 2 hours or less. After piecing together the pdf pattern (it also comes with a copy shop version) and cutting out my fabric, it only took 55min for me to sew together!

As the title suggests, I made this up in a wool sweaterknit, bought for £6.50/m upstairs at Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road. It’s super soft and a really nice hand (and also came in cream) and the cardigan fit nicely into 2m, with not much to spare.

The construction is really easy and straightforward, too, with well-illustrated instructions. The only places I deviated was to use vilene bias tape to stabilise the shoulder seams instead of the suggested clear elastic (I hate clear elastic), and I waited to hem the bottom until after attaching the collar.

I’d definitely suggested just folding back the hem when you attach the collar – my hem needed to be about 2in (instead of the stated 1in) to match the collar length. Then I folded up the rest of the hem to match and topstitched with the coverstitch machine. This way everything was nice and even.

Nice long cuffs on the sleeves, too!

I didn’t do the front buttons purely because my sewing machine was at the repair shop (first time in 12 years!!), and my tiny JL Mini machine doesn’t do buttonholes. But I may go back and add them in later if I find it’s not cosy enough as-is. But for the meantime, it’s pleasantly warm, soft, and great to just throw on over another outfit. I ended up wearing this to the first day of my new office job (don’t worry, the future of FehrTrade is not at risk!), and it was the perfect layering piece!

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A Jean Paul Gaultier flannel shirt

12 January 2015, 13:36

You may recall that back in September, I traveled down to Brighton to meet James at a conference, and we both hit up the fabulous Ditto Fabrics store over his lunch break. I’ve been surprisingly good at sewing up most of the fabrics from that trip in the past four months (only the coating & lining remain, and that’s earmarked & muslined already), having made a cowl neck top from the digitally printed lycra and of course, a shirt for James from the lime linen.

During that same visit, James spotted a wonderful 50/50 poly/cotton flannel which was black on one side, and a soft, brushed charcoal grey on the reverse. It also still bore the tags from its original, designer previous life!

Jean Paul Gaultier Paris!

After the success of the lime linen shirt, James requested that I make the same pattern again using this two-sided flannel – most of the shirt should be in black, but with the cuffs, collar, and placket using the grey side.

I wanted to sew this as a Christmas gift for him, so once the Surf to Summit Top pattern release was out of the way, I got to work, finishing most of it before my evil holiday cold hit, but finishing the sleeve cuffs on the 24th when I could barely sit up!

I didn’t do as much topstitching with this version of the shirt, as I thought it should be a little more casual, but I did do the same lined yoke, taking care that the inner layer had the flannel side against the body so that it was super soft throughout the entire interior.

The back still features the same pleat beneath the yoke, and really, the only significant pattern change I made this time around was to create a separate sleeve cuff piece. I attached it with the seam allowances on the right side of the garment, so that when the cuff is folded upwards, the seam allowances are hidden inside instead of peeking out the bottom of the sleeve. I also changed the direction of the button tab so that it keeps the cuff in place.

I tried so hard to get all the details right here, but as soon as he put it on, he realised that I’d attached the neckline placket facing the wrong way! Oops. I’d been paying so close attention to making the placket neat that I forgot to check his other shirts to see which way they buttoned. Not a huge detail since he mostly slips it on over his head without adjusting the buttons, but annoying nonetheless.

Since the “pattern” was a traced garment and essentially free, this designer shirt actually only cost the £18 for the 1.5m of fabric! Even the Jean Paul Gaultier colognes cost more than that…

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Two Weekend Reads

9 January 2015, 15:17

There are many, many great articles on the web right now for activewear inspiration, and I am desperately overdue in showcasing all the amazing versions of my patterns that you guys have made over the past few months, but I wanted to bring two articles in particular to your attention…

The first is a fantastic tutorial Maria (Velosewer) posted on how to create a secure, zippered pocket for insertion into the back pocket of my Surf to Summit Top pattern. It works equally well with the men’s or ladies’ versions, and only requires a little extra bit of fabric and an invisible zipper. It’s all kinds of genius, and I’m totally going to try it out myself on my next cycling version!

The other exciting read is that my first article for Seamwork magazine is out now, A Guide to Activewear Fabrics. I talk about how to shop for different tech fabrics, what names they can be found under, why cotton is terrible, and how to avoid that horrible smell after repeated washings.

If you’re not familiar with Seamwork, it’s a new, free monthly digital magazine from Colette Patterns. You can read all the articles for free online, or download the pdf for easy tablet reading if you prefer (like I do). Each issue has two pdf patterns, which you can opt to buy for $6 for the lot. They’re designed to be sewn in 2hrs or under, and have a really generous size range. The patterns this issue are totally up my alley – a bias-cut camisole and a pair of cuffed leggings which Kathy has already sewn! I’m late – I’ve only just sewn the cardigan from the previous issue, which you’ll see next week. (I’ve got nothing to do with the patterns or the rest of the magazine – I’m just a contributor for this article!)

Happy reading!

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Manequim magazine December 2014

7 January 2015, 12:36

This is the last of the pattern magazine roundups for a little while (well, until the February Burda arrives, I guess!) so I hope you’ve enjoyed them. I’ve certainly enjoyed the break from blogging over the holidays, having prepared these posts before diving into my sewing cave with a flash of tea and a box of mince pies! But it’s high summer down in Brazil, so let’s see how Manequim celebrates the season…

First up are the Plus offerings for this issue, all summer separates in white. I’m not too sure about the jumpsuit (or jumpsuits in general, really), but I like the look of both blouses and the shorts).

This page definitely shows my favourite look of this issue – both the top and skirt feature asymmetric hems, and I think they pair together perfectly. The top has a very flattering surplice neckline, and it’s got a shape that I’m going to call “post-peplum”, as I think we’ve all moved on from that trend by now, right?

These trousers are deeply unflattering on the model. And to make matters worse, they’ve got her wearing a bodysuit with bare legs right next to it as if to say “look, she does indeed have normal thighs, it’s just the ugly trousers’ fault!”.

More ugly. I could possibly forgive the weird hem on this skirt, but what’s with the ridiculously large, poofy pockets??

I think it might partially be the styling and colourblocking, but I totally love this lace-yoked dress. I don’t think it’d be half as effective if the bodice and skirt were the same colour, either.

And to finish it off, another ugly skirt! This time featuring a weird front slit, strange sheer band, and ugly, bell-shaped profile. Ugh. I have a hard time believing anyone would wear this. Ever. Or possibly an Italian? (Sorry Italians. You have Donnatella Versace to blame.)

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A lime and powder blue bra set

6 January 2015, 12:54

Ugh, what a crappy holiday. I caught a cold on the 23rd, which then took a merry journey through all my insides throughout the festive season. I was ill with a cough, snotty sinuses, headache, chest infection, etc for the entire two week holidays. By Day 12 I dragged myself to the GP who gave me antibiotics lest it turn into pneumonia, and it was only on the final weekend that I started to feel a little bit better. But I feel like I deserve a holiday do-over in a few weeks – I got cheated out of so much time – there were so many things I wanted to go done…

I’m not sure why, but when I’m ill, I turn to sewing lingerie. Maybe the lace and pretty things bring me comfort, or maybe it’s that the small pieces don’t require standing up to go to the iron. Who knows! In any case, when I was able to sit up without feeling dizzy, I pulled out the Orange Lingerie Marlborough bra pattern again, this time to match a pair of Lacey Thongs I made last winter that have been waiting for a mate this long.

The colours are weird here – the photos below are more indicative of the true colours

I tried to sew a bra from this fabric and lace a while back, but it was an utter FAIL – not even good enough to document, just one for immediately cutting off the hardware and binning. So it took me a while to want to cut into the lace again – not until I had the success of my first Marlborough bra in fact!

I used some interesting fringed elastic from MacCulloch & Wallis as a feature on the Lacey Thongs, splitting it in half and using it as piping in addition to the waistband treatment. I also (clearly) used the stretch lace throughout instead of just on the wings, too.

I can’t recall exactly where I bought this lace from (it was that long ago), but it does have a bit more stretch than the yellow lace I used in my first bra, and it shows in the fit – the cups are a little looser than I’d prefer. Not so bad that it’s unwearable, just enough to serve as a reminder to definitely use non-stretch lace (or underlined!) next time.

I hardly was able to get anything done while ill, but I did manage this, though the green elastic on the bottom is a bit rippled and it’s not my neatest work. C’est la vie. At least it felt like an accomplishment and I can now wear these as a set (I’d been reserving the panties in the sewing room until a matching bra was done).

I had matching powder blue bits for pretty much everything but the underwire casings. They look white here, but they’re actually very pale aqua, leftover from my aqua bra and thong set.

I lined the entire bra using the same brought yellow/lime fabric as I used on the wings, so it’s really neat inside. It’s pretty easy to do this with bras, you just sandwich the layers when you sew a sew, fold to the right sides, topstitch, and then baste the edges. The only raw-edge seam inside is where the wings connect to the power bra, which is only a small seam in a place unlikely to rub anyway.

No photos of me wearing it, though, I’m afraid – I’m still feeling a bit crappy and the illness (nor resulting cheeseboard consumption) has not left me feeling particularly worthy of being a lingerie model!

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La Maison Victor magazine - Winter 14

5 January 2015, 13:23

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of pattern magazines, and I’d heard whispers recently that there’s a new Belgian pattern magazine on the market, so I kept my eyes peeled while we were in Brussels for the weekend in December… and couldn’t find it. But then, just as we were apart to take the Eurotunnel back to the UK, I found a copy of La Maison Victor in the WH Smiths in the Calais terminal! Hurrah!

So I can share details of the newest pattern magazine to you, and it’s good. Like, really, really good! It’s a quarterly magazine printed in Dutch, French, and German, and contains patterns for both sewing and knitting for both sexes through from babies to adults!

First up, I know you want to see the patterns that are included in this issue, and La Maison Victor make it easy – the pattern sheets are included in a special booklet in the centre of the magazine with the tech drawings printed on either side. You can tell they really did their research on this, as a lot of sewists prefer to keep their pattern sheets separate from the fashion magazines.

This magazine has got fantastic art direction and styling. It really feels like a boutique fashion magazine, and the garments are shown in a variety of poses and detail shots, and some, like this, are just to lay out what’s coming up in a feature.

One of the included patterns is for a basic wrap dress, but again, styled and presented very nicely, and with the tech drawing, layout, and instructions appearing immediately after it in the magazine. This is great as it means you don’t have to keep flipping to the instruction section while holding your place in the regular magazine (like I do with Burda, Manequim, KnipMode, La Mia Boutique, Patrones, etc etc).

If you sew for any boys, you know that good, versatile boys’ patterns are very thin on the ground – like one for every 50 for little girls. Well, LMV have at least one boys’ pattern in every issue, and in this one it’s a long sleeved polo shirt. Not only that, but it goes all the way up to teen sizes, too (height 176cm, 80cm chest)!

Omg, this dress is so similar to a RTW dress I wore to a wedding over the summer! I’ve not seen any patterns with the same cut-out back detail anywhere, either, so I do have to wonder if they were actually influenced by the same dress! It’s a great little look for a fancy party, IMHO – my tendency is to wear warm dresses in winter, but then I end up overheated in a crowded room. Having a dress with a little cutout like this is super practical on the dancefloor!

Here’s an example of the tech drawing and layout that comprises the first page of the instructions for each pattern (and as I mentioned, these are within the main portion of the magazine, not relegated to the end or a black & white section)

Here’s an example of the instructions, which have illustrations for each and every step. Having drawn out hundreds of technical illustrations for both my own patterns and the ‘Bee, I can tell you that these are really good. Way better than the Big Four’s illustrations, and better than most indie patterns I’ve seen, too. Whomever they’ve got doing these really knows what they’re doing. In fact, these illustrations are so good that honestly, I think these patterns would be suitable for most sewists, regardless of whether you can read French or Dutch.

Here’s the men’s sewing pattern for this issue (they also get a knitted cardigan). This polo shirt is very wearable and modern-styled. A seriously big win here – it’s difficult to create interesting patterns for men that can appeal to a wide range of tastes, and this polo shirt is really very good!

Finally, my last pick from this issue is this dress with rectangular seaming and hidden pockets. It’s made up in a chunky wool and there’s an exposed zipper in the back, but I could easily see this sewn up in a stable ponte knit, too.

Since you’re probably wondering, here’s the size chart (click to enbiggen!).

And here’s what the pattern sheets look like (well, the portion that could fit on my scanner, anyway). The sheets are a lot less dense than Burda, and they do something I’ve not seen anywhere else – each pattern sheet includes a mini layout showing you where the pieces are located on the sheet for each pattern, so you can more easily pick out the shapes!

Sprinkled throughout the magazine there are little notes that you can buy the fabric (or yarn) used in the patterns, too. When I looked online, most were sold out already, but the ones that were left were definitely on the pricier side of things (€30-50 for most), but you get a cute little La Maison Victor label to sew in, too.

I also really like that you can buy patterns from past issues as printed patterns with video instructions, too. In fact, I’m really tempted just to subscribe off the back of this one issue, if I can work out which of their third-party subscription companies can deliver to the UK… (anyone know?)

UPDATE: Since writing this post, they’ve released a new issue already! Can anyone with a better understanding of French or Dutch find a rundown of the included patterns in the Jan/Feb issue either please?

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Burda magazine January 2015

2 January 2015, 11:46

I hope you’re not too sick of my magazine reviews just yet – a bunch of them arrived all at once and I know a lot of you find them as a great source of inspiration, not to mention a guide as to whether it’s worth buying the issue or not! This is the first of the 2015 issues to grace my postbox, and Burda have really started the year off right!

omg omg omg, this is the short coat/jacket pattern of my dreams!! This is exactly what I was looking for – it’s perfect for my navy wool and vintage Italian silk I’d already bought, plus look at those seam lines! The back view is even better, with amazing seaming at the upper back, plus the asymmetry?!? I’m in love. And yes, I’ve already traced this out and dumped the other pattern (sorry, September 2010 short coat!).

UPDATE: Over the holidays I had a chance (through my fortnight of cold/flu hell) to muslin this jacket. It runs very small! When I sewed a 42, my usual Burda size, it was small in the bust, upper back, biceps, and waist. Pretty much all over. So I traced all 15 pieces again in size 44, muslined that, and the fit is pretty much perfect. So please, please hear my warning – go up one size on this jacket pattern!!

I can see this boxy sweatshirt pattern being a really versatile design (with or without the notched neckline), and I think the skirt is a seriously nice, too. The side panels give it a nice bit of flare and motion, but there’s no risk of it being blown around in the wind, either, since they’re secured into those front seams. The only thing I don’t like is that the edges are kept raw, but that could be fixed easily enough.

There’s an unexpected maternity feature in this issue, which features a lot of casual separates. This shirtdress looks to be really versatile, but I’m not sure I buy into Burda’s suggestion that you could wear it after pregnancy, too… Maybe with a massive obi-style belt, but you’re still pushing it!

Yes, I really am that predictable – as several of you have already let me know(!), these trousers are totally me. And you’re right, I do really like them!

You could be forgiven for totally overlooking this vintage 1950s dress pattern – it was squeezed in just before the instruction sheets and designed to look more like an ad for the special vintage issue, but there really is a nice little dress pattern hiding in there.

I’m not sure what it is about this draped jacket that appeals to me, but the integral scarf thrown over the shoulder just looks really elegant. It’s a bit “lady of a certain age”, plus wholly impractical what with the lack of closure and 3/4 length sleeves, but still. That wrap skirt, on the other hand though – that thing is just asking for a gust of wind and you’ll have your frozen netherbits exposed to the world.

I’ve already shown them both already, but screw it – I’m basking in the glory of the jacket and colourblocked trousers again. Joy.

Styling aside (what is with all the gel in her hair?!), the Plus section this month had some decent separates, including this shirt with draped overlay, which reminds me of a few RTW shirts I own.

And when was the last time Burda released a Plus-sized coat pattern?! The version in the photo has some ugly, shiny sequins strewn across it, but the pattern itself looks fantastic.

As it’s January, there’s also a fancy dress (costume) section, but they’re all for kids this year, and not really stupid/crazy/wtf enough for me to get excited about…

Lots of the patterns I liked from this issue are already up for pdf purchase on BurdaStyle.com, just sayin’…. (Wanna be jacket buddies??)

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Happy 2015! (My year in review)

1 January 2015, 11:14

As I do every year, I like to spend the first of a new year to take the opportunity to look back on what I’ve sewn in the previous year. So without further ado, here’s a visual reminder of 2014!

Click the image to see it better, or right-click here to see it in a new tab to get a better look!

Tip: If you’d like to skim back through the posts for the above projects, you can click Gallery in the upper left menu, which will only show you finished projects, without all the magazine reviews and in-progress reports getting in the way!

The Year in Stats

In terms of pattern companies used this year, I made:

By my count, I made: 31 tops, 19 trousers (including leggings & shorts),
5 dresses, 4 pieces of lingerie (bras, panties, slips, etc), 3 skirts, 3 jackets/coats/cardigans, and 4 bags. James also did well this year, being made a winter coat, 2 shirts, 2 cycling tops, and a dop-kit bag.

And I realise I’ve been sewing a lot of running gear but the total number even surprised me – 34 of the above were for running (though not all for me)!

The above may sound like a lot of sewing, but even this is only a fraction of what I’ve actually sewn – I couldn’t really include all the garments sewn for the Great British Sewing Bee, for example, or those made for custom clients (of which there’s been a LOT!), or for the book I’ve been working on, either. In all honesty, I think you could probably double the amount shown above and it’d be closer to the total output!


I like to pick a theme for each year, and for me, 2014 was The Year of the Business. In this year I released five(!) digital sewing patterns – the Duathlon Shorts in March, the VNA Top in June, the Threshold Shorts in September, the Running Armband Pocket in October, and finally, the Surf to Summit Top for men and women in December. These are by far my proudest achievements for the whole year, and something I’ll continue to be proud of in future years, just as I am with the XYT Workout Top and PB Jam Leggings patterns which were released at the tail end of 2013.

But to pick out a few of my favourite garments…

The Sherlock Coat – This one was a true labour of love, self-drafted to recreate the coat Benedict Cumberbatch wears in Sherlock. Sewn in wool, underlined in flannel for warmth, and with a collar that wants to stay up of its own accord – these were the brief. But unexpectedly, the shape is really flattering on James, and he both looks fantastic and feels toasty warm in it. Hard work well spent.

Yellow Lace Marlborough Bra – After years of sewing bras, I finally, finally sewed one that fits properly, and is comfortable enough to wear all day. I didn’t even have to alter the pattern, which just boggles my mind. This was a huge success for me. I even managed to sew up another while I’ve been sick over the holidays, but more on that soon enough.

Lavender Threshold Shorts – I spent months perfecting the fit and motion control of the Threshold Shorts pattern, making muslin after muslin trying to get them to stop that horrible inner-thigh creep when you run, and eventually, I cracked the problem and ended up with a really flattering pair of shorts (not words I say lightly, either!). This was one of those drafts that would be a triumph for me even if I was the only person who wanted to wear them. Luckily, I wasn’t, but I wanted to show the world my confidence in the design, and so ran Berlin marathon in this lavender pair. I can’t think back to this marathon without a huge smile on my face, as it was the most wonderful day (More on this here).

My light-up, twinkling running jacket – The jacket itself may have been a *#%$^# to sew and in reality, a bit too tight to actually run in, but that doesn’t stop me from wearing it before and after exercise all the time (yes, even in daylight!). Like a well-fitting bra, sewing electronics has been something I’ve wanted to do for years and I am so proud that I finally sat down and did it. Like most things, it wasn’t anywhere near as complicated as I thought it’d be, and it has the singular ability to impress absolutely everyone who sees it.

My Digital-print cowl neck top – This one really is a triumph of matching amazing designer fabric to a very simple but suitable pattern. One of my friends tells me this is his favourite of anything I’ve ever made, and it’s certainly one I find myself reaching for more often than I should. The print is far busier than I usually prefer to wear for non-exercise, but the trompe l’oiel print just gets me every time.

Argh, it was tougher than I thought to pick out only a few makes! I tend to have my fair share of duds but this year was particularly strong.

Other highlights of 2014
Ooh, too many to list, really, but I’ll try! Working on the Great British Sewing Bee, releasing five exercise patterns, running two marathons, winning four gold medals and one silver at the British Transplant Games, teaching so many ladies to sew with stretch fabrics at all my classes, collaborating on fabric designs with Laurie King, sewing so many interesting custom garments for clients, speaking at the House of Commons and visiting Downing Street in my own dresses, and getting you all motivated with sweat and sew with the Spring Race Challenge!

I’ve got lots of ideas for 2015 – some things are changing, and some are staying the same. Priorities will shift and no doubt new things will appear to take the place of the old. We’ll look forward to the great things, and endure the not-so-great. Here’s to a new year, full of hope.

If you’re curious to see how 2014 stacked up to previous years, you can have a look at previous roundups here: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.


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