I don’t sew many “Big Four” patterns these days, but when I do, they’re invariably Vogues, and even then, they tend to be the designer patterns. The Big Four are really bad value in the UK, for starters, but then I also hate fighting with massive sheets of tissue paper, playing the “how much ease?” roulette, and dealing with outdated construction techniques. Give me a magazine maze to trace or pdf to tape together any day!
But I do love great and interesting seamlines, so when the Donna Karan coordinates pattern, Vogue 1378 was announced, I immediately wanted to make those leggings (the wrap top? Meh. I’ve seen a thousand like it).
Since there was a sale on Vogue patterns a few weeks before I was due to visit my parents last November, Stacy very kindly bought it for me at sale price (even without shipping, it was like a third of what I’d pay here) and it was waiting for me when I arrived! Thanks Stacy!
But for all the aforementioned reasons, I never quite got around to making it until now – the thought of unfolding all that tissue to trace the tons of pieces just made me choose other patterns instead. But eventually I realised that I really needed some basic, all-around trousers, so out they came! By my measurements, I should be a size 16, but I opted to throw all caution to the wind and make a size 14 instead, as I wanted them to be close fitting, like leggings. Having gone down a size, I now think the ease is just right – not stretched tight, but not baggy either.
(Photos shot whilst holidaying in the medieval Breton town of Dinan, in France! Paired with my Manequim birthday silk blouse)
I hadn’t realised quite how much I wanted to sew the Jamie jeans pattern from the new Finnish company, Named, until it disappeared off their site for a few days and I kinda freaked out that I might’ve missed the opportunity to make it! Happily, it was only down so they could revamp the pattern and improve the instructions, and I bought it soon after.
Despite my first version/muslin being a total FAIL due to lengthwise-stretch only fabric, I still managed to crack on and sew up a second version without totally losing my nerve, and I now am the proud owner of silvery rockstar jeans. Maybe I need to start a band now, hmmm…
I bought this pattern after Named’s refresh, so I can tell you that the instructions are now illustrated (though with some mistakes – I noticed they forget to say to close the pocket bags!), and you get all the sizes when you buy them, though they’re still split into different pdfs (two sizes per file). There are 1cm seam allowances included, but the stitching lines are also marked, which is helpful.
Thank you to Claire for snapping these photos after our lunch date!
Since all of my trousers are stupidly baggy from my marathon training, I did my best not to go too big and I made these in a size 40, and they’re really close fitting! Don’t get me wrong, I love the fit, but you need some serious stretch in your fabric to make these work.read more >>
You’ve already seen the sister skirt to these leggings planned for my upcoming Mexico trip in a few weeks. I wouldn’t normally make two things out of the same fabric in rapid succession, but I ended up buying the end bolt (3m instead of the 2m I’d wanted) and having two bottoms in the same colour is quite handy when packing, as obviously the same tops will coordinate with both!
These were a super quick but comfortable make using my standard leggings draft from the Kristina Shin book plus my own preferred elastic waistband technique. I reckon I probably had these sewn up in under an hour, and I’d cut out the fabric at the same time as the skirt.
As you recall, the fabric is a royal blue hefty jersey that really feels very much like a thin neoprene – this stuff couldn’t wrinkle if it wanted to! I bought the last of the roll at “A-One Fabrics” on Goldhawk Road, and I’ve still got a little bit left that I think might be fun to mix & match with something like denim or even leather!read more >>
When summer weather comes to England, it’s always something of a surprise. Those in other countries may not be aware, but just because the calendar says June, July, or August, does not mean it’ll be either hot or sunny. Sometimes “summer” comes one weekend in March, or in a few days in September. Or in the case of 2012, not at all.
In any case, summer has arrived, and for the past week, it’s felt hot here. I think the heat may be getting to my brain somewhat, because I’m 99% finished sewing up a summer outfit:
Yes, that would be shocking pink trousers and a cream stretch lace teeshirt, dear readers. I both hope look as good in the photos as they do in my head!
The other development of note is one of a more digital nature – for a while now some of you have been asking if it’s possible to get my new posts delivered my email (instead of RSS or just popping by when you remember to!), and I’ve finally got round to setting this up!
If you pop your email address into the box on your left (or, repeated below), then you’ll get a summary of all the week’s posts emailed to you every Saturday! My test version from last week looked like this:read more >>
Word got round my running crew that I was starting to do some custom drafted leggings for a few people and my friend Lee Ann immediately came up to me and said “I want you to make my leggings for London marathon.” Holy crap – what an honour! It’s her first marathon, and the biggie, and she trusts me to make them for her?! I couldn’t say no to that, so I measured her up right then and there, then drafted out her pattern using the Shin book, and made her a test pair using some cheap thin lycra. She came round the boat and tried them on and amazingly, the fit was perfect, with no alterations needed, woo!
With the fit out of the way, I could then start in on the design lines, which she said she wanted to have a stripe/ribbon that started on her right hip and wrapped around to her right calf, and in navy and red to match her charity vest.
So, as I do, my first step was to draw myself a little plan:
Sorry for the crap quality there, but essentially I drew out the four big pieces (front right, front left, back left, back right) and the rough stripe shape, and realised I’d need 12 pieces in total, and as it’s asymmetric, I’d need to cut everything in single layer.
Organisation was the key, keeping the three pieces for each quarter pinned together on my sewing room clothes line!
I assembled each quarter first (ie: I sewed the front right top to the front right mid, to the front right lower until I had a full leg, and moved on to the front left). The cutting was really the most difficult here, but I managed to just barely squeeze everything out of 1m each of Tissu’s navy blue and red supplex lycras. Assembling it was much easier, but I had to be careful that the seam lines matched up over the left side seam!
I was so chuffed to see them on LeeAnn when she ran past me during the race, and she said they were a dream to wear on the day, too! No tugging, no baggy ankles, no nothing, hurrah!
Don’t they look great on her?? And she’s totally caught the bug, too – already planning her second marathon!read more >>
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!read more >>
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!
- Style Arc Ivy tee in mustard & charcoal viscose jersey (I’m currently sewing this now!)
- Burda March 2013 #107 cardigan, in brown merino wool jersey (LOL English summer AM I RITE?)
- One dart lace bra (copied from RTW/self-drafted from Shin) using an aqua lace I bought from Danglez.
- Burda Jan 2012 #122 trousers in leftover hot pink cotton sateen (so it’s a merging of my pink party dress and my grey trousers!)
I try to show you all my finished garments in the order I make them, but I just can’t wait to show you my wildest running leggings yet! I only finished the hems on Monday night and stuffed them into my running bag to wear to Run dem Crew last night, and WOW, they got a glowing reception!
I made these with Funki Fabrics’ digitally printed lycra in “Tribal white on black”, plus fluorescent yellow lycra from Minerva Fabrics, inserted above the knee (and is WAY brighter than it appears in these photos!).
I liked the design lines of this McCalls leggings pattern, so I adapted my self-drafted leggings pattern to have similar sections above the knee, with angled thigh seams to be a bit more flattering (or, as flattering as you can get in neon yellow, ha!).
I had a friend take these photos after our run last night (a very fast 10km run with the Cheetah group around Victoria Park! Geeky stats here if you’re interested)read more >>
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.read more >>
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.read more >>
I was so excited when Papercut Patterns released their new collection of patterns before Christmas and saw that it included another trouser patterns with amazing seamlines, curiously named Peter & the Wolf. It happened to coincide with a free worldwide shipping deal they were doing so I bought it directly, but I see the new collection is available on Sewbox.co.uk now, which might work out cheaper for Europeans.
I sewed this up in early January (right after the pale Burda dress), but I’ve been thwarted by inhospitable photoshoot weather two weekends in a row, so it was now or never this weekend, even though I’m still not fully recovered from the shingles. Forgive me if I don’t look as cheery as usual!read more >>
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! read more >>
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…
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!
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.read more >>
Thank you all for your lovely messages while I was ill. I started to feel slight improvements little by little last week, and when I need a pick-me-up I tend to sew knits, and especially ones I’ve sewn before. So it should come as no surprise that in my flu-addled state, I should sew some more running gear, in ten minute segments while I could sit up without getting dizzy and having to lie down…
There was a reason I wanted some new winter-appropriate running duds, too – my running crew has recently become affiliated with England Athletics and this Saturday was the Met League Alexandra Palace (“Ally Pally”) fixture, where all the Serious Runners from Proper Clubs go to wear their tiny short shorts and club vests in “the off season” (otherwise known as Winter to you and I).
This was the first time we participated in such an event, and the first time I’d ever run cross country, so I wanted to wear something that stood out, and most definitely showed that RDC is not a “Running Club”! First, I needed something long sleeved and warm to layer under my RDC vest, so I chose the Christine Jonson Travel Trio Three Raglan Tee. I’d made the shirred turtleneck version of this before, and remembered how much I liked the first in the body and sleeves and thought it’d do well for running. Bonus points to Previous Me for tracing out the raglan front piece at the same time I traced the shirred version pieces!
The top was sewn in the remains of my muted purple Suziplex (seen in my original purple leggings!), and the leggings used BetaBrand Disconium fabric for the sides (the same fabric used in James’s reversible jacket), and black Suziplex for the remainder. I had plenty of Disconium to do the entire leggings, but I two-toned it as a design choice, rather than because of fabric constraints. Which also means I have plenty leftover for more disco items. bwahahah!
If you’re keeping track, this is the sixth time I’ve sewn the Papercut “Ooh La Leggings” pattern (UK stockist here)! So far, I’ve got the purple Suziplex pair, the Liberace leggings, the Run Dem Crew Refashioned pair, then my pale grey Suziplex Olympic leggings, and finally, the “Not Jeggings” so I could actually wear one and not run!
So here I am looking fresh-faced and warm before the race, in a sea of short-shorts and club vests, ha!read more >>
There are two main reasons I choose to sew something – either because I’m mentally intrigued by the pattern and want to sew something new and engaging (90% of my sewing), or because I really want to wear something that fills a hole in my wardrobe.
If you’re keeping track, this is the fifth time I’ve sewn the Papercut “Ooh La Leggings” pattern (UK stockist here), so clearly it’s not because I want a mental challenge – seriously, I could sew these in my sleep by now!
So far, I’ve got the purple Suziplex pair, the Liberace leggings, the Run Dem Crew Refashioned pair, and most recently my pale grey Suziplex Olympic leggings. But these were all for running, and I really, really wanted a pair I could just lounge around in!
Long-time readers will know that I very rarely make a pattern twice, let along five times, so you can infer how much I love wearing these! This might be my new personal record for Pattern Sewn Most, come to think of it…
I made this pair in some “denim-look jersey” from Tissu Fabrics (aka Tia Knight on eBay – same stock, same owner, just a different interface!). It’s a jersey that cleverly really looks like it’s got a denim weave, and it’s absolutely perfect for making leggings that appear to be made from denim (I just really hate the j-word is all!).read more >>
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!
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!read more >>
On Saturday I showed you a sneak peek of my new running leggings and my thoughts on the Opening Ceremony, but here’s your chance to get a better look at them, and those Olympic rings on Tower Bridge!
I’m finally feeling a little better so we took these photos after I ran my usual 10km loop in my official Stella McCartney for Adidas replica Team GB vest (now sold out everywhere now, sorry!) and my leggings.
This is the 4th(!!) time now I’ve sewn the Papercut “Ooh La Leggings” pattern (UK stockist here), though I’ve actually got a 5th pair on the way, if you can believe it! They’re so well drafted, so stylish, and so comfortable to run in that I just can’t resist making more. That they’re also really quick to sew on my overlocker is just a bonus. Here I made them in the pale grey Suziplex fabric I bought from Suzi Spandex when I was in Montreal in March, and it’s just truly, truly wonderful stuff.
I also used my my elastic waistband tutorial technique for a nice, comfortable finish inside, which, judging by your comments, a lot of you are also using now, hooray! This waistband plus the soft and loopy reverse side of the Suziplex really does make for the most comfortable running gear ever, aeons better than anything I’ve ever bought.read more >>
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:read more >>
I gave you a sneak peek of these yesterday, but I doubt any of you were looking at the leggings!! You’re forgiven, though!
This design is from the third Pattern Magic book, and was super easy for me because I didn’t have to draft anything! I already had a great legging pattern to start with, from an old KnipMode magazine I’ve made a few times before. Note that you need a legging pattern with a separate front and back pieces, so the two recent Burda magazine leggings (in the June and January 2012 issues if I remember correctly) won’t work as a starting point. Or you can just draft one from scratch as the book suggests.
All the work here is in the measuring, slicing, and spreading of the pattern pieces – I very cleverly wrote the size of the spread between each of the pieces, so when it came time to do the other pattern piece, I could easily make it the same amount so everything matched up.read more >>
As promised, I sewed up the “Apple peel” leggings from the new Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics book last Thursday night, but before I could get a proper photoshoot, we took a few impromptu photos of them after I wore them to work on Friday.
I thought you all might like a sneak peek of my leggings, sewn up in cherry red jersey:
Oh? What’s that you say? You want a better look at the unbelievably cute, tiny kitty that fell asleep on my lap?!? Ok then…read more >>
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!read more >>
I’m going to break from tradition here and actually post my next two outfits out of sequence from when I made them, mostly because I just shared my elastic waistband tutorial with you, but also because I’m really freaking excited about sewing exercise gear right now. Honestly, it’s starting to become nearly lingerie-levels of hysteria with me – super quick to make, easy to fit, and lots of wild colours and patterns in small doses! But you’ll get to see my “civilian” top and trousers later this week, so no worries if you’re starting to glaze over at all the lycra…
For this set of running gear, I’ve paired up the Papercut “Ooh La Leggings” pattern (UK stockist here) with my self drafted knit block (from Metric Pattern Cutting). And in the case of the top, I altered the seam lines and armhole shape to suit!
You may remember the ex-Prada sequin trompe l’oeil fabric from a few years ago when I used it to make a cowl top. I wear that all the time, but I only had a small piece leftover in my stash, and it was far too lovely to throw away. But with a bit of creative thinking, it was enough for this! Though I think I’ll lower the curve a bit for my next running vest so the peak is just at my underbust…
As you can see with the leggings (or maybe not, the purple fabric is quite dark!), there are no side seams here! The shaped front and back yokes give some really cool, curved seams, and they merge nicely into front- and back-leg seams instead.read more >>
While I await a photoshoot on my new Papercut Ooh La Leggings, I thought it’d be nice to share with you what’s become my go-to finish for elastic waistbands. Oftentimes pattern instructions will tell you to create a casing, leave an opening, and thread the elastic through it. I totally hate this! You end up with uneven bunching of fabric, plus the waistband tends to fold up and twist and generally get really uncomfortable to wear.
Over the years, I’ve developed this method which a) attaches the elastic directly to the fabric, and b) protects your skin from direct contact with the elastic. I find it’s much more comfortable than the casing method, looks much neater, and also gives you the added option to have greater stretch in the back if you need it (swayback/bootay ladies, listen up!).
Step 1 – Place the elastic around yourself where the waistband will lie, making sure it’s snug, but not tight (you may want to pre-stretch the elastic a bit first). Mark the overlap edges with a pen, and trim so the edges overlap by an inch or so. With your sewing machine, zigzag the crap out of it so it’s not going anywhere!
Step 2 – Make the overlap the Centre Back, and mark the opposite side with a pin as the Centre Front. Mark midway between these two with pins as your side seam marks (or offset towards the CB if you want more stretch in the back). Place your elastic against the inside edge of your waistband, and serge/overlock the elastic in place, taking care to not cut the elastic with your serger blades! If you don’t have a serger, that’s cool, just sew near the top edge of the elastic with a narrow zigzag and very short stitch length. Stretch the elastic as you sew/serge so all your pin markings line up. read more >>
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.read more >>
As I mentioned last week, I got gifted some wonderful grey flannel from Claire (however did she know I like grey? ha!). It’s so soft and lovely that initially I thought it should become a dress, but then realised I’m likely to get much more wear out of a really chic, comfortable pair of dress trousers.
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. These also have the illustrated instructions for this issue, but I could sew trousers blindfolded by this point, so the instructions didn’t make much difference to me.
I did notice, however, that they do the particularly dumb construction technique of tucking one leg inside the other and sewing the crotch seam last – this makes NO SENSE to me, as it means you can’t check the fit until you’re 95% done. Whereas if you do the outer seams last, you can pin and adjust the fit in the thighs and hip before you sew it up…
These photos were taken after sitting in a car, then sitting through a big Sunday roast so there are more wrinkles here than I usually have! The fit on these feels a bit closer than with most Burda trouser patterns I’ve sewn, but it also might just be because I haven’t sewn trousers in a non-stretch fabric in a while.read more >>
I’ve finally emerged from the craptacular flu (which then turned into bronchitis) that I’ve been under since Dec 28 – thank you for all your well wishes! For me, it really feels like the new year, 16 days late!
The Ruby Slip was my first garment of 2012, but my second and third aren’t far away…
Grey flannel trousers
Just before Christmas, I met up with Claire for lunch and she gifted me a massive length of wonderful dark grey flannel. It’s so soft and lovely that initially I thought a dress, but then realised I’m likely to get much more wear out of a really chic, comfortable pair of dress trousers. So on Friday night I traced and cut Burda Jan 12 #122, mostly because the issue was handy, but also because they looked to be a great basic. These have the illustrated instructions for this issue, but I could sew trousers blindfolded by this point, so the instructions didn’t make much difference to me.
I sewed this on and off over the weekend and nearly completed these despite hardly being at home. As a nice tie-in to my previous garment, the pockets, fly underlap, and waistband lining are all done in the pale green silk leftover from my Ruby Slip.read more >>
A few months ago, I went and sewed up the Clover trouser pattern for the first time, in dark green sateen. Having fixed the zipper (my own mistake), I realised that I love the great fit of these trousers, but they’d be even better with traditional pockets and a front fly more like jeans… in fact, I’d actually just like some Clover jeans.
So that’s exactly what I did!
I first altered the pattern to create the front pockets (and I extended the pocket lining piece to the centre front to make a “gut slimming” panel), add a fly-front, and extend front waistband to match the fly underlap. I also added back pockets and belt loops off another jeans pattern. I didn’t bother to draft a back yoke as I actually prefer the look of jeans without them, and the back darts just disappear into the pockets anyway.
This stretch denim is ex-designer from Ditto Fabrics and it’s the exact same stuff I used in these designer jeans (I loved it so much I bought more). The pocket linings and waistband facings are fun Spoonflower cotton prints – Rainy Day Doodles for the pocket linings and fly underlap, and foxes for the inner waistband (the latter by my mate Galia!).read more >>
There’s only four pattern pieces (five if you count the pockets) so this is about as simple as trousers get, and Colette have rated this as for Beginners, too. My first step was to make up a quick muslin in some super cheap stretch viscose I had on hand, but I hadn’t realised that the stretch was lengthwise until midway throgh cutting it, meaning there’d be no stretch around the body.
And you know what? These trousers still fit like a dream, with zero fitting wrinkles! I kid you not! It’s like Sarai came and measured me in my sleep or something (really, that’s bordering on creepy right there!). The only alteration I made with this final version was to add 2” to the leg length at the indicated line. Otherwise View A (the longer length) were still above my ankle bone when unhemmed. I’m not sure what height Colette drafts for, but I usually have to lengthen Burda trousers, too (but not Knip!) so I’d guess it’s around the 5’6” range.
I’m happy to say that this version in a nicer (but not terribly much more expensive) fabric fit just as well around the waist and hips, and are now the perfect length, too!
Even Bosco couldn’t resist coming along to rub up against them!read more >>
(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.read more >>
Let me start by saying that I hate drop-crotch trousers! Hate.
These are not drop-crotch trousers.
I chose these because the crotch is where it should be – they are in no way “Hammer pants”, let’s be clear about that! But there’s a large pleat that runs from the right knee up to the mid-left waistband that creates the drapey folded roominess instead.
I was instantly drawn to KnipMode 01/2011 #5 when I saw it, but since I made these I realise that the idea must’ve been stewing in my subconscious for quite some time, as carottesauvage made an awesome similar pair last year, Burda magazine actually had something similar in the Plus section back in August, and KnipMode had a less severe draped version all the way back in September 2009(!) that I found going back through my archives.
So even though these feel absolutely bleedin’ cutting edge, the idea has been floating around for a while now. I made these with a gorgeously soft made in 80% wool / 20% acrylic flannel (bought from Fabric.com in Dec 2008 for $14/yard) that tends to look either pale green, slate blue, or even brownish depending on the light. In order to shield my skin from the wool and prevent the knees from bagging out, I entirely underlined these in black silk/cotton voile. I had to hand baste these two layers together to keep them nicely aligned and not bubbling, and this took a couple of evenings.read more >>
I had a bit of a photoshoot backlog, but I think you’ll be pleased to hear that I’ve got lots to show off this week, and you’ll only have to forgive the GALE FORCE WINDS whipping everything around while I tried to pose and smile sweetly (hence the headband keeping my hair out of my eyes!).
First up are my pleated corduroys! You’ll remember seeing these in their “in progress” state, hanging on my sewing room clothesline, and also that this steel grey corduroy wasn’t my first fabric choice, but was the only suitable fabric in my stash. I’d bought this stuff back in May 2009 on Goldhawk Road for a total of £5, so if it didn’t work with the deep pleating on these trousers, well, then I wasn’t too fussed.
The pattern for these is KnipMode 08/2010 #13, modelled by a mother/daughter pair and looking fabulous on both of them!
And here they are on me!read more >>
The next garments in my post-coat sewing plans are two pairs of KnipMode trousers to fill a quite serious hole in my wardrobe as a bunch of my trousers and jeans all seem to be wearing out at once!
One pair is KnipMode 01/2011 #5 made in wool/acrylic flannel (bought from Fabric.com ages ago) and entirely underlined in black silk/cotton voile with a sort of satin weave to it.
The other is KnipMode 08/2010 #13 made in steel corduroy which I bought at Goldhawk Road yonks ago!read more >>
Now that I’ve got my big winter coat sewing out of the way, I can turn my attentions to filling in a few gaps in my winter wardrobe. Sewing these things now means I can get another good 3-4 months of wear out of them before moving on to short sleeves and lighter jackets (no really, for the past few years we’ve had flurries and hard frosts in April or May).
So I’ve gathered together the patterns I’d most like to sew along with fabrics I’ve got in my stash that would help fill my wardrobe voids…
Starting at the top of this collage, we’ve got:read more >>
Jacquie made these trousers as part of her recent wardrobe collection (she’s “dingyadi” on PR) and I instantly knew I had to make them, too. Like her, I was put off by how skin-tight these looked on the Burda model in the magazine, but in real life, they fit really nicely! Unlike her, I left off the front patch pockets, though, as I figured there was enough going on everywhere else!
They’re from Burda magazine 08/2008 #120A:
They’re great trousers, but there’s just so many freaking pieces, omg! And the topstitching!!
Take the front leg, for instance. On a normal pair of trousers, it’s one piece (maybe three if you have a pocket). On these, the front leg is comprised of three pieces before you even get into the pockets (so 6 in total for mine, or 9 if you chose View B with the added pouch pockets with the flap!). There’s a scooped pattern piece at the inner thigh in the front and back, and lots of horizontal topstitching across the knees in addition to topstitching pretty much every seam of the trousers, too.read more >>
I bought this ASOS ruched tunic back in April and I love the design of it – the ruched panels are really flattering, it’s a viscose knit and it’s entirely lined in lingerie mesh. But when it arrived, I realised it was way too short to wear as a dress, but too long to wear as a shirt and looks just plain lumpy when worn over regular trousers or jeans. And with the panels going at weird angles creating an intentionally uneven hem, there wasn’t a natural point to cut it off and shorten it, either.
So I filled the wardrobe hole by creating some leggings specifically to wear with this top!read more >>
Continuing on with some of my new books, James knew exactly how much I loved David Page Coffin’s “Shirtmaking” book that I used when sewing his yellow linen dress shirt so when I asked for this followup book on sewing trousers, he jumped at the chance to buy it for my birthday. I think he might be eyeing up some custom trousers of his own, but no matter what the motivation, I’m glad he did!
One thing that surprised me, however, is that there’s no DVD in the UK edition of this book like there is in the US edition, but then again, our version is cheaper, and I can’t really see myself watching many sewing videos anyway (I have zero patience whatsoever for YouTube. Zero.). But I am kinda annoyed that there are some pdf patterns included that us UK readers miss out on!
David Page Coffin has a Trouser Making blog to accompany/promote the book but the patterns aren’t included there, either. But a lot of good discussion is there, and you can get a good feel for whether the book is right for you from reading it.
In a nutshell, this is a book for anyone who has their perfect basic trouser pattern but wants to make a bunch of variations from it so no one can tell you’re wearing the same trousers every day!read more >>
Step One: Find yourself a pattern with tons of interesting details. In my case, I’ve used pattern #7a from the December 2008 issue of KnipMode magazine.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Burda, but when’s the last time you saw one of their trouser patterns with anywhere near this much detail?? KnipMode are by far my best source for interesting trouser patterns in the last year or so!
Step Two: Find some ex-designer denim like this black stretch denim from Ditto Fabrics in Brighton (50% Cotton 45% Polyester 5% Elastane) from “one of the Italian designers”. It’s listed as black, but when it’s held up to black, it looks blue, and when held up to navy it looks black. Whatever the colour, it’s seriously the nicest stretch denim I’ve ever come across, and it’s really similar to the weave you find in RTW jeans.
Step Three: Sew!read more >>
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…read more >>
I’ve been doing more sewing “on the inside” – this time I’ve made these curvy-seamed trousers (#12) from the May 09 KnipMode which should come as no surprise since you already know that I prepared them in advance as an activity pack.
I sewed most of these last Sunday, but took my time handsewing the invisible zipper, waistband, and hems, which I’ll explain later… Once again, apologies for the iPhone photos, but I’m planning on doing a nice & crisp DSLR photoshoot again once they and I!) am finished. But for now…read more >>
It seems like everyone’s caught the jeans sewing bug recently! Maybe it’s the warmer weather or just the slow realisation that I could really do with more casual trews in my wardrobe, but KnipMode Jan 09 #11a really took my fancy and wouldn’t let go.
Annoyingly, it’s hard to get a good look at these jeans in the magazine photos – they’re either covered up by her jacket, or partially shown in the detail shots, or just not photographed at all.
But between these and the technical drawing, I was able to piece together how these should go together, in what order, and with what topstitching (I posted some essential topstitching tips a few years ago, fyi). What really drew me to the pattern was also to be the most difficult sewing aspect – the front pattern piece has “arms” at the top that wrap around completely to meet at the centre back, and the back piece of the trousers has a curved seam around the bum, and wraps round slightly so the “side seam” on the legs is actually on the front:
So this means there’s no traditional side seam to tweak the fit, and there’s no centre back seam in the waistband to tweak there, either. So if you’re unsure of the fit, I’d fully recommend sewing a muslin first, though I actually just threw all caution to the wind here and used my super heavyweight Levis denim from the outset (since I’ve made so much KnipMode in the past and knew I was a consistent size).read more >>
I had quite the busy weekend! On Saturday, my neighbour Veda came over with her new book, Cute Stuff, and we had a sewing lesson all afternoon. She recently turned 11 and asked for sewing stuff for her birthday (getting that same awesome Chinese-themed sewing tin, too!) so I said I’d let her rifle through my scraps and we’d make something.
So she chose the pocket tissue holder from the book, and we went through the instructions, step-by-step and I taught her how to press and pin, knot the thread and tie off, and how to turn corners. It was loads of fun, and in the end we embellished little faces onto our holders like they do in the book so it looks like the holder is eating the tissues (they come out its mouth!).
The book is really well written and illustrated, and (as you’d expect from the title) full of really cute projects. I don’t think Veda will have any problems doing most of these on her own soon. I should offload way more of my scraps onto her, come to think of it!
As for myself, after the intellectually- and technically-stimulating green silk dress, I needed something brainless and easy, so I made BWOF 08/06 #109 in red corduroy (again!). Seriously, I’ve made this pattern so many times I could sew it with my eyes shut now, but these just fit me so well that my wardrobe is constantly crying out for more… I made a pair of these red cords over a year ago, but the corduroy I’d bought blind off the internet was way too thin for trousers and wore out after only a couple months’ wearing. Boo!read more >>
I’m only a hem away from finishing a pair of high waisted, wool trousers from the fabulous Patrones 272:
I’ll leave the fine details for the final photoshoot and review, but I’m just so proud of my very first welt pockets. Progress on my wool coat has been stalled for the last few months because the thought of doing the bound buttonholes has just intimidated and overwhelmed me, so I thought I’d make my first attempts at welt pockets first since they’re essentially the same thing, but on a less tiny (and fiddly) scale.
There are tons of instructions on the internet for welt pockets, but I used the supplemental instructions from the Aug 2008 BWOF since I could just have it lying open on my ironing board as I worked. The diagrams were particularly useful, and I think my first attempts turned out great!read more >>
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…)!
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!read more >>
While I’m still waiting for the fabric to arrive from America for my last Christmas present, I decided to add to my trouser collection and make a second pair of the black biker trousers, which are BWOF 05/2006 #112. I realised in my observations of what I’m wearing this month that my trousers in general are way too dark and I need some slightly lighter ones to allow me to wear (my many) black tops with them.read more >>
Continuing on with my need to fill my wardrobe’s trouser-shaped void, I decided this time around to try (gasp!) a different trouser pattern! But since I still wasn’t sure how well BWOF 05/2006 #112 would fit me, I opted to sew it up in the leftover black cotton drill from Simon’s pirate coat so that nothing would be lost if the fit was awful.
Frankly, I should’ve trusted Burda more – the fit is even better on these than on my casual TNT (“tried and true”) pattern I’ve been making for ages. These trousers have a seam running down the front leg that goes right into the pockets at the waist, and I think this extra seam really helps to shape them more closely to my legs.
I couldn’t wait for the photoshoot to wear these, though – so forgive the wrinkles! By this point they’d already been out for a friend’s birthday cocktails followed by langostines (yum!) in Soho, plus a full day at work. So just trust me when I say that there are no fit wrinkles when they’re fresh…read more >>
I’m in rather desperate need of trousers for my Fall/Winter wardrobe, and so I naturally turned to Burda WOF 08/2006 #109. You may remember that this is essentially my favourite trouser pattern ever – I’ve made it as jeans (twice!), in brown twill, and even in red corduroy. The fit is perfect for me, and it serves as the backbone of my wardrobe when I just need some nice, wearable trousers and don’t feel the need to be particularly challenged by a new pattern. As much as I love trying new patterns and techniques, sometimes you just need something reliable that you know is definitely going to work.read more >>
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!read more >>
I’ve just spent nearly all of my four day weekend (double bank holiday, woo!) behind my sewing machine and ironing board, and I couldn’t be happier! For the last few years I’ve made myself something nice and new to wear on my birthday, so today I’m wearing my new clothes! It dulls the pain of turning 29, you see… ;)read more >>
If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that my grandmother visited the Pendleton woollen mill in the 1960s and bought two 2 yard remnants of 100% wool navy blue suiting fabric for $6 each (so $12 total). In August, she gave these to me, saying she’d never got around to sewing up anything with them and she thought I’d make better use of it.
The trousers were far more straightforward than the jacket, however, so they didn’t take nearly as much time or seam ripping to complete! I wanted to tie together the satin accents of the two pieces so I opted to add a thin stripe of navy blue satin ribbon to the outside seams of each trouser leg, which I think gives a subtle sheen as I move. The integral belt/waistband of this pattern really evokes a sort of cummerbund, too, and raises this design above just a normal trouser suit.read more >>
I have such a thing for red corduroys. I’ve probably owned about ten pairs over my lifetime, and they have all been worn multiple times a week until their inevitable downfall. For the last few months, however, I haven’t been out shopping very much and when I have been out in stores, I haven’t been able to find any cherry-red cords anywhere.
So in my American fabric buying orgy I picked up some bright red baby wale corduroy to make my own. The fabric was a bit thinner than I was expecting (more shirt weight than trouser weight) so I hope they don’t wear out prematurely, because I’m stupidly happy with them!read more >>
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.read more >>
As part of my FW/07 Collection, I decided to embrace the menswear trend and create a pinstripe suit, borrowing from classic tailoring, but updating it all with feminine elements.read more >>
I’ve now completed two pieces for my FW/07 Collection, a pair of chocolate brown trousers, and a white cropped jacket.read more >>
I decided I needed a challenge. I’ve never made trousers before, let alone jeans, but I had some stretch denim from Walthamstow Market wallowing in my stash for over a year, and I finally had enough time in my schedule to do them justice. I’d attempted to make Vogue 8202 about a year ago, but only got as far as the muslin stage before I realised that a) the front rise was scandalously low, b) there was about 4 inches too much ease, and c) I started to lose weight and the pattern size range I bought was far too big to bother downsizing and redrafting. So this time around I used a pattern for corduroy trousers from the August 2006 Burda World Of Fashion magazine and just added the missing pieces (namely, the back pockets, the fifth pocket, and an interior fly piece) from my old Vogue pattern.read more >>