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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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Peter & the Wolf trousers

29 January 2013, 14:39

I was so excited when Papercut Patterns released their new collection of patterns before Christmas and saw that it included another trouser patterns with amazing seamlines, curiously named Peter & the Wolf. It happened to coincide with a free worldwide shipping deal they were doing so I bought it directly, but I see the new collection is available on Sewbox.co.uk now, which might work out cheaper for Europeans.

I sewed this up in early January (right after the pale Burda dress), but I’ve been thwarted by inhospitable photoshoot weather two weekends in a row, so it was now or never this weekend, even though I’m still not fully recovered from the shingles. Forgive me if I don’t look as cheery as usual!

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Too cold for photos - just sewing instead!

18 January 2013, 13:23

As I write this, London is in the midst of the second snowfall of the year (if you count Monday’s over-hyped yet under-delivered snow, that is) and I’m bundled up in a full-body thin layer of silk (long johns), plus my wool foldover trousers, my bamboo turtleneck, two pairs of socks, and my Russian greatcoat for my 35min walk into work today. It’s nothing on the Pennsylvania winters I grew up with, but at least I feel prepared!*

The good news is that, while it’s freezing outside, my sewing cave is one of the warmest spots on the boat, so I’ve been busy!

Papercut Peter & the Wolf Trousers


The new trouser pattern from Papercut Patterns was burning a hole in my To Sew list, so I just had to try them out! I finished these before last weekend, but Saturday I was covered in mud (another cross country race) and Sunday it was freezing and I didn’t fancy a photshoot.

I did an awesome job lining up the seams on the side invisible side zipper, if I do say so myself!

I really like that they have you topstitch all the mid-leg vertical seams as well as all the yoke seams – that topstitching really makes the seaming stand out nicely. It also meant I actually finished a huge 1000m spool of black Gutermann thread! I thought those things were infinite!

I’ve not yet worn these to work (the tulip hems mean my long johns are visible in front, the horror!) but I can tell already they’ve got a nice fit throughout – I especially like the trouser hems and the hip yokes, though they do mean the pockets are placed further down the leg than I’m used to…

I’ll try to get some photos this weekend, even though the details will be lost in the dark brown stretch twill (hey, it was in the stash alright!?) I’d bought in Paris last Spring. I didn’t have any particular attachment to it and it was a stretch woven as per the pattern requirements, so I made these as a trial version (or wearable muslin if you prefer). I might fancy making these again in some stretch wool suiting in my stash from last winter…

Another Chic Sweatshirt


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 looks in lavender? I think it was a great choice. For my gift, she re-taught herself to crochet and made me a wonderful hat in mustard wool I picked out. Hooray for our little skills exchange!

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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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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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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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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 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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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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