Word got round my running crew that I was starting to do some custom drafted leggings for a few people and my friend Lee Ann immediately came up to me and said “I want you to make my leggings for London marathon.” Holy crap – what an honour! It’s her first marathon, and the biggie, and she trusts me to make them for her?! I couldn’t say no to that, so I measured her up right then and there, then drafted out her pattern using the Shin book, and made her a test pair using some cheap thin lycra. She came round the boat and tried them on and amazingly, the fit was perfect, with no alterations needed, woo!
With the fit out of the way, I could then start in on the design lines, which she said she wanted to have a stripe/ribbon that started on her right hip and wrapped around to her right calf, and in navy and red to match her charity vest.
So, as I do, my first step was to draw myself a little plan:
Sorry for the crap quality there, but essentially I drew out the four big pieces (front right, front left, back left, back right) and the rough stripe shape, and realised I’d need 12 pieces in total, and as it’s asymmetric, I’d need to cut everything in single layer.
Organisation was the key, keeping the three pieces for each quarter pinned together on my sewing room clothes line!
I assembled each quarter first (ie: I sewed the front right top to the front right mid, to the front right lower until I had a full leg, and moved on to the front left). The cutting was really the most difficult here, but I managed to just barely squeeze everything out of 1m each of Tissu’s navy blue and red supplex lycras. Assembling it was much easier, but I had to be careful that the seam lines matched up over the left side seam!
I was so chuffed to see them on LeeAnn when she ran past me during the race, and she said they were a dream to wear on the day, too! No tugging, no baggy ankles, no nothing, hurrah!
Don’t they look great on her?? And she’s totally caught the bug, too – already planning her second marathon!read more >>
How great are Style Arc patterns?? One thing I love about them is that each month there’s a free pattern that comes with every order. In February, it was the Ivy tee. With its angled side seams, dropped shoulder, slightly forward shoulder seam, and banded sleeves, it’s so great for colourblocking that I just couldn’t resist! The good news is, like all of their freebies, it’s available to buy after the month is done, so you can go and get your own now, too.
I ordered a size 14 as per usual (I’m a Burda 42, for comparison), since StyleArc patterns are single-sized. This is my 3rd Style Arc pattern and I can totally understand how they’ve gained so many fans so quickly! Each one has come together beautifully, and is as comfortable and enjoyable to wear as it was to sew.
I did have a bit of trauma in the making of this, however. I did something I haven’t done in 9 years of sewing – I lost a pattern piece!! I checked everywhere, but I think the sleeve piece must’ve accidentally gone into the recycling when I threw out the paper scraps. This pattern has a dropped shoulder, otherwise I would’ve just used the knit sleeve off my Marita dress or Marie jacket patterns, so in desperation I emailed Chloe at StyleArc asking if she could possibly send me just the sleeve piece by pdf… and she did, so quickly, saying she knew I’d probably want to work on it at the weekend! How great is that?? Anyway, her scan plus some added measurements worked like a charm, and I have a completed Ivy tee!read more >>
Thank you all so much for your lovely comments on my asymmetric Drape Drape teeshirt! A girl could get used to that level of flattery…
It also marks the start of my sewing short sleeves, which means it must finally be Spring, and hence, time to start thinking about marrying up the patterns and fabrics I’d like to sew for the next few months. I really do these only for my own benefit, and so they’re not a “SWAP” in the sense that everything must coordinate against each other (lord knows I have enough clothes that I don’t have problems putting combinations together!).
This is more just a set of ideas towards which I’d like to work, so when I get to the end of a project, I can quickly refer to this image and go “oh yeah, I want to sew that next!”
For the first time I’m also including running/exercise gear in my plans, since I’m wearing lycra as a significant portion of my weekly wardrobe, and I want to contain all of my sewing ideas together. So you’ll find all the running stuff on the bottom row, and the rest of life’s wear on the upper two rows!
- Style Arc Ivy tee in mustard & charcoal viscose jersey (I’m currently sewing this now!)
- Burda March 2013 #107 cardigan, in brown merino wool jersey (LOL English summer AM I RITE?)
- One dart lace bra (copied from RTW/self-drafted from Shin) using an aqua lace I bought from Danglez.
- Burda Jan 2012 #122 trousers in leftover hot pink cotton sateen (so it’s a merging of my pink party dress and my grey trousers!)
I try to show you all my finished garments in the order I make them, but I just can’t wait to show you my wildest running leggings yet! I only finished the hems on Monday night and stuffed them into my running bag to wear to Run dem Crew last night, and WOW, they got a glowing reception!
I made these with Funki Fabrics’ digitally printed lycra in “Tribal white on black”, plus fluorescent yellow lycra from Minerva Fabrics, inserted above the knee (and is WAY brighter than it appears in these photos!).
I liked the design lines of this McCalls leggings pattern, so I adapted my self-drafted leggings pattern to have similar sections above the knee, with angled thigh seams to be a bit more flattering (or, as flattering as you can get in neon yellow, ha!).
I had a friend take these photos after our run last night (a very fast 10km run with the Cheetah group around Victoria Park! Geeky stats here if you’re interested)read more >>
I’ve had the idea of these “Gold Medal Leggings” in my head for months now.
I’d originally envisioned myself swooping through the Paris half wearing them, making Chanel-ed sunglasses tilt down as I sped past in a blur! “Oh my! Who eez zat magnificent femme with ze gold leggings??”
Or something like that. But then I got ridiculously sick with the shingles in January and still couldn’t run it come March, so these got their debut in the East London half on Sunday instead. Not quite as glamorous, but they did cause quite a stir.
I used my leggings draft from the Kristina Shin book again, teamed with Suzie Spandex “Spirographix” lycra in yellow. This makes these sister leggings to my Liberace pair (which were in the comparatively sedate “charcoal” colourway!), which I wear ALL the time. I had Arielle buy this fabric, plus some Suziplex for me when she was in Montreal and they were hand-carried in a series of suitcases across multiple borders, so I’m very glad to make good use of it!
It also appeared that Suzie Spandex cut a very generous length because it was more like 1.4m than the 1m I ordered, woop (so there’s plenty left for accents on Jalie running skirts or tops). Believe it or not, I sewed these up on my jet lag day after our red-eye flight back from the States when I was trying to stay awake until local bedtime!
The leggings certainly got the reception I was after – I’m not exaggerating when I say that my leggings got more cheers on the route than I did, I swear!read more >>
Last week we flew over to the States for a week – not in Pennsylvania where I grew up (no offence, but I’m kinda sick of visiting there!), but to Baltimore, with a day in DC at the end. We got a lot of strange looks from British friends when we said where we were going – “Baltimore? Really? Why??”, and we’ve been mounting our own Baltimore Tourism crusade since we got back, because it was fantastic!
The reason we were over was because James was speaking at a prestigious tech conference, but I took the opportunity to meet up with loads of friends and family, including the chance to finally meet some fellow sewing bloggers!
I’ve been speaking to Cidell & Trena for at least five years now I reckon, and even weirder is that I already knew their voices from their earlier sewing podcasts (please bring them back!), and there was zero awkwardness when we met up for dinner! It really was like we’d known each other for years, which I suppose we have!
Cidell puts me to shame – she posted about our meeting like the same day!! I was also very excited to get more of the Under Armour Cold Gear fabric she’d previously sent, because during the last few months I’d been doing laundry twice a week in order to wear my Cold Gear leggings on both my Tuesday night runs and my Saturday long runs because they’re seriously the warmest leggings I own. Next winter I’ll be much better prepared now!
We both wore running gear we made ourselves – she’s wearing McCalls 6435 adapted for running as her top and the Jalie sports skirt lengthened into leggings, and I’m wearing my disco top and my new self-drafted leggings with that fishnet insertion from Tissu in the front thighs and back calves, which you can see a bit better here:read more >>
Thanks very much for all your birthday wishes! I had a brilliant day, and the dress fared very well indeed at my mystery dinner – the waitress complimented it the second I sat down!
With the dark colour of the dress, I really need daylight for a photoshoot, though, so the first opportunity is tomorrow (Friday). I’ll try to get the post up later that day as I know you’re all waiting patiently to see it on me!
My thoughts are definitely drifting towards the upcoming long Easter Weekend, and what I’d like to sew during it. As usual, I’ve got mental plans for way more than I can possibly get completed in four days, but here’s what I’m hoping to make…
I need to draft up leggings for two friends from my running crew, and sew samples/muslins for each from some cheap lycra I’ve got on hand for the purpose. One of them is popping over late in the weekend so I’ve really got to get hers ready by then!
I’d also really like to sew up two pairs for me based on my own draft, one in black supplex (with the aim of using that fishnet trim on them afterwards), and one in the tribal print from Funki Fabrics.
Once a pattern is set and ready, I can churn out a pair of leggings in a few minutes, though, so I’m not too concerned about fitting these in, it’s the drafting that will take the time (and desk space!).
Style Arc’s Marie Jacket
My main task for the weekend, though, is to make Stye Arc’s new Marie jacket, especially since I’ve gathered all the necessary supplies over the past week or so – some fabulous black and silver heavy jersey from Minerva and a big separating zipper from Our Patterned Hand read more >>
My weekend mostly went like this…
On Saturday morning I got up for a 2hr 45min (16+ mile) run in the rain with my two good friends, Chris and Juell. We got soaked, ran along Regents Canal to Camden and then through the heart of the city and back through Shoreditch to home. We were soaked to the bone, but had a great time and I furthered my knowledge of myself, my glycogen storage capacity, and my stomach’s ability to digest medjool dates as a gel alternative. That, and I feel a bit more confident now that I’ll be able to finish Copenhagen marathon now, having dialled back my expectations after being ill for so long.
The above uses the official photo from when I bought the “Ravissant Duchess Satin Plum” from Fabric.com three years ago, but below you can see the actual colour and exactly how much gorgeous lustre it gives off in the light. On the inside, I’m using a lovely floral lining fabric gifted to me from Veronica when I was in Paris last Spring.read more >>
As I mentioned earlier this week, one of the projects I wanted to work on was refashioning the free (but too large) shirt given out at the Paris half marathon a few weekends ago. Pretty much every race these days gives out a shirt, and usually they’re in nice wicking fabrics, but very rarely are they nicely designed, or vests. I prefer to run in vests instead of teeshirts (even if I’m wearing a jacket over top), so after I finished sewing my mom’s latest chic sweatshirt, I set to work on the race tee.
Here’s a “Before” shot, with my friend Daniel holding up his at the race expo (this is the “Medium”, but it’s massive, like a men’s large!)
I really like the Paris logo, so I wanted to keep that on the front, but I didn’t care about the adidas stripes on the sleeves or “boost” on the upper back (the new shoe they’re promoting). So the first step was to carefully cut along the sides of the shirt and sleeves, so I could lay the shirt out, folded along the centre front and centre back and pin my (self drafted but based on the Kristina Shin sloper) vest pattern pieces down:
I then cut the pieces out, with seam allowances at the sides and shoulders, but none at the neck and arm edges, since I planned to bind those with some of the black technical strips I used with the disco running top.
These were the only bits of the shirt I didn’t use!
First step is to use my little pizza wheel measuring device along the bound edges to work out what length strips I need…read more >>
How much do I love the disco fabric?? It really is the fabric that keeps on giving. This time, I paired the Beta Brand disconium fabric with some black Supplex from Tissu (which is BACK IN STOCK right now! This stuff sells out in days, people!) to make a sweet disco running top to match the disco running leggings I made in December
For this top I did something different and started with the teeshirt sloper from the Patternmaking for Underwear Design book, which I love (thanks for the surprise gift, Mom!!). It’s drafted with 10% negative ease and fits exactly the way I want my running gear to fit. And because knit slopers have no darts, they’re surprisingly quick to whip up, too.
I was super inspired by this kid’s top in the most recent Young Image magazine, so after making one for my niece, I altered my sloper to have a similar back, which was surprisingly easy to do.
Essentially, I just drew two curves so there was a hole in the centre back, traced along one set of curves for the upper back piece (red in the diagram below), and traced along the other for the lower back (blue). At the shoulders, I didn’t want the lower back to peek through, so I made its strap 1cm narrower at the neckline. The back pieces are connected at the shoulders, armscye, and (just barely!) at the side seams, but the rest is free-hanging.read more >>
A month on, and I’m still ravaged by the shingles attack that hit me in mid-January. Absolutely everyone who saw my torso said it was the worst case they’ve ever seen (doctors included), and lucky, lucky me, the little bugger caused nerve damage, which means the pain in my side could continue on for months or possibly a year (again, lucky, lucky me). I’m on four different prescription painkillers until the neural-specific one hopefully starts working soon, so I’ve been stuck at home Resting (I hate resting.). The good news is that the doctor says I can now go do the odd half day at work and very easy run here and there as it’s driving me crazy not to, but I’m not to overdo things. But even that’s better than being chained to a couch!
Anyway, I’ve done as much resting as it’s humanly possible for Melissa to do, which means I’ve been lying flat on my back and sleeping for most of the days, but I managed to squeeze in some sewing, almost entirely in 5 minute segments, followed by 20 minutes of rest. Rinse & repeat… These will have photoshoots and proper posts coming hopefully next week!
The amazingly simple-to-sew Style Arc Marita dress:
A grey wool “chic sweatshirt”:
A quick, gathered raglan merino wool sweater from the February BurdaStyle magazine:
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!read more >>
What a weekend! I’ve been to Amsterdam several times before, so I felt zero need to see the tourist sites (though I did take a boat tour, more for the hour of sitting than anything else!). For me, this weekend was all about sewing and running, my two favourite pasttimes! I flew in Saturday morning and fellow sewing blogger Lauriana met me at the station to drive to the legendary Kantje Boord.
If you’re not familiar with Kantje Boord (and let’s be fair, their website is appalling), it’s a specialty lingerie haberdashery and fabric store, and is pretty much the only one of its kind in the world as far as I know. But it’s pretty far out of town, well away from the usual public transport, so I was very grateful to be driven there and give my legs a rest!
I’d heard stories about Kantje Boord, and I was not disappointed! It’s a tiny shop, but it’s stacked floor to ceiling with everything lingerie, lace, and elastic you could possibly imagine, and in every colour of the rainbow.
There must’ve been several hundred different kits (with everything you need to make a bra and panties in matching colours), but I decided what I’d rather make is another Ruby Slip, but in camisole length, with matching panties, so I instead focused on the wide laces, of which there must’ve been 3-4 times as many as the kits! Once I settled on a lace, I then crawled around the floor to get matching picot lingerie elastics to match it and my fabric swatches I’d brought from home.
So here’s what I bought! It might’ve been a bit more than I pledged, but I stayed away from the tempting Wall of Crazy Lycra, and only bought pieces that matched what I already owned!read more >>
I did indeed finish my peplum top in time to wear it to Karen’s V&A Ballgowns meetup on Friday, even though it meant sewing the hem over breakfast on Friday morning! You can see a sneak peek of it in the top photo on her site, though the peplum itself is hidden by my knees! Fingers crossed I can get a photoshoot done one evening this week, because my weekend was full of other activities…
As I shared with you last week, part of my preparation/reward for my marathon training was to run the Bacchus half marathon this weekend. It’s a half-trail, half-road, fancy dress (costumed) race through a vineyard in Surrey with wine tasting every 2 miles, plus a free glass of wine and hog roast at the end. See why I signed up??
You’ve probably spotted it already, but the skirt is another Jalie running skirt – this is my third, and this is definitely my go-to for warm weather running bottoms (for cooler weather, you can’t beat the Ooh La Leggings!)
The top/vest/singlet is self drafted from my tweaked knit sloper, plus an added kerchief that I drafted from the sloper’s neckline. The kerchief is double layered, and attached to the neckline by overlocker, with the seam showing on the “right” side, which in this case is hidden under the kerchief. I tacked it down at the shoulders and that was enough to keep the seam hidden. Rather than physically tie a knot on the front ties, I instead made a loop to make it look a bit neater, and the “grabbiness” of the supplex was enough that it didn’t slip at all.read more >>
Lots of things going on at FehrTrade Towers, so it’s time for an update roundup!
After my last post outlining the lining instructions, there will be no points for guessing that this is coming along shortly! I’ve just got to handstitch the hem and the bottom of the lining and it’s finished, hurrah. Perhaps if I’m speedy I can wear it to the V&A Ballgowns exhibit meetup Karen is planning?
Bacchus half marathon costume
As part of my preparation/reward for my marathon training, I signed up to run the Bacchus half marathon this weekend. Not many people are familiar with this race, but it’s been rated exceptionally highly on Runner’s World, and the clue might lie somewhere in the description: a half-trail, half-road, fancy dress (costumed) race through a vineyard in Surrey with wine tasting every 2 miles, plus a free glass of wine and hog roast at the end. See why I signed up??
I’m regularly running much further than half marathon distance in my training runs, so even though this is only my second half marathon, I’m not that concerned about the distance, so instead I concentrated on the costume, making sure it’s entirely wicking and running-friendly!
I’m sure it will surprise none of you that I’ve also made another Jalie running skirt. Or, err, to be precise, two more, since I made another black one in parallel with my Bacchus one and forgot to photograph it! And a top based on my knit sloper (which I’m still tweaking after running in my sequin top for a few months now).read more >>
This is definitely turning into The Year of Lycra for me, and it’s barely halfway finished, so I hope you’re not too bored yet (wonderfully, I’ve even inspired some of you to start running Running has been a part of my life for about 8 or 9 years now, but training for a marathon is now really upping my enthusiasm to sew cute clothes for the approx 5 hours every week I’m actively running (wow that’s a lot!).
I’ve had the Jalie multisports skirt (2796) pattern in my stash for several years now, but English summers are never particularly hot anyway, and I usually run in the early mornings, meaning it’s rarely too warm for running tights. But I’ve got some mid-day races coming up, and sometimes it’s warm in the evenings for Run dem Crew, so while I was ill in the latest bout of hot weather, I made up what will be the first of many running skirts!
There’s lots of mix & match options in this pattern- briefs or compression shorts on their own (with either wide or narrow waistband), or you can have the skirt with either briefs or shorts underneath (again with either a wide or narrow waistband). I do not run in shorts normally (or wear them outside the boat, to be honest) but I went for the shorts under the skirt, with the wide waistband.
I’ve loved every single Jalie pattern I’ve ever sewn, and this is no exception. They’re fantastic to sew, but what keeps me coming back is that these are equally fantastic to wear – Jalie totally “get” exercise gear.
The pattern itself is great – tons of sizes, great instructions (I love that they’re available as pdfs so you can view them on your computer or tablet, though I used Jalie’s excellent iPhone app to read them this time around). They’ve really thought about how they’ll be worn when moving, too – the constructions steps mean that seams that might chafe are concealed as much as possible.read more >>
I’ve got lots of bits and pieces on the go right now, and I’m finding that I’m being inspired by lots of little things – not just from the fantastic last few issues of pattern magazines (hello, August Burda!), but also some supplies which have found their way to me, like this amazing laser-cut eyelet zipper from my friends Alex & Liz, bought at the V&A shop!
Mine’s skirt-length and now I totally want to make a pencil skirt with an exposed zipper just so I can show this off! After I got mine, I’ve since seen that they’re available on etsy in a bunch of different colours, too.
Not long after that, I was approached by the owner of Lots of Buttons asking if I’d like to try their shop for free. My initial reaction was that the prices in dollars surely meant exorbitant shipping to the UK (boo!) BUT as it turns out, all the orders are fulfilled in Hong Kong so the shipping is the same anywhere in the world (great for the Antipodeans, too!).
So I picked out some basic black horn buttons (just like the ones my stash was missing for my black knit trousers the other week), and some gorgeous overlapping metal buttons I thought would go really nicely on a jacket. All in, these would’ve cost me $10 total (with shipping), which is like half the cost I pay to get nice buttons in central London, with a travelcard cost on top of that!
These arrived in 7 days, too, along with a discount code for my next purchase. I also really like that they seal off each button type in its own clear plastic bag, so you can see what’s inside without them all getting jumbled up together. Genius! So I went from being skeptical to totally pleased and very happy to recommend them in the space of about 10 days!read more >>
On Saturday I showed you a sneak peek of my new running leggings and my thoughts on the Opening Ceremony, but here’s your chance to get a better look at them, and those Olympic rings on Tower Bridge!
I’m finally feeling a little better so we took these photos after I ran my usual 10km loop in my official Stella McCartney for Adidas replica Team GB vest (now sold out everywhere now, sorry!) and my leggings.
This is the 4th(!!) time now I’ve sewn the Papercut “Ooh La Leggings” pattern (UK stockist here), though I’ve actually got a 5th pair on the way, if you can believe it! They’re so well drafted, so stylish, and so comfortable to run in that I just can’t resist making more. That they’re also really quick to sew on my overlocker is just a bonus. Here I made them in the pale grey Suziplex fabric I bought from Suzi Spandex when I was in Montreal in March, and it’s just truly, truly wonderful stuff.
I also used my my elastic waistband tutorial technique for a nice, comfortable finish inside, which, judging by your comments, a lot of you are also using now, hooray! This waistband plus the soft and loopy reverse side of the Suziplex really does make for the most comfortable running gear ever, aeons better than anything I’ve ever bought.read more >>
How amazing was the Olympic opening ceremony last night? It was all the better because no one in London was expecting it to be any good. Sure, absolutely everyone was watching it, but we all expected it to be utterly awful, and to be the topic of mass moaning for the next several years.
But WOW, even the cynicism of the British was cast aside for Danny Boyle’s spectacle, full of heart, charm, eclecticism, great music (and some terrible music, too), and all the things London and the UK are generally very proud of. (Woo NHS!!)
It also helps that I watched it from our outdoor popup cinema on the moorings, so when the fireworks went off on Tower Bridge and David Beckham’s neon speedboat holding the torch raced by, we were right there. And we saw all that 30 minutes before anyone else in the world, since there was a big delay before that part was on tv!
We’d also witnessed the helicopter flying through Tower Bridge a few weeks back – a bunch of neighbours gathered on one of the barges to cheer on the two helipcopters and make a night of it. At the time, the rumour was that it was for a Bond film, but we had no idea how close that would end up becoming!!
Happily, I also started feeling a bit better this week after I posted the last message, so thank you all very much for your thoughts and good will – you did just the trick! I went out this morning for my first run in 17 days, and did so in my official replica Team GB vest and my new grey Ooh La Leggings.read more >>
Apologies for sporadic posting, but if you’re following me on Twitter, you’ll already be aware that I’ve had an awful cold/flu for the past 15 days now. F-i-f-t-e-e-n days! It started with a sore throat, then incredibly running nose and lethargy now for the bulk of it, and it’s just not going away. I’m sleeping 12-13 hours a night and still needing naps, and the hospital say it’s definitely viral and there’s nothing to be done but wait it out. I have no idea how long it’s going to last, as I literally feel no improvement now than when I first picked this up. I’m really just giving you these details because like half of London has it right now, so I’m hoping someone will tell me how long I can expect it to hang around (and also, expect all the Olympic visitors to bring it back home, cheers!).
So in the few hours where I’ve been strong enough to sit upright and not actively be sleeping or working, I’ve finished a few bits of sewing, but I’m in no fit state to model them, so for full photoshoots you’ll need to wait a bit longer:read more >>
This is probably the longest-running project I’ve done since my epic wedding gown refashion, but I’m really proud of the results and the fact that I can finally show them off after much hinting and whispering round these parts. This would’ve never happened at all without the spark from Charlie, the founder of Run dem Crew (the Tuesday night running family that has utterly transformed my life in the past year I’ve been a member). When he found out I sewed, he raised the idea of a refashioning project, then proceeded to gather together all the pieces to make it happen.
The idea was simple – start with 19 pieces of running clothing – some used, some promotional, and some brand new with tags on (including some ££££ Gyakusou designer gear!), and refashion them.
I started this project back in April, but stalled during the 5 weeks our boat was in drydock and I was without access to my overlocker and sewing room. Happily, I got some fantastic help with ideas from fellow RDC runner Jennie, who’s worked for years as a product designer for a well-known clothing company, and came over to sift through the clothes and it really helped for me to bounce ideas off her and vice-versa.
So her reward was some enforced modelling when the project was finished! Ha!
From the initial bag of clothes, I made 8 garments – tops and bottoms for two ladies and two men. I’ve been promised some modelled shots of the men’s clothing coming up soon, but here are the two ladies’ outfits, modelled by Jennie and I….
I had the fore-thought to take images of all the Before clothing, so I was able to do a nice collage like this, showing you what the various pieces turned into:read more >>
A few weeks ago, I was asked if I wouldn’t mind making two prizes for the RDC Mission Impossible event this Saturday, and I knew it’d be the perfect opportunity to try my hand at drafting some arm pouches while helping out my crew at the same time.
Essentially, I reverse-engineered a Y-Fumble I own to figure out how they constructed it (no Y-Fumbles were harmed – I just thought about it hard and made a prototype first!). The only problem is that they’re available in limited colours and the lycra feels quite flimsy to me, so if I can make my own I have a lot more freedom in the fabrics used.
It’s an arm band that has a pocket on one side, with a simple fold-over flap for keeping things like phones, keys, travelcard, etc nicely inside and tight against your arm while your run. There are no closures – the band just slips over your wrist and up your arm and the stretchiness of the fabric holds it in place. I wear mine on my forearm to hold gels for long runs, but you can also put them on your upper arm, too, if you’d rather. Even though the back doesn’t contain a pocket, it’s still double-sided so all the raw edges are nicely contained inside.
For these prize versions, I used leftover red bamboo jersey from my Donna Karan dress so they’re nice and soft, and should resist bad smells, too.
For those of you who are interested in my thought process, here’s the sketch I used when working out what pieces I’d need, and then how I’d construct it all together:read more >>
Viewers of a gentle, tasteful disposition, you best look away now…
My previous pair of purple leggings are my FAVOURITE running running bottoms – so wonderfully comfortable, and the natural waist means they don’t shift around a bit as I run. They’re so comfortable I actually raced in them the other week (and any runner will tell you that if you have any doubts whatsoever about your kit, you don’t wear it on race day!).
So after a full day of finishing up the Run dem Crew refashion challenge, plus finishing up a skirt, I found myself with a few hours and an inexplicable desire to sew up another Papercut “Ooh La Leggings” pattern (UK stockist here) in the audacious lycra/foil in my stash:
I bought this crazy-ass fabric at Suzi Spandex when I was in Montreal, 80/20 nylon/lycra mix, which they call “Spirographix” (mine’s the charcoal colourway, though it’s much more teal in real life). The hand of these feels quite “leotard” or “costumey” really, but it’s fine for short bursts of exercise IMHO. Certainly nowhere as nice as the Suziplex I bought, through strangely 50% more expensive. Go figure.read more >>
Way back when I was making my first muslins of my new running gear, I realised that the methods I’d previously used to finish knit necklines (elastic, FOE, serged bindings, etc) were just NOT going to cut it on slippery exercise lycra. The results were awful and sloppy, so I allowed myself to be convinced by Pattern Review that a coverstitch binder was the way forward.
At £80 a pop, they’re not a purchase to be taken lightly, and they’re probably about the most expensive thing you can buy for your sewing room, short of a machine or a dressform! But I wanted to ensure the most hassle-free experience, so I went for a brand-name Janome attachment rather than one of the cheaper, much more hacky eBay jobs. I bought mine from Jaycotts and Janome shipped it directly to me:
Unlike a lot of the eBay binders, this comes with everything you need to get started – the big metal plate, the shorter foot, and a big set of instructions on top of the binder attachment itself. So it’s expensive, but you don’t need to then go and buy all the non-optional bits separately – but I can understand the allure of just buying the binder for your second or third if you’ve already got the plate, foot, and instructions!read more >>
I’m going to break from tradition here and actually post my next two outfits out of sequence from when I made them, mostly because I just shared my elastic waistband tutorial with you, but also because I’m really freaking excited about sewing exercise gear right now. Honestly, it’s starting to become nearly lingerie-levels of hysteria with me – super quick to make, easy to fit, and lots of wild colours and patterns in small doses! But you’ll get to see my “civilian” top and trousers later this week, so no worries if you’re starting to glaze over at all the lycra…
For this set of running gear, I’ve paired up the Papercut “Ooh La Leggings” pattern (UK stockist here) with my self drafted knit block (from Metric Pattern Cutting). And in the case of the top, I altered the seam lines and armhole shape to suit!
You may remember the ex-Prada sequin trompe l’oeil fabric from a few years ago when I used it to make a cowl top. I wear that all the time, but I only had a small piece leftover in my stash, and it was far too lovely to throw away. But with a bit of creative thinking, it was enough for this! Though I think I’ll lower the curve a bit for my next running vest so the peak is just at my underbust…
As you can see with the leggings (or maybe not, the purple fabric is quite dark!), there are no side seams here! The shaped front and back yokes give some really cool, curved seams, and they merge nicely into front- and back-leg seams instead.read more >>
While I await a photoshoot on my new Papercut Ooh La Leggings, I thought it’d be nice to share with you what’s become my go-to finish for elastic waistbands. Oftentimes pattern instructions will tell you to create a casing, leave an opening, and thread the elastic through it. I totally hate this! You end up with uneven bunching of fabric, plus the waistband tends to fold up and twist and generally get really uncomfortable to wear.
Over the years, I’ve developed this method which a) attaches the elastic directly to the fabric, and b) protects your skin from direct contact with the elastic. I find it’s much more comfortable than the casing method, looks much neater, and also gives you the added option to have greater stretch in the back if you need it (swayback/bootay ladies, listen up!).
Step 1 – Place the elastic around yourself where the waistband will lie, making sure it’s snug, but not tight (you may want to pre-stretch the elastic a bit first). Mark the overlap edges with a pen, and trim so the edges overlap by an inch or so. With your sewing machine, zigzag the crap out of it so it’s not going anywhere!
Step 2 – Make the overlap the Centre Back, and mark the opposite side with a pin as the Centre Front. Mark midway between these two with pins as your side seam marks (or offset towards the CB if you want more stretch in the back). Place your elastic against the inside edge of your waistband, and serge/overlock the elastic in place, taking care to not cut the elastic with your serger blades! If you don’t have a serger, that’s cool, just sew near the top edge of the elastic with a narrow zigzag and very short stitch length. Stretch the elastic as you sew/serge so all your pin markings line up. read more >>
Thank you all so much for your sympathy and condolences and kind thoughts regarding Bosco’s sudden death. Last week was one of the worst of my life and I’m sorry to say that his departure was only one of a long line of awful things which happened to myself and those I love, so please bear with me while I piece things back together. I’m going to be more fragile than usual for a while.
In an attempt to clear the slate and document some blogging-accumulation guilt, here’s a catchup on the sewing-related events over the past fortnight…
I was in Montreal for a few days for work immediately after my birthday, and I managed to shoehorn a very brief visit to Suzi Spandex into my 18 hour work days (in preparation for the launch of Zik.ca – Canadians, go see what I’ve been slaving over for the past 9 months in my day job!).
The shop itself was a bit of a PITA to get to – it doesn’t look far from downtown on the map but was a metro ride + 15-20 minute walk through a really dull neighbourhood, and I’m glad I had the address because the setup was very much like the NYC Garment District – an unmarked, nondescript office building with their premesis several floors up, with a front office and enormous warehouse full of rolls of fabric.
The setting may have been sparse, but I got such a warm welcome and the lady really helped me to choose the best wicking exercise fabric, which by all accounts seems to be their version of supplex, “Suziplex”.
I bought 2m of dark, muted purple and 1m of pale grey Suziplex, and then another metre of some muted turquoise lycra with silver foil swirls.read more >>
It feels like I’ve been talking about sewing my running gear for ages now, but I think that’s just because anything self-drafted and a bit custom tends to take a bit more time and head space than my average project! But I’m happy to report that two out of three of my first pieces are finished now (the sequin vest is awaiting more coverstitch binder practice, but more on that next week).
Both of these pieces are heavily modified (bordering on self drafted) from the originals, but the leggings are based on the Jalie 3135 skinsuit pattern and the top started life as my basic KnipMode long sleeved teeshirt.
You’ve seen a sneak peek of the leggings earlier, but now you can see them paired with my long sleeved top, though the different turquoise shades mean I probably won’t wear them together often in real life.
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’ve used the black supplex for the top and sleeves, leftover turquoise for the lower back (which wraps around to the front hips), and the same turquoise but overlaid with olive green stretch lace for the front body.
The leggings use black supplex and dark turquoise “silk touch” lycra for the contrast panels. You can see my cool seaming on the thighs below, and in getting design lines to match up, I favoured the outer seams matching. It means it’s not quite as cool on the inner thigh seams, but it means I get a nicer overall panelling.read more >>
I’m a bit late with my Paris weekend report, but we didn’t get back til Monday night (thankfully taking the Eurotunnel rather than the very-disrupted Eurostar!), and then I had to fly out to Dublin and back yesterday so things have been crazy! Seriously – three European capitals in three days? I feel like I’m on a Contiki tour!
We had a pretty busy schedule while we were in town, but a trip to Paris just isn’t complete without a visit to the Montmarte fabric shops (For more details on those please see my earlier French road trip & Paris fabric shopping posts!)
I’m so pleased we were able to squeeze in a meetup with Veronica again and have lunch, and since she knew I wasn’t able to go to her local fabric market with her this time around, she gifted me a HUGE bag of fabrics, in exactly the colours and prints I love!
Seriously, wait til you see the goodies she brought for me (photos coming later)!
As a teaser, check out the overflowing Tissues Dreyfus bag of fabric!
But the main
reason excuse for our trip was that I signed up to run the Paris Semi-marathon, which was my first-ever half marathon! I’ve been running for about 7-8 years now, but I’ve only ever run 10ks (with the odd 5k and 8k thrown in there).
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…read more >>
I love it when different areas of my life start overlapping! I’ve been a runner for about 7-8 years but I’ve only really sewn running gear a few times (mostly because my mom knows what I like and gets good stuff on sale for me!). But I’ve got the itch to sew the lycra again, and so I made the first steps towards making my own running gear designs a reality.
First step was to make quick and dirty muslins to check the fit and mark style lines. The Jalie 3135 skinsuit pattern was my basis for my running leggings (minus the top half and the front zipper opening!). I used the “silk touch” lycra jersey from Tia Knight as my muslin fabric here since it was the cheapest 4-way stretch she had, but it’s surprisingly really nice! It’s got a hand like a silk jersey, but seems a bit too drapey to be ideal in exercise gear, though it should be fine for the occasional accents or panels if I want to.
So I made my muslin, tried it on, and while I was wearing it, drew lot of placement and design lines straight on the fabric with a Sharpie:
- I drew in my waistline just under the pattern’s torso double line
- I marked the knees on front & back, and also where the curve of my bum lies (helpful for placing design lines later!)
- I took out some excess in the ankle (no cankles here!) and about 4 inches off the length (the legs are reeeeeeeeally long – maybe to cover skates?)
- And then, finally, I drew in some curved design lines where I thought they might look nice around my thighs and calves
The end result looks a bit like a liposuction patient (which is why I’m not modelling it!!), but it definitely served its purpose! read more >>
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!
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.read more >>
Yesterday I ran a 10km running race to celebrate my 2nd rebirthday of my bone marrow transplant (well, it’s a month early but this race is so much nicer than the July one I ran last year!).
The race went really well, and I truly gave it EVERYTHING I had, running the first 4 kilometers at an astonishingly fast 5min per km pace, and then I tailed back to a bit more realistic 5:30/km pace until the last 200 meters, when I gave an all out sprint for the finish!
Like last year, I ran with the memory of my three departed BMT friends firmly in my mind – this was for Vera, Rob, and David, who fought so so hard, and who even today inspire me to push and fight even harder on their behalf.
I wasn’t quite sure how well I did until I viewed the official chip times on the website last night… 51:21!! That’s only 7 seconds off my pre-illness Personal Best! I really was only trying to beat last year’s time of 53:38, and I honestly didn’t think I’d come anywhere close to that magical 51 minute point for me!read more >>
Last Thursday was my one year anniversary of my bone marrow transplant, which others have taken to calling a “rebirthday”. James took me out for lunch and a very chill session at a super posh tea shop, followed by a surprise card and flowers when I got home! I’ve been planning a special celebration of my own for about six months now, when I got it into my head that I should run a 10k for my one year post-transplant.
The British 10K London Run was this morning, and even though I’ve been running around the river for the past 3-4 months to train for this, I had only managed 10km in my last three runs so I was feeling pretty nervous and hoping only to run the whole thing (no walking!) and to maybe finish in under an hour.read more >>
I really really liked this fleece jacket, KnipMode 12/2008 #21, ever since the issue came out, and I’ve been waiting for the right time to grab some bright fleece and make it ever since.
It uses lycra edging tape (which Pennine Outdoor thoughtfully stock in addition to all the right high quality fleeces and chunky zips!) to bind the sleeve and neck edges as well as act like a sort of piping-without-the-pipe along the princess seams and that top yoke edge.read more >>
I had about a half meter of tubular black cotton interlock leftover in my stash, and
Burda WOF 11/2008 #125 looked to be an excellent use for it! It’s in the workout section of this issue, and #124 is a variation of the same shirt with longer sleeves and a triangular neck insert. I was aiming to make the long sleeves minus the insert, but as it turned out, I was really only able to squeeze in the short sleeves with some creative refolding of the fabric after cutting out half the pieces.
I have a surefire way to guarantee you won’t overbuy at your favourite fabric store – run home from there.
Yesterday I took the day off work because we had some important but tedious appointments in the afternoon, but I wanted to squeeze in a quick trip to Goldhawk Road to buy the silk for Pip’s christmas pyjamas, and since I run Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, I needed to work that in somehow, too. So I was whining to Pip about how I couldn’t fit it all in because it was also a low tide day (long story), and she just said “Well, why don’t you just run to the store?”.read more >>
It is an enigma that, while the overwhelming majority of 10k race participants are slim and svelte, race shirts given away to participants are always enormous!
I had two race shirts made out of the nice wicking polyester that were way too big to wear (hanging down to my mid-thigh! And I’m not exactly Tinkerbelle…) but too nice to let rot in my wardrobe, so I cut them up!
I used the same KnipMode pattern as before, but got lazy and just serged all the edges with my white woolly nylon thread and didn’t bother with the elastic. The armpits were a tad too high before, so I lowered those, but otherwise just approached this as a no-nonsense reconstruction to get some wear out of garments I previously wouldn’t touch.read more >>
The culmination of July’s Knit Month was sewing my own swimsuit, but due to motivational difficulties in the photoshoot and photo editing post-production, I’m afraid the photos are a few weeks late!
You might remember when I sewed my muslin suit that I used KnipMode 06/2008 #1 and lengthened the bodice pieces by one inch.
I haven’t worn one piece suits for a few years, but I remember RTW suits from high school always being a bit short in the torso, so I’m not surprised this would be the same, despite my never having to do long-torso alterations for anything else.
I do wish, however, that I’d taken some photos of myself in the muslin suit because you see things in photos that just don’t appear in a full length mirror sometimes.read more >>
Looking at this week’s London weather forecast, it seems for once, rather than being really late to the summer swimsuit party, I’ve actually timed this all rather well. We may actually get some nice summer temperatures in the high 70s/low 80s F (upper 20s C), which will actually feel really hot after the summer we’ve had again!
So I’ve finally been given some impetus from the weather on top of my recent confidence-boosting forway into sports gear to finally tackle one of sewing’s ultimate challenges – swimwear! I’ve been wearing two piece suits since I lost so much weight a few years ago, but I was so smitten with the one piece suit in KnipMode 06/2008 that I just had to try this as my first bathing suit:read more >>
On Sunday I decided to step up my “July is Knit Month!” activities and finally break into the world of high-performance sports gear. I started running to lose weight a few years ago and, along with sewing, it’s now become my favourite way to both unwind and start the day. I really do get cranky and irritable if I don’t get my regular runs in!! Over the years I’ve amassed a good collection of wicking tops and trousers I wear in rotation until they fall apart, but recently I’ve been having a hard time finding good wicking sports gear under £30 a pop, and especially in the trouser style I prefer – long length and slightly boot cut. Everywhere I look it’s always either skin-tight leggings, capri length, or both! UGH!
So I was very happy to discover that Pennine Outdoor stock wicking sports fabrics, both polyester teeshirting AND Meryl cycling lycra! So in one shop I got supplies for both my tops and my trousers! Now, you may be excused for cringing at the mention of polyester, but in running circles it is well known that polyester is the preferred fabric as it doesn’t hold sweat or chafe like cotton does. If you ever get blisters from a run or long hike, switch to 100% polyester socks and you’ll never get them again. So while I shun polyester in regular sewing, I positively seek it out in running gear, especially when I find the exact same two-sided, slightly waffled weave that is used in all the official race shirts! Bamboo is even better than polyester, though, as it doesn’t hold the stink or microbial nasties either and is softer by a factor of ten, but that’s another discussion entirely…
Anyway, on to the sewing!read more >>
Since I was buying the microfleece for my coat interlining anyway, I took advantage of the rest of Pennine Outdoor‘s range of outdoor and sports fabrics to replenish my fabric stash. No, really! Even though I bought a veritable orgy of fabric in the States last August, I’ve actually only got about three cuts of that lot left, and I’ve been very restrained in the last year and only bought a few pieces here and there.
So first up is the sports stuff! I want to try my hand at making my own running trousers, since I’m having trouble finding non-capri, bootcut wicking trousers in the shops these days, so I picked up two metres of this black Meryl wicking lycra:read more >>
This past weekend was a Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK, so technically I got another day though it doesn’t really feel that way! I did manage to get some sewing in amongst the DIY, cleaning, baking, running, and hosting, however. I finally finished James’s linen shirt, and even made myself a new day dress from La Mia Boutique using some of his excess linen/tencel fabric and some raspberry tablecloths…read more >>