weekend bag

Sew Over It Weekend Bag

I think there’s been a bit of a flurry about the latest kit released by Sew Over It– the Weekend Bag- currently sold out.  This was a kit to make a weekend bag, something that I have been aware of as a distinct gap in my ‘luggage portfolio’ (hahahaha- sounds so pretentious!) so when this popped up on the Sew Over It newsletter I headed over for the opportunity to make my own (with maximum ease).

weekend bag1

Now I really do enjoy bag making, but I want it to be a quick one.  I need to be satisfied & it not to be overly intricate but at the same time deliver my exact requirements.  With a weekend bag, it needed to be big enough to transport a weekend’s worth of clothing & ‘stuff’ and also strong enough, as I have spent time on making the most beautiful of stylish accessories only for it to not withstand the wear & tear I inflict upon it.

weekend bag

I had never bought a Sew Over It kit, (there are all sorts from silk camis to ties – all supplied with the correct fabrics and notions to make your own successful version)  but to be provided with everything needed to make something I also knew I really needed,  made it an easy decision.  Even by the time I got to visit the online shop, the choice of two was limited to one – the geometric design – as the option to create your World Map version of the bag was clearly the most popular & had already sold out.  But geometric black & white was very practical.   Clicked purchase.  The kit came with everything bar thread to make a high quality sturdy bag:

  • Outer fabric – a sturdy cotton canvas
  • Lining fabric
  • Fabric backer – this is fusible and much more robust than interfacing
  • Webbing for the straps
  • O rings for the straps
  • A length of zip
  • Paper pattern pieces
  • Instructions

All this equals fast track bag making!

weekend bag

How lovely to have bag paper pattern pieces!  I have made bags that require drawing rectangles of specific dimensions (because let’s face it, so many elements of a bag are rectangles) – but it’s just not so instant is it?  Plus the weekend bag is shaped to enable a lovely 3D bottom.  And that means the pieces are not pure rectangles.

weekend bag

How lovely to be given the materials to make a sturdy bag!  The fabric backing just felt ‘proper’ and even though I have not (yet) forced a week’s worth of packing into this bag (as a consumer test) I somehow think it would hold fast! The fabric is strengthened & consequently I just get the feeling that my stitching will stay fast.  Maybe it is all perception and confidence instilled by the feel of the backed fabric, but nevertheless, it makes me feel confident that I can take this bag, stuffed with my precious handmade outfits & favourite shoes, away for a weekend of fun.

weekend bag

Making bags is one of those technically joyful sewing exercises – anyone else feel the same?  There seems a more obvious mathematical process involved – it must be the straight lines.  And I love the sewing order & its logic- attaching straps as one of the first steps.  The counterintuitive zip insertion when there are linings involved.


weekend bag

Love it.

So, all I can do is to urge you to look out for the Weekend Bag kit becoming available again if you like the idea of a more personal approach to luggage…. and encourage me to go away for even more weekends  overnighters so that I can make the most of it 🙂

khaki skirt

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.



pussy bow blouse

Pussy bow blouse – a hotlips summer special

This one’s a light blog post as I have only a few photos to show you and some key thoughts about the sewing.  This is a sleeveless version of the Pussy Bow Blouse by Sew Over It.  Sleeveless you say?  Yes, it’s an easy conversion from the pattern with its long sleeves to making a version fit for spring/ summer without sleeves.  And the best thing?  Despite the fact that this has a long bow tie, I could get this blouse out of a metre.  More on that later.

pussy bow blouse

Just because I have less pics and fewer words, this in no way diminishes this make!  It is most certainly a star & super useful whilst fulfilling a gentle nod to secretary chic (but hardly!).  I made it using some kisses fabric from a Fabric Godmother sale (some kind of synthetic slippery fabric but I cannot remember any more than that).  I can’t exactly see Miss Jones wearing such cheeky fabric to the office, but I certainly would (if I was still in a corporate role.  But I’m not!  This is the kind of thing I wear to work now- jeans are in!  But Ultimate trousers get rather a look in too)  I have also worn this top with a denim skirt (my denim Arielle) & it looks very cute tucked in.  It’s great this time of year with a cardigan that can be peeled off as the temperature rises…

pussy bow blouse

So I have made the Pussy Bow blouse before and you can read about it here.  In this blog post I will just talk about what’s different.  And the reason why this pattern, unlike many other pussy bow blouses, is not fabric hungry.  You want to know?  Well many tie neck blouse patterns cut the scarf/ tie on the bias, but the Sew Over It pussy bow blouse cuts it on the straight grain – & proof in the making & wearing that it’s perfect – no bias needed.  Therefore, as you know, you can squeeze the cutting of the tie along one of the edges.

pussy bow blouse (3)

OK, how to make it sleeveless.  Anything I can help with there?  Firstly, don’t cut the sleeves and cuffs out (hehehehe!).  But I made no adjustments to the bodice.  And I didn’t draft & cut facings for the armholes – I used bias binding.  It’s simple & doesn’t flap around at all.  And without sleeves it is an even quicker sew!

pussy bow blouse (4)

So that’s it on my hot lips blouse.  Except that being a synthetic it doesn’t need ironing.  Score!  Lazy laundress is happy.  What do you think?  Might you give it a go?

simplicity 1696

Chino time- the sequel- Simplicity 1696

So I made chinos last year using the Simplicity Amazing Fit pattern Simplicity 1696 out of gaberchino from Minerva. But a new pair was always on the cards.  A beige pair.  Now before I launch, please do not wrinkle your nose up in disgust at my photos after a full day’s wear.  This is showing you the trousers in real life.  How well the fabric withstands a day sitting, driving, and loads more sitting.  I could pretend that this was my intention – show you the trousers in the wild so to speak, but I have a backlog in blog posts needing photos & it seemed the only way to get some blog posts written was to take photos as the opportunity strikes, because photo shoots have just not been happening.  (I think partly the weather has not helped  – my garden is not as private and more people around might catch me ‘at it’ & that takes too much explaining when I’m still relatively new to the road!!  So apologies for the creases & lack of polish….reality strikes.  And before we launch – part two – the winner of the giveaway is also shared at the bottom of this post….

simplicity 1696

I love this pattern, having worn them since, the details were successful, I didn’t miss the fact that the back welts are not topping pockets. And the cut, look and style was just right. However, I always felt as if these trousers would be even better if I made them out of fabric with some stretch. Having enjoyed the wearing of denim with a tiny bit of Lycra content and also stretch sateen ( in my Ultimate trousers) I knew that uber comfort could be achieved.

simplicity 1696

Therefore when I went to visit the Fabric Godmother in real life at one of her open days ( peeps talk about awesome to meet Josie face to face in her natural habitat, surrounded by the most awesome plentiful bolts of fabric!) I was very firmly set on a purchase of more cotton stretch sateen to make some beige chinos, in time for spring.

simplicity 1696

And this is them. The fabric is a lovely pale beige, perfect. It is reasonably light weight in that these are not trousers that I would wear when I need a bit of warmth. These are Spring/ summer chinos.

Need to add another fastener

Need to add another fastener

And making the with the Amazing Fit pattern means that they have the same lovely details …faux welt pockets, nice facings with bias finishes. Did you see the colour of my bias!  The pocket linings are a summer floral with orange flowers…. should have taken pics!

simplicity 1696

Look back to my green chinos for more about the amazing fit pattern and amazing tips I took on board. But once again, I really do like the concept of these amazing fit patterns. They work for me.

simplicity 1696

This time I have made them just a little bigger as well giving ultra casual comfort, kind of boyfriend fit.  They are a bit on the baggy side rather than deploying the lycra content for hugging those curves.

simplicity 1696

This plus the fabric with stretch? Oh my. These trousers have died and gone to heaven!

I wore them at the weekend rolled up – like this …

Except obviously it was both legs rolled up…

Worn with my Liberty shirt

A huge thank you to all you who shared your fabric or pattern first personality-types in the last post.  It was really interesting reading about what hooks us – pattern or fabric (and sometimes we are not consistent – I know that whilst I confess to fabric first, it doesn’t stop me buying patterns that I like the look of – yet never seem to get round to making them)  Keep up the good work I say- go with your urges & enjoy dreaming about what you are tempted by!

And the result of the giveaway to win a copy of the Sew Over It Doris dress- generated by Random.org, it is Parisgrrl- I have contacted you by email.  Thank you to everyone for entering & I am sorry I can’t give you all your very own copy….

vintage shirtdress feature

Sew Over It Vintage Shirtdress

I was talking to someone recently who is a pattern first lady. She always struggles to get the fabric she wants for the pattern she possesses & wants to make next. She also finds it difficult to imagine the pattern in fabric other than that which is shown on the marketing / envelope, even if other fabric types are listed. We are all different aren’t we? I am a fabric first girl. What about you?

vintage shirtdress

Being a fabric first girl means I am always tempted when in fabric shops, especially by fabric sales & special offers. I buy fabric knowing approximately what I will make from it, so buy a reasonable length to make ‘a dress’ or ‘a skirt’ or ‘a shirt’ – but will not usually commit to detail until the commitment to make it into something starts.

vintage shirtdress

But the volumes of fabric that are on shelves as a result of sprees and splurges I have had over the years. Just when I think I am making a good dent on my fabric stash, I accidentally stumble into a fabric shop & come away with a few more pieces … I am trying to be more rational with my choices & not fall for pattern as I have done in the past. I am trying to buy fabric with the express purpose for making something for the coming season that will integrate into my current wardrobe…

vinatge shirtdress

But not so with this fabric that I bought in the John Lewis sale in January. This was definitely an emotional purchase. A poplin with stripes of vintage florals in muted colours. Well, more muted than my usual (until, that is, I see photos of me wearing it.  Maybe it’s not as muted as I originally thought!) . It was always going to be a dress, and not just any dress, but a Sew Over It, Vintage Shirtdress.

vintage shirtdress

I have made the vintage shirtdress before when it came out- & it was my most worn dress last summer. A sleeveless elephantine delight. Every time I wear it I get compliments from men/ women, no distinction. It was appropriate for wearing to the office (a little bit of fun knowing my dress was striped with ellies too) & for wearing at the weekend. I LOVE the vintage shirtdress and because this fabric was more muted I thought it would make a nice spring dress with sleeves.

vintage shirtdress

I cut it out carefully to try to match the horizontal floral stripes where I could. I even cut out the fronts one at a time so that I could mirror them in the pattern, and I also did this with the sleeves as well so that they turned out the same.

I adore the rounded collar

I adore the rounded collar

Relatively speaking this is a pretty speedy dress to make I think, despite the collar it seems to come together quickly. It might just be a misperception, but that’s how it seems to me.

Check out a little cheeky button action as well as those cute waist tucks

Check out a little cheeky button action as well as those cute waist tucks

No darts but waist tucks in both the skirt & the bodice (LOVE! So flattering ) I love that the collar has rounded corners…& this time the sleeves. Cute turn up cuffs, all part of the sleeve piece.

vintage shirtdress

Simple. Rewind to cutting out stage – One thing to bear in mind – there are different cutting lines on the bodice armsyce for the sleeved & sleeveless version of the dress. Something to do with how the shoulders would stick up too much when there are no sleeves to accommodate. I saved these extra shavings of pattern piece from the first time I made the dress & taped them back onto the bodice 😉

vintage shirtdress

Luckily I had buttons in my stash – but I was one short so made the top button deliberately different with a feature grey flower button.

vintage shirtdress

So when this dress was coming together I could not believe how this fabric could be made into anything that wasn’t a vintage type dress. It seemed so ‘right’, so obvious. And I am delighted with it. One worth getting the iron out for. And that means a lot coming from the lazy ironer that I am.

But back to the beginning, are you a fabric or pattern first person?  And if you are a fabric first person does it follow that you’re always going to have a greater fabric stash than the pattern first crew?  I’m curious (& it does help me to explain why my shelves are cascading fabric ……!!)

doris dress

Doris Dress by Sew Over It- Giveaway!

Long time no see!  Well it feels like it anyway.  I’ve just started a new part time job (not sewing related) & I am loving it, but my brain & all available memory cells are devoted to that at the moment.  But today’s my ‘Lady of Leisure’ (LOL) day & I have all sorts of lovely things planned to start the bank holiday weekend off with early 🙂  To start, this is a treat – I have a copy of the new dress pattern from Sew Over It – the Doris dress.  And it’s up for someone to win in a giveaway….read on!


I was a pattern tester for this dress you see, & so I can show you my version of the newest pattern to be added to Sew Over It’s pattern store.  This dress has been held as a course at Sew Over It’s shops & it’s great that it’s another pattern that has existed as a course pattern that is being released for us to make at home.

Product ImageThe Doris dress a semi-fitted dress with a scooped neck and the sweetest bust pleats for delicate shaping and floaty grown-on sleeves.

doris dress

At the waist you can cinch the back with a waist ties, or a fixed back belt- or leave it if it’s too hot & you want a looser fit.  The skirt is panelled & is a really flattering shape, in two lengths (I went for the longer length).


The bodice has a faux button closure – the front is still made in two pieces, left & right, but the buttons are not how you get in & out of the dress.  And I didn’t even make buttonholes in mine – just sewed buttons through all layers.  There is a concealed zip in the side seam.  The bodice is finished with facings for a neat finish on the inside.

doris dress

This was a lovely dress to sew & it’s all revving on the hanger in my wardrobe desperate for some warmer weather.  My pale legs are in denial (and didn’t last long!)  It’s such a feminine dress to wear & whilst it is inspired by styles of the 1950s I vividly remember dresses like this in the 1980s.  It’s the bodice  in particular I think.

doris dress

So although this dress is a zipped up closure – I reckon it would be easy to convert it to a fully front operating button up- don’t bother with the zip & cut the centre front skirt  in half with extra facings/ seam allowances etc & you can button up all the way.

doris dress

I was provided with fabric from Sew Over It’s shop too & absolutely fell in love with this turquoise feather viscose.  I am afraid it’s not there now, but another thing I love about Sew Over It’s store, is that you can pick a garment to then find suitable fabrics- look at the choices there are for the Doris dress.  I took a long time deciding it has to be said!  Bit thought a small scale print would look cute on this style of dress.  And essential that you choose a fabric with drape if you want to showcase the nature of the skirt!

And the quality of this fabric is divine!  Absolutely heavenly.

So whilst this is my tester version I am reliably informed that there are no significant changes to bring the pattern for release.

And now onto the exciting part – if you want to win a copy of this pattern for yourself (I’m talking the printed paper pattern here folks) leave me a comment below to enter yourself in the giveaway.  I’ll send it anywhere so it’s open to you all- closes at 1200 GMT Saturday 7th May.  I’ll pick a random comment as the winner.

coco top

Coco top with a yoke

Hello all!  I am in that place where my blogging is not keeping up with my sewing (or even my life ) at the moment.  I might (a big might) write another one about that as there were some sewing adventures & some compulsory fabric purchasing (shortened to ‘CFP’ & defined as unavoidable weakness when in proximity to fabric.  I suffer from this a lot & it is virtual as well as a tangible condition.  I suspect I might not be alone ).

Coco top with a yoke

But for now I am going to rewind a few months to show something I made as a gift (hence no pics of me wearing it, much to your relief as I haven’t got my hair in order today).

This is a Coco top & I added a yoke to it both in the bodice and at the sleeve tops.

Coco top with a yoke

It ‘s not that hard to add a yoke – you just need to be clear about where you want it to sit (I suggest that a horizontal seam right across the fullest part of your bust is not necessarily the best place 😉 )  And you could stop there, but I wanted the tops of the sleeves to mirror the yoke on the bodice.  So once I had drawn my bodice yoke line, I then needed to align the sleeves as if they were sewn in to work out where to continue the yoke line in the sleeve pattern.  Tempting as it might be to just slice through your original pattern you need to make copies of the bodice & sleeves because you need to add seam allowances to the horizontal seams.  But then you end up with a pattern to use again.  Reward for your new pattern drafting !

Coco top with a yoke

The fabric is some soft mid weight jersey in a cream/ green stripe that I had bought with this very intention a bit too long ago to expect it to still be in stock.  I can’t even remember where the cream ponte came from.

I have been having a lot of success using clear elastic on turned over necklines in knits like this.  I was reminded of it when this helpful tutorial was published by Maria Denmark on adding invisible elastic to knit necklines

Clear elastic attached to wrong side of neckline

Clear elastic attached to wrong side of neckline

It involves two passes at the neckline, sewing the elastic to the wrong side before folding (with an all important steam of the iron in between) to finish the neckline.

Sewing from the right side to finish the neckline with a folded edge, elastic sandwiched in the middle

Sewing from the right side to finish the neckline with a folded edge, elastic sandwiched in the middle

I find it gives a better level of stability to the neckline (as I sit here in a teeshirt I made that has a boatneck & gapes dreadfully).

coco topAnd to finish these adorable nautical buttons- no more left now.  Thanks Zoe, who sent them to me all those months years ago.  They are from Textile Garden – whilst having a quick roam amongst some stunners, I came across some anchor-readys, there may be more if you look harder… .


hudson pants

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.


sewing studio feature

Fabric shopping in Bath- The Sewing Studio

Hello all! I have decided to pull together just a little series that may be of completely no interest to you…until you decide that you’re going to plan a trip to my hometown, Bath, & want to check out some of the sewing attractions. So it’ll be either no interest to you, or something that you return to when it is relevant!

sewing studio

You see I have been asked by readers of my blog about where to go for fabric fixes …. & more… so decided to write a couple of pieces about my personal recommendations. Bath is a lovely place to visit (& that’s not just me, being a resident saying so, it’s the millions of visitors coming each year that lead me to make that statement! ) Yes I am biased. I have lived here for nearly 30 years now & even though I have moved out to become a rural outlier, the centre of Bath is still just 20 minutes (non rush hour) away for me. I love the city, its Roman history & Victorian regeneration of that, the Georgian architecture, the parks, the river,  Thermae Spa & the wide choice of shopping – all the usual shops you find in any town, but with an Anthropologie, and the lovely independent shops – check out Margarets Buildings, Broad Street and Walcot Street. The museums are also really interesting & some are award winning . But check out visitBath for ideas about what to do if you are coming to Bath & planning your trip.

So to kick this mini  series off, I am going to give some thumbs up to my fave fabric shop in Bath – Mark Pickles’ Sewing Studio. It’s on Charles Street, slightly off the main drag but close enough to Queens Square, host to our summer Boules competition, French food festival and also a generally nice place to relax for a picnic in  town.

Map here.

On a dry day you will see rolls of polycotton standing in bins (see above)  outside serving as flags to signal what goes on here. It was raining when I visited, but look for this shopfront  so that you can spot it nice & easily from the road.

sewing studio (11)

Now, originally, this shop used to be called Husqvarna Studio, (hence the website address) but whilst the names changed, nothing fundamental is any different – still the same friendly owners, shop stocked to the brim with sewing goodies.

Mark Pickles himself

Mark Pickles himself

Mark sells sewing machines, overlockers, swish fancy embroidery enabled machines as well.

sewing studio (4)

This is where I go to have my machines serviced and where I‘ve bought my overlocker and my coverstitch machine.

Here's Mark at work on someone's precious machine

Here’s Mark at work on someone’s precious machine

However, I would be very surprised if on a visit to Bath to see the sights, you were planning to leave with a sewing machine in your case! Fear not, there is so much more to come to the Sewing Studio for!


sewing studio (3)

The shop is arranged on two floors, and the ground floor is split between sewing machines, haberdashery & the most popular seasonal fabric / some craft fabric then upstairs has the workshop space for lessons, even more fabrics and the pattern books.

sewing studio (8)

Every time I come to the Sewing Studio, Mark delights in showing me the new additions to the stock & the shop always seems to be on the point of bursting – but not unbearingly so. You can see everything, perform that essential fabric touching test between your thumb & forefingers (very important & undertaken almost subconsciously by every fabric shopper, am I right?) This is not a megastore – it is a family run business homed in two floors of a Georgian terrace. But the space is optimised to get a really wide range of fabric & the gizmos & doings for all types of fabric crafting.

sewing studio (7)

Whether it is patchwork, bag making, cushion & duvet making you’re into, or being an avid dressmaker , he’s got something to offer. Last time I visited he showed me Teflon coated canvas, great for bagmaking. He also stocks tailoring resources (eg canvas – note to self) & other things (maybe less standard) for the fashion students at the nearby college. In winter he’s proud to show off his wools & coatings – the lovliest of selections, & now we are looking at Spring summer sewing, he’s some lovely linens & chambrays.

sewing studio (2)

Just a few of the fabrics on the ground floor

I would say that he picks quality fabrics that would be on a par with John Lewis prices & quality.  Stock is frequently refreshed & his sales are always worthwhile – usually he has blanket discounts to make way for the new stock he knows is on the way & he has to fit in!

sewing studio (10)

I love shopping for fabric on the internet and there are some great online shops, but somehow, we all love a bricks & mortar fabric shopping experience don’t we?   Nothing quite like being able to handle the fabric there & then when you know what you want to make.  Or to fall for something you see in the flesh.

sewing studio (12)


This is most definitely my first choice for fabric shopping in Bath- if you have something particular in mind, you can usually get it here. And then some. Temptation all around! And always a friendly welcome.

I have not been paid to write this review or make this recommendation. All views are genuine & my own.

mccalls 7261 feature

Luxury running top McCalls 7261

I have not posted anything for a while about running have I?  That itself could be a post of its own, reflective perhaps that my running has taken a bit of a back seat to the other stuff going on.  Maybe I will find time to write about that sometime.  Maybe.

mccalls 7261 (3)

But this is something I have made for running.  Hurrah!  And it has been worn on quite a few runs already!  Double hurrah!  This is McCalls 7261  M7261 which has long sleeved tops with collar & hood options & cuffs with thumbholes (gotta love those thumbholes for a winter running top 😉  ).  This pattern also has colour blocked leggings which I haven’t looked into.  So quite an interesting pattern!  Almost a winter running capsule wardrobe!

mccalls 7261

The top has princess seams & raglan sleeves.  I went for the version with the two-piece cowlish neck.  It’s like a built in mini Buff.

mccalls 7261 (6)

I also wanted to make the version with the thumbholes – I mean this would be a full on winter running top.



But what about the fabric?  It’s from Spoonflower (2m bought  on one of the free postage days last year ) – Birds & Bees in butter yellow – using the Performance Knit – this is the lesser stretch active wear fabric (NB not suitable for leggings which need high stretch,  the Sport Lycra is best for leggings)  This though feels so silky to the skin & performs great when you’re running & get a bit warm.  It also has amazing drape which means that the collar on this top is absolutely glorious & cascades beautifully.  I love sewing with this fabric & I love wearing it.  Truly it feels luxurious.  And the design is so cute & unusual.  But also quite understated.  I love it.  The birds are so cuuuute & singing to me as I run!

Sorry about the apparent strain! Just my arm position...

Sorry about the apparent strain! Just my arm position…

I have not that much to say about the sewing except that it all came together really nicely.  I used my overlocker (of course)!  except for hems & using a narrow zig zag to understitch the seam allowance at the collar.

mccalls 7261 (2)

I did also machine baste the collar to the neckline with my regular machine using a long straight stitch before sewing with my overlocker- just as a precaution & much easier to sew trickier seams on your overlocker when there are no pins in the way!

mccalls 7261 (5)Here are some more photos of the back …

mccalls 7261 (7)mccalls 7261 (8)

I’m not modelling it very well, twisting it a little out of shape.  But it shows it loves to slink.  I did make a size 12, as I prefer a loose fit.    I’ve enjoyed everything about McCalls 7261- so far.  There is finally more choice in the  activewear patterns being released by some of the big 4 & if this top is anything to go by, they are really interesting & wearable.  What do you think?