Category Archives: Adventures in Overlocking

Threshold shorts

More groovy runners: Threshold shorts by Fehr Trade

She has done it again!  Melissa at Fehr Trade has designed another pattern for activewear/ workout/ running with the most amazing piecing to end up with the most wearable of running shorts- the Threshold Shorts.

Threshold shorts

I was thrilled to be a tester & it’s like Christmas when the new pattern arrives in your inbox.  Opening up the files & printing out the pages comes with a tingle of excitement as the crazy shapes are revealed (“How is that going to fit with that piece there“?) .  Whilst I wouldn’t ever dream of being able to predict what Melissa’s designs would be, you can rely on their being beautiful bold curves & the most clever fabric jigsaw puzzle  (think the sweeping flashes in the PB Jam leggings, the different shaped backs of the XYT workout top, & then there was the VNA top with its clever piecing ).

(Links to pattern at Fehr Trade)

 

Threshold shorts

 

Threshold shorts

The Threshold shorts are running shorts- you know- upper thigh length, elasticated waist, not skin tight (no negative ease in the shorts), with echoes of the traditional bound hems of ready to wear shorts (like the “Really good” runners wear !)

Threshold shorts (8)

There are options.  You can include front pockets & / or a  back pocket, there is also a pattern included with instructions to make integral or stand alone RUNDERWEAR.  Can I say that again, because it is the most comically correct meld of two words into the best sounding new word: Runderwear.  :-)  Yes, Runderwear with a full or thong variety.

So the pattern delivers up all these things- running shorts that you would not feel out of place in running around the track (if you were so inclined).  I am extremely happy wearing them for street running, or even off road running- they really do the job, whatever that might be for you.

Threshold shorts

Another thing about these shorts –   the threshold shorts are designed for making out of woven fabric (except the runderwear which needs a good stretch – requirements are detailed in the pattern).   The shorts can also be made using sports fabric such as this mock eyelet that I used – it does have some degree of 2 way stretch, is not suitable for leggings, & in the case of these shorts, the stretch does not come into play, but there is some drape going on (not all good in this particular pair I’ve sewn!)  The advantage for me making these shorts in this fabric is that I could use my overlocker for a lot of the sewing :-)

I wanted to show the different shapes in different colours, but was severely limited by what I had in my stash- mere remnants – hence the strange colour blocking with an orange rear & red front.  At least I managed to get the contrast pockets which was my intention.

Threshold shorts

Anyway, I would normally make several pairs for testing, but was short of time & opted to make a pair of threshold shorts with all the options: pockets & runderwear.  The advice is to make a plain pair first to check sizing, which is good advice, but time was not on my side.

Threshold shorts

But making these shorts up doesn’t take a huge amount of time even with the wonderful piecing.  I would be very surprised & in a huge amount of awe for anyone who could sew these without referring to the instructions!  OK, the steps might follow some degree of usual process for constructing pockets first before you sew side seams etc, but the many wonderful pieces obscure your usual vision for thinking you know what to do next (well it did for me anyway).  I like that sometimes though, don’t you?  I enjoy being led, instructed & shown something new & exciting.  I always learn a lot sewing Fehr Trade patterns – there are always new techniques. For example, binding the hem.  I used FOE (Fold Over Elastic) which I have used before, but getting the hems bound before sewing the side seams means some canny joins – I am afraid mine weren’t perfect, but since this is the first attempt (of many to come) I am not overly worried. However, as alluded to earlier, I didn’t quite get the FOE to fabric ratio correct considering the drape & slight stretch of the fabric so it’s a bit fluted.

Threshold shorts ( my binding is not particularly classy…)

Look at the curves.  There are curved side pieces & a curved back yoke.  And curved pockets of course.

Threshold shorts

The runderwear (I said it again!) was easy to construct & uses the burrito method for getting a professional gusset (hahaha- why is that funny?)- I used some remnants of wicking supplex.  Yes, even runderwear can have pretty lace edges but Melissa notes in the variations section that you could keep the edges raw as in RTW runderwear.   (btw all my overlocking shows that I didn’t use matching thread – any white showing is the looper threads).    I attached my runderwear to the shorts – as in the instructions –  but didn’t realise in my blind enthusiasm that this would limit access to the back pocket (der brain) – although it is possible to access the back pocket via your shorts leg !  (Probably something you’d only do in the company of very good friends).  The front pockets here would not be very secure, but there is scope in the variations to add zips, velcro to overcome this.

Threshold shorts

I cannot wait to make my next pairs as I adore running shorts.  OK you got me.  I adore workout gear, but particularly anything that gets my legs out into the fresh air.  I have bought some woven fabric for my next pair & have enough to be more in control of the colour blocking this time.  I am not 100% sure about how the fabric will behave so will not link to it until I can say whether it’s a success or not.  But it is purple & green.  Yeah!

So, you can buy the Threshold Shorts here.  There is a discount until the 28 of September if you use the code BERLINMARATHON (Good luck Melissa!!)  and also Melissa has arranged a 10% off  airtex mesh and 2oz technical nylon fabrics at UKfabricsonline with the code UK-FEHR-01  Have a look at what other testers have said about the Threshold shorts at Fehr Trade too.

Happy running!

SB Comino cap

Stripes, dots & flowers all in one – Comino Cap dress by Kitschy Koo

I was lucky enough to be asked to join a pot pourri of different body shapes testing the latest pattern by Kitschy Koo, the Comino cap dress earlier in the summer.   Assured that it was a very quick make, and having been super impressed ( like mostly everyone else who’s made it) by the Lady Skater dress I really could not say no!  In fact I probably gushed and whooped rather a lot!

Comino Cap dress

This dress and top creates a ‘grown on’ or kimono type sleeve for a knit dress/ top. You can choose between a plain bodice or a bustier style sweetheart bodice and the dress has an a line skirt. This really allows you to play around with contrasting fabric and trying to put two fabrics together from my stash was a challenge I took up with glee.  In the end I repurposed some red/ white polka dot that I had bought from Minerva (originally intended for other things) and paired it with some cheap striped/ floral jersey I’d bought from my previous trip to Abakhan.  You don’t need very much for the contrast, so I have enough left of that to make something else.
The red polka dot though has the most amazing drape and even though it is very polyestery, it is a quality fabric, and hangs beautifully and even as an a line dress has a degree of swing.

Comino cap dress

Ok the pattern- I was not disappointed and loved being part of a group testing the pattern via a closed Facebook group- we could interact with each other, see the fabric combos and read about any questions / potential issues encountered.  It was a very dynamic way to test patterns – everyone seemed to chip in and Amanda’s responses were keen, quick, responsive. A thoroughly enjoyable and illuminating experience! A big thank you to Amanda for bringing in me and my body shape, and to the other members of the testing group.

Comino Cap dress

Another huge bonus for being part of such a social media testing group was being able to see what others were making their Comino cap dresses out of- the way others had interpreted using a solid with a print.  There were tops and there were maxi dresses. It was / is inspiring.

SB Comino cap side

Now the dress, and top. I made the dress once, and will easily make it again since it is not only very quick to make is a knit ( and we know how much I love sewing and wearing knits, right) but it is also darn cute. That bodice with the sweetheart contrast- adorable with a capital A.  But at the same time how can something this cute be made out of a knit? It’s so easy ? The sleeves are just part if the bodice so not additional pieces to sew in. They are finished with a bound edge which I did out of contrast, as I also did with the bound neckline.

SB Comino Cap back

 

I am looking forward to making more- tops, plain dresses perhaps but choosing some contrast knits to really play around with which two fabrics to put together. But what I love about this particular combo is that I now have a dress that has spots, stripes and flowers all in one!!!

Now I tested this earlier in the summer & have been catching up with posting about my summer makes – this does actually form part of my summer sewing bender .  Since making it, I have worn it heaps.  Not only is it super comfy to wear whilst rather girlie, it is easy care – wash, definitely no iron, & wear.  What a winner.

Thanks again ! I had a ball :-) AND you just wait till I get my next version organised, cut & sewn. What a blinder that promises to be J

Ultimate Coco

Ultimate Coco weekending

Over the bank holiday weekend I was in Cornwall.  I know.  I get there a bit, don’t I?  Well it helps when your family lives there.   So, as usual, I kept back some recent makes in order to make the most of the scenery down there, & the availability of a tame photographer.  These photos are all taken by my Mum with my new to me DSLR.  It’s extremely exciting – but I feel so ignorant as well.  But, starting simple – the presets are already making me squeal with joy.

This weekend (rather a long weekend- I was there for five days) was only going to be casual- but not overly warm – and my newly made Coco top (my fourth now) was the ideal wear – not only due to its long sleeves & slightly heavier cotton fabric, but also due to its seasiding nature (oh yeah!  can’t resist some themes here!!).

Ultimate CocoThe fabric is genuine Breton fabric bought from Brittany, so kindly organised for me by my IG friend La Mouette Au Sec.  It’s a kind of cotton interlock (I think that is how you describe it), & has a real Breton shirtness about it.  I chose burgundy, as I have never had a burgundy Breton before, & believe me, in my time I have had a ton of Bretons, but only ever navy striped.

Ultimate Coco

I departed from the true spirit of the Breton shirt however, clearly using Tilly’s Coco Top pattern for all apart from the elbow patches.  For these I stole the size & shape from the Deer & Doe Plantain top.  The fabric is a cute ditsy jersey (no longer available) from Clothkits that I have since made another top out of – but more of that another time.

Coco elbow

 

How I love the Coco top – I can whip one up in less than 2 hours start to finish. It’s an overlocker make for me, with just the neck & hems that use either my regular zig zag or coverstitch respectively.

Ultimate Coco

But what about the natty trews? Way hey!  They are another pair of Ultimate Trousers by Sew Over It – this time using a stretch denim.  Oh my but these are comfy.  I have to say that Ultimates are unusually comfortable for a fitted pair of trousers even without any lycra content, but when you add lycra, wow.  Super comfy almost like jeggings (I guess, never having worn any, but they must come close).

Ultimate Coco

Once again I made the Ultimates with a regular lapped zipper – my haberdashery’s invisible zips are ludicrously expensive compared to a 30p regular 8″ zip and in such limited colours too.  I like using lapped zippers so much, it’s so much more predictably finished than an invisible zipper too.

Ultimate zip

I am so addicted to this pattern- it’s another really simple make, once you are confident you know what you’re doing with the fit.  So I’ve got three pairs (& a pair of tester shorts) – but my Twitter friend @Ali_Goddard has 8 pairs!  Yes – she has fallen for Ultimate Trousers bad- but in a good way, clearly.  And that’s just for summer!!

Ultimate Coco

So this is my seasiding outfit for late summer.  I am still verging on Ultimates being my OWOP, but I would need to make a pair for work, & I am not sure I have the time (with other more pressing deadlines to meet).  And I know I need to decide like real soon, as it starts later this week!

Coco party

Tell you what, if I was on hols Coco would be my OWOP pattern – look- I took all four with me to Cornwall, & they all got worn!

As well as the one you’ve just seen there is:

Turquoise Merino CocoSpotty Coco and the nautical Coco Dress

VNA top feature

VNA Top the third

Hello you lovelies!  Another catch up post- this time for the third VNA top I made but forgot to photograph all those weeks ago.  I won’t up much about it, as that’s already done here.

VNA top

But suffice to say, this is my fave version & I have found myself wearing it the most.

VNA top

It’s got wicking blue lycra paired with non wicking drapey “mystic girl” fabric.  I’ve used this before for leggings as well as a running skirt, & I love its quirkiness.   But both of these fabrics have about the same amount of drape, and they are similar thickness – perfect to pair together from a practical point of view.

VNA top

I cut the top out with regard for how the pattern would be placed – here I have mystic lady on my belly, whilst at the back- butterflies & baubles – I like to think they are crystal balls!

I’ve written about the clever design of the VNA top & how you can get different looks in how you use contrast fabric & even mock piping here, if you are interested in more of the VNA top’s  sewing details.

VNA top

What’s it like to wear non-wicking lycra in the heat?  Well, with a style like the VNA that is sleeveless & racer back & with light weight fabric like this that drapes, I wouldn’t know that the mystic lady fabric is prone to superheat & super sweat.  However, some of my other tops, made out of slightly thicker lycra, non wicking again, fit closer to the body & for me are a tad too hot for the hot days – I like a little bit of air flow around my poor suffering bod.  Those I reserve for less steamy days.

VNA top

You’ll see that this version’s blue matches with my Duathlons – but in a subtle way.  Once again, despite the ability to match this top with the other leggings/ running skirt – that is not how I like to wear it – I can’t be doing the whole matchy matchy run kit.  Well.  Not generally.  But I could if I wanted !!

And I also have to add, that these Duathlons have been my most worn summer shorts- perfect length, I love the pockets in the sides too – just right for iPhone to be crammed in to deliver me my happy tunes.  I reckon my Fehr Trade wardrobe’s doing me well for my running style (groan!)

Oh yes.  I have done something insanely stupid.  I have signed up for three half marathons in September, starting with the Great North Run.  Looking back on it dispassionately to understand just why I did it, It seems that my lack lustre & excuse ridden  training over the summer required me to scare my veritable running pants off myself in order to get my lycra clad a*s in gear & get out there & get running.  It’s worked – nothing like fear as a motivator!

No PB predicted mind you, but hopefully I can be in a good place for training better over the winter this time ….we shall see.

Post post addition.  In response to some queries in the comments, this is where I get wicking lycra from-  Ukfabricsonline who just happen to be my sponsor, but I have been buying wicking lycra  from them long before that venture started – they have a mixture of different types- some solids, some animal print (oh yes!) & some less stretchy stuff that is good for looser t shirts & shorts (not leggings.

The blue fabric used in this top was from the Sewing Chest – also supplies wicking lycra.  The crazy lady fabric is not wicking & I bought it from some European site at a very good price (but memory fails me on that one for links, sorry!)

feature hudsons

Rural Hudson Pants

Gawd When I saw these casuals appearing across Instagram even during pattern testing I went weak at my (rural) knees. Is it the unfulfilled dancer in me that could imagine looking all hip & super caj in sweats with style? I envisioned Irene Cara style off the shoulder cut off sweat top (ironically emblazoned with “RELAX” perhaps) & some of the coolest sweats adorning my undancer’s pins.

hudson pants These Hudson pants have been created by   True Bias, who describes her blog as “urban sewing” & therefore I guess in the case of True Bias “urban” reads “uber cool”, because she is.  She has what I think of as nonchalant style – she doesn’t look as if she has to try – to look amazing  – & in inspirational handmade clothing too.  Anyway, in case I appear sycophantic, I’ll move on!

Floral hudson pants

These pants have two lengths: full length & calf length with neat front pockets, wide waistband & leg cuffs. They are described as “The piece of clothing that you will wear all of the time.” (Agreed) and have an “urban fit”.   Being from the West Country I wondered if I qualified, if I could carry it off. Coming from the West Country therefore I brought a rural them to my urban Hudsons. Yep. I went floral.

hudson pantsI went off map a bit & used some light weight jersey that I had bought ages ago from Birmingham’s Rag market. It was destined for a wrap dress that was never fulfilled.   The instructions advise using a mid weight knit with 40% stretch so I knew that I was taking a risk as this could potentially be a bit too light. I think I got away with it though. I’d say the waistband is a little fluted & could do with being made out of something more robust, but I’m not bothered…

hudson pants

I was overjoyed at how easy they are to make. Even including the pockets they whipped up in a couple of hours – but with details like this look far more involved. I used my overlocker for everything apart from the top stitching along the waistband (performed using a narrow zig zag).

Hudson pants

I fancied contrast bands, & originally made these up with a nice flash of red at the top of the pockets (retained) & at calf cuff & waistband. But that only made them look like pyjamas & definitely not “urban” – more nocturnal!

hudson pants

I hastily took off the offenders & replaced with black. I think they look a lot better for doing that (despite fluting mentioned above). I’ve threaded black grosgrain ribbon through the waistband as the waist tie & fasten with a bow. Because.

hudson pants

But am I wearing these all the time? You bet! They have become my go-to change from work garb, my getting up at the weekend but not quite ready to put running clothes on yet garb too.

They are exceedingly comfortable – having a bit more room around the low slung bum than leggings, & with a slightly more relaxed fit than leggings around the thighs too. Worn with my Drafting Top I feel a spot of street dance brewing. And you would be seriously scared (heebie jeebies guaranteed) if I told you the acrobatics I avoided doing when wearing with a simple vest (tank) top!

hudson pants

This is the first time I have brought out my tacky (plastic) boots to wear them with though- just for the photos you understand. Trying to look more …..”urban”.  Just for the poor quality pose.  Normally?  I’ve been wearing them bare foot, padding around the house. Or with flip flops….

There will be some more of these I promise. I will make some up in ponte next, long length for the winter, & by virtue of more limited colours & designs available in ponte they are likely to be more urban (oh dear- I am mixing my definitions of “urban” here, confusing perhaps with “industrial”?!) & less rural. But I shall see what I can do to bring a touch of the country to them J

Have you succumbed yet to these pants/ trews?    What do you think?  Aren’t they just the business?!

making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

How to make a scarf using your overlocker / serger’s rolled hem

If you have got some lightweight fabric left over from a special make, have you ever thought about getting even more pleasure from it and make it into a scarf that you can use to spruce up an outfit?

How to make a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

You need fabric that is light & floaty – from silk, chiffon, satin, polyester, some viscose/ rayons – you will know whether it will behave well as a scarf or not!  I recently made a wonderful scarf back top for a work’s evening event & so loved the fabric I made it out of. But as it’s a bit of a posh top I won’t get to wear it very often.  Using remnants to make it up as a scarf brings it out in the open a bit more often & I can enjoy it in the day!

Now there are all sorts of tutorials for using rolled hem feet on standard machines (the By Hand girls’) (see this one too by Miss P) & even sewing rolled hems by hand (by Colette Patterns).    I like to use my overlocker which has a lovely neat & tidy rolled hem stitch- no special feet, just a few tweaks to the settings from using a normal overlocking stitch.   The benefits of using your overlocker?  That’s easy in my view – it produces the loveliest narrow hem that cuts the edge, rolls it under a narrow wrapping of thread that looks neat & professional.  All in one go.

The hardest part is turning the corners & getting neat right angles, but I’ll show you how I do it – & also give you a back up plan.  What I would advise is that you have a practice- corners & all first on some scrap fabric.  I find I need to try two or three test corners to get warmed up!

So let’s get started .

You’ve got your fabric – what size do you have and how does it compare to a scarf that you already have?  I would say that the smallest scarf I use is gents’ pocket square size – 45cm x 45cm so wouldn’t make a scarf smaller than this.  I tend to opt for a square shape, but have been known to make larger ones at whatever size my fabric is.

With using your overlocker you will lose a smidgeon off each edge- possibly 1/8 “ or so.  I would press your fabric once you have cut it to the size that you want it to be.

1 Rolled hem scarf

I use a three thread rolled hem – one of the standard stitches offered by my overlocker.  I have to set my machine up a bit differently to do this but it’s relatively easy- take out my left needle & twiddle a few dials – I always have to follow my quick thread guide!  It lives under my machine :-)

2 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

Three spools of thread – I am sure you can get different results using different types of threads, but I have not experimented much to feel in a position to advise on options!

Ready to roll it?  Start at one corner of your fabric, placing it so that your overlocker blade will be trimming away about 1/8”  (it doesn’t matter if you trim away more – it just means that your scarf will end up being smaller).

3 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

Sew your first edge with a rolled hem

4 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hemSee the hem forming behind your foot?  Stop with your needle in the last thread of the fabric – ie before you run over the edge.

5 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

Leaving your needle down. Lift the foot up, pulling the stitches that make up the final fraction of the rolled hem just sewn, backwards off the “stitch fingers” (but not too far back)  and pivot the fabric 90 degrees.

6 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem(I’m showing you this having taken my foot off so that you can see those stitch fingers – the two prongs at the back ) .  See this tutorial for another view of the stitch fingers.

I find you get a neater corner if you can balance the amount of “pulling back” off the stitch fingers with making a nice snug start to the beginning of the next rolled hem edge.  The further you pull your fabric back off the stitch fingers, the more loose threads there are hanging around at the beginning of the next corner.  The ideal is that you pull the hem back enough to pivot, but without adding excess threads through too much pulling back.  This is why I always practice first – to get a feel for the right amount of pulling back!

7 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

Away you go & sew the next edge, stopping as you did for the first corner with your needle down in the very last thread of your edge.  Keep your needle down, lift your foot up & gently pull back off the stitch fingers & pivot.  Keep the corner nice & snug to the start of the next edge & carry on as above.  This is how you do the three corners.

9 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

By the time you reach the fourth corner, just keep going, running 90 degrees over the first edge that you hemmed & create a nice long chain.  You will have sealed off the corner & now have a chain to darn back into the rolled hem (on the underside of your scarf).

There you have done it!  Pleased with what you’ve just achieved?

10 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

Back up plan: Finding the continuous corner approach a bit of a faff & giving you inconsistent unreliable results?  No problem!  All you have to do is to sew each edge separately, running over the end so that you have a chain and darning each chain into the four corners.

I hope you found this easy enough to follow!  Now enjoy wearing your lovely hand made scarf.

11 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

Do you think you will now try giving a new lease of life to some special fabrics or even to some of your outfits with swanky new accessorizing?  You could also use rolled hems for making napkins too.  Go ahead & try it – make a scarf using your overlocker’s rolled hem!

Julia cardigan

Perfect summer cover up: Julia cardigan

One of my most worn newly mades this summer has to be a cap sleeved Julia cardigan.  After making a lovely fluffy long sleeved Julia cardigan & loving its style lines, its ease of construction & well, being able to whip up a cardigan without having to develop knitting super powers I had ear marked this as rather a useful pattern.  So if you want to make one this is the Julia cardigan, Mouse House creations, available here on Etsy.

Julia cardigan

As part of my summer wardrobe plan I had planned to make the cap sleeved version – a lightweight breeze inhibitor- out of some very light weight jersey.  Yes, photos of me wearing it were taken on location :-)

Julia cardigan

Now as well as sleeve options, this cardigan also has hem options for the massive circular piece of hem/ collar that envelops the cardigan’s body.  You can either cut two of all hem/collar pieces to make a  double hem (ie it is self faced) or using a single layer, make other arrangements for finishing the raw edge.   I didn’t have enough fabric to make a double hem so I had to go for the single layer & use my overlocker’s rolled hem stitch to finish the edges.

Julia cardiganRolled hem along the front of the collar

I really like the result for such a light weight fabric actually, but top tip if you choose to do it this way – think about the construction of your circular “hem” pieces.

I realised that the collar’s centre back seam needed to be wrong sides together, as it folds over when you wear it.

Julia cardigan

The side hem seams I put together right sides together.  Do you see what I mean?  Looking at the pic below – the cardigan’s collar CB seam is at the top – you can see the edge just curling over, but apart from that you are looking at its right side.  To 5 o’clock & 7 o’clock you can see the side hem seams- wrong sides showing.

Julia cardigan You need to construct this circular piece before attaching it to the cardigan body, so it helps to have this in mind.

Apart from thinking that through, the Julia cardigan is such a dream to make – a quick make- all overlocked seams.  I like this capped sleeve version too & am thinking of making it up as a present for someone in a knit knit for a spot of autumn layering over long sleeved t-shirts.

Julia cardigan

I’ve worn it loads over the ever present Maria Denmark Signer halter dress & tops.  I’ve also used it as a little more layering over sleeveless dresses at work & love that look too.  This has proved to be a wardrobe essential- are you tempted?

Signe top

Signe halter neck tops : holiday supreme plus Giveaway winner

As soon as Maria released the Signe dress & top  I snapped it up, even though I was actually in Darwen at the Minerva meet up. This could not wait until I got home- I used the hotel wifi and placed my order!!

Signe halter neck top
I do not have any halter neck tops, never being a fan of strapless bras, it has not been a clothing choice I have ever made. But being less busty than days of old and of an age where I care less, I whooped when I saw this design – a knit dress ( maxi or knee length ) or top with a halter neck and elasticated slightly at the back. I’d seen that it was a guaranteed quick make and did not need any convincing.

Signe halter topThese beach photos are all taken in Cornwall- divine conditions!  I even swam in the sea without wet suit!

Once another decision was made- that of booking a long weekend in sun soaked Spain, the requirement for one or two halter tops was also established. I raided my stash and found a plain white ( with some strange knobbly seersucker- like stripes to it) which would be useful and would be good paired with a lot of things, including my tomato shorts.

Signe halter top

I also found some fun floral print jersey that I had bought reduced from Clothkits with some money for my birthday which had huge potential as a kooky sun top.

Signe halter top

 

Weird garden fact- those gladioli are “weeds” – I never planted them – they just showed up…

Speedy cutting out and then it was not long before I was sewing. The top has a lined upper bodice which not only facilitates the creation of the all in one piece halter straps/ upper bodice but also affords an extra layer should one decide to avoid the strapless bra….the upper back is kept taught by the addition of some elastic, feeling eminently secure. The top really does come together quickly and the dress takes only a little longer, purely due to there being slightly longer side seams!

Signe dress

Yes I also made a knee length halter dress.  In red & white stripes.  I couldn’t resist.   Another holiday essential.   This feels quite the sultry little number, hugging those curves, yet comfy.  I even traveled home in it after the morning sipping coffee by the pool avoiding thoughts of leaving.

Signe halter dress

These halter necks are so comfy!

Signe halter top (3)

And slightly more robust than wearing a cami.

Signe halter top Styling secret – bad hair day = sun hat

They have been getting plenty of wear, even when not on the beach!  I’ve also made a cover-up that looks great with them- extends their use beyond just sun-catching – I’ll show you that soon.

And thank you to everyone who entered the Giveaway for Lisa Lam patterns.  I have great pleasure in announcing the winner – using http://www.random.org/ 

It’s Liza Jane!! I’ll be in touch to get your details so that we can organise you getting your cute patterns, & you can make Jane that playsuit….adorbs.

cheerleader

Sporty Summer Sewathon: Give me an “oooh”!

When Karen announced the “Sporty Summer Sewathon” I had already an outfit in mind – the concept was perfect, the timing was perfect.  Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? (I think that’s someone else’s catch phrase)

Yes, I may have mentioned that I was planning to sew me up a cheerleader outfit for my friend’s 4th July American themed birthday party.  I had made some early investigations & had captured some inspiration on my Cheerleader chic Pinterest board.  

My colours were to be red & white.

cheerleader

What I hadn’t revealed was that my cheerleader outfit was not going to be purely for fancy dress: I wanted to make it out of running-appropriate fabrics so that I could re-use it.  I have made quite a few things out of sporty wicking fabric from UKFabricsonline, (and yes, I am thrilled that they are one of my sponsors now, but I have been a long standing customer of theirs and would say this regardless).  My plan was to use wicking fabric to make a vest top and a running skirt with shorts a la cheerleader.  Now in the past I have used the mock eyelet to make plenty of tops with (eg here and here)  – this is not suitable for leggings, as it doesn’t have enough stretch.

cheerleader

So when UKFabricsonline started to stock this high quality stretchy lycra I snapped some up.  It is really the most gorgeous quality- slinky & reasonably light weight – but suitable for leggings as well as tops too.   I bought red, white & aqua….just a metre of each – wish I could afford more at the time as it is the kind of fabric you just want to have available for any spontaneous running makes!  This is the fabric that I used for the skort.  And after spotting that a few of these fabrics are out of stock I had a small correspondence with UKFabrics Online & it seems that they are trying to source another supplier, so snap them up while they have them is my advice.  BUT folks – check out the animal print.  You know you want to.  A small digression….

cheerleader

Anyways. Gosh I feel I can really rabbit on sometimes, can’t I?  So the design for my outfit.  Inspired by my Pinterest Board I started with the top.  The easier option.  I used Maria Denmark’s “Just a Tank” pattern, comparing it to a well fitting running vest I already have just for best fit  & added a contrast yoke to it & changed the hemline slightly to match with my running top (it’s a bit shorter & has a slightly longer curved back hem).  The yoke was intended to be more of a “V” shape, but I didn’t draft the “V” sharp enough so with sewing it appears more as a gentle curve.  If I hadn’t mentioned that, you wouldn’t have even noticed would you?

cheerleader top

I used red & white mock eyelet for this.  I also cut some strips of the white & with the long raw edges folded in created binding to embellish the yoke shape with a couple of stripes.  I attached them using my regular machine using a zig zag stitch, attaching them before then sewing the top as per instructions.

cheerleader skirt

Then onto the skirt.  I wanted to make it with integral shorts so used the inner shorts from Jalie skort pattern (2796) & cut them out of the quality stretch lycra in white.  The skirt in my mind just had to be made up with four box pleats of contrasting white amongst a sea of red gorgeousness.  I had started to design my own skirt pattern with box pleats, but due to the negative ease at the top of the skirt & what it did to the fall & lay of the box pleats I would have had to really play around with the drafting in the particular skirt shape I had started with.   So I remembered Peneloping’s Lady Skater pattern hack for her Lady Peggy dress.  I took the skirt pattern from the Lady Skater dress & shortened it considerably.  I then roughly followed Peneloping’s measurements for additional box pleats- I think my white insertions were about 6″.  Oh yes, the fabric I used was the super lovely quality lycra mentioned above, not the mock eyelet – I don’t know if that would have enough stretch at the waistband.  And then I sewed it as a skort, adding a waistband too.

cheerleader 5

Now the intention is to wear this skort running but it is rather bright, isn’t it?  It might evolve into a race day skort I am thinking, with my next run being the Great North Run in September.  And the vest?  That can be paired with other things in my me made running wardrobe, even though I am not usually a fan of go faster stripes.

cheerleader 4

But what about the experience of being a cheerleader for a night?  Well.  My friends it was the best!  I made me some pom poms, rehearsed a few crap moves, worked out that I could get away with chanting, “Hey Beccy, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Beccy”.  The travel to the party was a bit warm to say the least, feeling the need to hide my glory under mac & hat as I walked into town….I may appear to be a bit of an exhibitionist, but only in the right circles and amongst friends!

Disguise

But when I was at the party it was just right!  Wicking fabric must have helped when I came all of a glow under the disco ball.  And I cannot recommend dancing with pom poms enough.  They are the ultimate disco essential & bring out such great moves on the dancefloor (well I thought so anyway!).  They are fun to share too- check out how other people adapt their dancing to pom poms.  Oh yeah.  And dancing with pumps on?  The best.  Why do we dance with heels & hard shoes?!!!

Cheerleader collage

Now whilst I felt my outfit was pretty cool, having made it all myself there were others who had put in a tremendous effort.  From the spaceman (female) complete with papier mache helmet & jet pack to the couple who came as the Boston Tea Party – one as a human tea bag (I kid you not) with the other as a human tea cup.  I could not imagine the car journey – but I am pretty sure they would not have walked into town & certainly could not have hid under a mac & hat!!  There were some amazing outfits & quite a few red, white & blue concoctions which looked brilliant together.  Fancy dress parties are brilliant for group dances – Marilyn, Minnie Mouse, Obama, “Fat” Barbie  & Danny Zuko  as we formed lines to dance the macarena (improved with the addition of pom poms).    It’s certainly party season & I’m loving it!

So to conclude.  This outfit has already been trialled as a dance outfit & was a complete success.  Next stop seeing how it performs (as separates) for running.

Anyone else joining in the Sporty Summer Sewathon?  How’s it going?

VNA top

The VNA top by Fehr Trade

Folks I was mega excited to be asked to test another of Melissa’s patterns. Her patterns are never “run of the mill”. They always feature clever design features & interesting processes to achieve a unique workout garment at the end.

VNA (3)

The VNA is no exception. You have probably seen from the launch that it has been named in reference to a 1930s Vionnet evening gown  –  due to its interesting angles & lines.

VNA (5)

It is a sleeveless top that is made in 3 pieces (plus added bindings). The back is in one piece with a semi cut-away racer back feel around your shoulder blades. The upper front has a v neck & then there is a lower front that curves under the bust & sweeps around the side to come together at the back in a clever coming together of three pointy ends. Arm edgings & neck edgings are completed using self made bindings & joining at right angles, then sewing around them at right angles. A good chance to learn some precision sewing if you haven’t done this before. Nice & technical! Many opportunities for colour blocking & playing with fabrics. I made three versions in my testing:

–          To get even better at sewing the right angled bindings at centre front neckline as well as at the shoulders;

–          To understand how different stretch fabrics behave using the same pattern;

–          Because I loved it & knew it would be very useful as we come into summer running!!

VNA

My three versions then used fabrics of different qualities:

–          A slightly thicker lycra (non wicking) with hologram dots all over it- yellow & pink colour blocking (above – fabric was clearance in the Abakhan shop)

–          The drapiest lycra using slinkier crazy lady lycra with some wicking fabric of similar weights; (I have yet to take pics of this one- soz!)

–          Some wicking “mock eyelet” lycra – mid drape out of the three, less stretch, think some kinds of sports tee-shirts.

VNA (2)

I had no issue with fit- it seemed to work well for me three times, although if anything, the fabric with less drape shows that maybe there is a bit extra room in the arm area & upper chest/ neck edge – maybe? The other two versions fit just fine for me though.

VNA (6)(I didn’t realise the binding on the left had tucked itself inside)

The instructions were very clear & I am always amazed how technical illustrations can be made to look so clear! The trickiest bit is sewing the right angles & Melissa advises sewing them first separately to fix them in place, then attaching the rest of the binding. I used my straight stitch machine to get in there to make a nice accurate finish. I can’t say I hit the mark every time. That was one of the reasons for making more than one – I was determined to get a better right angle finish!

VNA (7)

Constructing this top was a delight- again. I am so loving Melissa’s patterns- they are like jigsaw puzzles & the first time you make it you are wondering just what happens next! I used my overlocker for most of it – using my straight stitch machine for setting/ machine basting. My coverstitch & I fell out big time while sewing one of the hems so I reverted to twin needling ….

VNA (9)

The design, as I said, inspires customisation big time, & as well as colour blocking, I also made a single colour VNA top, but a lot of binding out of the yellow hologram lycra & used some of it as faux piping along the lower front. I have to say this feels the most sporty bit of clothing I’ve ever made!

VNA (8)

And I’ve worn two out of the three tops so far – the crazy lady version (sorry to tease you, but I will take pics soon – promise!) & the blue piped version. Both are functional & comfortable as well as “just a little bit different”!  I haven’t worn the (almost headache inducing) orange/ yellow version as the fabric to me feels a bit warm for our current heatwave!  It’ll be brought out though….

And Melissa is offering a 10% discount until June 30th using this code –  LASEREYES

Available here for download.