FO: New Look 6863 vest top



This is another UFO, hence this unseasonable top. I made this vest from New Look 6863 pattern, which I adapted into a vest top.


Image result for new look 6863The fit is a little tight, so I had to unpick the side seams to create more room. It’s still snug around the bust. I’m a bit meh about the finished top. I’m not sure about the fabric, which is an African Wax print from my stash. The straps are too far apart for my liking.


I wanted to finish this, as it was one of my UFOs. Sometimes indifferent works in progress turn out fine, but not this time. I’ll probably just wear in round the house when summer comes.



I went to the Knitting and Stitch show at Olympia after being lucky enough to win tickets. I was very restrained with my spending and came away with some lovely textured knit and a few sewing tools. I loved the knitted farm yard. Did you go? What did you buy?


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FO: Simplicity 1692 vintage top


This is Simplicity 1962 a re-issue of this 1940s pattern from their archive. I went for view 3, a cute kimono sleeved top, with double pleats at the front and back.


Although the pattern is very simple to sew, getting the fit right was a bit of a mare. I went through three toiles. So unsurprisingly, this is another one of my UFO’s from last year.


Having shoulders that roll forward and a hollow chest meant there was a lot of excess at the front to get rid of. There was also the problem of crinkly folds at the back, coming up from the underarms, which I haven’t quite successfully resolved. Maybe this is a feature of kimono sleeves that I’ll just have to live with. The pattern is very similar to the bodice of the Anna dress from BHL,which was a headache to fit. Don’t ask me how I managed to get to the version you see above, as the making of this was very stop-start and I can’t remember what I did.


Eagle eyed viewers will see that I haven’t followed the pattern exactly. I re-drafted a lower neckline and dispensed with the shoulder opening, as I could put it on without it. The final top was quite snug so I sewed one pleat at the back, rather than two. I also used self bias binding rather than facings on the neckline.


Overall, I’m reasonably happy with the fit of the top. The secret is to use a nice drapey fabric for this pattern, as it’s more forgiving on the creases that you get with kimono sleeves. I used stiff poly cottons for my toiles and the creases looked horrible. If I do make it again, I’ll lengthen the top next time, as there is a lot of unwanted belly flashing going on.

I’m flying through my UFOs and it’s very satisfying to see my UFO pile diminish. Wish I could say that I’ve got a tidier sewing corner! This is also pattern #2 for vintage pattern pledge 2015. One more to go!

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FO: Lady Skater


Another UFO in the bag, this time a wearable muslin. For my dummy run of the Lady Skater pattern I used some navy ponte I bought from Goldhawk Road. I found it in a remnant bin and paid the princely sum of £4 for 1.5 metres! I cut size 4 but made a few changes. The front bodice side seam is graded up to size 5 at the waist line. I then cut size 5 for the skirt front to match the bodice. The back bodice and skirt stayed a 4. I shortened the bodice so that the waistline sits where it should.


When I tried it on I realised I should have done a FBA for knits and extended the side seam by one size. The seams and waistline didn’t sit right. I don’t have any pictures but I think the side seams were pulling forward and the back waistline was sagging. I decided to rescue it and unpicked the side and waistline seams. I then sewed the seams again with a scant seam allowance and took a wedge out of the back bodice. Not prizes for guessing the guts of my dress look horrendous.


I’m a bit meh about the finished results. I was after a smart work dress and the cap sleeves and shortness of the skirt make it look casual. I forgot to compensate for the length taken out of the bodice. The skirt sits higher up on my very short torso, so is little too short.


I think I’ll re-visit the pattern at some point. I’ll lengthen the sleeves and skirt and might try a facing on neckline. The band makes it look a bit t-shirty. If you want to sew the Lady Skater, fitting tips can be found here from Kitschy Coo. It’s an easy to sew pattern and perfect for someone starting out with knits.

I knew I wouldn’t wear my ‘wearable’ muslin so I gave first refusal to my sister. She was delighted to be the recipient of a hand made dress and I’m chuffed it went to a good home.

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FO: Vintage red wrap skirt


Here’s another UFO in the bag. The pattern is from Style, sew simple 2003.

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I was making it for last years Vintage Pattern pledge but progress stopped when The Coat started and sucked up all my sewing energy. I’m aiming for 3 patterns again this year, though I do have an ambitious To-Sew list, so it’ll be a challenge.


There’s not much to say about this except it’s super easy to make as there aren’t any zips involved. I like that it wraps at the back and it feels quite secure, so no wardrobe malfunctions. Red is a departure from my usual colour palette and I love it. The skirt looks great with my Breton plantain top. Note to self, must sew more solids! The fabric is a cheap as chips twill I bought from one of the shops in Walthamstow market. I hemmed the skirt with some bias binding in my stash. It looks cute peeking out from the back skirt panel.



Anyone else on a mission to sort out their UFO’s? It’s a bit like having a sewing spring clean.

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FO: From sofa throw to Simplicity 2451

SAM_5389I’m on a mission to tackle all the UFO’s in my sewing corner. 2014 was a productive year sewing wise but spending more time sewing has resulted in lots of half-finished projects cluttering up my sewing space. So one of my re-sewlutions is to finish my UFO’s before I start anything new. Hopefully I’ll get to sew something new at some point.


First up is this skirt made from the infamous Simplicity’s 2451 pattern. You probably know already this pattern is awesome. I previously made view C here but I like my latest version better as it’s closer to the pattern.  I lowered the waistband of my first iteration but decided the skirt looks better sitting nearer my natural waist as per the pattern.


I love the fabric of this skirt, the floral print is so happy and vibrant. I love it even more as the fabric had a former life as a sofa throw. I found it in a charity shop and paid a bargainous 4 quid for it. As I picked it up, I realised it was not a mound of material but a very large rectangle of upholstery cotton, edged on one side with a flounce. It looked homemade and was in good condition so I bagged it.


As there was tons of fabric, I thought about making a dress but my sister talked me out of it as she reckoned  ‘top to toe sofa’ would be too much. I’m glad I went with the skirt option as it’ll definitely get more wear than a dress. I lined it so I can wear it in winter too over thick tights. It’ll look great with coloured tights.


I made view D which is the same as view C but with a longer skirt and a kick pleat at the back. I tapered the skirt at the side seams by 1.5cms at the hem, tapering to nothing at the bottom of the pocket for a more fitted look.  I lengthened the yoke slightly to fit my waist which resulted in the skirt having two front pleats at the yoke rather than four. I’d like to put the missing pleats back in next time I make it this, just need to work out how.


I took up the hem by 5cms but should have shortened the pattern. The kick pleat is a bit mean now so I’ll make adjustments to the pattern next time. I could’ve sewn it up as I can walk ok without it but I liked this little detail.

As the skirt is very simple to sew up I thought I’d practise a few techniques, so I inserted my second lapped zipper. I’m finding them ok to insert but I’m not sure I like the look of them. They aren’t as well hidden as concealed zips and mine gape open a little at the top of the waistband.

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I decided use a blind stitch foot on the hem. I confess I’m terrible for exploring the other features of my sewing machine. It’s taken me 8 years to try out the buttonhole feature and as well at the blind stitch foot. I played around on a scrap of fabric first before sewing my hem and the results are amazing. Lots of tiny prick stitches, which look so professional. This foot is my favourite ‘new’ bit of kit as it’ll save me from lots of hand sewing.

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I’m so pleased I rescued this from my UFO pile. I think the skirt has a hint of Boden about it with the crispness of the fabric and loud print. This pattern is definitely a TNT skirt pattern for me. Here’s to finishing UFOs.

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FO: The three year scarf


What to do next after making a coat. Finish a scarf that’s been lying around for 3 years. One of my re-sewlutions is to finish UFOs which are cluttering up my sewing space. I unearthed this project whilst sorting out my sewing stuff at the beginning of the year. I’m not sure why I stopped as it was near enough finished. It took just two evenings in front of the telly to finish.


I used 2 skeins of Araucania Tepa which is a blend of wool, mohair and silk. I remember falling in love with the beautiful colours of this hand dyed yarn and I was physically unable to leave without buying it. It’s quite pricey at £13.50 a skein but I just had to have it. I didn’t even have a project in mind when I bought it.


I don’t knit much but might get into it again. My knitting skills are pretty basic and hats and scarves are my level. I’d love to be able to knit something like the Miette cardi one day. I’m pleased I finished it as it looks lovely all knitted up.

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FO: Introducing the Gerard coat


After almost a month of toiling away I have a coat. Yes, that’s right, my first ever handmade coat. It’s a notched collar, interlined, bound buttonhole beauty and I absolutely love it. Warning, this is a wordy, picture heavy post but there’s a lot to say about making a coat!


I had earmarked Gerard from Republique du Chiffon as the pattern for my first coat project. The boyfriend style with dropped shoulders is perfect for someone new to coat making – a forgiving fit and no complex shoulder tailoring. I also had this rust wool in my stash ready to go. It’s got all the colours of autumn in it.


Sewing a coat was one of my sewing goals for 2014 so I got there in the end, albeit a month late. I began sewing like a dervish after seeing Sonja’s luscious fuchsia Gerard in late December, so I have her to thank for having a new coat this winter.


I toiled the pattern out of an old sheet to check the fit. I knew the coat was a relaxed fit and wanted to avoid the ‘picked up someone else’s coat’ look. To cut corners I left out the collar and just sewed up the body and one sleeve. I normally fit size 10-12 and the medium was perfect.


Although Gerard is a great pattern for an intermediate sewer, you have to psych yourself up for it as it’s a marathon sewing project. The pattern comes as a pdf download with no seam allowances. Although the coat is a fairly simple design, there are 18 pattern pieces – fashion fabric, lining and interfacing. The pattern making stage took me about two days. The instructions, despite being translated into English, are basic. There are more detailed instructions in French but my boyfriend’s translation skills didn’t stretch to sewing vocab. I confess I hardly referred to them, using books and on-line resources instead.


I pre-shrank my wool in a tumble dryer with a wet towel using this method from Off the Cuff. After that I cut out my fabric and ironed on the interfacing which was a mammoth job due to the number of pieces. There’s a lot of prep which needs to be done before you even start sewing.  Once I got going, I found some pattern pieces didn’t quite match up and had to be eased in. The pattern is hand drafted and not digitised so there might be a few errors, as my piecing together and tracing were pretty accurate. However it’s nothing major and the pattern does come together.

Lining and domette interlining

Lining and domette interlining

I wanted to interline the coat as I’m always cold. I did a bit of research into suitable interlining fabric and used domette bought from McCulloch and Wallis. I was advised by the shop assistant to interline the coat, but I read it’s better to add the interlining to the lining if it’s a loose fit style, so that’s what I did. I only lined the body, as I didn’t want the coat to be too bulky and the finished coat hangs nicely.

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I had considered machine-made button holes but my poor machine could not cope with the wool. So bound button holes it was. Placing the button holes and the patch pockets was a faff as there aren’t any markings provided on the pattern. I ended up sewing them towards the end to make sure they were in the right place. Normally you’d add them at the beginning when there aren’t any facings to get in the way. 



Extra interfacing on wrong side of front for pockets

My pockets are placed 11 cms up from the hem and 9.5 cms from the front opening if that’s of any help to anyone. I left out the seam allowances on the pockets as I wanted them to be smaller. I added some interfacing to the top of the pockets and to the wrong side of the front of the coat to stabilise that area.


Front facing with twill tape and pad stitching

To get the lapel to sit nicely I added twill tape along the roll line and pad stitched the facing to add structure. The iron-on interfacing was coming away from the wool so this secured it. I made some prick stitches on the back of the lapel, to prevent the fabric from rolling to the front and added some twill tape on the shoulder seams to strengthen them, a tip I picked up here from Bedlam + bird.


I whip stitched all my seam allowances, as the wool kept fraying the more I worked with it. I wished I’d overlocked before sewing as this would have saved some time. However I did remember to do this for my lining. I catch stitched my back seam allowances to the back but it produced an unsightly bump along the seam, so I unpicked this. To help the cuff and hems fold up, I made anchoring stitches along the seam allowances.


Coat hook made from Liberty bias tape

Making the coat wasn’t without mishap. I practised my bound buttonholes as this technique was new to me. However, when it came to cutting the slit for the buttonhole, I was a bit trigger happy and cut beyond my tailor tacks by about half a centimetre. I fixed it with a bit of darning. Luckily the thread is a good match and it’s hidden by the button when the coat is fastened. My other accident was burning my lining. Fortunately I hadn’t sewed it in and I had some extra lining to replace the burnt section.


The trickiest head-scratching part was the collar. I’d never sewn a notched collar before and the video mentioned on Ginger’s blog is invaluable. The resources I used are listed below.

Readers Digest complete guide to sewing book – tailoring and construction techniques

The Sewtionary book  – bound button holes

Threads Magazine – interlining

Michelle Blazer tutorial – in French but lots of photos on jacket construction. Very useful for sewing lining at hem and front facing – see photo below.


Grainline studio – bagging out a jacket lining

Sewhopeful – buttonhole facings

Angela Wolf – attaching twill tape to lapel

Video – Sewing a lined jacket – just watch the beginning to see how a collar is sewn

To achieve a good finish when it came to the final pressing, I used the closest object I could find to a clapper – an untreated wooden chopping board. It did a good job of absorbing the excess moisture and my lapels are nice and flat. I also used a tailors ham,  my favourite new sewing tool. The wool was a joy to work with and behaved when pressed.

It’s been an enjoyable journey and I loved making my Gerard coat so much I was almost sad to see it over. I learnt lots of new techniques including notched collars, patch pockets, edge stitching, bound buttonholes, tailoring and interlining. I sewed slower as I had to research unfamiliar techniques along the way and found I enjoyed the process of sewing even more. There was a lot of hand stitching too which I like to zen out to. Maybe I should challenge myself to sew patterns that involve learning new skills more often.


Making a coat is a great investment as you are likely to get a lot of wear out of it. It’s also addictive as you get a buzz from having accomplished a sewing milestone. I was thinking about more coat making in the middle of making my Gerard. I love the new Cascade duffle coat from Grainline, it’s so cute.  Maybe something for autumn….

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I’m so happy with my new coat and wore it to the park at the weekend. The weather was particularly cold and the padded lining felt luxurious as well as snug. The coat fits really well and is comfy to wear. It also matches my new scarf. Anyone coat sewing at the moment? What are you making?

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