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A terracotta Hummingbird skirt

9 September 2013, 15:13

The latest in my my upcoming Mexico trip travel wardrobe is the latest Cake Patterns design – the Hummingbird skirt! There are two views included: a shorter pencil skirt with plain back, and the pink view, which has an awesome “tailfeather flounce” in the back. Of course I chose the fancy version, what else!? I’d seen that the orange view sews up quite short, and I was expecting this to be rather long, but it hits right at my knees which is perfect.

I discussed it before when I sewed up their Cabarita top, but Cake Patterns’ “draw your own size” system is pretty cool – here you pick your pattern size based on your hip measurement (my size was a 40), then choose your waist measurement (mine was a 32), and draw a line between them. The only part that got really confusing was figuring out where the darts should be drawn, as there’s numbers and dots all over the place!

The only problem is that I’d cut out my pattern pieces a few weeks ago, and as you’ve seen, I’ve lost a significant amount of girth in the past two months, and when I went to try on the skirt mid-construction, it was hanging off me – seriously, I took six inches in total off the side seams! This isn’t anything to do with Cake’s sizing – this has got everything to do with me dropping a bunch of weight between choosing a size and sewing it up. Happily, I was able to take in the skirt at the side seams and the back darts and get a really nice fit before finally adding the waistband on.

The fabric is a terracotta cotton sateen which I picked up for free (you can’t beat free!) in the swap at the recent Goldhawk Road meetup. It’s definitely best as a bottom weight, and it sews and presses really nicely, but it does have a tendency to fray quite badly. I originally thought the Hummingbird was lined, but then when I realised it wasn’t (and that I couldn’t be arsed to draft my own lining), I decided to overlock the edges of all the pieces before sewing. This prevents fraying, and should prolong the life of the skirt, too.


Worn here with my Prada Trompe L’oeil Sequin Top

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A blue neopreney travel skirt

3 September 2013, 13:30

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

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

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

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My Mexico travel wardrobe

23 August 2013, 12:23

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

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

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

I’m hoping to sew:


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

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

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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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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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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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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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The grey vintage midi skirt

26 December 2011, 12:33

Remember my my pinup sheath dress? Well, I made good use of the remaining 2 meters of so of the ex-designer charcoal grey flannel and made a midi skirt with it!

I used this vintage New Look/Maudella midi skirt pattern I bought in Sheffield not long ago:

I made View 2 (seen in my attempted tech drawing above), and the pattern pieces for it and View 1 were already cut to size 18 (my size, judging by the pattern, eep!), which made it easy to just lay on the fabric and cut. There are only three pattern pieces (skirt panel, yoke, and waistband), so it was a really quick skirt to construct, though the hem sat ready to be handsewn for a week or two before I had time to do it!

At first I was concerned that the front and back pieces were exactly the same, but I haven’t noticed any problems in the fit while wearing it. I think this might be down to my pancake butt, but someone with a more pronounced derriere might have issues.

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Piling up...

21 December 2011, 13:24

The number of posts I want to write is piling up at an alarming rate, and I have no time to do anything about it, what with work being crazy busy (I hate all of you who get tons of time off at Christmas – I only get 3 days off in total! And my days have mostly been solving one problem, and having five new problems pour in while I was fixing the one, then moving on to the next in a To-Do list which never, ever gets cleared.) and us spending all our weekends working on the boat (last weekend we spent 15 hours building the subfloor down there. No, don’t feel jealous – the boat blog is being neglected, too).

So rather than stress about the amount of things piling up, I’m going to present my pile to you in pictorial form.


This is what James’s desk looked like this morning. It’s supposed to be my temporary cutting table while we’re building in the hold. How can I possibly cut the bias Ruby Slip or Holly’s maxi-dress fabric on this?? I’m pretty sure Bosco isn’t responsible, though he does look a bit shifty there…


I finished my vintage midi skirt ages ago, but have had zero time to document, or photoshoot or anything. So here’s two photos to test the hem length (which is why it’s just basted here)


I sewed a little waistcoat for James’s nephew out of this Tardamask fabric on Spoonflower. It’s got hidden pockets inside! He’s 7, and the biggest Dr Who fan ever, so we’re excited to see his reaction on Christmas.

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Grey flannel outlook ahead

5 December 2011, 16:14

My next two sewing projects to share with you both use the fantastic, charcoal grey, ex-designer poly/viscose/lycra flannel that Neighbour Helen gifted to me just before they set sail for the continent. If I didn’t have the fibre content tag still attached to the fabric, I’d assume it was a cashmere or wool flannel, it’s that lovely!

The first use of the flannel is actually already finished and could’ve been spotted in the swankier parts of Spitalfields on Saturday night – an amaaaaaaazing sheath dress from Burda magazine:

I’ll avoid a long story to explain the Why, but you’ll have to wait til next week to see the photos. But trust me when I say it is a truly stunning va-va-voom dress!

Then this weekend I decided to jump right in and use up the remaining ~2m or so of the flannel and make the vintage Maudella midi skirt pattern I bought in Sheffield a few weeks ago:

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The Draped jacket & skirt suit

31 October 2011, 14:15

I’m very happy to report that my draped suit (Burda September 2011 #126 and 127) is finally finished! It feels like I’ve been sewing this for f-o-r-e-v-e-r and I am thoroughly sick of it now!

If you recall, it’s a two-part suit, with a draped, collar-less jacket and a pleated pencil skirt:

I’ve been sewing both of the pieces in parallel, so I’ve finished them at the same time. I like a lot of aspects of this suit, but to be perfectly honest, I’m not totally in love with the overall resulting look.

The jacket and skirt together!

Things I really like: