Maternity Modifications 2!

While I have managed to sort out a few options for everyday maternity wear, it turns out maternity work wear is far more complicated to find!  I am an outdoor education instructor, and while I’m not planning on hanging around at the top of the climbing tower much anymore, I don’t want to totally give up on being busy outdoors.  Unfortunately, the only UK supplier I have found of maternity walking trousers is fairly limited (and I had to take the elastic of the waistband in about 3 inches even for the smallest size).


Fortunately, I have a few things which I don’t wear often or don’t fit well to modify.  First up is a pair of walking trousers.  I could have just removed the waistband in the same way as my jeans, but these trousers had a nifty side adjustment already which gave me an idea about modifying them at the side seam instead.  I unpicked the side seam about 20cm on each side and then tried them back on to see how much extra room I needed to create.


I had a bit of navy lycra in my stash, so cut out some triangles of about the right size, and hemmed the top edge.  Then I went about inserting them into the side seams where they had been unpicked.  I decided to make them a little bigger than I needed them right now to give me a bit of space to keep growing.


Once they were in, I tidied up the waistband edge, and stitched it all down.  The next problem is that the original side adjusters were obviously going to be way too short.  I thought about taking them off and replacing them with a new longer set, but thought they might be more versatile if I added to them instead.  They currently close with Velcro, so I bought a couple of rectangular sliders which the current strap can slide through and fasten the Velcro behind.  Then I sewed these into the end of a strap extension.  It sounds complicated, but it is actually really simple to look at.


I’ve also been a bit short of jumpers and layers which fit properly to do up, so I adapted an old softshell in a similar way.  This time the sides are opened from the bottom hem upwards about 25cm and I added similar triangular inserts.

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The insert is essentially a godet, so if you are thinking of doing something similar and want a bit of sewing advice Liz has a tutorial, as does By Hand London.



This jacket had a drawstring at the bottom originally, and the side seam coincided with some eyelets which helped adjust the elastic.  I decided that it would be worth keeping the drawstring feature, so sewed the lycra into the side seams before hemming so that I could keep the channel clear.  I had to add some new eyelets and elastic, but it works really well, stopping the jacket from riding up and keeping the draughts out!


I love that these things fit me now, but have enough adjustment (hopefully) to keep me comfortable for the next couple of months too.  Now I’m all ready for more adventures!

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P.S. Apologies for the low quality pictures.  My normal cameraperson/husband has been away a lot recently, so these got taken on my phone using the timer and the contrast/exposure/quality is just not so great!



Lovely Lily

This is make number 4 from my make 9 plans- I really am rocketing along! It is a Sew Over It Lily Top, from Lisa’s new-ish maternity patterns. Surprisingly, there don’t seem to be that many of them made, because this is a versatile pattern for maternity and nursing, but it does look pretty cute just as non maternity wear too.


This fabric is from my stash and has been there a while! I have no idea where it came from, or what the composition is, though I think there is some viscose in there. Whatever it is, it drapes beautifully, and feels really soft. The cream and blue pattern doesn’t need any attempt at pattern matching, and it a lot less harsh than a white background too.  I don’t always show the insides of my makes, but I decided to French seam as much as I could, and it does look much neater.


I decided to lengthen the sleeve about 15cm to full length, and add a little cuff following a similar method to my pussy bow blouse. I want to be able to wear this now, while it is still a bit chilly, and I’m also aware that British spring/summer is quite often cooler than I always wish it would be! Full length sleeves mean that I can wear this now with a cardigan, but will hopefully wear it all summer too with just a vest top underneath.


I am really pleased with how the cuffs turned out. I did interface them because I knew I was planning on putting in a proper buttonhole, rather than the rouleau loops used in the pussy bow blouse pattern.  When I was sewing it up, I deliberately left the cuffs long so that I could decide near the end exactly what size I wanted them to be.  I think the little keyhole is a nice feature, and I wanted the cuff to be long enough to (just) go over my wrist without needing to undo the buttons every time.


These buttons are also from stash, and look pretty cute.  It doesn’t really photograph very well, but they have a lovely blueish sheen.


I was a bit surprised that the instructions didn’t quite live up to the usually very high standard of Sew Over It. It felt like they hadn’t had a last proof read and had been rushed out. There were a couple of places where the sleeve variation instructions told you to jump to another number, but the number hadn’t actually been included, it had been left as stars. The instructions for the 3/4 sleeves never actually tell you to hem them, or what the hem allowance should be. Usually Sew Over It patterns are very professionally checked and tested so this did seem like an odd blip.  It didn’t bother me too much because I was changing up the pattern anyway, but a new sewer might find it very confusing.


This top does look great.  It is a bit of a departure from my usually more fitted style, but I like the practicality of it and can see it getting lots of wear in the next year.  It does feel slightly tent-like, but I’m glad that he slim fitting sleeves help to balance that out.


Dazzling Toaster Two!

So many people have made things with this gorgeous Dazzle French Terry from Atelier Brunette. It’s the sort of fabric that until now, I haven’t dared to buy or sew with because along with being the most gloriously soft fabric, it is also the most expensive fabric I have ever cut into. I bought it with some Christmas money though, in the sale at Guthrie and Ghani, and it felt a bit more manageable.

IMG_2381Because the fabric is so special, I wanted to keep my pattern choice to something I knew I would love. My last Toaster Sweater was great. I used the #2 version which has a split hem and I love the extra length that I added, and the slightly swingy shape. This time though I decided to modify the neckline to more of a crew neck. I like wearing jumpers over shirts, and this neckline is a bit more comfortable and practical when wearing it like this.

IMG_2303The pattern modifications were super simple.  I based the shape on an existing ready to wear jumper, and traced the shape onto my pattern pieces.  I had to draft a new neckband, but that is just the same as doing it for any jersey t-shirt or dress.  Construction wise, these mods actually made it simpler, with just the mitred hem requiring a bit of extra care.

IMG_2324Everything else I keep as my last sweater. It is the fabric which makes this, not overcomplicating it with design.

IMG_2332.JPGThere is one detail that I’m pleased I spent a little extra time on. I went for gold coloured thread for my topstitching. It meant that my stitching needed to be extra beautiful and precise, but I think it does elevate this make and I’m glad I didn’t play it safe with navy thread.

IMG_2389This is the sort of fabric that you feel like saving every scrap.  I do have a small piece left over, though I think it is too small to make anything for me.  I might have to make a matching jumper for the baby instead!



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!


Rachel’s Archer

While I was at home of Christmas, my sister decided that it wasn’t fair that she hadn’t been to model on my blog yet, so we had to take some photos of her Christmas present from last year- one of my favourite patterns, and a real TNT for me, the Grainline Archer.


I have made quite a few of these for myself now (3 of the regular version, and a popover), and still have fabric waiting to become another one.  I just love the fit- a bit oversized, but not too much.  You can wear it over t-shirts, but still fit it under a jumper.

Rachel is actually pretty similar to me in size.  She is may be a little smaller than me, but generally prefers her clothes a little less fitted, so I was pretty sure that making this to the same size that I wear for myself was probably going to fit and be on to a winner.  Does anyone else have that dilemma- you want to make something for someone, but want it to be a surprise and don’t know how to get hold of their measurements?  This year I think I’m going to have to take some sets of standard measurements for all the people in my life that I would like to surprise with handmade!


I asked Rachel for her view on what it was like to receive something handmade.  I think as makers and sewists we are often too hard on ourselves, seeing all the flaws and pointing out all the tiny mistakes.  I wanted to know if that was how things were received too.  It turns out that we are almost certainly not appreciating ourselves, and the things we make as much as we should.


Rachel said: “I  loved receiving my very own personal shirt made lovingly by my sister.  I’ve had several people comment on how much they like the shirt, and all astounded that it is homemade and was once not a shirt, but simply a piece of material!  (In fact it has started conversations about my sister’s sewing and has lead friends to be avid readers of the blog, always intrigued as to what the next item could be…)  I love the detail in the shirt, especially the pattern matching, and the pleat in the back.  Also it is a great material, chunky but not too thick, and doesn’t need ironing which is brilliant.  (Especially as a student with no ironing board!)”


Perhaps we should just relax, enjoy, and realise that sewists and dressmakers are just pretty awesome!


Seamwork Oslo test run

I have been planning a few basics lately that will serve me well both pregnant and afterwards with no alterations.  One of the patterns which caught my eye was the Seamwork Oslo, my first make from my make 9 list!  I really wanted to make a cosy version to layer up in and bought some jersey from Sew Over It with my birthday money, but then I panicked a little. The fabric was more expensive than I choose to spend, and I wanted it to be right, so I decided to make a trial run with something a little less precious.


I chose this Navy and White striped jacquard from Minerva crafts to make a lighter and less expensive wearable toile.  The fabric is definitely not as weighty as my Sew Over It jersey, but at least I could give the pattern and the fit a test run without loosing too much sleep over it.  This is the result.

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Open, it feels a little bit too big everywhere.  I made a Small based on my measurements, and wanting to have space to grow, but I think I would be better off with the XS.  Even with the cuffs rolled back the sleeves are pretty long, though that does make it cosy for pulling over my hands!  It is a bit of a departure from my usual style so it is taking a bit of getting used to.  Most of my other cardigans are a bit more fitted, especially in the sleeves, so I think that I could make a few changes, slimming down the sleeves would make it work even better for me.


I’m pretty pleased with my stripe matching, both at the side seams and at the collar.  Lots of pins are your friend when trying to get long sections of stripes to stay in place!


I decided not to add the buttons because this knit is a bit too light to support them, but I did add a little hook and eye just under the bust line to give it a bit more shape, and I like it much better like that.  I have also been wearing it with a little broach to close it too.


It also works really well with a belt for when I want it to stay properly closed and keep me cosy, so I think I will be wearing it like that a lot while the weather is cold!


I’m still undecided whether to use this pattern to make my cardigan from my Sew Over It fabric.  I have another cardigan pattern to test from Wendy Wards new book “A beginners guide to sewing with knitted fabrics” so I might see if that pattern suits what I am looking for better before deciding.  Meanwhile, I am sat in this Oslo cardigan feeling warm and cosy, so it can’t be too bad!


A final, and very important, thing for me to do today is announce my giveaway winner.  Congratulations to…

IMG_20180120_170059744Thanks to everyone who commented.  I’ve really been enjoying finding out what people would like to see here in the next year.

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.