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Digital-print Cowl neck top

31 October 2014, 12:42

Every now and then, I feel like I really crack a garment – I end up with something that truly blends the most perfect fabric with the perfect pattern. I wasn’t entirely sure until I wore it for a day, but this top really nailed it! It feels 100% designer, special, and yet me at the same time.

The cowl-neck tee pattern is from the October 2014 issue of Burda magazine or available to buy individually as a pdf, and it came in three versions – a plain top (which is the one I made) – a tee sliced into various colourblocks, or a plain dress.

But this garment is really all about the fabric, and the pattern itself plays a supporting role. In fact, most of the time, care, and attention to the entire process was in placing the pattern pieces! Look what I had to start with:

I bought this digital print lycra from Ditto Fabrics when I was down in Brighton this summer (an Italian designer offcut that I snagged for £15!). Originally I thought I’d have the main body in the trompe l’oiel knitted houndstooth as that was what drew me to the fabric, but the houndstooth portion wasn’t quite long enough for the front and back, so I placed those over the “lace” portions and cut the sleeves from the houndstooth instead.

Worn with my Colette Beignet skirt I made back in 2010 that’s sadly, a bit too big for me now (it’s really relying on cinching that belt!

I used a size 40 for the first time here, which is my “new” Burda size since I’ve lost a few cm through training, and the fit is just as I’d like it, really. I loooooove the slim fit sleeves in particular on this pattern. They’re extra long here, too – it’s noted in the instructions are that the sleeves are 10cm longer than normal. I wasn’t sure if I’d keep them extra long or not, but as I was laying out the sleeves, I saw that the piece overlapped into the lace print area nicely, creating a sort of cuff-effect at the sleeve that I really liked the look of:


A purple and green Slouchy Breton tee

12 September 2014, 13:01

You may be forgiven for thinking I have my hands full with designing activewear sewing patterns, running marathons, and working extensively on a certain sewing tv show, but no – I also teach classes! Since I utterly adore working with knits and playing with overlockers, I tend to gravitate towards teaching beginners to sew stretchy stuff, like leggings, tee-shirts, and panties.

So when I bought this fantastic purple & green striped viscose jersey from Tia Knight (formerly Tissu) recently, it practically shouted at me that it wanted to become a Slouchy Breton Tee, which is the pattern that the ThriftyStitcher developed for the class I teach.

Having taught numerous ladies how to make this, I knew it’d be a quick and easy make, and that it also has the magic ability of looking good on all body shapes and being loose enough in the bust to not require any FBA (not that I need one, but still…). What I hadn’t realised though, is that the 2m of the viscose jersey is actually enough to make two Slouchy Breton Tees, so my mom’s getting one, too! Seriously – two great teeshirts that feel like vintage tees for a fiver each? I’m in love!

The fit through the bust, waist, and hips is really forgiving here, and there are two sleeve lengths (well, three, if you just wanted to keep the drop shoulder as a little cap sleeve!) – I made the full length sleeve but in future I’d extend it by another 2-3 inches as it’s not quite long enough for me. There’s also a 3/4 length sleeve option, too, if you prefer.


A silky Manequim pleated shell top

8 September 2014, 13:00

Despite my nonstop Work Sewing during the week, I still often get an itch at the weekend to sew something quick and Not Work for myself, often using up some fabric or pattern which I’ve been meaning to make for ages.

A few weekends ago this took the form of a shell top with a pleated neckline from the Manequim August 2011 issue (though I totally failed to spot its potential when I reviewed it!) and one metre of printed polyester satin which I’d picked up at a London sewists swap last summer.

I really liked the colours in the fabric and the abstract quality of the print, and the fabric is nice enough that I had to do a quick burn test to determine that it wasn’t actually a silk! As for the pattern, it was one that I traced some years ago, but then never quite got around to making, so it got folded up in a drawer before I finally pulled it out a few weekends ago.

Worn here with my orange Sinbad & Sailor O’Keefe skirt from earlier this summer!

It’s a very basic shell top with four pleats at the neckline, and in hindsight I probably should’ve just drafted it up myself! The pattern includes a half lining – the back just uses the same pattern piece as the exterior, ending at the waist, but the front lining is a separate pattern piece with bust darts from the armholes so the exterior neckline pleats are held in place.


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.”


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…


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!)


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.


Purple & print long sleeved running top

29 December 2013, 15:00

You can understand why I need a bit of a breather now after sewing so much workout gear, right? I sewed a lot of samples for the development and testing of my two patterns, and then once I finished those, the only real hole in my wardrobe was for long sleeved running tops, so I found myself back in the lycra pile anyway!

Just like the mocha running top you saw a few weeks ago, this one is again the Christine Jonson “Travel Trio Three” Raglan top pattern with a half-height collar and some hand mitts of my own devising.

I only had a bit of the printed lycra from Minerva leftover after already making leggings and a workout top from the 2m I bought, so I cut the front and back body and the collar in the printed lycra, then used some purple “silk touch” lycra from Tissu that I found in my stash for the sleeves and hand mitts.

Forgive me for not doing a proper photoshoot on this – I was a bit photoshooted out at this point so you just get some action shots and selfies instead!

Yes, I usually am this annoyingly happy when I run!


Printed Y Back Workout Top

26 December 2013, 15:37

Thank you all so much for your support, enthusiasm, and early bird sales of my debut sewing patterns! I’ve got lots of versions of both to show you, but I thought I’d start off with my most recent version of the top since it reflects the pattern as you buy it (I’ll show you some earlier versions with a few small issues I corrected in the final pattern!).

This is the “Y Back” version of my XYT Workout Top Pattern which I made with this amazing printed lycra from Minerva. I liked it so much that I made two tops and a pair of PB Jam Leggings from the 2 metres I bought (plus I went back and bought another metre of it and its blueish-colourway sister!)

This is definitely one of my favourite versions of this pattern! Earlier ones had some pulling issues around the front straps, but a small adjustment to the front lining piece fixed that here, as you can see! The built-in bra is perfect for keeping me bounce-free on even my long runs – no need for me to wear an additional sports bra. The instructions also show you how to encase the underbust elastic nicely to reduce the chance of chafing, too.


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)


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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:


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!


A Royal Blue Chic Top for my Mom

22 April 2013, 17:21

Remember the lavender “chic sweatshirt” I made my mom a few months ago? Well, she wears it so much that she asked if I’d make her a lighter weight version for Spring and Fall. Since I’d already done the pattern tracing and grading, I figured sewing up another would be a fairly quick job.

As you recall, the pattern is from the fabulous 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 for the lavender version. This time around I just needed to cut out the fabric and sew a few seams!

Since my mom saw a flyer that one of the fabric stores near her had pointe jerseys on sale, she opted to select this blue colourway in person, pre-wash it, and post it over to me. Then I made it a few weeks ago while I was ill (hey, it was a quick make!) and brought it along to Baltimore with me in my suitcase!

I really like this vibrant blue on her – I think the colour is a really smart choice as it’ll work equally well in Spring and Fall, too.


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…


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


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.


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.


A gathered merino wool sweater

27 February 2013, 14:41

I’m not actually doing the Burda Challenge again this year, but I keep seeing so many great patterns in each issue that I want to sew – like this quick, gathered raglan merino wool sweater from the February BurdaStyle magazine (or to purchase as a pdf download here). And I am powerless to resist.

I bought this plum merino wool jersey on etsy along with some brown as well – the purple is sold out but there’s some brown merino wool jersey left and it’s luscious and so soft – nice and thing for layering but so warm, too. Amazing stuff! So cheap, too – 5m for £30 is an absolutely steal. I often see Antipodean sewists going on about how lovely merino wool is to sew, but it’s something I’ve never, ever seen for sale in Europe so I jumped on this when I saw it!

(Worn in these photos with the jeans I made in November)


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!)


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.


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!


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…


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!


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.


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!


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.


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!


The Peplum Top

18 September 2012, 13:21

It should come as no surprise that I’ve been sewing this peplum top – after all, I shared my instructions on how to line this top already! But for those of you who are short in the memory department, this is #113 from the August 2012 Burda magazine, which is also available to purchase as a pdf download here (and you can look at the full instructions and layout diagrams on that site for free). There’s also versions with long sleeves or with a much longer peplum, extended into a dress, so there’s quite a lot of versatility here.

A lot of peplum dresses just feature a ring of excess fabric around the hips, but here, the curved waist seam plus the sloped hemline and bias-cut peplum on this particular pattern really sets it above the rest. I also like that it’s separates, so I can pair my top with a skirt, slim trousers, or leggings and get much more wear from it than just a single dress.

This is how I wore it to Karen’s V&A Ballgowns meetup, worn with my denim-look leggings I made a few months ago. I know peplums are really trendy right now, but I really like how retro 1950s this outfit looks even when made with completely modern patterns and fabrics!


How to line the Burda peplum top

3 September 2012, 15:53

Peplums are a major AW12 trend and one that’s well within reach of most home sewists and high street shoppers. There are plenty of patterns out there, but one of the nicest I’ve seen so far is the cover design from the August 2012 Burda magazine, which is also available to purchase as a pdf download here (and you can look at the full instructions and layout diagrams on that site for free).

A lot of peplum dresses just feature a ring of excess fabric around the hips, but here, the curved waist seam plus the sloped hemline and bias-cut peplum on this particular pattern really sets it above the rest. I also like that it’s separates, so I can pair my top with a skirt, slim trousers, or leggings and get much more wear from it than just a single dress.

One thing I don’t love about this pattern, though, is that it’s unlined. Or rather, it has lined cap sleeves, a narrow bias edge on the underarms and a neck facing, but nothing further. It’s pretty straightforward to make lining pattern pieces from the shell and facings (see below), but the construction was more challenging to figure out. It is possible to do a nice clean finish almost entirely by machine (you still have to sew the hems by hand), but you have to do a bit of clever reordering of the construction…

Luckily for you, I made notes as I sewed so I can share my clever order of construction with you!

As mentioned above, you’ll need to modify your bodice pattern pieces after you’ve cut out your shell fabric. Place the neck facings on top of the bodice pieces (annoyingly, in this case they must be face-down so the shoulder seams and CB/CF edges line up), trace the neck facings onto your front & back bodice pieces and then cut these off before cutting your lining pieces. Remember to add seam allowances to these new cut edges, too!

Be sure to interface the facing pieces, then attach them to the lining pieces and treat as one for the rest of the construction.

Instructions for a clean-finish lining!

  1. Sew all darts, attach peplum pieces to bodice on the shell, and sew at shoulders (but keep it open at side seams and centre back!), ie: the follow the first few steps of Burda’s instructions, but stop before the zipper insertion!

  2. Do the same for the lining

  3. Sew the sleeve shell pieces & sleeve lining pieces together at the bottom edge of the sleeve. Understitch, then baste around the other (armscyce) edge

  4. Baste the sleeve onto the shell with right sides together (beware of excess ease!! Don’t skip this basting step!)
  5.

    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!


    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:


    Golden silk asymmetric blouse

    16 May 2012, 13:14

    From a total loser of a silk blouse to a triumph of a silk blouse, all in one afternoon! After the Burda FAIL, I turned around, cut into my gorgeous butter yellow floral silk charmeuse I bought at Ditto in Brighton last weekend, and sewed up this blouse in about two hours flat!

    The layout of this blouse is really cool, and the entire blouse is just one piece, with only one side seam (and two shoulder seams). I took a photo of my fabric when it was laid out on the floor, and I added some annotations in pink (below) to help show where the drapey side comes into play. I hadn’t realised it from the diagram, but the CF neckline is on the straight grain, and the CB neckline is on the cross-grain, with the only side seam on the bias. Very cool, and the design feels quite Bunka.

    I used the leftover silk in the bottom left corner to make several bias strips about 4cm wide, as I prefer a narrow bias edge on my silk blouses instead of finicky facings. I also left off the shoulder bow, as I felt there’s enough going on in this blouse already!

    We were very lucky to catch the “golden hour” on Monday evening, which just makes this silk come alive in these photos! I’ve paired it here with my grey leather skirt to try and give an edgier look to the twee floral of the silk.


    A rare dud of the highest order

    14 May 2012, 14:08

    Last weekend I cut into cut into one of the oldest fabrics in my stash, a dark turquoise silk charmeuse bought in January 2009, to make the cover top from the Burda April 2012 issue:

    There are so many things wrong about this pattern that I’m going to revert to list form to get the rant out of my brain:

    • The recommended fabric is silk, yet the instructions don’t tell you to sew French seams, or indeed finish the raw edges at all. As far as I can tell, even if you follow their insane instructions, you’re left with a triangular area of raw seams at the shoulder. If I’d liked the top enough, I’d have had to make my own weird facing to handstitch on to cover this.
    • There’s a ridiculous amount of ease in the bodice – way more than Sorbetto, for example, and that’s also a non-bias, slip on shell. I ended up cutting this with the front and back pieces a centimeter or two off the fold simply to fit it onto my narrow silk, but I checked first to make sure it’d not be too small. And having completed the shell, I can say that it’s still on the loose side, even with my reductions!

    • Facings on a silk. WTFOMGBBQ? Why?? I said Nuts! to the facing and did a narrow bias edge (in leftover silk from my birthday top which I still had lying around) on the neckline, and did a two-step narrow edge for the hem.

    • Burda tells to to cut an extra wide hem allowance on the sleeve edges, press in and out (and shake it all about, do the hokey pokey- oh wait) and mess about with it until the sleeve is entirely completed… and then sew an invisible hem by hand. On silk. And it’s a reeeeeeally long hem. I’d rather eat glass, Burda. The much better option here would be to cut a regular hem allowance, and machine-stitch a narrow edge or rolled hem before basting any of the sleeve pleats. Realising they’re crazy and trying to do this later is much more difficult (ask me how I know).

    • The sleeve instructions are absolutely incomprehensible. Burda would have you flip the entire pleated edges around the neckline and back to the armscye at the shoulder, which a) completely contradicts the photos, and b) there isn’t enough seam length to do. So I had to try and make the best of pre-basted pleats, attach to placement lines that may as well have not existed (since the pleated edges didn’t match up anyway), and a mess of raw edges (see above). My best attempt was not good enough.

    • And finally, when I tried the top on to see if I even wanted to carry on finishing the raw edges, the sleeves are just ugly. Less “quirky chic” and more “80s shoulder pads”. Ugh.


    Brighton & Bank holiday sewing

    8 May 2012, 14:17

    We had a long weekend here in the UK this weekend, and I’m pleased to report that I made the most of it! On Saturday, James and I made an impromptu trip down to Brighton, and we stopped off at Lewes on the way down. Our main objective in Lewes is always the Harveys Brewery shop, but I also discovered The Stitchery just across the road upstairs in the Riverside Centre, which stocks a wide variety of fabrics, embroidery floss, yarn, and haberdashery. I checked my handy “sewing shopping list” on my phone, and bought black waistband elastic and trouser hooks, both of which I needed. Very sensible of me, I know.

    But the real temptation was walking right past Ditto in the North Laines in Brighton, and I told myself I was only allowed to buy ONE fabric there, so it’d better be a good one! In the end, this gorgeous butter yellow floral silk charmeuse won out over a similar yellow coloured, textured, ex-Blumarine crepe.

    Florals really aren’t my usual fabric choice (and I would’ve never bought it from the terrible photo on Ditto’s site), but in real life, I was just captivated by it, and I’m thinking I’ll need to pair it with some edgier like jeans or my leather skirt to diffuse the twee-ness.

    After our big day on Saturday, on Sunday we didn’t leave the boat at all! I spent most of the day doing sewing stuff, starting off with fusing all the interfacing onto James’s reversible smoking jacket pieces. I find fusing interfacing to be really boring at the best of times, but it’s beyond teeeeedious with a mini ironing board and mini iron! Once that was all fused, I then moved on to hand basting all the pocket placements (it’s a fantasy jacket, so there are five pockets!) and then basted the bound buttonhole placements, too.


    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!


    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?)


    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.


    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!)


    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…


    Peach silk shell blouse

    4 October 2011, 14:53

    As I mentioned last week, I made this blouse the weekend we got back from Hungary. It was a really quick make, with only a few seams and minimal closures, so even including some thread tracing and french seams didn’t really lengthen the project time. In other words, it was exactly the sort of project I needed right after a holiday!

    Burda 09/2010 #110 is the sleeveless version of this top and one of the, oh, eleven must-sews for me from this September 2010 issue. It’s been one of my absolute favourite issues since the moment it came out, so it was nice to make something other than the cover dress for once!

    I mostly made this to coordinate with my upcoming grey wool skirt suit, but with our unexpected hot and sunny October (29C/88F!!!) in London, you’ll get it see it worn now in a summer style, paired with my silver tweed KnipMode skirt. I imagine the weather will cool off enough by the time I finish the suit that you’ll get to see it layered underneath the jacket as I intended!


    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!


    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.


    A silk chrysanthemum Sorbetto blouse

    8 July 2011, 14:11

    Every now and then I mention a few people from my personal life when they enter into my sewing world for whatever reason, but regular readers will probably recognise the name of “Neighbour Helen” more than most. As a neighbour, close friend, and convenient fashion industry alumni, she’s helped me assess muslins, balance proportions, learn how to rotate darts, and she even drew the amazing illustration for my free ruffled wristlet pattern!

    So I was very saddened to hear that she and her husband are moving their barge to France in a few weeks’ time, to travel through the French canals for the foreseeable future (ok, saddened and jealous!). Since it was also her birthday, my gift to her was to make her a silk blouse of her choosing.

    She chose the gorgeous chrysanthemum silk that was leftover from my blouse and I even let her try mine on, but she felt my top was too blousy for her and requested a simple shell instead.

    So I turned to the new (and free!) Colette Patterns Sorbetto top!

    I made a few changes, though – the most obvious is that I eliminated the central pleat (which would have been too busy with the large scale print), and I lengthened hem by 3” as others said this came up short.


    The silk chrysanthemum blouse

    1 July 2011, 13:58

    As I discussed in my post on “pedestal fabrics” last week, I’ve had a ridiculously gorgeous silver and black chrysanthemum print silk in my stash ever since AllisonC gifted it to me two years ago when I was about to go into hospital.

    But I’d brought it out again recently and thought about how I’d best like to wear it and I decided that I love and wear my silk blouses so much (and my birthday blouse in particular!) that I should sew this into a blouse to get the most wear and love out of this “pedestal fabric”!

    In this case I chose to use the same pattern as my birthday blouse, Manequim Feb 2011 #158, because it fits great, I love the style, and I knew it worked well with a drapey silk.

    You know what? I am so happy I took the plunge and cut into this fabric, because I just adore this blouse!


    A drapey colourblock top

    24 June 2011, 13:51

    I’m a big fan of the occasional “quick knit top”, but this time around, I wanted a knit top with a more challenging design to give my brain more of a 3-D spatial workout.

    I was really intrigued by the pieces for KnipMode June 2011 #15 when I first saw the magazine, and even after tracing it out and laying the paper pieces together, I still wasn’t 100% sure how they were going to fit together.

    I thought it best to make this up using scrap fabrics (just in case!), so I pulled out a couple of those awkward, less than 1m offcut fabrics from my stash:

    To be honest, while I enjoyed the challenge of constructing the design, I wasn’t so sure about how the design would look on me throughout the entire construction. But as soon as I tried it on for the first time, I was struck by how well my colourblocking worked, and how nicely Jonathan Saunders the look is!

    I get to tick three separate SS11 trends here – colourblocking, muted hues, AND volume! All in one top!


    Lekala cowl top instructions and giveaway

    20 June 2011, 13:38

    You’ve seen my version of this fantastic cowl top, now’s your chance to make your own and show me yours!

    As you’ll recall, the above is made using Lekala 4020, but I’ve created sleeve bands on the back to echo the ones on the front, so our first step is to alter the pattern for this.

    Here’s the (unaltered) tech drawing:

    Lekala give full pattern pieces rather than placing some patterns on the fold, so the first thing I like to do is fold the front and the back in half. If you’re altering the back like me, then cut the back piece in half along this foldline (at the CB).

    To echo the sleeve bands/yokes on the back, first lay the front sleeve band/yoke piece onto the back, and mark the corresponding widths at the back shoulder and the back side seam, so the two bands will align nicely when sewn together. Then, using the front yoke piece as a guide, draw a nice curve to join the two points, trying to keep the width of the yoke even. Lastly, draw a double notch somewhere in the lower half across the line, so you’ve got the notches on both the back piece and your new back band piece. Then cut along the line and treat as two pieces.

    You’ll end up with something like this:


    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.


    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!


    A plum tulip top and seamed silver trousers

    12 April 2011, 12:47

    I’m finally over my post-wardrobe exhaustion and able to sew again, so I carried on with my March mini-wardrobe plans and made the seamed trousers from KnipMode Oct 2010 (#8):

    (hmm, why are they covering the waistband in their only magazine photo?)

    I also thought I was due a “quick knit top” so I pulled out Jalie 2806 (a gift from LynnRowe on PR!) so I could try out those fantastic tulip sleeves, with the thought of maybe using them on the spring/summer version of my Burda September cover dress

    I had just enough of Ditto‘s wonderfully soft and supple plum bamboo/lycra jersey leftover from my plum and green lace top for this, so it was clearly meant to be! For the trousers I used the same Fabric.com stretch twill as in my navy riding trousers, though in different lights this goes from looking pale grey (nice!) to baby blue (not so nice!). But the combo of pale trousers and dark top feels very Spring-like to me.


    (Vote for my) March Mini Wardrobe

    4 April 2011, 12:45

    It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was first laying out my initial plans for this mini wardrobe, but now I’ve had some time to step back and have a look over what I managed to accomplish last month. I made this wardrobe mostly for myself, to use some luscious fabrics from my stash in combination with patterns that really appealed to me, but I also kept one eye on the contest requirements running over at PaternReview.com to make sure I remained within their rules, too. Here’s my entry into their contest, or you can just read on below…

    I started with a blue viscose, draped knit top that I’d bought from ASOS and really liked, but I wanted to wear with both casual and dressy bottoms.

    To coordinate, I sewed:

    1. Jalie jeans – I’d made a muslin but the waistband was horrible so I had my work cut out for me on this pair using great quality stretch denim from Mood in NYC, plus some London streetsign fabric for the waistband facings and pockets. I used my vintage hand crank Singer machine for all the topstitching, plus I got to use my vintage buttonholer attachment and high quality rivets for the first time! I fixed all the waistband issues in this pair and these are now my favourite jeans. Read more…


    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.


    Manequim silk birthday blouse

    25 March 2011, 12:49

    I love this blouse!

    It all started in Paris last June when I saw this amazingly gorgeous silk satin (charmeuse) in Tissues Dreyfus that I just had to have. But it was €22/m (zoot alors!) so I only bought 1 metre. But even now I still love it love it love it love it so it was worth it worth it worth it!

    Ever since, I kept my eyes open for a good blouse pattern that only needed 1 metre of fabric, and along came Manequim Feb 2011 #158, which called for exactly the amount I had – 1 metre long and 150cm wide!

    These two were clearly meant to be together! I don’t often do prints, but this one is just so gorgeous with the psuedo-floral/paint splatters of silver, black, orange, and fuschia that I wanted it to form both the centrepiece of my March Mini Wardrobe as well as be my special birthday garment this year!


    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….


    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.


    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.


    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


    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.


    Black Beignet skirt and a bias cowl top

    23 June 2010, 13:56

    It feels like I’ve been talking about sewing the Colette Patterns Beignet skirt for ages now, but it’s mostly because I’ve just been so busy with life (running, socialising, wedding planning, the boat, and my garden, mostly) right now that I’ve been sewing in tiny increments here and there! But it’s finally complete, and I even managed to sew up the bias cowl top from Patrones 292 (#19) to wear with it!

    Even though these go so well together, I’ve actually got no shortage of other things in my wardrobe to wear with either, so there’s no “orphan coordinates” here! And I managed to sneak some mustard and navy into my wardrobe a bit earlier than I’d planned, too!


    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!


    Vintage flowered Alexander blouse

    1 April 2010, 16:56

    Before I jumped in with both feet in my quest to turn BurdaStyle’s “Alexander” blouse into a dress, I thought it wise to first make the pattern as intended – a cute blouse with flowy, gathered sleeves, front and back buttons, and a vintage-inspired peplum.

    I had some vintage flower-print lightweight cotton in my stash that had been in my Granny’s stash for some time and she’d given it to me last time I was over in the States. As it turns out, she’s ill at the moment and in need of some cheering up, so I thought it fitting to send this blouse back to her since she liked the print so much and we’re roughly the same size!

    Unfortunately this is one of those patterns that look SO much better on a real person than a dress form, but you’ll see that when we get to the dress!

    Here’s a view of the collar , which I altered using Gertie’s “drafting a convertible collar” tutorial. This was a super easy way of lowering the quite high collar and adding a little something extra to the neckline:


    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…


    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!


    Champagne silk yoked blouse

    20 January 2010, 21:47

    Believe it or not, this blouse is my last project from 2009, and I wanted something both simple and silk, which isn’t a common combination! But the cover blouse from Patrones 276, #3 was exactly right:

    Apart from being a really nice easy-going top, this pattern only has three pieces – lower front, lower back, and a yoke that’s got a slit opening at the back and goes over the shoulders seamlessly to the front. So not only is it great for <1/2m cuts of coordinating silks, but the yoke is perfect for prints you don’t want to interrupt with seams. And if you’ve got a healthy trim stash (which I’m strangely not really into), then the ribbon across the front provides the perfect showcase.


    Marni silk blouse - muslin cold feet

    15 January 2010, 12:14

    In light of NancyK’s conclusion that KnipMode designer knockoffs aren’t as thoroughly tested as the rest of their patterns, I decided to make a muslin of the KnipMode August 09 Marni catwalk blouse before cutting into my nice teal silk satin (charmeuse).

    Only now that I’ve got my bedsheet muslin done, I’m unsure about whether I like it or not. Now, you do have to use a bit of imagination here to block out the busy bedsheet prints (in reality, it’ll all be one solid teal colour, plus collar and cuffs):


    Silk tartan overblouse

    15 November 2009, 17:22

    Sorry for the delays in posting these photos, but I really wanted to do some proper photoshoots, and last week I had 8 hospital appointments in 5 days, and it gets dark by 4pm now in London so it makes matters even more difficult!

    But if you’ll recall, my neighbour Helen gifted me a bunch of fabric from her fashion school days earlier this year. You’ve already seen her wool tweed turned into a skirt, but now’s the chance for the silk to shine! I had a browse through my vast pattern magazine archive and discovered that overblouse 114 from the Nov 08 BWOF (on the right in the first photo below) was the perfect design as it actually called for the exact type fabric I had, and it didn’t have any fiddly button openings that would make a clean finish difficult here, either.

    This silk is a semi-sheer crepe chiffon, with a wonderful tartan printed onto it. This was printed onto the fabric after it was made, as opposed to most tartans which are made with the pattern woven into it with different coloured thread. The extra cool thing here is that the tartan is actually printed on the bias, which gives so much more interest to a fairly plain top, without adding any visual width that a wide horizontal stripe might give to the wearer.


    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!


    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!


    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…


    KnipMode wrap blouse

    4 August 2009, 09:30

    Even though I prepared this to sew in hospital, I was in and out so fast I ended up sewing #20b from the May 09 KnipMode as my first project back in my own sewing room since it was all cut, interfaced, and ready to go!

    I chose to make the 20b variation since I liked the full (rather than band) collar, the roll-up sleeves, and the breast pocket, which made it look a bit more like a camp shirt than an Asian-styled top. It also means I’ve finally used the last of the enourmous stash of fabric I bought in America in August 2007, as this cotton/lycra poplin was originally intended for that Hot Patterns blouse disaster…


    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…


    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.


    Summer sheep pyjama addition

    24 May 2009, 10:45

    When I first thought I’d be going into hospital, I was anticipating wearing winter pyjamas, but with all the delays and waiting on a bed, it’s now rolling into summer time. Luckily, I sewed my pyjama sets in medium weight knits rather than thick fleeces, but I had a tiny bit of Sharon’s sheep fabric leftover so I thought I’d create more wearing options for myself.

    If you recall, I made a snap-front long sleeve shirt and drawstring trousers before:

    And now I’ve got a camisole to wear either under the long sleeve top or on its own with the trousers!


    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!


    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.


    Copying the Rick Owens top

    18 February 2009, 13:46

    A few months ago there was a Pattern review thread highlighting this amazing top by designer Rick Owens that seemed like a great pattern drafting challenge!

    The original top is here but I think Sigrid’s analysis of it is more interesting. There are obviously the folds to contend with, but there’s also a hidden seam at the shoulder, and frankly, just trying to visualise what a pattern piece for this would look like is rather far beyond my limited drafting skills.


    Double dusty roses

    11 February 2009, 23:35

    I was planning on sending my mom some flowers since she’s so full of worry for me right now. I even went as far as getting the number for their local florist and looking at bouquets online, but they just seemed so impersonal… But then, when I was on Goldhawk Road, I saw this dusty rose wool sweater knit in a shop and I instantly thought of my mom. For years, whenever anyone asked what her favourite colour was, she’d always reply with “dusty rose”.

    So I had a look through my pattern archives and saw this fantastic cowl neck sweater in the very first KnipMode I ever bought (actually in a supermarket in Steenwijk, on one of the trips when we were buying our boat)!

    Feb 2007 KnipMode, #23:

    I think I must’ve got my love of interesting necklines from my mom, so I knew this was the pattern for her! And it just so happened to be plus sized, so I could combine a few sizes easily to get a cowl-necked sweater that was perfectly her!

    It was a complete surprise and my dad helped to keep it that way until it arrived, and she said it made her day. So mission accomplished. :) And here’s some more shots of it on my dressform, so you can see the neck shape and how it drapes nicely into place…


    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.


    Black microfleece three ways

    29 January 2009, 15:21

    I had a few metres of black microfleece leftover from interlining my winter coat and I thought I’d put it to good use since it takes up so much room in my limited stash (and as you read yesterday, I have lots of new fabrics coming in!)

    So to start off, I made yet another of my favourite BWOF sweatshirt, which I’ve already made before in red velour and also in blue fleece (twice, actualy, as I made one for a neighbour, too).

    (My neighbour Lucie was hosting our mooring’s craft night so I thought we’d do a photoshoot in a finished boat for a change!)


    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!


    Purple silk Patrones blouse

    29 December 2008, 13:44

    What better to round out my current purple and grey kick than by using up the silk charmeuse leftover from Pip’s purple pyjamas! I used the Toypes top pattern, #76,
    from Patrones 261 (borrowed and traced from my Patrones benefactor, Zoe), which I’ve had languishing in my pattern catalogue for nearly a year now.

    I had just enough fabric to make this top and a full lining, though I opted to leave out the tie waistband and instead just lengthen the bottom by two inches to compensate…


    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!


    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!


    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.


    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!


    Satin cowl blouse

    25 September 2008, 12:49

    You’ve seen it in the tweed and satin three piece suit, now it’s time to reveal the blouse on its own!

    Marfy 1210 is the first Marfy pattern I’ve ever sewn, and if you’re not familiar with them, Marfy patterns come with no instructions, no technical drawing, no layout diagrams, nothing. You don’t even get any other sizes – just the one you’ve ordered, in pre-cut tissue, just like vintage patterns.

    So the above is all I had to go on, plus a few cryptic phrases rubber stamped onto the tissue itself (if you thought “Burda-isms” were bad, hoo boy, you should see Marfy!). Still, I knew I was up for a challenge, and to be honest, the construction wasn’t any more different than dealing with KnipMode or Patrones when I can’t understand the instructions.

    There are a lot of things I like about this blouse, but there are also a fair amount of things I’d change if I made it again.


    Tweedy bird!

    21 September 2008, 21:34

    My tweed and satin three piece suit is finally finished! One day for the construction, and a week to get around to do the hand sewing! Here’s a taste…

    More on the individual components this week…

    Read more about…


    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.


    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.


    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!


    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!


    Two duds in a row

    4 July 2008, 16:04

    It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a pattern that just did not work for me at all, but strangely, I’ve just had two in a row that I’m giving up on entirely.

    I fell in love with the chic styling of the Hot Patterns Monaco Top – the slit opening, the slim lines, the angular bib, the pieced bottom, and all sweetened by the cute gathered sleeves. At least, that’s what I thought the pattern was for…

    I should have really listened to the earlier reviewer of this pattern (who also didn’t make it past the muslin stage) and just cut my $18.50 losses and run far, far away.


    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!


    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...


    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!


    Irish silk

    28 March 2008, 11:38

    We’re still very much in the grips on winter here in London – temperatures barely above freezing, constant rain and high winds, and over Easter weekend, almost continuous hail and flurries. Ugh. I’m nearly finished with my winter sewing, but with the weather as it is, I can’t really start sewing anything for warmer weather just yet. But I was just so in love with the silk charmeuse I bought in Dublin that I ignored all common sense and sewed up Burda WOF 02/2008 #119.

    Such is my dedication to all of you that I went outside for this photo shoot when it was 30F/0C with high winds. I’m not sure if you can see the goosebumps or not!


    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!).


    Cheap frills

    10 March 2008, 11:18

    Late last week I finished sewing up my version of BurdaStyle’s free JJ pattern as the penultimate piece in my FW/08 Collection (I’ve still got to put the finishing touches on my Jean Paul Gaultier Patrones skirt and these last two substitutes round out the Collection!).


    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!


    The Big Fleecy

    29 January 2008, 12:14

    My boyfriend James has a RTW fleece that he loves, but it’s getting scraggly and it’s a bit too thin to be useful when we work outside a lot. He’s been bugging me to recreate him a new one for a while now, and I recently picked up KwikSew 2561 which I thought would be easier than just tracing his old one. He bought the fleece from cheapfabrics.co.uk since we knew how nice and thick it was from our earlier fleece adventures. After the mental gymnastics of the Pendleton wool jacket, I decided it was time to make something simple!


    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.


    Soft and Warm

    3 December 2007, 13:10

    I’ve broken my self-imposed ban on sewing fleece. I blame the 90s for making me think it’s the most unfashionable fabric on earth, only worn in big, boxy cuts by soccer moms and awkward preteens.

    But the heating on our boat still isn’t sorted yet, and I’m sick of seeing my breath while I eat dinner every night, and sewing with quite literally numb fingers (my metal shears are so cold they hurt to touch them!). So I got the boyfriend drunk and convinced him to order 5 metres of navy blue fleece to make us some warm lounging clothes to only wear around the boat.


    Silky Secretary Blouse

    10 October 2007, 13:41

    Following on from the jedi jacket, I thought I’d stick with Simplicity 3631 a little while longer and make a blouse using the bodice from the dress and the poofy, cuffed sleeves from the long jacket. On closer inspection, however, I realised that the jacket and coat both have raglan sleeves, which wouldn’t work to just attach to the bodice (which needs a cap sleeve). So rather than go through some extensive redrafting session, I just used a cap sleeve pattern piece from elsewhere, widened the hem, and created my own cuff to button closed at the wrist.


    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.


    Eyes on The Prize

    27 July 2007, 17:52

    BurdaStyle held a pattern competition in June and July to search for new styles to turn into open-source patterns for their site, with a prize of $500 for the winner (not quite as impressive with the devaluing dollar, but still a nice chunk of change)!

    I’d done loads of pattern alterations before, but never created a pattern from scratch. I had a vision of a simple lined sheath with a gathered, dropped, and curved shoulder seam and a wide neckline. The side opening could be buttoned, zippered, or even corset laced, and since it was lined you could even make it out of semi sheer or holey fabrics like lace. I saw a lot of possibilities in my mind’s eye, but even after 3 muslins, the shoulder seam still didn’t work out quite the way I wanted, but that was more down to my sewing than the pattern itself. Still, the pattern was simple versatile, and left wide open for customisation, which didn’t seem far off the ethos of BurdaStyle itself.


    Vest of all

    15 July 2007, 15:29

    Simplicity 4951 is one of the first patterns I ever bought, and is by far the most frequently made out of all of the patterns I own. I made the jacket once (which is now happily worn by my mom), but it’s the camisole I come back to time and time again.

    It’s a very simple design – a top piece with two joined triangles and a gathered underbust seam that you double (and since it’s lined if you’re small like me, there’s no need for a bra), a rectangular bottom front piece, and a taller rectangular back piece. Add some bias tape or ribbon straps, and you’ve got the perfect summer top in under an hour and under a meter.


    Smock the boat (Don't smock the boat, baby)

    6 May 2007, 23:33

    Smocks have been in for the last few seasons now, but I finally got around to sewing this one up last week. I very happily used up some fabrics from my stash, a stripey polyester-rayon with a nice fluid drape, and the remains of an emerald raw silk that’s also been in a top for Gez and the lining of my Yamamoto jacket. The pattern was actually for a 34 inch bust (I’m 38”), but after deliberating whether to grade up the pattern or make a muslin, I did a very un-me thing and opted to throw all caution to the wind and just make it up as-is since it probably had a ton of ease in it anyway. And I’m glad I did, because my gamble paid off – I love the way it fits, and the only time it seems too small is squeezing my big head through the neck opening!


    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).


    Diamonds and silver

    28 November 2006, 12:16

    What better way to celebrate the start of the Christmas party season than with a luxe new top that shimmers in the lights? I made Burda 8132c for the pre-launch of BurdaStyle.com, a new community-based sewing site that’s launching in December 2006. I’ve written up a TON of tips and tricks for the site, so I’ll amend this article with a link to those once it goes live.


    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.


    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!).


    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!


    Summery vintage kimono top

    12 May 2006, 11:40

    I made this with a vintage-style crepe-de-chine dragonfly print from efabrics.co.uk (99p a meter! and it was coincidentally made in Japan), and a matching jade green crepe-de-chine from the same place that wasn’t on sale, so it was £2 a meter. I was really breaking the bank on this project…


    Marc Jacobs-esque, black ruffled New Year's top

    2 January 2006, 12:30

    I had a bunch of black satin left over from my black vintage evening gown so I thought I’d spice it up a bit by adding some fancy satin accents to it. I think the end result has something of a 70s tuxedo feel to it.