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.


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!


Maternity Agnes Tops

I am a massive fan of the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top (see some of my versions here and here)- it really is one of my wardrobe staples, so the recent release of a maternity version seemed perfect!  I still get to have all my lovely layering and basic tees, but with some extra space for a growing bump.


There are a couple of variations included in the pattern, including a dress which I may make at some point soon.  To start with though I thought I would give the top versions a go.  They are a bit longer than the standard Agnes tee, and the sizing chart is different, so do double check which size to cut.  I am a size 3 in the regular Agnes, but a size 2 in this maternity version.  Some of the extra length is gathered at the side seams to create the fullness required for a bump.


I made two versions, both with fabrics which have been waiting in my stash far too long for the right project to come around.  First up, I made a 3/4 sleeve top with side ties from a lovely Girl Charlee cotton jersey called Coral Peach Floral.  It doesn’t have the hugest amount of stretch, so I should perhaps have enlarged the sleeve width a little, but other than that I really like it.


The little side ties are a slightly labour and time intensive addition because they are a nightmare to turn through, but there is definitely some extra belly room, and more than I need at the moment at 4 months so still room to grow.


Next up, I used a cotton interlock from ebay in a wine colour.  For this one, I just wanted a really basic layering tee, so I left off the side ties and went for full length sleeves.  This one was super quick to put together, and I can see I am going to want more of these.  The interlock jersey is lovely too. A good amount of stretch, and super soft and snuggly.


I think this pattern is going to be a staple in the next couple of months.  it is so quick to put together if you leave the ties off, and with the dress variation to try out as well, I think i’m going to have another TNT pattern to replace the regular Agnes.


Tiny heads and hands

As you may now know, we are preparing for a new addition to our household, and this has prompted some slightly different sewing.  The great news for me though is that sewing for babies is a great use for little scraps, like the bits left over from my recent toaster sweater.  I had just enough to make some tiny mittens and a matching hat!


The hat is a self drafted template, with a simple cuff at the bottom.  There are loads of tutorials out there for baby hats, but none of them were going to fit into the tiny scraps that I had left so I had to create my own.  The cuff piece was 8cm high and a little smaller than twice the width of the hat template.


All I had to do was cut two ‘hats’ and a cuff.  Sew the ‘hats’ together, right sight together.  Sew the short ends of the cuff together, right sides together and press it in half wrong sides together.  Then just match the raw edges of the hat and cuff together and sew round.  Done in just a few minutes!  Let me know if you would like a more detailed tutorial with pictures and I can definitely get one together.



To make the mittens was also pretty simple.  I found this tutorial for drafting the pieces and just followed it through.


I used a little bit of grey ribbing for the cuffs this time because it was a bit stretcher than my jersey.  I cut the lining from some soft grey t-shirt jersey (left over from these t-shirts) because there was literally nothing left of my French terry by this point!  They are all soft and cosy on the inside because all the seams are enclosed.


Don’t they look cute just waiting for baby to pop them on.  I’m sure this is just the first of perhaps many baby related posts, but when things are so quick and take so little fabric, why wouldn’t you sew them something!


Colour blocked Coco’s

Coco was my first foray into sewing with knit fabrics, and I would say that it was a perfect introduction for a new sewist.  Tilly’s instructions are fantastically clear, and the pattern is sewn with a Ponte Roma or stable jersey, and so is much more friendly and easy to work with than some of the alternatives.


These two colour blocked coco’s are not my first attempts at this pattern, though that version is still in use, but these are the first ones where I started to modify patterns to suit my own preferences.  For these versions I slimmed down the sleeve piece from below the armscye to the wrist, and also added my own cutting lines for the colour blocking.


Another advantage for novice sewists is that this one pattern covers a range of options.  There is a dress or a top, a variety of sleeve lengths and a funnel or boatneck neckline. This makes it even easier to get both value for money from a pattern, and to end up with the garment you were dreaming of!  For both of my versions I went for the straightforward boat neckline, which is just turned under and stitched.  My top tip for getting it to stay in place is 1cm fusible hemming tape.  It will stay right were you have pressed it, and also gives the neckline a little bit of structure.


For the dress version I added patch pockets and decided to finish the hem with a zigzag stitch in contrasting white thread.  I actually preferred the appearance of the stitch from the bobbin side so I stitched it from the wrong side.


Both this top and dress have been going strong for about 3 years now and they are still comfy and cosy with just a bit of bobbling now.  I think I will still be wearing them for a while yet.IMG_0965


My first dress- meet Megan

My first ever handmade dress was this Megan dress, and I have always considered it a lucky dress because the first time I wore it at a wedding it proved a very successful topic of conversation with my neighbour at the table.  Well, it recently had another wedding outing, and I thought that it was high tile that it got its own photos and write up on the blog.


This Megan dress pattern comes from the Tilly and the Buttons book, Love at first Stitch which was my introduction to sewing for myself.  I worked through the patterns in the book in sequence (see here for my Delphine Skirt and Clemence Skirt), learning the required techniques as I went along.  I still sometimes come back to this book to look something up when I need a reminder.  Each technique is explained and photographed in detail which was a lifeline when I was starting out.



This dress for me does represent the proud moment of sewing up a bodice and sleeves and it being a wearable dress.  Yes the invisible zip is definitely not invisible and I’m sure there are lots of places where the finishing could be improved, but that hasn’t stopped me from wearing it.


The fabric is just a very affordable polycotton and I have no idea anymore where it came from!  Looking back on it today, I’m glad that my new to sewing self didn’t try to over fit this dress.  There is definitely a good bit of ease, and that is what has made it comfortable to wear all day to a wedding.  The bodice is possibly a little too long looking back at these pictures and I think that is what is causing the creasing, but nothing major would need to be done to a remake of this pattern.


Being such a long time ago, the construction details are a little hazy.  I think I made a straight size 3 (Tilly has her own numeric sizing system), though if I went back to the pattern I could probably work it out for certain because I definitely traced the pattern pieces off the large pattern sheets which come with the book.  It is such a simple shape that I think I may have to revisit this dress again.  The style actually lends itself pretty well to both summer dresses and to layering in winter.  I will be wearing this one for the next few months with long sleeved t-shirts and tights.



Winslow Culottes

I have been desiring culottes for a while, especially as I have been cycling a bit more, and they are just much more practical than a skirt on a bike!  The best ones look pretty and feminine like a skirt, just a lot less likely to accidentally show off your underwear! Having looked at a few options, I settled on the Winslow Culottes by Helens Closet who is another new to me pattern designer.


I wanted these culottes to sit a little below my natural waist and to be loose and comfortable for summer so I sized up a little and used the size 8 pieces. I figured that if it was a little larger than I planned, with those big pleats it would be easy to just shorten the waistband and take a little more fabric into the pleat.


The fabric is a little special.  The only souvenir that I brought home from Italy was this 1.3m remnant of fabric.  The shop that we visited was very close to Milan city centre and was understandably mostly out of my price range.  There were some stunning silks and velvets, but I could only really justify looking though their remnants.

This smallish piece of cotton was my prize though.  It is just lovely to touch. Soft and drapey, and made in Italy, so a very appropriate holiday souvenir.  The yardage was pretty much perfect for these shorter culottes (view B).


These have been a very quick and efficient sew.  I prewashed the fabric in the morning, then ironed and cut before lunch and spent the afternoon sewing them up.  I would say that this was a pretty beginner friendly pattern.  The trickiest part is probably inserting the invisible zip, but the instructions and illustrations are excellent.


In terms of fit, I am fairly happy.  The waistband fits a little strangely, because it sits at a slightly strange in-between height. I can live with that though, but next time I will need to contour the waistband slightly so that it sits against my body a little better.  It is just a narrow straight band, so there isn’t any shaping included in the pattern.


When I hemmed these culottes, I did take quite a bit of length off.  They are designed with a narrow 1/2″ hem, but I ended up with a deep 3 1/2″ hem instead to bring the length up above my knee a little.  That might be partially because the waistband is sitting a little lower than my natural waist.


The fabric makes these so special for me.  There are a couple of hidden features, like including the selvedge into the pockets as a special holiday reminder.  It was beautiful to work with, and is a great weight, draping really nicely in the finished skirt.  The deep pleats are very flattering, so I think I will be making this pattern up agin next summer.

These pictures do remind me that sadly summer is drawing to a close.  The culottes did perform really well on our ride, along with my Rowan bodysuit, but we did get soaked in a rain shower on the way home!


Sew over it Silk Cami

By the time you are reading this I will be on a flight out to Italy with a suitcase full of last minute completed sewing!  I’m going to have quite a backlog of things to write up once I get back.  This is also a slightly belated post.  Even the pictures were taken a couple of months ago on a short trip to Swansea.

When Sew Over It was having one of their sales, I decided to get a printed copy of their Silk Cami as part of a fabric/pattern kit.  They make up small numbers of these kits with a suitable fabric for a few of their PDF only patterns, and if you hate the printing and sticking that a PDF pattern entails, this is one way to access a couple more of their designs!

IMG_2466.JPGI decided not to use the fabric which came with the kit for my first attempt, because I wanted to check out the fit.  Instead I used the very last pieces of this cotton lawn (seen before in my Beausoleil Top and the English Tea Dress). You may also have spotted that I am wearing my handmade espadrilles in these pictures.  They still look so cool!

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This is a very simple top.  There is no shaping or darts to deal with.  Just a front and back, and facings to finish the neckline and armholes.  Given it’s simple shape, I actually really like the fit of this and definitely have plans for more.


About the only place that I’m not 100% happy is the back neckline which seems to be gaping a little.  I think I might take out a dart in this version, and then correct it in the pattern for future attempts.


The only other little gripe if that my front facing doesn’t lie totally flat.  I’m not sure if that is a drafting error, or a tracing off the pattern error. (Probably more likely the latter.)  It means that for my next cami I will need to double check the pattern pieces too!


I do have a slightly exiting plan to hack this at some point too with the Grainline Archer Popover variation to give a little cami with a popover button placket at the front.  I think that will look really cute when I get around to it!


I do have plans for a few more of these once I have sorted out the slight neckline issues.  This one was always planned as a wearable toile before cutting into a couple of other lovely fabrics which have been earmarked of this pattern.

Head to Head- dipped hem t-shirts

Introducing the Patterns:

Molly Top & Dress by Sew Over Ita staple  kimono sleeved top with an option to add full length sleeves.  It has just 4 pattern pieces (3 if you choose not to add the longer sleeves) and is billed as “The perfect pattern to try sewing jersey for the first time, a hit with anyone who likes a quick, satisfying sew.” It also has an option for a jersey dress.

Briar Sweater and T-shirt by Megan Nielsona simple and stylish t-shirt or sweater.  Comes with a scooped front hem and dipped back to create a hi-lo profile.  Both cropped and full lengths, and a range of pocket, sleeve and neckline options.

Sizing and Fit:

Both are loose fitting drapey tops and I cut the smallest size in each.



Ease of Construction and Instructions:

Both patterns have clear instructions and illustrations.  I think the Molly top is probably slightly simpler to construct and understand, but that is partially due to having fewer pattern pieces and options.  I did learn how to do a neckline binding in the Briar instructions, but I did also have to check the Megan Nielson tutorial for some extra photographs just to be sure what was going on.


Value for Money:

This is a little tricky to compare because the Molly Top only comes as part of the Sew Over It eBook- My Capsule Wardrobe.  The Briar top is £13.49 on the Megan Nielson website, but has two lengths and a variety of styling options.  I think if you would be interested in some of the other items in the eBook such as the Alex shirtdress or Mia jeans then at £20 it is pretty good value for 5 patterns, most of which also have pattern variations included.




Both have dipped hems at the back.  Molly has a dipped hem at the front, while Briar has a slightly cropped front for full hi-lo effect.  My personal preference is that I prefer the Molly front hem for tucking into skirts and I think the length at the back is also more flattering.  The Briar does look great though with jeans or a pair of shorts.


Briar does give options for a regular neckline band and for a clean finished neckline binding.  Molly just includes a simple jersey neckband.  Both necklines are scooped, with Briar being a little deeper.  Both seem to lie flat and even.


I chose to keep both sleeves short, so the cut on sleeves of the Molly top to save a step.  That said, the Briar tee sleeve did ease in neatly without an gathering or puckering, so as sleeves go, this was easy to insert.

Overall Impressions:

I think my overall preference is for the Molly top.  The length of the dipped hem seems particularly flattering, and not having to insert sleeves for the short sleeved t-shirt does make this a very quick summer make.  If I make the Briar again, I will be shortening the dipped back hem a little.

However, I will add that it is very simple to alter the hemline of a jersey t-shirt, so if you already have one of these (or something similar) this is a very easy way to change up a pattern.  Katie from the Creative Counselor has just been doing a series on modifying a basic t-shirt pattern, so check it out if you want some ideas or techniques.