Tag Archives: ric rac

Gift idea? Kindle cover tutorial with extras!

Here’s another gift idea – a kindle or e-book reader cover – or as I like to call it, a Kindle Sleeping bag because it is padded & feels snug. I should really call it a “device” though, so therefore I will going forwards. This tutorial is of my own devising & I had a few ideas to incorporate into my design.

Kindle cover tutorial

This “device” sleeping bag has an optional glasses pocket for reading glasses. I have reading glasses all over my house & this pair lives by the side of my bed, in my device cover. It came about because I always tended to slot my reading glasses into the top of my previous kindle cover & was cautious I didn’t scratch its surface. Wouldn’t it be practical to have a pocket to keep glasses with device, I thought & so here it is. If you don’t want the glasses pocket, just leave out those steps. I’ve put my glasses pocket on the other side to the button & tab, but you may want to swap this around & have the pocket & button on the same side.

E book cover tab

I made a version without a glasses pocket as well. Both versions are padded with cotton batting or wadding & have a tab and button to secure the device inside.

E book cover

I’ve used ric rac to embellish the tops of my pocket and the cover itself (of course!)

You will need:

  • Some fabric – this is a great scrap buster;
  • Some wadding or batting
  • Ric Rac – I used very small ric rac, but I would recommend slightly larger ric rac as it would be easier to work with.
  • A button
  • Thread to match.
  • All your usual sewing tools: scissors, pins etc


I am using a selection of fabrics that had been put into a lovely Fat Quarter bundles- clever things, those- someone’s already done all the hard work of putting fabrics together that coordinate. I loved the colours & combinations in this bundle. It’s Michael Miller, Deer Floral Navy using this fabric, a bit of this and then lined with this Kiss dot magenta, and the folk at Elephant in My Handbag gave me the FQs to have a play around with, & this tutorial is the result!

Have a think about what fabric combos you are aiming for – how you will mix up your fabrics. One of my cases has a back the same fabric as the lining (polka dots). The other uses three coordinating fabrics, with polka dots lining both the glasses pocket & the cover itself.

So let’s start

Cutting out

Trace around your device & add a good 1.5cm to account for a little ease to get your device inside, including a 1cm seam allowance.

step 1

Depending on how you combine your fabric you will need to end up with:

  • Two pieces to make up the outer front & back
  • Two pieces for the lining
  • A piece 7.5cm x 12cm for the tab
  • Two pieces of Batting or wadding the same size as the front/ back.

Optional glasses pocket:

One piece of fabric plus lining plus wadding – all the same size. The size of the fabric I used for my glasses case was about 12cm wide by 17cm long, but I would recommend layering fabric with wadding to wrap around your glasses to get an approximate size – remember to add 1cm for seam allowances around all four sides.  You fine tune the size you need later on as you sew it.

glasses pocket

Once you have cut your fabric and wadding, it’s time to get sewing.


Optional glasses pocket:

To add ric rac to the top seam as scalloped piping, first of all mark the seam line by sewing a long straight machine stitch 1cm from the edge of the pocket (this is so quick & easy by machine, but you could mark it anyway you want to- chalk, with a ruler, as you go).

step 2

Then hand baste the ric rac to this line, on the right side, so that the centre of the ric rac covers this machine basted line.

step 3 Place the batting to the wrong side of the pocket lining & hand baste in place.

Place the pocket lining right sides facing the right side of the pocket and pin together through all layers (& ric rac).

step 4Looking at the pocket, with the wrong side of the outer fabric facing up, sew the left hand vertical seam and the top of the pocket through all layers with a 1cm seam allowance.  (This left hand seam is actually the right hand edge of the pocket that you see in the middle of the cover)

Clip corners, turn, then press (get your ric rac snappy & crisp away from the top). Remove basting stitches.

You might want to baste the as yet unsewn edges together – the left hand edge and the bottom edge, to keep all of the layers together in the right place.

Moving onto the cover.

These instructions are for the version with the pocket & button on different sides of the cover. Swap it around if you want to make it differently.

Button tab:

step 6

Fold the fabric in half right sides together, decide how wide you want your tab to be, then sew along the long edge & stitch along the long raw edge & then across the bottom edge – you could sew horizontally, or at a jaunty angle !

step 7

Turn it the right way out & press. Make a buttonhole on it that is the right size for your button.

Front cover:

To add ric rac to the top seam as scalloped piping, follow the same process as for the glasses pocket top – first of all mark the seam line by sewing a long straight machine stitch 1cm from the edge. Then hand baste the ric rac to this line, on the right side, so that the centre of the ric rac covers this machine basted line.

step 8

Place the batting to the wrong side of the lining & baste in place.  (I actually basted my batting to the cover fabric which is why the ric rac shows, but you have better sight of the ric rac basting lines as a guide for your top “piped” seam if you attach the batting to the lining.)

Place the front lining right sides facing the right side of the cover and pin together. Sew the top edge of the cover through all of the layers. Turn, then press, removing basting stitches.

Back cover:

Add ric rac in the same way as above, but once you have handbasted the ric rac to the back, mark the centre. Put the tab in place, using the marked centre to show where to locate it. The buttonhole should be at the bottom, the tab’s raw edge, at the top. Secure this with a couple of basting stitches or pin perpendicular to the edge.

step 9

Add the lining, right sides facing the right side of the back cover, pinning in place. Stitch along the seamline through all layers, catching the tab & the ric rac all in one go.

step 10

Turn to the right side and press, removing basting stitches.

Optional glasses pocket:

Work on the cover keeping the lining well out of the way, for all of this section. Place wrong side of pocket (ie lining) touching the right side of the cover, place the left hand corner & edge of the pocket onto the left hand & lower edge of the back cover & pin the left hand edge.

step 11

If you want, you can machine baste the left edge through all layers with a long stitch within the seam allowance, or keep the pins in like lazy me. Then get your glasses & place them inside the pocket to work out where the right hand edge of the pocket needs to be stitched. Create the right size pocket for your glasses to keep them snug. Pin this edge, take out your glasses & straighten it up to make sure it is at right angles to the bottom hem. Stitch the right hand pocket edge through all layers, keeping the lining out of the way – you don’t want to stitch through the cover’s lining.

You should now have a glasses “tube” attached to the cover, with two open ends.

step 12

Make a couple of pleats in this bottom edge to pin out the excess pocket width at this edge to the cover below. Baste this in place through the layers.

Device cover:

Give the pieces a bit of a press, pressing the seam allowances down towards the outer cover (ie away from the lining) but make sure the ric rac is facing away from the seam allowance, towards the lining (so that it sticks out like scallops when it’s all complete)

step 13

Right sides facing, place the linings together and cover front & back together, matching at the central seam.

step 14

This is an important seam to match, as it will be at the top of your device cover. You need to make sure that the seam allowance is pressed down towards the cover, not the lining and that the ric rac is positioned upwards towards the lining.

Leaving a 4 or 5” gap at the bottom of the lining to turn your cover through later, sew all around the edges of the device cover.

step 15

Clip corners and turn through the gap in the lining. Using a point turner get your corners as pointy as you can – there is a lot of padding in the cover, so you won’t get such sharp results as usual.

step 16

Remember to get your lining corners pointy too. Press the cover & lining, including the seam allowances for the gap in the lining.

step 17

Edge stitch the gap closed, then push the lining back inside the cover.

E book cover

Put your device inside then decide where you want your button sewn on. Mark it then sew it on.

Kindle cover

All done, your device now has a lovely new home.  OR you could make one for keeping someone else’s device safe & cosy!

Papa’s got a brand new Peg Bag

The title’s showing my age, but this is something that I made as a gift earlier this autumn, and thought to take photos as I did it, to make into a photo story tutorial.    I made it specifically for the friend who has everything…it seemed….except she was using a poly bag for her clothes pegs.  Inspiration struck & I sourced fabric that I thought she would like.  IMG_1994

So my design was heavily inspired by this peg bag & how to at Better Homes & Gardens.  There is even a downloadable template (which I ignored in my ignorance & need for speed- resulting in a peg bag that could do with a bit more depth – learn from my mistake!).

Peg bag back.

I was fully intent on following the instructions, but when I came to read them I got too lost, so just made it up as I went along, taking photos to record my process.

Peg bag suppliesFor my pegbag I gathered supplies: outer fabric (using this Robert Kaufman Owls fabric which I bought especially) and lining – I had some polka dot in my stash, which I thought might look like starry night sky peeping through the hole.  Of course I had to use ric rac too.   I think you can get away with half a metre of each fabric- lining & outer for making a peg bag.

You will need a clothes hanger as well.

Peg bag templateI drew my template out freestyle, using the coat hanger as a starting point for the top & width, making it symmetrical, adding seam allowances.  The back & the front are exactly the same, except the front has a hole in the centre for accessing your pegs.  But why not use the template already available at the link already mentioned.  Then your bag will be deep enough 😉

Fabric piecesCut out a front & a back for the outer fabric and the same for the lining.

Cutting the circleThis is how I cut the central circles out.

Basting seamlineUsing a long stitch length, sew around the circular hole at the seamline – this is to mark where you want to place your ric rac.  If you are not using ric rac, then ignore these next steps.

Ric rac placementBaste the ric rac around the hole over the top of your basting stitches.  At the ends (see at the top) bring them in to the inside with an overlap.

Sewing the lining to the outer Putting the lining front right sides together with the outer, pin then sew the two together at the circle, stitching on top of the stitches that are basting the ric rac to the outer fabric.

Clip curvesClip all around the curved edge.

PressTurn to the right side, admire a bit, take out the basting stitches, press, then admire some more.  Then get back to it.  You’re not finished yet.

Clip topAt the top of the back, in the centre, make a neatly finished hole for the hanger to poke through.  I made a hole in both the back lining & the back itself, to make it neat with no raw edges.

Backs togetherNext you need to treat the lining and the outer bag as two separate entities, even though they are joined at the ric rac circle.  Putting the lining back & front right sides together, stitch all around the outside,

GapBut leave a gap, about 5″ long at the bottom so that you can turn it later, and get the hanger in!  And you will also need to leave a small gap at the top.

HoleNote though that for the top of both the lining and the outer bag you need to leave a gap where you have already left access for the hanger.

StitchStitch the outer bag to front bag right sides together all around the outside – no need to leave a gap except for the top.

Insert hangerTime for some hanger gymnastics!  Insert the hanger, in between the lining & the outer fabric & get it into place.

Pin the gapWhen you are happy you’ve got the hanger in the right place, pin the gap in the bottom lining closed, then edge stitch by machine close to the seam edge, but making sure you keep the outer bag out of the way when you sew.

Closing the liningI found that my lining was at the mercy of gravity and wanted to bag out & not stay where it was supposed to!

Stitch the gapMoving the hanger out of the way, I attached the lining to the outer at the “shoulders” or the top of the peg bag by pinning them together at this seam & “stitching in the ditch”  (ie sewing a straight seam in the channel created by the existing seam) through the layers – both the outer fabric and the lining.  This keeps the lining in the right place, but also in an inconspicuous way.

Peg bagAdd clothes pegs & enjoy!

Maybe you know someone who has everything apart from a cheerful clothes peg bag?  Possible Christmas gift?

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!!

Not such a plain black skirt: Colette Meringue skirt with extras

I’ve not had a plain black skirt for years & have managed along quite happily without feeling the need.  But then you’ll see soon that I’ve made another shirt which got me thinking differently.   And when you see the shirt (later this week, I promise) you’ll understand.

meringue skirt

A little black skirt can be soooo versatile, can’t it?  Easy to pair up with a blouse or sweater of most colours (& I know that Susannah & Trinny would tell you otherwise & not to wear colour with black, but I happen to like wearing all sorts of colours with black myself…blues, reds, cream – is that a colour?) So, an urge was born.


The idea of a black skirt grew, & I knew that I had a suitable piece of fabric residing in my stash bought from the Birmingham Rag Market a while ago.  This fabric was originally bought for some Clovers as it has some stretch in it, but it has the most gorgeous drape, even if I have no idea what its composition is.  The important thing is that it feels nice & not too polyester – ridden.

meringueWould you like to know what the grey dots are on the wall to my right?  Well….they are the result of us being *really bad* at darts!

My little black skirt though was not going to be *just a pencil skirt*.  If I was to make a plain black skirt, the design of the skirt had to give back a bit of detail.  It was either going to be a Charlotte (but not enough fabric for the ruffle) or the delightful Meringue skirt in the Colette Patterns Handbook.  I have lived in my pinstriped meringue & love it.

meringue skirt

I decided that I should make it again, in plain black, with polka dot lining & a waistband again (I like waistbands, although the Meringue pattern is drafted with a faced waistline).  I learnt a lot about how to line my first Meringue skirt  through trial & error,lining the full skirt right down to the scalloped hem (read about it here) & acknowledged that this is not the best way to line the Meringue skirt.     This time I would keep the lining free from the hem & use the pattern facing.

meringue skirt

OK, the plan was hatched.  Just one more detail occurred to me: velvet ric rac.  Oh yes!  Another way to bring some pizazz into a plain black skirt.  I would add velvet ric rac to the waist seam as if it was piping: an echo of the scallops below but in smaller form.

meringue skirtCheck out the almost polka dot button! Scoop!

So it all went without a hitch.  I followed Lladybird’s invisible zipper method which has an added safety measure of marking stitching end points both sides of your zip to get balance (genius).  Now that worked even better for me, & it will be a sure new technique added to my sewing armory now.  Thank you Lauren 🙂

meringue skirt

How it’s possible to make a plain black skirt, not plain.

meringue (2)Happiness is ….turquoise shoes.  I’m telling you, it was confirmation that the Spring is coming getting these babies on!

Minerva Make: Named Jamie Jeans Scruffy Badger style

Let’s get this straight.  I planned to make these jeans as my February Minerva Blogging Network make before I had ever sewn jeans.  And you may or may not know that I generally never make “test garments”, “muslins” or “toiles” .  But taking a gamble using my Minerva supplies for my first ever pair of jeans seemed just too risky.  Remember, I worried about sewing jeans for the following reasons:

  • Fit
  • That my sewing machine would cope with all those layers
  • That my top stitching would be neat enough
  • Jeans buttons
  • Jeans zip fly
  • And fit again.

 Jamie Jeans

 Therefore I actually trotted along to my local fabric shop to make my “test” pair in advance of sewing my Minerva jeans.  So if you fancy reading about my learnings, trials but super tribulations & exultations in making my first pair of jeans, you can read about it here.

So here we are, one pair of jeans under my (Rhinestone buckle) belt & it was time to develop my plain jeans into a pair of jeans fit for a badger.  I have been using the Jamie Jeans pattern by Named patterns.  Now I understand that the pattern instructions have had a wee overhaul – and whilst I haven’t had chance to download my updated version yet – I expect there will be a few diagrams to supplement the surprisingly clear written instructions.  I use the word “surprisingly” respectfully since I would never be able to write so technically about inserting fly zips or the canny front pockets as clearly as the peeps from Named have.  Remember if you haven’t made jeans before, I’d strongly recommend this pattern – I have referred to it as “entry level jeans”!

Jamie jeans

To summarise the design of the Jamie jeans in case you have not come across them before – they are skinnies & need a stretch denim.  They are not a classic western style 5 pocket jean, but are constructed with the front leg made in two pieces with a centre front top-stitched seam.  There are cute horizontal front pockets that look like welt pockets – but fear not – are not – they have just been cleverly designed for maximum style & optimum simplicity to sew.  The back pockets are sewn in two pieces with a horizontal seam.

Jamie jeans If you are thinking of making this awesome pattern check out this fab photo tutorial that Jennifer has made on Flickr documenting everything in technicolour. I would also say that if making skinnies you do need to approach the whole fitting business as well (see my thoughts about this in my first pair).   If making looser fitting jeans I guess the fit business will be different & maybe not so intense? I don’t know – you tell me?

Jamie Jeans

OK, you want to know what I did to my jeans to make them fit for a badger, don’t you?  Well, look at the kit- it has the most gorgeous indigo denim – it’s a mid weight with a slight vintage finish.  The kit also has top stitching thread, a jeans zip, jean button, denim needles and …..wait for it …gold ric rac!!! Woo hoo!  It’s going to be a party on my jeans!

Jamie jeans So my original plan had been to use the ric rac in the cute back pockets as part of the mid pocket seam – remember  they are constructed in two pieces.  However, plans changed & I had other ideas about the back pockets ….mid sew, I decided to add the ric rac (like piping) to the front pockets.  (I’ve written a tutorial about how to use ric rac like piping here).  Not stopping at that I judged that ric rac on the back yoke would be *just tasteful enough*.

Jamie jeans So, the back pockets – I was inspired to draw a personal design on the back pockets & topstitch it before attaching them to the jeans.  And it was the pocket lining fabric that gave me my lead– I used the same pocket fabric I used in my test jeans – the elephant fabric from one of my Colette Laurel dresses.  And so copied one of the elephants freehand onto some brown paper before tracing it onto the pockets themselves using a sharp chalk marker.  But can you see what I did?  One pocket has the front half of the elephant, the other pocket has his rear!  I topstitched using top stitch thread (regular thread in the bobbin) & for the elephants used a short stitch length to allow greater precision.  And I have to say I really like my ellies!!  And my ric rac!  And I don’t think they are too flash – really.  Do you?

Jamie jeans My original design concept for these jeans did not really plan in how to use the contrast top-stitch thread, but as I sewed I integrated single line top-stitching (or edge stitching to be precise) into the design.   I used this effect across the front pockets, to attach the back pockets, along the yoke, and around the fly.  I also used it along the inner leg seams & the belt loops.  And there is enough thread in the kit for this – but any more top stitching – eg double lines – & you might need some more top stitching thread.

Jamie jeans

One of my favourite details & sewing processes was sewing the “jeans seamed” crotch seam.  Somehow it was hugely satisfying to get such a neat & RTW –ish finish.

Jamie jeansOh I have no qualms about pulling weird faces online …

If you are wary about using a jeans button (they come in two pieces & look like a screw one side, with the button as the other), don’t be scared.  You need a hammer, something sharp & a piece of scrap wood to absorb the DIY you are in fact performing, but I asked for a spare button in the kit in case I made a boo boo – but didn’t need it.  This video on Youtube was my reference.

So if you want some tips about sewing jeans – I’ve listed a few as I wrote about my first pair.  What I discovered about sewing a second pair of jeans is that my fear came back to bite me on my [elephant] pockets.  Never ever expect any two fabrics with lycra in to behave or fit the same.  I transferred the pattern adjustments from my first pair of jeans to the second pair, but I have to say they have turned out a little bit more on the snug side.  I’d recommend always allowing a little bit more seam allowance to play around with fit.  And next time I shall practice what I preach.  However, it’s no biggie with this pair – they still fit, & are comfy but are perhaps not the clothing of choice for long journeys!

What I have also discovered about skinnies is that they suit numerous types of footwear.

Jamie jeans From ballet flats

Jamie jeans To cowboy boots

Jamie jeans

To funky boots.

And that makes me happy.  Because I (more than) like shoes & boots…. I also think there is something of a vintage vibe about skinnies with turn-ups.  Love it!!  So, if you fancy having a go with denim & ric rac give it a go – here’s the kit here.  And for a chance to win it, there’s a few days left on the giveaway here.


Oh my word I’ve made a coat! The Spearmint Coat by Lolita Patterns

OK, this is the last blog post this week, I will need to recover from blog burnout- & you dear people will need a bit of space from badger overload!  But it’s worth it, well I think so.

IMG_6240This is a coat. This is possibly the most complex thing I have ever sewn. This is absolutely the most expensive thing I’ve ever sewn. And it feels “designer”.  It’s princess seamed and very girly with the most amazing flounce collar which cascades around your neck as you wear it.

I made it a while ago & I’ve been itching to share.  And this is the week it happens – the Spearmint coat by Lolita patterns is released with a special introductory offer.

I’ve never sewn Lolita patterns before & had no experience or expectations when I was invited to become a tester.  I think I said “yes” without engaging my brain & considering the challenges.  “Yes, I’d love to test a coat pattern”, I thought, “I need to make myself a coat this winter”.  But coats mean tailoring don’t they?  And that’s potentially scary (more on that later)  PLUS the fear factor that comes with sewing expensive fabrics….would I need to find lots of cushions to hide behind?  I also had some other sewing deadlines that I hadn’t factored in, so one of my weeks got me sewing like a demon, all evenings after work, up much later than usual, just to get to a certain milestone.  I think since then I’ve needed a bit of a wind down & have been sewing less intensively!

scruffy badger

And now I can tell you all about it.

I never thought that I had bitten off more than I could chew…until I look back that is! Thank goodness for my gung-ho spirit that saw me through. And thank Lolita for the well explained and detailed instructions. Weeks after I finished making this coat my abiding memory is of how impressed I was with the pattern design, the process of construction and the instructions. I was guided through tailoring without realising it! I should qualify that the form of tailoring used is accessible and with minimal hand stitching- practically everything is completed by machine, which suits my approach to sewing hands down. (Maybe this means that it is not traditional tailoring, no pad stitching in sight…).  I learnt many new techniques and have achieved a level of finish that I am exceedingly pleased with.

IMG_6210(I have not arranged the collar properly here – it actually fills the neckline more when you wear it.)

Every time I look at my inseam pockets I swoon. The approach for lining the coat (it is “bagged” ) & then securing it so that it doesn’t droop below hemlines is genius.


I have already mentioned that the piecing of the patterns is just so accurate I marvelled at each step in the construction process as the coat began to take shape & as it continued to fit.   Yes, I did make a toile. Out of scraps of calico & polycotton. This indicated that my first sizing was in fact too small for a winter coat. But the fit people! It was immaculate. I could not believe my eyes to see the shoulders & upper back snugly neat with the correct amount of taper to the waist before flaring out over the hips. I’d be tempted to make this up as a lighter weight frock coat in some medium weight cotton… . I needed to make barely any adjustments, once I had settled on the size I wanted to make up to allow for layering underneath (living in the UK this kind of coat would never be out of doors without a number of woollens in betwixt it & one’s goosebumps). Opting to make a size bigger did cause me serious paralysis: I knew I needed to go up a size (or two) but how many sizes? Would I need to make any adjustments? I took the lazy coward’s way out & used my lining as another toile to estimate fit before cutting out my posh wool.


So let’s talk about the fabric. I have had this teal wool melton in my drawer, for a couple of years, wrapped up to hopefully foil any intrepid moths. It’s beautiful & everything you imagine it to feel like: soft, felty, & a dreamy colour. I would have bought it with a discount during a sale, that much I know. I bought it from my local fabric shop. This in fact saved my day. Even though I bought it a few years ago, when “oh horror of horrors”, I discovered after cutting out & starting to sew my coat that I’d only cut two collar pieces (rather large collar pieces, remember) when I actually needed four, I shuffled along to my fabric shop & described my fix.  Not only did they remember the wool melton, but they stocked it …just not in teal.  I had to make a design decision.


I plumped for black & contrived it to look “deliberate” by the addition of …wait for it….black velvet ric rac!  I got it in again folks.  Sewed like piping around the edge of the collar.  Even though I used the black as the undercollar, because of the flounces it shows through to add interest.  This was the first time that I used hair canvas as well (blimey that was expensive from my local shop!) – to give the collar some shape & structure. And the floral lining?  It was some kind of shiny poly satin that I’d bought at the Rag Market last time.  Love it!


What else do you want to know?    There is one bound button hole and I used Karen’s brilliant bound buttonhole e-book (this wasn’t because the Lolita  instructions were deficient but because Lolita instructions relied on silk organza which I couldn’t get my hands on quickly enough.  Karen’s bound buttonholes do not need organza.  Just saying).

I did get some silk organza eventually as I learnt this was needed for pressing the heck out of the seams – it absorbs the heat without scorching the wool apparently, but it is also transparent enough that makes it easy to see what you’re doing.  One thing I want to do is to go back & keep on pressing the seams – I still feel there’s more pressing needed.

scruffy badger 2

I think that’s it for the construction.  What about the wearing?  Well it feels like a special dressy coat, it is the only coat that hangs in my hall on a coat hanger.  The pictures you see of me wearing it were taken on a shopping trip to the wonderful Bradford-on-Avon, a few stops down the railway line from Bath.  There’s something slightly vintage feeling in the design with its big collar.  And I wore it out last night with my party dress, when I went out into town for Christmas cocktails with my friend.  Special!

Have a good weekend everyone!!

The Miette skirt- how cute meets utility- really!

I’d resisted Tilly’s Miette skirt for months it seems, since I have projects & inspiration coming out of my ears.  But kept clocking all these fantabulous versions appearing left right & centre.  I held fast & tried to maintain a degree of control over spontaneous pattern purchasing & sewing.  But it all became too much for me.  I needed a fix, a sweet skirt that came with so many endorsements, and just kept looking so darn cute everywhere.  So who’s skirt was the straw that broke my resolve?  Well it was Taracat’s denim / ricrac Miette.  You know I have a thing for ric rac & I have almost a whole drawer filled with the stuff (one of those mini organiser drawers it has to be said).  How could I resist an everyday skirt with one of the best pockets in the whole world to surround with ric rac?

Miette 8

So I had this piece of royal blue quite coarse linen that I had bought off Ebay a while ago.  It’s bright people.  It’s got an element of stiffness to it that I felt would complement the A line shape of the Miette skirt.  Did I have enough fabric though or was it only suitable for a Colette Ginger?  Well, I scraped a Miette – just.  But at what cost?

Miette 9

I have to line the exceedingly luxuriously long ties with my lining fabric.  In fact the whole waistband was lined in contrast – the same as I lined the pockets too.  It’s the fabric I made my summer sundress out of last year, some pretty ditsy red cotton floral.

Miette 11

The pockets were edged in ric rac – like piping, sandwiched in between the lining fabric and the blue linen.  I chose red as it seemed more adaptable, although the idea of royal blue & bright sunshiny yellow is always a temptation in Badgerland.  But the red & the lining seemed to be the thing.

Miette 10

Here it is playing around with the ties show the lining – not sure that it’s how I will wear it…but….

Miette 5

What is there to say that’s not already been said about the pattern & the instructions?  You already know by now that there are two levels of instructions (detailed on-line supplements to the downloaded instructions), & everyone, just everyone, loves the fact that you have a checklist to tick off when you use the downloaded instructions – I am no exception!

Miette 3

Construction for me, as with everyone else (are you yawning yet – hoping for something you haven’t heard before?) was exceedingly straight forward – this really is a brilliant beginner’s make – no zips, buttonholes, just some nice straight machine stitching.And for a nice fit, a wrap skirt is a joy- just tweak it the way you want to by how you arrange your wrap & tie.

Miette 6“Seems like a fun guy!”

So no surprise this Miette skirt is a cute success and I was all for thinking it could be one of those garments that bridged the work & play wardrobe.  I could imagine wearing it to work.  But here’s the thing.  Since wearing it for play it’s gone all combat for me.  And what do I mean by that?  Well, I wore it for a heavenly dog walk with my dog nieces, with walking boots (sensibly leaving my wedges in the car  – we were going multi terrain after all).  I have become increasingly reluctant to carry handbags around with me & try to get away with squeezing the bare essentials (phone, keys, purse) into jacket pockets.  But in the summer, especially this summer, even the bare essentials can weigh even the roomiest of skirt pockets down.  Not the Miette!

Miette 4

So it survived the commando experience in the woods and on the hills with two dogs (plus paws from doggie greetings).  Was I afraid to bend down in case the wrap caught a gust of wind & away she blew?

Miette 2

No way!  That dog gets all my lovin without any compromising wardrobe experiences!

Miette 7

Check out my pockets here.  Not only does it carry purse, two sets of keys – car & house, & phone, but there is also an ipod in there & some tissues AND still room for poo bags.

Miette 1

From the side too – Awesome!  I shall now repeat the phrase that we write so many times when after our first take of a new pattern, “There will be more”.  But whilst the intention & the love of this pattern is there, it is another pattern in my near consciousness to join my “spontaneous project” category for when the mood takes me & when the perfect fabric waves its hand at me. However, saying that,  I also think this skirt would be a great gift to make for a friend – less fitting required than normal skirts.  In fact I might already have someone in mind who would fit the bill perfectly ….now that’s a lovely idea.  Making such a sweet skirt to give as a gift would make me very happy.  (Right, that’s another conscious note made for the Miette!)  Now if I asked how many of you had made it already I’m sure you’d all shout.  But what about as a gift for someone else?  Who’s done that?  As a surprise?  Is it a good option?  Is it time to start a campaign, “Miettes as Gifts?!”

V8667 in knit: a very grown up dress for work

A long long time ago I saw Jessica’s version of V8667 here.  Not only did I fall head over heels in love with her interpetation (leopard print!) but the styling & the designs on the pattern envelope fulfilled my inner cowl obsession.   I had a yearning to follow Jessica’s lead & make it out of a knit.  But way back then, I was really green when it came to knits and what could be made into what (now I am pale green as opposed to deep forest green).  So I emailed Jessica asking for advice and she was kind enough to reply – a stable knit is required.  You don’t want anything with too much stretch in all sorts of unpredictable directions.  This dress has a certain amount of structure.  Jessica, thank you for your reply all those moons ago.  I didn’t forget & eventually purchased some very reasonable doubleknit (synthetic) from Croft Mill.  It is navy striped, but looks grey from a distance.  When I came to work with it I was surprised that the stripe is horizontal.  Well, that’s unusual.

It was a toss up between V8667 and New Look 6000 mind you.  Which one, which one?  Either way I was relishing the opportunity of making one of these dresses without a zip!  Or facings!!!!


At the end of the day I opted for the Vogue since I had enough fabric to make a full skirted dress.  It was made without lining, facings or a zip- woo hoo!!!!  And I have worn it a couple of times now & it is a wonderful work dress – stylish but very comfy, & we all know that I likes my comfort.  (Can I say how much I love the cowl neck?  Peachy!)

I used my overlocker throughout where I could, which was most of the construction.  I stay stitched the neckline and the prescribed areas on the princess seam panels.  To solve the sleeve hemming issue I used ric rac (two-tone navy & white) to catch a narrow hem.

(Yay!  Ric rac ziggazigga world domination continues)

doubleknit 1

 What hasn’t worked so well – perhaps I should have done a swayback alteration.  Also the side panels seemed to have just too much fabric & ruffle a bit on the side front seam.  But I work from the principle that where possible “a serged seam is forever, not just for Christmas” – no way do I unpick & fiddle where there is significantly less seam allowance than when I started.  Tough.  Anyway, both of these issues remedy themselves with a good pull downwards on the skirt – obviously not done before this photo shoot!


Working with this fabric was hardest pressing the seams – I had to use a damp pressing cloth, no crisp seams here.  But this is karmic – I guess no ironing & no creasing when I wear it!  Does anyone have any tips on sewing such synthetics?  I don’t usually choose them so have such  miniscule experience – maybe I’m missing something…..

Ric rac and mini polka dots

So today marks the first day of Me Made March, but I will save the shot of my two me made pieces of clothing for a round up later in the week.  This post is about my adventures in refashioning my 90s shirt into a cute little vintage inspired number and a few shots of my cherry red Beignet.

Cherry red Beignet skirt

As a slight hint for day one of MMM’11, I can reveal that I have road tested this cute skirt as it was such  a chilly day.

Beignet on the stairs

The only thing I thought would give me gyp was not having thought through the cotton lining & tights = friction.  Would a slippy fabric have been better?  Maybe, but it wasn’t an issue, thankfully.  Anyway, onto the blouse.

I wanted to make something that I’ve got a kind of Miss Marple association with- I don’t know if I’ve got my eras right, but I knew I wanted a round collar with these polka dots, even if it’s not really St Mary Mead.

Ric rac blouse and red beignet skirt

To call the blouse a refashion feels misleading – Debbie, as you are one of the Refashion Coop editors,  do you think taking something completely apart to cut new pattern pieces constitutes a refashion?  In reality it took so much longer to cut out than from a new piece of flat fabric.  I managed to keep the original facings, buttons & buttonholes though.

vintage mother of pearl button

I used a McCalls fitted blouse pattern with short puff sleeves.  All I did differently was to cut a curved collar. Oh, & got my ric rac out!

ric rac collar

I tried to research how ric rac gets used in vintage blouses, not knowing how crazy to go with it.  Should I line either side of the button-band?  Should I put ric rac on the top of the collar?  I decided on the less is more approach – peeking under the collar & over the sleeve cuffs.


Oh by the way, this was definitely not on my list – remember it just called to me, inspired by the Cherry Red Beignet  …Tell you what though, the weather’s really got to perk up for me to wear it this month!