Category Archives: Minerva Blogging Network

The Ultimate Boyfriend Shirt – Burdastyle Aviator shirt 03/2012 #113B

Here I am, back from my hols- I have LOADS of new makes photographed on location so I cant wait to share those with you.  But as this is my first week back & I am kind of not at all sorted it’s lucky that I have my latest Minerva Blogging Network make to signpost you to- the Ultimate Boyfriend shirt – using Burdastyle Aviator Shirt 03/2012 #113B

Aviator shirt

This is the next instalment to how I achieved THE look (maybe) from the Burdastyle Aviator lookbook I hinted at last time. No, Hint suggests that it was subtle, this was not subtle. I blatantly wanted to emulate the style showcased in this particular lookbook. This one here. So I bought the skirt & the shirt. It is called the Aviator shirt. Take my Breath Away?

Worn with my pop up skirt this shirt is full of fab details.  Head on over to the Minerva Blogging network to find out more…..

Welt pockets!

Welt pockets!

And don’t forget there are just a couple of days until the competition ends to win Wendy Ward’s Beginners Guide to Dressmaking with the capsule wardrobe of patterns supplied that I adore.   Check out the book review and then head on to Wendy’s blog to leave your perfect combo that will make your dream outfit using the patterns from her book….you have until midnight GMT Saturday 25th June ….

I’ll be back soon with a barrage of sewing projects … I have a veritable Glastonbury festival traffic jam of them ….

Pop up skirt, Burdastyle Buttoned A-line Skirt 10/2010 #105

I’ve had rather a thing for this look ever since Burdastyle pulled together an aviator look book years ago.  Outfits set against classic metallic painted aircraft, hangars and heat hazed landing strips obviously switched me from auto pilot to manual, and I went and clicked on the buy button for a few patterns, not just this skirt, the Burdastyle Buttoned A-line Skirt 10/2010 #105.  But I won’t tell you what else yet- that’s next month’s Minerva project.

khaki skirt

So having swooned for aviator glamour, I finally realised my fantasy.  I too could dress elegantly casual, ready for a foray into the jungle.   (How come aviator has turned explorer now?)  anyway maybe it means that this is my time for khaki.  Love wearing it with a sneak of red!

To read more about this skirt, head across to read my post on Minerva’s blogging network where you can also find out about my adventures in snap fitting and just which fabric I ended up choosing.



Springtime Hudsons

Fancy seeing yet more lounge wear that has been added to my repertoire?  After making floral summer Hudson pants, Arctic Hudson pants (both of which get a sound wearing), the new kid on the block are my Springtime Hudson pants made out of some delicious purple jersey.

hudson pants

Read more about them at the Minerva Blogging network here, and find out why they are not  Kwik Sew K3835.


I made jeans! (Slightly) embroidered Ginger jeans!

Ok I know I have already shouted that message before when I made my Jamie jeans, twice. But this time I have made traditional 5 pocket jeans and am so chuffed with the result.

This is not only my Minerva make this month, but also what I pledged for the Made Up Initiative and I have managed to finish them well ahead of the deadline. And worn them too (once!) And the Made Up Initiative has just a few days left to run & has so far scaled huge heights in how much money has been raised …


I used the Ginger jeans pattern by Closet Case files, having seen so many examples popping up in my blog reader that all extolled wonderful sewing & fitting experiences that I caved in. Pattern selected, I hopped across to Minerva and looked for some awesome denim & thread. I wanted an aged look & nothing too bright (on my scale of brightness that is!) so with the help of Vicki at Minerva I went for this ‘distressed’ (it’s not full of tears & bleach, don’t worry!) stretch denim & bronze top stitching thread. Immediately I have to say this is a magical combination – the denim is absolutely divine to cut, sew & wear. It has the look that I was after – aged – but not overly, plus it is very dark indigo. The top stitching thread too is muted enough but most definitely delivering on the detail 5 pocket jeans provide. Note you need enough thread, even though you only use it in the upper spool with a regular thread in your bobbin, I eeked out two reels (you have to allow for a few mistakes afterall!).

And pre wash your denim, a few times. I washed mine at least three times – it helps to finish the cut edges otherwise you can end up with unravelling threads, denim & the lycra tangling up in the wash.

ginger jeans

OK, so onto the jeans. I followed the written instructions at times but mainly used the sewalong. If you want to sew any jeans, use this sewalong. The detail, the guidance is second to none- photos, tips and demystifying jeans construction. Of course it is supporting the Ginger jeans pattern, which I have to say has worked out brilliantly for me. I REALLY enjoyed making them too. These were going to be an investment make, one of my ‘high hitters’ this year & so I knew that I was going to perfect as much as I was able, spend a decent amount of thinking time as well as sewing time on making a pair of jeans to see me into autumn/ winter.

ginger jeans

The Ginger jeans have two styles- a low rise style (this is what I made) & a higher waisted version. I kind of wish I tried the higher waist version after making these – so I am sure that’s what my next pair will be. I think the leg cut are slightly different, however & I really like the way these are not skinny jeans. I did not want a skinny cut, I wanted more of a straight leg & this is absolutely spot on- as designed in the pattern I should say.

ginger jeans

So I made a size 8 (UK 12), according to my measurements & basted the jeans, including the waistband, to get my fit right. It was exciting doing this, racing with long stitches to get a pair of jeans around my bod. I could almost immediately see what I was aiming for! I did have to make some fitting adjustments. But not many. These were:

  • Sway back adjustment – the back waist sat way higher than the front waist, I whilst it might not be 100% perfect now, just think how odd it would have been had I not done this.
  • Waistband needed a couple of cm taken out of it at the top – I did not take this out of the centre back as a wedge, but cut the waistband several times vertically & distributed this around the waistband, taking 3 or 4 ‘darts’ out of it. There is still the littlest bit of gaping, but would I want it any tighter when I wear them? Not sure.
  • The upper thigh inner back leg also had a small bit taken out, blending into the rest of the leg
  • Finally I needed to take a smidgeon out of the front crotch seam.

So you can’t necessarily tell from the photos, but I am pretty happy with the fit- the horizontal lines are mainly wear lines & are not pulls caused by fit. Honest! And this denim, can I reiterate, is the loveliest denim to wear ……

OK so that ‘s the fitting. Once I had basted & fitted, I took them all apart again & started sewing jeans – for real. I am not going to go into a load of detail about the construction of jeans. But I will say again how brilliant the Ginger jeans instructions are and how the sewalong is super comprehensive & an invaluable resource. What I will share are some of the things that I revelled in doing, some of my trials & errors.

ginger emroidered pocket

OK, I am either not square to the camera or have really wonky hips!

I had conceived that my jeans would be embroidered. I wanted some form of love & creativity added to these jeans to elevate them from my usual sewing. I did not know what I was going to embroider, I am not a seasoned embroiderer so it would be a bit of an experiment. I had thought it would be flowers, but after choosing the peacock fabric (left over from my Fancy Moon Miette skirt) I was inspired by peacocks. I thought I could simplify a peacock’s tail & embroider the eyes in the colours that I adore. So I made a few tests & this shows some experimentation.


I rejected all of these as they were too brash, even for me! I wanted something that was ‘there’ but not so ‘there’. So I plumped for a less brazen design using decidedly less gold, & altogether less solid thread.


Tools – this time I asked for a jeans twin needle- & forgot about it at first! Doh! Having two reels of topstitching thread makes life much easier when you sew with a twin needle. What I found out about the twin needle was that it was good for some seams, giving a pure parallel seam finish. However, there are areas in jeans sewing that it is less effective. Sewing around corners- I had a few missed stitches.


As you can see I tried to sew the pockets on with it, but wasn’t pleased with the result so took them out & used two separate lines of topstitching instead.


It also looks different on the reverse- see the zig zag of the twin needle against the traditional parallel lines?

Plus my machine, brilliant as I find it, (it is seriously good at coping with all the thick layers of jean sewing) sometimes struggled & when it struggles, the bobbin & top threads get chewed up & create a mini mess on the reverse- this happens a bit more with a twin needle for me.


The yoke seam is sewed with a twin needle and looks ace. Not that you can see it in this pic!

Top stitching – I upped my stitch length from the usual 2.5 to 3mm – I like the longer stitch length for top stitching.  I didn’t find it too much of a pain to keep swapping thread around- it is just the thread spool, at least the bobbin stays the same.  And another top stitching tip you might like – I tried not to cut my top threads on the right side of the jeans, but pulled them to the inside by pulling the bobbin thread & hooking it through with a pin to then tie them both together.  That avoids wispy cut ends that with topstitching thread can be more visible & fluffier!


Ever heard of a ‘humper bumper’? Well this is something you use to help your machine deal with thick seams- particularly sewing over/ across thick seams of which there are a lot in jeans sewing. I used a folded up piece of cardboard – you use it once you have actually just started to sew the lumpy bit, pausing, to add the folded cardboard underneath the back of the sewing machine foot to equalise/ steady it for going forward. Even though I use a walking foot, the added ‘humper bumper’ was a boon. I used it a lot – eg crotch seam intersection, belt loops, hemming.

humper bumper

And while I am onto it, belt loops. Heather Lou suggests using fabric glue instead of pins to place them for sewing. Wow I thought! Have I got anything I can use? I used Wondertape & it worked a treat- belt loops stayed in place while sewing. No pins to contend with. Pins did not get bent out of shape whilst being contorted into such awkward positions through so many layers. What a result!

I am especially pleased with my jeans fly. The method for sewing is one I will try to remember to apply to other front fly trousers. Really easy to get a precise result.

Jeans fly

Other details I love. The front pockets. In the Ginger jeans pattern Heather Lou suggests using the pocket fabric the other way so that you get to see the lovely fabric more than as the inner of your pocket. I got this wrong. Doh! I can’t pretend that it was deliberate- I just messed it up so that I get to see peacocks when I am shoving things (hands usually) into my pockets.

pocket innards

But I opted to line my waistband with this awesome peacock fabric & am loving that I did. It feels lovely to wear, & looks super joyful. I interfaced it, which made the waistband top stitching process far easier to control I felt.

top stitching

I actually got the finish I wanted for my waistband – outside & inside- by handbasting the facing in place first. I have sewn so many wasitbands that were either top stitched or stitched in the ditch that look great from the outside, but on the inside the seam on the facing is not aligned against its edge so evenly. This time I was going to make sure that both sides looked neat, & as much as I stay away from handbasting, there are times when it brings the difference you need, & this is one of them. Look, a great & simple idea (in the Ginger instructions) to mark on the waistband where your top stitching lines need to be- so hard to see when you are actually in the process of sewing it.

thread left

This is how much top stitching thread I had as I finished the last hem!

I finished my seams with a mixture of flat fell seams & overlocking. This is the overlocked finish – I used grey thread so it isn’t too startlingly visible. Looks OK doesn’t it?


Another bit of topstitching love is the upper side seam. Just a detail that is precise & makes me feel glad.


I did leave hemming my jeans for a couple of evenings after making them as I wasn’t sure how long to make them. After allowing various thoughts to percolate, I remember that I like a little turn up for everyday flat shoe wearing so went for that. This allows a little essence of a contrast (which I do enjoy) but I could always turn them down if I wore them with some kind of a heel.

ginger jeans

Oh my this is a long post! Have you snoozed off OK? It’s odd that making these jeans is one thing that is helping me to face the cooler weather. Definitely going to be wearing these a lot! Are you a jeans-maker? I had thought that sewing jeans was the holy grail of sewing, but with a certain amount of confidence & a little experience all you need is enough support – & I think Ginger jeans might give you that….

Anita tie top in silk- from Sew Over It Vintage

When I was planning this month’s Minerva make, I was suitably vague as I wasn’t sure which top I was going to make out of this silk. But I knew I wanted to make some kind of silk top. I had a couple of choices, possibly the Biscayne Blouse by hey June (one of my faves this year it has to be said), or something from the Sew Over It Vintage book. And there are a couple of choices in this gorgeous book – I could make the simple basic bodice as a top, a cowl neck using the dress pattern, or the Anita Tie top, which indeed I chose.

Anita tie top

Before I dwell on the pattern, the silk, this fabric, is stunning. It’s patterned with little leaves in bottle green & navy & is so luxurious. It was perfect for what I wanted to make – a silk top that would be good to mix with jeans or trousers as well as a pencil skirt or a denim skirt- something I could wear out in the evening. The top should not be fussy I felt as this silk was just classic & needed to be the star.

Sew Over It vintage patterns

My two new patterns – the left shows the basic bodice, to the right is the Anita tie top to show how there is no side shaping

So the Anita Tie top it became. Let’s talk about the method. In Sew Over it Vintage, Lisa Comfort, the author, includes the methodology to make many things – clothing, accessories, homewear, by drafting your own pattern. But don’t let this scare you away – the whole point of this book is to make pattern drafting much more accessible. If you are making something to wear, you draw patterns based on the measurements of the person who will be wearing it. Lisa guides you through each stage & clothes are drawn on the whole with straight lines, simple curves where needed. And if I can do it, anyone can! It really is step by step.

sew over it vintage bodice (1)

The starting point is the basic bodice which I felt would be sensible to make out of some spare fabric – making sure the measurements worked out OK before progressing to the variations needed for the Anita tie top & cutting out the silk! I made it out of some viscose I had spare in my stash left over from making a kimono gift last year. I knew it would drape beautifully, which seemed a requirement for such a loose fitting style.

sew over it vintage bodice (2)

I followed all the instructions to make what I think of as a bit of an 80s top. It’s the boxiness & the slashed neckline – I hasten to add that the neckline is wider than it should be because I forgot to add the seam allowance to the neckline on my pattern when I was drafting it.

….people will see me & cry…

It is reversible too – in that the front & back are the same!

Sew Over It Vintage bodice (4)

This bodice was a quick make, & I was confident it would be eminently wearable with a vest top underneath (a la Fame).

The Anita Tie top has an even looser style with virtually no shaping at the sides from the arms – it is designed to flow down your sides, with a hip hugging band that also houses the amazingly long ties.  And it is evoking the dropped waist styles of the 30s

Anita tie top

The top is gathered onto this band & you really should use a fabric that drapes otherwise it would probably look like a sack. No problem with this silk and its draping qualities!

Anita tie top

After drafting the pattern I was ready to face my inner fears & cut into the silk, all the while trying to take my usual calm confident strokes with my scissors & put to one side that this was actually silk I was cutting into! I did not take any precautions for cutting silk- I know that slippery fabrics such as silk can cause problems. I often find that cutting out on my lounge rug contains tricky fabrics to some extent, but there are lots of tips out there for cutting and working with slippery fabrics, such as these shared by Tilly.

Anita tie top

Making up, I also followed the instructions in the book, stay stitching the neckline I think is a must when sewing with fabrics like this. I also sewed using my walking foot & as a result cannot report back that I had issues, because I didn’t! I think there are probably silks & satins that are far more slippery than this!

OMG- look at that bow & how the silk is so sumptious!

anita tie top

I should have sewn French seams as that’s such a neat finish for such classy & delicate fabric, but at the outset, my first seam (attaching the gathered bodice to the hip band) was done right sides together & I really did not want to unpick seams in silk in case it left any spoilers. And having started with regular seams finished with my overlocker, I wasn’t going to switch into French seams later on.

Anita tie top


Apart from that, I have nothing much more to add. It was a hugely fun experience drafting the pattern to fit me- I mean the hip band is a perfect fit! I also really enjoyed sewing the silk because I was sure it was going to turn out to be the top I had envisioned. And it is! I wore it out to a meal the other evening.

anita tie top

Testing out its danceability!

And we went to the Gin Bar – yes, that is gin in that tea cup 🙂

Yummm so refreshing- with lime leaf

Yummm so refreshing- with lime leaf

I had lots of compliments – it is one of those styles that stands out in its simplicity.

Tea cup

Carefully positioned with the sign behind, causing the photographer much hilarity! And then seeing the guest fingers afterwards was even funnier. The top’s far classier than we are!

One of those styles that allows classy fabric to shine. And one of those styles that suits all sorts of shapes & sizes- I have a feeling I may be making the odd one as a special commission for special friends…

Here’s the link to the kit on Minerva’s Blogger Network if you want to see the fabric again (& the version of the Gin Bar photo that is more grown up!)

Shorts! New Look 6100

Gosh, it’s been a whole week since I have blogged!  I know exactly where it’s gone – the final whirlwind of last minute DIY and paranoid cleaning before my house is on the market.  I missed sewing, desperately but at least it’s all done AND I managed to not let week one of Marathon training slip, which was all accomplished to plan, so at least I wasn’t thrown completely off track by house-selling craziness.

Anyway, here’s July’s Minerva make that I have finally got round to posting.  With the amount of rain we have had over the last three days it’s laughable to be blogging about shorts!  However, shorts are shorts & are always needed when the sun shines in my badger wardrobe.


I love a nice pair of shorts & had bought New Look 6100 – a Workroom pattern from the Project Runway collection a while ago, having been intrigued by the more flared version (B), and the pockets of course. The pattern has a yoked waistband with a side seam invisible zip. I had been an admirer of Dottie Doodle’s “Happy shorts” also made using New Look 6100, so I bought the pattern when there was a special offer on New Look patterns (of course !). And this being my July make for the Minerva network seemed like a good idea.


I chose the very popular polka dotted chambray in sky blue, and when it arrived I was super pleased. This chambray is cute! And it sews like a dream – nice to press too.


So I wasn’t sure what size to make these shorts up as, and actually think that next time I will drop a size, but as I will never wear them with anything tucked into them, being slightly roomy makes them feel almost culotte like, and I like that! There is definite culotte-ability going on with the width & flare! But I do admit that they could look better smaller!

Making them up was straight forward – you kind of know what you are getting with a New Look pattern, much as the other big pattern companies.

I did however manage the invisible zip & yoke facing differently. The instructions would have you sew the invisible zip through all layers of the yoke, facing & all once you have sewn the yoke facing in place on the inside waist edge. I did not sew the yoke facing down until after inserting the zip so that I could make a neater finish at the top of the zip.


I took this picture to show how irritating invisible zips can be – sometimes they go in right first time, and then other times it feels as if you are forever fiddling around with getting the alignment to seams – & this was even when I marked the waistseam with a pin.


I am not sure what else to say about these flirty shorts! Just don’t laugh too much at the top-tucked-in photos – I feel a bit of a dork! But with top out I love them, there is plenty of scope for wearing in all sorts of environments – but for now I have enjoyed them being garden wear.

So if you fancy giving these ago, you can even buy the pattern through Minerva if you wanted to get it altogether!

Now as a sneak preview the vest is a new addiction.  I have now made three of these- Jalie 3245– when I need something to make in an evening with minimal challenge but big satisfaction.  It hs a racer back & has involved me making some easy to wear undies too….watch this space.

It’s Chino time! Simplicity 1696

Hello everyone!

Chino 1



I feel I have struck Chino gold, but in order to explain why, I need to go back in time to a less positive place. Do you remember when I made *those Burda* trousers (Burda 7017) after being convinced by how awesome Katie and Karen looked in them? The trousers that just did absolutely nothing for me, just looked like someone had taken a bicycle pump & inflated my rear? And my stomach? Not to mention the jodhpur style legs I’d already had to slim down. Well the funny thing is that it was one of those blog posts that I accidentally deleted when I had my laptop problems & was working off my ipad. (I know you don’t believe me, but every cloud as they say …) So therefore I can’t link back to it, nor the very helpful comments, & those that laughed along with me too.

So I am going to show you only one picture of the offending trousers as a baseline. And offer up some hope to other people struggling to find the right fit. After baring my balloon I received so much endorsement to *avoid pleated pants*. I could not ignore the swell of opinion!


Burda youth

The blouse is a Colette Violet hack.

I had an old McCalls 9233 in my pattern stash, but I was tempted by the newer “Perfect Fit” Simplicity 1696 pattern. Flat front chino style narrow legs. Was that welt pockets on the back too? (actually they are welts, not pockets).


chino welts

But good none the less to break up the expanse behind. So after consulting Vicki at Minerva about chino suitable fabric & being led to the selection of Gaberchino I determined that I would add this pattern to my March make for the Minerva Blogging network.


chino (2)


I have not used any Perfect Fit patterns (but you since know that I have also bought the jacket as an option for my Tweedy hacking jacket). I sat down & read through – what makes this so different? Well there are three different body shapes, & instead of self diagnosing, there are some key measurements to take to determine which shape to go for. In this case, hips and the crotch length. (I would have self diagnosed wrongly btw, it was worth reading the instructions!)

What else do Perfect Fit pants have that other trouser patterns don’t necessarily have? Well, side seams are larger, to allow for better fitting. Also the inner leg seam, at the top has excess in order to play around at fitting time. As you would expect, there is guidance in the instructions for fitting, & combined with “Pants for Real People” I would say this pattern gives you enough grace to mess around with the fit, even if it involves multiple basting/ trying on/ unpicking. So you have a very good chance at getting a good fit.

There are also “Perfect Tips” scattered within the instructions, such as applying bias to the bottom of the cut bottom edge of the zipper to make it smooth, that you can incorporate into your sewing, or not, as you choose.  

Perfect fit

Showing clockwise from left, belt loop extra stitching, neatening corner of waistband facing, extra seam allowance at inside upper leg

OK, so that’s what’s different about Perfect Fit patterns in my humble opinion, based on a solo experience – for what that’s worth!! How about the normal stuff, like, steering through the whole trouser with front fly making process? Well, what do you think? Do they look OK to you?

chino (5)

I found the instructions really easy to follow & enjoyed making them up.

Chino fly

The only irritation I had, following the instructions came with the waistband. It is a four piece with two pieces for the back (like the Thurlows, making it easier to fit) & a right front & left front – all with doubles as facings. The instructions have you finish the lower (waist) edge of the facing before attaching, & finishing with bias binding is an option, which I chose. You then attach the facing to the waistband- some nice corner turning action which I did appreciate, however, I did not like the finish I got by stitching the facing down in the ditch.

Chino Facing

Usually I would fiddle around by pinning in the ditch to make sure my stitching in the ditch follows an even line with my facing – tweaking as necessary in the pinning process. You can see here that the stitching line, governed by the “ditch” does not follow the already bias finished edge uniformly. But that was my only niggle.

Fitting? I compared myself to the finished measurements and shortened the leg length before cutting, and confident with the 1” seam allowances cut the size based on my hip (not my sausage waist). I did baste them to fit.

Chino fitting

Left & middle before, right hand after fit adjustment

And found that I needed the slightest tweak at the waist/ upper hip to get rid of those pesky draw lines. I did not narrow the legs at all, and like how they fit.

Chino (3)

What about the wearing? Well, so far so good. They are really comfy, like ever so nice to wear. They are the kind of trousers that you feel you need in several colours. They really are for me, the perfect chino pattern. Minerva have a lot of different colours in this Gaberchino, which does feel soft & has a nice level of drape.

OK, you see from the photos it creases a bit after being worn, but I kind of expect that in trousers like this (& I did have some major league loafing around on the day that these pics were taken!) I shall be making more, as they clearly show that I do need to avoid pants with pleats!

chino (4)

And photo credits this time, Handmade Jane, who really knew without being asked, how to focus on those all important butt/ crotch close ups!! Thank you so much! – on location in Cirencester.

Adventures in pleather – the Madrid Tote

Hello! This month’s Minerva make falls into the accessories category- I’ve made a bag. A tote bag using the Madrid pattern from the Seamwork magazine (Colette Patterns online magazine which is available for free, however when you subscribe you get the patterns too.) Issue 1 had an informative article about making bags which gives lots of tips and answers some of those questions that I’d had.

I have already made a Madrid Tote out of some oilcloth, very appropriate for one who sews and I used it as a practice ground in advance of going a bit more courageous for my Minerva make. Having found out how easy it is to install a magnetic clasp, add ready made handles & generally get a feel for how the Tote is designed to be sewn, I embraced PLEATHER and faux snakeskin using these pretty incredible coordinating materials. I asked Vicki at Minerva for a heap of samples to make my choice as for my Minerva make, I wanted to go for a contrast with piping. It was fun choosing, there are so many options, but burgundy with black piping & handles seemed to work for me and this funky snakeskin goes so perfectly with the burgundy pleather- I could not resist!! Get samples, it’s really worth it when you are ordering online.

And lining? I was mooching around the very inexpensive poplins for something snappy, & where there is an opportunity for a surprise, I feel obliged to take it ….yes, kitties! Minerva sells quite a range of bag making supplies, including the magnetic clasps and ready made handles, which again can be overwhelming if you haven’t used them before – but my choice was based on a simple colour scheme which narrowed down my options, plus having already sewn with the ready made handles in my previous tote, I kind of knew what I would be getting.

The Madrid Tote is just a simple tote – I am sure you could make it up yourself with some appropriately sized rectangles. It has a two tone outer and lining with an interior pocket for phone/ keys etc. Having also made Handmade Jane’s tote, you could also use that as a starting point, buying ready made handles and playing around with the dimensions. Jane’s tote also involves “3Ding” the corners of your bag to give it some depth, as does the Madrid.
Anyway, How did the sewing go? Well I made two interior pockets and added a zip to one of them to make it much more secure for keys.
The plain burgundy is true pleather, something I had never sewn before, so I was looking forward to using my leather needles that came with my machine when it was new, er, about 20 years ago! The faux snakeskin however is more of a fluid fabric, & reading the Seamwork article on sewing with different materials including pleather, it seems that leather needles should not be used with non leather (or pleather) – so the actual sewing mileage of my leather needles did not actually amount to much this time as I swapped back to a normal needle when sewing any seams that involved the snakeskin. And as for the snakeskin, due to it being very much thinner than the pleather, and for general good practice, I interfaced it before sewing with fusible interfacing. I didn’t think the pleather needed it.
Of course, the big thing sewing pleather is that you don’t really want to make a mistake as you are puncturing holes in the material. This is where a lot of my fear came from!
I took some photos of sewing the piping- it’s faux leather and feels really nice. I just sewed it with a zip foot, as you would normally sew piping.
Once the piped seam is completed & your front & back are whole you have to topstitch above the piping – I used topstitch thread. I am still not the best at using topstitching thread, but I always only use top stitching thread in the needle, and normal thread in the bobbin. It’s probably best to play around with your tension too, as I got a whole load of “messy string” underneath where the top thread was too loose.
Are you wary of inserting a magnetic clasp? Don’t be. It’s easy & really elevates your finished bag, making it look so smart & much easier to use than a press stud or button. (And easier to install). The packet has good enough diagrams, and check out this tutorial from Craftapple- this is for a cotton/fabric bag, but for pleather it’s not going to fray – I followed the advice in the Seamwork instructions to use fabric glue around the cuts you make to reinforce them – no buttonholes required in my case.
Madrid 9

The handles are sewn on by hand, and I learnt from the last time I made this bag to attach the handles well below the seamline of the upper bag. These handles are sturdy things & are awkward to manipulate out of the way when it comes to sewing the top seam – lining to snakeskin. When I decided on where to attach the handles, I played around with how much I could move the handles around out of the way to get to that top seam – remember your machine foot needs to get in there too, then there is the top stitching.
Madrid 10
So that’s the pleather tote, and I have been using it a few times around & about. To work – great for carrying around the essentials plus notebooks, lunch & even a pair of shoes! And in the evening it was a great way to transport a birthday present for a friend. And another friend entirely covets it. Part of me wants to give it to her, or make another one.
Madrid 11

The yardages suggested by the Seamwork pattern do allow for some remnants- I am not sure if there is enough to make another bag, but I could see some funky matching purse / wallet or make up bag… my fear of pleather has been banished!

For links for  the materials used or to buy the kit, this post is also published here on the Minerva Blogging Network website – it looks as if you can buy the bag making accessories in the kit.
And also this is a good opportunity to mention that Minerva are running a competition which involves the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network. To enter all people need to do is tell us their favourite post from the network by leaving a comment. Then at the end (12th March) 3 people will win the kit to make their favourite project. They have launched the competition to celebrate the start of the sewing bee again and also to encourage people to start leaving comments on the blogger network posts (as this is a new feature on the new website).
Good eh?!
Madrid bag being modelled with Tweedy skirt, Bronte top and Muse Jenna cardigan plus a new crocheted scarflet that was a birthday gift from my talented crocheting friend.

Anise jacket

Apologies in advance for repeating this post- but through all my laptop debacle & having to use the WordPress app on the iPad I have inadvertently deleted some of my recent posts.  I am trying to put it right, but I’m sorry I lost all of the lovely comments you all left me.  I need to keep a record of this jacket on my blog though, so here it is again.  Hopefully word for word.  If you missed it the first time around, hopefully you’ll enjoy it.

So here it is, the most proud moment of my sewing history I think I can say. I am reporting back on my Anise jacket and I am stoked. It’s lined, it has welt pockets and bound buttonholes. It has the cutest Peter Pan collar that sits with such a lovely roll over the neckline. It fits me like a glove, with enough room for a cardigan or sweater. I feel a little je ne sais quoi in it, when I wear my beret and leather gloves. It’s cute, cosy, but most of all, I feel I have done a really good job. You might be like me with the things you make – the first one to point out the flaws when someone offers you a compliment? Well, that is my default position too. However for this jacket there is only one slight 80 degree corner at the inner lining I would hastily show you if you said, “nice jacket”. And for me that is a record. I see just one flaw, & if you see any others, please keep them to yourself & maintain my illusion!!

Anise jacket 1


I have made a couple of more complex semi-tailored items before, with my Vintage Vogue jacket, my Spearmint coat and more recently my Andy coat, so anticipated a lot of groundwork & preparation and quite a lot of nerve-wracking techniques in making this jacket. You have to be patient with a make like this. I would suggest it will not be completed in a day unless you are pretty pro or don’t sleep.

Anise jacket 2


I chose this grey flannel fabric for the outer and polka dot satin for the lining. I also used calico (muslin) for underlining. It took me about four sittings to make this (quite long stints- between 4 and six hours). It was my post Christmas – pre New year make. Something to lavish attention on having sewn like a whirling dervish as I made Christmas presents for friends and family in every spare moment.

The Anise jacket pattern by Colette patterns, has a supplementary instruction booklet you can buy if you need more help, but I have to say that the instructions were extremely clear in the pattern alone. Maybe though I have a few coat makes under my belt and so have those experiences to build on.

It’s funny that there is a whole lot of work that you have to do for a jacket like this before you start constructing the jacket itself, eg attaching the underlining, thread tracing the pattern markings.

If you opt for bound buttonholes you need to make them as one of the first steps, which feels odd since buttonholes and buttons are usually one of the finishing touches for a shirt or skirt. You can make this jacket with regular buttonholes, but I was always going to make bound buttonholes, and can never make bound buttonholes any other way than without followingKaren’s e-book. It is my bound buttonhole bible! And I think they look pretty smart this time.

Anise jacket 3


So having completed the buttons, you then get on to engineering the collar. It’s cut with two pieces- an upper collar and the undercollar. The undercollar is cut on the bias. There is also an extra piece of interfacing, with its own special pattern piece that looks like a stretched sliver of a crescent moon. This is for reinforcing the collar roll, and I am convinced it’s what adds to the collar behaving itself beautifully, with enough loft before, yes, rolling as it folds. When I mentioned this to my Mum, conversation went along these lines,

Anise jacket 4


ME:”There’s even an extra piece of interfacing like a crescent along the collar at the neckline”

MUM (matter of fact) :”Yes, I know”

ME: (In my head) “How come you know all this stuff – there is nothing you don’t seem to already know! I wish I could know as much about sewing as you do!” You see I can remember my Mum going to evening classes in the 70s, when classes like “tailoring” were run up & down the country at local technical colleges, even in Somerset! Sigh. OK back to the story, the Anise story.

Anise jacket5


I can’t remember if I made the welt pockets before or after the collar. But what a joy they were to make too, but you feel more practised having four bound buttonholes under your belt – welt pockets follow similar principles, with that nerve inducing & very final slashing through the centre of the rectangle you’ve just sewn in the actual front of your jacket, for the pocket linings & welts to get manipulated within.

Anise jacket 6

I’m afraid I have no drama to recount about putting the jacket pieces together to make a 3D garment.  The sleeves are cut in two pieces & set in with some gathering stitches at the sleeve head.  This fabric by the way sucks up gathers like a sponge, absorbing the tucks into its wonderful dense self.  And it is like a blanket.  I love it!  The jacket lining has special pieces for the front & back, but uses the same sleeve pieces (but with a shorter hem).  The centre back is designed for a massive expansion pleat.

Anise jacket 7

Attaching the lining to the jacket- this time I made the decision not to bag the lining.  That was quite a biggie for me as it is how I have done it before, & you know me, I try to machine as much as I can.  This time, however, I followed the instructions in the pattern – attaching the sleeves to the lining at their hems, then handsewing the lining sleevehead into the lining body.   The main hem is handsewn – first the jacket’s hem itself, then the lining’s hem is handstitched but hidden under the lining’s hem fold.

Anise jacket

My most fiddly bit is the front facing corners where the lining at hem & facing meet to form a right angle.  One side is better than the other, hence one side being 80 degrees & a bit squirched.

So, I promised to share the trials & tribulations with making this jacket, & I have to say they fall mainly into the whoop whoop department.  And working with this flannel was a joy – it was easy to press underneath a silk organza cloth, with steam.  I had no problems with it at all.  And it is very forgiving, handstitching just disappears within its dense fibres.

Sewing this jacket has helped me decide that I need more makes like this in my projects, so that some at least of my future handmade wardrobe is invested with risk & learning (as set out here).  I don’t need to always make fast clothes!

ANise jacket 9

A big thank you to my Dad who took the on location photos.  Aren’t they so much better than my usual! And I’m wearing my new Miette skirt..

….and breathe…..

Hello lovelies!  I need to wish you Happy Christmas before it’s too late!

I hope you all have a most wonderful time doing what makes you happy.  I am hosting this year and we are going to use our outdoor pizza oven to cook some of the roast!  Even if it’s standing under a golf umbrella with wellies on…or wrapped up with scarves & gloves.  Of course we won’t eat outside, that would be foolish.

I have to confess that I took too much on this year & upon reflection all those hand made ideas that in themselves seemed relatively simple & straightforward, all add up.  It turns out that I have made something for everyone I give to this year.  And for some (ie my men boys) they got more than just the one handmade.  I have felt like I have been on a mission & gift-sewing bossed everything else (apart from work & the odd run).   I have some makes still to blog about but couldn’t get the time in before now, so will have a couple to show you after Christmas.  I should either have started earlier, or considered taking some time off before hand.  But, without giving anything away, the final two gifts were completed today …& now the house is all prepared for hosting & an evening of cooking/baking awaits me.  I have some Christmas Crooners to keep me company.  Marvellous!

In terms of sewing, I am mega excited to be sewing for me again.  Want to see what I’m going to be concentrating on this holiday?

image 1

This is my December and January project for the Minerva Blogging Network.   I am making a *big project*.  Yes, at last I am making a jacket.  The fabric I chose is this blankety grey flannel, it’s quite thick & felty, a true charcoal grey, with a faint mottled tweedy appearance.   This jacket is going to be an everyday jacket, one for going to work, or wearing with jeans at the weekend or on an evening.   But because I want there to be some secret fun & jollity to something otherwise sensible on the outside, I’ve chosen a polka dot lining, a satin. This is rather a statement – these polka dots are a couple of inches in diameter!

Also in my bundle of materials is calico for the underlining, some interfacing and also shoulder pads.

image 2

Looking for buttons I thought these would look good with the grey- my chosen jacket is double breasted & so the buttons are definitely a feature. Have you worked out what I am making yet? I have plumped for the Anise Jacket by Colette Patterns.

image 3

I have had this for a year or so now & it’s about time it got made! I shall be making the full length sleeved version, and am looking forward to rocking the welt pockets and I feel I should really make bound button holes as well. I feel as if I have a mountain ahead of me.  It’ll be worth it though, and do you know, I am really looking forward to it.   It fits with my sewing ethos for 2015….but you’ll have to wait to hear about that another time.

Have a most wonderful Christmas everyone, thanks for all of your support this year, it’s been a blast!