Three and a half Ilsley Skirts

I’ve been sitting on these photos for months, but seeing the lovely Marilla recently made me realise it was time to share them with the world. This post is a tribute to her Ilsley Skirt, one of my favourite patterns ever.

It’s incredibly versatile. Not to mention, completely free. Can’t say fairer than that. I’ve made three (and a half) versions so far. Read on for the full thrilling details.

Skirt no 1: Made from some cheap viscose from Fabricland (who have an all new website!! :O :O :O :O :O I can’t lie, I am in mourning for the old one, crazy gifs and all).

geometric skirt

So when I printed out the pattern I didn’t check the tension square (oops) and accidentally made it about 30% bigger than it’s supposed to be. Hence I was puzzled when this skirt turned out to be enormous. However, an elasticated waist solves everything, and it still looks okay.

The ribbon at the front is entirely non-functional, although I did make buttonholes for it and everything. I actually matched the print on the side seams too, not that I remembered to take a photo to prove this. You’ll just have to trust me, alright? Honestly, so suspicious.

Skirt no 2: Dyed cotton.

navy skirt

I bought this fabric many years ago at a Peter Jensen sample sale, and made this shirt out of. It was beige and I dyed the leftovers navy, because I realised that beige is an awful, awful colour (I also rarely wear the shirt for the same reason).

By this point I’d twigged that I’d printed out the pattern wrong, so I cut down the sides and the waistband to make it a more sensible size.

This was a great summer skirt but unfortunately, it’s been the victim of some mystery grease staining (I suspect a kebab in Berlin was involved) so it may not be long for this world. It has served nobly and deserves a ceremonial burial.

I made the top too, it’s a Grainline hemlock from some mystery Fabricland jersey and I wear it all the time.

Skirt no 3: Black crepe from Sew Over It (link is to the navy version, they seem to have run out of black at the moment). 


black skirt

I made this skirt after realising that I didn’t own any black clothing, and that I had a metre of black crepe that I didn’t know what to do with.

Yes, black is boring to sew (and even worse to photograph) but this skirt has been very useful and you can even wear it with tights. Amazing.


illsley skirt

So this was inspired by a skirt I bought from Other Stories, and wear all the time – a short, pleated skirt made out of a navy printed viscose fabric.

My version is made of a tiny remnant I had left over from making these trousers.

I measured the waistband of the ready-to-wear skirt and cut mine to be the same length. I then just used a shortened version of the Illsley pattern for the skirt pieces, and gathered them to match the waistband, putting an invisible zipper on one side. I didn’t have to buy anything for this project which makes it a winner in my eyes.

I only have this bad Instagram photo of it though, sorry 😦 Also you can see that my ‘smiling in photos’ skill is a bit limited. I’m working on it.


Go right now and download the Ilsley skirt, and donate some money to charity as a thank you to Marilla while you’re there, if you can 🙂

Gold ‘wrap’ skirt – Burda 12/2015 #115

I made a gold skirt at Christmas – and here it is. It’s taken me less than 6 months to blog about it so I’m still technically on schedule, as we’re closer to Xmas 2015 than to Xmas 2016. Just.

gold burda skirt front 2

The pattern is from Burda December 2015 – it’s on their website here.

The fabric is some extremely cheap glittery gold polyester which I bought at the Harrogate knitting and stitching show, I got about 4 metres. I didn’t bother pre-washing it as I suspected that all the gold would fall straight off. In fact I still haven’t washed it. But I have only worn it once. It turns out that metallic gold skirts don’t get a lot of wear from January to April. Maybe I can bust it out again this summer though.

skirt burda front gold

It’s a really great pattern actually. It’s called a ‘wrap skirt’ but it’s actually just a stitched down pleat that sits underneath a yoke and waistband. In no way does it ‘wrap’. Burda, stop trying to deceive us. It’s bad enough that you torture us with your pattern instructions, which seem to have been translated from German by someone who has recently taken four weeks of ‘Speak English for fun and profit!’ evening classes.

This fabric was not very easy to iron so I ended up topstitching most of the seams down.

gold burda skirt on a hanger

This photo shows how the pleat works. The facings aren’t attached to the body of the skirt at all.

gold burda skirt pleat

I put an exposed zipper on this which was probably a mistake – the fabric is a bit too lightweight and the zip is a bit too heavy. The waistband fastens with a button on the back.

gold burda skirt back on hanger

The pattern actually makes a mid-calf length skirt, which I did cut out, but I ended up chopping off most of it and making it into a mini skirt. Some lovely people on Instagram helped me decide whether to go long or short.

skirt short or long

Please do excuse the hastily pinned up hems.

I would like to make the longer version again soon, especially after going to all the effort of tracing the pattern out and adding all the seam allowances.

I keep looking at Burda patterns for coats and stuff that have about 15 pattern pieces, but my brain just shuts down at the thought of tracing out alllllll of those facings and fiddly little pieces. Maybe one day. At the moment, 5 pattern pieces is about my limit for Burda.

Here is a terrible quality selfie I took on the only occasion this skirt has been out of the house so far, a work Christmas party. But you can sort of see the sparkle.

gold skirt at christmas

If you are a fan of this fabric, my sister has also made a dress out of it which looks really awesome.

It wasn’t the nicest thing in the world to sew with, and I have no idea what I’ll do with the 2 metres I have left. A gold jacket? Some kind of mad gold shirt that will be the sweatiest thing ever? Most likely it will sit on my shelf until I do some panic sewing next Christmas. Metallic clothes seem like such a great idea until January 1st when reality hits.

The giant denim egg – Inari tee dress no. 2

So here’s my second Named Patterns Inari tee dress.

inari tee dress denim front

It’s made from 8oz washed mid blue denim from Raystitch. This fabric is pricey for denim, but it sews up really nicely and has a nice drape to it. The colour is quite a lot lighter than it looks on the website though, so be warned!

Making this pattern in non-stretch fabric did highlight some fitting issues – the back is a little bit tight and the neckline was too high, so I’ll change those if I make another version in a woven.

Also it was waaaaaayyyyyy too tight. I couldn’t sit down in this dress after I first finished it. Of course I discovered this AFTER I had already sewed and overlocked the sides. Classic.

I should probably have realised that denim was going to be less forgiving than the very stretchy knit that I made my first one in, but there you go. The triumph of hope over experience.

Luckily I managed to make it wearable by taking the tiniest seams ever on the sides, and triple stitching them so hopefully they won’t burst when I’m sitting on the bus or some other public location.

inari tee dress denim back

The long sleeves are turned up at the end, and I scooped out the front neckline a bit and used denim bias binding to finish it.

I also added a centre seam to both the back and front and did some topstitching so the dress wouldn’t just be a vast expanse of denim.

SIDENOTE: Do you feel anxious about topstitching? Does it always end up wobbly and amateurish, like you’ve done it after three glasses of wine? I felt the same until I bought this TRULY amazing edgestitching Bernina foot. I can’t recommend this highly enough. It costs about 22 quid, but it will make your life at least 5% better, permanently. How many things under £30 can you say that about? (I’m sure there are loads, please do share in the comments).

Unironed topstitching/neckline close-up
Unironed topstitching/neckline close-up

This dress makes me feel like I’m wearing a giant denim egg, and I love it.

Next time I’ll add an inch or two to the hem – it’s just slightly too short I think. Although it’s a very thin line between a Uniqlo-esque denim tunic and a full-on 80s denim smock, and the hemline is definitely the danger zone…

inari tee dress denim pockets

Oh and I also added pockets!

Two jersey dresses – Simplicity 2054

T-shirt dresses are probably my favourite thing ever to sew. No darts, no zips, no buttons, four seams and a hem, job done.

Here’s two I made in 2015 and have only just got round to taking photos of. Let’s have a look and then I can bore you with my musings on jersey dresses in general.

Dress 1: Kimono sleeve monochrome madness

black and white dress front

This dress is made from some weird houndstooth viscose jersey I bought in Fabricland in Bournemouth ages ago.

The pattern is just my trusty Burdastyle kimono sleeve top lengthened into a dress. I shortened the sleeves a bit and added another sleeve piece just above the elbow.

black and white dress back

I’m not 100% sure about this – I think the fabric is teetering just on the wrong edge of wacky. Also it’s a bit too tight. It’s a fine line with these really thin viscose-type jerseys.

I’ve worn it quite a bit though anyway.

By the way I normally just use a straight stitch to hem these, after overlocking the bottom edge and turning it up – if you pull the fabric as you go it seems to work fine.  A zigzag stitch sometimes gets weirdly stretched out on thin knit fabrics.

Dress no 2: Portuguese kaleidoscope/wormhole in space fabric

jersey dress front

This is made from some jersey I bought in a fabric shop in Porto in June. This shop was seriously AMAZING, and the Air BNB we rented was 5 minutes away.

I went a couple of times and also bought a remnant that ended up being this skirt. I could have bought my own bodyweight in fabric but Easyjet luggage limits stopped me. 😦

This is the shop if you happen to be in Porto sometime (and I recommend going! It’s brilliant. The local delicacy is called a ‘franceschina‘, and it’s basically a cheese and meat toastie soaked in gravy, it’s something the Scots would have invented if they’d thought of it first so I felt right at home. Also they sell caipirinhas everywhere for like 3 euros).

The fabric is so great I wanted a really simple shape, so I used Simplicity 2054 which is a Cynthia Rowley pattern.

jersey dress back
The sleeves are the same length really, I don’t know what happened here. Obviously was trying to casually roll up one sleeve for extra fashion points.

Sorry about the poor lighting on these photos, I probably could have done something about it in Photoshop but you get the general idea.

This fabric is amazingly insane. I love it.

Necklines on jersey dresses:

So the biggest thing that stands out to me about these dresses is that I finished them both with quite high necks.

I used to always cut this kind of jersey thing with a lower scoop neck, but recently I’ve been liking these higher necklines. I know I’m about a year behind the high street on this one but they seem more modern.

This is about as high as I can go though, I tried on a poloneck in Topshop the other day and it was not good. I have a long face anyway so the whole effect is of a giant rectangle perched on top of my torso. FLATTERING.

Anyway I have a big burn scar on my neck and collarbone area which I got about 11 years ago. For a year or two after it happened I was self-conscious about it (it was a lot redder and also painful then). I pretty much only wore high-necked tops and jumpers.

Now I literally don’t give it a second thought, but it almost feels strange to cover it up again after all this time. But in general I like the higher neckline. Anybody else feeling the same?

Jersey dresses in general:

I wear these a lot because they are extremely comfortable and go with my extensive collection of winter tights. However I’m not sure if they’re the most flattering thing in the world. Also the viscose jerseys don’t cope that well with being washed loads of times, but they are so quick to make it doesn’t bother me too much.

I get the most compliments on the second dress, all because of the fabric, which just shows there’s no point trying to be clever with the pattern when you’ve got an amazing print.

The black and white one has garnered no compliments. It does get quite a lot of comments along the lines of ‘I guess you made that’, which isn’t exactly the same…

black and white dress front 2
Poor unloved black and white dress. As you can see I have a habit of rolling up one sleeve more than the other. Maybe this will catch on in 2016 and I’ll be a trendsetter at last.

Named Patterns Inari dress in autumnal scuba

Inari tee dress in scuba

Firstly, a huge thank you for all the amazing, insightful, and interesting comments that people left on my last post, about giving up blogging. I really wanted to reply to them all but in the last month (!) since I posted it I’ve started a new job and winter has arrived and loads of other things happened that just ate up the whole of October somehow.

But it’s really reassuring to know that other people are pondering this stuff too, and also that not everyone has deleted this blog from their feed provider of choice yet. And yes I am still bitter about the death of Google Reader, thanks for asking. I will never forget. NEVER.

If you haven’t read the comments, I definitely recommend having a look – they’re a big improvement on my actual post which I mainly wrote as a distraction from having to watch yet another rugby match (I am unbelievably happy that the rugby world cup is finally over, it went on for about three years).

So anyway in between then and now I have made two Inari tee dresses by Named Clothing, which is roughly a 150% increase in sewing productivity.

This is version one:

inari tee dress scuba 1
I have new Clarks shoes! As usual.

I made a size 14 straight from the PDF. All I changed was to lengthen the sleeves so I could wear it without a cardigan in the winter. I mean obviously I mainly wear it with a cardigan anyway but it’s nice to have the option.

The fabric is an very odd scuba/ponte I got from Fabricland in Bournemouth ages ago. Can’t find it on their website now but it was very cheap.

Although I quite like the colour scheme, it does remind me of the time I left half a mug of tea in the kitchen sink before going on a two week holiday – white spots of mould over a weirdly mottled congealed brown mess.

Anyway it’s about as breathable as a plastic bag but it’s fine for the winter, and it’s incredibly stretchy and comfortable.

inari tee dress scuba back

The fit is not perfect – the neck is very high and when I sit down I find it a bit strangling. I think the shoulder line is sitting a bit far back which may be to blame. However in fabric this stretchy it’s not really a big deal. I should probably have sewed a 12 in the neck/sleeves area.

I LOVE that Named Patterns are drafted for taller people with long torsos. Even though their PDF prices do seem a bit steep I would pretty much pay anything to have a pattern I don’t have to lengthen. I like being taller at gigs but I curse it whenever I sew.

I would maybe add an extra inch or two (I’m 5 ft 9 for reference) but it’s wearable as it is I think.

It’s quite new for me to wear dresses like this that have absolutely no waist definition, but they are incredibly comfortable.

Also, despite basically being a giant sack, the design of this pattern is really good. The side seams curve round to the front in a nice, flattering way and the split level hem is genius.

inari tee dress shoes


Don’t have much else to say about this to be honest – I didn’t bother hand stitching down the sleeve cuffs, as there’s no way you’d notice in this fabric anyway.

I sewed the whole thing with a zig zag stitch on my machine and then finished the seams with the overlocker (although I didn’t need to). I just did a straight stitch for the hem and the sleeve cuffs.

I’m not 100% convinced about it, but on the plus side, it would make an excellent disguise if I ever need to hide in a giant pile of mouldy autumn leaves.

I have made another one of these dresses in denim which I will probably get around to blogging about in another month, so see you then!

Why I stopped blogging reasons 1-9

  1. I realised that people I knew in real life were reading my blog, ie. family members and colleagues, and it didn’t just exist in a magical private world where only other sewing people would read it.
  2. I became very disenchanted with the idea of taking photos of myself and putting them online. This was intensified 100% when I started finding pictures of myself in google image searches for patterns and stuff. Urgh.
  3. I spend all day managing ‘content’ for work, including a WordPress blog, which makes me disinclined to come home and create more ‘content’ in my spare time (apologies for using the word ‘content’)
  4. Taking photos of finished projects started to became a massive pain and there never seemed to be enough time in the day to do it.
  5. I stopped sewing for about 8 months after making several failed projects and thought I had lost the desire and the skills to make clothes forever. Thankfully it seems to be returning a bit.
  6. Instagram is so much easier and low-effort and feels kind of less public (although obviously this is an illusion)
  7. Related to no. 1 – people I knew in real life would spot me wearing something I had blogged and be like ‘oh yeah, I saw that on your blog!’ and I’d be paranoid that it looked better online than in real life, and it also meant the loss of that amazing ‘I love your dress, where did you buy it? OMG, you actually made it?!’ moment which is what life is really all about when you get down to it.
  8. I became fairly certain that blogs were a dying format and I just seemed to be posting the same old boring posts all the time and I just got bored with it, you know.
  9. I became very uncertain that I had any interesting thoughts or unique sewing skills to offer, which made this blog seem self-indulgent, and I didn’t want to just clog up the internet with more of the same old stuff.


I am now thinking that I might like to blog again so I wanted to know – do people still read sewing blogs? What do you like about them? Have they been killed off by Instagram and Snapchat and whatever else the kids are using nowadays?


I made this dress from a Burda pattern, 08/2015, number 123:

floral dress

It is made from a spongey stretch crepe I got in Mermaid Fabrics, and I left out the zipper and the back seam and just put clear elastic on the waistband, so it was pretty quick to sew.

Man’s check shirt from Paul Smith fabric

I was very late making this birthday present for Alex (6 weeks) and now I’m even later blogging about it.

alex shirt front 1

It’s a man’s shirt (duh), sewn from the pattern I traced from one of his existing shirts.

The fabric is Paul Smith flannel which I got from Croft Mill about a year ago. It’s super-soft but the trade-off is that it’s pilling already. Oh well.

The buttons are from I had the worst time trying to find grey shirt buttons locally. Nowhere seemed to sell them in the right size. That was part of the reason for the delay (also because making buttonholes and hemming are v tedious).

alex shirt front 2

Making men’s shirts is a bit tedious in general, depending on what kind of mood you’re in. Everything is incredibly fiddly.

Of course I made things harder for myself by using a check fabric, but at least I did a good job matching it across the front. I also matched the side seams but I’m not sure how noticeable this is if you’re not a sewer. None of his other shirts seem to have done it. Probably won’t bother next time.

I used these excellent tutorials for some of the fiddly bits:

Sewing a collar from Four Square Walls

Placket tutorial from Off the Cuff

Burrito yoke tutorial from Grainline

alex shirt back 3

I over-eased the back yoke a bit, next time I’ll just make the pleats deeper. The sleeves also are still too wide, I need to remember to narrow them up a bit next time.

Once again I couldn’t have sewed this shirt without my Bernina straight stitch foot. Truly it’s the best sewing purchase I’ve made this year.

shirt placket

Here’s a close-up of that sleeve placket, accessorised with Lindor.

I cut it on the bias so I didn’t have to match anything.

These are so satisfying to sew! It was my first time making them. I did do a practice one first. It’s like magic when they work.

sleeve placket

I reckon I put 10-15 hours of work in this thing, not counting all the time it took me to me make the pattern in the first place. I flat-felled every single seam and spent ages working out where to put the pocket.

I also hand-sewed on all the buttons, with the pocket and top button in red thread, as requested.

Still it was worth it in the end, as he wears it a lot. Here he is wearing the shirt while drinking beer and waiting for a burger.

shirt photo

I think one shirt a year is about my limit though.

Parka of glory – McCalls 6531

Behold the greatest thing I have ever sewn:

parka 2 800

A parka!

Okay so it’s not a real parka – it doesn’t have a proper fishtail and it isn’t lined. You probably couldn’t wear it on a scooter down to Brighton without your fellow mods laughing at you.

But I’m really proud of it all the same.

parka 1 800

This has been a long time in the making. I bought the fabric more than two years ago and the pattern and notions (it’s McCalls 6531) in April 2013.

I was planning on making it for autumn ’13 but that came around a bit too quickly…as did spring ’14…and then autumn happened again, as it tends to do.

So I actually finished this exactly when the freakish warm spell in London ended about two weeks ago.

Excellent timing as usual.

But again I don’t really care because I love it so much.

It was really fun to make. It’s an unusual shape for a jacket, with two-part kimono sleeves – I made version C.

mccalls 6531

Because it’s an unlined jacket, I decided to flat-fell every seam, even on the curved side/underarm seams which was a bit of a pain.

The insides look beautiful now though. Coats and jackets are probably the one item where people do see the inside so I guess it’s worth the hassle.

parka inside 800

The only fitting change I made was to lengthen the sleeves 2.5 inches to accommodate my gorilla arms.

The length, the pockets, and the elastic placement were absolutely perfect for me, so I think it must be designed for tall people.

parka back 800

I was worried that the dolman shape would be a bit 80s but it’s actually great for wearing big jumpers underneath. I made a large so there’s lots of room to move around.

parka sleeve
SO NATURAL AT POSING. At least you can see the sleeve shape.

This pattern has lots of fun details, like tabs so you can roll up the sleeves:


parka side 800

And cording and toggles at the top and bottom (the middle is elasticated)

I considered going for boring old brown or green cord, but I saw a parka in Whistles once that had neon binding on the hood, which was my inspiration for this.

parka toggles

The fabric is beautiful. Even though it’s unlined, the cotton twill is very sturdy so it keeps out the wind chill. And it only cost a tenner!

However, all the notions I had to buy were a lot more expensive. Here’s the rundown:

Open end heavy duty two-way zip from Jaycotts- £4.80

Two packets of antique brass snaps from Jaycotts- £8.60 each, ouch (one pack is not enough, especially if you’re crap at hammering and keep breaking them. I speak from experience).

Amazing neon cord and stoppers from – about £12

I also had to buy three spools of thread for all that flat-felling.

Incidentally, I never could have made this without my special Bernina edgestitching foot. I love it so much.

parka open 800

The pattern and instructions were actually very good, although they don’t mention seam finishing at all so you need to factor that in before you start.

The one annoying bit is that the pocket flaps aren’t functional – just decorative. I put a snap on them for looks, but didn’t bother with the corresponding bit underneath.

parka pocket 800
Pocket flap of lies

The trickiest bit was topstitching down the flap that covers the zip. 8 layers of thick twill – my poor Bernina was groaning a bit going over that. But we made it in the end.

I seriously think this is one of the best things I’ve ever made. It turned out exactly the way I planned out.

parka 3 800

I can’t think of anything else to say about this jacket, except that I love it, I want to marry it, and if I ever lose it (fairly likely given past experience) I will cry for at least two weeks.

p.s. I also made the skirt using the Home Stretch skirt pattern, but as it took 20 minutes I don’t really think it’s worth blogging separately.

p.p.s. Sorry for the excessive photos but seriously I LOVE THIS JACKET

p.p.p.s. I also have new hair! I should blog more often, at my current rate I’ll have a new hairstyle with every blog post.

Red crepe Annalotte dress from By Hand London

I made a new dress – an Annalotte.

Red BHL dress

I think this is the first red dress I’ve ever owned!

Ironically, at the wedding I wore it to, there were at least 6 other women wearing bright red. Obviously it’s a thing.

Although the nice thing about making your own dress is that you know nobody else will be wearing the exact same outfit.

So this is a cross between a By Hand London Anna bodice and a Charlotte skirt, and it was heavily inspired by Fiona’s mash-up of the same two patterns.

You have to do some shoogling of darts to get them to match up on the front and back. I kept the double darts on the back skirt and just matched up one set with the back bodice darts.

BHL Anna dress 4

You can see I also changed the sleeves and the neckline. The Anna neckline was a bit too wide for me on the last version I made, so I brought it in at the sides and scooped it out at the front.

Plus, I added a V at the back.

BHL red dress back

You can tell from that back view that this dress is basically too tight. It’s comfortable and wearable because the fabric has stretch to it, but really I could have done with a couple of centimetres more ease the whole way round.

Still I’ve worn it to two events that involved lots of sitting down, dancing and eating and it held out both times. SUCCESS.

It’s made from this amazing Prada self-lined crepe from Minerva Fabrics. Blimey this is gorgeous fabric. It’s really easy to sew, has just enough stretch, and you don’t need to line it! What more could you want?

This only took two metres, so it cost about £24, which I think is pretty good.

I hand-sewed the hem and added a really deep facing for the neckline so it didn’t flip out too much.

BHL red dress 2

Yeah, I haven’t got any better at posing during my lengthy break from blogging. But at least this time you get a lovely picturesque French backdrop.

Possibly the best thing about this dress is that it matches Alex’s kilt perfectly. Top tip – if you wear a kilt to a French wedding you get a LOT of attention.

BHL red Anna dress and kilt

And that’s it! Anyone else made an Annalotte?

Ultimate Trousers – two pairs in denim and crepe

Ultimate Trousers – now there’s a pattern with a lot to live up to. What a name.

I was actually one of the testers for this Sew Over It pattern, way back at the beginning of the year. You might have spotted my denim version during Me Made May, if you can remember that far back.

ultimate trousers me-made may

I’ve worn these a lot since making them.

I really like the fit of this pattern, especially with the deep darts at the back, but I did have to make a few changes:

  • I cut a size 14
  • Added 0.5cm to the rise
  • Made the back waist about 1.5cm higher in the centre, tapering out to the beginning of the dart
  • Lengthened the legs 4 (yes, 4) inches.
  • Added about 1cm to the front crotch seam

Here’s the battered looking pattern for visual reference:

ultimate trousers pattern changes 2

I’m pretty happy with my first denim Ultimate Trousers. They’re really comfortable for non-stretch trousers, and I like the fit.

ultimate trousers denim 2More recent photo with bonus new hair

I think the back view, (not pictured because I couldn’t face putting it online for posterity) could do with some welt pockets to break up the vast expanse.

But that would make them more time-consuming to sew, and as drafted they’re incredibly quick. There are only 4 pattern pieces!

The denim is just cheap stuff from my local fabric shop, Ultimate Craft (DOUBLE ULTIMATE) but it’s holding up well.

For my second pair I was determined to add pockets. The only way I could think of doing this was by adding a waistband as well. So that’s what I did.

ultimate trousers crepe 2

This fabric is from Fabric World on Goldhawk Road, and I was bullied into buying it by Clare, Nicole and Sally on the big sewing meet-up earlier this year. It’s an amazing, silky viscose, and I love the print.

Here’s a closer view of the waistband and pockets:

ultimate trousers crepe pockets

It was a bit shifty and annoying to sew, but I wrangled it into submission in the end. I can’t believe how well I matched the pattern across the front. It was a complete fluke. I didn’t even cut the pieces on a single layer.

It’s not matched at all across the side seams because, well, who can be bothered with that.

Here’s what the waistband and pocket pieces look like. For the pocket, I just drew a slanted line across the side of the trousers, and then traced off a vaguely pocket shaped piece to match it.

Ultimate trousers waistband pockets

To add the waistband, I just drew a line about 1.5 inches from the top of the trousers, and then traced this piece off (you can see the line in the photo). I then took this piece, folded out the dart lines, and extended it at the top. Then I added seam allowances.

This second version are so comfortable to wear. They’re definitely a step up for my lounging wardrobe, which up until now has consisted of a holey old pair of American Apparel yoga pants and some unfortunate promotional t-shirts.

I have worn them out of the house a few times, when it was really hot. They’re very lightweight.

My one reservation is that they look a bit like something you’d wear to go backpacking in Asia. This is particularly noticeable from behind for some reason:

ultimate trousers

Not saying I have anything against this look, I’m just not sure it works when you’re commuting on a rainy London bus rather than trekking through Thailand.

ultimate trousers crepe 1

I know I look like I’m telling someone to piss off in this photo but my hair looks good, so it’s staying in.

Anyway, hopefully I will be going somewhere hot and sunny next year, and then these will come in handy for public use. Until then I can reserve them for autumn nights in watching Don’t Tell The Bride and eating cheese on toast.

I definitely recommend this pattern. It’s an easy one to fit as there are no pockets, so you can quickly whip up a muslin and test the fit. And it’s comfortable without relying on stretch fabric. A good way to dip your toe into trouser-making for beginners.

You can buy the Ultimate Trousers pattern from Sew Over It here.

Blog hop

I was nominated for a blog hop question type thing by the lovely sisters at Tea for Two. I don’t usually do these kind of things but I haven’t posted for so long I thought it might be a fun way to break the silence. So here it is.

What have you been doing / making / scribbling at your desk this week?


I’ve been making a muslin of a ridiculous Joan Collin-esque one-sleeved dress in bright red crepe.

Last week I made a black denim skirt on a complete whim – it took four hours from start to finish. I love that kind of impulse sewing sometimes.

Where are you currently finding your inspiration? (Influences, heroes, sources of inspiration, paths exploring)?

I get 99% of my clothing inspiration by browsing Net-A-Porter and attempting to rip off the beautiful, overpriced clothing.

I also LOVE Pinterest, like the craft-loving cliche that I am. I’ve even got a Pinterest mug. And tote bag.

I also like perving over RTW clothing in shops and seeing how they’ve made all the different details.

Also, anything that Whistles sell. And Oliver Spencer.

Oliver spencerI want to copy this entire Oliver Spencer outfit

How important is being creative to you, and how do you blend this with your work / life / family balance?

It’s super important for me to have something creative to focus on outside work.

Even though I haven’t been blogging lately, I’ve been sewing a lot. If I have to choose to spend my time sewing something or blogging, I choose the first one every time, although it pains me not to be talking about it on here.

When I’ve got a sewing project on the go it’s pretty much all I think about. I put the pieces together and run through the steps a hundred times in my head before I do it in real life.

I love planning a project from start to finish like my green skirt. When it turns out like the picture in your head – there’s nothing better than that.

I do find it difficult to keep things balanced though. This year has been so busy. It’s really hard to find the time to make stuff.

One thing I really miss is drawing. I’m not very good at it but you never look at something so closely as when you’re drawing it. It really fixes objects in your head in a unique way.

I’m nominating Marilla Walker and Katie of What Katie Sews to answer these three questions next, if they’d like to…

My Minerva outfit reveal: floral crop top and pencil skirt

So it’s taken me FOREVER to write this post, and you’ve probably already heard about the Minerva meetup on a million blogs.

You know about the Raiders Of the Lost Ark style craft warehouse, the amazing dinner at Blackburn Rovers FC, and the red carpet line-up, as well as the realisation that the £3 taxi ride exists when you leave London.

So this post is just about my outfit. Thanks to Katie for taking some of the photos (you’ll be able to spot them, they’re the good ones).

The outfit

I knew I wanted to make something different, and in the end I came up with the idea of a pencil skirt and crop top:


Originally I was going to sew some kind of crazy one-shouldered 60s pencil dress, but when the fabric arrived (this beautiful John Kaldor stretch cotton) I knew I had to do something simpler. The print is huge! And I didn’t really fancy a shift dress. So co-ordinates it was.

The pencil skirt

It’s a By Hand London Charlotte skirt, which is really straightforward to sew. I made these changes to the pattern:

  • Cut a size 12 but added length to the waistband, which I interfaced.
  • Lengthened the darts 1.5cm each at the front, as I was getting a strange fold of extra fabric there.
  • Interfaced the edges of the invisible zip.
  • Added a back vent using this tutorial.
  • Lined it with this stretch mesh.

Stretch cotton is absolutely perfect for this pattern, I’ll be looking for some more to make another one. Although you need to add a vent – not sure how you could walk in it without one!

Minerva outfit 2The crop top

It’s a Burda pattern – 05/2012 #131.

I cut out a size 34 and had to make some serious changes as it was huge. I took the sides in a lot, cut about 4 inches off the bottom, added back darts and neck darts, and swapped out the button band for a zip.

Here’s how it looks on the back:

Minerva outfit backI did make an effort to match the pattern on the back pieces, but I didn’t bother with the sides. You’ve got to pick your battles.

Everything else

Cutting out was an enormous pain. I did it all on a single layer as the print is so huge. I didn’t really want to end up with a massive flower over an anatomical feature.

My inspiration was this outfit from Jonathan Saunders which is slightly more classy:

Jonathan SaundersIt’s pretty tricky to know exactly how much midriff to expose, but I was limited due to zip size.

The separating plastic zipper is from Jaycotts, and I had to choose between the 14 and 16 inch variations without knowing exactly how long the top would be. In the end I went with the 14 inch, which worked as the skirt was so high waisted.

crop top zip close-upZIP ENHANCE

Will I wear it again?

The acid test. As a whole, I reckon the outfit works, and I might get it out for a wedding this summer. It turned out slightly more cartoonish than I intended, but I think I rocked it anyway.

It seems highly unlikely that I’ll wear the crop top with another skirt – the Charlotte is the most high-waisted skirt I own.

I did try the top on with another skirt, but it was all a bit 90s looking. I distinctly remember wearing a tie-dye crop top to a school disco in about 1996, so I think I’ll leave that style the second time round.

The skirt is a different issue. I’ve already re-worn it loads! It looks really good with a denim shirt, if I say so myself:

pencil skirt and denim shirt

Thank you Minerva!

Huge thanks to Vicki and everyone at Minerva for organising such an amazing day. I’ve been a terrible network member lately, massively behind with projects and blog posts, but I really enjoy being part of it all, and I sincerely hope I’ve managed to shift some fabric for them. They deserve it!

Also a big thank you goes out to all the ladies of the online sewing community, for being awesome.  I’d be living a much sadder life if I’d never met all these amazing women. Although I’d probably have spent less money on fabric.

Picture 3
Spoolettes forever