Funki duathlons

Funki runners#1

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

Funki duathlons

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

Funki duathlons

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

Funki duathlons Cunningly camouflaged pocket- but it is there!

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

Funki duathlons

And I made these in an evening.  Score.

Funki duathlons

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

Funki duathlons

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

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

funki fabrics samples

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

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

Funki duathlons Channeling Sweaty Betty at all?

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

Funki duathlons

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

Funki duathlons

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

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

Hope you’re having a great weekend all.


Londinium and an orange cocoon cardigan

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

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

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

cocoon cardi

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

cocoon cardi hem

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

cocoon cardigan back

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

cocoon cardigan

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

Cocoon cardi cuff

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

cocoon cardi cuff

Worked a treat.

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

cocoon cardi

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

cocoon cardi

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

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

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

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

Brick lane

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

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


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


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

Golden Hind

then taking tea with an amazing view at HMS Belfast.


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

Poppies at the Tpwer

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


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

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

muse Jenna cardigan

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

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

Jenna Cardigan

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

Jenna cardigan

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

Jenna cardigan

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

Jenna Cardigan

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

Jenna Cardigan

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

Jenna cardigan

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

Jenna cardigan

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


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

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

dolores top

Dolores top and dress- batwing perfection!

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

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

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

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


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


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

dolores top

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

dolores dress

Process follows these lines:

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

dolores top

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

dolores dress

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


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

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

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


Who won and real life Maria

I have got lots to write about but *stuff* happens and as a result I’ve written not very much!  And meanwhile it gets ever bigger. So instead of this mass of unblogged stuff clogging my head, I thought it was about time I put fingers to the keyboard & tap tap tapped.

I have so many sewn things to share, a couple of “how tos”, I have a giveaway to announce, and I’ve even met one of my sewing inspirations…. And I have some runs that deserve a mention. Don’t worry- there is no way I can cover all of this in one, or even two goes, but where to start?

SewSee later for who these belong to…

I should start with the giveaway, how about that? Thank you to everyone who entered & shared some inspiring ideas for using contrast fabrics- you are all winners (sigh). The winner of the Champagne skirt pattern is no. 2 as picked by random number generator ….and that is Lou Sewcial Warrior – congratulations – I will be contacting you and forwarding your email address to Capital Chic Patterns! Now there were some awesome ideas for using contrasting fabric, Lou’s by the way will be using pleather.

She says,

“ I’ve been planning myself a colette meringue with pleather facings on the outside with an orange and blue plaid wool for the skirt. But I think this combo could work just as well for the champagne skirt, which is gorgeous by the way.”

Can’t wait. There were so many racy ideas using animal print (grrr), solid colour blocking, sweet ideas for tartan and even florals. Go check them out for some inspiration! I was also taken with Cat’s suggestion:

“What if it would be a play on transparency? Like a white or cream eyelet with a turquoise lining, but only the body of the skirt is lined. “

which also got me thinking about transparency for a lace skirt with the flounce not lined…

Lovely! Think you’ll be giving some use of contrasts a go? Do tell!

And which sewing legend did I meet? Well none other than Maria Denmark!

Maria Denmark

I have been online friends with Maria for a number of years now but had always missed her visits to London. But this time I took the afternoon off & whizzed across by train to meet Maria and her Danish business partner (& lovely family) at the V&A. They had already managed a visit to Portobello Market and bought lots of vintage sewing nick nacks.

maria denmark

Once in the V&A I am afraid I didn’t pay that much attention to the exhibits as I was far too engrossed in chat!  It was so brilliant to meet in real life – we talked sewing and stuff barely drawing breath. Maria is such an interesting and dynamic personality & as well as her current projects and her sewing/ design background I was also inspired to hear more about her running her own business(es), her online Danish sewing magazine she creates and produces with her business partner Signe (who was also in London with us and who the MD halter dress and top is named after).  It was also fascinating hearing more about Denmark.  You know, I am so going to visit one day :-)

Bathing suits

We cruised the exhibits, some distracting us enough to discuss the sewing & design! Like these knitted swimsuits which I am sure everyone has the same saggy thoughts about :-)


Can you see Maria in the mirror? Trying to be arty, but not sure it succeeded as well as it played out in my head!

Afterwards we managed my first trip to Shaukat & I was blown away. I was grateful that the baby needed us to be focused (bedtime called & she had been so content). It could have been serious dither city – I have not seen so much Liberty print in such an expanse of fabric heaven! Lawn, poplins, cord, silks & jerseys. Bolt upon bolt plus shelves of pre-cut pieces. I did not know where to start so just honed in on the jersey.

I had the most amazing time Maria and Signe and baby Saga & Karen.   Interesting fact- Signe’s baby is called Saga (as in the incredible female character from “The Bridge”, pronounced like the computer games Sega)  But no, she wasn’t named after her, but after the Nordic God of sewing.  Talk about a perfect start as a sewster!

Wanna see my loot?

Liberty jersey

I had to buy just one piece, didn’t I? As a double celebration. And it was this jersey. It is quite possibly going to be the most expensive dress I have ever made. But people, I do need to think more about quality rather than always quantity!   There will be a “test” garment before I decide which pattern to make it up into (I have two possibilities, one being the Colette Monetta). Any thoughts yourselves?

Right, that’s it for today, stay tuned for my next catch up. Cheerio for now!

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!!

champagne skirt

Using Contrast Fabric for the Champagne Skirt & a giveaway

Well have I got a treat for you today!  I alluded to this when I shared my Champagne skirt with you – a guest post written by the designer of the Champagne Skirt herself, Sally from Capital Chic patterns aka CharityShopChic.

What do you need to know before I let Sally take the reins?  Well, apart from the fact that my Champagne skirt has become my stalwart office skirt, being the one that I opt for on a weekly basis because I really do love how I feel professional yet *hand designed* in it?  Yes, apart from that, when emailing Sally about possible ideas for a guest post, I was hopefully as interested as you could be to know how to approach working with different fabrics to great effect.  For my Champagne skirt I opted for rather a safe option- choosing the same fabric, but one that is reversible with different textures.  How could I be more brave?  What should I consider to create yet another memorable skirt with that designer look & feel about it?  So, have a read about what Sally’s thoughts are when she designed this skirt to give you just that level of freedom to let loose some interesting uses of fabric.  (Of course we are concentrating on the Champagne skirt here, but there will be other garments – skirts & dresses that some of these tips could be applied to!)

Hello and thank you for having me, Winnie!

Today I’m very excited to be talking a bit about fabric choices for the Champagne skirt pattern.

If you’re looking for inspiration, I have a pinterest board here  where I will be adding pictures of finished Champagne skirts from around the interweb.

Suitable Fabrics

Suitable fabrics for the Champagne skirt include most medium-weight woven skirt fabrics. You can choose a woven with lycra (less than 10% stretch) if you like a really close fit. You want something with a bit of drape for the hem band as it’s a flounce so it’ll need to fall nicely. In the shop, hold up the fabric to see what it’ll look like when it drapes!

Unsuitable fabrics include knitted fabrics, fabrics with more than 10% stretch or fabrics that are too stiff/heavy to drape nicely around the hem. It’s also not great for stripes/plaid/tartan, unless you use something else for the hem band (see ‘Different textures’ below).

Of course, you can make the skirt using only one fabric – like Alison’s , Nicole’s  or Katie’s  which are all stunning. But I think the real fun lies in choosing two different fabrics to complement each other. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Colour Blocking

Colour blocking is a fairly simple idea. All you need to do is find the same fabric in more than one colour and you’re set. For my blue and black skirt I used blue crepe, with a black crepe hem band. The waistband is made from the blue crepe.

Colour blocking

Consider what you’ll be wearing the finished skirt with and decide which colour should be on which portion of the skirt. Then you can cut out your pieces accordingly.

For the lining, I recommend using lining material that matches the colour of both portions of skirt, that is, two different colours of lining will be needed. However, if your colours are relatively similar, you might get away with using one colour only. An entirely black lining obviously wouldn’t work if you are colour blocking with black and white. Just something to think about!

How about Minerva’s poly triple crepe which comes in 10 colours?  My personal choice would be ‘Grey’ for the skirt and ‘Fuchsia’ for the band for a really fun look. You could go for ‘Grey’ and ‘Black’, ‘Royal Blue’ and ‘Black’… there are a lot of possibilities.

TripleCrepe-Grey TripleCrepe-Fuchsia

Or, you can choose a print for your hem band and match one of the colours in your print to a solid colour fabric. Note that this is best done offline – websites don’t always show the colours accurately enough to match them and fabric is non-returnable! As an example, I chose the ‘Royal Blue’ triple crepe  to match this rather fabulous animal print in black and blue but I could just as easily have chosen ‘Ivory’ or ‘Black’.

TripleCrepe-Royal Blueprint poly


Different Textures

Winnie and I both had the same idea when it came to different textures, that is, using the infamous Prada satin-backed crepe . This fabric is crepe-like on one side and shiny like satin on the reverse, and it comes in 11 colours. The shiny side can be used for the hem band and the matte side for the skirt for a really professional looking skirt.


I used the ‘Ivory’ for mine, Winnie used the ‘Purple’, but the colours include ‘Jade’, ‘Royal Blue’, ‘Cerise’ and more. The beauty of using a fabric with two good sides like this one is that the colour match will always be perfect.

The other option is to go for two different fabrics with entirely different textures. My personal preference when using differing textures would be to stick to the same colour, or tones of the same colour. But of course it’s totally up to you.

You could make a beautiful evening skirt using the black crepe  along with a hem band made from sequinned fabric like this one , for example.

black crepe


Or how about something really crazy like tartan for the skirt with soft pleather for the hem band, for that mid 90s punk vibe? I chose this one  and this one from Minerva to illustrate, but in reality I wouldn’t want to be choosing pleather without sampling it first to check it’s the right weight and drape (and quality) for skirts. Most websites offer a sampling service for this reason.


I hope that’s given you a few ideas for your Champagne skirts. If you have any questions, do leave a comment here or tweet me @capitalchic – I would love to hear your ideas for contrasting fabrics and see pictures of your finished skirts!

Thank you Sally- this has really given me loads of food for thought ….I am particularly drawn to the sequinned hem band….wouldn’t that be so classy for the party season ?  But I am also drawn to the tartan/ pleather in a Vivien Westwood kind of way ….Now, it’s time for you to get creative!!  Sally is very kindly offering a copy of the Champagne skirt to one lucky reader.  If you would like to be entered into the draw please leave a comment and your choice of contrasting fabrics!  Whilst the winner will be chosen at random, I will share the fabric combo that you suggest.  The fabric can be links to real live fabrics from websites or your own description (but if using words please do not forget to tell me what colours you are imagining!  I want to get a real picture of all these awesome ideas – let loose your imagination & creativity! )

The giveaway is open until the end of Friday 3rd October.

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!