Category Archives: Dressmaking


Posh boxer shorts- ideal Christmas gift

Well hello!  It’s been a very heavy week for me on the work front and also on ‘life’ – but I shall tell you all about that next time (& it’s all mega exciting!) Today I feel it’s important to get some tips out for any of you who want to make Christmas pressies for your nearest & dearest.  Are you thinking about Christmas yet?  Have you ever made boxer shorts?  Well here are my tips for making boxer shorts out of just 1 metre of fabric which means you could even justify buying a metre of Liberty fabric to make some really special undies for someone deserving & with impeccable taste 😉

marvel boxers

Or Marvel super heroes?

So what’s the deal?  Is it important to minimise yardage required?  Absolutely!  Especially if it enables you to buy more expensive fabric- you see I bought some Liberty lawn from Sewbox with boxer shorts in mind.   Just a metre as it had been a while since I’d last made them (last Christmas perhaps) & I erroneously thought a metre would be adequate.   I use Simplicity 9958 here.

simplicity 9958

and let me show you the Liberty Lawn I bought

Liberty lawn boxers

I bought these beautiful lawns ….really enjoying choosing designs for the individuals.  from the left is Susanna and to be honest i want it for myself!  Amy Hurrell in the middle and then Lagos Laurel.

And you need to know this about me (if you don’t already) – my motivation for sewing has always been to make clothes for less than they would cost if I bought them from a shop- allowing me to have lots more clothes!  So buying a metre of Liberty Lawn was completely opposite to this stance – boxer shorts can easily be bought for under a tenner – but not Liberty Lawn boxers.  My men deserved the best.

So the fabric arrived, I swooned & whooped for joy.  But before cutting into the mega posh cloth thought it best to work up to it using some posh & fun fabric to make the first pairs (and cool enough to be destined as gifts as well)  – Marvel fabric from Plush Addict – cool or what?!  You’ll see more varieties of this through some of these pictures!

marvel boxers

So it was when I came to make the first pair of boxer shorts of the season that I realised my mistake.  Let me describe the issue.  Boxer shorts are made from a single pattern piece – cut twice.  This pattern piece has a curved edge so that it forms the shape in 3D it needs to become in order to fit around half a body & upper thigh (don’t imagine too hard, I am not branching into chick lit!)  The pattern piece is also cut with enough allowance on the upper edge to become folded over to form the tunnel for the elastic.

When I came to cut out my first pair of boxers I cut the fabric in half along its length & placed the two pieces right sides together with the directional print the same way up.  And when putting the pattern on top my heart sank – NOT ENOUGH!  I could not believe it.  I almost cried & my smug organised early buying evaporated into despair (maybe I was going to have to make myself three one metre tops with that Liberty Lawn ! horrors!)  With this metre of fabric cut in half  I could see that the & the total vertical length of the pattern required more than half a metre…

But necessity is the mother of invention, right?  I conspired to find some shop bought boxers to compare final leg length so that I could see how much I could get away with at the hem edge.


I then also worked up a different way to attach the elastic so that I could also reduce the depth at the top edge previously ear marked to make an elastic channel.

See the pattern shows where the foldline is – all i needed to allow was 1/4″ seam allowance at this foldline.  I then cut out pairs in size small, medium and large.

Boxers 1

It fits in a metre!

Here’s a larger pair I cut – a large out of one metre.  I folded over the pattern where I saved fabric – you can see there isn’t much- but enough to take into the next metre …


So far I have made one pair in a medium (the finished pair at the beginning of this post).  I’ll show you the outcome & how I handled the elastic.

So instead of making a channel for the elastic, I minimised the depth of fabric needed to attach the elastic more like you would for leggings:

  • Cut the elastic to the length needed & sew into a circle.  Mark half & quarter points.
Elastic sewn in a loop

Elastic sewn in a loop, upper edge pressed over to the inside

  • fold the top edge over to the wrong side by about 1/4″ & mark the quarter points using the back seam & centre front.
Matching the quarter points

Matching the quarter points

  • Pin the elastic at the quarter points & sew with a straight stitch to the upper edge- stretching the elastic in between the pins to fit the fabric underneath.  (It’s a good idea to keep the machine needle down each time you stop.  My machine has a setting that always puts the needle down when you stop).
Sewing the upper edge

Sewing the upper edge

  • Once you have sewn the top line of stitching, make sure the fabric is straight behind the elastic so that you can sew the second row at the lower edge of the elastic.


Now isn’t that more simple than sewing a channel & threading the elastic through?

So are you going to make posh boxers for gifts?  It really doesn’t take long.  I think I have quite a few in my gift-sewing pipeline….

Bellatrix blazer

Bellatrix blazer

Well hello ! At last I have something to show you which means a winning formula of having completed my sewing plus engineered the opportunity to to take my snaps.  So you saw I have been making the Bellatrix Blazer by Papercut patterns, supplied  very kindly by Susan of Sewbox.   I have been coveting a blazer for some time & when I settled on the Bellatrix I did not appreciate what a lovely design it was until I started sewing, and in my recent post about welt pockets I think I waxed lyrical about how it has been designed brilliantly with a lovely cut that also makes it a great first taste of welt pocket sewing – the shaping is created by princess seams & upper bodice and lower bodice piecing so that the welt pockets are inserted at this waist seam.   Sewing adventures!

Bellatrix blazer

It has a long collar with a curved edge – so special.  To achieve the contrast collar you need to plan your front facing to be cut out of your collar fabric- it is all one piece.

Bellatrix blazer

I was using some reversible fabric which is great because I knew the contrast would work & be the right weight & colour tone.  It meant that I used the reverse side of the fabric for all of the facing pieces so my jacket has a pinkish lining (with polka dot satin) and the grey outer,

Bellatrix blazer

See the princess seams and welt pockets

I am in love with the style – it’s almost got a peplum, but barely.

Bellatrix blazer

Bellatrix blazer

It is a snug fit, mind you.  And I haven’t quite got around to sort the buttons out.  So I am holding the edges together in the first pic with good reason.  I had a slight problem.  The instructions are printed on the paper pattern and you cut them out to make a book –  it comes in a few fold-constructed pieces that should be glued together (but of course I didn’t get around to that).   Because I am camping sewing & have a few bags that I am using to pack away my sewing after each sitting, I seemed to have misplaced the last part of the instructions ….& so felt my way through the last part of making up my jacket (attaching the lining & adding buttonholes).  And when I came to try on, the waist is very small on me- probably quite rightly, but there is no room for your usual overlap that one button and one buttonhole needs.  But I wasnt able to reference the instructions to see if my approach is the right one – I think this needs a double buttonhole approach-barely  joined together so that the fronts meet at the centre- by a pair of buttons attached to each other with some ribbon or some elastic.  I havent bought a pair of buttons to tell you how it works, as I wouldn’t wear it like that.  I wear this unbuttoned.  But do you understand what I mean?

bellatrix blazer

And the welt pockets are a decent size….not purely decorative.

bellatrix blazer

I did make my interior welt pocket and might explain my understanding of welt pockets at some point.  maybe.  It meant that I was able to design & sew my own with a satisfying degree of accuracy.

Bellatrix blazer

That pocket has not been road tested however and I placed it at the widest part of the front facing, however it is just a weeny bit high up the body, but apart from that I’m very pleased.


Inside welt pocket

Inside welt pocket

In the end I used Lladybird’s classic welt pocket tutorial to steer my sewing of this welt pocket- it really is so simple, & despite trying to follow the David Coffin article in this month’s Seamwork it acted as inspiration as I work better with step by step photos.  Hurrah!  Let’s see how they perform in the wild as there were so many comments in my last post about why women’s jackets do not always have inside pockets …

Fit?  As already mentioned it is a snug fit- I made the lining up as a toile to gauge what adjustments I needed (decided upon shoulder pads- an optional ).  Considering I have less access to mirrors at the moment, it’s not too bad at the back is it?  OK, not perfect but I am not sure how much I would have detected & been able to change – I find the back such a tricky body part!!  I think if anything I could have taken out a little as a sway back looking at these pics carefully. But when I’m wearing it I can live with it. Incidentally I did lengthen the sleeves as there is nothing I hate more than cold wrists …

bellatrix blazer

I found the instructions I used very easy to follow & the construction went well, with easy to  match princess seams, markings in the right place for sewing the collar/ shoulder. As I couldn’t find the last part of the instructions I remembered that the Spearmint coat sewalong has a great method for bagging the lining and sewing by machine, but the Bellatrix blazer is simpler to line than the Spearmint coat, & didn’t need all the steps, however it was the video on three dresses blog explaining the steps for sewing the sleeve linings by machine that was invaluable, avoiding Gordian knots of sleeves & linings…

Bellatrix blazer

The worst thing is that I have hardly anything with me at the moment to wear this jacket with –  the few skirts & trousers I have with me  just don’t work with it so it is currently awaiting a jeans-out night.  That I think is all that I have –  I can’t wait to see what it’ll look good with from my wider winter wardrobe when it comes out of storage.

Bellatrix blazer

You see this is a warmish jacket – the fabric has some wool/ acrylic content & with all pieces (except the satin lining) being interfaced, it has some weight to it.   It has potential to be worn a lot this time of the year …..

Thank you for reading x

Learning by video, musings

So I am curious to know what you think about learning with video?  It seems to be a growth area with both Tilly and the Buttons and Sew Over It embracing this more interactive approach for learning in their business offer.   While video is still a bit of a novelty in sewing blogs, who can bypass Karen’s Christmas message , and recently I have enjoyed Lisa’s Vlog (Behind the Seams) tremendously- you just know she is having so much fun behind that camera!  Rachel, our resident sewing muse, supports us bloggers with ‘posing tips‘ right here.

YouTube Preview Image

There is also the recent foray into video that Colette Patterns have introduced with Sarai’s video guides – here’s a link to the film  helping with buying knits  .  Don’t you love hearing the real voice of the blogger, and being surprised and knowing at the same time? Karen I think speaks as she writes- optimal word usage, with precision, style and always there’s a twinkling of amusement.  It should not have surprised me that Sarai’s got the most dulcet honeyed tones but being British I would have read the words from the blog in my own English voice , so delight in hearing her authentic Portland accent. And Rachel, the exotic enthusiastic warm hearted Brazilian, her vlogs bring bursts of sunshine.

So video is definitely a curiosity as a blogging medium, especially for me when it adds another dimension to what you think you know about the blogger.  But for learning, with Tilly’s online sewing class and now Lisa’s (Sew Over It) does this herald a swell in online learning ?

Craftsy of course have hours of friendly footage with teachers covering so many different crafts- some free, but most is paid.  If you do invest make sure to wait for the crazy deals in the sales that come around fairly frequently.  yes,  if you do invest, the Craftsy platform app is now even better with the ability to download for offline viewing which I really appreciate, frequently finding myself with dodgy wifi .  And the ability for replaying a 30 second loop when trying to understand and master a new step?  Much used in my current knitting project – the Artemesia sweater (more on that another time).

So both Tilly and Sew Over It already offer face to face sewing classes.  Video classes should bridge the gap between   written instructions, or step by step photos and being able to attend a face to face class,    Learn to Sew Jersey tops  by Tilly and the Buttons gives you a live view of what your sewing should be looking like whilst Tilly guides you through every step of the process.  And all the time getting a Tilly fix.  ( I remember hearing Tilly on an American podcast last year and the host being fixated on Tilly’s very English accent.  Plenty of that going if it facilitates your sewing experience- it’s the equivalent to my Portland comment above!!)   I have had a dip into this class, but am not giving a review, but can tell you that The lessons I’ve looked at so far are filmed around the construction process and are very cleanly captured- different angles provide the view that you need all the while Tilly’s demonstrating and providing guidance.  It is aimed to be used with the Agnes top, and you get a digital copy of the sewing pattern included.  But the principles for using a regular machine to sew knit tops can be applied to any standard knit top pattern you already have.  A proper confidence boost I reckon, launching you into making more with knits.  A good pattern / concept to start with?

But what provoked me to muse over video learning was the recent launch of the Grace dress online sewing class from Sew Over It.

Whilst I haven’t seen any of the lessons, the content looks more than just a video showing you how to sew the basic dress- as well as the expected lessons, steps include Lisa’s top tips for sewing an invisible zip and even when and how to do an FBA or an SBA.   Relatively complex procedures, but the things that will make the difference to get a more customised fit and polished finish.  By distance learning!  And judging by the video tutorials on the Vlog, (eg adding a waistband to the Ultimate Trousers) you will be in a pair of very calm, knowledgeable and safe hands.

So I am not reviewing these classes by any means, I’m just curious.    Youtube has so much free content- but I suppose it’s a bit of a lottery finding exactly what you need to know, and then how well the youtuber is explaining and filming it.  No guarantee on a. finding exactly what you need and b. quality.   Making an online video class must take such a lot of time, effort and investment – I hope that these online classes do well, I know how useful i am finding following a video knitting class, as I am such a basic knitter and this covers a whole load of new knitting techniques & I make soooo many mistakes.  I just wish someone else would do the ripping back for me!  What do you  think? Are you a video learner?  Is youtube a frequent port of call & what have your experiences been like?

and no, I am not writing this as any kind of market research.  And no again, I am not planning to stick myself in front of a camera and either make some parody of myself with an overdone Somerset accent or go through that trauma of hearing what you really sound like to other people. Too freaky for me!  I’m just musing …. What do you think?


Trousers, pants, whatever- but from my custom trouser block woo hoo

I am so delighted to have managed to complete my first pair of trousers using my custom trouser block.  See!  These are they!


I am not saying the fit is perfect yet- but I am getting there.  And sin of sins, the first time I have seen them full length on my body  is through these photographs.  All my fit assessments were made by wearing & looking down …until now!  So don’t be surprised if I make my own discoveries as i write this, about what to tweak next time!  But let’s start at the beginning.


I went on the trouser block fitting course at Ray Stitch in September with Jane & we both had a thoroughly enjoyable experience (of which I will write more below) & both chose the same fabric to make our first pair out of.  It is a viscose mix ‘puppy tooth’ and it is lovely to wear at this time of the year.    Jane made hers up well before I was ready & thereby warned me about the fabric’s idiosyncrasies enabling my experience to be far less irksome – thanks love! x

trousers (2)

So, back to the workshop.  Alice was our tutor & I found her a brilliant teacher – vast amounts of industry experience & well able to explain the whys & wherefores & keeping our sights on the end goal when there were quite a few steps, measuring, dot joining & line drawing  to get there.  She used a special system with a crazy template to draft our trouser block based on our own measurements, before we whipped up a toile in calico.  It has no waistband & depending on your measurements & proportions, front & back darts.  Tweaking from my first toile resulted in mine having double back darts (four in total).   I wanted to make a straight leg pair of trousers as that was my vision so that I could graduate in time to a length of super 100 wool I have been preserving in tissue paper in my stash for when I am ‘good enough’ & can make the most awesome ‘grown up’ pair of winter trousers ever.  And I will channel Alice- both her relaxed approach & her style- she is such a good ambassador for how to wear a nice pair of trousers…see if you notice as I make more trousers in the future 😉  It may mark me ‘coming of age!’


The first toile, (calico)  interestingly, did not require vast changes – for me redistribution of the darts (as above, doubling up at the back)  & a bit more room in the ‘trunk’ (I’ll call it my ‘athlete’s bum’- needing a Fat Arse Adjustment).  I transferred these adaptations to the pattern & had to wait to move house before I found the opportunity to bring it all out, excitedly, to finish what I had started.


I was not going to make another toile, this fabric is a viscose mix & I felt confident that I could make any further tweaks to the pair as I constructed them.  As warned by Jane that it frayed like nobody’s business I painfully  zig zagged all the pattern pieces – pining non stop for my overlocker.



As per pattern I used a centre back zip which I actually like- as a lapped zipper.  The pattern does not have a waistband but as Alice our teacher showed us in the many examples she brought with her, I used grosgrain ribbon as a facing – this was a smart move when the fabric also has a penchant for a bit of stretch – the ribbon strengthened the waist & kept it at the size intended.  I would use a wider ribbon next time I think, just so that there is more balance.  It doesn’t seem right being this slim along the top of the trousers.    I could do with adding a hook & eye to the top too as I kept feeling in danger of zip slip & by the time I got home after wearing them to work, discovered that there was a small matter of a 2.5″ opening, thankfully hidden by coats & cardigans.


Boy I loved wearing these trousers all day though.  They felt so comfy, fitting my curves & hanging really nicely without being too tight.  No ‘digging out’ moments at all (if you know what I mean.  And a semi wide-legged trouser experience.


But looking at the photos the supreme comfort is possibly in part due to there being a little too much room at the centre front .  But this is where the stretch & drape in the fabric does not help & why I cannot diagnose the pattern fit (shoulda done another toile shouldn’t i?!) .  They are roomier & feel like a vintage fit- with darted waist, slightly lower slung crotch and hanging from my curves (eg belly) rather than snugly hugging the undersides of my curves too.  And while I am stationary, looking downwards this seemed OK, but the photos do show there is more work needed before I slice into my Super 100s.  Perhaps shortening the centre front crotch & taking a bit of the excess out in a thin horizontal wedge.  Rest assured I will keep you posted when I do make my next (stable woven) pair.  But this won’t stop me enjoying wearing these now, even if I do end up making the odd tweak.  Any thoughts oh goddesses of the sewing world?


When I do make my Super 100s up, I want to include back welt pockets & am not sure I have the space at the moment to get drafting.  When I do have space i will think about preserving my block & what to transfer it onto- what do you suggest?  Some kind of card?  or would Swedish Tracing paper be an alternative?  I have never used it so am not really sure.  Thank you for any advice given – it will be most thoughtfully & gratefully received :-)

Ultimate Pencil skirt in autumn florals

I have been captivated by the colours this autumn, even more than usual because my current journey to work involves walking through Royal Victoria Park (aka ‘Vicky Park’ or ‘RVP’ to locals ) whose 57 acres takes you into town under the gaze of the Royal Crescent.  It was actually opened by Queen Victoria herself apparently when she was 11 years old, & is a wonderful mix of formal flowerbeds, (the Parks teams are so talented) a landscaped duck ponds & discrete gardens inside the Park- like the Botanic gardens.  I love it for its abundant trees which are currently on high show & in various breath taking colours.

And of course passing underneath the Royal Crescent is pretty special too.  Oh and counting squirrels to  identify whether I have a ‘two squirrel walk’ or even a ‘four squirrel journey’ – simple pleasures!

I should try to get some blog photos here, shouldn’t I, but guess what?  If I love it so do countless others- visitors and residents alike- & it takes me a supreme effort to pose in public, as you know ….so I didn’t this time …

ultimate pencil skirt

Anyway, this fabric is from Fabric Godmother & I only needed a metre to make a pencil skirt.  It’s stretch sateen, called ‘Mandy‘ & I suspect before too long the gold/ black/ blue colourway will be sold out but it is still available in blue.  That’ll be because it is so seasonal, surely, but Fabric Godmother has pages of stretch cottons & sateen …..

ultimate pencil skirt

I bought this fabric with a little pencil skirt, above the knee, in mind.  Having a black background it would be a great match with darker winter woollies, & of course black tights.  Choosing the pattern was also a cinch – having made the Ultimate Pencil Skirt by Sew Over It before (my grey lined flannel version here) & it fitting right out of the packet, a second skirt was destined.  Remember this skirt has awesome curves in its design but is also eminently wearable- the style of a wiggle but with room to move.  It’s also an easy to sew skirt – centre back zip (I used a lapped zipper), a faced  high waist, with curvaceous side seams, & I made a kick pleat instead of a vent.  This time I did not line it.

ultimate pencil skirt

It took next to no time to make, but that much longer to finish as camping sewing means things like irons & ironing boards are not set up & I am actually using my sleeve board.

ultimate pencil skirt

I’ve been wearing it today & it’s very comfy & totally seasonally appropriate.  The stretch in the sateen has just the right amount of comfort so that it doesn’t really feel like other high waisted pencil skirts can.  Do you join me with a ‘Hurrah’ for autumn dressing?

Full steam ahead?!

I am a steamer dreamer and this is a product review- I was asked if I wanted to try the ‘Tefal Access Steam ‘  in exchange for a review.  Having been told by a sewing instructor way back about steam generating irons & how they allowed you to whizz vertical steam over a dress on a hanger, (thereby avoiding the need for a formal press) I have been wistfully coveting such a device.  I bought an iron that had vertical steam capabilities, but that wasn’t a steam generator.  I was of course disappointed – it did not deliver on the vertical steaming front.  It is not a steam generating iron, how would it?  So the prospect of a hand-held steamer filled me with curiosity.  I looked this hand held gadget up online & saw that it is not as expensive as a steam generating iron, but is more than a regular steam iron.  How would it deliver?

access steam

I put it to the test on some random washing that I brought in from the washing line.  A (100%) cotton top.  But as I am a steamer dreamer as opposed to a steam sophisticate I should have tried something else as my first steam.  Of course cotton tops need the pressure of an iron.  My quest was put on hold whilst I moved house, & as I am living with no hanging wardrobe, I packed clothing that can mainly survive being folded- ie a high proportion of jersey clothing, denim & not much that needed ironing.

But have no fear!  I am not living alone & with my co-conspirator we went hunting for some suitable clothing to steam the heck out of.  Fancy seeing some before & afters?


Our conclusions?  Easy see how you would use it to spruce something up to wear just before going out if it came out of the wardrobe a bit crushed.

And was amazed how it perked up some of my son’s cotton shirts that were severely chewed up.  I was expecting minimal impact, but it actually made it wearable for someone who is not too fussy- obviously it would be better ironed & it would take less time, but to avoid setting up the iron & ironing board it’s done an adequate job.  It works best on the deeper crumples when you create a bit of tension with the fabric (eg holding a sleeve out) & smoothing the steamer over it.

On the negative side it can get a bit heavy, and it didn’t work very well with the deeper creases in my polyester pussy bow blouse that has been tumble dried- but ideal I would imagine for things you might dry on a hangar.   I do not usually tumble dry, however, so must have left this blouse in too long!

access steam

Also it is not completely drip free so you would have to be careful using it on the kind of fabric that would water mark.

BUT excellent on silk & fine fabric with gathers – it was a ‘wo!’ moment- it took next to no time to make a big impact- this is arguably where it comes into its own.

OK, so that’s how it works as a general steamer.  I have got a steam fix it has to be said.  What about using it for sewing?  Fiona and Rachel have both written about how they use this handy little gadget for sewing.  Fiona here and Rachel have some great tips.  What can I add to the party?  I could pick out  my favorite things Fiona and Rachel have used theirs for.  Rachel talks about how she has used it for tailoring.  Having sewn just a couple of wool coats in my past I can imagine how this would be an effective way to achieve stretch & shrinking at key parts of the tailoring process – particularly around the sleeve insertion process.  It delivers bursts of steam that are much more directional and consistent than my regular iron & so I can see this working really well.  I love that Fiona has been using hers fora final pre-shrinkage of some merino wool before cutting into it.    But what can I add to the party?  You don’t want lots of repetition.

I know that if I was sewing in my normal set up & with access to all my pretty fabrics I would use it to steam those delicate fabrics, particularly gathers-  in finer fabric.  I could use the steam function on my iron, but it is not so easy to control & I also find that when i have tried to boost steam, the limescale discolours the steam (yuk!) & leaves marks which is not good.  With this hand held steamer, there is a mesh cover that protects clothing & fabric from this limescale fall- out- something that is necessary in the hard water area that I live .

But I think the most useful sewing related activity for me would be using this Tefal hand steamer for steaming elastic just after I have sewn it with a zig zag, stretching it to fit necklines (eg the Maria Denmark Day to Night drape top uses elastic zig zagged & turned to the inside to finish the back neck and arm edges),  the Fehr Trade XYT also uses elastic to finish the neckline and armhole edges- setting stretched elastic with a good boost of steam is good practice.  I think I would also be tempted to boost some steam when adding elastic this way on underwear too- but  I have been too lazy in the past.  Having a gadget like this handy could change my slovenly knicker making practice!

But since testing it, it’s interesting seeing what it would be particularly good for.  I’ve recently bought mcCalls 6605 and know that the hand steamer will love all those gathers ….

A big thank you to the adorable Ellen who was my co-conspirator x

Lindy skirt  piped hem

Lindy Petal skirt – with a stretch piping hem

I kid you not, this is a jersey although it looks like a denim, doesn’t it?

Lindy skirt

it’s quite a robust jersey, but has plenty of stretch and is most definitely not a ponte- it just has a clever twill-like effect to its weave.  Zoe and i both fell for the possibilities when we saw it (independently) over at The Fabric Godmother’s store but it seems to have sold out- [horror!  I suppose when it’s gone, it’s gone!].   Ever striving for comfort this fabric appeared to deliver all the appearance of a nice denim, is warm enough for autumn but hey folks, it stretches (far more than a stretch denim, of course because it isn’t denim!) & being a knit is open to a host of sewing patterns you would never usually contemplate with denim.  Think of the comfort factor!  I did…& just how easily denim slips into your wardrobe, providing the perfect separate for pairing with pattern, colour or not.  But it’s not a denim- you can sew this on your overlocker, it doesn’t fray.  And no I don’t have shares in it, despite appearances.

Lindy skirt

So I bought this last month with the intention to make the Lindy Petal Skirt from Itch to Stitch.   Remember I made the Carey top (out of fabric I bought at the same time also from Fabric Godmother ).  The Lindy Petal skirt is free folks- check it out!  It appealed to me as it is a jersey skirt with a nice double frontage with a curved hemline.  A simple skirt to make I thought & it is.  Except I decided to complicate it by the addition of some hemline piping.

stretch piping

Stretch piping?  I made it myself using round elastic & strips of the fabric I was using for the skirt itself.  And it’s worked out fine in this example, having been worn several times now.  I machine basted the elastic inside the folded strip of fabric (with a long straight stitch- it really would not matter if this snapped through stretching later on, as it was just to form the piping in the first instance to be able to work with it).

Piping - depth of piping lined up with hen edge

Piping – depth of piping lined up with hen edge

I also made sure that the ‘depth’ of binding was sufficient for the depth of the hem that I wanted to make-( mine was about 2cm I think).  I also made sure that the depth of this stretch piping was the same along its length so that I could easily match edge of skirt hem with edge of binding so that my piping would properly follow the skirt hem shape.

There is the side seam- but no join in the piping

There is the side seam- but no join in the piping

But attaching it to the hem involved some thinking through to optimise the effect – I wanted the piping to follow the hem in a continuous line – no joins at the side seams.  This meant I had to construct the skirt in a different order.  It may sound a bit bizarre, but it worked!  Interested at all?  Here are the steps:

  • Make sure you have prepared the skirt before cutting out the fabric so that its length is finished length plus hem allowance (= depth of your binding)
  • Sew the lower 4″ of each side seam – attaching back to each front; press these partial seams at the lower edges.
  • Pin piping to the right side of the skirt hem, all the way around, so that the binding edge (non elastic piping edge) is level with the skirt’s lower edge.  I machine basted too with a long straight stitch & my zip foot.
  • Sew the piping to the skirt edge – I have a piping foot with my overlocker but [sniff] my overlocker is in storage so I used a zig zag and regular machine foot.  I was wavering as this means that you can’t get as close to the piping, but you achieve a stretch stitch.  If you want to get close to the piping you have to sacrifice the stretch stitch.  I am not sure what the answer is, but I basted straight and zig zagged to complete.  Thinking back I may have left my basting in….
  • Fold the bias edge to the inside – this is your hem.  I trimmed the seam so there were less layers, keeping the bias uncut as my hem.  You might want to press before pinning in place.
  • Hem your skirt- I used a twin needle in contrasting thread (adds to the denim look!) & then trimmed really close to the hem stitching to make it even & neat looking.

Lindy skirt

Once the hem is sewn, I constructed the skirt in the usual way.  It was just a back to front order sewing the hem first!

More on the skirt itself then?  Well it has an elastic waistband looking like this …

Lindy skirt

It’s not called Lindy ‘Petal’ skirt unnecessarily …

Lindy skirt

The front really does have petals ….From the back too …

Lindy skirt

I could probably have made it more figure hugging & got away with it, but I made this without looking in a mirror (camping sewing, right?!).  It looked OK & felt OK from where I was looking!

Lindy skirt

And this is becoming a fave working at home skirt – keeps me warmer over leggings but feels as if I am not wearing a skirt at all- so comfy.  And unlike many working at home outfits, this is completely decent for receiving a parcel, popping to the shops, going for a lunch meeting & actually not working but having huge fun with friends or on your own!  I am bound to wear this to the pub.  Just saying, it just hasn’t happened yet.

Now what do you think about adding some piping to something stretchy?  Fancy a closer look to get you thinking?

Lindy skirt piped hem

It really looks like denim, doesn’t it?

While I am here I should confess to having succumbed to the sale over at the Fabric Godmother too.  There are some pieces left for the rest of you, but I did lay my hands on bargains galore!  And then Weaver Dee has been tempting me with emails about discounts & I also fell for some half price McCalls  & Kwik Sew patterns– & before I knew it they had arrived (remember the 10% discount with ‘SCRUFFY’)

So although I am ‘camping’  with the vast bulk (because I do have a ton of sewing related supplies, tools, references & machinery – the boxes do not lie) in storage – it seems as if I am starting a mini stockpile of fabric & even patterns even though I am only ‘visiting’ & my stay here is only temporary.  I just can’t help myself!

Wearing notes:

Sewaholic Renfrew in black micro fleece and unblogged Virginia Leggings complete the outfit.

oslo cardigan

Oslo cardigan forever!

I confess I made this version of the Oslo cardigan at the beginning of September – in fact I made two almost identical but can only show you the cardigan I kept.

oslo cardigan

This is the purple sweater knit from Truro Fabrics (sorry cannot find it on their website) made into the Oslo cardigan available in Seamwork, Colette Patterns’ online magazine.  I have made this before out of a red cotton mix sweater knit and it has been a summer stalwart.  In fact I wore it when I was in Cornwall and my Mum liked the style so much that the purchase of purple sweater knit in Truro was already earmarked for two Oslo cardigans.  I bought three metres- it was like carrying a couple of pillows around with me in shopping bags!

This picture so cracks me up

This picture so cracks me up

My Mum knew this would be a birthday present for her and requested shorter sleeves, as that’s her style.  So I made one with the regular long sleeves (& yummy long cuffs- the sleeves cover up wrists so well when it’s cold) – & the other I made with slightly shorter 3/4 sleeves and drafted a different cuff arrangement – it was wider (as the sleeve would be when it is shorter) & not as deep.  I am really sorry I didn’t take any pics, but you can probably imagine it?

This is the technical drawing.  I have not added fastenings to either of my Oslo cardigans so they just hang open unless I clutch them around me, as demonstrated above  :-)

Oslo cardigan

I made them both at the same time, sewing all of it on my overlocker.

oslo cardigan I think it’s the colour as much as the style that makes this such a useful cardigan.

oslo cardigan

For the making notes, have a look at my previous Oslo cardigan as nothing much changed (except my overlocker blade – a huge difference in sewing those triple thickness seams at the join of collar to cardigan!).  I also used wondertape again to set the hem before I sewed it.

The other benefit from these cardigans?  I had enough left over to make an Astoria sweater- but haven’t worn it yet.  I will update you after the opportunity for some trials!  I do find that there are some really good wardrobe builders in the Seamwork package, and did you know the subscription operates differently now?  You collect pattern credits & can choose which patterns to use them on.  I haven’t tried it out for myself yet, so can’t tell you any more than that, but it seems more of a flexible system?  oh to have the hours in the day to sew everything you fancy …

Wearing notes: With my Oslo cardigan, my Itch to Stitch Carey top and my embroidered  Ginger jeans.

carey top

Itch to Stitch Carey Top in a ditsy floral jersey

Happy birthday to Itch to Stitch!  Kennis contacted me to ask me if I would like to participate in the birthday tour, & whilst I said yes, I went to check out what has been happening over at Itch to Stitch and was pretty impressed with the pattern collection that she has grown in the last year.  (10 patterns from shorts & culottes to dresses!)

As part of the tour, Kennis has arranged for various bloggers to make one of her patterns up – but as a hack.  And there are also giveaways – you get a chance to win some prizes. Kennis has got 7 designers to give away their patterns and 7 product sponsors to give away their products. She will feature 1 designer per day on her site, and one lucky winner will get 2 patterns from that designer.  So make sure you check Itch to Stitch out between the 8th to the 14th October.  Check out more information towards the end of this post …..

So what did i chose to make?  And what kind of hack did I come up with?  Bearing in mind I did not get this sewn before my move ?

Well I chose the Carey top.  I think I do have a thing for slouchy tees after all!!  This is a batwing top with a nice scooped neckline that can be made in a knit or a woven.  It has sleeve panels and drawstrings to ruche the sleeves up.  I opted for knit and bought some of this luscious delores viscose jersey from Fabric Godmother.  Oh it is so soft & so drapey, and the florals are soooo pretty.

Another slouchy top!

Another slouchy top!

So to make mine a hack I decided to do something other than use a contrast lace in the sleeve insert- as that is to me, just a design option.  (But it had been my first thought! hahaha)  I decided to leave out the drawstrings altogther and to incorporate piping (or faux piping) instead.  I used Fold Over Elastic (FOE) in hot pink as my piping – it seemed the way to go.  It did involve a little thought however & an additional step to the sleeve sewing process.  This is what I did if you are interested.  (Sorry no pictures, I am ‘camping’ remember & haven’t the usual space for my sewing paraphernalia ..)

carey top

So I folded the FOE in half & then pinned it to the seamline of each shoulder seam on the front and back bodice pieces.  I stretched the FOE so that it was 4 or 5cm shorter than the actual shoulder seam because 1. the elastic needs a bit of tension otherwise it has a tendency to wrinkle & 2. If there was a ruched effect that too would be OK because this top is designed for ruching. I reckon you could stretch the elastic even more & it would replicate the drawstring, don’t you think.   And the FOE was pinned so that an even amount would show to form the piping.


Once I had machine basted the FOE to the seamline I could attach the sleeve panels.  I sewed the shoulder seams with the bodice piece on top so that I could follow the basting stitches & sew the piping at the right distance.

carey top

And I think it has worked out nicely!  A bit sporty, don’t you think?!

carey top

I followed the instructions for the Carey top for the most part, but did sew the neck band to the outside as a deliberate design detail- I liked the idea that it would be shown this way.

carey top

For info I have sewn this on my regular machine with a narrow zig zag for the seams and a three step zig zag for the hems.

carey top

Looking at the neckline inside too

But due to the order of sewing the seams (eg hems are sewn before side seams) – I did sew a few lines of stitches at the hem edges to keep the seams open but not showing seam allowances at the hem edges. (Are you still with me?!)

carey top

What do you think?  Maybe the sleeves are longer than when ruched & it’s a very roomy batwing, but it is sooo comfy.  Do you think this qualifies as a ‘hack’?

I was provided the Carey top pattern at no cost in exchange for taking part in this birthday tour, and enjoyed making it and now wearing it- it so suits my casual working at home wardrobe.  I have started the Lindy petal skirt (which is free peeps!) & am also attempting to add some piping – but not FOE this time.  I will of course keep you posted :-)

As promised here is the info about the birthday tour.  Enjoy!

Itch to Stitch Birthday Fun

(scroll to the bottom to enter to win!)

Follow these blogs to see their awesome creations from Itch to Stitch patterns:

Scruffy Badger Time | Call Ajaire | Wally and Grace | Sew Wrong | Bella Sunshine Designs
Seaside Notions | Made by Jaime | Sweet Little Chickadee | Inspinration | Friends Stitched Together
Stoney Sews | Just Keep Sewing | My Little Sewing Dreams | Allie J. | Creative Counselor
Love, Lucie | Girls in the Garden |  FABulous Home Sewn | Goddess of Sewing | Rebel & Malice
The Telltale Tasha | House of Estrela | Made by Sara | Sew Shelly Sew | Red Knits

Be sure to scroll to the bottom for your chance to win great prizes by these sponsors:

Itch to Stitch First Anniversary Sponsors

The Fabric Store – $100 Gift certificate

Elliott Berman Textiles – Fabric bundle from France & Italy

Craftsy – three online classes of your choice

Girl Charlee Fabrics – $25 Gift certificate

Indie Sew – $25 Gift certificate

UpCraft Club – $25 Gift certificate

Quarto Publishing Group USA – the SHIRTMAKING WORKBOOK by David Page Coffin

The featured designer of the day will give away 2 patterns to a lucky winner:

 Baste + Gather

Straight Stitch Designs

Megan Nielsen Patterns

Jamie Christina

Hey June Handmade

Wardrobe by Me

Filles á Maman

Follow Itch to Stitch’s blog closely to win these patterns!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

slouchy tee

Slouchy or off the shoulder tee?

Hey people!  How are you?  I have now moved out of my home & everything is in storage.  Well almost everything.    I am cosily installed in the spare room with my family (who are also still moving in to their new home 😉 We are surrounded by boxes & blue IKEA bags! ) and brought a suitcase of clothes, a suitcase of sewing projects  (hehehehe!), my  camera/ laptop bits & running kit, just my regular machine, and of course my cat :-)

slouchy tee


Oh the pressures of packing light – the ultimate capsule wardrobe !  Complicated by being in a beautifully hot Indian summer & not being sure exactly sure how long I shall be living like this.  And what about the sewing projects?  Well that was a good way to focus my planning.  I can’t wait to write about that a bit more.  I tell you, I have allowed myself plenty of options and have also packed Christmas present projects – just in case I am here for longer …. but managing without my overlocker?  Now that will be a culture change!

slouchy tee

Merlin and I have settled in well and I have managed to sew something already!  Watch out for the reveal on Thursday.

Today I am waking up the blog with something I made last month.  There is not much to say about the sewing, but when I look at the pictures I have a few pangs for the sewing room I left behind …

From the back

From the back

So this is the Slouchy tee pattern that was free with September’s Love Sewing magazine.  I was thrilled to see a knit pattern as part of the Love Sewing offering actually, and knew pretty quickly that this would be one of the Simple Sew patterns that I would definitely give a go.  It has raglan sleeves – kerpow! I couldn’t wait!   A bit different to my usual t-shirt sewing patterns.  And looked like a nice comfy tee to – er – slouch around in.

slouchy tee

I used some of the black/ grey knit that I bought from the Village Haberdashery & used to make the MIY Walkley top out of.   There was just enough, even for a little stripe matching at the side seams, but I did have to make the sleeve cuffs out of two pieces 😉

So this is the first Simple Sew pattern I have made & it was pretty straight forward (but then it is a t-shirt afterall!)  I did find the notches were not that helpful- unless I misread them & they weren’t notches at all.

slouchy tee

Look at the levitating shoulders!

So a tee that was made in a pretty short space of time.  Nice deep cuffs and hem bands as well as a much deeper than usual neck band.  With this fabric the neckband appears to stand up rather than collapse in a slouch, which was maybe not intended in the design vision!  And I wasn’t going to play around with the neckband to accommodate this by any fancy shaping.  Once it was sewn on, it was staying there.

slouchy tee

It is very slouchy though and you’ll just have to take my word for the off-the-shoulder styling that I quite often find myself sporting.  I like wearing it with a vest underneath & once again evoking Kids from Fame.  Am I just getting too slouchy for my own good?