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A black travel skirt

12 November 2014, 13:08

I’ve noticed a hole in my wardrobe recently – I really don’t have any plain black skirts that fit me anymore. I found myself wearing my blue travel skirt I sewed up before we went to Mexico last summer an awful lot, and I seemed to get compliments every time I wore it, too.

So when I saw Tia Knight’s very reasonably priced scuba range, I picked up 3m of black to use for both the contrast on my galaxy print sweatshirt, and to make another travel skirt like my blue one.


Not the most flattering tech drawing! It’s more A-line than this in real life…

Like the first blue version, this is the skirt pattern from Christine Jonson’s Travel Trio Three pattern, which surely must be one of my best-value wardrobe patterns ever, as I’ve made the top 3-4 times now, and now the skirt twice, too. Like before, the skirt is shortened by 12cm at the “lengthen or shorten here” lines, which creates a really flattering hem length for my figure.


Seen here with the gathered turtleneck view from the same pattern, which I made back in 2011!

I really love how flattering and comfortable this skirt is – it’s made from a knit with an elastic waistband, but it doesn’t look sloppy at all. It’s also got two really deep front pockets built in to the seaming, and I’ve got no worries that my phone will fall out when I’m jumping around the moorings.

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A Week in a Day

7 November 2014, 11:39

I’ve been a bad blogger this week. I’ve been doing lots (as you’ll soon see), but working every weekend for the past three, plus the weeks in between, and some out-of-town trips have all really sapped my enthusiasm to write! So I’m taking the lazy option out and catching you all up with a little roundup – a week’s worth of posts in a day…

Like the Wind workshop


Cult running magazine Like the Wind approached me a few months ago to ask if I’d like to run a “sew your own leggings workshop” at the week-long popup they were throwing together at the end of October. I’d known one half of the husband-and-wife team that run the magazine, but I’d never met Julie before this. Once I found out that she not only owns her own overlocker, but bought it when she sewed her own wedding dress with it(!), I knew we’d get along just fine.

We had five runners who’d only done a small amount of sewing before, but had never touched an overlocker before, and certainly not a coverstitch either! They each picked their own fabric from FunkFabrics’ range, and walked home in some very stylish leggings at the end of the afternoon!

Georgina picked a “Gotham” print, so of course she just had to pose with the Batman art in the gallery!

And here’s the finished set! I saw quite a few little “omg I’m so happy in my leggings” dances at the end, which really reminds me why I love teaching so much. Lucy posted a great writeup of the street art tour and my class, too.

There may be another Like the Wind workshop in the new year if we can work out the logistics, but there will definitely be more up at the Thriftystitcher studio in January and February, to be announced very soon! The classes are very similar, so if you’re a runner you can come learn at Thriftystitcher, or non-runners vice-versa at Like the Wind.

But I was so jealous of all their finished leggings that I treated myself to some Funkifabrics lycra this week (it was difficult, but I settled on this geometric aqua number in the end, because it reminded me of a Lamb album cover!).

Random sweatshirt sewing


When I was pulling out supplies to bring along to the workshop, I came across pieces for this sweatshirt that I’d cut out in February when I was trying to deplete random bits of leftover sweatshirting that was taking up too much room in my little sewing cave. The lavender “sacrificial sweatshirt” came out of that same cull, but for some reason I never quite got around to sewing this blue one together at the time.

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Purple & print long sleeved running top

29 December 2013, 15:00

You can understand why I need a bit of a breather now after sewing so much workout gear, right? I sewed a lot of samples for the development and testing of my two patterns, and then once I finished those, the only real hole in my wardrobe was for long sleeved running tops, so I found myself back in the lycra pile anyway!

Just like the mocha running top you saw a few weeks ago, this one is again the Christine Jonson “Travel Trio Three” Raglan top pattern with a half-height collar and some hand mitts of my own devising.

I only had a bit of the printed lycra from Minerva leftover after already making leggings and a workout top from the 2m I bought, so I cut the front and back body and the collar in the printed lycra, then used some purple “silk touch” lycra from Tissu that I found in my stash for the sleeves and hand mitts.

Forgive me for not doing a proper photoshoot on this – I was a bit photoshooted out at this point so you just get some action shots and selfies instead!


Yes, I usually am this annoyingly happy when I run!

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Mocha running top with hand mitts

9 December 2013, 12:33

I don’t stop running just because it’s cold. Last winter I tended to run in jackets over top of my sleeveless vest tops, but my weight loss over the summer means that my running jackets are all a bit baggy and stuff in my pockets tends to bounce as a result. I’m also too cheap to spend £60+ each on several new jackets!

So I’ve been favouring running in the only two long sleeved running tops in my stash – the purple one I made last December, and also the one I won at Bacchus in September. Two tops is clearly not enough for the 5-6 times a week I’m running now in preparation for London Marathon in April, so I decided to make a clone of my purple running top, this time in mocha.

Again I used the Christine Jonson Travel Trio Three raglan top pattern, altered to have a half-height collar and my own addition of hand mitts on the sleeves. This now makes the fourth garment I’ve made from this pattern across three of the four views (I don’t really need the “Ruana” wrap shawl!) so I consider it to be very good value!

The fabric here is special Under Armor “Cold Gear” fabric Cidell very kindly picked up for me from a shop in Baltimore last year. This UACG fabric is a totally different weight and hand-feel to the green ones with a brushed black reverse I’ve used for leggings, though, even though both bear the “Cold Gear” name. At first I wasn’t sure what to do with it but now I see it’s pretty much perfect for tops as it’s lightweight, warm, silky, and just generally really high quality stuff. It figures I have no way of ever getting more! (Said shop closed down, too)

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A blue neopreney travel skirt

3 September 2013, 13:30

I revealed my Mexico travel wardrobe plans last week, and what better way to start it than with a pattern actually intended for travel! I bought Christine Jonson’s Travel Trio Three pattern a few years ago because I loved the gathered turtleneck, but I’m slowly working my way through the rest of the pack, too. So far I’ve made two different views of the turtleneck already – one gathered and one plain raglan for winter running, but this time around I wanted to try out the pocketed, knit skirt.

Like the other views in the pattern, the instructions for this are utterly excellent. Christine Jonson clearly understand knits and the best ways of finishing them, and she even uses the exact same method I do for elastic waistbands (though I prefer a 3/4-1 inch wide elastic, myself)! I’m seriously tempted to buy more of her patterns with my Adsense money because I’ve really gotten my money’s worth with this pattern!

My only change here was to shorten the skirt by 12cm at the “lengthen or shorten here” line, as the original was mid-calf and felt a bit too dowdy for me. This now falls right at my knees and is just about perfect for me.

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My Mexico travel wardrobe

23 August 2013, 12:23

I’ve made a few mentions of it over the past few weeks, but James and I are off on a grand holiday to Mexico at the end of September! We’ve been talking about going for years and we’re so excited to have finally booked everything. We decided on the Intrepid “Mexico Unplugged” trip since it stops everywhere we want to go, is a small group & eco company, and provides the perfect mix of taking care of booking hotels and transportation, but doesn’t tell us how to fill our days. Which will mostly be filled with eating and visiting ruins!

Anyway, as this is a different sort of holiday than the past few we’ve gone on, and I have a few weeks left to prepare, I thought I’d share with you the few pieces I’d like to sew before we leave…

As you can see, I’ve included lots of bottoms as those are what I’m most in need of right now after losing weight for my track race! My tops still fit reasonably well, though so I’m happy to just bring along ones I’ve already made to pair with them.

I’m hoping to sew:


(I’m cheating a bit by posting this after I’ve started sewing – two of these are done already!)

Plus if I can fit them in before I go, either of the two workout tops from my SS13 Sewing Ideas, or the jeans which I keep delaying

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The current Sewing Queue

9 August 2013, 12:55

I’ve found myself at the end of yet another extraordinarily busy week, one where we’ve been out pretty much every single night, and we’ve had a friend over from the States, too. However, I have managed to make progress, albeit slow, on my swirl sheath dress in a series of 10 minute segments snatched here and there.

Since I bought my silver stretch lining fabric on Goldhawk Road last Saturday, I’ve managed to sew and press all the darts (the lining uses the original base pattern so no swirls inside), attach it to the facings, sew the side seam, and attach it to the invisible zipper.

Here’s the back of the dress hanging flat in my sewing cave:

I did the lining hem by machine, but the coral fabric hem needs doing by hand, possibly in the car this weekend. The right side strap also needs a little bra keeper snap strap to keep it in place as it’s a pinch too long. Otherwise it’s done!

It doesn’t quite fit as well as the muslin did when I made it last summer though, but that’s down to me rather than the pattern – I’ve got a big track race next weekend in Sheffield for the British Transplant Games and my trainer has put me on a training diet to shed as much excess weight as possible before the race, as this translate directly into seconds on the track.

She and I were both taken aback by how successful this has been – I’ve lost 4cm (1.5 inches) off my waist and hips and 4.5kg (10lb) in four weeks! If it wasn’t for the hours of running up hills I’d suggest she sell it as a diet plan (the running would reduce its popularity somewhat!). And really, don’t be concerned, as I’ve been stuffing my face with fruit and veggies and lean meats pretty much continuously all month, so I’m not on some idiotic juice cleanse starvation diet or something.

The downside of this is that all my trousers and skirts are hanging off me (my poor Beignet skirt has a cinched paper bag waist now!) and I’m in desperate need of new bottoms. I was planning on sewing up a few pieces for our upcoming Mexico trip next month(!!) but now it’s clear I need to sew as many bottoms as possibly and just pack tops I’ve got already.

I’m still mentally putting together a nice travel wardrobe plan (which I shall reveal in good time), but my immediate sewing plans are thus:

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Warm on top, disco down below...

17 December 2012, 14:23

Thank you all for your lovely messages while I was ill. I started to feel slight improvements little by little last week, and when I need a pick-me-up I tend to sew knits, and especially ones I’ve sewn before. So it should come as no surprise that in my flu-addled state, I should sew some more running gear, in ten minute segments while I could sit up without getting dizzy and having to lie down…

There was a reason I wanted some new winter-appropriate running duds, too – my running crew has recently become affiliated with England Athletics and this Saturday was the Met League Alexandra Palace (“Ally Pally”) fixture, where all the Serious Runners from Proper Clubs go to wear their tiny short shorts and club vests in “the off season” (otherwise known as Winter to you and I).

This was the first time we participated in such an event, and the first time I’d ever run cross country, so I wanted to wear something that stood out, and most definitely showed that RDC is not a “Running Club”! First, I needed something long sleeved and warm to layer under my RDC vest, so I chose the Christine Jonson Travel Trio Three Raglan Tee. I’d made the shirred turtleneck version of this before, and remembered how much I liked the first in the body and sleeves and thought it’d do well for running. Bonus points to Previous Me for tracing out the raglan front piece at the same time I traced the shirred version pieces!

The top was sewn in the remains of my muted purple Suziplex (seen in my original purple leggings!), and the leggings used BetaBrand Disconium fabric for the sides (the same fabric used in James’s reversible jacket), and black Suziplex for the remainder. I had plenty of Disconium to do the entire leggings, but I two-toned it as a design choice, rather than because of fabric constraints. Which also means I have plenty leftover for more disco items. bwahahah!

If you’re keeping track, this is the sixth time I’ve sewn the Papercut “Ooh La Leggings” pattern (UK stockist here)! So far, I’ve got the purple Suziplex pair, the Liberace leggings, the Run Dem Crew Refashioned pair, then my pale grey Suziplex Olympic leggings, and finally, the “Not Jeggings” so I could actually wear one and not run!

So here I am looking fresh-faced and warm before the race, in a sea of short-shorts and club vests, ha!

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Blue shirred turtleneck

14 February 2011, 13:34

Carrying on with my post-coat winter sewing plans is the shirred turtleneck from Christine Jonson’s #226 Travel Trio Three pattern. This is a travel wardrobe so also included in the envelope are patterns for a pocket skirt, a big cape/wrap thing, and a raglan teeshirt pattern.

This turtleneck pattern requires fabric with 80% stretch, which was a bit difficult to find when I actually got down to stretching my various stash fabrics against the pattern’s ruler. Eventually I discovered that this turquoise lycra jersey bought on Goldhawk Road in January 2009 (for £6 total!) was just able to meet the criteria, so it was good to finally put it to use.

This was my first experience with a Christine Jonson pattern, and I found the fit and instructions to be great – she really takes the time to add in some special knit techniques that I’ve not seen anywhere else. There’s a lot of gathering to do here, and I like that she tells you when it’s best to use the sewing machine and when it’s best to use the serger/overlocker, though three lines of gathering stitches seemed a bit overkill – two was plenty for me! I especially like that she has you gather the fabric, then stay-stitch the gathers together on the 5/8” seam line before serging it all and then breaking the staystitching to regain the stretchiness.

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