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Pleated denim leggings

14 July 2015, 13:38

The three words in the title may not seem like they naturally go together, but it’s all made possible by the super stretchy denim I bought from Mood when we were in NYC for my birthday in March. The weave definitely looks more like a denim/twill than a knit, but strangely, there’s more lengthwise stretch than widthwise (about 50-60% compared to only about 20%). There’s still plenty of stretch there for them to just pull on with an elastic waistband, and the fit is definitely more “leggings” than “jeans”, despite the denim.

I made these well over a month ago, and I’ve been wearing them pretty much twice weekly since then – they’re unbelievably versatile and so much more interesting than just a basic stretch denim legging (or, ugh, “jegging”). They were one of the last items to be made in my old sewing room, and I’m not entirely sure why it’s taken so long to photograph these, because I really do like them!

There’s no pattern to talk about here, I’m afraid – I just opened my basic leggings sloper in Illustrator and made some modifications to fit what was in my head.

In short, I drew some design lines on the Front where I wanted the pleated panel to be, sliced that off as its own piece, then digitally spread it apart again to have twelve 1cm pleats with 2cm in between. (You can do this really quickly by overlaying a grid onto the pattern piece, splitting it apart, then moving the top (or bottom) piece by the amount you want the total spread to be (in my case, moving it 12 × 2cm=24cm). Then just set those pleat pieces to distribute vertically!) IMHO, this is so much easier then getting out scissors and tape and a ruler and trying to draw out all the pleats myself. I truly am a digital native when it comes to pattern drafting now, I swear!


Worn here with my mustard Drape Drape top – still a favourite 2.5 years later!

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My birthday jeans

25 March 2015, 12:35

It’s my birthday today! And I’m in New York City!!

We usually take a Spring holiday, but not til later in April or May, however this year James suggested we go away to New York over my birthday, since we haven’t been for four years and there were some shows we really wanted to see (we’ve developed an expensive immersive theater habit!). I’ve been needing a new pair of jeans for a while now, so I promised myself that I’d sew some up once the Steeplechase Leggings pattern was released and I’d have a little bit of a breather. And here they are, coinciding nicely as my birthday make this year!

This denim was bought from Ditto Fabrics, labelled as an Italian denim with very slight stretch, so I treated these as a non-stretch denim. It’s super high quality and I love the colour and wash, though like most denims, it’s still bleeding a bit of colour after two prewashes, so I’ll wash it separately for a while before sitting on any white couches.


(Apologies for the iPhone timer photos taken before I left, but I wanted to ensure I had covered the bases and it’s hard to upload images on the road without a laptop!)

I used the same base pattern as my classic pair of jeans made in 2013 (which is #120 from the April 2010 issue of Burda magazine), but my older pair is a bit too big, and also very straight in the leg and I wanted something more fitted and with a slimmer leg this time around.

I essentially made the same pattern (plus the same wedge cut out of the CB as before), but then basted the inseam and side seams to check the fit. I then decided I wanted to take out a cm at the hips and thighs to make the fit closer to “just washed jeans” to allow for some relaxing, then took out a cm from each of the side seams and inseam through the legs for a more skinny-jean silhouette.

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Little shoots of Spring

18 March 2015, 14:06

Like little green shoots poking through the earth as the warmth of Spring approaches, I feel like my sewing productivity and creativity is just pushing through from all angles at the moment. I’m so proud that so many of you love my Steeplechase Leggings pattern as much as I do (and I’ve got loads more to share!) but I wanted to share a bunch of smaller things I’ve been getting on with…

Have you ever heard of Sock Stop? It’s a bit like puffy paint we used in the 90s, but it’s intended to paint onto the bottoms of socks and slippers to prevent slips and falls. I bought
some from Guthrie & Ghani recently to see if it helps keep activewear hems in place without requiring silicone elastic (which can be a bit fiddly to sew on). I’ve tried it out on the hems of my Steeplechase capris (which you’ll see soon) and I want to test them out on my next cycle ride…

I can’t believe my birthday’s nearly here again – it seems like I only just made my galaxy-print sheath dress! I celebrated early with my BFF Pip, and she very kindly bought me this Secrets of Sewing Lingerie book and a metre of gorgeous silk chiffon from Dalston Mills! I’m super impressed by the variety and styles of panties, bras, camisoles, garter belts, and accessories in the book, but I want to try out a few patterns before I post a review.

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A lace & silver weekend

10 February 2014, 19:37

I ended up having a fun and full weekend of sewing this weekend, partially because I lost a few days work last week to a spa day (omg!) and a full day of filming (for Extra Mile – if you haven’t already seen my blue wigged self all over your internets, watch here!). Part of the work sewing was to get a bunch of stuff done on my next pattern, which is digitised, graded, and now ready for my second test version before I test it out on some unsuspecting local athletes, mwahahah! I also had a few projects for private clients to get done, as well, so I had to change mental “gears” a few times, too.

Another bit of work sewing was actually a bit too fun to be strictly considered “work”, and that’s because I needed to sew up a fresh sample pair of my free Lacey Thong pattern to bring along to the Panty Party class this Thursday, 13 February. There are still a few spots left if you want to snag them and join the fun, btw – I mean, seriously, look at this pile of lace and fabrics that arrived last week which is all for the class! Don’t you want to dive right in?!

To clarify: The Panty party class is at the ThriftyStitcher studio in Stoke Newington, North London, and it’s this Thursday!

I’ve probably made at least ten versions of my Lacey Thong for myself, but, umm, I wear those, and it’s pretty creepy and gross to be showing other people your worn underwear, even if it’s clean, eww. So that’s why I needed to sew up a fresh sample pair to show off in the class, so I selected this thin, blue burnout jersey and some white lace and paired it with navy blue satin-edged elastic.

Isn’t she pretty? I also received a comment today from a Frenchman who made this utterly gorgeous satin & lace pair for his woman. So it doesn’t have to be a one-way lingerie sewing street – you could book your man on the course as a “surprise” and let him sew a pair for you! Ha!

I got to a point early on Sunday where I’d finished all the work sewing I wanted to accomplish, so I pulled out the Named “Jamie Jeans” pattern (now with US Letter-compatible printing and multi-sized, btw). I’ve been eyeing up this pattern since it was released, but it took it disappearing when the new collection was released to make me realise how much I wanted to sew it! Since a-l-l of my clothes are falling off me right now (thanks, running!) I am in serious need of trousers and even my leggings are baggy, so these were the top of my Fun Sewing list.

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A classic pair of jeans

13 September 2013, 12:18

I know I’ve been recently focusing on sewing for my upcoming Mexico trip but I’ve been wanting to sew these since my FW12 and SS13 plans so it was high time I actually just sat down and made them!

After umming and ahhing for months over which pattern I should use, then muslining two different patterns which were both too small, I ended up making this pair in two days’ flat! As you’ll recall, it’s #120 from the April 2010 issue of Burda magazine (sadly not on Burdastyle.com!), an issue which also had a great pair of men’s trousers I’ve been eyeing up for James, too.


Worn here with my plum bamboo Jalie top

I’m a bit scared that I can sew an entire pair of jeans now (including the front fly) without looking at instructions a single time… I did, however, inspect a pair of James’s RTW jeans once or twice to see which side of the seam they topstitched!


This one has been lightened so you can see the details a little better!

Oh, and remember when I tried on the muslin for this pattern and it was way too small in the waist and hips? Well, I put the muslin to the side in my sewing cave and tried them on a few weeks later and they fit perfectly now! Yes, only I would go and change my body instead of just doing a pattern alteration…

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Honing in on a jeans pattern

16 July 2013, 14:45

Even though I finally finished my pink trousers and lace teeshirt I mentioned last week, it’s been so hot and sweaty that I haven’t quite managed to do a photoshoot for them yet. Everything’s written so as soon as I do, you’ll get to see how great they are, honest!

I also managed to cut out a Kwik Sew exercise top, but not start sewing it yet, but what I really wanted to talk about today is the ongoing process in deciding which jeans pattern to use as a match for some heavyweight, non-stretch denim in my stash. So when I say that I’m “always thinking two projects ahead”, you now know it’s the truth!

If you remember back to my Spring Sewing Ideas, I had two different KnipMode jeans patterns that I thought I might use:

However, I found out soon after that the 2012 KnipMode one was for stretch wovens, which dis-counted it for this particular bout of jeans sewing.

The 2005 one looked very promising, but when I made a muslin of it the look was not good – ill-fitting in the waist and hips and way too wide in the legs. I’m sure I could fix it with plenty of time and patience, but with such an enormous pattern stash it just wasn’t worth pursuing further!

So I went back to the drawing board, otherwise known as my online pattern catalogue, and had a look through all the magazine issues I’d tagged “jeans”. This was a lot! So as I flipped through, I took screenshot segments of the ones I liked the look of, and renamed these files with the brand and pattern number, and shoved them in a special folder.

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Parisian jeans and a geometric Wiksten tee

31 October 2012, 14:32

As some of you may have guessed from my FW2012 shortlist I posted yesterday, I’ve made the Wiksten tank, using the pattern and geometric Mood jersey Kollabora gifted me and also another pair of Jalie jeans! I wasn’t actually planning that they’d go together, but they were a perfect pairing for a relaxed Sunday roast at a cosy pub near the moorings.

Let’s start with the jeans – as I said earlier, my NY-Lon jeans are easily my most-worn item of clothing ever since I made them last year, but they’re starting to fade and I want to have a replacement pair ready before they totally die. The denim I used there was from Mood in NYC, but I’d found some great stretch denim at the Tissues Dreyfus coupon shop in Paris in March, and only €10 for a 3m length, too. I wouldn’t normally buy that much of the same fabric if given a choice, but it means that I’ve got enough left over to easily make another pair. I find it really difficult to find good stretch denim in shops, but this has good stretch and recovery without being too flimsy, so I snapped it up when I saw it.

I constructed these exactly the same as my NY-Lon jeans – again, my main deviations from the Jalie pattern were to use a Burda curved waistband (instead of their rectangular, bias-cut waistband that was just awful in my muslin pair), and extended the pocket linings to the centre front for a non-stretch “gut slimming” panel, as before.

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Fall/Winter 2012 Sewing Shortlist

30 October 2012, 13:34

A lot of sewers like to “Sew with a Plan” (SWAP), but I prefer to call this a “Shortlist” rather than a “Plan”, so I’m free to still change my mind and add/remove items as I go along! My main goal here isn’t so much to create a capsule wardrobe that can be worn together, but more to use up fabrics and/or that have been in my stash for a while that I’d really like to just wear.


(Click to enbiggen!)

From the top down, in no particular order: