Category Archives: Sewing


It’s tempting to use some Kylie song lyrics in this blog post about Style Arc’s Kylie knit top pattern but I’ll refrain. Kylie is a basic long or short sleeve t-shirt pattern with a wing-like overlay. I envisioned a pile of different versions, mostly stripey. I love sewing and wearing stripes!


First up was a long sleeved version in a green stripe viscose jersey from ebay. I ordered a size 6 pattern based on bust measurement and adjusted the pattern (grading up at the hips and down at the waist) before cutting out. I don’t mind so much for this simple seamed project but I’d find it difficult grading a complicated pattern without the other sizes as a guide. Something to consider when thinking about/buying Style Arc patterns.


I was thoroughly confused about the construction of the overlay. The pattern instructions are a little brief and oddly phrased. By the time I’d worked it out, I’d chomped the seam allowance off with my overlocker. The neckline is wider on this version than it should be, unpicking was stretching the jersey so I cut away the overlocking and started again. To fix the slightly saggy neckline, I threaded some elastic thread through the correct overlocked seam and drew it up slightly. My fudge worked out but I’m not proud of it.


My second version of Kylie was a pattern hack in a nautical jersey (a two times remnant; fromĀ  pneuma and before that maxi skirt). I amended the armholes and shoulders of the overlay to turn it into a sleeveless vest and bound the neckline and armholes with perpendicular stripes.


Out of the two, this one is my favourite but I’m keen to make it again so watch this space.


Navy Ponte Leggings – Vogue 1440

When I made my Autumn Southport dress, I wanted to further extend the wearability into winter. I’ve nailed layering with a long sleeve t-shirt underneath and a cosy cardigan on top but brrrrr the chills go right through tights.

I wasn’t the fastest sock knitter so knitting wooly tights was out of the question (although I can’t stop browsing knitted tights on Ravelry and Pinterest!). The next best option was to sew some leggings.

V1440 Front

For the pattern I used Vogue 1440 modifying the tapered leg trouser silhouette to a fitted legging. The pattern is intended for knit fabrics such as ponte so the alterations were relatively easy.V1440 Back

I placed an online order for some navy and some mushroom ponte from Truro Fabrics. This ponte is really very good quality, it doesn’t have the sheen that cheaper options have and is incredibly soft for such a sturdy knit.

V1440 Side

When I attached the elastic waistband, I also incorporated a ribbon tab at the centre back for easy orientation.

V1440 Centre Back Ribbon

Finally, I had some excess length that I should have just cut off and hemmed with a twin needle top stitch but I was overcome with an urge to turn them into ski pants. In the interests of fashion, do not try this at home kids.

V1440 Side Ski Pants

If you don’t care that 3 decades have passed since this look was ‘in’ then go ahead, cut a 2 1/2 inch slit for your heel, zig-zag or overlock the cut edge to reinforce it then enjoy the warmth provided by a second layer on your feet and the knowledge that your leggings will stay firmly in your boots this winter.

Autumn Southport

It’s not often that I repeat a pattern but sometimes, just sometimes, a really good one comes along that allows for a variety of fabrics and spans multiple seasons. C&H lawn

Finding a bolt-end of lawn on the C&H remnant table certainly helped push me towards a third True Bias Southport Dress.

soutport true bias autumn

I knew I could fit a short Southport dress out of 1.5m because I had only 1.1m when I made my first purple paisley one (so I have 40cm left for another project!). The changes I made to the pattern pieces for my neon maxi Southport were carried forward to this make.

autumn southport backThe colours of the lawn are particularly autumnal to me so a transition dress that I could layer up with tights and a cardigan (and maybe a long sleeve tee underneath towards winter!) was the look I was going for.

Southport with cardiI added a lining so that the skirt doesn’t ride up my tights and used satin bias binding at the neck and armholes.

southport lined skirt

The buttons were selected by my husband because I was being indecisive… “maybe these ones, but these ones are nice too and I like these but I think they’re too big” You know how it is. Anyway, I agree now that he made a good choice. They have a slight ombre effect so I was careful to sew them on so that the direction of the gradient was all the same.

autumn southport sun

When I finished the dress and placed it on Thelma, the autumn sun was beaming into my sewing room and I knew it was going to spend more time in the washing basket than the wardrobe!

Southport dress autumn

Bold and Neon Southport Maxi Dress

This fabric has a much bolder print than I would normally wear. I had circled ‘the man outside Sainsbury’s’ stall on Walthamstow market a few times selecting a red jersey and a grey marl jersey (both plain, staple fabrics that easily fit into a wardrobe). It was a particularly hot day and this fabric kept catching my eye. I asked him to add a few meters to my bag figuring that the worst case would be using it for a drapey toile/muslin.

Southport Maxi Dress a (480x640)

The neon bias binding I tracked down on ebay. Despite selecting the colour via a computer screen, it turned out to be a pretty good match for the random neon green/yellow splotches on the fabric.

Southport Maxi Dress e (640x450)

After making my first Southport dress, a maxi version leap frogged my sewing queue to meet an end of summer deadline. I removed some excess fabric from the skirt and bodice at the back and raised the neckline by half an inch. Other than that, the details for the pattern were the same as my previous make.

Southport Maxi Dress b (457x640)

I had a long hard think about pattern placement. A large flower on my back, I am fine with but I really didn’t want one on the front bodice. Yet, on the front I had to do some pattern matching at the button placket or it would have looked too haphazard.

Southport Maxi Dress d (480x640)

I’m still not sure it’s quite the right print for me but I’m willing to give it a few test wears before making a final decision whether to add it to the charity shop bag or not. As for the other purchases: the grey marl jersey is cut out and the red jersey it is awaiting blog photos.

Southport Maxi Dress c (480x640)

Liola Patterns Ella Top

I hope you are enjoying the summer as much as I am. Between sunny weekends, weddings, christenings and birthday barbecues, I haven’t done much sewing. However, my latest finished items epitomises summer and was finished just as the rain arrived: a cotton voile tank.

Liola Patterns Ella Top f

Have you heard of Liola Patterns? I hadn’t either till I saw Elena’s Ella Tank. The yoke and pleat caught my attention and the easily wearable shape helped me to justify the pattern purchase!

Liola Patterns Ella Top b

The fabric was spotted during an idle ebay browsing session (ebay seller: ontrendfabrics). I was won over by the abstract print, colours and because I hadn’t sewn with voile before it was going to be a new fabric experience.When it was delivered, the voile was (excuse my ignorance if you are a fabric identification whiz) a lighter, more sheer version of lawn. Yep, all the joy of being easy to sew coupled with a surprising amount of drape for a cotton.

Liola Patterns Ella Top i

The drape and sheerness was lovely but just a little too indecent to be worn as a top – I underlined in plain white voile which made the bright colours pop just a little more.

Liola Patterns Ella Top g

The Ella tank pattern has a faced yoke but having already underlined the shell fabric, I French seamed the yoke seam and omitted the facing. And why stop there, I French seamed the shoulder and side seams too – a great way to turn a quick project into something more substantial and double the sewing time required to complete it!

Liola Patterns Ella Top d

The neckline and arms are finished with bias binding so I echoed that stitching by top stitching the back yoke.

Liola Patterns Ella Top c

I made a few alterations to the pattern pieces: raised and rotated the bust darts, lowered and scooped out the armscye, graded in at the waist, full hip adjustment and a forward shoulder adjustment.  Some typical alterations for me and a couple of new ones.

Liola Patterns Ella Top a

I’m happy with the end result though. Very wearable and very me.

Liola Patterns Ella Top e

The most basic of basics: White Renfrew T-Shirt

There’s been a wave of t-shirt sewing among the blogging community lately. It’s great that we’re embracing sewing the basic items we wear frequently and shunning RTW.

Sewaholic Renfrew White T-shirt

I had a tip off that the white t-shirt jersey from Brunswick Mills (ebay seller: brunswickmill2013) was good quality: excellent recovery, washes well and has high opacity. I can fully recommend this fabric on all factors but it scores top markes for non-see-through-ability.

Sewaholic Renfrew White Tee

I used this t-shirt as an opportunity to test a few more tweaks to the Sewaholic Renfrew pattern based on the fit of my previous versions (Cowl and Long sleeve tee). With a bit more grading between waist and hip, mostly on the back pattern piece, I hoped to avoid a sway back adjustment… sadly not to be. Here I’m displaying the pooling in all it’s glory and with the t-shirt pulled down.

Sway Back Adjustment Predicament

The problem with a sway back adjustment on a garment with no centre back seam is that making it with a horizontal stripe fabric becomes impossible. The adjustment causes the hem line to rise up, the grainline gets skewed and the stripes end up all wonky. So my choice is to either add a centre back seam (really on a knit?!) or to be limited to non-stripe/non-obvious horizontal patterned fabrics. What a predicament to be put in.

Renfrew White T-shirt

Fabric necklace is still going strong after two years, I wonder whether the white t-shirt will avoid food stains for that long. What did you sew this weekend?

Elephant Pyjamas

My penchant for elephants (see here for evidence) and lasting habits of last years’ stash diet have produced a rather interesting pair of pyjamas. The weather is heating up here in the UK so some shorts pyjamas were thrust to the top of my sewing list.

Elephant Pyjamas

I hadn’t intended them to turn out quite so Muai Thai shorts-esque but I didn’t haveĀ  enough elephant lawn leftover for both a top and shorts. The contrasting cotton remnant (also from my stash) seemed a good idea at the time.

Elephant Pyjama Shorts

I used a self-drafted pyjama bottoms pattern and made them as long as I could with the fabric I had. Using a 4cm hem to match the hem of the top, I got all particular and changed thread colour for the side panels.

Elephant Pyjamas Top C

The top was a proof of concept make: Could a contrasting fabric work for the front pieces of Burda 04/2014 blouse 115? And could I competently re-draft the armscye to be sleeveless? No and yes respectively – although if you’d asked me to guess prior to sewing I’d have said the contrast was certain to work but my drafting would be doubtful.

Elephant Pyjamas Top A

As pyjamas it’s fine but I don’t think a contrast front can be achieved without some finely honed skills in fabric selection. Which I don’t have. I struggle to mix more than one print/colour into a garment so mostly I opt for matching facings/bindings/lining and avoid combining fashion fabrics all together.

I envisage sewing another shorts pyjama set in the near future… I’ve been online browsing for suitable fabric!

“Life is a pantomime so dress the part”

Let’s recap where I’m up to with Simplicity 1609…

Simplicity 1609 Retro Glasses

I started with a size 12 all over, swivelled the bust dart, lengthened the French dart, took in the side seams to a size 8 at the bust, took 3 1/2 inches from the hem, removed the centre front seam and debated how to eradicate some back neckline gape.

Simplicity 1609 Retro Glasses d

I transferred the adjustments, flagged up by the blue version, to my paper pattern and set to work. This time lining with ivory satin so that it’s a little bit special.

Simplicity 1609 Retro Glasses b

I couldn’t use fashion fabric facings because the black glasses print would show through but it is fully lined and the front neckline is understitched to prevent rolling.

Simplicity 1609 Retro Glasses c

Having just 2 meters of this narrow fabric I didn’t get much choice about pattern matching. The best I could do was ensure that the rows of glasses were level all the way around. I would have liked to match the actual frame styles though.

Simplicity 1609 Retro Glasses e

“Life is a pantomime so dress the part” was the quote that came to mind when I purchased this fabric (Riley Blake, Geeky Chic Collection this is Geeky Glasses by Dorothy Tsang). It’s been in my stash for nearly two years because it was expensive and I was afraid to use it. I’m also not one for novelty prints. Can I pull it off without looking like I’m going to a fancy dress party?

Simplicity 1609 Retro Glasses f

La Slyphide = Total Flop

I’m going to say straight away that I do not like this dress. If the poly crepe fabric, the granny length sleeves and the swooshy skirt weren’t bad enough, I then chose to wear bright blue shoes with black tights on a warm spring day. Bad, bad decision.

La Slyphide l

Sure my poor styling is to blame and choosing a silhouette that I knew didn’t suit me was just foolish. Fit and flare = frump on me. I know this, yet I failed to remember when I added Papercut’s La Sylphide to my Christmas present wish list.

La Slyphide o

The fit is great (XXS at the shoulder and bust grading out to XS at the waist with a considerably lengthened skirt) and the pattern sewed up a treat. The only further fit alterations I’d make would be to raise the waist and pinch out some necktie gape at the back.

La Slyphide p

Before this goes to the charity shop, I’m going to try hacking off the skirt to peplum length. Otherwise, I think the only way this pattern will ever work for me would be to go sleeveless and narrow the skirt to A-line. Note to self: No more fit and flare and ditch the black tights in spring!

La Slyphide n

Neon Nautical Pneuma

I’m so excited to share my latest handmade sportswear today, it’s had three exercise road tests. I insist on road testing sportswear before blogging so I can give you honest descriptions of functionality, sportsbra support, sweat wicking and other details that perhaps I should keep to myself.

I pack in up to 5 hours of exercise a week so that’s plenty of time to check out what my fellow gym goers are wearing. Lately there has been a resurgence of the neon trend but toned down with neutrals. And so, the nautical neon combo For Papercut’s Pneuma pattern was dreamt up mid-press up! Papercut Pneuma Neon Nautical a

It’s always easy to get stuck into a pattern you’ve sewn before but I did make some extra changes this time:

To the sports bra, I removed a smidgen from the front arm curve. In my featherweight pneuma this doesn’t bother me but in my Halogen sportsbra it rubs a little if I’m doing lots of arm movements.

To the tank, I made a full hip adjustment to prevent the back part of the tank riding up. I guess this is to do with my pear shape, most of which I carry in my behind.

Papercut Pneuma Neon Nautical b 

And the very obvious change… the straps. I attached a single strap at each shoulder with a cross at the back to prevent slipping and because I really like funky back straps in sportswear. The four straps of my previous makes get tangled when I put them on, the plush bra elastic gets sweaty and double straps at each shoulder means shoulder muscle (can’t for the life of me remember the name for this muscle from anatomy class – hubby thinks ‘traps’) pain if I wear it for too long.

Remedying all my gripes about my previous makes in one go… these straps are made using regular elastic covered with the same lycra I made the sportsbra from. Sweaty factor reduced to the same as the rest of the sportsbra – I prefer an even feel to sweat rather than troublesome areas. The wideness of the elastic means there is no flipping over or tangling. And, now that I’m happy with the compression the sportsbra gives, I had more confidence to not make the straps as tight so shoulder muscle ache is reduced to that just caused by the workout rather than additional resistance of working against the straps.

Papercut Pneuma Neon Nautical c Inside? Well, this lycra had plenty of recovery and resistance so doubling the layers like I did on my previous Pneuma sports bra was not necessary. Instead I used some power mesh swimwear lining from my stash just because it feels nice.

The fact the functionally of this make scored highly and the colours worked as well as they did in my vision was enough for me. To receive three compliments on it’s first gym session knocked me over the edge!