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A camisole from the ashes of failure

27 August 2014, 13:35

It all started back in March when I received for my birthday both the royal blue ponte knit fabric and a Marfy pattern I’d requested (#2935). I was enthusiastic about both, so much so that I spent the day after my party making up the dress.

The first issue came about when I realised that the pattern was missing a piece for the horizontal waist sash. It was pretty obvious it was just a rectangle, but the dimensions of it would be useful to get the gathering right, so I emailed Marfy, and got the following unhelpful reply when I asked for the dimensions of the missing piece:

“you are right, sorry. The important thing is to cut the piece on the bias so that it will follow the body. You can decide the width you prefer, and you can close it on the back.”

Ummm…

But that was just the start, because the horizontal sash was really the least wrong this about the dress. It’s a basic, long sleeved knit sheath dress with front and back darts and waist seam, but then there’s a weird set of gathers above the bust at the centre front that just reminds me of a vagina no matter how much I look at it, and this created a weird lump of fabric just above the bust that had to be pinched out.

But it goes on, because the diagonal sash was angled incorrectly and way too long, but if it was pulled tight enough, it started to bring the neckline down, too. The length was really dowdy, and overall, it was just a really unflattering dress. Somehow it looked straight out of the 1940s despite being modern, and it’s pretty much impossible to have a fabric that is both thick enough to wear on the body but thin enough to stand up to all that draping. Big, big thumbs down for Marfy 2935. This is actually my second Marfy pattern, and the second that hasn’t worked for me, so I’m kinda washing my hands of the whole company now…

But I still really liked the fabric, and wanted to do something with it to reclaim it, so this monstrosity of a muslin stayed on Susan (my dressform) literally for months. My friend FJ would come by and be like “Is that thing still there? You have got to do something with it or get rid of it – it’s bringing you down!” and he was totally right.

But despite being a big dress, the uninterrupted pieces weren’t very big so I had to choose my pattern carefully – and I pulled out the Seamster Patterns Yellowtail Camisole pattern that I’d bought and printed out last summer but hadn’t quite gotten around to making before the weather cooled off.

I was able to fit the pieces into the Marfy dress (plus it felt quite cathartic to cut the sucker up!) and it was really quick to sew!


Seen here with my Donna Karan leggings from earlier this week…

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Donna Karan denim-look leggings

25 August 2014, 16:34

Yikes! I actually made these leggings back in early July, but then it was so hot and sunny for weeks that I couldn’t bear to do the photoshoot, even though I was wearing them in the evenings a lot. The impetus for these was that my beloved pleated “denim-look” leggings had come to the end of their life through heavy use. I’ve been trying to find the time to sew a new pair of denim-look leggings over the entire summer, even buying in the fabric ahead of time so it was all ready to go, but alas, other work had gotten in the way.

But then I finally had some spare time so I pulled out my denim-look jersey and Vogue 1378 – the Donna Karan separates pattern.

I’d made these leggings a few months ago in grey ponte, and I really like them – except for the floppy ankle opening things. Those really annoy me, limit my shoe choices to heels, and generally just don’t work for me. So I’d already altered the pattern by overlapping the two ankle pieces and drawing a new seam line where they intersect, and I used the modified pieces here.


Seen here with my new Yellowtail Camisole – more on that later this week!

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A basic black Burda tank

10 July 2014, 12:33

It’s typical that I end up making the most boring, basic pattern out of the crazy-amazing June issue of Burda magazine! But I’d traced this out as soon as the magazine arrived, and I was in desperate need of a quick “me project” after a very busy week of work sewing. So I sat down on Sunday morning after breakfast, and had this finished before we left for a BBQ at lunchtime! I literally couldn’t have gone to the shops and back in that time…

This really is just a basic, jersy tank/vest with a racerback as its only detail, so I paired it with some “problem fabric” I had in my stash – I bought this from Minerva at the end of last summer and it wasn’t really what I was expecting. It’s a thin, black viscose jersey with but lines of dense stitching which make the fabric in between the lines sort of gather and pucker. Cool to wear, but a total arse to cut out as it moves all over! It was also fairly linty, so I’m glad to be able to wear it instead of sewing it!


(Seen here paired with my pre-Mexico neopreney leggings and shot on location at a friend’s back garden, BBQ just out of shot!)

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Grey Donna Karan leggings (Vogue 1378)

7 May 2014, 12:59

I don’t sew many “Big Four” patterns these days, but when I do, they’re invariably Vogues, and even then, they tend to be the designer patterns. The Big Four are really bad value in the UK, for starters, but then I also hate fighting with massive sheets of tissue paper, playing the “how much ease?” roulette, and dealing with outdated construction techniques. Give me a magazine maze to trace or pdf to tape together any day!

But I do love great and interesting seamlines, so when the Donna Karan coordinates pattern, Vogue 1378 was announced, I immediately wanted to make those leggings (the wrap top? Meh. I’ve seen a thousand like it).

Since there was a sale on Vogue patterns a few weeks before I was due to visit my parents last November, Stacy very kindly bought it for me at sale price (even without shipping, it was like a third of what I’d pay here) and it was waiting for me when I arrived! Thanks Stacy!

But for all the aforementioned reasons, I never quite got around to making it until now – the thought of unfolding all that tissue to trace the tons of pieces just made me choose other patterns instead. But eventually I realised that I really needed some basic, all-around trousers, so out they came! By my measurements, I should be a size 16, but I opted to throw all caution to the wind and make a size 14 instead, as I wanted them to be close fitting, like leggings. Having gone down a size, I now think the ease is just right – not stretched tight, but not baggy either.


(Photos shot whilst holidaying in the medieval Breton town of Dinan, in France! Paired with my Manequim birthday silk blouse)

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The Bunka-esque asymmetric Burda top

10 April 2014, 17:31

This might be the quickest turnaround for a pattern I’ve made in ages, but last weekend I put together the weird, conceptual “tube” tee from the April 2014 Burda magazine (I’m so current!!) and some splatter-print viscose lycra jersey I bought at Hancocks when I was visiting my folks in Virginia in November. Or it’s up on the US Burdastyle already should you wish to buy the pdf.

The pattern itself is rather avant-garde – it’s really just one big rectangle! On the right-hand side (as worn) there’s a side seam and a pretty normal, set-in sleeve. But on the left it’s just a fold instead of a side seam and a horizontal slit is cut in, where a sleeve with the sleeve cap chopped off (no, really!) is set into that. The neckline is just the top of the rectangle and is only an inch or two narrower than the hem!

I wasn’t so sure that the weird left sleeve would actually be comfortable, but it really is! I don’t even notice it when I’m wearing it, and it doesn’t really look strange when worn, either.

The body feels super voluminous and quite long to me – I’m tempted to narrow it and the cowl neck as well. I made a Burda size 40 which should be true to my new measurements, but everything is super wide – I’d definitely consider going down a size in the rectangle, but keeping the sleeves at your true size.

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My galaxy-print birthday sheath dress

25 March 2014, 10:50

Happy birthday to meeeeee! I hinted about it last week, but I decided to celebrate the occasion this year by sewing up something special to wear, using a fabric that I’ve lusted over for months even before I broke down and ordered it. My feeling is that if you adore the fabric or pattern (or both!) then the resulting garment is pretty much guaranteed to be a hit.

For this dress I used the Derek Lam-inspired knit sheath from the January 2014 Manequim magazine combined with the most amazing galaxy print ponte jersey which is even nicer in real life, I swear! It’s a digital print on a smooth, white ponte jersey base, and it’s both stable and stretchy, making it the bestest fabric ever (and I have just over a metre leftover! woo!).

It’s been a while since I sewed a Manequim pattern and I’ve dropped in size over the past few months of marathon training to a 42 (Burda 40), so I decided to sew up a muslin of this first to test the fit. The resulting turquoise ponte muslin was very close fitting, and I wasn’t entirely certain at first whether it was too tight, or utterly perfect. So I lounged around in it for a day, decided it was comfortable enough, then cracked on with the final version without any pattern changes.

The final version is definitely tighter than the muslin, though, and I’m fairly certain it’s down to adding the lining layer, even though it’s stretchy! You can definitely see some horizontal pulls in the dress showing it’s a tad too tight, and it’s a struggle to get that waist seam on and off over my boobs, but one it’s on, it’s not uncomfortable, thankfully!

The pattern is really simple – a front bodice with both vertical and horizontal bust darts, back bodice with long vertical darts, raglan cap sleeves, and a skirt pattern with vertical waist darts (the same skirt pattern is used for both front and back). The pattern calls for a long invisible zipper, but as I could easily get the muslin dress on and off without it, I was going to leave it off the finished version, too…

…until I discovered the most perfect purple, metal teeth zipper in my stash! So then I decided I had to use it and make it an exposed zipper feature instead. It was a bit shorter than I’d have liked, but it reached exactly to the waist seam, which worked out nicely visually (though for ease of getting in and out of it, a longer zipper would’ve been much better!).

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Londoners - Come sew with me! Teeshirts, Leggings and Panties!

14 March 2014, 13:06

I’m teaching a bunch more classes in the next month and wanted to let you all know in case any of you Londoners fancied coming and learning about the joys of stretch fabrics from me!

All of the classes are aimed at beginners – you should know the basics of a sewing machine, but don’t necessarily have ever worked with stretch fabrics before. You’ll get to know the fun of an overlocker, the joys of a twin needle, and come away with a newfound greed for all things jerseys.

They all take place at the ThriftyStitcher studio in Stoke Newington, right by Clissold Park (an easy walk from Canonbury Overground or there are tons of buses), and include unlimited tea, coffee, and biccies to fuel your sewing.

Sew a Classic Breton Tee


Sunday 30 March, 14:30-18:00
Does your life need a little ooh la la? Is there a certain je ne sais quoi missing from your wardrobe? Learn to sew the classic Breton tee with us! You should already be comfortable using a sewing machine, and this class will cover stretch fabric basics as well as an introduction to the overlocker (serger).

You’ll make a striped, long or 3/4 sleeved teeshirt using a pattern, which will give you the skills you need to sew your own teeshirts (long or short sleeved) at home.

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Acid Trip Leggings and a Not-Sacrificial Sweatshirt

28 February 2014, 13:12

A few months ago Rosie (aka DIY Couture) gifted me this crazy, mind-melting lycra when she was moving house, saying it looked like something I’d like! It definitely falls into the “fabric I’d run in” category rather than my normal wardrobe, I’m sure you’ll agree, so I knew I’d make leggings from it!

As it happens, I needed to test out KwikSew 3636 for a leggings class I’ll be teaching soon (yay!) so I thought I’d whip up a quick pair with this lycra, which I’ve decided is an acid trip in lycra form. In reality like it’s even more loud than the print itself though – because it’s actually wet look, too!

I mean – who looked at this fabric and though “Nah, not enough. How can we make it CRAZIER? I know – add some wet look shimmer!”?

If you’re a regular reader, you know I don’t often sew with Big Four or envelope patterns much these days (and especially not for something I draft myself, like leggings) but credit where credit’s due – I was impressed by this pattern, actually! It’s a one-piece pattern with two different fit options – one at 100% of body measurement, and the other with negative ease. Clearly I went for the negative ease one!

I was also impressed that they finish the waistband in my preferred method, which I’ve never, ever seen on a pattern before!

Cutting out the pattern made for some stomach-churning moments – don’t stare directly at the fabric! Lucky for me I only had to cut out one piece, and the construction was so quick I was wearing them in well under an hour.

During the photoshoot, James asked why I was “going all Sasha Fierce”, ahahahah! Blame it on my acid leggings, I suppose!

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A Drape Drape winter tunic

8 January 2014, 11:48

I found myself on New Year’s Day wanting to sew something fun and just for “me” rather than my blossoming business. So I looked through my patterns (helpfully online so I did this part while still under a duvet!), selected a pattern then proceeded to trace, cut, and sew this up in an afternoon. Definitely fun, definitely me!

I appear to be the first person online to make this tunic, from the third Drape Drape book, number 9. Sizes were S/M or L/XL and since it’s Japanese sizing and I’m like a 2XL, I made the larger size and crossed my fingers it’d be ok in a jersey. It was!

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Navy blue Pattern Magic "Jutting Edge" dress

30 December 2013, 14:22

I drafted a few patterns over the summer on the Morley College course based on the Pattern Magic: Stretch Fabrics book, this design included. To be perfectly honest, the photos in the book do absolutely nothing for me, so I flipped right past it when reading it on my own:

But the instructor, Moni, saw its potential, and thought that it might be nice in a softer jersey. She was totally right! The sample that was made on the course in similar, lightweight jersey had a chic cowl effect, but without a low neck like you normally get to achieve a cowl.

So I’d been meaning to make this all year, but finally unearthed my pattern pieces on Christmas Eve day, when I fancied sewing something quick that wasn’t workout gear for a change!

The pattern here is essentially just a long teeshirt dress, but with an added very wide (180 degrees!) dart that runs from shoulder to abdomen. It means that it’s a bit of a pain to draft, but extremely quick and easy to sew. On the course, I’d thought ahead and brought my own knit sloper so not only did I draft this to my body (at the time, anyway), but I also kept the armscye unchanged here so I could easily add sleeves!

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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 silver cowl top

18 November 2013, 13:45

You saw some photos of this top on Susan a week or so ago, but I’ve finally had the opportunity to do a proper photoshoot and not freeze!

If you recall, I out this MyImage cowl top pattern before we went to Mexico, thinking I might have enough time to quickly sew it up before we left. I would have, too, if I hadn’t decided I needed to make that quick travel bag. It was still waiting for me when I got back to cold, grey London, mocking me with its sleeveless-ness. I finally just sewed it up so I could have the space back in my sewing room, though I’m afraid I won’t really get to wear this until next year.

I made it out of some absolutely glitter-tastic jersey I bought at Tissue Reine in Paris a few years back, and it wasn’t cheap €12.99/m. So it was even more disappointing that it left a trail of silver all over my sewing room… Boo.

It might be hard to see, but there’s princess seams in the front and back even though this is a knit top – there are also facings for all the pieces apart from the centre front, where there’s a fold-on facing.

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Neon trim gathered teeshirt

1 October 2013, 13:29

I bought a bit of fabric recently, and I had a spare few minutes in between packing and setting up our new bedroom, so of course I squeezed in a new top before we left for Mexico!

It’s #126 from the February 2013 Burda magazine, but the pattern is for sale on Burdastyle.com if you like it, too.

The fabric is a distressed jersey print from Minerva that I bought a fortnight ago. It’s not got the nicest hand and feels quite stiff from the paint used on it (and didn’t soften up much in the wash, either), so I had to choose a pattern carefully. I first thought of my tie-front Pattern Magic top but 1m wasn’t enough for that so I turned to this pattern instead since it was traced and nearby after I made it earlier this year for my gathered merino top.

The neon trim was just a happy accident – I’d originally planned a basic neckband of self fabric but I mismeasured the neckline (I forgot to add in the top of the raglan sleeves!) so I started to think outside the box and I remembered I had some of this stretch fluroescent orange binding (also from Minerva!) in my stash from earlier in the year. Now I can’t imagine this top without it!

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Blue neopreney leggings

6 September 2013, 17:13

You’ve already seen the sister skirt to these leggings planned for my upcoming Mexico trip in a few weeks. I wouldn’t normally make two things out of the same fabric in rapid succession, but I ended up buying the end bolt (3m instead of the 2m I’d wanted) and having two bottoms in the same colour is quite handy when packing, as obviously the same tops will coordinate with both!

These were a super quick but comfortable make using my standard leggings draft from the Kristina Shin book plus my own preferred elastic waistband technique. I reckon I probably had these sewn up in under an hour, and I’d cut out the fabric at the same time as the skirt.

As you recall, the fabric is a royal blue hefty jersey that really feels very much like a thin neoprene – this stuff couldn’t wrinkle if it wanted to! I bought the last of the roll at “A-One Fabrics” on Goldhawk Road, and I’ve still got a little bit left that I think might be fun to mix & match with something like denim or even leather!

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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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Where to buy exercise fabric - a global list

30 August 2013, 18:16

One of my most frequently asked questions is definitely “where can I buy fabric for yoga/running/exercise/etc?”, so I thought it’s high time I make an attempt at something like a global list.

In general, though, the word you should be searching for is “Supplex”. This is a brand name, though, like Lycra (whose generic term is “spandex”), but the generic alternative is something like “wicking spandex”, and generally isn’t used as often as “Supplex” in fabric stores, I’ve found.

If you can buy supplex at a decent price, buy it. It’s soft, has great recovery, wicks away moisture while you’re sweating, and stands up to washing without a ton of pilling. It can be hard to find though, and sometimes only comes in a limited amount of colours, but I wouldn’t hesitate to run a marathon in supplex – it’s great stuff.

If you’re running shorter distances, or in cooler weather, you can get away with exercising in any number of lycra/spandex jerseys, though. These won’t wick sweat away, but they come in a gazillion colours and prints, plus have a multitude of foil and sequin effects, and can be way cheaper, too. Ditto goes for swimsuit fabrics – you can certainly use them for shorter exercise sessions even though they’re not wicking. Personally, I wouldn’t mind running a half marathon on a cool day in lycra leggings, but your mileage may vary (pun intended!).

UK


  • Tissu aka “In Fashion Fabrics” – Supplex in a limited range of colours, but by far the cheapest in the UK

  • Rainbow Jersey – Great array of supplex colours, but phone orders only and they’ll only ship within the UK (price is about £12/m with no minimum)

  • UK Fabrics – Scruffy Badger has used their “Mock Eyelet” for running gear and recommends it!

  • Funki Fabrics – Not wicking, but an unbelievable amount of digitally printed lycras that are suitable for swimming and activewear. They also stock supplex in black and white only (good quality, but twice the price of Tissu)

  • Bra Maker Supply (formerly “Sewing Chest”) – stock a wide variety of power net/mesh which I use to line and give support to sports bras.


Know any more UK shops? Tell me in the comments!

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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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Neon tribal running shorts and sports bra

21 August 2013, 11:02

Wow, thank you all so so much for all your hearty congratulations on my double gold medals at the British Transplant Games! It was definitely a confidence boost winning the first one, enough that I had the courage to wear my rather-more-revealing-than-I’m-used-to new running shorts & bra set for the second days’ track races.

I used the Jalie 2563 pattern for both the sports bra with racer back (View A) and the shorts with thigh insert (View C), and there’s also another bra view included in this pattern, too, so it’s great value to get three usable views in one!

I’d made this set after completing the swirl sheath dress, but before the super simple skirt, so I’m glad we waited for a photoshoot to be able to use Sheffield’s amazing Don Valley Stadium as the backdrop, even though it’s scheduled to be demolished next month for lack of maintenance funds (so, so sad!).

Even though I’m wearing these as a set on their own here, I think for regular runs I’m more likely to wear them as separates – a great sports bra to wear under a low-cut vest to let a pop of colour peep through, and a great pair of running (or cycling!) shorts I can pair with a longer top.

Jalie actually call this a “crop top” and not a “sports bra”, but I found it really easy to turn it into a compression-style sports bra that’s actually supportive enough to run in! If you’ve got a larger bust, your mileage may vary, but for me, this is the perfect mix of support, style and comfort.

My first change was to line both the front and back in power mesh. However, when I tried it on (before adding the elastic edges), it didn’t pass my “bounce test”. So I consulted with a sewing/running industry friend, who recommended I try adding a second layer of power mesh lining, with the stretch running in the opposite direction to the first layer (power mesh is stretchy in one direction, but rigid in the other).

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An incredibly simple skirt

16 August 2013, 12:00

Last night I reconnected with the magic of sewing. I’d already done a bunch of boat chores, done some alterations to take in a pair of leggings that are now too baggy (great result, but so tedious!), and I wanted something quick to wear. Since I upped my training regime for the British Transplant Games track race tomorrow (omg), I’ve lost a rather incredible amount of weight and girth so nothing fits me anymore. Which feels nice for about 5 minutes, and then it’s annoying because you have nothing to wear in the morning!

So I pulled out a bit of the black and silver lurex ribbed knit that I’d had leftover from my Marie jacket. The fabric was originally from Minerva, but is sold out now in this black colourway. I nearly gave it up in the Goldhawk Road swap, but then I had second thoughts and pulled it out of the bag. I’m glad I did, because it’s become a cute and very simple skirt!


Sorry about the quality – quick photos before work and it was raining, and my hair’s wet from the shower still!

This is literally the quickest, simplest skirt you could possibly make. Not only is there no pattern, but there’s no measuring or drafting, either! I simply took the fabric, wrapped it around myself like a skirt, marked with pins where the overlap was, then cut along the pins.

This gave me a long rectangle, and I sewed the sides together to form the only major seam of the skirt. I wear the seam at the back, but it could easily go at the sides or front since it’s all the same!

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Open-backed Splatter tank top

23 July 2013, 17:45

It’s not quite a “Quick Knit Top” in my eyes, but I wanted to try out one of the running top patterns I selected in my Spring/Summer 2013 Sewing Ideas before I jumped headfirst into sewing another pair of jeans. I pulled out KwikSew 3672, which my mom bought for me a while back in one of the pattern sales you all get in the US. Otherwise KwikSew tend to be pretty expensive over here and I’d probably never got around to trying it!

Despite being a fairly recent pattern, it’s already OOP so act fat if you like the design lines! I’ve only made the top this time, but I think the skirt could be perfect for travelling if made in a hefty jersey. The splatter-print jersey I used here is from Minerva – it’s a bit 80s but I thought it’d do nicely as a test-top as its soft and has a nice weight. For the shelf bra lining I used a lingerie nylon(?) but in future I’d suggest something more supportive yet breathable like power net. Obviously for heavy-duty running I’d use a wicking supplex for the exterior, but for several reasons I’ll go into below, this pattern isn’t suited for running anyway.

I never trust Big 4 sizing any more so even though my measurements matched up perfectly with size Large, I still laid my jersey sloper over the nested pattern and ultimately decided Large was probably the best bet anyway.

Even though my fabric isn’t anywhere near as stretchy as the guide on the pattern envelope (who actually uses those, anyway??), the fit is still very nice, and as far as I can tell, very true to size considering I was smack-dab in the Large measurement range! I’d definitely describe this as close-fitting though, and the length feels just about perfect to me, too. The only fitting issue that surprised me is how high the neckline is in front! This feel seriously matronly to me – I’d normally have this at least 3 or 4 inches lower in a running top!

This pattern has an shelf bra, which contains the bulk of my problems with the pattern: the finishing of the under-bust elastic leaves exposed elastic against the skin (what?), an unfinished (albeit small) top edge inside, and unflattering and bad gathers that neither support nor make for clean finishing.

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Striped Cabarita collared tee

13 June 2013, 13:52

As soon as I saw Cabarita, I knew I had to sew it. It’s got some really unique features I’d not seen in other knit tops – the vintage-inspired collar is the most obvious one, but the back V-neck and choice of short or long dolman sleeves really do make this a cut above the average teeshirt pattern.

Cabarita is the first of the “RiFFs” range from Cake Patterns and is available either printed or as a pdf from Etsy (I opted for pdf!) (Though note that if you ordered the printed version, you need to download the back neck binding piece here as it was accidentally omitted!)

Cake Patterns usually have lengthy and descriptive, very beginner-friendly instructions, but Steph started a side-range of “RiFF” patterns that have the same level of professional drafting, but with brief, text-only instructions and no layout diagrams, intended for more advanced sewists who just want the pattern (hello, that sounds like me!). Crucially, though, they still feature the (now signature) “draw your own side seams” method. When I compared my drawn pattern pieces to my knit sloper, they were scarily close (from the bust down), so this method really does work!

Now, a bit of a confession: I wasn’t entirely sold on the the collar at first. I thought maybe it might look a bit too costume vintagey, and might get in the way or flop around a bit. But I’m glad I included it as I really like it now, and it really does add to this pattern, which might be a bit too plan in front otherwise.

When I sew this top again, though, I’ll a) use lightweight knit interfacing on the collar so it stays in place a bit better (rather than the edges folding over, like you can see below right) and b) attach it so that the seam is on the right side and therefore hidden under the collar as it hangs, negating the need for any understitching on a narrow serged seam allowance.

This fabric is a lovely and soft viscose jersey in brown and turquoise from Minerva (and also comes in brown/pink and brown/orange colourways). Minerva don’t do half metres so I took the plunge and only ordered 1m, and I’m happy to report that I could easily fit the shorter-sleeved version into it.

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Bridge the Gap refashioned race tee

12 June 2013, 13:10

Following on from yesterday’s Boston Street Running refashioned top, I thought I’d show you the other refashioned race tee I made from my starting pile, the “BTG” one in the centre:

This one has a whole lot of meaning for me – the urban running crew I’m part of, Run dem Crew, has a bunch of sister crews all over the world with a similar ethos, so when we go to races in other countries, the host crew lays on parties, sightseeing, and pre-race hospitality. When crews get together like this, it’s called “Bridge the Gap”, and the Copenhagen crew even designed special shirts to commemorate the Copenhagen marathon weekend.

But I was a bit late to the Expo, and they ran out of Medium shirts, so I asked to be given the largest size they had, which was XXL! (Why they thought they needed to print any that big for marathon runners is another question entirely!). So this one was ripe for refashioning, and I had a lot of fabric to work with, which was great.


When I Bridge the Gap, I really bridge the gap!

The original shirt had the blue NBRO man on the front, with BTG and the date underneath, and the back had “The Peloton of Awesome” and all the participating crew logos across the shoulders. There were also mesh panels running down the sides, which I used in the Boston Street top instead. Unlike that top, however, here it was absolutely essential that I preserved the original designs.

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Orange and Pink tie-back teeshirt

10 June 2013, 17:56

I’ve got so many finished garments to show you this week, and I thought I’d start with one that I actually made back in February (while I was in a drug-addled shingles haze of pain). This top was a gift for my niece, from the Young Image SS2013 magazine.

I loved it as soon as I got this issue, and I went and traced and sewed it right away! The front has got a subtly curved yoke seam, but the back is where all the action is – a double layer with a tied yoke! It’s kinda hard to tell in the magazine photos though, because they don’t show the back at all, even though it’s the standout feature of this pattern!

I made size 164 and lengthened it as everyone says she’s so tall and thin, but those were the only changes. The only thing I’d change in future is to remove a ton of ease from the sleeve cap – there’s way too much in there, arrgh! Jersey tops really don’t need any ease at all, let alone several inches!

So even though I made this back in February, I had to hold onto it until I visited her in Baltimore in April. The shirt was a big hit, but I didn’t want to impose a photoshoot on the kids there and then, so my dad took these back in Virginia, and they only just came through a week or two ago. Thanks Dad!

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A gathered merino wool cardigan

4 June 2013, 14:02

It’s June, I hear you cry – why is she sewing a wool cardigan in June??!? Well, I selected this cardigan in my Spring 2013 Sewing Ideas because I’m a realist, and I recognise that I need a lightweight cardigan for 80% of the British summer! I’m grateful to not have the disgustingly hot & humid East Coast summers I grew up with (nor the swarms of mosquitoes everywhere!) but it does mean some wardrobe concessions must be made.

This cardigan appeared in the March 2013 Burda magazine (or it’s available for purchase as a pdf here) and I thought it was one of the nicest, prettiest, and most versatile cardigan patterns I’d seen in a long, long time.

This is a basic, slim-fit cardigan with shaped, faced bands, front gathers, and button closure. I love the slim fit, the beautifully drafted, curved bands, and the delicate and pretty gathering. I get annoyed when patterns have skimpy gathering, but there’s a nice amount here, which is a great detail and offers bust shaping.

THIS PATTERN RUNS VERY SMALL! One reason I sew so much Burda is because they’re always so consistent, so I’m very, very glad I read the other reviews first.

When I compared the front and back to my self-drafted knit sloper, which has 10% negative ease (perfect for tight-fitting running tops, which is my usual usage), this cardigan pattern was even smaller still! If you can – go up a size, but if you’re the largest size already, like me, I recommend cutting larger seam allowances throughout the waist and hips at the very least. I personally tapered to about 1” allowances on the waist and hips in the side seams, then sewed ~3/8” (1cm) from the edge.

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Two pairs of marathon leggings

9 May 2013, 18:08

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!

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Mustard and Grey slouchy Ivy tee

7 May 2013, 13:10

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!

I used two of Tissu’s viscose lycra jerseys here (again!!) – the Mustard colourway leftover from my Drape Drape tee, and 1m of Marl Charcoal I bought specifically to coordinate with the mustard.

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Spring 2013 Sewing Ideas

30 April 2013, 13:52

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!

Top row:

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Asymmetric Drape Drape tee

26 April 2013, 13:11

Happy Friday! To celebrate, I’ve got the last of my made-on-Easter-weekend, photographed-in-Baltimore makes to show you!

This one’s from the second Drape Drape book, which I received as a Christmas present this past year. Even though I’ve had the first two books for a while (and just received the third this weekend!) this is the first thing I’ve made from the series.

I think part of my hesitation comes from the very Japanese sizing – this is drafted for ridiculously tiny Japanese ladies – in their sizing I am an XXXL!. For this pattern there were only two sizes, though: S-M and L-XL. I made the larger and just crossed my fingers that my Burda size 42 body would fit in okay at the hips (the only even remotely fitted area).

Unlike the Pattern Magic books, these patterns are traced from sheets at the back of the book rather than drafted from a block, so it’s not as easy to just adjust the design around your own measurements.

But anyway, I needn’t have worried, because the L-XL size fits me beautifully, hooray!

In case you’re wondering, the Drape Drape patterns do include seam allowances but seamlines are also indicated, so if you would rather trace along the seam lines and add your own allowances later, it’s an option. I always like it when patterns do this, but obviously it’s something you can only do if you offer a few sizes, otherwise it really clutters up the pattern sheets!

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My wildest running leggings yet

24 April 2013, 16:00

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)

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Gold Medal Running Leggings

18 April 2013, 14:05

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!

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My sparkly StyleArc Marie jacket

12 April 2013, 14:06

Right – where were we? I mean, I know I’ve been away so my brain is fuzzy and perhaps a little jet-lagged… Right! Easter weekend sewing! I had a four day weekend and most of it was spent in my sewing cave, so I’ve got an awful lot to show you, starting with my Stye Arc Marie jacket, which I made in that gorgeous black and silver heavy jersey from Minerva. It’s hard to tell from the description, but this is a little heavier than a ponte, with good stretch and recovery, and a slight rib to it. The exterior have little silver lurex threads running through it, and the reverse is a simple grey and black stripe (and, as you recall, Minerva kindly sent this to me as a gift).

I was really surprised with the shape of the pattern pieces when I opened it up – it’s not obvious from the tech drawings but this has a shawl collar and the centre fronts also double as the facing pieces, meaning you get a lovely turn on that cowl neckline, too, but the shoulder is kept nice and fitted. Genius drafting from Style Arc again!

I took the opportunity to use some different locations for photoshoots while we were away, so these were taken at my cousin’s house in Baltimore. Down there, it’s really popular to build a deck over the roof of your house, but it does mean you get the wind as well as the views!

I wasn’t really in a wind tunnel, but it certainly felt like it that evening!

I really like that this is a perfect spring-weight, unlined knit jacket which can be worn open or closed. With this fabric, I wore it over jeans during the day, and then again over dresses at night, too. The only downside to this pattern is that there are no pockets (nor really anywhere to add your own), which I really kinda need in a jacket.

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Easter Weekend sewing and beyond!

28 March 2013, 14:14

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…

Leggings


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

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Spending Your Money Well

14 March 2013, 14:17

The title of this post isn’t just savvy shopping advice, but a literal comment, too, because I’ve been spending your money, dear readers! I got another Google AdSense payment through and I always like to spend these on sewing things to help cycle everything back into the site. I thought you all might appreciate seeing what I bought with your money, which I feel I spent rather well!

StyleArc pattern purchases


After the roaring success of my Marita dress, I knew I had to buy some more StyleArc patterns, so I created a WishList and waited until there was a monthly free pattern that I really liked. I didn’t have to wait long, though, as any purchase in March comes with the free Ivy knit top (bottom right in my photo). I really like the look of this top and know it’s one I’ll actually wear (as opposed to February’s freebie, an elastic-waisted skirt).

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Simultaneous sewing

12 March 2013, 12:43

I generally like to only work on one project at a time, but sometimes, for ease of tracing or bulk-cutting, or because (heaven forbid!) I run out of some necessary supply, I end up working on multiple projects at once. For me, this road is the way to Unfinished Objects (UFOs), and a treacherous one to travel down.

Far, far more frequently, though, I get a posting backlog so it just appears as though I’m working on a few things at once!

So right now, my tally is…

The Disco top and leggings


I posted about the leggings in December and the top last week, but I owe you a proper photoshoot for both!

The pink and orange tie-back top


I can’t talk too much about this one here because my niece reads the site, but this one has been finished for a few weeks, and I’ll get some photos of her wearing it when I’m over in the States after Easter.

The striped raglan tee


This is new-to-you, but I’ve also sewed a top for my nephew to give at the same time. I just finished this one this weekend, and I’ll also get photos of him wearing it when I’m in the States.

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Creating the disco running top

7 March 2013, 15:36

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.

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A lavender chic sweatshirt for my mom

21 February 2013, 15:10

I sure hope you aren’t sick of chic sweatshirts yet, because despite showing you my wool one on Tuesday, I’ve got another for you today (which I actually made several weeks before my grey one).

When my parents were visiting in October, my mom looked through all my recent makes and decided she’d like a chic sweatshirt for her belated Christmas gift, and she picked out a lovely lavender sweatshirting for it while she was here. Remember how lovely she looked in this lavender dress I made her a few years ago?

The pattern is again from the the September 2012 Burda magazine (or you can purchase the download pattern here) but the pattern only goes up to 44, and she decided she needed a size 46, so I had to grade it up. With multi-size patterns, it’s not too difficult – just measure the space between the size lines, add that onto the largest size, and connect the lines at the corners.

Here’s a good tutorial on grading up a pattern, and thankfully, this particular one happened to be the pink shaded pattern for this issue so it was easier than usual. It probably took me about 15-20 minutes to grade up all the pieces on the pattern sheet (of which there’s only 4!), then another 10 to trace them off, so it wasn’t nearly as painful as grading up a pattern that isn’t multi-sized.


(Big thanks to my brother for taking the photos for me!)

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Wool sweatshirt & denim-look pleated leggings

19 February 2013, 18:08

I’ve been meaning to sew both of these pieces for a few months now, but it didn’t occur to me exactly how well they work together until I went to do the photoshoot and realised, hey – these make for a great transitional weather casual outfit!

The wool sweatshirt


I mentioned it in my Burda Challenge roundup but I abolutely adore my turquoise chic sweatshirt from the September 2012 Burda magazine (or you can purchase the download pattern here), and I wear it so much I’ve been plotting another ever since. I’ve had this wool blend fabric in my stash since our honeymoon in 2010, when I bought it at Elliott Berman in NYC. I’m not sure if it’s a jersey or a woven, and it’s got a bit of loft and stretch, but it’s not as spongey as your typical loden. And for a wool, it’s super soft and not scratchy in the slightest.

So I made another “chic sweatshirt” out of this wool – does this make this one my “luxe sweatshirt” or something?

As before, you’ve really got to baste those curved front darts carefully so they’re accurate when you sew them. I always do my hand basting with silk thread (hot pink so it stands out against pretty much everything I sew) because it pulls out so much easier than polyester or cotton thread when you’re done.

I really like the detail of the curved, darted sleeve head, which makes the construction of this more like a raglan sleeve than a set in one.

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Brick orange Marita draped dress

18 February 2013, 16:25

I fell in love with the design of the Style Arc “Marita” dress as soon as it was released, and I bought it right away. But that was back in our summer, and I thought the long sleeves would be better suited towards cooler weather, so I let it hibernate a bit in my pattern stash before adding it into my Fall/Winter 2012 Sewing Shortlist.

I bought some wonderful some brick orange (or “rust”) viscose-lycra jersey from Tissu and knew it’d have the perfect drapiness and recovery for this design. Coincidentally, it’s also the same fabric I made the Donna Karan skirt set in – I just love this stuff and you cannot beat the price (£3.50/m)!

The pattern front claims you can make it in one hour, and it really is ridiculously fast to sew! I don’t feel right showing the pattern pieces as I feel that’s giving away their design, and I really think this is ingenious. The finished dress looks really complicated, but in reality it’s just a basic knit dress with one dart and one tuck. That’s it.

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A Year of Burda Magazine Patterns - Challenge Completed!

14 January 2013, 14:16

I (silently) set myself the challenge to sew one garment from each issue of Burda magazine (aka BurdaStyle) in 2012, and I’m proud to say I completed it! I’m not the sort of person to make New Year’s resolutions, or proclaim lofty goals to everyone who’ll listen – I’m more the sort to quietly commit myself to something, and see if anyone notices what I’m up to before the completion… I do know that Kristy has also been keeping up with the Burda challenge this year, and it’s been fun to see which patterns she’s chosen from the same issues (and on occasion we selected the same pattern!).

There were some roaring successes, a few fails (both my fault and not), and some that I changed my mind on only after months of wear. So I thought it was worthwhile to have a look through all the projects from this year, and my thoughts on each looking back from now…

January



Rating: 9/10
Link to original post: Great Basic – Grey Flannel Trousers

At the time I said: There’s nothing particularly earth-shattering about this design, but I just thought it looked nicely versatile, and something I could wear to business meetings as well as just team with a teeshirt if I fancied it.

My thoughts now: I don’t think these look as nice in the photoshoot as they do in real life. I genuinely love and adore these, and have worn them pretty much nonstop, at least once a week to work, since I made them a year ago. I wouldn’t change a single thing about this pattern, and the silk pocket linings fill me with glee everything I slip my hands inside. I really do need to make some more of these!

February



Rating: 7/10
Link to original post: The Blue and Black Burda February sheath dress

At the time I said: But really, I just love this dress! It’s so comfortable, and I’ve gotten so many compliments even in just the two occasions I’ve worn it in the past week. I also like it because it reminds me both of my beloved September dress pattern but also of traditional cheongsam dresses…

My thoughts now: I think the pattern is fabulous, but the fabric I chose was too thin, and the upper chest is a bit lumpy where Burda tried to tell me to have a facing when it should’ve just been sewn closed. I wore this a few times a month over the summer, but the short sleeves keep it from being in all-year rotation. I’d really like to sew this pattern again in a ponti jersey, like my other favourite dresses.

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Sewn Christmas gift - purple tween tunic

2 January 2013, 13:25

There was a massive sale on My Image and Young Image magazines a few months ago, and since I already own all the My Image issues, I thought I’d take the opportunity to buy all the Young Image ones for my niece Megan, who recently taken up sewing in a big way.

I figured it’d be inspiring for her to see at least one of the designs made up, so I thought I’d sew one for her before sending the magazines back to America.

My mom went through the stack when she was over in October and picked out some designs she thought Megan would like. Ultimately, I decided on Young Image FW12 Y1252 since I already had some perfect purple cotton jersey in my stash (you may also remember it from this skirt), which my mom also thought looked like her style.

Happily, most Young Image designs go up to tween sizes so I made her size 152 as the measurements matched hers almost exactly (she’s 5 feet tall already, how did this happen?!).

The gathering isn’t quite like in the tech drawing, though – the gathering on the pattern pieces is in one section in the centre front, rather than in two segments. I double-checked the pattern sheet to make sure I wasn’t just omitting a mark, and then also experimented to see if the gathering would work concentrated in two spots, but fell back on the one long stretch of gathering, which I think looks really good here.

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Sewn Christmas gift - Royal blue hoodie

27 December 2012, 11:04

I hope you’re all having a nice Christmas holiday! This is the first of two posts where I can finally show you what I made my niece and nephew for Christmas, now that they’ve received their gifts and my dad has very kindly taken some photos for us (in my opinion, he’s outdone himself here!).

I started thinking about this gift in October, when my parents were visiting London. We talked about what to make for my nephew Logan, who’s eleven, but there are hardly any patterns out there for tween (or teen) boys that aren’t that same, freaking button-down shirt (I think I could wallpaper the boat in copies of that button-down shirt pattern – news to pattern producers – try harder! ) !

My mom suggested Logan might like another hoodie, so I found one with great lines over at Lekala, so I just entered in his measurements and voila, a pdf pattern arrived, made to fit. (FYI, Lekala have a new, more user-friendly site so if you were confused with the ordering system on the original site, you might want to give the new site a try!)

I used Lekala 7160 (which isn’t on the new site yet) – a sweatshirt with yoke, dropped shoulder, three-piece hood, upper centre front zipper, and topstitched, in-seam pockets.

I normally buy my sweatshirting from Pennine Outdoor, but I was also buying for my mom and we wanted a bigger colour selection so we ended up buying the “Royal blue” sweatshirting from Josery, a new-to-me, UK-made textile mill. I’ll definitely be using more of their fabrics in future, as they’ve got a massive colour selection and a ton of ribbed knit to match their sweatshirting, too. I already had some black ribbing and black sweatshirting scraps on hand so I used them here as accents.

Big, big thanks for my Dad for taking Logan out on a mini fishing trip and taking these photos in a nice, relaxed environment!

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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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Flu shopping

8 December 2012, 15:46

While you all are out Christmas partying it up, I’ve been stuck in bed with the flu for the past two weeks. Horizontal and sleeping for up to 18 hours a day (yes, really) isn’t much fun. So when I bored of daytime tv after about two hours, I started doing some serious online shopping, oops.

Things I’ve bought:

Fabric from Tissu

(Seen on the right, above)

2 meters each of viscose-lycra jerseys in Rust, Mustard, and Bongo Jazz (awesome name for a bright orange!). One of these will become the Style Arc Marita dress in my Fall Sewing Shortlist. And I bought another meter of their “denim-look” jersey, because I freaking love my Not Jeggings and decided I want to make my Image Wear trousers in the same fabric, too.

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Vintage wiggle dress - photos

26 November 2012, 13:09

Last week I told you all about this dress – the pattern details, how I traced all fourteen of those curved, monster front darts, the things I omitted, the things I changed, and the things I’d want to know if I were you, sewing this for the first time.

So if you want to know all the geeky details (including the UK shop where I bought this lovely sage green marl ponti roma jersey!), then you best read that post, because this one’s going to be light on words and heavy on photos!

What I will say again is that this is a reprint of an original pattern Burda printed in 1956, but graded up to the normal Burda size range and included in the the November Burda magazine (or you can purchase it as a pdf here if you missed the magazine).

I’m stupidly happy with this dress – it’s the exact right snug, clingy, long sleeved knit sheath dress that I love to wear in winter. For the past two winters, my favourite dress has been the purple September 2010 Burda cover dress and this dress reminds me a lot of it, with a similar fit and feel.

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Vintage wiggle dress - pattern notes

20 November 2012, 13:12

My latest project is this vintage sheath dress from the November Burda magazine (which you can purchase as a pdf here if you missed the magazine)!

It’s a reprint of an original pattern Burda printed in 1956, and one of my favourite running features that Burda magazine have been doing this year. Since the company’s had a very long history, it makes sense that they should look into their archives, dust off a few gems, grade up the sizing to their usual modern range, and translate the instructions!

Contrary to popular belief, this particular one is not a maternity dress, despite the fact that the model clearly looks like she’s “showing”. I can assure you that I do not look pregnant in it one bit, so let’s move on with the catty remarks…

In any case, I finished this one on Sunday night, but considering that it gets dark at 4pm here now, I won’t be able to do a photoshoot until this weekend, meaning you won’t see it on me until next week. By which time I’ll have probably forgotten all the construction details, boo!

So by way of a reminder, I thought I’d type up my thoughts now, then you’ll see the finished design next week. So the “Tell”, then the “Show”!

1. The bodice has seven monster, curved darts, all of which needed to be accurately marked onto the fabric. If you have carbon paper, I suggest you make good use of it, but for me, I remove the inside of the darts with scissors, then thread trace each dart with silk basting thread so I can see it on both sides. Then repeat for the other bodice piece. This took a few evenings, but it was important to get them right, as it’s the focus of the entire dress!

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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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A chic little... sweatshirt?

8 October 2012, 14:44

It’s not the first time I’ve done the “upmarket sweatshirt” thing before – some of you may remember my Haute Hoodie back in 2008, but I think this new take has got even less in common with the usual sweatshirt idea than my earlier one!

The pattern here is Burda September 2012 #106 but it’s also available as purchased download pattern, too. I’m really liking that the English BurdaStyle.com site is finally getting the magazine patterns up more quickly these days, sometimes even before my print edition arrives!

I bought this turquoise sweatshirting back in 2010 from Fabric.com and had my parents bring it in their suitcases when they came for the wedding – it’s so difficult to find sweatshirting in non-traditional colours here in the UK! I’m not quite sure why it took me so long to sew this, as I love the colour and the sweatshirting is really nice quality, too.

Happily, I finished sewing this just before we left for our week’s holiday in the Loire Valley, so you get to see this top in a French pastoral setting rather than the usual London maritime one!

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Sew like a sailor, Run like a sailor!

10 September 2012, 16:14

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??


Isn’t it funny that the sailor outfit is the first photoshoot in ages not to occur on a boat??

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.

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My first running skirt

14 August 2012, 13:03

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.

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Don't dare calling them "jeggings"...

7 August 2012, 13:07

There are two main reasons I choose to sew something – either because I’m mentally intrigued by the pattern and want to sew something new and engaging (90% of my sewing), or because I really want to wear something that fills a hole in my wardrobe.

If you’re keeping track, this is the fifth time I’ve sewn the Papercut “Ooh La Leggings” pattern (UK stockist here), so clearly it’s not because I want a mental challenge – seriously, I could sew these in my sleep by now!

So far, I’ve got the purple Suziplex pair, the Liberace leggings, the Run Dem Crew Refashioned pair, and most recently my pale grey Suziplex Olympic leggings. But these were all for running, and I really, really wanted a pair I could just lounge around in!

Long-time readers will know that I very rarely make a pattern twice, let along five times, so you can infer how much I love wearing these! This might be my new personal record for Pattern Sewn Most, come to think of it…

I made this pair in some “denim-look jersey” from Tissu Fabrics (aka Tia Knight on eBay – same stock, same owner, just a different interface!). It’s a jersey that cleverly really looks like it’s got a denim weave, and it’s absolutely perfect for making leggings that appear to be made from denim (I just really hate the j-word is all!).

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Black knit trousers & shoe print vest

3 August 2012, 13:08

Now that I’m feeling better, I can start showing you all the garments I made when I was ill (I’ve got two more after this, too). It’s convenient that these trousers and top pair together so nicely, as I can show them together in one photoshoot!

First up, let’s talk about the trousers!

These knit trousers are Burda July 2012 #130 but this is also available as a pdf from BurdaStyle.com if you missed this issue.

The main reason I made these is that they’re a pattern for knits, which you don’t see very often, and they’ve got nice slim legs and a fly front. Usually knit trousers mean elasticated waistbands a’la leggings, but I have fond memories of a few RTW pairs like this I had in high school and university that I wore positively threadbare! I hate turn ups, though, so I just cut these at the final indicated length and then just didn’t fold them up (for normal length legs rather than 7/8 length with cuffs). On the next pair I’ll slim the ankle a bit more though

I made these in a really nice quality black polyester ponte jersey from Truro Fabrics. I bought a sage green ponte at the same time for a second pair, and I’m glad to find a reliable UK source for really great ponte, as Burda often uses it in their patterns. Furthermore, these only needed 1.5m of fabric so I made these trousers for a grand total of £16.25 (the zipper set me back a whopping 50p, ha!). That’s downright Primark prices, there!

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My Olympic leggings

31 July 2012, 13:25

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.

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Olympic leggings - sneak peek

28 July 2012, 13:50

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.

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Sewing through exhaustion

25 July 2012, 16:13

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:

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Run dem Crew Refashions - Ladies first...

19 July 2012, 14:30

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:

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The Donna Karan red vixen dress (Vogue 1280)

27 June 2012, 13:27

I don’t often sew Vogue patterns, but I am a massive fan of the Donna Karan patterns’ design and execution, so it’s no surprise that I added Vogue 1280 to my Wish List the second it was announced recently!

Happily, my mom saw there was a pattern sale where she lives in the USA and offered to buy a few patterns for me at US sale prices – she paid less than half the price for the pattern + shipping to the UK than I’m charged just in postage to the UK for the same pattern! I wasn’t planning on sewing a dress right now, but I got so excited when I saw Vogue’s numbered pattern marks for the first time (possibly in response to my complaints regarding Vogue 1259’s instructions), that this dress moved quickly up my Must Sew list.

Like all DKNY & Donna Karan Vogue patterns, this one’s a great mind puzzle to put together! It also has the joy and wonder of looking like a total mess until the very end, when it all comes together into a dress shape. I found it to be true to size, so go with your measurements, not some vague idea that all Big Four patterns have tons of ease. Most of the pieces are cut on the bias (not that it means much in a jersey!), and it hugs the body very closely. If you’ve got any lumps and bumps, though, this is not the pattern to hide them, and so you’ll probably be wearing Spanx underneath in addition to the strapless bra the bodice requires (Full disclosure: I’m not wearing Spanx in these photos!).

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Pattern Magic - Apple Peel leggings

19 June 2012, 13:19

I gave you a sneak peek of these yesterday, but I doubt any of you were looking at the leggings!! You’re forgiven, though!

This design is from the third Pattern Magic book, and was super easy for me because I didn’t have to draft anything! I already had a great legging pattern to start with, from an old KnipMode magazine I’ve made a few times before. Note that you need a legging pattern with a separate front and back pieces, so the two recent Burda magazine leggings (in the June and January 2012 issues if I remember correctly) won’t work as a starting point. Or you can just draft one from scratch as the book suggests.

All the work here is in the measuring, slicing, and spreading of the pattern pieces – I very cleverly wrote the size of the spread between each of the pieces, so when it came time to do the other pattern piece, I could easily make it the same amount so everything matched up.

I’m leaning, like the book’s pose!

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Apple peel leggings - sneak peek

18 June 2012, 12:41

As promised, I sewed up the “Apple peel” leggings from the new Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics book last Thursday night, but before I could get a proper photoshoot, we took a few impromptu photos of them after I wore them to work on Friday.

I thought you all might like a sneak peek of my leggings, sewn up in cherry red jersey:

Oh? What’s that you say? You want a better look at the unbelievably cute, tiny kitty that fell asleep on my lap?!? Ok then…

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High-waisted jersey pencil skirt

13 June 2012, 16:48

This skirt was featured in the May 2012 edition of BurdaStyle magazine, but it’s one of the few that’s also available for purchase as a downloadable pdf if you missed this issue (a really great one, IMHO!).

This is quite an interesting pattern because of its simplicity – it’s only one pattern piece (the same for the front and the back), with a bunch of radiating pleats on one hip, and just two side seams to sew. There are three hem lengths suggested on the pattern, and I went with the shortest, Hem length A, which ends up right at my knees.

And that’s it – no zippers, no elastic, no nothing. So it’s a really quick and easy skirt to sew up in one evening!

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Hooray for the Vogue 1280 DKNY sheath dress pattern!

8 June 2012, 13:58

Even though I live in London, I grew up in America, and my family all still live there. A week or two ago, my mom saw there was a pattern sale coming up and very kindly offered to buy me a few if I wanted! There were two Vogue patterns on my Wish List – one was a Michael Kors knit dress that’s now OOP (and her Hancock’s didn’t still have it), but she was able to buy me one of the new DKNY Vogue patterns I was after, plus ship it to me, all for less than half the price we pay for Vogues in the UK on sale!

(Ever wonder what sad souls pay the full list price printed on envelope patterns? Yeah, that’s us. Little wonder I mostly sew with pattern magazines!)

So Vogue 1280 arrived in the post yesterday, and I immediately set about devouring the instructions and construction details of this.

It’s a really interesting, asymmetrical knit sheath dress with a characteristic (for DKNY) lack of side seams, so there’s a lot going on here!

Here’s a better shot of the tech drawing from the envelope. On Vogue’s site, the tech drawing is really too small to see that nearly all the seams are lapped, with a raw-edged piece of trim inserted, and then double-stitched (hello, coverstitch!) on top.

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The Liberace Leggings

6 June 2012, 19:38

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.

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Peach flip-turned top and slim brown trousers

19 April 2012, 14:08

In addition to my exercise gear you saw yesterday, I actually made another top and trousers the weekend I got back from Montreal! Since I wasn’t in a fit state for a photoshoot until now, I kinda feel like I’m clearing out the cobwebs here…

This top is another “Flip turned for a draped effect” top from Pattern Magic 2 (drafted on my Morley College course!), this time using the tulip sleeves from Jalie 2806 for a more Spring/Summer look. This is the third time I’ve used these tulip sleeves and I really love the look and love wearing them – they really make a top much more special than just your average short sleeve! I used a lovely orange marl viscose jersey from Tia Knight here that’s just sooooo soft and lovely to wear! Hurrah for an impulse purchase!

The trousers are from the March Burda magazine (#126), using some stretch cotton sateen I bought at Tissues Dreyfus in Paris last month. It looked black in the dark lighting of the shop, but I got it home to realise it’s actually dark brown, which was fairly annoying, as I wouldn’t have bought 3m of brown had I known!

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Coverstitch binder attachment tips & tricks

18 April 2012, 13:35

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!

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Sequin running vest and purple leggings

16 April 2012, 17:12

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.

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Beforemath & Aftermath sewing

10 April 2012, 14:02

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…

Montreal


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”.

It’s got a great hand and recovery, and fabulously soft inner, loopy side:

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.

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Grey Pattern Magic "Flip Turn" top

22 March 2012, 13:58

Ever since I first opened the Pattern Magic books, a few designs have been burning a hole in my sewing brain. One of these was the “Flip Turn for a Draped Effect” bodice from Pattern Magic 2, and I was so happy that I was able to draft this on my Morley College Pattern Magic 2 course last month! It wasn’t too bad to figure out, but I’m still really pleased to have the instructor there and because I muddled through (albeit with help), I feel much more confident about tackling other designs in the books.

The only problem was that we drafted all the course designs based on the largest Bunka sloper, which was still rather a lot smaller than me, so if I wanted to actually wear the designs from the course, I’d have to create them again off my own sloper, which just seemed a bit dull.

Or maybe… just maybe… I wonder if the Bunka sloper version would fit if I eliminated the back waist darts and made it in a knit?

OMG a toile for a fashion college dressform fits me!! :O :D

Since this was a total fit experiment, I wanted to try this first in a low-risk fabric, and I had just enough of this viscose grey marl jersey leftover in my stash from the Manequim “big shirt”.

One interesting part of this design is that the reverse of the fabric is shown on a large portion of the lower front, and in this fabric, the reverse is kinda textured and loopy, but without any major colour change from the “correct” side. It means you get a subtle texture change on that panel, but without screaming “hey! I’m the wrong side!”.

To further play up the texture change and to make it look more intentional, I used the wrong side of the fabric on the neck band, too (maybe I’ll do the sleeves on the wrong side next time, too?)

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Lycra & Lace running top and leggings

16 March 2012, 15:44

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.

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The Blue and Black Burda February sheath dress

3 February 2012, 13:22

I’m feeling pretty good about the past few issues of Burda magazine. For a while there (2010, I’m looking at you!) they really seemed to be only printing boring, shapeless and awful patterns, but I’m glad I stuck around because the past few months have really been a return to form, as far as I’m concerned.

There were quite a few patterns I want to make from the February issue, but only one demanded I drop everything and Sew It Now, the colourblocked asymmetrical knit sheath dress #117:

I know a lot of people complain about tracing Burda patterns, but I seriously don’t have a problem with it. Most patterns take me about ten minutes to trace, I have the pattern sheets on top so it’s not difficult to see the lines, and I do a few at a time.

This dress may have the illustrated instructions for this issue but WOW was this a total bear to trace! It’s printed in red lines, but this sheet also contains the “easy”, pink shaded pattern, so there are multiple points where you need to trace red lines over pink shading. Add to that the irregular shapes of the pattern pieces and you’ve got yourself a headache.

If you can get through the tracing pain, though, you’re really in for a treat, because the tracing took longer than the cutting or construction combined. I sewed this up last Friday night after work and wore it out to a friend’s birthday the next day!

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Manequim draped collar sweater

30 January 2012, 15:34

There came a point about midway through the construction of this where it suddenly dawned on me that I was creating my second draped collar sweater with pieced sleeves of the month. Clearly the sweater knits in my stash were calling out to me, and I’m naturally drawn to drapey styles. Though I really must remember when I’m in fabric stores that 2m really isn’t enough for long sleeves and a big collar!

This the Michael Kors-inspired, collared sweater from the June 2011 Manequim magazine. Last week I showed you details on the construction of the various pieces and altering the size “Small” pattern to my basic knit tee pattern.

The only problem was, when I was laying out the pattern pieces onto my awesome, ex-Versace sweater knit from Ditto in Brighton I realised that yet again, I didn’t have enough fabric to lay out the sleeves without piecing them, argh! I didn’t want to back down since I’d tried to use this fabric for something else last winter, but 2m of a really narrow fabric really limits your possibilities. So I carried on, introducing two seams in the lower arms. Frankly, sleeves tend to bunch up so much around the sleeves that I find the seams kinda get lost visually around that area anyway.

In the end, I was forced to cut the collar on the bias simply because the fabric was too narrow to place it on the cross grain!

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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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Draped collar winter warmer

4 January 2012, 14:53

Paco Peralta is a Spanish couturier who has recently started making some of his designs available to buy as patterns. Late last year I purchased his “Draped Collar Tunic” pattern when he was having a special offer, and I’m so glad I found time to sew it already!

It’s an oversized, hip-length tunic with dropped shoulder and large, draping collar. All his patterns are hand-traced by him, with Spanish and English markings on the pattern tissue, but no included instructions – he’s got good photo instructions for this pattern on his blog though. I made size Medium here according to my measurements, though I could’ve easily gone done to a Small, as there’s a lot of ease in this style.

Bonus – All Paco’s patterns are 10% off right now with the coupon code here!


(Sorry, there’s no tech drawing provided and I’m too lazy to draw one!)

I had a 80% wool / 20% polyester purple sweater knit I bought at Ditto in Brighton last winter that was SO lush and soft and I just had to use it for this! Funny that Tany also chose to make this in a sweater knit, though she lengthened hers into a dress!

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How to finish a cowl neckline

4 November 2011, 15:12

As promised yesterday, here’s a really cool technique I used to sew the shoulder seams and get a clean finish at the neckline of my MyImage cowl tee (M1152 from the Fall/Winter 2011 issue) all in one go.

It’s a variation of “the burrito method”, and you can use it on any top where you’ve got a facing on one side, and a folded edge on the other. So it doesn’t have to be cowl necks, it’ll also work for surplice or wrap necklines with a self-facing, too!

This comes fairly early in the construction of your garment, but by this point you should have already sewn your facing (in this case, my back neck facing) to the body of the garment (the back here), right sides together. You should also stabilise your shoulder seams, either by using Vilene bias tape like I have, or with strips of knit interfacing or clear elastic – whatever your preferred method is!

In my example, I’ve got a back neck facing which is a separate piece, and a folded (ie: integrated) facing on the front.


Step 1. Pin the shoulder seams together from the shoulder edge to the back facing stitching line, right sides together. Keep the front facing and the back facing out flat (ie: don’t pin them!)

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The One Hour Cowl tee

3 November 2011, 14:02

First of all, thank you so much for all your comments and suggestions regarding my draped jacket! The consensus seems to be a) try it with skinny trousers, and b) shorten the sleeves at the very least, but I definitely need to take some time away from it before I can contemplate working on it again.

I think you can also predict what came next – a quick knit top! This top was particularly medicinal because last Saturday I’d already sewn up Holly’s maternity coat muslin, then done a bunch of overtime work from home, cut more insulation on the boat, and I found myself about 4pm with a totally frazzled brain and not quite sure what to do with myself.

So I went with my gut instinct, and started tracing the MyImage cowl tee (M1152 from the Fall/Winter 2011 issue)!

This fabric was a gift from Marie-Christine when we visited her in Toulouse at Easter. It’s a viscose(?) jersey printed (or actually, bleached, since the reverse is black!) to look like lace! I’m not a big “prints” person in general, but I’m such a sucker for a trompe l’oeil print, and you already know my love of lace!

There was only 1 metre of this, though, so it’s a good thing it has 2-way stretch since I had to fit the sleeves on the cross grain! If this was just a crosswise-stretch fabric I don’t think I would’ve been able to fit it in…

This pattern really is the essence of simplicity – there’s only three pattern pieces (four if you count the back facing, but I just used a rectangle of fabric instead), and the title of this post is no exaggeration – from tracing to cutting to sewing to wearing it took me only an hour! This really was just the pick-me-up I needed after the long-running draped suit project…

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A beginner's knit maternity dress

2 November 2011, 14:52

Just to make things absolutely clear – no, I am not pregnant!

But my very good friend (and beginning sewer!) Holly is, so I’m doing some maternity sewing for her over the next few months, and helping her to sew a few things for herself, too. We’ve already had an afternoon session converting regular trousers to maternity versions (and I’m thrilled to report that she’s since gone home and done a few of these herself, too!), but it’s down to me to start the “from scratch” garments.

The first project was to make a “wearable muslin” of this Burda knit dress from June 2010. She picked this pattern out of a lineup, and it’s actually great for a beginner. The seamlines and construction are pretty straightforward, and you get a lot of bang for your buck with this, as there are two sleeve variations and two length variations!

I traced off all the different versions, and used the double tracing wheel I picked up in Budapest to even add the seam allowances on for her, too (something I never bother to do for myself, as I prefer my patterns without).

For this muslin I used some viscose jersey donated by Claire (Seemane) specifically for muslining purposes. The print is definitely too wild for me, but it might come in handy for Holly while she’s got a limited wardrobe. I don’t think it’s an ugly print by any means, and I could see her toning it down with a black or navy jacket or cardigan.

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Upcoming Fall 2011 sewing - the fabric

21 October 2011, 14:29

I posted about my Fall sewing pattern plans weeks ago, but I never quite got around to showing off my lovely Fall fabrics at the same time, and then I went and bought a little more since I sewed through enough of my stash over the past year to make space for more.

Indeed, the first two fabrics were bought long enough ago from the superlative Ditto Fabrics that I’ve actually already used them!

This grey stretch wool suiting is finding a life in my Draped Jacket and Skirt Suit you’ve heard so much about lately, and I’m sure you remember this peach silk habotai from my recent blouse, right?

Well, the day after I bought the above from Ditto’s website, we determined I’d actually be going down to Brighton later that week, so I stopped into their store on the Saturday morning and picked up two more fabrics (along with a good gossip with Ditto’s lovely owner, Gil!).

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The Vogue 1259 Donna Karan gathered skirt set

16 August 2011, 14:19

I’ve finally finished Vogue 1259! I don’t regularly sew Vogue patterns (or any envelope patterns, for that matter), but like plenty of other people, I just loved this design as soon as it appeared online, and I just couldn’t wait to sew it up!

I used this mushroom-coloured viscose/cotton/lycra jersey from Tia Knight on ebay, and it was perfect for this pattern. You really need something lightweight and drapey, because there are a LOT of gathers that would get bulky very quickly in anything heavier. Vogue don’t give combined yardages for making the top and skirt, but 3m was just enough for me to make both, in size 16, using their recommended layout.

This pattern is marked as “Advanced”, and I think the top definitely qualifies, both for construction, as well as the cutting and marking, and the following of their instructions (which certainly don’t make things easier!). The skirt, however, could easily be made by a beginner. So if you’re intimidated by the “Advanced” label but like the skirt, go for it!

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The grey marl Manequim big shirt

4 August 2011, 13:46

I chose the title “big shirt” as an homage to Burda’s strange predilection for calling any oversized top a “big shirt”. Looking at the size of this top, I think it definitely applies here!

This Manequim top was printed twice, as July 2010 #307 and again as May 2011 #259. I liked it enough the first time around to trace it off Susannah’s copy, but then when I saw it the second time, I knew it must be a keeper to be repeated and be in my size, so I gave this a go in some drapey, viscose grey marl jersey I’d bought from Totally Fabrics a while back.

You can see it’s a roomy fit from both magazine photos, but you can’t really tell exactly how large this runs – I measured the hem circumference at over 150cm!! I always make Manequim size 44, but this is over 50cm of ease! OMG! I’d say that if you are usually a Manequim 46, 48, or even a 50 or 52, you’d be absolutely fine in sewing this up, even though it’s marked as size 44.

Manequim say to pull the hem in with elastic in a casing, but I chose to apply inch-wide waistband elastic instead. I measured the elastic to my hips and then stretched it as much as humanly possible and it only just stretched to the fabric hem.

But the adventure doesn’t stop there – I had to introduce gathers in several places not indicated on the pattern in order to get pieces to line up. Namely, the bottom edge of the sleeve where it meets to sleeve band, and also around the neck edge. So in reality, I gathered all four edges of that sleeve piece. With all the gathers plus the bubbled hem, it’s vital that you have a lightweight, drapey knit for this top.

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Silver silk jersey Lekala cowl top

17 June 2011, 14:42

I feel like I made this top so long ago, but the delay in showing it to you really wasn’t my fault! First it got delayed for a week while I went and bought more grey topstitching thread for the shoulder bands (and then immediately afterwards I found my other spool inside the case of my vintage hand crank Singer machine! Isn’t that always the way??), and then I had another week delay in taking photos while we waited for a break in the awful weather (mid-50sF and rainy for the past week, guh).

But cast your mind back with me and you’ll recall that I chose Lekala 4020, only I opted to create echoing sleeve bands on the back to decrease the “coffin back” look:

I’ve got full instructions on this pattern alteration and my order of construction coming shortly (honestly, they’re ready to go – I made the wise decision to write them right after making mine), so if you like the design and you’re roughly a Burda size 44, you may want to snap up this pattern while size 44s are free on Lekala’s site for another few days….

I made this top using some more offcuts of silver silk jersey, either leftover from Gez’s bridesmaid dress or from my sister-in-law’s LMB tunic, I’m not entirely sure which. But this stuff is so lush and drapey and easy to wear that I just can’t bear to let a single scrap go to waste! And the cowl neck here definitely benefits from a nice, drapey fabric, too.

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Flashes of gold and silver

31 May 2011, 15:18

the gold


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!

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The Burda September cover dress (summer lace version)

23 May 2011, 12:53

Remember back in January when I made the winter version of the Burda September 201 cover dress (#122) with long sleeves in purple pont di roma? It looked like this…

Well, at the time, I said I’d definitely make a summery version, too, but then again, I often saw I’ll remake patterns and then I hardly ever do, so I can’t really blame you if you thought you’d never see this pattern again!

But you’d be wrong! This dress is just so stratospherically flattering and magical that I couldn’t resist making a summer version in pale pink and grey lace, even though it meant hours of hand basting the lace onto the knit during our French road trip. And then once I was home, fusing metres upon metres of vilene bias tape to the various curved seams so they wouldn’t ripple during wear.

All this before I even constructed a single seam, but you know what – it was totally worth it.

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A belly full of monsters

13 May 2011, 12:40

This is a project that is new-to-you, but feels old-to-me! I made this top for my nephew back in February, but I only just now got sent some photos of him (and my niece, who I’ll show you next week) wearing the gift!

These were meant to be Christmas gifts, but the timing of my pre-Christmas swine flu meant I was totally unable to complete them on time for the Christmas posting deadlines. My sister-in-law said I should just send them over whenever I got a chance, as the kids get so many gifts at Christmas that they’d probably appreciate them more at another time of year anyway. I thought this was supremely wise thinking, and it also made me feel much less guilty for being a “bad Auntie”!

I chose Lekala 7089 (modified) for my nephew, Logan.

I realised the last two things I made for him were hoodies, so I decided to leave off the hood on this one for something different. There’s a noted lack of patterns out there for boys over that magical 128cm height mark (what’s up with that, Burda??), but there’s a pretty great selection of Lekala stuff for boys, and because the sizing is custom, you can make it for any sized nephew you want!

I thought this looked really wide in the body when I’d finished it, but it looks okay and intentional when he’s wearing it, so I think it’s probably just because it was drafted with more ease for sweatshirts rather than the teeshirt material I used here.

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A Breton tee with a difference

1 April 2011, 12:47

Last week I had the great pleasure to be able to put my friend Cindy up at ours while she visited from LA. Cindy and I met while studying at Penn State, when we initially bonded over Fly Nap huffing jokes in honours biology lab (yet neither of us use our Biology degrees, hmmm), but we’ve stayed in contact ever since, despite a transatlantic move for me, and three different big city moves for her. With good friendships like this, within five minutes of being in the same room again, it’s like the years apart were never there.

In any case, while she was over I said I’d make her something (though I did say something easy would have much more of a chance of actually being made!), and she chose this pattern from KnipMode Dec 2005 out of a lineup. If you remember, this is the same pattern I used for my rose and lace tee last fall.

Then we went through my knits stash looking for something that wasn’t already earmarked for a specific project and came up with this striped navy and white knit (which you may remember from my Breton tee, and the one I made for my niece). It was the perfect amount of fabric for this tee, and it was great to use it up since I couldn’t really justify another stripey top for myself…

After we decided on the main body fabric, we went through my fabrics again looking for something to use in the contrast shoulder panel, but the laces didn’t look right, and solid fabrics seemed strange, and so Cindy decided she’d just like a regular Breton shirt.

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Silver silk jersey tunic

14 March 2011, 12:10

Cast your mind back a year ago, when I totally raved over a certain Plus-sized La Mia Boutique tunic pattern (La Mia Boutique 12-2009 #19)…

This pattern was SO in the style of my sister-in-law, Aileen, that I proposed it to her right away, and even made the muslin for her almost exactly a year ago! Thankfully I made all the changes to the pattern as soon as I got home from the fitting session, and I even bought the silver silk jersey she wanted from Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road… But then I totally lost momentum and the altered pattern pieces have been hanging on my pattern rack making me feel guilty ever since!

So about 3 weeks ago, I finally sucked it up and made this for her (rather belated) birthday gift. All in all, it only took an afternoon from fabric cutting to completion – why didn’t I just do this months ago! We finally visited Aileen yesterday to give this to her, so I can now post about it. I didn’t get to see her in it since she had her hands full with her 6 year old’s birthday party, but she texted later last night to say it fits well and she loves it, so hopefully I’ll get to see it at some later family gathering!

Until then, you’ll have to make do with Susan modelling:

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Sewing pending photoshoots

8 March 2011, 13:06

You wouldn’t know it from the lack of sewing photos, but I’ve actually been fairly productive over the past two weeks.

I was a terrible auntie this year and failed to make anything nice for my niece and nephew this Christmas, and my sister-in-law said I should just send them something when I get around to it, seeing as how they’re both so overwhelmed at Christmas anyhow. So before I got started on my March Mini Wardrobe stuff, I took an afternoon to make these, which are currently in transit:

I made a fluffy pink zebra minkee bolero for my 7 year old niece, and an adapted (ie: no hood) monsters and red jersey tee for my 8 year old nephew. You’ll see more about these when they try them on, with any luck…

And while I was clearing the sewing guilt decks, I finally also made the silver silk jersey dress I’d promised (and muslined) for James’s sister over a year ago!

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Asymmetric Plum Lace Top

16 February 2011, 13:16

The latest installment in my post-coat winter sewing plans is the asymmetric pleated turtleneck, Patrones 296 #14.

In this design, you’re given the pattern pieces for a turtleneck top, where the front has been cut diagonally across the front. So if you’ve not got this issue of Patrones, just go and draw a curvy line across your favourite turtleneck pattern!

In the magazine photo, the sleeves and upper front piece are pleated and underlined, but I chose to overlay lace on mine instead. Patrones provide the pattern pieces for the post-pleated fabric (allowing you the fun of working out exactly how much fabric you’d need for whatever size pleats you choose!), so it was super simple to just use those finished pieces to cut out the lace overlays instead.

The plum fabric here is a gorgeous bamboo/lycra jersey that I bought from Ditto in Brighton last month, and it’s so unbelievably soft, and with a nice, beefy weight and good stretch. I loved Wazoodle’s bamboo years ago, but this stuff is even better as it’s thicker and doesn’t wrinkle anywhere near as readily. I am utterly in love with this fabric! I’ve got another of their bamboo/lycras in red and I’m itching to make something from that now, too. The green stretch lace I bought at Tissues Dreyfus in Paris last summer, and I love how the two together give a bit of an antique look….

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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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Incoming Ditto stash fillers

27 January 2011, 13:45

After sewing through my two Ditto fabrics I received at Christmas in record time, I’ve gone and ended up with five new fabrics from them! A few Saturdays ago we drove down to Brighton (via Lewes) with friends so I had to stop in at their shop in the North Laines, and then last weekend Pip gave me two more fabrics for my Christmas pressie! Yay!

Here they are:

From L to R above:

  • Mauve bamboo lycra jersey (2m at £9.99/m) – this coordinates nicely with my dark green stretch lace from Paris so I’m thinking I might use these for that Patrones pleated turtleneck

  • Dark grape lace (1m as a gift) – I’m feeling this is crying out to be a luxe skirt, but I need to find a good, beefy knit to underline it or it’d be very chilly indeed!

  • Deep purple ex-Prada wool/poly sweater knit (2m at £8.99/m) – I’m thinking I’ll use this to make the cowl tunic from the Winter MyImage magazine after seeing GlobalMom’s version on PR.

  • Grey ex-Versace wool/viscose rib knit (2m at £8.99/m) – James picked this out for some winter pyjama bottoms so he has some to wear that aren’t covered in Christmas Homer Simpson (poor man!)

  • Cherry red bamboo lycra jersey (2m as a gift) – so many options for this, so the jury is still out.

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The Burda September cover dress (winter version)

19 January 2011, 13:06

I made no secret of my total love and adoration of Burda’s September issue last year. In my opinion (and many of you!) this was the standout, stellar issue in an otherwise mediocre year for the magazine. I’m slowly working my way through everything I wanted to sew from that issue (some good and some bad!) but now it was the time for the cover dress, #122.

I showed you the pattern alterations I made to “un-petite” this pattern, though I reckon I could have even added a bit more to the middle of piece 2 as my pointiroma has less lengthwise stretch as my muslin knit, making the underbust seam just barely under my bust. The horizontal seam between pieces 3 and 4 hits me right at my natural waist on the sides, which I think is just great. I also took 6 inches off the hem of pieces 7 and 8 so that this is above the knee rather than below.

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Lekala ribbed top

17 January 2011, 15:21

Many of you correctly guessed that my first project from my post-coat winter sewing plans would be the Lekala knit top, as there’s nothing better than a “quick knit top” after a long and involved project!

Even better – this is my first ever Lekala pattern! This top is very similar to Burda magazine 05/09 #103A, but I’ve been wanting to try Lekala for months now, so I went with this instead.

Lekala patterns are usually €0.50 each (€1 if you want seam allowances included), but 8004 is one of Lekala’s free patterns made to your measurements. You enter in your height, bust, underbust, waist, and hips (all in cm), and then you’re emailed a pdf pattern! I chose the pdf pattern for A4 paper with no seam allowances.

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Un-petiting the Burda September cover dress

14 January 2011, 14:52

While I wait for the weekend to photoshoot the Lekala ribbed top (either you all are too smart or I’m too predictable!), I’ve started work on creating the cover dress from the September Burda magazine. It’s a really cool, curved seam design with no side seams and designed for knits, but it’s one of Burda’s Petite patterns.

I am in NO way petite – at 5’8” (172cm), I am closer to Burda’s Tall height (180cm) than I am to the petite height( (160cm). I have a sneaking suspicion that my torso is quite compact and my height is mostly in my legs, but in any case… I’ve made a few of Burda’s petite patterns before with good results, namely, my 30th birthday dress and the blue silk cocktail dress, so I wasn’t totally scared off because it’s for petites.

I made up a muslin of the top half of the dress (the half I’m most concerned with) on Wednesday night and I’m happy with my alterations so I thought I should share what I did.

First of all, lay out pieces 1 and 2 so that their folded edges are aligned, taping the pieces together loosely. Then lay out pieces 8 and 9 so that their folded edges are aligned, and that these meet the front pieces at intersections 7 and 8. Don’t worry that the shoulders are far apart or that some of the curved seams don’t meet up whilst flat.

My alterations are the white pieces shown below:

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Post-coat winter sewing plans

12 January 2011, 13:48

Now that I’ve got my big winter coat sewing out of the way, I can turn my attentions to filling in a few gaps in my winter wardrobe. Sewing these things now means I can get another good 3-4 months of wear out of them before moving on to short sleeves and lighter jackets (no really, for the past few years we’ve had flurries and hard frosts in April or May).

So I’ve gathered together the patterns I’d most like to sew along with fabrics I’ve got in my stash that would help fill my wardrobe voids…

Starting at the top of this collage, we’ve got:

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The Caramel turtleneck

27 December 2010, 17:15

“Oh”, I hear you think*, “another one of those Burda turtlenecks?!?!”

Endless others have already made this, and I admit I was hesitant to make it myself because:


  1. When a pattern gets made a LOT, it kinda makes me want to sew it less (maybe it’s shades of “I sew so I don’t wear the same thing as everyone else” coming through?)

  2. I love love loved the Burda September issue and it almost feels like a cop-out to make the super easy pattern from it first when there’s just so many great patterns in there

But in the end, I still really needed more long sleeved tops and I already had the fabric and the overlocker and coverstitch were still threaded in the right colours. So it’s fate.

So here is my version of the Burda Sept 2010 turtleneck, in caramel-coloured bamboo jersey

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Rose and lace teeshirt

2 December 2010, 13:11

It’s absolutely freezing in London and I really need more long-sleeved knits, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to use this pattern from KnipMode Dec 2005 with a yard of rose jersey from Fabric.com and some of my gorgeous cream stretch lace that I bought in Paris. Et voila! A raglan-look lacey long sleeved teeshirt (Lace but without the Brrrrrr!).

This is a really basic long-sleeved teeshirt pattern, but with lines drawn in from the neckline to the side seams on the front and back. I left off the weird cuffs (in fact, I just reused the sleeve from my drape-front dress because I’m lazy like that and don’t see the point in tracing an identical sleeve again!), and decided to create my own neck binding which I serged on and then coverstitched down.

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Brown knit winter dress

24 November 2010, 12:08

Continuing on my quest for more long sleeved tops and dresses as the weather turns decidedly chilly here in London, I’ve pulled out KnipMode 09/2010 #11 from my stash for a quick and versatile knit dress.

The dress is a pretty basic shape – a rectangular skirt (same for the front and back) at a gathered waistline with a basic V-neck bodice and long sleeves. But the twist is that there are two triangular waistband pieces in front to help cover that waist seam, visually cinch in the waist, and create interest in an otherwise basic dress.

And I had the perfect fabric – when we met up with Karen for drinks when we were in Philly a few months ago, she brought me this lovely and soft poly/viscose/lycra(?) jersey for me as a gift! How nice! So I thought it’d make the perfect winter dress.

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KnipMode blue draped collar dress

22 November 2010, 13:08

As you read last week, I was so inspired by the December KnipMode issue that the day after I received it, I traced out dress #11, the following night bought the navy blue cotton lycra jersey and cut out the fabric, and then sewed this dress last Saturday!

This dress has got some really unique construction – the two front skirt pieces meet at the centre front to form a collar, which then goes up and around your head and comes back down to join the centre front again. Everything is sewed together, though, so there’s no chance of gaping!

The other great thing about this dress is that they’ve chosen this pattern to have the big, illustrated instructions for this issue! So you really only need to sew the shoulder seams and centre back (if you didn’t cut it on the fold like me), follow their illustrations for that really unique scarf collar, waist, neckline, and centre front, and then after the illustrations attach the sleeves, sew the side seams, and do the hems! So what could’ve been a really complicated pattern is actually made fairly straightforward. Yay! Thanks, Knip! (You can download those big illustration in colour pdfs on Knip’s site, too!)

The bad weather and early nights may have kept me from taking photos of me in the dress earlier, but we had a mammoth photoshoot session yesterday so there’s lots to show!

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The loaner

15 November 2010, 12:01

Dateline – last week…

Wednesday: The new December KnipMode magazine arrived. OMG!! Best issue in a long time, holy crap! (It’s scanned and a preview is coming up very soon!)

Thursday: I traced out dress #11, where the centre front portion of the skirt comes up and around to form the collar, joining back on itself. The pattern pieces were massive and several needed joining together and extending, so it took me much longer than usual.

Friday: Pip convinced me that this absolutely must be in a solid, and since my longest solid knit was only 2m, I either had to run into the West End on Saturday (ugh), wait a week for an internet fabric order, or hope against hope that the lady at Bhopal Textiles on Brick Lane (just about the only non-wholesaler there) had any suitable jerseys, and was actually still open when I walked past.

And score! She was in the midst of closing up (she said she normally closes around 6 or 6:15, which explains why sometimes she’s open and sometimes she’s shut when I walk home) and had a fantastic navy blue cotton-lycra jersey for £3.50/m. So the 3m length cost me £10.50. At first I felt guilty for buying new fabric when I have such an overflowing stash from NYC, but then it occurred to me that I’m sure James spent more than that at the pub on the same night…

So I came home and laid out the fabric and cut out all the pieces, needing almost the entire 3m, even with Knip’s single layer layout! I went to bed with all my pieces ready to go on Saturday…

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Quick and summery dotted top

1 November 2010, 13:51

Did you guess which knit top was my first off the starting block? Well, it’s not an obvious choice, but I already had KnipMode July 2010 #4 (upper left corner, in purple) traced out so it was easy to just grab it and go.

The dotty cotton/lycra knit fabric was an add-on from Chawla’s to get the minimum order value while I was buying the flannel underlining for my wedding gown. I bought one metre of it for £3.85 so this was a ridiculously cheap blouse, even for high street standards!

There’s a slight change from the tech drawing though – there’s a CF (centre front) seam on the band that’s not noted. It means the band and facing are cut on the fold so there’s no understitching, but the trade-off is that you get that seam.

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Self-drafted leggings

7 June 2010, 13:31

I bought this ASOS ruched tunic back in April and I love the design of it – the ruched panels are really flattering, it’s a viscose knit and it’s entirely lined in lingerie mesh. But when it arrived, I realised it was way too short to wear as a dress, but too long to wear as a shirt and looks just plain lumpy when worn over regular trousers or jeans. And with the panels going at weird angles creating an intentionally uneven hem, there wasn’t a natural point to cut it off and shorten it, either.

So I filled the wardrobe hole by creating some leggings specifically to wear with this top!

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Quick & easy tie-front teeshirt

3 June 2010, 12:50

I was so excited when I saw this tie-front teeshirt (#2) in the May 2010 La Mia Boutique!

It just ticks so many boxes – flattering neckline (check!), coordinating knits (check!), cute Daisy Duke-style tie (check!), and most importantly, it uses up those awkward leftover lengths of fabrics that are too big to chuck away but at less than 1m, are really too small to make much of anything from.

The other great thing is that this teeshirt was seriously quick to sew – I cut out the fabric when I got home from work on Friday evening, and in amongst making dinner and doing some reading, I had finished this before I went to bed, and without particularly rushing or staying up late, either. In fact, I liked it so much I wore it out to lunch and the cinema (to see Four Lions) the next day, and then again at Crafternoon!

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Bridesmaids dresses - finished!

27 May 2010, 14:00

Both bridesmaids dresses for my September wedding are now finished! Since I’m sewing both of these plus my own gown, I stipulated that these had to be knit so that I could sew them early and my girls could feel free to gain or lose a few pounds without too much last-minute alterations hassle.

To refresh your memory, the three of us chose the Gant exclusive design dress from the Sept 08 Burda magazine:

The previous posts about these dresses spanned over a year (from our pre-illness, original wedding date), so to help you find them, here’s a handy list:


  1. Choosing the pattern

  2. Going fabric shopping and choosing their colours

  3. Tackling those pleated cummerbunds

  4. Finishing the first dress

Here are both dresses together, so you can see how nicely their colours will go together on the day:

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La Mia Boutique turtleneck

21 February 2010, 13:01

Before I tackle the Vogue sheath dress that will marry happily with my tweed jacket, I made a quick diversion in the form of a simple wintry knit top from the February 2010 La Mia Boutique magazine:

It’s a classic turtleneck pattern with a little bit of neckline gathering at the centre front, so there were only four pieces to trace (front, back, sleeve, and collar) and it was ridiculously quick to sew on the overlocker/serger and coverstitch. We’re talking a single evening in between preparing dinner here, folks!

Turning to the back…

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Racy lacy lingerie set

8 February 2010, 11:23

When fellow blogger Sigrid visited me last May, she brought along a birthday gift for me – a fantastic lingerie kit from Kantje Boord (a big lingerie notions shop in Amsterdam), full of really cool goodies you only ever see on high-end RTW underwear. In fact, it was all so nice that I was hesitant to cut into it as my bra-making skills are not quite as polished as the rest of my sewing yet.

But Pattern Review are having their first-ever Lingerie sewing contest, so that gave me the impetus to cut into the kit!

I planned on making the same partial-band, underwired bra I’d sewn once before (twice if you count the muslin) with a few improvements, plus my TNT thong panty from KnipMode, and, as it turns out, I was able to squeeze a camisole out of the yardage included in the kit, too!

Camisole


We’ll start with the largest item first, even though I made it last… This one was really easy – I started with a RTW knit vest (tank top if you’re American) that I really liked, laid it on my fabric and traced the front, then did the same with the back.

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Techno and sequins

25 January 2010, 18:13

Now that all the 2009 projects are out f the way, here is the first of my sewing partnerships I dreamed up around the end of the year! This skirt & top partnership consists of an “egg skirt” from the April 2009 Manequim magazine

…and a cowl-neck sleeveless blouse from Simplicity 2580 (which is a dress pattern that I modified before to become a very versatile top).

I always pictured these two fabrics together, and I am loving the resulting outfit! I really think I got it right in matching both the fabrics and the patterns! I originally saw it as club/party wear, and it turned out that I finished it just in time for a big party on Saturday night!

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Christmas Present - Grey stars hoodie shirt

11 January 2010, 11:21

I had an idea of what I wanted to make for my nephew, Logan, but with the kids being so far away I had to get the sizing correct, and all I had to go on were their US RTW clothes sizes. I definitely didn’t want to draft anything from scratch, so I had to find a pattern I could start from to ensure the sizing would be right. I ended up choosing Knippie Fall 2008, #13 since it was in his size range and had the long sleeve and hood, but that was about all I kept!

This pattern is meant to be a sweatshirt with assymetrical stripes, so I altered it quite a bit here, primarily by only tracing one half of the front and back pieces, and laying these on the fold instead (once again I’m happy to be working with patterns without seam allowances so I didn’t have to faff about with removing zipper facings or anything). I also shortened the body of the shirt since the pattern has you fold it up over wide elastic for a sweatshirt/jacket feel and I just wanted a teeshirt here.

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Christmas Present - Breton top & sweatskirt

10 January 2010, 13:36

The October 2009 Burda WOF magazine had some really cute winter girls clothes in it, but for me, the sweatskirt (#145) jumped out right away as a great present for my neice, Megan.

This was a really quick pattern consisting only of the skirt (the same for the front and back) and the kangaroo pocket, with a length of ribbing attached for the waistband! I was able to make this using the last leftover navy blue sweatshirting and a ridiculously tiny amount of leftover ribbing from James’s 2008 birthday sweatshirt and it was all done in under an hour. The only changes I made to the pattern was to lengthen it by about an inch because Megan is rather tall and lanky and I’d rather err on the longer side than shorter!

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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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The "Lauriana meets Dolce & Gabbana" dress

7 December 2009, 15:16

First up in my duet of winter knit dresses is this amazing knit cowl dress that fellow sewist Lauriana drafted for me(!!!) this summer. Whilst designing this, she not only correctly observed my size, but also that I adore cowl necks and assymetrical details, and gave me the option for a sleeveless or sleeved version! She’s the best! Since I’m in dire need of comfortable winter dresses, I opted to go for long sleeves this time around, but I would definitely make this again for summer without them.

I made it up in some luscious Dolce & Gabbana viscose knit that I bought at Ditto Fabrics HQ in Brighton in June. It’s been in my stash just waiting for the perfect pattern match, and since it’s such a crazy, busy print, I thought this pattern with both front and back on the fold would be great for keeping the swirled dots intact.

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Toddler two teeshirt

2 December 2009, 14:26

Sorry about the delay in the knit dress photos – I’d planned to do a photoshoot on Sunday but we had a mini hurricane all day, and then I had lung surgery yesterday so even though the dresses are finished (and I’ve started on a third!), it’ll be a few days until I can climb into them without wincing and make myself presentable.

So it’s a good thing that I’ve got these phots of my little neighbour Rosie’s 2nd birthday present to keep you occupied in the meantime, eh? A few weeks ago we were invited to her party and knowing how much she loved Matilda’s dress, I thought I’d make her something to announce the proud occasion.

There’s a great amount of toddler patterns in Burda magzines, but I finally settled on BWOF 05/2006 #137 which is just a simple teeshirt with shoulder snaps for easy dressing. I used some of the ex-Paul Smith grey jersey with stars, bought from Ditto Fabrics, and some lavender cotton interlock leftover from my mom’s dress to make it a little more girlie!

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Prada meets Patrones

18 November 2009, 12:13

Ahhh I finally get my designer fix! Patrones may have stopped attributing designer names to their patterns, but it hasn’t stopped me from adding my own glamour to the mix… This short sleeved top with an interesting gathered and buttoned triangular collar is no1 from the latest issue of Patrones magazine, #285:

So where does the Prada come in? Well, the fabric is a gorgeous ex-Prada olive wool interlock from Ditto Fabrics in Brighton. I’ve only ever sewn wool jersey once before, and after the struggle I had to keep that from rolling onto itself in both directions, plus having to use double layers to keep it from being see-though, I wasn’t overly keen to sew with it again.

But oh my god, the difference between these two fabrics is like night and day! This wool interlock is just beautiful – it washed up a dream, behaves beautifully in the overlocker and sewing machine, presses and molds the way you want it to, and is just SO soft you’d never guess it was wool at all. Honestly, this stuff is just amazing to touch.

If you remember, I had some difficulty visualising how the pattern pieces fit together in this top, partially down to my not speaking Spanish, but also due to the 2D nature of the technical drawings and the one limited magazine photo. So I made a paper model to help figure out that the collar actually is detached from the neckline in front (the neckline being bound by a bias strip) and the sleeves have pleats on the upper arm where they meet the sleeve band. If you’re interested in the construction of this pattern, I recommend you open the earlier post in another tab now to refer back to while you look at the perty photos!

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Stripey lycra wrap top

6 November 2009, 08:36

I traced out the pattern pieces for this summery surplice knit top from the July 09 issue of KnipMode magazine a few months back, and it’s been hanging on my pattern rack tempting me at every turn. I know it’s silly to be sewing short sleeved, summery tops this late in the season, but that’s what cardigans are for, amiright?

I bought just one metre of this soft lycra jersey from Fabric World on Goldhawk Road for a whopping £3 as I just loved all the different sweeping stripes curving in and over each other. It’s a good fit for a wrap top like this as it creates a bit of an optical illusion, with curves going every which way!

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Summer in the Sunshine top

3 November 2009, 08:46

Remember back to the warm, sunny days of August… You there yet? Because that’s when I sewed up this top, in between the dresses I made for my mom while she was visiting!

I’d bought the Hot Patterns Weekender Sunshine Top pattern almost two years ago, but I’ve had such a hit & miss experience with their patterns that I never quite worked up the nerve to sew this one. But with review after glowing review appearing on PR, I finally had to take the plunge and make my own, especially since it seemed quite a forgiving style for my hospital- and medication-induced chubbiness.

This cotton/lycra knit fabric from Totally Fabrics is so lush and soft that I’ve actually held off posting this so I could buy some more before you all snapped it up (but alas, it sold out just before they posted another site-wide sale)! I got this on sale, so the 1 metre I used here was only £3.75!

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Pleated lavender knit dress

2 September 2009, 12:11

OK it seems I’ve got a brief respite from my fever right now (although not the headache) so I’m going to take advantage of it to finally show you the lavender knit dress I made my mom while she was staying with us this summer.

She bought the lavender interlock when she was still in America, and then had a leisurely stroll through my huge archive of pattern magazines for a style she liked and I thought would flatter her nicely. So together we decided on KnipMode Aug 2009 #20, which has a surplice top with shawl collar and pleated skirt in both back and front. We were originally going to shorten the sleeves to elbow length, but after trying on the dress, she decided she liked them long and could easily push them up if she needed to.

Once or twice a year, KnipMode produce a few patterns that come in Petite, Average, and Tall patterns, with a few of the pattern pieces changing shape, though as Arielle pointed out, Knip don’t publish their Petite or Tall body measurement charts anywhere! Any Dutch speakers care to volunteer to sort out this mystery for us? They don’t seem to understand it when we email… In any case, I just made the average height for my mom here, as she’s about 5 foot 6 with fairly normal length proportions.

With belt:

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Intermission

23 August 2009, 09:22

Apologies for the short intermission this week – I intended to tell you all about the lovely knit dress I made for my mom and show off our great photoshoot, but I’ve been snatched away for the weekend to sunny Camberwell. I can now say I’ve had a headache that’s tougher than paracetemol (Tylenol), codeine, AND morphine, as well as all three combined together!! Don’t worry, it’s sorted now- the drs were pretty sure it was caused by one of my many medicines making my blood pressure spike, but they had to keep me in to dis-count any other nastier options to be absolutely sure.

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Nautical but nice

15 August 2009, 12:46

I made the KnipMode puzzle trousers back in hospital (#12 from the May 09 KnipMode), but I wanted to add a quick and easy knit top to it so a few weeks ago, I also made a BurdaStyle Lydia top in navy and white jersey to realise the Breton shirt I’ve been wanting for a while now.

These photos were also taken a few weeks back, but it means you get to see my red wig, and the rather photogenic crane barge that’s now two boats over from ours…

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Ruffled pink girlie dress

28 June 2009, 22:04

I hadn’t planned on making this dress, but I suddenly remembered it was our neighbour Matilda’s fourth birthday today so I went over and took some measurements yesterday, and chose dress #6 from the Fall (Herfst) 2008 Knippie idee magazine:

Remember back at Christmas I made this as a top for my niece? You might also remember Matilda from the knit balaclavas I made her at Christmas

This time I made the smallest in the size range, 98, after measuring Matilda (who’s turning 4), whereas I’d made the biggest size, 128, for my niece who was barely 6 then.

Here’s the dress, front and back, laid out flat:

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Punk words day dress

25 June 2009, 11:53

I adore my pink flowered day dress so much that I just had to make another version!

If you recall, I blended two similar dresses from the Feb 09 issue of KnipMode together into one! I took the top half of #15 (on the left) and the bottom of #18 (on the right) and joined them together at the waist seam to make a really comfortable, casual dress for lounging around the moorings.

This time I changed the fabric to use some fantastic punk words jersey from Crybaby’s Boutique and some solid black cotton interlock I picked up in Brighton for the rest:

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Green sweatshirt bolero

23 June 2009, 15:11

I posted a few in progress photos of this bolero last week, but I’m happy to announce now that the embellishment is complete, and so is the bolero!

The pattern is from the March 09 KnipMode, the same issue which bore the recent faux-wrap jeanskirt, and it’s just a simple cropped jacket for knits, with 3 pattern pieces (not counting the few facings I drafted).

It’s a cute little jacket with some metal jersey snaps from the front…

…and then, as I turn to the back…

…a silver sailing aak emerges!

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Green bolero - in progress

17 June 2009, 11:04

Ok this is finally the last of the green sweatshirting from Pennine Outdoor! Seen previously in my Patrones haute hoodie and my nephew’s birthday sweatshirt, if you recall… And this bolero (though really it’s a cropped jacket since it closes in the centre) pattern is from the March 09 KnipMode, the same issue which bore the recent faux-wrap jeanskirt.

So here it is on my dressform, Susan, looking pretty darned complete. What’s missing, I hear you ask? Well, it’s not got the FehrTrade label yet, for one, but the only other thing that’s missing is the painted silver design I’m planning on adding to the back! I know,, I know – me in “decorative” shock!

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Easy cowl knit top

13 June 2009, 10:10

After over week of agonising waiting, I’ve finally now got a revised admission date (29 June) which means I’ve got two more weeks to sew!

First up is a modified version of Simplicity 2580 (which my mom brought me from America), sewn up in the £1.70 lycra knit remnant from Brighton! I realised wearing it to work yesterday tht the pale turquiose here matches my spring coat exactly, too…

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Blue Sky sewing

3 June 2009, 20:13

Last second delays, delays, delays are really getting me down. So last night I forced myself to sew a quick knit top to cheer me up and give me something new to wear…

For me, “quick” means:
1. the pattern’s already traced (and previously made is a bonus!)
2. the fabric is in my stash, washed and ready to go
3. Made from knits so no stopping to press seams

Luckily, I fondly remembered BWOF 11-2008 #125, so I went through my traced pattern pile (I knew I kept all of those for a reason!) and whipped this up in under two hours.

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Pink flowered day dress

24 April 2009, 09:19

Thinking ahead towards summertime, I really like to wear casual day dresses around the moorings at weekends (and this year, during the week, too, I suppose). A few years ago my friend Jess bought me a really simple 70s day dress at a vintage shop, and I’ve worn that so much I realised I’d like a few more to fulfil the same function.

So for this day dress, I blended two similar dresses from the Feb 09 issue of KnipMode together into one! I took the top half of #15 (on the left) and the bottom of #18 (on the right) and joined them together at the waist seam to make a really comfortable, casual dress for lounging around the moorings.

The fabric is a really super soft cotton-lycra jersey from Totally Fabrics, but which has now, understandably, sold out (I looked a few days ago to see if I could buy more – it’s that good!). The neck and arm bands are just a bit of black lycra to give a bit of contrast to such a busy print.

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First-rate Brit chic!

3 March 2009, 21:52

The title is from the cover of my much-loved issue of Burda that I was going on about last week, which also gave me BWOF 08/2006 #113:

I bought some beautifully soft mohair sweater knit from Classic Textiles last time I was at Goldhawk Road (1.5m at £8/m), but I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it until I went skimming through my magazine archive and saw this sweater. The mohair knit is a very open weave with an abstract star/flower pattern running through it, so I knew that whatever I’d make would have to either be lined or be worn with something else underneath (both to show the pattern and also to protect modesty). I chose the latter.

I had only one week’s notice to make something new to wear to my British citizenship ceremony, and I thought the pairing and the “British chic” pattern were too good to pass up! But I had a very busy week and weekend, so I only ended up finishing it the night before! Phew!

Here I am during and after my ceremony at Southwark Town Hall earlier today, pleased as punch!

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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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KnipMode & KwikSew Lingerie Set

24 February 2009, 12:24

Wow, I’m really falling behind with my photos, it feels like so long ago that I finished all these lacy bits! But then again, I bought the brown and turquoise bra kit from eLingeria.de way back in January 2008 so I suppose a week or so isn’t much in the lifespan of this fabric!

The kits from eLingeria.de give you all the bits you need to make one bra and two panties – really soft, stretchy microfibre, stretch lace, elastic, bra straps, underwire channeling, hooks, and the strap loops and findings. The only thing I needed to buy extra were the underwires, since they’re so size-specific. I really enjoyed sewing these, and having the kit meant I didn’t have to gather all the materials in matching colours on my own, so I’m definitely going this route again. €20 for a matching lingerie set is a steal, even with the current exchange rate!

The bra pattern is KwikSew 3300, which I extensively reviewed when I sewed my first bra toile a few weeks ago, only this time I used the right elastic so it fits!

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Grey pyjamas

3 February 2009, 16:09

In continuation of my quest for comfortable pyjamas and tops that can work as pyjamas or casualwear, I’ve made BWOF 12/08 #113 pleated neck tee and KnipMode 03/2007 #11 leggings, which I made once before as pyjama bottoms in the pink retro guitars waffle knit.

The heathered and super soft grey jersey is from my first trip to Goldhawk Road, which I bought for £4 a metre, and it was enough to make both the top and leggings, with enough spare for another top someday, I reckon.

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Burda surplice gathered top

20 January 2009, 10:51

I can’t believe I’ve actually made a Burda WOF pattern in the same calendar month as the magazine! I think this is only the second time ever I’ve been able to do that, but I saw BWOF 01/09 #110 and instantly saw a perfect pairing with the print lycra knit I bought on Goldhawk Road:

(Thanks, Trena, for the swatch/drawing pairing idea!)

I’m actually going back there this weekend so I’m definitely going to raid the shop I bought this in, because the feel and drape of this lycra is fantastic, and at £3.50/m, you really can’t beat it!

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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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Purple KnipMode Twist Top

17 December 2008, 11:03

If this top looks familiar, then it’s because this is the fourth time I’ve sewn this pattern!

First, I made it in blue ribbed knit over the summer, then again in the same fabric for my mom. Then I transformed it into a dress. And this time, well, it looks an awful lot like the Plus size version that was reprinted in the October edition! Combine those with Trena’s recent version and you’ve got a strong contender for my Pattern of The Year 2008!

To refresh your memory, here’s the magazine photo, from KnipMode 04/08 (which appears to be sold out everywhere by now, with good reason!):

And here it is, in purple cotton interlock from Pennine Outdoor!

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Birthday blue sweatshirt

8 December 2008, 14:07

James’s birthday was on Thursday and since we can always use more warm, comfortable clothes around the boat, I decided to try BurdaStyle’s free Amin pattern that was just posted a few weeks ago. The example made in the photos uses a thick and chunky sweater knit, but I opted to make James’s as a more practical sweatshirt that could be tossed in the washing machine at will.

It’s got really nice lines for a mens pattern – princess seams (or would that make them “prince seams”?) that flow nicely into concealed hip pockets, but I decided to make these one better and create an iPhone pocket-within-a-pocket –

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Christmas gift - Hannah Montana pink outfit

3 December 2008, 08:36

Oh yes, my niece is so lucky that she’s getting not just one but two Hannah Montana outfits this Christmas (even so, I’ve still got leftover fabric in my stash…)!

From the Fall (Herfst) 2008 Knippie idee magazine, I made #6 and the knit trousers from #19:

You’ll notice that #6 is actually a dress, but I saw the potential here for a great, basic long sleeved teeshirt by simply chopping off the pattern at the first frilly tier. Since my sister-in-law said that Megan’s not into frills anyway, this seemed like a perfect solution!

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Christmas gift - Hannah Montana polo dress

2 December 2008, 11:21

No, you did read that right – it’s just not for me! Luckily, my niece Megan will be receiving something that ticks two boxes off her Christmas list: “5. New Dress” and “Hannah Montana stuff”. We should all be thankful I didn’t attempt “8. bird costume with bird shoes”!

I found some fantastic Hannah Montana cotton knit from Crybaby’s Boutique and teamed it with some 100% cotton interlock in “rosepink” from Pennine Outdoor to break up the print a bit, then went looking for some nice kids patterns.

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Black yoga tee

20 November 2008, 11:42

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.

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Purple wool sweater

12 November 2008, 11:08

It’s definitely the chilly season here again, and since I’ve had the pattern and material for a few weeks and I hit a lull in my Christmas sewing (I’d finished everything I could and I’m waiting on patterns and fabric for the last gift!) it seemed the perfect time to make Burda 7724. I used the purple and black flecked wool sweater knit I bought for £7.50 from A to Z Fabrics on Goldhawk Road here in London (and I’ve got a little left for mittens and a hat!). It’s just so warm and comfortable that I (shh!) wore it three days straight after I made it!

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Olive! A Twist!

3 September 2008, 12:14

I’ve been fantasising about making this dress ever since February, and I finally got the right inspiration to make it, and in a lovely fabric that nicely bridges the Summer/Fall/Winter gap. BWOF 02/2008 #103 is a knit dress with raglan sleeves, wide boatneck collar, and a really distinctive front twist leading down into a wrap skirt.

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A custom fit swimsuit

18 August 2008, 12:13

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.

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Reddy, Set, Sew!

31 July 2008, 12:35

When I visited the States last summer, I bought lots of fabric but did very little clothes shopping, despite everything being so cheap on the “dollar discount”. The only garment purchase I did make was a simple black top from the Issac Mizrahi for Target range, and I’ve absolutely worn it to death in the past year. I was really excited to see that Vogue 8305 contains a shirt absolutely identical to my Target one, so I thought I’d give it a go in some inexpensive red cotton jersey to check the fit and construction before cutting into anything more expensive in the future.

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That new chestnut!

23 July 2008, 15:51

My unofficial knit month continues, this time with an incredibly comfortable “frankendress”! The top half is KnipMode April 2008 #13 (still available to buy from Naaipatronen, fyi), which you should remember from when I made it before in blue for myself and then again for my mom:

I absolutely love my top, and I often find myself in my wardrobe late at night picking out clothes for the next day, holding that shirt and asking myself “wait – did I already wear it this week?”. I just knew I had to turn this pattern into a dress to get even more wear out of it, so I searched my back issues of Burda WOF magazines and found a great knit dress to use for the bottom half: Burda WOF 05/05 #125.

I sat down with the two patterns and sketched out a combined technical drawing and then started thinking about my plan of attack to serge this all together, keeping in mind that it’s a lot easier to construct flat seams than in the round… I didn’t follow my plan exactly, but I did stick to the basic idea, and I’d definitely do it this way again.

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Splish Splash

22 July 2008, 10:17

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:

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Blue kimono teeshirt

21 July 2008, 12:25

I’m still working through my backlog of posts to show you everything I’ve made over the past fortnight, but the good news is, I’ve taken a lot of photos this weekend and should have enough for at least five delectable nuggets of sewing glee to share over the next few days.

Last weekend I revisited an old friend, the kimono sleeved-top of Simplicity 4020 which you may remember from when I made it in chocolate brown way back in October 2006.

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Run Like the Wind

15 July 2008, 12:32

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!

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Got my mojo workin'

7 July 2008, 12:28

Ooh, I’m back baby! After my last two duds I was in need of some seriously quick fun to start off Knit Month, so I selected Burda WOF 06/08 #109 sewn in a lilac cotton interlock from Pennine Outdoor as my first bit of fun!

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Like mother like daughter

4 July 2008, 15:52

You may remember that a few weeks ago I gave in to my mother’s pleas and made her a her-sized version of my blue KnipMode shirt, in the same fabric as mine, but with shorter sleeves for the hotter Pennsylvania weather…

Well, it arrived and she did me proud with a photoshoot!

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Pucci playtime cowl neck top

30 June 2008, 12:56
This weekend I finally got a chance to properly play with my new toy and whip up a few knit tops to see what this baby could do!

First up was BurdaStyle's Sadie top (with the added cowl neck) using some lovely Pucci-esque printed knit which you may remember from last Spring's tunic top. I was really just keen to use up the stash fabric on something very quick and easy, and also in case something went horribly wrong on my first serger attempt and the whole thing became a wadder!

Luckily no such thing happened and I got a decent summer top after an hour or two...

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Outdoor acquisitions (and a Spoonflower bonus!)

11 June 2008, 15:48

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:

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True blue

6 May 2008, 11:16

I had a busy weekend of sewing, but it was mostly alterations and some beginning work on James’s linen shirt, and not terribly exciting. I’m finding recently that sewing is a useful bartering tool – in the span of two days last week I managed to trade some alteration work for several technical CAD drawings of our bedroom and lounge renovations, and also for the installation of new tongue & groove wall boards in our captain’s cabin bedroom! But amongst all the DIY work over the long, Bank Holiday weekend, I managed to sneak in a quick knit top I’ve been coveting from the April KnipMode magazine.

I had my eye on this ever since I saw it on the cover of the magazine, but I was recently asked questions about its construction over email, and thinking about it and dissecting the pieces got me REALLY excited to make it and I felt I needed a break (and a boost) from all the technical work on the linen shirt, so I just had to sew it up right away! So thank you, Linda, for inspiring me to make this even sooner!

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Missoni-esque zigzag top

12 March 2008, 14:07

Sunday morning began with me balancing on two narrow beams in a four foot tall crawl space, crowbarring up a huge portion of floor in order to get at the water tanks underneath. Sunday evening ended with me sewing up this blouse. I’d say I had a pretty full and varied day!

I absolutely love the Feb 2008 issue of Burda World of Fashion magazine, and #123A is one of the three from that issue I’m determined to have! I used the remains of some fabulous jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics that reminded me so much of Missoni zigzags that I couldn’t say no (you might also remember this fabric from the top I made my mom for Christmas!).

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Mutton dressed up glam

19 February 2008, 09:36

First was a top I saw as a user-submitted pattern on BurdaStyle, but it was only uploaded as size 36 and would’ve required lots of grading on my part to get up to a 42. Luckily though, she also submitted How To showing exactly how to draft her design from a standard knit sloper! Hurrah!

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Gift and Receive

7 January 2008, 12:55

Things were a bit hectic in the leadup to Christmas this year, seeing as how we were starting from scratch in our own place this year. Sewing ornaments and other decorations took up most of my time, but I was able to fit in two sewn gifts in the few minutes I had before work in the mornings, sewing with very numb fingers in my heater-less sewing room.

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Beware the ravenous pandas!

31 December 2007, 10:04

If you have never felt or sewn bamboo fabric before, stop what you’re doing and go buy some right now. Seriously. I’ll wait.

Bamboo jersey is as soft as cashmere, as easy to work with as cotton, machine washes without much shrinkage (or loss of softness), is antibacterial (so if you make workout gear in it it doesn’t stink half as bad as even the techno wicking stuff!), and all the wrinkles steam out of it in the time it takes to have a shower. Honestly, this stuff is wonderful, and I can’t wait until more colours are available and I’m buying every single one.

This wrap dress pattern is originally from the May 2006 Burda WOF, but it’s proved so popular that Burda have released it as a 2 euro download pattern, too. It really is the perfect wrap dress – necklines that don’t move, secure fastenings (two snaps are concealed beneath the decorative belt), and best of all – a full frontal overlapping skirt panel so you don’t have any surprises on a windy walk to work! Coupled with the luxuriously soft bamboo, this really is like wearing pajamas…

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Project Catwalk

14 September 2007, 16:31

No, this has nothing to do with the tv show. But I am going to a catwalk show at London Fashion Week tomorrow morning! It all transpired last weekend on our mooring’s First Annual Boat Crawl and BBQ… One of my neighbours is quite big in the fashion industry, and as I was showing her around our boat and my sewing room, she asked which shows I was going to. To which a I replied “Shows?” “You know – Fashion Week, which shows are you going to?” And at this point I admitted I’d never been to a catwalk show, and she was so flabbergasted she promised then and there to get me on this list.

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Gimme Galliano

17 May 2007, 21:40

The April 2007 issue of KnipMode magazine had a section where they took a bunch of catwalk looks and replicated them with one of their patterns. I loved the easy lines of the John Galliano dress, but so much of my wardrobe is already black and white and I thought I’d prefer a colourful dress for the summer.

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Pucci pink tunic

30 April 2007, 12:15

Ever since I finished my sewing room, I’ve been sewing like a woman POSSESSED! On Friday evening I finished this tunic top from the March 2007 issue of Burda WOF magazine, and on Saturday, I cut out and nearly finished another tunic top (I’ve just got the hem to go – watch for it later this week).

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Snug & Smug

6 November 2006, 12:01

While in Holland last weekend, I managed a very quick run through Utrecht’s amazing fabric market (every Saturday on Breedstraat, with 100+ stalls of every fabric imaginable) and got a bunch of red velour for another (secret!) project. I finished the other project and used to offcuts to make this very warm and snuggly top, just in time for winter.

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Hot chocolate

10 October 2006, 14:24

I’ve been doing so many long and involved projects for other people recently, that I’ve realised that I haven’t done anything for myself in a while. My sewing schedule is pretty much booked solid through to Christmas now, so I wouldn’t be able to make anything for me until at least January! So this Sunday, when I finished my housemate’s Gez’s party dress early (more on this later this week, I promise!), and got to a good stopping spot on my boyfriend’s pirate jacket, I suddenly found myself with a free evening. Starting at 5pm with an unopened pattern, I had the following shirt finished by 9pm (in amongst making dinner, too!).

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Pink rocker skulls

13 August 2006, 19:34

I’m rather proud of my recycling skills on the grey halter top I made this afternoon – the grey jersey fabric came from a pair of oversized lounge trousers I picked up at a Naked Ladies Party (it’s not what it sounds like – it’s a party to get rid of all your old clothes and pick up new ones off other ladies!), the pattern was a gift from benevolent craftster RiAnge who was cleaning out her pattern stash, and the fantastic plastic skull charms were a gift from my friend Caramel who picked them up at a craft sale in NYC last time she was over. So in total, I spent absolutely nothing and I’ve got this fab top to wear for the rest of the summer!

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