sew what’s happened?

Goodness, it has been a long time since I have posted here! For some reason I thought I had written something more recently. Sorry readers, I should have made a bit more of an effort. In my defence there have been quite a few personal events. Some of them unfortunately rather sad. Hopefully the rest of the year will see better things develop.

I’ve made quite a lot of children’s clothing for friends. Below is a combination of Burda 9424, New look 6398, Mccalls 6913, Simplicity 8101, Simplicity 1204, Made by Rae Geranium dress, a ruffle skirt, a shirred dress x2 plus matching doll\s dress.



Which leaves the adult size projects. I tried my best to make a corduroy fabric jacket using Simplicity 1781 work. I think I chose both a difficult fabric to work with, and a pattern just not well suited to my body type. Despite lots of fitting adjustments and seam ripping it just wasn’t coordinating. It’s currently being ignored, likely permanently!

Happily I have had some successes. Below are Vogue 8723 (I wore it loads in last summer’s heatwave), Simplicity 9769 (not made for me), and Simplicity 2444. I love the fabric for both of the dresses I made for myself, and am really pleased to have found patterns that did them justice.


I am currently working on a jacket (wool) using Vogue 9339. It’s coming together nicely, but as usual I have paused at the button holes. I always get stuck on this as I worry about making a mistake. The lining is all sewn up, so I will have to bite the bullet and get this finished. I thought this was an unseasonal project, but given the weather I might actually get some wear out of it sooner rather than later!


projects of all shapes and sizes

I’ve been rather poor updating this blog this year. The good news is I had a bit more to post about as a result. I ended up making an extra unexpected project (Newlook 6548) as the dress I was making for myself (see further down this post) ended up having a lot of extra fabric leftover. This was because Burda uses 1.4 meter fabric on the envelope and I bought 1.5 meter wide fabric. Which resulted in a much more efficient pattern layout and 80cm left of fabric.

Not a huge amount to say for this dress. It’s cute, and I liked the neckline. Due to fabric constrictions I cut the skirt piece on the fold instead of using the two pattern pieces. Slightly less full but it still works.  This is age 5.


Next, is “Margo” from sew la di da. I picked up the pattern at the knitting and stitching show in London. They design patterns for taller women than the standard pattern companies. I had to take several inches off the trousers as a result. I dropped a dress size for my bottom half after reading reviews it was roomy. The legs are, but I had hardly enough room for my waist! I had to let out the side seams a fair bit. I also had to redraw the crotch curve to accommodate a more rounded tummy and derriere.

The cotton fabric was a bargain at about £4 a meter. This project gobbles up the yards. To save on fabric I cut the bottom half on the cross grain. As the legs are so wide you really can’t tell the difference.

Next, a mandarin style dress pattern. Burda 6830. I had hoped this would be a working toile for the beautiful silk I bought in China. I don’t think I trust it enough to cut into the good stuff. This fabric stretch cotton jacquard. £5 a meter, so not too heart breaking.

Modifications so far, added 4cm to skirt length. Removed 2cm from waist as it was too long. Took the waist in by about a cm or 2 on each side. Added an extra dart at the back. Reduced the width of the main dart at the bottom point. The reason for this is that pattern is not drafted for those who have a 10 inch waist to hip difference. I need a sewing friend to help me sort out the fit further as I am not entirely happy with it.

I bought this stretch terry cotton a while back to make some projects for a friend. It has finally been transformed into Burda 9381 (a child’s bathrobe) and some free patterns from swain designs for the top and fleece fun the leggings. Thankfully these were simple enough projects as the fabric shed little bits of green over everything (I am still finding them over a month later). I had to top stitch each seam to keep things tidy, but the finished items look pretty good.


So, given that the mandarin dress is on pause, it was time to look at the next project. Vogue 8723 has been in my pattern box for sometime, and now the weather is sunnier I thought it was time to dig it out. I found a lovely designer linen and have carefully pattern matched cutting out the pieces to ensure the matched. You can see the front and back below. I’ve lengthened the skirt by 3 cm. Oddly the under arms were much too tight compared to my Vogue sloper, so I have cut out a size 16 here instead of my normal size 12.


I’ve bought thread, zip and lining today so can get started on sewing tomorrow. Hopefully I will have some more photos to share soon.

New year, lots of new projects

Fear not, despite the long silence my sewing machine has not been idle. Writing this post has been long overdue, and apologies for the absence! I’ve been on holiday, away for Christmas and very busy at work.

So, what have I been up to in terms of patterns? A lot of the things I have made have been for others, but have been fun to do. It will be good to get back on track though in terms of The Stash which really needs to decrease. I have this bad habit of buying new fabric once I have used up something so it doesn’t seem to decrease much….

So, first of all I made Simplicity 8339 after being disappointed at both the styles and price of sports bras when I did some shopping research. I haven’t sewn with scuba knit before, but it was nice and stable. I haven’t made the second version yet (which will be the same pattern, but colour blocked in the opposite colours).

It’s a snug fit, and luckily the straps were just long enough for me – for those taller than me you would be well advised to check before cutting out the straps. I skipped the recommended hook and eye at the back and just went for elastic all the way round.


Next up were several projects for a friend who is expecting a little boy, and his big sister who has had projects reviewed on here for several years. I used the same fabric in both projects so they would coordinate. I also got to sew with silk denim fabric which I didnt even know existed! It is lovely and soft, nothing like the cotton version.

Simplicity 8101 –  I added a lining. Note to anyone out there who hasn’t tried this before. If your lining fabric is thicker then your outer fabric don’t expect a happy result when stitching them together, as they will stretch at different rates. I accidentally used bias binding on the armholes instead of the narrow seam in the instructions (which I should have followed more closely).



I had some of the floral fabric leftover, so of course had to save this as it was far too pretty to abandon!

This is lined in a stiffer cotton which helps fluff it out, and I used the selvage for a waistband.


This next item took a while to make as I gave it a substantial upgrade from the pattern instructions, which to be honest weren’t great. I think this pattern should have had a lining added automatically, it didnt tell you how to finish them hem and missed off instructions like under stitching.

This has a lining, I added bias binding for the hems, and stitched down all of the facings to stop them flapping about. I also interlined the silk denim with a viscose/wool blend for warmth and body. This is Burda 9831, and my first use of a blanket stitch in a finished garment. The buttons are vintage, and from my trip to Prague last year. They matched the jacket perfectly.


The final project is a belated Christmas present for a friend (before you think I am massively slow, I was only given the fabric after Christmas!).  The silk was very slippery to sew with, and the body is cut on the bias. So, I did my best to be very careful when cutting out. This is Vogue 7837 – the trim should have been scalloped on both sides but as I was using lace fabric I made do by adding a narrow ribbon trim in a matching colour to cover the raw edge. It worked pretty well.

No modifications to this, other then shortening the crotch length slightly as my friend is petite. I also managed to sew on some snaps, which is not something I look forward to usually!



Now I just  have to finish the knickers I managed to squeeze out of my friend’s fabric so she has a bonus gift, finish the silk bolero I started before Christmas (for myself) then I can crack on with a fresh project…..


no sweat – some easy projects!

Normally when I make a project, it either involves fitting adjustments, or complicated cutting/sewing. For once I have had several weeks of neither. First, the Lekala S3002 pattern I started a while back. I think I am something of a convert! the fit was really good, and I only had to make a small adjustment by taking in the hip side seam slightly by about 1cm in total on each side.

I added a lining, and reduced the hem allowance as my dupioni silk was quite stiff and not forgiving to easing. Plus it frayed badly. So I did a generous baby type hem by turning over 1cm, then turning over again and stitching. The one other thing I had to do was reduce the seam allowance for the facing as it was a bit too small for some reason to fit the skirt.

Due to the fraying I hand overcast all the seams (don’t expect this kind of work with all projects) and added a lining as it was close fitting. I am surprised this isn’t included.


I still have a matching bolero to make which is half finished. Totally out of season of course given that it is now really cold. Still, something to look forwards to next summer.

I also happily cut up an old work sweatshirt from a previous job which has produced both trousers and top for a friend’s toddler. Very happy with the result, and even better both patterns were free. I even got to reuse the hems. So apart from the trousers elastic the entire project was free.



If you are interested here at the links (to fit a 3 year old):

sailing through more projects

It’s been a while since I last posted – rest assured the time has been spent busy on projects. I just hadn’t quite got round to posting about them! One of the reasons I now have time to do so is that I am without my sewing machine for a whole week whilst it is being serviced. I am going to do my best to console myself by cutting out new projects.

In the mean time, here is a look back. I decided, with only two weeks to go, to make a quilt for a friend’s son’s christening. You would have thought after deciding to make a full sized quilt a month in advance of a wedding I would have learned this isn’t such a good idea, but I did manage to get all bar two seams of hand stitching done on the day, and hand it over the following day.

I was asked to look at a boat theme, and of course as I don’t go for simple ideas I made it reversible. This made the quilting a bit tricky as I wanted it to look good from both sides. So I ended up quilting around all of the animals. I’m pleased with the final look, and was even able to eek out a cushion cover the left over scraps.



The above work sidelined the coat (Vogue 9219) I had already started making a while ago, and once I got to the button hole stage my enthusiasm waned and I took a bit of a break. I finally sat down one weekend and worked my way through them all. They’ve not turned out too badly. I did discover I had miscalculated the width of the hem facing (I used a different size for the width to the height) so added an extra section and machine embroidered the recipient’s name in the middle.



I’m pleased to report that both parties were very happy to receive the completed work, and so am I as it means I can now return to my original (shelved) plan to make a matching skirt and bolero.

all boxed up and ready to go

As is often the case I have ended up working back to front. I was intending to make a Vogue 9219 coat pattern. After cutting out the many pieces (it will be interlined with wool, the outside layer is cotton) I made the discovery that there would be a good amount of fabric left. This was not entirely unexpected, as originally when I bought the fabric (a while ago now) I intended to make a matching dress and coat (both colour blocked).

Other sewing projects came first, and the girl I am sewing for had definitely outgrown the maximum size of the pattern I had bought. So, a new pattern was chosen and purchased. Although it used more fabric then the original there was still some left, so I ended up making a dress, which used the fabric from the coat for the skirt, and two different (leftover from other projects) fabrics for the bodice. Both of these had stretch which should make it comfy to wear.

Its been nice to use them all up. The pattern Simplicity 1211 is pretty cute. Alas, my leftover fabric for the skirt wasn’t wide enough to create the full range of box pleats required for the design. I – drumroll please – redrafted the entire lot from scratch to ensure it would match the bodice. I am pretty pleased with the finished result and the side box pleats almost match the side seams.

I also fully lined the dress instead of the originally planned bodice only as specified by the instructions. To help ensure it continues to fit, I increased the depth of the hem to 10cm so it can be adjusted at a later date.

I’ve now been able to turn my attention back to the coat. As like most Vogue patterns that are rated “average” there are a fair number of pieces to cut out and assemble. I rapidly decided to skip the instructions to use sew in interfacing for everything that needed stiffening and used a good quality iron on instead.

I’m intending to use bound button holes instead of the snaps the pattern suggests.Given the thickness of the interlined fabric this is practical as well as a nice finish. I’ve got a lovely viscose duchess satin type lining sewn up to insert shortly once the collar is added. Not too long to go now!



paws for thought: the latest projects

Although I have been busy at work, the same cannot be said as convincingly about my sewing. I have finally got some projects to share. First of all is a blouse which (unintentionally) ended up looking almost exactly like the pattern cover image. The fabric is the same striped cotton. Due to being a bit tired the last month I didn’t do a great job reading the instructions so messed up inserting the peplum. There is dart to add to where the peplum is inserted, so pay attention closely to the instructions so you don’t make my mistake!

Other than some mistakes, I dropped down to a 14 at the waist, which is close fitting but ok. I ended up reducing the seam allowance to 1cm for the peplum as it was gapping at the front. This fixed things nicely. I also attempted my first go at shortening at waist, by removing about a cm. I compared the pattern to my sloper and decided this was a good idea as a result. Ironically this now looks awful on my dress form and bunches up.

I think (when the weather is warm enough for me to wear this) I won’t be buttoning up all the way to the collar. I have some more fabric in a floral print which I intend to use to make the other version of this pattern.

Simplicity 1590

Burda 9792

Long term readers will recognise this pattern already, as I made it last year. I discovered I would have some fabric left over after laying out the pieces for my blouse, and this fit (just!) in-between the spaces. In essence a free project. Apart from the (adorably cute) buttons which actually have ladybirds on them. This was a project for a friend, and I practised my finishing techniques by using french seams and hand overcast stitching. So much quicker than on big projects! I used my (now favoured) neckline bias binding finishing technique.


Newlook 6462

This is for another friend who specified nothing pink and nothing floral for her daughter. When I saw this fabric it was the perfect match, as she has a scottie dog. I messed up again on the arm holes as I didn’t read the instruction about the seam allowance being more narrow. So, I ended up with more bias binding. But it doesn’t detract from the overall look so I have escaped unscathed! Again, I managed to eek out another pattern, making the hat out of a free Oliver + S pattern. The hat was so simple it got made in an afternoon and is reversible.

I liked the unusual vintage look, and think it strikes a good balance between cute but (as requested) not too girly.


Which means (drumroll please) I can think about starting another project. The above have collectively been waiting to be finished, so it is quite a nice feeling to be starting from afresh.

excess fabric and alterations

I had high hopes for Burda 6722, having seen someone else review a lovely version. They had only needed to shorten the waist. If only my version had been as simple.

Alas, apart from lengthening the skirt by 20cm (a given, if I didn’t want to to create a top instead of a dress), extensive work was required to create a garment which looked flattering.

Here’s a list:

* shortened waist by 1cm
* took out lots of bunching fabric in my mid back by removing an almond shape wedge from the back (on top of the shortened waist) of another 1.5cm in total
* took in the sides from just above the waist to mid hip several times as it was way too big. Maybe a few inches in total?
* reduced the length of the sleeves to create cap sleeves

It’s been a relief to get it finished, as although technically it’s very quick to put together, I’ve spent the better part of an afternoon repeatedly trying it on to check if the adjustments I had made worked.

The nice thing about working with fabric which contains evenly spaced lines is that it’s nice and easy to keep things straight, for example when hemming. It does mean you have to carefully lay out your pattern pieces if you want all those nice lines to match at the side seams (I am very fussy about this!). If you look carefully at the photos below, I am pleased to say both side seams and sleeves all match 🙂

I think I am going to need to top stitch the neckline, as due to the facing instructions (you fold the fabric over instead of the usual attach and sew) it shifts about a bit. Hopefully I will have photos soon of me wearing it. In the mean time, here’s the dress dummy showing the results:

Making short work of using up fabric

I’ve been busy cutting up the latest fabric (a cotton jersey) for a new project, which will be Burda 6722. It’s a nice navy, with a small white stripe. I quickly realised I was going to have leftover wasted fabric. I struggle not to make use of leftovers, so quickly succumbed to a mini project to make the best use of the extras.

I downloaded a pattern from a small independent called Boo Lè Heart (not something I usually do as I can’t be bothered to stick lots of pages together) but as these were shorts it was very quick. They were also nice and cheap (a few pounds) so fit the bill.

I quickly discovered that my fabric didn’t have enough stretch when I cut out the waist band. Not being in the habit of wearing corsets with shorts, some modifications were clearly in order. Luckily I hadn’t cut anything else out yet.

Changes made:

Added panel inserts in to waistband (5cm per panel), used wider seam allowance of 1cm for the back facing panel seams to prevent gapping at the back, and 5mm seams for the front facing seams of the panel.

Added a total of 8cm to the side seams (so 2cm per pattern piece side).

Added 3cm to the length for modesty

Changed the depth of the crotch curve by 5mm by reducing the seam allowance.

Reduced the waistband seam allowance to 5mm as I needed as much height as I could get.

Still need to finish attaching the inside of the waistband and complete the hemming. Currently only used 5mm (recommended to use 1cm, turn, then another cm).

But I am pleased with how these are turning out (also feeling proud I got all those lines to match up!). These aren’t intended for public outings, my fitness classes have been getting harder due to the heat so I hope these will help keep me more comfortable.


on to take 2

So, here is the top/dress on me. The actual silk version is going to be constructed in a bit as it will require a fair bit of time investment. Still, it’s nice to have a summer type top available. Excuse the mismatched sleeve lengths, I promise they are the same!