Friday, 19 January 2018

Chores #3 (The queue never gets any shorter)

I'm still clearing out blog drafts and projects from 2017, so here's a new one for you.

You may have gathered that I've been attacking my stash and "to do" pile with some gusto. My attention has been really focused on what I could do now because all of the bits and bobs are in stock. I'm making an effort to avoid the projects that need me to buy things in.

So 3x makes for you today which have taken a small load off my mind.

Wiksten Tova

I think this is a dark green cheesecloth. I dug it out of a discount bin in Stockholm in 2014. I had just made my first version of the Wiksten Tova and was keen to find a suitable fabric for another. I'ts a really easy top to wear and I can understand why it has been so popular. Again, I added a back yoke for a bit of interest.

Front of a blouse on a mannequin

Back of a blouse on a mannequin

Slim Blue Cardigan

I had a bunch of fabric left over after my nike hoodie and had been pining for a cardi for a while. This is drafted from scratch based on Winnie Aldrich's blocks. Yes, it is very slim, but it's easy to wear.

Cardigan on a mannequin

Sweater Vest

An attempt to finish off this fabric. Using a different block from Mertic Pattern Cutting. Honestly, I'm not sure why I made this, I didn't want it, I just wanted to be rid of the fabric. But I use it a bit, so it works.

Front of a sleeveless jumper

Back of a sleeveless jumper

So there you go. Three more werable things. I don't know yet how this fits in with The Year of Doing Things Properly. Maybe it's something to do with doing one's chores.


Monday, 8 January 2018

The Last of the moomins (How much value can you get from a €4 pair of jeans?)

You know I said that more trousers were overdue? Here you go!

Front of corduroy trousers

Back of Corduroy Trousers


I try to live in jeans or trousers and have been slowly wearing down my supply of casual trousers. With my purple jeans out of action I'm at a bit of a loose end, especially for cosy trousers and ones which don't require a belt. So bulking up this supply is the order of the day.

The Pattern

The pattern is traced from my €4 Helsinki jeans. You can read the whole saga of pattern development in my 2015 posts. I was pretty confident this would work, especially having tested the first 3 pairs extensively.

A couple of things for me to remember for future:

  • These are very low rise in the front and I may try out a double-height waistband
  • A longer/taller fly gvuard would be useful as the pattern piece is very short
  • I marked a foldline on my pocket piece - which was a very nice surprise from past-Katrina. It made current-Katrina's life a lot easier!

A side point is that I've noticed that a lot of RTW jeans have waistbands which are cut as one piece. The formal trousers I've sewn all have multiple pieces to the waistband (generally 3, sometimes 4). Is the fact that lots of jeans have the front on some sort of bias the main reason why they're so comfy? Or is it the main reason they fall down after a while?

The Fabric

One of my oldest fabrics paired with one my newest fabrics. The needlecord came from Edinburgh Fabrics (Aug 2017) and the pocket linings are the very last of my beloved Moomin fabric (Dec 2010). They go together so well!


Fairly standard construction, I tried to pay attention to fabric nap and had a few struggles trying to turn corners. Otherwise I didn't give it any special treatment. There are a couple of interesting things of note:

  • I've tried to adopt the *new method* to insert a zip fly, where the fly guard is added after the topstitching, it saves a few headaches and I really like the order.
  • I was a bit lazy with waistband finishing because I wanted these to be ready to take on holiday, so it's "good enough" rather than "perfect"
  • I added buttonhole elastic to the waistband just in case things didn't work out.

So there you go, my new super-comfy, super-soft, super-strokeable cords!


Monday, 25 December 2017

The 12 Days of Christmas

A carol about over-committing on handmade gifts. Again.

12 Gift Stashbusted

I had a plan for some lovely gifts using what I had to hand. Naturally, what I have to hand is pretty good quality (never offer something to someone that you wouldn't have yourself). I was frugal, using scraps of precious fabric from many endeavours.

11 Warm Things Warming

Five traditional hot water bottles and six Hotties Microwaveable Pads with covers. I used a bunch of techniques here including regular quilting, quilt as you go, applique, fabric slashing and a variation on scrap lace. I really like how each of these came out - especially the slashed ones. You never know how they'll turn out but hopefully I'm getting better with this technique.

10 Legs A-Lounging

Four pairs of jogging bottoms (using Burda 04/2016 #138 or #139 and Burda 11/2012 #135) and one pair of sparkly pyjamas (using a draft from Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear). All have pockets, naturally.

All the edges on the joggers are overcast with my machine, though it was painfully slow. I am beginning to consider getting myself an overlocker to speed up these kinds of projects.

9 Patches Disappearing

A long-ago promised quilt for my grandparents. The block is a Disappearing Nine Patch and it becomes wonderfully wonky the further you stray from the top left corner. This was entirely scrap/stashbusted and holds many dear bits of fabric from my entire sewing career (can you call it a career?). Without my grandparents, I wouldn't own a sewing machine so this seemed a nice way to give back in-kind.

8 Weeks of Fretting

I started the quilt really early, and finished it in good time. The warm things made steady progress and I utilised my stash or my scraps pile for all of the necessary stuff. A friend's specialist baby gift wasn't going to happen before Xmas, as the fabric was a pre-order from Z&Q, so it seemed like it wouldn't bother me for a while (and that I had freed up some sewing time). But then I began to worry that since I had a manageable workload, and was keeping up with it, that it wasn't actually enough or good enough. So my brain got me to brainstorm and plan 11 new projects to complete.

Thanks brain!

But what happened next?

7 Rounds of Laundry

I fell off the wagon. And bought a lot of new fabric for the 11 new projects. Blame Misan West and Goldbrick Fabrics  on Goldhawk Road.

And all of this needed pre-washing in secret:

(which is difficult when you're trying to hide this massive pile of fabric from B so he doesn't know how much you actually bought)

6 Things Queue Cutting

The loungewear was also the first set of items on this list of extra gift sewing. You may be able to see some of the fabrics used in the pile of the photo above. So, ahead of all my other projects, these jumped to the top of the queue to be ready in time for the Big Day.

5 Stalled Plans

I made a list of  11 extra Christmas gift projects, right? Five of them never event got started. Oh well.

4 Corners Mitred

 I really love mitreing corners.

3 Stolen Fixings

This one I forgot to get a photo of before wrapping. But I made a Messenger Bag again!

I have horrible difficulty finding nice bag fixings for my projects. I ended up stealing a slider and 2 D-rings from B for this he picked up some nice ones on holiday a few years ago.

In progress shot since I forgot to get a picture of the finished thing.

2 Miles of Thread

I've finished up a lot of spools doing all of this...

And a Workout for the Sewing Machine

Excuse me while we both rest...

K x

Friday, 17 November 2017

Chores #2 (Clothes for sweating in)

I really needed to free up some cupboard space, so I made these things:

Crop top/Sports bra

Picture the scene: 7.30pm on a Thursday night before a training weekend with Gog Magog Molly. You've just finished a dance class and have another tomorrow before a sweaty train journey straight to training. You don't own enough sports bras for all of it*. You feel like you have spare time (you don't) and that itch creeps up on you.

You throw together an eccentric mix and somehow at the end of the night, there is a functional item for keeping your boobs in place.

Stripey top

Yes, I know I'll look like a deckchair.

This fabric was hanging about in the cupboard. It's probably a lycra/spandex mixed with a crazy synthetic but I thought it'd make good sweaty material. And I wasn't that invested in it if things went wrong. I had about 50cm available from a wide bolt so my original concept didn't quite fit and some sacrifices needed to be made. Again, nothing special but it works!


*A couple of weeks beforehand you didn't own any sports bras, but then your prof makes you sweat through a regular bra so badly that you have to go and buy a new one after class...maybe it's time to just invest in a couple.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Chores #1

Or: Reasons I'll never be on GBSB

Every time I used to watch GBSB, I'd swear that my approach to the alterations challenge would be to take the item and immediately turn it upside-down. I had a theory that this would free one's mind from the constraints of the existing garment and that it would help to "transform" it more effectively.

Naturally, sometime I brag and sneer but don't actually follow through. Example: I refashioned the Drape Drape dress and an unloved RTW dress and they are both still the same way up as before.

Self-deprication aside, I had set myself a very low bar to make these dresses wearable. They didn't have to be good or exact. They just had to have the right qualities so that I'd open the wardrobe, look around and say "you know what, I'll wear that".

For the Drape Drape Dress

I cut off the top and removed the bra panel, as well as the elastic casing. The lining and the drapey panel both stayed. I was quite pleased with my hemming of the georgette on the initial make so I kept that in tact too.

The bodice went through a few iterations as I kept realising that more complicated did not mean better. I had enough spare fabric to keep some continuity in the print placement (bet you can't see the CB seam!). Again I was applying alterations to V8766. The waist casing came last and pulled everything together. (Pun partially intended as I was aiming for a drop-waist style initially.

Now, let's talk about the sleeves. These sleeves are SO BAD. I still haven't fixed the pattern and I still haven't developed a block from scratch. Here's the thing. They are bad quality and dowdy. They will always be hidden under a cardigan or jacket, but I was never going to wear this dress without sleeves (because it won't suit a t-shirt underneath) so they're staying. And I'll just have to live with this strange brand of hypocrisy.

For the RTW dress

I got the original from Ultra Orange in Strasbourg in 2010, right after I'd first started sewing. I was going through the "reversible everything!" phase that is common to many new sewists, and finding a reversible RTW dress was just amazing.

The original is somewhere between trapeze and a-line style, the hem dips at the centre back and there are two sets of shoulder straps.

I've tried to refashion this dress at least twice before. In 2011 I merrily cut 2 holes in the back (with the intention of adding a drawstring) saying "this would be a terrible if someone didn't know what they were doing!" (turns out, I didn't). At some point I hid that smart idea with some darts.

It's been sat in my refashion pile for a few years as the neckline/shoulders gaped and the darts were straining whenever I put on/took off the dress (because it had no openings/closures).

This time I modified the shoulders and inserted a zip. Now the zip is an invisible zip, inserted as normal on one side and treated like a lapped zip on the other. The zip pull isn't reversible though so one side is a bit awkard. I think that my next work on this dress will involve making some sort of pull.

I'm pleased to have these two off my mind. They deserve to be worn, so hopefully this is the start of better things for them.

I've sewn so many dreses over the past few months that I feel a return to trousers is long overdue...


Monday, 25 September 2017

The Kat's Pyjamas

I've been making pyjamas (and stealth pyjamas).

First up, but B and I loved that Christmas fabric so much that we went back to Goldbrick Fabrics and got more. Whatever I said in the previous post about about fibre content is wrong - it's 75% silk, 20% viscose and 5% elastane. I doubt there's any left but you're welcome to take a look. I made some pyjamas for B, drafting a pattern from Metric Pattern Cutting for Menswear. The pattern came out MASSIVE compared to what I'm used to and I was a bit worried. But they turned out okay.

Bringing new dimensions to the idea of "dropped crotch"
I also finally cut into some of my Nani Iro haul from a new set of PJs. It's my standard Butterick B5432. The cord is a bit short and the elastic a bit loose, but I don't really care.

But let's get on to the subject of stealth PJs. Stealth PJs being real clothes (i,e. fit for leaving the house and going about the town conducting your business) that are so comfy that they feel like pyjamas.

The stealth idea being that no one else knows that you know that they think you're wearing actual clothes and you know that they don't know that you think you're wearing pyjamas. Unless you tell them.

Try not to be smug about it.

So these are 2 new versions of Burda 04/2013 #103 - one wintry and one summery.

The first one is wintry. I got the fabric from Emma One Sock's Black Friday sale as brushed viscose. It's double sided and super soft. It's got a bit of loft to it - which means these came out with a more tailored vibe instead of being slouchy. The lining is leftover silk from the Scrap Lace Dress and while I'd have liked to add a longer lining, there wasn't enough fabric. In an effort to stop the knees stretching out over time I underlined them with what was left. This is quite fragile though and I keep sticking my foot through the stitching when putting the trousers on. Oops.

You may recognise both these fabrics from my Vanners Jacket. They saw good duty recently! I barely had enough to make this project.

The second pair of Burda 04/2013 #103 is more summery - a wondrous Liberty lawn (Harkness McNair) which was half price in the online shop. I think these are gorgeous. The lining is the last of the gauze used in my first pair of Burda 04/2013 #103 - and is basically perfect for the job.

I had a heck of a time choosing threads to match!
I switched up the process (don't remember the exact steps) for making this pair and really liked the results (the fly was so much better!) - except that I ended up in a hurry to finish them (so finishing suffered a bit) and (somehow) they came up too small. So I had to let everything out so close to completion! The good news is that they have loosened up a bit with wear as well.

The hems are blind stitched by machine, something which I haven't done in a VERY long time.

Hopefully they all get good wear!

K x

Friday, 8 September 2017

Repairs and refashions

A few quick things today, my blog reader has been suspiciously quiet this week so maybe I'm missing out on "the big sewing blogger vacation" or something. Maybe this'll fill in some gaps if it has been quiet for you too.

I'm not the biggest fan of refashioning, and while I'm in favour of repairing things it's a struggle my laziness in doing so.

Anyway, I recently repaired some M&S socks whose toe seam hadn't quite been closed during manufacturing. This is the first time I sewed a blanket stitch without looking it up beforehand. Tiny victories! I also repaired a jumper B got for Christmas where somehow the side seam had completely come apart. There was a hole from his hip to his bicep! Quick job, but sometimes you just need a kick to actually do it.

I also finally bit the bullet and changed the lining in B's Newcastle cardigan. So now it's probably called Newcastle Revisited Revisited. While the original fuzzy lining was a spectacular novelty, apparently it was uncomfortable and prickly (so it hasn't been worn at all). I also removed the hem band on the Newcastle as B wanted it to be more like the original. Hopefully it'll see some use now.

In a good stashbusting move, I finally used up some voile I got from a trip to Istanbul in 2011. I made a Shape Shape Twist & Drape top again but somehow I've made it the wrong way around. How many times have I made this top? 5? Do I really have an excuse to have done it so wrong? I's a Mobius I'm quite astounded that it seems to be both inside out and upside-down. It's probably going straight in the recycling pile.

Still in my repairs pile is an old pair of PJs I'm not prepared to lose. I just need to patch them up.

Still in my refashion pile is the Drape Drape dress (approx 11 months and counting), an RTW dress from 2010 (sat in the pile since...maybe 2012) and a Primark shirt for copying whose fit has always been awful, but whose cuffs are amazing (but please don't ask me to date this one!). Plus a secret new addition...

Watch this space...