Category Archives: Dressmaking

Ultimate trousers

The Contingency Pants: more Ultimate Trousers

“It’s about time”!  Another pair of Ultimate Trousers. Yes, these trousers were made way back in September & I have only just got around to posting about them.    That’s mainly due to not having taken photos of them in action – as you will see they crease a little following a day’s wear- & so any post work photos are just plain out of the window since I am highly unlikely to feel the urge to iron straight after a day at the office & a two mile power walk uphill.

Ultimate trousers

OK, rewind.  The Contingency pants were born for OWOP (One Week One Pattern), when my pattern of choice was the Ultimate Trouser pattern.  The only shortfall I had was trousers for work.  But why did I call these the Contingency pants?

Ultimate trousers My deviation from the pattern – lapped zipper, not an invisible zip.

Well, I had actually cut out another pair of Ultimates in work appropriate autumnal suiting, however, when I came to sew them up, discovered I hadn’t the right coloured thread.  This fabric – a mini dogtooth check (100% silk remnant from Mandors in Edinburgh) was always tucked away at the back of my mind as a potential pair of ultimates, & when called on for OWOP, therefore became the “Contingency Pants”.  I might be doing myself no favours referring to them as “pants” because I really don’t want you to confuse with “incontinence pants” .  But there you go.  Please do not be confused.

Ultimate trousers

So, you know by now that I love the Ultimate trousers by Sew Over it. My OWOP adventures this year chart their versatility & my love of their cut & style.  The sewing of these Ultimates is a cinch- as I always say- once you get the fit just about right.  But I have made quite a few pairs of these now (5 pairs) & I  have to say that allow for fabrics to behave differently.  Do not assume that because your last pair was body perfect that you have no need to try on as you sew – different pairs have given me a different fit experience.  These are made in a silk that behaves almost like a light weight polyester (I have the label though to prove that it is silk!), these, came up huge.

Ultimate trousers

I had to wear them, realise during the day that they were not snug enough & take some more in afterwards.  I think I altered the CF & CB about three times.  I still feel when I look at them in these photos that they are not the most flattering  on me. (I mean it would help if I wore better underwear – apols about that! Just pretend that you can’t see any vpls please, for me…)  But even still I am not 100% sure that I have finished them…I may take the lower leg in a bit more ….but then I do need enough calf room to be comfy & tasteful (!)….what do you think?  I mainly wear these with flat shoes & am not after a skinny look, but maybe they could look better a bit more skinny than this?

Ultimate trousers

I don’t tend to wear them with tops like this – I have just pulled this together for the photos since this is about the trousers & how they fit.  I don’t actually like tucking tops into trousers – I always wear things untucked on the outside unless trousers have belt loops & are pleated.  (Like my Vogue Baggy trousers). And this is my first Pavlova top that is too short unless I wear a cami/ vest underneath.  I’m always fussing with it – too much gappage even though I lengthened it from the original pattern.

Ultimate trousers See those post wear creases?

But I do wear these often.  It’s the time of year for trousers like this – t-shirts & cardigans, socks & flat lace ups.   Can’t wait to show you my next pair!  They are a huge success too :-) (Dare I say *even* better than these??)


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?

Sureau dress

Last frock of summer: Deer and Doe Robe Sureau

You are about to read a rare post from me in that I haven’t a whole load of words for a change.  I made this dress in the summer and have rather a backlog of projects to share, but with the advance of autumn (even if daytime temps are trying to tell us otherwise) I felt I had to bump this dress up the list, before it looked plain ridiculous.  I mean this dress epitomises summer wear – sleeveless fine cotton, relatively floaty & not much to it.

Sureau dress

The Deer and Doe Robe Sureau, so very kindly gifted to me by Roobeedoo when she knew I would gratefully receive outputs of her fine taste.


I had earmarked the long sleeved version for *sometime someplace yet to be decided*, having truly fallen for Roo’s tartan version.  Surely that must feature somehow in a badger wardrobe?  But to use some lawn I had purchased from Goldhawk Road (Classic Textiles) early in the summer with abundant iris it was one of those spontaneous decisions – make it sleeveless.


Unfortunately spontaneity resulted in a slight brain/ memory by-pass & I forgot to consider the usual adjustment I need to make – for gaping necklines.  This I did not realise until I had actually finished the dress, as zip insertion (a side zip) is near the end & whilst trying on the bodice as I sewed it,  there was no obvious cause for concern.  However, it is low cut & gaping when I wear it.  Yes you could call it super cool & breezy, but actually it’s too revealing for work in my view.  (And I have tried it at work & just felt always in need of hugging the neckline to my chest!)


All I need to do is to get into the shoulder seams and raise them a little as a retro adjustment.  But that means a bit of unpicking, taking out that bias bound sleeve edging.  But I will do it, sometime, promise.


I loved making the Robe Sureau.  I have a French version so the instructions are in French but the pictures explain it all- I didn’t need to read the words.

Sureau dress

It’s got a really cute gathered front placket, which is a bit hidden amongst the iris.


So next time I make it, I have just got to remember to make bodice adjustments, haven’t I?


[Sigh] these photos were taken quite a while ago now….when it really was summer (says she typing in her socks).


Two kimono giftables

Well hello!  You know that I am not so good at sewing for others?  Well recently I can proudly state that I have made FIVE garments for loved ones.  Yep.  Will that count as my ration for the year now?  Does that make me not a 100% totally selfish sewer?  Here are two of a kind.  I sorta jumped on this wild kimono bandwaggon, thinking they are the perfect garment for friends, not matter how tall or curvy.


And they are a simple make.  I searched out an online tutorial – bizarrely using Youtube for a change  – this is the tutorial I used –  but you have some bizarre styling footage by a young entrepreneurial stylista to watch before you get on to the actual tutorial.


I only say that the styling footage is bizarre, because it feels like I entered this new universe watching it – a universe governed by the young, wise and beautiful, giving me styling advice.  And of course sewing advice too.

kimono A kimono folks is just a number of rectangles sewn together.  And there are loads of tutorials out there- you can even make a kimono with one piece of fabric using the By Hand way.   All I was looking for was an easy method & dimensions for my rectangles.  I had afterall made my own “Kung Fu Fighting” Kimono last year (which is my summer cover up).  I knew how easy it was, but wanted to make it as a kimono jacket as opposed to a belted wrap.   And I must say that I had made this well before the free pattern included with Love Sewing mag – which would have saved me some time too!


OK.  What I liked about the Youtube approach was that the drafting involved rectangles for sleeves, yes, but there was also an addition of a “triangle” to the centre front, which gave even more of a lovely cascade effect for wearing as a floaty jacket.


There was also a little more effort involved in creating a neck band & facing which I felt more appropriate as I was intending to give these as gifts- it was a nicer finish than just giving the whole centre front & neckline a narrow hem.


The hardest thing I found in making these gifts was in choosing fabric – I went to my local fabric shop so that I could assess the fabric for drape.  I knew I really wanted a viscose, but I was faced with limited choice plus I was faced with the difficulty of choosing fabric that I thought my friends would like & would suit them.  REALLY difficult.  In the end the spotty is a viscose and I managed to find an amazing lace/ crochet fabric in cream for the other.


I used French seams for the viscose & hand sewed the neck band facing.  I sewed the cream lace using my overlocker – SCORE!  But for hemming the lace wanted to go all over the place so I used this dissolving hem tape plus straight stitch on my regular machine which was just brilliant.


I am afraid I do not have any photos of my friends modelling them, but you’ll just have to look at me pretending I did not give them away.  Since they are not destined for me, I have not done the usual photo shoot.


But I really loved the idea of them – the viscose one is so lovely & drapey.


I felt quite exotic!  The lace version felt different, but dressed up a plain outfit.

What do you think?  Has this given you a potential sewn gift idea? Or just for yourself :-) !!


It’s Mimi!

Meet my new best friend: a certain chiffon polka dotted rick rack embellished Chelsea collared gathered yoked cutie. Yes this is Mimi from Love at First Stitch by Tilly and the Buttons.

mimi blouse

I can remember first spying this pattern as I leafed through the pages, and it popped out at me. Hmmm. Yokes and gathers are certainly a winning formula, as I love the blousey effects of billowing bodices. I wasn’t sure if the deeper collar would suit me, but everyone else who has made a Mimi looks so awesome in it, I had little fear that I would be the only person on this earth that would look total pants with the v neck collar.


Making it up just took time for me to get through sewing *other stuff*. I seemed to have a summer of sewing dresses ( there may still be one or two I have yet to show you, I kid you not). But with the onset of autumn it’s time for the rise of separates again. It was time to raid my stash for a rather nice chiffon (bought locally aaages ago) that had been getting far too comfortable just waiting for me to get round to deciding its fate. White with red dots, a polyester chiffon, something that would fall into that part of my ideal wardrobe- a blouse that needs minimum care, and maybe even no ironing.


(btw if anything I could add just a tad to the upper bust, I realised that after making, because of course I didn’t make a toile, too eager!
Now when I sew chiffon I tend to sew French seams as it’s a nice neat way to keep all the edges prone to fraying out of sight and safe and sound. This was going to be my approach for making this Mimi blouse- use French seams everywhere: yokes, side seams and sleeves. The collar is attached with a facing so all those edges are also nicely obscured and very safe as well.

mimi blouse

But I did come across a small conundrum. I had decided upon French seams, yes. I had also decided upon a rick rack embellished yoke, as is one of my little design preferences, using it like piping but with one half showing in its tiny scallopy awesomeness.


I had to pause to work out how to sew a French seam with piping ( or in this case rick rack) inserted into it. How would it work? Did I have to do anything differently?

mimi  blouse
The answer pure and simple is ‘no’. Using the same process of using rick rack like piping in this little tutorial, you can apply it to French seams too. If you need more detail follow the link above, but in essence this is what you do:
*Baste the rick rack to the seam line on the right side of the garment, so that the middle of the rick rack is sitting on top of the seam line.
*Then with wrong sides together sew the first part of your French seam. Trim the seam allowance, press and turn and press so that the right sides are together.
*Pin the last part of your French seam and sew with the basting from the rick rack on top, using it as a stitching guide. Press. And voila!

Does that make sense to you or have I just confused you even more?

Mimi (3)

As for Mimi I did enjoy making it ( why do I feel as if I should attribute it as a ‘her’?)
There are some lovely design details, as well as the gathered yoke and the fetching Chelsea collar. I particularly love the pleated sleeve cuffs, but struggled to complete this step with my usual marking approach of using just a few pins.

mimi (10)

I found success came to me when I traced the fold lines using dressmakers carbon paper and a tracing wheel. But they are so worth not being lazy – don’t use pins- go straight to carbon!  That is if you are open to being influenced at all.


So why do I love Mimi so much? Ok so I love the fabric and the rick rack, it really is one of my fave combos. However, as I mentioned earlier, the gathered blousey ness that allows untucked styling with jeans. ( or ultimate trousers!) brings a retro girl next door look that’s so easy to wear. Yet tucked in, there is still heaps of cuteness with the gathered blousey ness taking on a mini Mimi billow over the top of a waspi belt looking professional but with vintage references. The Mimi blouse can be worn to work with a pencil skirt or a circle skirt and look smart, or it can be worn with capris, jeans to a miniskirt and be totally at home lounging around reading coffee shop newspapers. To sum up that whole paragraph with just two words: vintagey versatile. And it’s totally the right time of the year to be cracking out those short sleeves – pop a cardi over the top to keep the chill out, and then lose it as the temps rise. And no. Ironing is not actually required. I seem to have escaped. This surely seals its enduring fate as an item that will continue to be chosen for the next while until the temps really do get too low. I am just so tempted to make another …………….


Oh and please bear with me on the photos….I am trying out my new to me whizzy grown up camera and now have a remote for the first time ever. I might be a bit over the top on photos used! Sorrrrrry!!

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!

Sewing your own vs throwaway fashion

Happy Monday everyone! Fancy something to think about and make you feel *even better* about sewing? I know we all sew for many different reasons, and that’s a completely personal choice, but sometimes I like to think about how I’m contributing, albeit in a very small way, to the bigger picture. I was asked if I would like to share this infographic in time for London Fashion week, if you haven’t already seen it, here it is. No I am not trying to convert the non-believers, if anything I think this just gives us another reason to enjoy making our own clothes, so at the beginning of the week, with a weekend of sewing behind us & five days before the next, keep that sewing high going strong ….

PA Infographic

So you’re probably familiar with this concept – it’s useful to see it in fact form & get the latest figures, isn’t it?  Now the guys who prepared it (Plush Addict, who coincidentally are current sponsors of mine) also provided some words in the form of an article– and it’s worth a read. Generally I do not accept content from other authors except guest bloggers, but in this case, I made an exception – I am not receiving anything for it – just sharing the information which I think is interesting & certainly something I support by sewing – I have not bought any shop bought RTW clothing except a cardigan (plus shoes/ underwear) for almost three years now. OK, I have bought stacks of fabric, & I could probably improve the provenance of that, but one step at a time, do what you can with the means you have available to you, I say. So if you are interested to read more about the infographic, read on & say “hurrah” for your passion for handmade fashion & sewing your own clothes!…

It is London Fashion Week, which will surely make for a hot topic of conversation among the fashion media spokespeople this autumn. As much as we love to celebrate new trends we also feel it necessary to address the broader issues in fashion that contribute to current global issues.

Throw away fashion is a huge contributor to landfill waste and pollution. The UK, China and Hong Kong as the main offenders. In the infographic we explore how the growing demand for fashion is spiralling out of control and why sewing and other forms of handcraft, in combination with clothing recycling, can offer a sustainable alternative in 2014.

As a nation with a high demand for new, cutting edge trends there is always temptation to buy into throw-away fashion to suit personal cravings at every corner. Such actions, albeit short term guilty pleasures, have their downsides that produce mass waste, of which the environment bears the brunt.

Did you know..?

  • In the UK, an estimated 0.8 to 1 million tonnes of all textiles are sent to landfill each year.
  • In the UK, used clothing accounts for approximately 350,000 tonnes of landfilled textiles, an estimated £140 million worth
  • In China, the total annual production of textile waste is estimated to be over 20 million tonnes.
  • In Hong Kong, approximately 79,205 tonnes of textiles were sent to landfills in 2011.

Moving onto recycling within the textile industry, you may be surprised to know that choosing to upcycle clothing and reuse material can go some way to helping reduce environmental waste. It is heavily documented that:

  • Almost 100% of textiles are recyclable.
  • 1kg of re-used second-hand clothing can reduce up to: 3.6kg of CO2 emissions… 6,000 litres of water… 0.3kg of fertilisers… 0.2kg of pesticides.

The data contained within the infographic is cited from non-profit fashion oranisations and annual reports, it has been curated by online fabric retailer Plush Addict.

Plush Addict is a family run business which was founded in 2012 and born out of a serious fabric addiction. They are passionate about providing excellent customer service, fast delivery at a reasonable price, and try to offer a comprehensive depth of range. You can also get expert industry insight on bespoke handmade clothing via the Plush Addict website.

I hope you also found this interesting & will feel even better about the time and effort you put into making yourself something to wear – which is likely to suit you and fit you much better than buying disposable fashion. And due to the choices you made when selecting fabric and pattern, it’s going to last longer than this season’s hot trend. Enjoy being creative ! :-)


OWOP 2014 #Ultimatetrousers

I know….you don’t hear from me for nearly a week then all of a sudden I get active again!  What’s happening, well, what’s happened should be the question.  Time is of the essence.

So we have just had OWOP (One Pattern One Week) , the initiative started by Tilly & The Buttons & gracefully taken on by Jane of Handmade Jane this year. The aim is to take one favorite pattern & wear it throughout one week – showing its versatility in how you wear it in different ways.  I joined hundreds of others, putting their fave pattern through its paces between September 6th and September 12th.

Last time I chose Colette Violet blouse pattern.

Now this time I was a massive procrastinator, it has to be said. I think I only made my decision at the eve of OWOP itself, plumping to wear the Ultimate Trousers, a Sew Over It pattern, for the entire week. Why was my decision so apparently hard? It’s true I have lots of choice, & these are the patterns in my short list that I knew would see me through the week:

Simplicity 2154 – I have made two blouses (polka dot & black/white), a skirt as well as the cardigan (the Tweed skirt & sweet paper skirst would have been too hot)

The Deer & Doe Chardon skirt – I have made it in red denim, black & white polka dot cotton & pinstripe

Chardon skirtsThe Pavlova patterns by Cake– I have made a navy top, a red top, a linen floral skirt & my essential purple jersey skirt. This was actually second choice in the end.

PavlovaThe Laurel top & dress by Colette Patterns – I have the recent Liberty top here, my turquoise striped version here, then three dresses here.

Laurel dressesMaria Denmark Edith dress & tops – three blouses – a white, a blue & a striped plus the dress.

And Ultimate Trousers – having made a denim pair, a linen pair & a ditsy floral pair (but nothing work appropriate) but shorts if hot & at home!

This was effectively my shortlist, but I had to make my decision based on weather (we had just seen temperatures that were a tad chilly) & a pattern that would see me through officewear, a flight & weekend to Newcastle, bumming around home & an evening out.

Choosing Ultimate Trousers, therefore, was conditional upon my ability to sew up a pair of work appropriate trousers on Monday evening. I have already extolled the speed of making this pattern up, once you have sussed your fit, so I just had to make sure that I had space & time. Funnily enough, I had cut some out of a mole-coloured suiting the week before, but had forgotten to get thread in town at my last opportunity to purchase it! By that time though I was committed & fell back on some other fabric I had in my stash to make, what I lovingly term as my “Contingency Pants” – not to be confused with incontinence pants.   I will share more about these darlings later on in a post of their own, but for now, let’s get into some outfit pics.

Day 1:


Off to Newcastle on the plane – denim Ultimates, my Breton Coco with elbow patches & a handmade scarf.

 Day 2:


Most of the day was spent in sweaty lycra, but once showered I turned again to my denim ultimates with my Great North Run t-shirt, plus a Named Blair top in sweatshirting to see me through the journey home.  The photo above was taken after all this fun & games (my excuse for the blur …)

 Day 3:


At home which meant wearing my linen Ultimates with a Deer & Doe Datura top ….sewing Ultimate trousers in the evening :o)

 Day 4:


The Contingency pants were let loose upon a day at the office with a black sleeveless Maria Denmark Day to Night Drape top. My McCalls cardigan seemed to match the blacks & beiges perfectly. (The Contingency pants are cream & black mini dogtooth check in silk.  Strangely I after a day at work they really felt too big, so I am still tweaking the fit – above are the un-tweaked with version)

 Day 5:


The contingency pants again – this time with an Edith blouse. I felt I was channelling Betty Draper in my ballet flats & my Julia cardigan. It was rather a warm afternoon, & my silk trousers would not have been first choice for that heat!

 Day 6:


Working at home in linen Ultimates with a Colette Violet blouse in dobby white.

And then, the evening out! Another occasion to revel in Ultimates!

OWOP 6 eve

My ditsy floral trousers, worn with that Satsuma Named Blair top – this top is such a brilliant evening top- I love it with a camisole underneath!

 Day 7:


Another working at home day, so I wore my denim Ultimates with a Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee (with birdies) & my By Hand Victoria knit blazer.

 What did I learn from the OWOP experience?

Well, the Ultimate trousers are incredibly versatile & were a good choice – except when it was hot & I would naturally have opted for a dress or skirt – but that’s the way it is. The Ultimates also see through different seasons – it’s end of summer now moving into autumn – & I have trousers that won’t get packed away at season change time. Lovely. And of course, if I had the time & inclination, I could have made up a pair for every day of the week, such a quick make are they- but I didn’t have the time & that would have been spoiling the spirit for OWOP for me, as for me, it was about making a staple piece work in different ways. I think I have shown that?

How have you got on? Did you survive OWOP?