Tag Archives: SoZo

Anya bag in Harris Tweed

I have made a few bags in my time, but never have any made such an impression as this one.  Partly due to pattern, but also thanks to the fabrics, it has to be said.  I felt it was time to make a new day bag & had heard how deceptively roomy the Anya bag by So Zo is.  Zoe had kindly sent me the pattern as a housewarming gift (so kind!) & with Spring in the air & a few free hours in the afternoon I tried to bring together some suitable fabrics from my stash.

anya bag

I had initially thought of using some of the pleather I had left from my Madrid tote bag made last year.  But then I remembered I might have enough Harris Tweed  left for some of the bag, if not all.  Excitement raised, I hunted it out & gleefully discovered there was enough (just) to make the whole bag out of the Harris Tweed & use one of the genuine labels too.  Don’t cheapen it, I thought & discounted any use of a contrast yoke.  Keep to the Harris Tweed.  Line up the checks.  Find a lovely lining.  I looked through my Liberty remnants thinking that a Liberty lining would be classy enough for such a fine tweed.  Nothing really zinged though.  Especially when I found a piece of pink satin lining.  Oh my, the shine!  The pink that took out the pink lines in the tweed!  It was a match.  Cutting & sewing started.

anya tab

I was going to add to the pattern slightly by including an inner pocket (in bird print cotton ) & instead of a button tab, use one of those magnetic clasps.  As long as I could remember where I had stored it.  Luckily I did.  Considering my flaky memory, the list of ‘things I can’t find after unpacking’ is very short.  And now does not include magnetic clasps.

anya tab sewing

So the thing to remember is that if you are using magnetic clasps, they need to be added / installed early on to both the tab & the yoke piece before you really start sewing.  It’s fine though, just use the markings on the pattern & they will meet up once the bag is constructed.

anya pocket

The same with a pocket.  I sewed the pocket & attached it to the lining, once the lining yoke was attached to the bag lining piece but before sewing the two linings + yokes together.

Everything else carries on like usual & Zoe’s instructions are mucho comprehensive.  There is also a one page quick sheet if you don’t need all the detail.

The Goy-jus Handmade Jane remembers my fondness for Harris Tweed & had bought me some genuine Harris Tweed covered buttons as a birthday present last year.  The perfect gift & I am glad to say, I have added two to this bag as a classy finishing touch – they are not exactly the same Tweed pattern, but the colours are spot on.  And I still have four buttons to embellish something else 🙂

anya buttons

I am absolutely smitten with the lovely shape & soft pleats of this bag.  But it’s the use of this my last  last piece of Harris Tweed that fills me most with joy.  I know my Dad, who bought it for me, will be so pleased.

Tweedy to the max

Will I wear it with my skirt?  I do not know….what do you think?

Let me tell you though …this bag is roomy…I was able to fit my usual stuff PLUS my DSLR without any particular strains – tab closed nicely & bag’s pleats accommodated it all without any fuss.  What a star bag …. Its only shortcoming is its owner …insisting on using it on rainy days when perhaps she should have been looking after the precious tweed a bit better (It’s OK, nothing ruined !)

So if you’re on bank holiday today you could find some beautiful remnant in your stash to breathe a new lease of life and productivity into? Making a bag can be such a rewarding project for a rainy day! 

Dolores Top Dr Jacobi style

When I wrote about my first forays into making the Dolores top & dress I think I exuberantly shared the fabric that I had in mind for making my autumn Dolores top – one with long sleeves.  The fabric in question was this wild fantasmagorical tropical viscose jersey , or large vibrant floral, as it is described online.  I had just bought it & received it as I wrote that last Dolores post, & was overcome with spontaneity to get on & make it for wearing now.

Dolores top This has to be one of the brightest autumn/ winter tops I have made for a long time.  It rocks the tropics!  Which is why I have dedicated it to Dr Jacobi, he who transformed his Twin Peaks Hospital consulting room into a Waikiki  paradise.  And Twin Peaks has been on my mind recently (not that it ever left my heart) with the news that a new series is going to be on air in 2016.


YouTube Preview Image

Having been huge devotees of the series from its original screening, such that Tuesday nights were never the same once season two came to its unnerving end, we are beyond ourselves with excitement.  It is so good on so many levels (many of which I have yet to understand – part of its brilliance), & I love that we watched it when my children were babies & now they have both become huge fans, watching it with us, as we re-watch the series on DVD.  {Happy sigh}

So onto Dolores.  What a stellar top.  But you know that anyway.

Dolores top Its shape makes me want to show off my batwings!

You know I’ve said before what a speedy simple make it is.  And I was thinking that this really is a great beginner’s pattern if you ever wanted to start sewing with a simple knit pattern.


Dolores top

I can remember neck bands causing me so much trouble when I first tried making t-shirts – getting the right amount of stretch.  Whether to sew it on after both shoulders are sewn in a loop, or close one shoulder, then add neck binding, then close the other shoulder. The Dolores neck band is applied to the front and the back separately before either shoulder is sewn- it makes it simple to sew.  The sleeves are sewn flat, with the option to pleat or gather the sleeve head to fit.  (I always pleat because gathering would involve another step & you know I am generally as lazy as I can get away with being).

Dolores top

See this is what it looks like in normal wear, when I resist the urge to fly … another great feature with patterned fabric is that this top has no discernible front & back.  Today the front looks like this.  Another day I could swap & have this as the front….

Dolores top

So the fabric is lovely.  It’s said to be a viscose 4% spandex jersey & feels nice & warm – it’s got a reasonable drape but would not be suitable for leggings I don’t think.  Not enough stretch.  PJs though?  They would be groovy, & cosy, wouldn’t they?  I chose it because I am a sucker for large bold bright prints that remind me of the type of environment in which a hummingbird would be at home.  Plus it’s got a teal/ turquoise background- that is so much  *my* colour.

Dolores top

And this is how I wore it on a semi mufti day to work.  It does also look exceedingly good with another pair of Ultimates I have yet to show you…..coming soon!

So it’s the weekend- at last.  I hope you all have great weekends planned.  I have barely sewed all week, & not last weekend either, so I am really looking forward to getting back on it.  And catching up with blog reading too.  It has just been a crazy few weeks.

Feel free to share your Twin Peaks exultations in the comments too!!

Happy sewing & making 🙂


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?

Desert Island Sewing: Our second castaway, Zoe of SoZoWhatdoyouknow

Hello!  Onto our next eagerly awaited castaway on the most awesome of desert islands: the lovely Zoe from SoZoWhatdoYouKnow.  I was about to try to write a sentence describing “in a nutshell” what we know Zoe for, but let me tell you, this sentence would be very long!  This ultra stylish & super lovely lady  with a keen eye for retro style which spilled beautifully into her 2012 hand-sewn wedding, provides us with a seemingly endless supply of refashioning ideas,is the genius behind the Me Made month challenges & responsible for so many of us becoming successful at sewing pants (hers was the first blog post that demystified the process to me) & enabler of vests.  I guess she could be clearly described as an influential facilitator of me made &  sustainable fashion…. See, told you it would have been a long sentence, & that’s only the nutshell…

Setting the scene then …

You are stranded on a desert island, surrounded by beautiful crystal blue water populated by turtles & tropical fish (no sharks!). You have a comfy cosy shelter, an abundance of food & drinking water & a solar generator. Upon exploring the island you find a container that has fallen off a cargo ship & guess what? It is filled with what seems to be a never ending supply of fabrics of all descriptions, threads & notions!! What chance!

You are allowed to take your sewing machine & sewing box but which would be your 8 desert island patterns? (Note I will leave it up to my interviewees to imagine that their desert island’s climate & their adventures did not only require bikinis & sarongs but maybe more of a variety of clothing- but up to them! This is about designing their dream but limited wardrobe.  The patterns might be practical choices, or maybe they have more sentimental meaning).  So what will it be?”

Ok, so to clarify before I begin, this desert island I’ve landed on is WARM! Maybe in the interior of the island it can get a little cooler, but along the shoreline there are palm trees and a fair amount of sunshine to be enjoyed. Oh and the sunsets are beautiful, you really must swing by sometime. Bring a bottle of wine with you, I’ll barbeque some prawns.

So I imagine my life is going to be a moderately active one, there may be some fire wood that requires collecting and those prawns aren’t going to catch themselves. So I’m thinking jersey, comfortable and practical (plus doesn’t require ironing, I’m not going to want to iron too much unless I’m working on a sewing project).

1. Therefore, my first Desert Island pattern is going to be my self-drafted batwing top, both the slash neck version and the woven collar version

[Editor’s note:  I understand that Zoe aims to have at least the slash neck version available for download soonish, so other sewers can experience how comfortable this top is! What a scoop, you heard it here first!!]

Here’s another one to whet your appetite

2. Continuing on the jersey theme, I’d also bring my self-drafted T-shirt pattern as I’ve made a squillion variations from it, including contrast yoke tops, short sleeved versions and gathered sleeve head options.

3. But what to wear those with? Probs some sailor trousers of some description. I’ve recently located some other sailor trouser pattern options I plan to give a whirl, but on this island with only 8 patterns, I’d best take my tried and tested option: Burda 8488

I really hope there’s some navy, red and mustard linen in that fabric store that’s washed up with me.

4. For warmer days and for prawn-catching, I could do with a pair of shorts. I’m pretty excited about my recent purchase of Kwik Sew 3854, but once again my judgement leads me to taking a tried and tested pattern instead, so probably the Burdastyle Ruby shorts pattern would do the trick (my previous versions can be seen here: and here)

I hope there’s some sets of super cute buttons washed up with me, because between the Ruby shorts and Burda 8488, that’s a lot of buttons I’ll be getting through…

5. I don’t wear skirts very much these days, but that’s largely because I don’t trust the British weather. On my desert island the predictability of sunshine would make a skirt pattern a wise investment. I’d go for Simplicity 2451. The mini skirt version (view D) is so quick to make and easy to wear, plus the pockets would be useful for all the intriguing little things I might find when walking along the shoreline.

6. For days that are too hot to wear clingy jersey tops, looser woven tops would be preferable. Simplicity 4589 gives lots of options to create a variety of loose fitting but super-cute woven tops. I’ve made this a whole bunch of times before with great success and have another currently in the pipeline.

7. And although I haven’t used it myself for a while, my one true pattern-love, Simplicity 3835 [Editor’s note: link to very bargainalicious e-pattern] would have to come along. I’d be able to make all sorts of easy to wear tunic tops and dresses, some with contrast sleeves, some with and some without the neck band, some using the fuller sleeve pattern I adapted, some with a keyhole back, some with patch pockets, and so on. I think this is the only dress pattern I’d bother to bring.

I don’t think there’d be much point in getting ‘dressy’ if I’m basically hanging out on my own the whole damn time.

8. Oh no! I only have one pattern left! Hmm, I’m hoping Winnie might bend the rules and let me bring my vest and pants patterns as a kind of undies set?! [ I don’t know, what do you think people?] If that’s too cheeky and not allowed, I’d take the pants pattern and redraft the vest one using my T-shirt pattern as a base!

A sewing book? If the definition of sewing book can be stretched to include pattern cutting, then it has to be Winifred Aldrich’s ‘Metric Pattern Cutting’.

I’m always tweeking and adapting my sewing patterns, and with a limited number of eight on this island, I’d be even more likely to mess around with them to create different looks and styles.

My luxury item would have to be my overlocker. I’ve grown way too used to it making finishing raw edges and sewing jersey a breeze. I think I’d feel it’s absence during sewing projects bitterly. And with not much to do with my time except sewing and trying to ferment the native fruit into a primitive alcohol, I’d best take it with me!

Disk?: Beck ‘Odelay’. I haven’t listened to it for a while but it’s very upbeat and diverse, plus comfortingly familiar so a good choice I think in the circumstances (I’m a bit concerned I’ll get a bit lonely on this island).

Non-sewing related book: I was toying with bringing Hunter S Thompson’s ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’, which is the only book I’ve ever read more than once and enjoyed just as much the second time, I find it really entertaining. However, I would be mental not to take a copy of ‘Nella Last’s War’, which is the published diaries of a British housewife during the Second World War who took part in a Government ‘Mass Observation’ Initiative.

(Image from Good Reads whose review is here)

She was such an intelligent, perceptive, deeply thoughtful and caring woman, and her diary reading touched me deeply. With a lack of human contact on this Island, I think I might need to be reminded about how challenging and multifaceted human interaction can be.

Thank you Zoe for taking the time out to draw together your choices for your desert island.  I think I might have been able to guess your skirt choice ;-s !!  But you have also given us some other interesting patterns to explore, totally perfect for desert island life!   [And you know it was a complete toss up for me whether my luxury would have been my overlocker.]  I am looking forward to following up your musical & book choices too.  Loving all that is coming out of this series, any one else finding new inspiration?

Next Castaway will be Rachel from House of Pinheiro.  Watch this space!!