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Surf to Summit Top Pattern - Out now!

Bosco 2007-2012

3 April 2012, 13:28

This wasn’t how I’d planned this week’s posts – I made a top and trousers over the weekend, plus I had some fabrics to show off from last week’s work trip to Montreal…

But yesterday afternoon, our little Bosco died in his sleep. It was totally without warning, and our best guess is that his heart condition finally caught up with him. I’d been home with a fever all day, and he’d been curled up with me earlier, making sure I felt better for him being there. I even tweeted a photo. It’s the last we ever took of him:

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A new sofa slipcover (and bonus cat photos!)

12 March 2012, 12:31

Home dec sewing is boring – there’s no two ways about it. To keep you from falling asleep while reading this, Bosco has helpfully decided to sprawl himself all over said slipcover to act as a diversion from the tedium!

James bought this purple and grey leafy brocade/damask fabric in Paris at Coupon St Pierre last weekend. The coupon fabric shops are a bit different from the usual “there’s a bolt I want you to cut this much of it” fabric stores – here instead, you rummage through piles and piles of pre-cut fabric at set prices, then take what you want to the till. You’re forced to get the full length, but at greatly reduced prices. Anyway, James was after some loud brocade for the interior of a fantasy jacket he’s got brewing for me (which I’ll be telling you more about soon) and bought this only to come across even better fabric later on.

So this lovely, shimmery brocade was left without a use.

Meanwhile, our faux-leather sofa was entirely covered in blankets to try and stop the cat from scratching off what little life was remaining in it (Bosco has the world’s shortest cat memory, and the Liquid Justice squirt bottle hasn’t stopped the problem). So James had the brilliant idea that I should turn it into a slipcover for the sofa!

Lucky for me, there was just enough fabric in the 3m to cover our 2m sofa, and the sofa’s an easy enough shape so working out a pattern wasn’t too bad:

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Yet more lycra...

29 February 2012, 13:38

Are you bored with lycra yet?

If you recall, I’m sewing three different pieces of running gear – leggings, a vest top, and a long sleeved top. The vest top has stalled while I wait for my new coverstitch binder to arrive, but I was able to finish my leggings this weekend and cut out all the pieces for the long sleeved top.

When I went to look through my stash for fabrics, though, I realised that the long sleeved top needs three different fabrics in order to get a contrast on the upper body, and again at the hip pockets. So I’m using the black supplex for the top and sleeves, leftover turquoise for the lower back and front hips, and the same turquoise but overlaid with olive green stretch lace for the front body. I’m thinking a bit of lace in the running community won’t go amiss.

But now this top is stalled while I await more short, black invisible zips (which should arrive with my binder!) for the pockets and the upper front!

It’s realistically looking like I’ll only have my leggings ready for the Paris half marathon on Sunday, so I needed to take them out for a test run last night prior to the big event.

Be prepared for a totally unflattering, post-hour-long RDC session photo…

(I’m wearing the blue Nike pinny over my jacket ‘cos I’m a group leader!) Overall, I’m really happy with the fit. The ankles are still a bit baggy (even after I took them in a bunch!), but the fit everywhere else was perfect. I was a bit concerned about chafing since I don’t have a flatlock machine so my overlocked seams make small ridges inside, but they were absolutely fine, and the waistband was very comfortable and sat exactly where I wanted it to be with no shifting or tugging. Result! I’ll totally be making more of these from my customised base pattern…

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A bit of everything

17 February 2012, 14:20

Housekeeping time! I’ve got lots of little bits to update you on, either with my in-progress project, upcoming things, or small projects I managed to gloss over at the time…

So in no particular order:

My purple coat

Progress is slow on my purple jacket/coat from the Winter 2011 MyImage magazine, not because of anything to do with the coat, but because life keeps getting in the way. I’ve finished the shell and I’m onto the lining now, so I’ve just got to finish constructing the lining, attach the two together, flip, and sew the buttonholes.

I’d prefer to do the buttonholes on my vintage buttonholer attachment, but the templates I have aren’t big enough for my enormous (2.5 inch?) buttons. Anyone know a clean way around this? Can I set the buttonholer to do double-length holes somehow?

In any case, I should be able to finish this coat this weekend and (hopefully) get a photoshoot in. Not long now before I can do evenings photos again – it’s already light out when I go running before work!

Gift update

My go-to baby gift is to sew a changing mat, with a hand towel on one side, and nice fabric on the other with big, deep pockets and ties to fold it all up. I had two baby boys arrive in January, so both sets of parents got changing mats with this awesome Alexander Henry vintage robot fabric. 1 meter of it wasn’t quite enough to stretch to the pockets, too, so I filled in with some scrap denim.

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Upcoming January sewing

17 January 2012, 14:36

I’ve finally emerged from the craptacular flu (which then turned into bronchitis) that I’ve been under since Dec 28 – thank you for all your well wishes! For me, it really feels like the new year, 16 days late!

The Ruby Slip was my first garment of 2012, but my second and third aren’t far away…

Grey flannel trousers


Just before Christmas, I met up with Claire for lunch and she gifted me a massive length of wonderful dark grey flannel. It’s so soft and lovely that initially I thought a dress, but then realised I’m likely to get much more wear out of a really chic, comfortable pair of dress trousers. So on Friday night I traced and cut Burda Jan 12 #122, mostly because the issue was handy, but also because they looked to be a great basic. These have the illustrated instructions for this issue, but I could sew trousers blindfolded by this point, so the instructions didn’t make much difference to me.

I sewed this on and off over the weekend and nearly completed these despite hardly being at home. As a nice tie-in to my previous garment, the pockets, fly underlap, and waistband lining are all done in the pale green silk leftover from my Ruby Slip.

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New Year's Progress Report

29 December 2011, 19:07

Back on the 17th I set some bold goals to finish by New Year’s:

I thought it was time for a little progress report, seeing as how I only have a few days to go…

  1. Paco’s Drape Collar Tunic – I sewed this up in an evening before Christmas. Though I had to get very creative in order to get long sleeves out of the 2m of sweater knit I bought… Note to self: Buy more yardage, or shorten the body length next time!
  2. Clover jeans – I just finished these! I’m totally loving the fit and the (IMHO) improved pockets, too.
  3. Holly’s maternity maxi-dress, Burda 08/2008 #125 – Having no place to cut the fabric of the enormous skirt pieces, I actually took it along to work yesterday and cut it out on the big (and empty) lunch table at lunchtime! The few guys left in the office already think I’m weird anyway. Shrug. In any case, this is now ready to sew!
  4. Ruby Slip – I wanted to cut the skirt pieces at the same time I cut out the maxi dress, but the low table height was killing my back by the time I finished with the maxi dress. I don’t think this will take long to sew together if I can ever find somewhere to cut the single-layer, bias layout… A good cutting area is my new productivity choke point.
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Piling up...

21 December 2011, 13:24

The number of posts I want to write is piling up at an alarming rate, and I have no time to do anything about it, what with work being crazy busy (I hate all of you who get tons of time off at Christmas – I only get 3 days off in total! And my days have mostly been solving one problem, and having five new problems pour in while I was fixing the one, then moving on to the next in a To-Do list which never, ever gets cleared.) and us spending all our weekends working on the boat (last weekend we spent 15 hours building the subfloor down there. No, don’t feel jealous – the boat blog is being neglected, too).

So rather than stress about the amount of things piling up, I’m going to present my pile to you in pictorial form.


This is what James’s desk looked like this morning. It’s supposed to be my temporary cutting table while we’re building in the hold. How can I possibly cut the bias Ruby Slip or Holly’s maxi-dress fabric on this?? I’m pretty sure Bosco isn’t responsible, though he does look a bit shifty there…


I finished my vintage midi skirt ages ago, but have had zero time to document, or photoshoot or anything. So here’s two photos to test the hem length (which is why it’s just basted here)


I sewed a little waistcoat for James’s nephew out of this Tardamask fabric on Spoonflower. It’s got hidden pockets inside! He’s 7, and the biggest Dr Who fan ever, so we’re excited to see his reaction on Christmas.

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The Burda trench jacket - in progress

5 September 2011, 15:06

I am on fire for Fall sewing right now, and the latest object of my desire is my beautiful little trench jacket. I’d bought some waterproof gabardine from Mood when we were in NYC last Fall, but it was the end of the roll so I only had 2.5 yards to play with while selecting a pattern.

With several years of various pattern magazines to choose from, I was in no short supply of trench coat patterns. However, many of the traditional, double-breasted, longer length trench coats require at least 3 yards/metres of fabric, so my fabric shortage helped me narrow down the possibilities immensely. In the end, it was down to Burda 02-2009-119 and Burda 08-2007-111, and I figured I’d get more years of wear from a stylish jacket than I would a cape.

So the curvy, feminine, petite pattern won out!

I did make a muslin of this (I’d be mad not to for a petite pattern), but surprisingly, the only alterations needed were to lengthen the sleeves. Despite being 5’8”, I tend to find that Burda’s Petite patterns fit me waaaay better than Burda’s Tall patterns (which seem to be grotesquely oversized whenever I try them).

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Lucky Me

8 August 2011, 13:32

Well, aren’t I a lucky girl recently? First of all, I won interfacing and a metal seam gauge from Pam’s giveaway at Off the Cuff!

I’ve won Pro-Sheer Elegance and Pro-Woven Shirt Crisp interfacings, to be precise. Coincidentally, both kinds were the few I didn’t buy on my interfacing binge a few month ago! So now I’ve got an even greater biodiversity in my interfacing bag…

Then, hot on the heels of winning that – I may have lost Karen’s draw, but I ended up winning a copy of the novel “Laura’s Handmade Life” from craftycrafty.tv, too! A novel where the heroine bounces back from life crises through sewing? Yes, I think I’ll enjoy this… So now I’ve got three books in my reading queue, aahh!

And it was time again for another Google Adsense payout, so I thought this time I’d spend your hard-earned funds on something a great majority of you will want to see: the new DKNY Vogue pattern (1259), and 3m of this gorgeous mushroom-coloured viscose/cotton/lycra from Tia Knight aka “In Fashion Fabrics” on ebay. It’s ridiculously soft, lightweight, and drapey and just perfect for the gajillion gathers on this pattern, so when both arrived within a day of each other late last week, I set to work!

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The silk chrysanthemum blouse

1 July 2011, 13:58

As I discussed in my post on “pedestal fabrics” last week, I’ve had a ridiculously gorgeous silver and black chrysanthemum print silk in my stash ever since AllisonC gifted it to me two years ago when I was about to go into hospital.

But I’d brought it out again recently and thought about how I’d best like to wear it and I decided that I love and wear my silk blouses so much (and my birthday blouse in particular!) that I should sew this into a blouse to get the most wear and love out of this “pedestal fabric”!

In this case I chose to use the same pattern as my birthday blouse, Manequim Feb 2011 #158, because it fits great, I love the style, and I knew it worked well with a drapey silk.

You know what? I am so happy I took the plunge and cut into this fabric, because I just adore this blouse!

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Free kitty kicker pattern and tutorial

1 March 2011, 12:43

Do you have a cat? Does he sometimes scratch where he’s not supposed to?

Ours may look angelic, but Bosco’s certainly got a naughty streak!

Cats need to scratch with their hind legs or bad things happen. But we don’t really want them “bunny kicking” our arms to shreds, either! That’s where the Kitty Kicker comes in – your cat will nuzzle the felty, catnippy wonder to his face and kick at the body with his hind legs! And the offset end seams means it rolls really easily, giving kitty something to chase as you throw it around the room.

Download the pdf here!

Like with all downloadable patterns, make sure to print it at 100%! Unless your cat is very small, or utterly enormaincoon, in which case feel free to scale up or down. Also feel free to change around the felt piece – make it long and fringed, or spiked, or even replace it entirely with ribbons or yarn if you’d rather.

You will need:


1. Small piece of tough fabric like denim, twill, canvas, or home dec fabric (IKEA do great heavyweight fabrics for cheap!)
2. Small scraps of felt (optional)
3. Fiberfill, or scrap fabric for stuffing
4. Catnip!
5. Hand needle and thread

Instructions:

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Black flannel pyjama bottoms

18 February 2011, 13:46

James isn’t normally the pyjama sort, but it’s been particularly cold this winter and he’s been in need of some PJ bottoms for quite a while. He only has one pair and it’s kinda sad to be wearing Santa Homer Simpson in February:

(Note to family – please don’t take this as a plea to send more. He really only needs and wants this one pair!)

So I took pity on him and said I’d sew him a new pair to wear, and Burda magazine 12-2010 #134 was particularly handy. There are tons and tons of unisex pyjama trouser patterns out there, but this one was easy to find, and I know Burda’s sizing is so consistent that a 52 would fit him fine.

We were going to use the grey knit fabric we bought at Ditto, but I greatly underestimated the width of that so there was nowhere near enough (totally my fault as Gill asked “are you sure that’s enough?”). In a sea of insipid cutsey prints, Chawla’s came through with this solid black cotton flannel for cheap (3m for £11 shipped and I’ve got extra for jacket interlining if I like now, too). Chawla’s may not have the widest selection of natural fibre fabrics, but they are consistently the fastest shippers ever – I ordered this on a Tuesday, and it arrived in Thursday’s post!

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Some lovely sewing gifts

8 February 2011, 15:46

In amongst my usual pattern magazine subscriptions, my postie has been quite busy delivering some additional goodies to FehrTrade Towers over the past few weeks! First, I won a sewing (almost) page-a-day calendar from Julia at Marmalade Kiss, whose blog I’ve been following for ages and ages! She’s incredible at corsetry, underwear and drafting (and has her own corsetry supply shop, too) and was one of the contributors in the calendar so I’m looking forward to bumping into hers as I work my way through the year!

Not long after that, the lovely and extremely chic Yoshimi posted a giveaway for a really cool rotary ruler, and this was not two days after I’d just painstakingly measured the armscye and the sleeve curve on my winter coat pattern so I was really hoping I’d win as this would make it SO much easier to match curves! And then I was gobsmacked to win this, too! It’s like a pizza cutter but with a ruler along both sides of the wheel so you can measure as you roll! I’ve never seen anything like it before, but it’s such a cool idea.

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Navy blue riding trousers

3 November 2010, 10:23

Jacquie made these trousers as part of her recent wardrobe collection (she’s “dingyadi” on PR) and I instantly knew I had to make them, too. Like her, I was put off by how skin-tight these looked on the Burda model in the magazine, but in real life, they fit really nicely! Unlike her, I left off the front patch pockets, though, as I figured there was enough going on everywhere else!

They’re from Burda magazine 08/2008 #120A:

They’re great trousers, but there’s just so many freaking pieces, omg! And the topstitching!!

Take the front leg, for instance. On a normal pair of trousers, it’s one piece (maybe three if you have a pocket). On these, the front leg is comprised of three pieces before you even get into the pockets (so 6 in total for mine, or 9 if you chose View B with the added pouch pockets with the flap!). There’s a scooped pattern piece at the inner thigh in the front and back, and lots of horizontal topstitching across the knees in addition to topstitching pretty much every seam of the trousers, too.

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Winter 09 KnipMode Roundup

30 December 2009, 13:44

I’ve got the October through January KnipModes to show off now, but the special thing here is that two of the four issues were hand delivered to me by neighbours that had recently been in Benelux (well, really just Bene)! One might be going back soon so I might get another few hand delivered as well if I play my cards right…

Oct 09 + supplement – with special bonus Plus sized section that’s twice as many patterns as usual in each issue

I love love love this leather jacket! They make this same design in some nice wools later in the issue, too so I wouldn’t have to do it in leather if I wanted to make my life a bit easier.


I’m not sure if I’m totally sold on any of these selection of different trouser shapes, but I like the idea of them…


I really like these Make 4 dresses (this style was also made in the leather section, too), especially the colour blocked one. What a great way to use up short ends of fabrics!

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Burda floral crossover dress

9 December 2009, 08:41

The second of my winter knit dresses is the cross-bodiced Burda WOF 06/09 #129. I’ve had my eye on this pattern ever since it came out, but I was amazed to see that no one had reviewed it yet on PR, so it’s definitely an undiscovered gem as far as I’m concerned!

I recently ordered a big batch of fabrics from Totally Fabrics (more on that later) in their 40% off everything sale including this brown floral viscose jersey print with shades of teal, fuschia, and grey thrown in. I only ordered one metre (of 1.5m available stock) but when it turned up, it turns out they gave me the whole 1.5m rather than have an awkwardly short leftover! Score! Even so, there was no way I could squeeze this entire dress out of the yardage available, so I had to do a clever amount of fabric Tetris, shorten the hem by 2 inches, make the sleeves 3/4 length, and sew the hidden front bodice piece from a constrasting grey marl jersey.

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A spring turtleneck in cream wool jersey

2 March 2009, 13:08

I bought some beautiful cream wool jersey from A-Z Fabrics on Goldhawk Road last time I was there, and I figured it’d be the perfect all-season fabric for layering or for wearing alone. By the time I bought it, though, my funds were a bit depleted, so I only grabbed a meter and a half as it was quite pricey at £10 a meter. I was instantly imagining it as a turtleneck but without any fully formed details in my mind. Then I was reminded of BWOF 08/08 #118 (an issue I’d previously overlooked) and saw that this was definitely what I had in mind, albeit shortened to a top.

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Problem solving

9 February 2009, 22:34

Problem: exposed kitty litter tray


In our attempt to make the transition over to the other side of our boat (from the self-contained flat to the main part), we set up a new litter tray for Bosco in a pipe void under the bathroom sink. But shortly after we installed it, Bosco was having a scratch, James looked over, and they made awkward eye contact. Bosco meowed in protest! Clearly something was needed to protect his precious modesty!

So I sewed up a little curtain for his litter area using Michael Miller‘s “Bad kitties” fabric that I had leftover from our throw pillows, adding a nice little border in chocolate brown at the bottom. It’s all cotton and all washable, so it’s no big deal if it gets dirty.

And hurrah! No more litter in sight and I have a happy cat.

Problem: cold feet at night

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Pink guitar pyjamas

26 December 2008, 17:35

Twas the day before Christmas and all through the boat, all the creatures were stirring, especially Melissa at her sewing machine and Bosco with his catnip mouse!

We were invited to breakfast on Christmas morning at a neighbour’s and she kept saying how we should all just come in our pyjamas for some bucks fizz, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, so I thought it’d be fun to whip up some brand new pyjamas to wear! Christmas has always meant new pyjamas to my mom in particular – growing up, she and her brother and sister would always wake to find a new pair at the top of the stairs which they’d then be expected to change into so they were wearing new PJs in the christmas photos! I didn’t take it that far (I changed into the blue silk cocktail dress in time for dinner!), but it was awfully nice to wake up and put on new, comfortable clothes!

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Coming up...

4 December 2008, 10:44

Now all my Christmas presents are done, I’m home free to sew more for myself! So coming up in the next few weeks you should find the following…

Completed

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Black biker trousers

12 September 2008, 11:16

Continuing on with my need to fill my wardrobe’s trouser-shaped void, I decided this time around to try (gasp!) a different trouser pattern! But since I still wasn’t sure how well BWOF 05/2006 #112 would fit me, I opted to sew it up in the leftover black cotton drill from Simon’s pirate coat so that nothing would be lost if the fit was awful.

Frankly, I should’ve trusted Burda more – the fit is even better on these than on my casual TNT (“tried and true”) pattern I’ve been making for ages. These trousers have a seam running down the front leg that goes right into the pockets at the waist, and I think this extra seam really helps to shape them more closely to my legs.

I couldn’t wait for the photoshoot to wear these, though – so forgive the wrinkles! By this point they’d already been out for a friend’s birthday cocktails followed by langostines (yum!) in Soho, plus a full day at work. So just trust me when I say that there are no fit wrinkles when they’re fresh…

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Bad kitty pillows

23 March 2008, 20:32

Ever since I cut up the Ikea pillowcases and turned them into placemats a few weeks ago, our couch has had the indignity of being adorned with raw pillows (oh the shame!). I’ve been sewing like a mad woman over this long bank holiday weekend (I finished up my jeans and my Patrones Jean Paul Gaultier skirt but it’s been hailing and snowing and FAR too cold to make photoshoots appealing…) so I finally got the energy up to cover the pillows once and for all, with the genius naughty kitties fabric we bought for this purpose in the States.

I made a bunch of piping using some offcuts of poly gabardine (I eyeballed it and only had a couple inches leftover, yesssssss!), made some careful measurements, and now our couch is a much happier place to sit!

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