Seamwork Paxton

It is a little unusual for me to be sewing for someone other than myself, but I spotted this teal dogtooth quilted jersey on Minerva Crafts which I thought would be perfect for Matt. The Seamwork Paxton sweater was one of my make nine plans for this year, and so I’ve sewed one up.

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It feels good to be making progress on some of my sewing plans! This is the third of my patterns ticked off my make nine list. I’ve already written about my Seamwork Oslo, and Megan Nielson Amber. Three from nine at this point in the year is looking good!

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The full review of my Paxton sweater and this fabric is up on the Minerva Crafts blog, so check it out here. Matt seems happy to be the recipient of some sewing goodies for a change, so that feels good too!

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My first adventures into bag making

One of my aims for this year is to sew from my stash fabrics.  Well I have had a really cool ‘technical fabric’ remnant from Fabric Godmother sitting around for perhaps a year, and I thought it was high time that I gave sewing with it a go.  This fabric is slightly waterproof, but still moves and feels like fabric rather than plastic, so I thought that a fairly practical tote bag would be a good option.


I have had a Seamwork subscription for a while, and so had a couple of credits to use.  The Madrid bag seemed to be a pretty straightforward option for my first attempt at making a bag since making a drawstring one in year 9 textiles!  All the pattern pieces are basically rectangles, so it really is a beginner friendly option.




The Seamwork Madrid pattern is designed to be sewn with a couple of contrasting outer fabrics, and a lining.  I didn’t have two different waterproof fabrics, but I did have some cotton twill left over from Matt’s waistcoat last year which co-ordinated well.  I chose two basic polycottons for the lining, so that I could make the pocket out of a contrast colour too.



This all went together very smoothly.  I couldn’t find any bag handles that I liked online as suggested in the instructions, so I just made my own from some d-rings and a length of wedding.  This way you can choose exactly how long you would like the straps to be too.


This tote bag is not quite an empty shell like some are, and I thought that it would be nice to be able to take it without a handbag sometimes.  I hate it when my keys and phone get lost in the bottom of a bag though, so I divided the internal pocket to be ‘phone-sized’ and added a little hook to clip onto a key.  The finished bag looks pretty good.  Not all of my topstitching is a neat as I would like, but I don’t think most people will be looking that closely.


It is a bit floppy, so if I make some more in similar fabrics I think I will need to add some interfacing to the outer bag pieces to make them seem a bit more robust.  It might not be helping that the cotton twill at the top is slightly heavier weight than the floral fabric at the bottom of the bag, but I didn’t want to put them the other way up because I thought you are more likely to put a bag down on a slightly damp surface than brush up against one at the top of the bag.  I can see more of these bags in my future.


Amber Abroad!

This is my first more ‘spring-like’ make of 2018, finished partially in honour of a pre-baby holiday to Lanzarote. It was tricky deciding on my packing for holiday because I didn’t want to buy a whole summer maternity wardrobe, but knew it should be warmer over there than Devon in February! This t-shirt was one of the compromises that I decided upon- it is short sleeved, for warmer weather, but is going to be something I can wear again and again back at home.


The fabric is some of my favorite Girl Charlee cotton spandex in a grey marl colour. I’ve used the same one before in a t-shirt for Matt, and a bodysuit for me last summer. I just love the way that this fabric washes, wears and feels. The pattern is the Megan Nielson Amber– a top and dress pattern which is probably a bit under appreciated being as it is super versatile (one of the reasons that it made it onto my make 9 for the year). It is designed as a maternity and nursing pattern, but I can definitely see me making it with a few mods just for non-pregnancy wear. The shape is very similar to a much loved ready to wear dress that I’ve had for years!


Lanzarote was beautiful, though maybe not quite so warm as we had hoped- there was a strong wind most days, but this top was a great comfortable staple. It looks great just with my basic maternity leggings too. I’m definitely going to be making more in a few other colours, and have some fabric waiting in my stash to make at least one dress version too.


I like that unlike some maternity wear, this top still gives me some shape. I think it’s due to the empire line waistband before it flares out to make space for bump. There is a nifty little panel in the front which both stops the crossover feeling too low, and is designed for easy access when nursing. I haven’t tried that out yet, but I can see it being pretty practical.


I stabilised all the neckline sections before sewing them with fusible hemming tape because I didn’t want it to stretch out. It seems to have worked well, so I think I’ll do the same on the next one too. I didn’t really feel the need to switch to a twin needle for hemming and just used a zigzag stitch there instead. All the main seams were stitched on my overlocker.


This top does have just one tiny flaw- when I was stitching the waistband to the wrap over front, and the panel, I did manage to catch the modesty panel under the overlocker knife and took out a tiny piece. Just goes to show that I should have been less lazy and basted it in place on the sewing machine first, but I’ve patched it, and it’s not at all visible because it is under the wrap anyway so I’m not going to fret about it!


Maternity Modifications

In the last couple of weeks it suddenly feels like none of my clothes fit, and trousers especially are all really uncomfortable. I didn’t want to spend loads on a whole new maternity wardrobe to wear just for a short while, so I have been keeping my eye on the local charity shops to find some things that I could alter. Well I came up with two pairs of skinny jeans and a skirt, and I think I spent £6.50 in total on them, so not a bad start!


There are quite a few tutorials online about modifying clothes for pregnancy. Two that I found particularly helpful were Rachel from Bobbins on my Mind, and DIY maternity, a project by Megan Nielson. Both suggested altering things by removing the original waistband and substituting a stretchy band instead. So, armed with my chalk and a pair of scissors, I set to work!


I drew on approximately where I wanted the stretch band to start by putting the trousers on and seeing where my bump began. Then I just curved this line up towards the original waistband. I didn’t bother trying to unpick anything except the belt loops, and just cut the lot off! Then you need to carefully trim out the metal parts of the zip, so that you don’t catch them when you are sewing. The stretch panel I just cut from some ribbing from Guthrie and Ghani for this first pair, and used similar dimensions to the end result of my pleated maternity skirt. The tutorials above talk you through sewing it all together, but it is very intuitive, and I am really pleased with the end result.


This red pair were my first attempt, and I did find that topstitching was a bit of a pain. My machine didn’t really like all the layers, and did skip some stitches. I doubt anyone is going to be looking that closely though and they are so much more comfortable to wear.


With one success under my belt (literally) I cut into the other trousers and the skirt. For these I had a rummage through my fabric stash to find some suitable jersey (this is cotton spandex from Girl Charlee) and I think all of them are going to get plenty of wear in the next couple of months.


I’m particularly pleased with the topstitching on the skirt.  It matches really well with the existing stitching.  The skirt initially was below the knee, and made me feel a bit frumpy, so I cut off 4.5″ and sewed a new hem.  It feels much more wearable now.


There is definitely a bit of space for more growing, but they fit well enough now to be comfortable.


I am loving that these are so much more cost effective, and sustainable than buying new in the shops.  It really surprised me how much it affected my sense of self wearing my one pair of maternity jeans, which weren’t quite my style.  In these ones I feel like myself again, and it feels good!


Taylor Trench- Planning and Materials

This is the first of several posts about my journey into sewing the Taylor Trench by Rebecca Page.  This is one of the plans from my make nine, so it feels good to be getting the materials ready for this more involved project.  So how do I approach a project like this? Here is how I have been getting started.


While I love the instant nature and lack of tracing involved in PDF patterns, I don’t have the patience to stick together the millions of pages in more complex patterns!  I have been using netprinter to order my patterns printed on A0 with saves all the tedious cutting and sticking and means that I can get straight to the cutting out.  The pdf files for the Taylor Trench are layered, so you can save the pdf’s again with just the sizes you need visible and make life as simple as possible when it comes to the pattern preparations.

The Taylor trench has quite a few options with the pattern.  I will be making the shorted coat length and will definitely be adding the removable hood.  I will probably also use the back yoke piece, welt pockets, shoulder and sleeve tabs, but will omit the front yokes.  I am planning to add a buckle to my belt, rather than just tying it up.



I want this coat to be a real investment piece for me.  Something which will last for years, so I have been taking my time to choose some quality fabrics.  In rainy Devon, waterproof is a must, so I have selected some waxed cotton for my outer fabric.  This should give a balance of being pretty classy, and also practical on damp days out.  I managed to get some of last seasons colours of some British Millerian cotton in a beautiful vibrant red which should give me a high quality and long lasting finish.

I wanted this coat to be relatively warm too, so I’ve decided to quilt the lining with thinsulate, a bit like Lauren from Guthrie and Ghani’s Kelly Anorack.  I have ordered 2m of the thinsulate from Point North which should be plenty to have the hood and main body of the coat quilted with it as it is a full 1.5m wide.  I haven’t decided yet whether to quilt the sleeve lining or not.  I don’t want them to get too bulky, but I do want this coat to serve me all winter.  I will use un-quilted linings for the pockets and other odds and ends though.

For my lining I have chosen some lovely Liberty Tana Lawn from Abakhan.  I’m so glad that I did because it feels gorgeous and silky, but has the ease of working with cotton.  I managed to buy mine during their Christmas sale, so got 15% off the already fantastic £10/m so I snapped up Estella and Annabelle for just £8.50/m which is an absolute bargain!  I also got to use my birthday gift voucher from my parents on it, so it felt like even more of a treat, and I like that it picks up the red of the outer too.  I have the blue colourway, which they have now sold out of, but abakhan do have it still in green.


With a coat there are quite a few notions to be collected.  I have decided to go for silver fixings, because that should be easier to match, even when I am getting things from multiple sources.  I have ordered a few things, and have more in the planning.  So far I have:

Cord ends for the hood draw cord from eBay

Some drawstring cord, probably a neutral cream

A belt buckle, probably something like this

I am going to go for press fasteners everywhere, rather than buttons I think and will probably use Prym Anorak Snaps, because I already have a set of Vario Pliers for setting them

Small eyelets for the holes in the belt

I haven’t decided on thread yet, but will probably go with Gutermann threads in white and red because I know that they are great quality.

It seems to all be coming together pretty well.  I am planning to prewash the cotton lawn just to sort out any shrinkage and to keep it nice and soft, but I think I will leave the other fabrics unlaundered.  A coat is unlikely to be put through the washing machine once it is complete anyway.  I think that is as far as I have got, and I’m not quite sure when I am going to get to the cutting out stage because I have a few other projects to finish first but it is lovely to be planning away!