Category Archives: Adventures in Overlocking

Comparing three Bronte tops

I was a bit late to join the Bronte top brigade, but am I glad that I did?

The Bronte top by Jennifer Lauren, as you may be aware,is designed for knits, and its most defining characteristic is the cutest envelope neck – well that’s what I call it, reminiscent of baby vests. This neckline is so flattering!  But it is also a joy to sew (but more of that later).   The top is designed to enhance your natural assets, & is shaped to accentuate your waist, rather than a straight down tshirt.  Narrowish sleeves – I made the long sleeved version as this is a winter top for me, it was destined to provide some good solids for wearing throughout the season, and allow me to keep my print skirts in rotation.

Bronte topBronte topBronte top

I have made this three times, out of three different jerseys and what I found intriguing is how they all behaved differently.  Well of course that is not rocket science, but when I was choosing my fabrics online, I did not think about performance, I just assumed they would all fit the bill.   [Hint, they did not!!!]   I chose them all from Minerva, having made things previously out of Minerva jersey, which can be incredibly reasonably priced, the scrooge in me hunted out some more interesting looking jersey bargains.

I used this blue viscose jersey, a red jersey, and an ecru jersey with an interesting texture.

Bronte top

My first Bronte top was made using the blue & was a huge success.  The neckline is such a clever feature – not only looking darn cute but also if you are a tshirt newb, it’s a great way to get the neckband on without the hassle of “how much stretch” as the neck band is attached as one of the first steps – to the front & back separately.  My only frustration in sewing it, was in using my Coverstitch machine to top stitch the seam allowance down – my machine (OK, I shouldn’t blame my machine, but the person steering it!) did not want to keep straight & neat, so I have to say I avoided this step in my next versions, no topstitching at all, just a hearty press with the iron.

Bronte top


If it wasn’t for my Coverstitch issues, my blue Bronte top would have been a very quick make.  The sleeves are inserted flat, then sewn closed with the side seams.  I forgave my Coverstitch machine enough to allow it to hem the sleeves and top itself, and it did that without fuss (thank goodness).    Apart from hems, I sewed all of it with my overlocker.

The neckline is secured using invisible stitches or buttons.  Any opportunity to add a pop of button would not be avoided by me.  Red in the case of the blue top, seeking suitable candidates from my button jar.

Bronte top

So feeling plumped up on how well the Bronte goes together, and how well it fits (nice length too, both sleeves and body will certainly keep me sung this winter), I cut out two more, the red and the ecru.  If they were closer in colour, I would have sewn them in parallel, such was the confidence I had in blasting through their construction quickly.  But overlocker threads were from two extreme colour groups, I had to sew in series.  The red was the next one to be made, and without the Coverstitch fuss proved that this really is a quick make – an hour and a half tops.    The fabric had a dense quality to it – I thought it would be nice & cosy as I was making it.

Bronte top

I then made the ecru version, and was really loving the fabric.  I used the wrong side as the right side, so that it’s got more nubbly texture on show.  Attaching buttons was the last step, and something I hadn’t quite got to when I took these photos (it was pre hem too).

So what I found was that the red Bronte top is like a straight jacket!

Bronte top

The sleeves are like plastercasts !  hahaha!

Bronte top

You see I made no reference to its stretch factor.  This fabric is pretty stable, or certainly stable enough to not want to give in the right places for a body flattering top like the Bronte top.

Bronte top

How I chuckled when I realised my mistake.  I have only tried to wear it for an afternoon, and then couldn’t wait to change out of it.  Maybe it’ll be better with short sleeves.

Bronte top

The ecru version though has loads of room & is very comfy to wear.

Bronte top

If anything it has come out slightly larger than the blue one.   It just goes to show that this thing I have about not all fabric behaves the same,  is something that I continue to fall foul of!!  I’m not the only one am I?

Duathlon capris

Funki runners #2

It’s more funki runners! Enter the peacock pair and matching sportsbra (read on below, you think I’m showing that at the top of this post?)

Duathlon and OliviaAnyone remember the Green Goddess?

I did warn you back when I shared my first pair of Funkis that there were more delights to come, and here is part two. Again, disclosure- Funki Fabrics sent me this fabric to review.

Again, I made the Capri length Duathlon leggings by Fehr Trade since, as you know, it’s such a damn fine pattern- pocket for iphone & keys. Dead quick sew. Love them ordinarily but in PEACOCK feathers? Adoration!!


I have been running & done workouts a few times in the pair of leggings I made first & they have been excellent in terms of comfort & get lots of comments! And I wore these this week for an early morning 7am “assault session” (kind of circuits, different every week), having got them out the night before did not really think about them as I blearily put them on at 630am & headed down to my group.  It did not occur to me how others’ bleary eyes would be assaulted by my peacocks hehehe!  They got noticed!  I think it was before I had even got a “hello” there was a “wow”  they’re cool!  You made them, right?!”

I don’t know about you, but when I make exercise wear I am interested in using performance fabrics that wick moisture away from your bod.   I have not yet put my roseskin pair to the test in temperatures other than our mild October temperatures we have been experiencing, so do not feel qualified to have any observations about how they perform in heat or even in colder conditions.


Melissa is happy to wear non technical fabrics for anything up to a half marathon, so that’s a good rule of thumb for me. I am considering making exercise wear in different lengths for different conditions – so am planning to make a short pair of running leggings for the summer (thigh length), whilst also planning a long ankle length pair for the winter (my next make!).  The two pairs I have made so far, including this pair, are capri length which is ideal for autumn.

Duathlon (7)Using that flash of solid makes it easier to find the pocket!

 I am told that the Funki fabric is not technically wicking (which I thought anyway) – however, it is superb quality- it feels so nice & soft against the skin & its stretch and recovery is superb. They’ve recently got a blog post on exercise wear, here.  The fabric is printed on demand & from what I’ve seen & how it’s worn to date, the printing is quality printing- it doesn’t stretch out & doesn’t fade (so far). So just as a tiny technical update on the fabric from the suppliers, it’s ultra chlorine resistant, pilling resistant, excellent UV protection, shape retention with two way stretch.   Interesting – makes me think this would be superb swimsuit fabric. Hmmm.

Jalie 2563 It could be a swimsuit, but why does it feel so exposing?

And there was enough left over to have a go at making a sportsbra using Jalie 2563. I tried it on as I was making it so that I got as snug a fit as possible to squash them bewbs down (& I think it’s successful). This is a good shaped top with a racer back so it’ll be interesting to see how it performs in the field as it were.

Jalie 2563

I meant to give it a go before writing about it, but sadly didn’t get around to it, just been jumping around in the house to test the bounce. It’s true. But may I stress….this will not see the light of day – it is purely underneathies that could reveal a bit of strap, not more, under a baggy vest perhaps. I am definitely not going cropped out in the big bad world where I cannot crop out the bits I’d rather leave out.


Now what about the green top? Well that’s another Olivia oversized tee from Maria Denmark patterns. I have made this quite a few times as I find it a really comfy exercise top – dolman sleeves, baggy enough with a waistband. Its’ made out of wicking “mock eyelet” that I bought from UKFabricsonline. Good price.  This week’s training I wore my magenta Olivia with these peacocks & I have to say it looked even more awesome than the green combo.

This fabric makes me so happy, can you tell???!

And thanks for the advice on the overlocker blade change – it appears it takes two screws.  I shall be on it!

Hudson Pants

Arctic Hudson Pants

Oh my, I cannot believe that it’s been over a week since I last posted anything on my blog.  You know that means that I’ve had serious stuff taking me away from fun.  And it’s true.  I always knew November was going to spawn a monster (to quote the Moz – who, incidentally I shall be seeing later this week- oh yeah!!  For a few hours on Saturday I shall be a head over heels obsessive) And yes, the monster was just a heavy work month which impacted my energy levels & time to be creative, but is now behind me.  Go monster, back to where you belong, a hostage to kindness and all that.  So let’s have it.  Let’s get this show back on the road.  And what better make to showcase than my successful winter version of the Hudson Pants.

Hudson Pants

You see I’m feeling a bit lazy (& tired, or should that be tired & as a result lazy? ) at the moment, and seem to be grabbing the same clothes to wear at home. And as I am working from home more these days, that also means that my sartorial elegance during the week has taken a nose dive, but still rather a handmade nose dive & one that could be argued still has elements of style & colour for all that I am favouring my Jamie jeans and “joggers”.

Hudson pants

It’s these new “joggers” that I am going to share here , since I made them aaages ago. Of course they are going to be more stylish than your usual sweat pants as they are the Hudson pants, neat design, tapered legs with a cuff & cute front pockets – all crying out for use of contrast to perk them up. So I started with some extremely warm fluffy fleece backed sweatshirting from UKfabricsonline (very reasonable price) & wanted to try out some of the ribbing at Plush Addict, as I had never used it & had seen people put it around neckbands & was rather curious.

Hudson pants

(And there are sooo many colours to choose from folks!)

Hudson cuffs

So grey sweatshirting already bought, I opted for the turquoise ribbing. Of course. When it arrived I was immediately captivated by how soft it is, but that’s by the by.  And when you’re using it for cuffs & waistbands, a little goes a long way, so I think I ordered a metre of this lovely stuff & have plentiful supplies now for other neckbands & waistbands, cuffs, the lot!

Hudson Pants

So having made the Hudsons before in floral jersey, (which were also my go-to come home from work change of clothing) I felt optimistic about making a longer length version.   Due to limited stretch with the jersey I was careful to sew smaller seam allowances, wondering if I should have gone up a size (which I didn’t & it was all fine).  Foolishly I managed to sew the pockets wrong (too cocky by half) & had to unpick & watch my notches. But that was all that emerged as an issue …until I got to the waistband. You might think it looks a bit uneven & dare I say lumpy & shoddy? Well, my overlocker really didn’t like dealing with the many layers of thick fleecy fabric – sewing the waistband ribbing onto three layers of sweatshirting at parts of the pockets was not its idea of fun, & it told me so in its deeds.

Hudson pantsIt really did not like sewing through all that.  It was not pretty.  And is still not particularly pretty.

I almost looked into changing the blade, but that would have been extreme serger maintenance, although possibly it’s time by now. It has seen many thousands of serger miles. Any advice on serger / overlocker blade sharpening?

Hudson PantsAs for these Hudsons, gee whiz, but they are cosy & comfy. I don’t feel as if they are particularly flattering, but who cares. They wrap themselves around my legs & I feel fully blanketed up. This is thick sweatshirting & it feels as if I am wearing tights plus trousers, that’s how warm my legs are, when snuggled in these narrow legged trousers. I love the turquoise details, even though I can’t bring myself to look too closely at the waistband. I think turquoise lifts what would otherwise be too boring a pair of sweats, I mean grey deserves to have some fun, doesn’t it?

So, how many pairs of these do I need if I am relying on them to see me through my autumn/ winter evenings, that is the question!

And, any thoughts on overlocker/ serger blades, please let me know! Thank you….

Julia cardigan

Cosy autumn layers

I mentioned a few posts back that I had not been a totally selfish sewer recently. I had a few family birthdays that I have been sewing for, & have decided to share a little combo I made for my lovely Mum in September.  (Yep, I am a bit late writing this up!)


First of all I had made her a cap sleeved version of the Julia cardigan by Mouse House creations. I knew my Mum would like the idea of an extra layer for autumn, that she could wear with her favourite long sleeve t-shirts. She used to wear waistcoats & has even crocheted herself a sleeveless bolero recently so I took the risk that it would fit into her current wardrobe. I’d snuck in a wear of my own sleeveless/ capped sleeve version in the summer to see if she would remark on it & I think she did, but it seems such a long time ago now that I can’t remember! This was a surprise, & I made it out of a blue cotton mix sweater knit (again from Abakhan in the rummage section, bought in the summer when I visited for the last time *sob* when my youngest graduated.)

Julia cardigan

As with my Jenna cardigan, I used the reverse of the sweater knit (reverse stocking stitch side) as the outside as I liked the texture & knew my Mum would.

What is there to say about it. I’ve written about making it up in earlier versions of my Julias. This is the capped sleeve version & I had enough fabric to make a double hem so that it has a nice neat & solid finish.


I tested it out for blog photos, but it turns out that I didn’t have to as my Mum bravely modelled it. Truly, this is a big thing, she absolutely hates having her photo taken & wants to remain anonymous, but knows how much better clothes look when they are modelled on real people. And it gave my Dad another opportunity to use his new camera with a willing victim subject! (As long as she could hide her face.)


But what is that she is wearing it with? Yes, the skirt is something she made recently, which brought her sew-jo back to life.  I think she sill prefers knitting & crochet these days, but it is good to see that my sewing guru can still be tempted to put her foot to the pedal & whip up something out of a remnant!


But the funny thing is that I’d heard her muse about making a pencil skirt & thought that I could make her a lovely knit version (like Mabel).   I’d bought her a metre of lovely charcoal ponte from my local fabric shop  I thought I could be irritatingly clever & combine a pencil skirt with a stable knit & create arguably *the most comfiest skirt* she could ever hope to wear. However when I consulted her, she liked the idea of a long skirt to wrap her feet in during sofa time & also liked the idea of it being a gored skirt.

Knit Maxi skirt

Well, I brushed up on my maths & designed a six gored skirt that would fit my Mum’s measurements & would also be accommodated by just 1 m x 1.60m of fabric (there’s not much to my Mum!). If you are interested in how I did this, I will take you through my rudimentary drafting steps! (Apologies about the untechnical drawings!)

Key measurements to take:

Finished garment hip, waist, and finished length .   (ie body measurements plus desired ease. I made sure Mum sat down & we measured the “comfy” measurements in that way)

I wanted to make a 6 gore skirt and with it being an elasticated waist, the waist was going to be the same as the hip measurement, but gathered up when the elastic was attached. This allows enough room to get the skirt on over your hips without a zip or other closure. So the width of the top of my gore at the waist edge was finished hip measurement divided by 6 plus a seam allowance each side.

Then I measured the vertical length of the gore (at right angles to the waist edge)- the finished length plus desired hem allowance.


Finally to calculate the hem width I made it as wide as I could get it out of the fabric’s width, 160cm and divided 160cm by 6.  But to draw your pattern- easiest option is to halve your horizontal measurements & draw half of it on a folded piece of pattern paper like below.


I drew one piece- the gore- as for this skirt would be cut out 6 times, but you could make a 4 gore skirt along similar principles.


Cutting out in theory should allow you to cut three pieces with the fabric folded across its width.  In theory.  I am sure I had to finangle it a bit….

Elastic waist

Once I had six pieces I sewed them all together then attached the wide elastic (cut to the comfy waist measurement plus a small overlap) – using Melissa’s way. Then hemmed it. Apparently my Mum loves wearing it & it has survived the wash along the way.

Knit maxi skirt

Here is my attempt at styling it before I gave it to her & before I knew that she would brave the crazy photographer!

Dolores top

Dolores Top Dr Jacobi style

When I wrote about my first forays into making the Dolores top & dress I think I exuberantly shared the fabric that I had in mind for making my autumn Dolores top – one with long sleeves.  The fabric in question was this wild fantasmagorical tropical viscose jersey , or large vibrant floral, as it is described online.  I had just bought it & received it as I wrote that last Dolores post, & was overcome with spontaneity to get on & make it for wearing now.

Dolores top This has to be one of the brightest autumn/ winter tops I have made for a long time.  It rocks the tropics!  Which is why I have dedicated it to Dr Jacobi, he who transformed his Twin Peaks Hospital consulting room into a Waikiki  paradise.  And Twin Peaks has been on my mind recently (not that it ever left my heart) with the news that a new series is going to be on air in 2016.


YouTube Preview Image

Having been huge devotees of the series from its original screening, such that Tuesday nights were never the same once season two came to its unnerving end, we are beyond ourselves with excitement.  It is so good on so many levels (many of which I have yet to understand – part of its brilliance), & I love that we watched it when my children were babies & now they have both become huge fans, watching it with us, as we re-watch the series on DVD.  {Happy sigh}

So onto Dolores.  What a stellar top.  But you know that anyway.

Dolores top Its shape makes me want to show off my batwings!

You know I’ve said before what a speedy simple make it is.  And I was thinking that this really is a great beginner’s pattern if you ever wanted to start sewing with a simple knit pattern.


Dolores top

I can remember neck bands causing me so much trouble when I first tried making t-shirts – getting the right amount of stretch.  Whether to sew it on after both shoulders are sewn in a loop, or close one shoulder, then add neck binding, then close the other shoulder. The Dolores neck band is applied to the front and the back separately before either shoulder is sewn- it makes it simple to sew.  The sleeves are sewn flat, with the option to pleat or gather the sleeve head to fit.  (I always pleat because gathering would involve another step & you know I am generally as lazy as I can get away with being).

Dolores top

See this is what it looks like in normal wear, when I resist the urge to fly … another great feature with patterned fabric is that this top has no discernible front & back.  Today the front looks like this.  Another day I could swap & have this as the front….

Dolores top

So the fabric is lovely.  It’s said to be a viscose 4% spandex jersey & feels nice & warm – it’s got a reasonable drape but would not be suitable for leggings I don’t think.  Not enough stretch.  PJs though?  They would be groovy, & cosy, wouldn’t they?  I chose it because I am a sucker for large bold bright prints that remind me of the type of environment in which a hummingbird would be at home.  Plus it’s got a teal/ turquoise background- that is so much  *my* colour.

Dolores top

And this is how I wore it on a semi mufti day to work.  It does also look exceedingly good with another pair of Ultimates I have yet to show you…..coming soon!

So it’s the weekend- at last.  I hope you all have great weekends planned.  I have barely sewed all week, & not last weekend either, so I am really looking forward to getting back on it.  And catching up with blog reading too.  It has just been a crazy few weeks.

Feel free to share your Twin Peaks exultations in the comments too!!

Happy sewing & making :-)


Funki duathlons

Funki runners#1

Well hello!  I would like to introduce you to my new funki legs.

Funki duathlons

These pins are being motivated by the joy that a new pair of groovy leggings can bring.  I mean when you have leggings like this, they have just got to be shared with the world, right?  They can’t languish in the cupboard but have to get running!

Funki duathlons

Starting backwards here, aren’t I?  With the finished result for a change.  So let’s carry on in that vein.  These are my newest running leggings using Fehr Trade’s Duathlon pattern- capri length.  I love this pattern – it is such an easy make plus it has pockets.  That is one big essential for running kit.  Pockets.  And these pockets are optimally sized for an iphone & keys (one pocket each side).

Funki duathlons Cunningly camouflaged pocket- but it is there!

OK there’s a little interruption of my sleek silhouette when my car keys are lumping out of one thigh & my iphone creates a rectangular shell-like structure on the other, but they are secure enough & it’s a small price to pay for not having to wear a bumbag, & until the weather declines, I refuse to wear my running jacket for all that its pockets are roomy & secure.

Funki duathlons

And I made these in an evening.  Score.

Funki duathlons

So time for to answer that question you most want answered.  The fabric!  Yes it is awesome isn’t it – it’s animal print in black & white with the addition of red roses & carnations.  What a killer combo.  It rocks don’t you think?  It is going to help me pack those miles in this autumn.  It’s from Funki Fabrics who approached me asking me if I would like to try some of their fabric.  Well of course I said yes!  I mean, I could only think running gear, that was all I had in mind.  The hardest part was narrowing down my favorites.

Funki duathlons

So I sent back a shortlist asking for samples and I was so glad I did this – in some way.  The good thing is that you can get a true idea of scale & colour – for real.  So getting the samples was also disappointing because I wanted them all!  They were just as brilliant in real life & completely met my expectations. Discount the plain juvenile (I asked for a sample of the superheroes, I mean Darth Vader, Batman & Spidee?  My boys young men would think I was so cool.  For a minute, then laugh at me for being ridiculous )    But that didn’t stop me having fun with some of my other choices.  I am going to surprise you with my others as I make them up, oh yes!  You ain’t seen nothing yet.

What I thought was fascinating about Funki Fabrics is that all the designs are custom printed on this lovely lycra.  It is not wicking so not technically suitable for very long runs, but for general running, that most of us do, maybe 10k or so, in “normal” weather conditions it would be fine & dandy. And I could imagine shorter versions for summer would also be great….

funki fabrics samples

Yes, custom printed which means that the samples arrived as specially printed rectangles on strips of fabric.  With white borders.  And this is applied to the lengths of fabric you order as well.  I ordered one metre & it was printed on a piece of lycra, a 1mx 1.45m with a white border.  And one of my choices was half a metre.  Again, specially printed, a piece of fabric with a white border and a 1.45m x 0.5, rectangle of groovy print captured inside.

Funki duathlons Is this just too funky with my Jungle January  XYT top?

Funki duathlons Channeling Sweaty Betty at all?

Now Funki do offer a free sample service, as discussed, but there’s got to be a limit & with all of that temptation?  I took so long shortlisting.

Funki duathlons

This week I heard that Funki are now offering something totally wild – you can buy a collection of designs in a single transaction as a sample sheet!

Funki duathlons

Multiple designs have been selected and printed onto a single piece of fabric  – it’s a great way to see loads of the designs  (in this case the first on offer is the autumn collection) all on one piece.  Now those leggings would be super Funki!But then, just wait until I sew up my other fabric.  Wowsers.

What are the funkiest leggings you have?  What pics & embellishments adorn your pins?

Hope you’re having a great weekend all.


Londinium and an orange cocoon cardigan

So I said in my last post that I feel like a cardigan experimenter, & here’s another!  Well more of a cloak-igan.  This is my October Minerva make & I gave it a test drive on a recent trip to the Big Smoke, so I’ve chucked in a few snaps about some sights I saw at the end.  If you are at all interested.  No obligation as always.

So let’s talk cardigans.  Or cocoons.  It started with the fabric, this burnt orange knitted mohair blend. Brought to my attention by the lovely Manju at the Minerva Meet up way back in the summer. You might know me by now to realise that I could not pass this up. OK, so orange is less my colour, but a sweater knit fabric for me equals cardigans that I don’t have to knit.

I had a few ideas about what to make – perhaps another Julia cardigan or even the new Jenna by Muse patterns. But in the end I had enough fabric to make this beauty from Burdastyle- the Cocoon Cardigan 11/2013 #107.

cocoon cardi

It’s a simple raglan sleeved cocoon style cardigan of cloaklike proportions. It’s HUGE. It has inseam pockets too. Easy sewing though. I used my overlocker for practically all of it – even attaching the neck/ hem band as if it was a t-shirt neckband – sewing the band into a circle, then folding in half wrong sides together and stitching it on that way o the body of the cardigan.

cocoon cardi hem

The fabric is very light & could really stretch out of shape. That’s why I think it worked pretty well with this pattern because the hem/ neckband is interfaced & therefore forces the cardigan to behave & keep its cocoon shape – it even serves the function of slightly pulling the cardigan’s body in a bit.

cocoon cardigan back

At times it felt that there was almost too much cardigan for attaching to the hem /neck band without gathering – however, this fabric is mega forgiving in that respect & allowed me to manipulate it into place.

cocoon cardigan

I had to do the same with the cuffs though – this is not part of the pattern. The pattern just gets you to make a hem at the sleeve hems – but you can see that this did not work very well at all for this type of fabric. After hemming with a triple zig zag stitch on my regular machine, I hated the trumpet splayed effect & cut it off.

Cocoon cardi cuff

I cut my own cuff bands with the grain running vertically to keep the stretch in check, & applied them as I did the hem/ neck band.

cocoon cardi cuff

Worked a treat.

So my cardigan did me well in London when I went visiting last weekend – just got a couple of pics. You can see it is REALLY LONG!

cocoon cardi

But as a layering light weight jacket it is perfect. I felt snug but not overly hot.  Works the day to night styling too!

cocoon cardi

If you want a blanket-type cocoon – this fabric would be too light weight.

I can see it’s going to work well with skinnies as well. It really isn’t my usual type shape to wear, but I love it! And I might be an orange convert- it looks so fantastic with navy. And it must be the colour for October don’t you think? Although I notice this fabric also comes in yellow if you fancy another kind of citrus!

So these photos were taken on location.  The very first one, in the thriving spice-scented…

brick lane We wandered around, but it was too early to eat & too late to shop- I did notice the odd fabric shop there which appeared to be Aladdin’s caves crossed with the wardrobe from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Brick lane

I have come across tips for “fashion bloggers” to find interesting backdrops &  graffiti to base photoshoots around & around this area there were so many examples of incredible street art.  But I was too bashful for those that were in reach.  This plainly was not within reach!

My reason for visiting was to go to the Globe with my school friends, something that was a brand new experience for most of us.  We scoffed first of all at rather a cool brunch at Kings Cross – Caravan. I had no idea it was right next to St Martin’s.  The photo with the fountains was taken right outside.  And the brunch has not managed to disappear from my consciousness, such a wonderful taste treat – some kind of spicy cornbread combo , eggs, black beans.  Set us up right good & proper for the hilarity at the Globe.


Now I studied a few Shakespeare plays at school & am not a complete heathen, however, I had no idea that a Shakespeare comedy could be laugh out loud funny.  And laugh out loud funny without having studied it to know the “in jokes” or cleverness of the Bard.  We saw “A Comedy of Errors” & it was genuinely one of the funniest plays I have ever seen.  Slapstick & silliness.  Great acting & the intimacy at the Globe allows  facial expressions to play a real part in the performance for everyone.  There were times when it felt as if Fawlty Towers had taken a step back into Elizabethan time.  We sat in the posh bit ;-)  We had no way of knowing that it wouldn’t be raining on an October weekend when we booked it 6 months ago!


Yes, up there.  So after a rollicking good time at the Globe we wandered along the River, noticing that the Golden Hind was sitting on a filmy sea of green

Golden Hind

then taking tea with an amazing view at HMS Belfast.


Our goal was to check out the Poppies at the Tower of London – the Bloodswept Lands and seas of Red. 

Poppies at the Tpwer

Marking 100 years since Britain’s involvement in the First World War, this installation of ceramic poppies takes your breath away in its beauty & poignancy.  Each poppy represents a British life lost on the battlefield during the war.


Work in progress, it grows.  I thought it was beautiful.  Find out more here if you are interested.

London is just so exciting.  Every time I visit I see something new, yet feel ever more comfortable – even if I am the Country mouse.  And guess what?  I shall be seeing London’s sights from a whole different perspective next April as I run around them in the Marathon!!!!!!!!  Yes.  I was freaked out to get a place in the ballot.  Guiltily so.  This is my first time entering the ballot.  I consider it to be a sign …. but more of that another time.

muse Jenna cardigan

Call me the cardigan experimenter, The Jenna Cardigan by Muse Patterns

I admit it, I had a stroke of luck when Kat approached me & asked if I would like to sew the first of her patterns, the Jenna Cardigan.  I mean,  we all know how long it takes me to knit anything, especially a cardigan.  (Answer: about a year) How else am I going to satisfy the warm’n’wooly aspects of my wardrobe with a no-buy RTW pledge?

Jenna Cardigan

So I have sewn and compared two cardigan patterns prior to the Jenna.  Simplicity 2154 and McCalls 6708.   And my conclusion I think was that I would like a combination of the two in terms of fit & finish.  I also love the Julia cardigan, having made a couple of those now that get worn almost solidly.  But for a classic layerable & wearable under coats cardi?  Enter Jenna.  I must caveat this with the fact that I have *so far* only sewn one version, so my thralls might well be based on fluke, a full moon, or the ambient temperature on the living room rug as I cut it out.  But people I am seriously impressed.

Jenna cardigan

The Jenna cardigan, in case you have not seen other fabulous versions, gives you options: sleeve length, body length (waist or hip length) & it gives you the opportunity to include if you wish a cute gathered front yoke.  Coo.  I did.  Because I haven’t got a cardi with a cute pretty gathered yoke.  And it’s just too perfectly quaint.

Jenna cardigan

I found some grey “sweater knit” of some description that I had in my stash.  I thought it was some yukky acryllic but when I came to work with it, changed my mind, suspecting it has some cotton in it.  And probably a degree of synthetics, but no way as high as I had initially thought.  I sewed it with the wrong-side out so that the “garter stitch” finish was on the outside.  I’ve done this for something else I’ve sewn recently & will show you soon. I like the nubbly effect this gives & thinks it elevates the appearance from “dull” synthetic-cotton  mix  to “interesting & artisan” cotton-synthetic mix.  And cutting the waist length version does not need a whole load of fabric, which is another bonus- it’s quite an economical little make, even with long sleeves.  The deep waistband helps keep pieces (apart from the sleeves) from being that long.

Jenna Cardigan

So, once cut & started to be sewn I was enjoying the process.  I accidentally ignored notches & sewed the yoke pieces upside down (doh!)  so unpicking a top-stitched, yoke with gathering & almost perfectly matched thread in a sweater knit was not the easiest, but that’s life when you are over confident ;-)

Jenna Cardigan

Apart from that I had a simple sew & loved how it all came together.  I did have to narrow the arms a little bit once I had the chance to try it on.  I also shortened the sleeves a little too, but don’t you think that’s a good design principle as one of the worst things is to have sleeves that are too short?  I would much rather have sleeves too long & swaddling my wrists in layers.  But hey, when you are making it yourself, you can get the sleeve length the right length to suit you!  Score.

Jenna cardigan

So this is the first pattern by Muse Patterns, & it’s a very welcome entry into my sewing repertoire.  The cardigan is truly fulfilling my cardigan ambitions.  The only thing possibly I would even consider adding would be the welt pockets from McCalls 6708.  But this pattern has now officially usurped the other two.  As far as the instructions go, new pattern company & all that.  I found them just right (OK, even if I proved that I didn’t read them properly!  It is my fault, not the instructions’).  I think if you are comfortable sewing knits, you should progress to cardigans.  You don’t have to use an overlocker (although I always do whenever I get the chance).  The construction is very similar to the Renfrew in terms of hem bands & sleeve cuffs to provide a nice edge, but you also have to introduce the button band which is actually no big deal, even if you think it is going to be!   Before I made cardies I always imagined the button band would be where I faltered, I thought it would play up, stretch out of shape and drag under my buttonhole foot.  In this pattern, the button band is interfaced which helps a whole lot in terms of nice neat finish when wearing, but also when sewing buttonholes.  And if your fabric is thick, fluffy/ open weave or anything else that will cause you problems with buttonholes, then you can use snap fasteners, hooks & eyes, or even turn some loops.   But simulate it first and try a practice piece as it might not be as bad as you think.

Jenna cardigan

So this cardi was originally a tester if I am to be honest, before I bring in the wool jersey.  I had to make sure I knew what I was doing & what I had to be careful about next time (paying attention!).  But when  this cardigan came together & I had buttons to choose I thought it was the perfect backdrop for some ceramic buttons a friend had brought me, a while ago.


Who cares if one button cost more than the sum of all the other materials, these arty crafty buttons go down a storm on such a plain backdrop.

So, it has been worn a lot.  I don’t think it looks second rate (which I think my others do).  The next version of this is more than likely going to involve my special wool jersey that is *one of those* fabrics wrapped away for *the perfect* make.  I can’t think of anything better to do with it than to make a cardigan that will be truly practical & pretty.  Thank you Kat !  Here’s the link to the pattern where you can see a bit more about the design and other variations.

dolores top

Dolores top and dress- batwing perfection!

Oh Dolores! The most cute baby girl has given her name to rather a gorgeous batwing collection: dress, top and tunic.

This is the batwing top of dreams – the one. I have been lucky enough to have been gifted a SoZo original & wear it such a lot,

so that when Zoe hinted at producing it as a pdf sewing pattern, I was eager to say the least. And then when asked to be a tester I did not hesitate to squeal “oh yes, yes yes!”

The Dolores batwing can be sewn as a top, a tunic length (great for leggings) or a sultry dress- with short sleeve or long sleeve options. I gave it a whirl as a short sleeve top & the long sleeved dress. Zoe promised that it would be a quick make & she is right- I whipped up both of these in just a couple of hours.


I used some extremely light weight jersey – it must have some viscose content- it’s very thin & very drapey – for the top. In turquoise. It’s such a cool colour :-) And hold onto your seats- those of you with a nervous disposition, the fabric for the dress is rather……..


….floral!!!  It’s the same fabric I used for my rural Hudson pants bought from the Birmingham Rag market. It had less stretch than the turquoise & was pulled to its extreme when sewing the neckband – but it survived!  (Since me making this, Zoe has revisited the neckband grainline for less stretchy fabrics, so it shouldn’t be something you need to think about!)

dolores top

The pattern itself is space saving- only 12 printed pages of A4. How about that? The front & the back is the same- just add neckband & chosen arm finish (long sleeve or cuff).   I followed the instructions to the letter (as that is what I was there for- what I was testing – but with such logical instructions as these, how else could I have done it?)

dolores dress

Process follows these lines:

Attach neckband, sew shoulders, attach sleeves/cuff, sew side seams, hem.

dolores top

I used my overlocker for all but the hem- & in this case I followed Zoe’s recommended three step zig zag – just to see – & I liked the control you get for hemming right up to the edge of the fabric- & how convenient it is -no rethreading for a twin needle, & also no lugging of coverstitch machine onto table (oh my Gawd, that is so revealing! Just how lazy does that seem!! But if time is of the essence, sometimes you want to know what your options are & then choose accordingly.) But let’s get serious – my goal when making these was primarily to test the instructions so that included giving other methods a whirl that I’ve not tried before.

dolores dress

As with all SoZo patterns, this is put together well – it’s simple. But the styling says it all. Chic. Quirky. Retro inspired. I mean how could you not look at the dress length Dolores & not think “wiggle”? This is the ultimate jersey wiggle dress! But no sleeves to set in. The batwing sleeves are fixed flat either to the short sleeve cuff or to the long sleeve with gathers or pleats (I used pleats – you eyeball it & place them where you want them). Once the cuff/ sleeve is assembled you then sew up the side seams, whoosh. Jobs a good ‘un as they say.


And I love the boat/ slash neck. Now I have the pattern I can see a few more variations being added to my repertoire and have just purchased this, ahem, rather bold jersey.  I couldn’t help it, & it’s arrived and is such gorgeous quality but largescale & reminiscent of Dr Jacobi’s waikiki office (which is clearly a good thing in my book).

The pattern is available here for download. Woo hoo- now you too can make one (or lots)!

Now the photos – did you guess that they were taken in the summer by my very own David Bailey (my Dad)?  Thanks BG! I like the way that my floral Ultimates almost disappear into the privet, don’t you.  And yes.  I do have a thing for florals.  Didn’t you know?

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!