A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Category Archives: Sewing

I’m so excited to start a new sewing project. I haven’t had any time to sew for ages. I bought this fabric at least 18 months ago. I was inspired when I saw a similar fabric on Instagram, made up into a very cute top. This is my favourite leaf shape- I have three pieces of jewellery and a shirt featuring it. When I saw this in the Sew Over It fabric e-mail, it caught my eye straightaway. I won a Sew Over It voucher wearing my monstera blouse, so why not use it to make another?

The prizewinning picture

This is the fabric. I bought 1.5m, which cost just over the £25 my prize voucher covered.

This project initially got hijacked by another sleeveless top project. This provides yet more evidence that I need to start projects very soon after buying the materials, otherwise I risk losing motivation.

I was a little torn between making another version with sleeves or a breezy sleeveless top for summer. I decided to opt for sleeveless. I didn’t wear short-sleeved tops to work for a long time because I was self-conscious about my tattoo, but I’m getting over that. I think I will add buttons to the front opening- I love an excuse to find tiny cute buttons- but omit the patch pockets. I think they will interrupt the beautiful large-scale print. Also pockets like that are useless. I’m very practical when it comes to clothing, so any details like frills, ruffles and decorative pockets aren’t for me.

When I first resumed sewing, I was all about the FBAs (full bust adjustments). I made my first adjustment on one of the very first dresses I made- a Tilly and the Buttons Bettine. I was excited by the prospect of properly fitting tops. However, more recently I have felt… almost resentful of having to make them. It’s hard to say why. For some projects, it doesn’t matter, but it is pretty important in this top. The olive version (size 12) I made is a little gapey in the shoulder region, while the white version (linked above, size 10) is too tight across the chest. It is very clear that a FBA is needed and so I decided to bite the bullet.

I traced off the front pattern piece and followed this tutorial for a full bust adjustment. I made a 1″ FBA, which will give me 2″ of extra wiggle room.

I followed this tip from Karen at Did You Make That and split the bust dart since it’s over 8cm. I kind of just eyeballed the split so I hope it’s going to look nice.

One slightly odd note is that when I marked my bust apex, it was higher than the original point in the pattern- you might be able to make out two small pink ‘x’s in the image above. However, a larger bosom is more subject to the effects of gravity, so normally the bust point would be lower. This theory is borne out in the fact that the darts on my two previous TC1617s are too high.

Even though I tried remeasuring a few times, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong and just moved the bust point down by an inch or two. Again it was an eyeball job.

I’m hoping to get the fabric cut out before I go on holiday. I have to decide whether to try and sort a workaround for my lack of table at home (the only thing I think would work is sewing on the bench in the garden, but I don’t have a long enough extension cord) or avail myself of the sewing café at Sew Over It one Friday afternoon. I’m currently leaning towards the latter, though I am rapidly running out of free Fridays.

I really hope this blouse turns out nicely, since I would like to make another one from this beautiful fabric I couldn’t resist buying a couple of weeks ago.

I have now unsubscribed from the Fabric Godmother mailing list. I am too weak.

Costs

Fabric: £3.50

Pattern: Third use, original cost £3.22

Notions: Around £5

Total: Under £10!

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I’ve been quite paranoid about my bike being stolen and my fears were partially realised when I returned to my bike one morning to find my waterproof seat cover gone.

The person must have really wanted it, since it was tethered to my bike seat. It hadn’t really occurred to me that someone would bother to take it. I was actually rocking a double seat cover situation. When I bought my bike secondhand around eight years ago, I was given a seat cover. The thief left the old one in the gutter.

To be fair, I can kind of see why.

Since it is now my only seat cover, I decided to give it some TLC. I like buying patches but I never know where to sew them. I used them to cover up some of the biggest holes.

I just hand-stitched them on.

The whole area at the bottom that encases the elastic is quite badly worn. I considered undoing it and appliqueing some ribbon over the top, but in the end that seemed too much work given that my sewing machine is still in a box following my house move. It doesn’t seem worth spending ages repairing an object I don’t really like all that much.

I think what I’ll do is wait until the brown part is beyond repair and then look into covering up the top (checked) part and replacing the whole brown section with some new fabric. I always hated the colour of this seat cover- brown is not my thing- but put up with it due to laziness/inertia.

To be honest, what is most likely is that I will buy a new seat cover next time I am in a bike-friendly city. I have so little crafting time and I want to dedicate it to passion projects.

However, it is nice to display some of my patches. The non-quidditch ones I picked up from a market in India. However, I really should stop buying patches because I still have quite a few for which I have no immediate use.


I ummed and ahhed about participating in me-made May this year. In fact, I am vacillated all month. I loved MMM the first year I participated. I felt more connected to the sewing community and my handmade wardrobe. However, last year, I did not like it at all. I found it really difficult to find suitable locations for the daily pictures, sometimes walking around for half an hour or more on my lunchbreak, searching for the holy grail combination of a colourful wall with somewhere nearby to rest my phone. I think some of the big Instragram overhauls took place between May 2017 and May 2018 and the engagement with my posts really dropped. It was disheartening to spend so much time trying to get the pictures when no one seemed to care.

The funny thing is that I wore me-made items most days in May. I wear me-mades all the time. I would say it is quite unusual for me to go a day without wearing something I have made, no matter the month. But because I wasn’t documenting it, I didn’t feel like I was taking part. That definitely says a lot about my unhealthy relationship with Instagram.

I will continue to participate the way I always do in my daily life, capturing photos as and when I am able. Perhaps next year I will be in a better place for the challenge to serve me again.


I fell in love at the London Knitting and Stitching Show around a year ago. The second I saw Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani’s Kelly anorak, I was gone. I immediately bought the pattern, zip and some of the beautiful waxed cotton they had in stock.

I had this Liberty tana lawn in mind for the lining from early on in the process. I think it’s a cute print but since buying I’ve felt that it’s a bit twee for a dress (even for me). However, I think the cotton lawn below goes better with the main fabric so I will use that instead.

I felt a bit weird asking to have photos taken in someone else’s coat, but also necessary.

Lauren made the 6 and I initially thought that I would do the same even though my measurements are closer to the 12. I am going to compromise and go with the 10.

I can see that the fit of the 6 across the shoulders is good, which means that what I probably ought to do is a full bust adjustment (FBA). I was reading someone else’s blog post in which she mentioned not liking making FBAs. I thought that was silly until I realised that I am exactly the same. When I first bought my sewing machine, I was quite keen on the old FBA and made one on my Bettine dress pattern. Since then… nothing. I think part of it is the fact that none of my RTW clothes have FBAs and yet they fit fine. Although, realistically, whenever I buy a shirt I have a choice to get a size that fits in the shoulders but risks gaping at the bust, or is slightly large in the shoulders with less risk.

For me personally I think it relates to my perception of my body. I was quite a bit larger when I was in my late teens and early twenties. My bust was absolutely enormous- I wore G cup bras. Since losing weight a few years ago, my bust has reduced a lot in both back and cup size. This has been such a relief and a big part of the reason I feel so much happier and more comfortable in my body. So, to me, I don’t have an especially full bust anymore. At the same time, most clothing and pattern companies draft to a B or C cup, so an E cup certainly is still an outlier.

When I wiggled around in the jacket a bit more, it was clear that I would need a bit more room. You can see in the side photo especially that the fit isn’t quite right. I’m so glad I risked social awkwardness to get the pics! I will also need to lengthen the sleeves and shorten the body. I really like the length of my purple SuperDry raincoat, which is shorter than the Kelly.

I’m hoping that I can try to enjoy the process of making this jacket. I’ve commented before that this has been something I have always found difficult- I am very outcome-oriented. However, this jacket will require a lot of patience from me. I will need to do extra things that are not in the pattern booklet. I will probably need to learn from mistakes.

Lauren’s blog post contains a lot of helpful information. I had a few dilemmas about this project, like whether to line or underline, how much to shorten the body. I paid £10 for a 26″ zip but really I want this jacket to be around 24″ long. I’m reluctant to spoil the lovely zip by shortening it.

Eventually I decided against buying the lining expansion pack. The main reason I would have bought it would be to tidy up the guts of the jacket.

I was also a little heartbroken to see that Guthrie&Ghani are now stocking the waxed cotton in yellow. Owning a yellow rain jacket is a small dream of mine. It’s definitely in the back of my mind that I may make a second version… Perhaps with a simple cotton lining for warmer days.

After doing some prep in early January, including buying the technical fabric to quilt my lining, I hit a roadblock. I didn’t have any thread in the correct colour. My work finally took me near the Goldhawk Road and I was disappointed to see that the shop where I normally buy my notions was closed.

I remembered that some stalls in the market sell bits and pieces and I managed to find some thread that matched my lining fabric. I didn’t feel comfortable using this random non-branded thread for sewing the shell of the coat, so I will probably wait until I am in the Oxford Street area to visit John Lewis or Liberty. But at least I can now make a start on the lining.

It has just hit me- have I become a thread snob???

I popped to Liberty but forgot that they have gutted their haberdashery section. I will have to make a trip somewhere else before I can start sewing the main fabric.

I found some time to quilt my lining recently. I followed the directions in Lauren’s blog post (linked above). I will say that it was quite tricky to get the lining to sit flat on the insulation. I found it helpful to roll the fabric up as you can see in the timelapse below. It’s also important to press your fabric before putting it on the insulation.

As Lauren says, the quilting is a time-consuming process. It took me several hours. But I enjoyed it- it’s quite meditative.

I am now ready to cut out!

Costs

  • 2.3m waxed cotton from G&G £65.55
  • Liberty tana lawn £23.25
  • Pattern £16
  • Zip £10
  • Extra insulating material and snaps £30.60
  • Thread £3

Total £148.40


Overall, I’m very happy with how my plain version of the Colette Macaron dress turned out.

It felt good to be able to use my skills to make the changes I wanted to this dress. I did look for some guidance on line, but when I couldn’t find anything about altering the pattern, I decided to go my own way. I was aware that my sewing improved a lot over the past couple of years, but I don’t consider myself an especially advanced sewist. I had a lot of help with my most complex projects, including the only thing I have ever lined properly (my coat). However, I definitely have picked up tips and tricks from Julie that helped me.

That being said, the guts of the dress turned out to be a bit of a mess. Even though it felt good to follow my own instincts when it came to the lining, this remains something I am not experienced at doing. Next time I want to line a garment, I will follow a proper tutorial.

I kind of went halfway in between lining and underlining the dress, when I probably should have just stuck with one method. Another problem was the fiasco with the skirt (described in my last post, which has a lot more details about what I did). I had already used a French seam (definitely incorrect in this situation) on the side with the zip. I decided to slightly fudge the redo of the seam, which doesn’t affect the outside but looks like a dog’s dinner inside.

On the plus side, I have been reminded that a lining (however inexpertly installed) makes a garment feel so much more luxurious. This dress feels much more ‘proper’ than any of the ones I have made before.

I haven’t covered up the waistband seams yet. At some point I plan to slip-stitch some ribbon over the whole waistband area. But I decided to leave it for now. If the lining overall had been more successful, I would care more about how the inside looks. Life just feels too short at the moment. I’m not one of those people (yet) who needs the wrong side of their makes to be as beautiful as the right side.

While I was making this dress, it occurred to me that sewing is a form of 3D puzzle. I am generally a bit bemused by adults doing things like Lego, but dressmaking really does use a similar skillset- lots of spatial problem-solving. Spatial awareness is definitely a weakness of mine, though it’s improved in leaps and bounds during my adulthood. It feels pretty good to exercise those muscles.

Coming in at under £35, this dress is one of my cheaper makes. The viscose was quite inexpensive even though it seems like nice quality to me. I suppose it is quite thin. I don’t understand fabric costings at all! I feel like this is the kind of dress that would sell for £60-70 in Oliver Bonas.


I bought this fabric just over a year ago, planning to make a third Day Dress (previous version 1, 2). I saw someone else using it at my disastrous silk cami workshop (Sew Over It were stocking it at the time) and fell in love. Although I like the Day Dress, my pink Macaron is probably the most flattering dress I have for day wear. I decided to have a go at making a version without the contrast bodice, which no one else seems to have previously attempted. I certainly could not find any blog posts about doing this even after extensive searching.

This post contains detailed notes about how I created a solid Macaron by combining the yoke and bodice pattern pieces. I will also describe how I lined this dress- I don’t think I did the best job, it’s more a case of notes for future learning.

I overlapped the bodice and yoke pattern pieces by 3cm and traced. On the front I also increased one of the darts by 5mm since some length seems to be taken out at the seam between the pieces. I probably should have done this on the waist dart but I took it out of the side dart- I don’t imagine this will make much difference. I just did the back straight and did not alter the shaping- I’m fairly confident this will work for my figure.

I also decided to make my life difficult by lining the dress. The neckline facing on my first Macaron is a travesty (partly my error, partly the pattern). At present I have only planned lining the bodice. I’ll see how I feel when I get to the skirt.

I easily got this dress out of 2m of fabric by book folding it. I nearly always do this and it saves loads of material. Pattern companies tend to massively overestimate the fabric requirements, as well as not having cutting diagrams that are as efficient as possible. It’s really wasteful and annoying. Bear mind that I also cut out two bodices.

I cut a size 10 with adjustments as described previously. I interfaced the waistband for extra stability. Since I had plenty of fabric, I decided to self-line the bodice so I don’t have to worry if the lining ever peeks out at the neck seam. I pinned and machine basted the darts as pleats in the lining pieces, trying to have the excess fabric fall in the opposite direction to the darts in the shell.

I made up the bodice as directed, following the same instructions for the lining. I joined the two pieces RS together at the neck. Note: do not finish the neckline edges before stitching.

I machined the bottom hem of the lining to the seam allowance between the bodice and waistband pieces at the front and back separately.

This is how the bodice looked just before I attached the sleeves. I’m very happy that I decided to line the bodice since the fabric is so delicate. It makes the dress feel much more classy and professional.

I attached the sleeves as in the pattern, to both layers of bodice and lining. I then finished the seam as one piece. I haven’t yet removed my hand-basting because I think it looks really cute.

I decided it would be silly to line the bodice but not the skirt. I cut out additional skirt pieces using the leftover lining from my coat. I shortened the pieces by about 3 inches and incorporated the selvedges at the bottom to save hemming (lazy sewing for the win!) I made up the skirt lining as directed, ironing the pleats in the opposite direction to those in the shell.

I had planned to attach the skirt and lining within the waistband seam allowance before I sewed the skirt to the bodice. However I wasn’t sure about having additional weight of the lining pulling down on the waistband piece. The fabric really is very delicate. Thank goodness I decided to interface it!

In the end I couldn’t think of another solution. Weirdly I had an issue with having a lot of extra length in my bodice compared to the skirt, but only at the front. I was able to ease it, but it took three attempts. When I tried the dress on, it looked weird. I tested the pockets and… they were on the back of the dress. I had seamed the wrong side of the skirt 🤦🏽‍♀️

My inability to tell left from right bites me again. I spent ages undoing the incorrect stitching and sewing the skirt together on the correct side. I then re-did the waist seam and it went together much more smoothly.

I tried on the dress and I’m really happy with the fit. I love the way this dress makes my figure look.

The last step was to insert the zip. That part was relatively pain-free. I hand-tacked the dress to the zip before stitching to ensure the waistband seams would line up- this definitely helped. I probably should have used a 1cm seam allowance rather than 1.5cm because the dress is a teeny bit tight at the waist. My makes normally give slightly with wear, so I don’t think it’s worth the bother of reinstalling. Now just the hem and a bit of finishing and this dress will be ready!

Cost breakdown

Fabric: 2m of viscose costing £18 (I paid £2.95 p&p for this and the fabric for my cloud tee). I also used less than a metre of viscose lining (a scrap so I will not cost this)

Pattern: £18 (second use)

Notions: All bought ages ago so no idea. Let’s provisionally say £5

Total: About £33


Some of my precious sewing time during my time off work was devoted to patching my two pairs of jeans. I already posted a tutorial on how I do this and I followed the same technique.

I very nearly threw the lighter jeans away when I moved house in June, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Even though I haven’t worn them since summer 2017, I love these jeans. I possibly kept them in case I wanted to replicate the fit in case I ever make my own jeans (at this point looking unlikely but who knows what the future has in store).

Annoyingly I didn’t think to take a picture, but the fabric around the seams on the inside leg of these jeans was completely worn away. You can see in the photo above the way the denim is pulling apart.

I was sorting though my clothes and I examined the jeans again. I think I previously dismissed the idea of patching over the seam, but suddenly this seemed like a great idea. The seam allowance is perfectly placed to cover where the denim is damaged. Shouldn’t a patch over the top hold it all together nicely?

You can see how heavily the jeans are already patched. I marked out with pins where I wanted to add new patches.

As with all of my jeans repairs, I made the patches with denim left over from my first day dress.

You may be able to see that I made the patches on the incorrect side of the fabric but you shouldn’t see this from the right side so I didn’t bother to remake them.

Weirdly intimate to show a picture of my crotch

You can see that I’ve basically reinforced the whole crotch area of these jeans with an extra layer of denim. I was a bit concerned that they would feel uncomfortable but they’re absolutely fine.

I just noticed that my ‘new’ jeans (purchased in September 2017 and worn quite heavily since) have just developed their first hole. My jeans always wear in exactly the same way.

This was a very straightforward patch job. I slightly thought about preemptively patching the areas that I know will wear away next but in the end I didn’t bother.

I almost feel like it is a personal challenge to see how many years I can keep these two pairs of jeans going. I’m fairly confident that I have had the brighter blue pair for around five years. It’s interesting how my conception of something being ‘worn out’ has changed in a fairly short period of time. This project has also reminded me how hardwearing jeans are- even though jeans are now a staple, this harks back to their history as a garment for hard physical labour.