Something I ruffled up

Back in the summer I made a simple bustle skirt skirt using this tutorial from the costume trunk. My goal wasn’t a historically accurate skirt, but rather something that would look suitable steampunky to hang out with some Time Travelling Molly Dancing Automata. I liked the look of this one as it didn’t require complicated undergarments.

I used some cotton material that I have no idea how it got into my stash. It was white, and I wanted khaki, so I went to buy khaki dye. The shop didn’t have any, they recommended green. I thought I saw khaki, but it turned out to be grey. So I bought both and used half of each. The fabric turned out a nice shade of greyey green (quelle surprise) that wasn’t quite what I had in mind but I thought it would do. My mum quickly pointed out that I should have mixed brown and green, but in my defense the shop staff didn’t think of that either and they’re pretty knowlegable on many things.

Anyway, the skirt made up pretty easily. The only thing I found frustrating about the tutorial was the lack of dimensions. So, for the record, as far as I can tell from my scibbled notes at the time, my 3 shaped skirt panels were 12″ wide at the top (width 1 on the tutorial diagram) and 19″ wide at the bottom (width 3 on the diagram) and 40″deep (which is not quite length 2 from the diagram, but rather the height of the pattern piece) (oh I’m 5’8″ by the way and this skirt came out long). These measurements include a seam allowance of 1/2″ on the side seams and 1″ hem allowance at the top and bottom. My bustly panel for the back was 42″ wide and 78″ long. I sewed it straight to the side panels for 12″ at the bottom and 5″ at the top and had folds in the middle. It was basically the size of the fabric I had left (I used pretty much all of it) and it worked out just fine). The other change I made was to use a waistband nicked of a deceased garment I’d already cut up for scraps.

Pinning the folds was nervewracking and lastminute. In the end I got hubby to do it in the street with safety pins. The result looked like this.

Hmm,  a bit droopy methinks

Hmm, a bit droopy methinks

And it worked well. And then it languished in the bottom of my overflowing washing basket for 6 months as I was worried the dye would run if I put it in with anything. And then my timeline was scheduled to cross paths with the Automata again, so I got it out, removed the safety pins, washed it and then with a little help from my trusty assistant, I dip dyed it with some brown dye

When instructed to wear something that could get dirty, he immediately found his lab coat and goggles

When instructed to wear something that could get dirty, he immediately found his lab coat and goggles

Obviously for such a technical and potentially interesting task I needed supervising. Well, until it came to the bit where you had to go and poke a bit more skirt into the dye pot at 15 minute intervals, then he was seduced by screens and lost interest.

skirt about to be dyed in foreground, brown dye all over bottom of bath (he did help clean up too though)

skirt about to be dyed in foreground, brown dye all over bottom of bath (he did help clean up too though)

The result is a little coppery, (I think the dye was a terracotta brown) and not unreminiscent of someone who’s spent a long time walking through mud, but these things work for me. I’m not sure that any of the skirt is actually the khaki coloured I intended, but the Automata, though once immaculate, have been sullied by their adventures in time and are now a pretty rag tag bunch so it fits in just fine.

The photo’s are action shots of the dancing really, but I think you can spot the skirt ok.
Oh, and its still held together by safety pins.

Thanks Gerard for the use of the photo’s.



Anyway, this muslin is now officially done and I have started making making the real deal…

They’ll do I suppose Leggings

Getting my moneys worth out of Ottobre 4/2014 I spied a leggings pattern to make up. Now, I have had some disasters with leggings. Seriously. I keep meaning to write it up, I just have one more tweak to do first so that I can include a successful pair in the post. But somehow, I never quite get there. Anyway, these are not a disaster….



… but I don’t like them 😦

The pattern has a cuff in self fabric cut on the cross grain, so that you can make it up in stripes and have a little fun. It also has a ruched gatherey bit just above the cuff on the outside, which makes them puff out a bit.


I didn’t have any striped fabric, but I did have some colourful chevron fabric that I may have bought especially. Except the girl decided it was Boy Fabric and vetoed it. Then she vetoed most of all my jersey stash.


you can see the ruching above the cuff

In the end she chose some burgandy knit I bought to make her leggings for school with and some of the spotty fabric from Kitchsy Koo that I’d used already on a t shirt for her. I’m a bit meh about the fabric choices. The burgandy isn’t really stretchy enough for leggings, I mean, it works, but…. Which is a shame, as I bought it for this purpose. Oh the perils of buying online. And I’m not sure about the white dots on the cuff, not very practical. And the thicker fabric seems to hang a little stiff, or maybe that’s because I cut it on grain to squeeze more out? She likes that they’re not tight and you can wear them over socks. But mainly, I don’t like these two fabric choices together, they don’t do it for me.


No idea where this pose came from

Still, they made up ok (except I accidentally put the ribbon tie at the front not the back) and she wears them. I debated making the chevron pair up to see if the reality persuaded her, but I took the easy route! I used clear elastic for the first time and that worked well, so the instructions, whilst not overly much dense text with no diagrams, actually made enough sense for me. The fit isn’t great at the top, but its wearable and will be hidden by skirts. I wonder if it would be better in a stretchier fabric. Similarly, I think a seperate waistband would look nicer, but it works fine like it is.

So, still no go to leggings pattern for me. And maybe one day I’ll get around to showing you my disasters.

Jog on

What do you do when a new pattern goes well? Why make it again of course (it’s always quicker the second time).

So, on the back of the recent starry sweatpants make, I present you, some more jogging bottom type things…

Thumbs up

Thumbs up

Finished last night, this mornings verdict was that they were a bit loose in the waist, but they held up fine at running club, phew.


Piecemeal – spot the extra seam

I’m not sure what I bought this fairly thick knit fabric for, I think I had something in mind for me. Then I used some for a long sleeved top for the boy. I had a vague plan to use the rest as the body of a long sleeved raglan for me, with the sleeves being made from left over blue star fabric – but when I had a look at the fabrics together recently the colours didn’t really work and I wasn’t sure I wanted a starry sleeved top. I’ve pretty much used it all up now (I think I bought a metre), but I had to piece one of the legs together. I decided not to bother doing the other to match, if anyone notices I’ll tell them it’s a design feature.

The orange ribbing I bought thinking it would go with the star leggings but in the end I chose the red (I was buying online so it was hard to tell and I can’t get ribbing locally so I got a couple of options). It just makes it a bit more interesting for the boy who loves colour. The cuffs have navy on the bottom – more practical I felt.

elastic insertion

elastic insertion – can you see the navy blue stitching?

Construction wise it was pretty simple, I did the same as before I think, I got away without checking the instructions. The waistband elastic I sewed together and into the waistband rather than threading it through. I matched up the quarter points of the elastic and the waisteband and sewed it in place just below the half way fold. Then I folded the waistband in half and sewed it in place with what I hope works as some kind of sewing machine coverstitch type stitch, it seems to be holding anyway. Then it’s attached to the trousers like giant bias binding. The idea was that the verticle stitch lines are on the inside and don’t show, but someone put it on backwards so they do, ho hum.

waistband, outside on right, with stitching holding elastic in place, inside of back showing on left, you can see the line stopping the elastic twisting.

waistband, outside on right, with stitching holding elastic in place, inside of back showing on left, you can see the line stopping the elastic twisting.

I did point out to the boy that if he wears it with the long partially matching top it will probably end up looking like pajama’s. He then asked me to stitch “not pajama’s” on them, so that he could wear them together and point this out to people if they commented. Cruel mum refused. (Not least as my machine does not have a letter embroidery function!)

Nifty What No Seam In Seam Pocket Feature

Nifty What No Seam In Seam Pocket Feature

I’m now musing if I can use the left over star jersey for another pair (maybe with plain red ribbing?) they’re such a satisfying make, but how many pairs does a boy need? (And could I cope with him wearing them with the matching t shirt?).

Post run stretching pose

Post run stretching pose

Simple things

The kids’ school has branded jumpers and fleeces with the school logo on, although you can wear anything the right shade (which is not purple, the camera lies, it’s burgandy, honest). We have in our collection several fleeces, some bought new (at over a tenner a pop) and some bought from the PFTA second hand school uniform sale (where they are still the most expensive item there at £2 each). They obviously have some kind of zip flaw going on as for the second time one of ours managed to loose a zip pull, the zip teeth were still there, no sign of the pull.

Zip replacemet

Zip replacemet, with cut teeth entrance point showing top right

Last time I decided to replace the zip. Much unpicking and swearing later I realised how complicated this trivial job would be and I gave up and threw the darn thing away (shock horror, but in my defense this was a fairly well worn second hand one and even my mum agreed it was not worth the hassle). So this time I thought I’d try a new tack, maybe make it into some kind of pullover, possibly cut the zip out and sew up the front. I wasn’t sure. I took it out to have a look at. What I really needed, I mused, was a new zipper pull bit. But where to get one. Then I spied one on the table. It had appeared apparently from no where. I assumed it was from the big bag of bargain zips I’d bought from the Make do and Mend pre loved craft swap group and set to work. I checked it was the right size on the side that it could just slip in on. Then snipped the top on the other side, slid the zip on and then sewed up my gap. And voila, as good as new (and I bet no-one ever notices the zip pull is black not burgandy). I was so chuffed with myself.

It turned out in the end the zip pull had come off a reflective vest of hubbies so I’ve been instructed to give it some new kind of fastening (I’m thinking poppers (snaps) ).

This was the highlight of a sewing week where not much got done (pre the amazing trousers). The low light was hubby getting run into by a car as he cycled past, despite his various lights, reflective strips, reflective jacket and having the right of way. Luckily he came off fairly lightly with a fractured bone in his foot, bruising and bruised/cracked/broken ribs (no specific diagnosis was attempted as it doesn’t affect the treatment, which is basically, wait for it to get better). So, now I have an invalid at home feeling in pain, tired and frustrated, more stuff to do and less help to do it. Which is why I took Friday and Saturday nights off and sewed despite a kitchen full of dishes. Saturdays make wasn’t up to Fridays amazing star trousers, blog post as soon as I’ve managed pictures. Tonight, I think I need to catch up on some shut eye, but hopefully a project for me coming soon. 🙂

Star Turn

You may remember a while ago I was bemoaning the lack of hoodie patterns for boys. Well, a couple of months later I came across a couple of great kids hoodies on the Sew Write blog that had been made with an Ottobre pattern. Ottobre is a Finnish company that publish 4 magazines of childrens clothing patterns a year and they’ve also branched out and now do two womens clothing pattern magazine’s per year too. I first came across them when I saw this cool fleece coat that Philippa put on her Gloria and Me blog and I immediately bought that issue (5/2012) of the magazine intending to shamelessly make a carbon copy of her coat. (Needless to say, the magazine is still languishing in my sewing pile, I’ve not made anything from it yet, but I did flick through it the other day and there are a couple of possibilities, aside from the coat. I particularly like the fact they use models with a range of body shapes. But I digress….)

Anyway, Juliann kindly told me what edition of the magazine she’d used for the hoodies, but not before impatient pre Christmas me went ahead and bought Autumn 4 / 2014 which also has hoodies in. And may I say that I am very impressed with the range of patterns in these magazines. There is actually stuff for boys, not just a token unisex pattern and there is even stuff for boys over 5 – golddust I tell you. E.g. I read somewhere that the Japanese kids sewing book Sew Chic would be good for boys, but I would not have bought it for that alone as the number of boys/unisex patterns is definitely less than the girls patterns in it. (Luckily for me I need both). Also, my soon to be 7 year old daughter is right at the top of their size range. However, these Ottobre magazines would (in my humble opinion) be very useful for someone sewing just for boys and they have a wide range of sizes. Just check out the pattern for a fake leather jacket made in denim (how cool is that).


However, I have yet to make a hoodie, as in actual fact the boy has loads of jumpers and also we had entered the Great Trouser Crisis. I thought about using this mag to make trousers with the khaki fabric I found but the trouser patterns included are for some jeans made with stretch corduroy (which I didn’t have) or for some sweatpant/jogging bottom style trousers made in a knit. Hence I bought the Art Museum Pants pattern, which was a little dressy for what I actually needed but hey, it also includes a waistcoat pattern.  However when I saw


Sweatshirt Colourful Stars 2 - Cotton - Spandex - navy blue


this sweatshirt fabric on the My Fabric website I had a plan….



and in one evening these were born. Result.

front view by blogging wall

front view by blogging wall

They are pattern number 31 from the magazine, “Mock Denim Sweatpants” made in size 134 – the largest size this particular pattern comes in, for my fairly tall 8 year old and they fit well with a bit of growing room. (The sizing based on height is a sensible idea, but I’m still getting my head aroudn this as I’m not used to this system and don’t know my kids heights, let alone in cm). I wasn’t sure about the pattern, the model in the magazine has tight fitting cuffs up the bottom half of his legs with the rest of the trouser baggy above them – I’m vaguely aware this has been trendy but it’s not a look I like. Luckily these didn’t come out like that – I think a lot is to do with my fabric choice of a more rigid sweatshirt fabric (with lovely soft snuggly brushed wrong side) than the jersey knit recommended – it also has very little stretch.



The patterns in the magazine need tracing, they’re on 3 double sided pattern sheets, with many overlapping pattern pieces each with nested sizes. Luckily the different pattern pieces are colour coded, which helps, and this pattern only needed 4 – a leg (front and back with cut out for pocket), pocket piece, cuff and waistband. As well as tracing you have to add seam allowance. It was a bit of a faff but to be honest much easier than fighting my printer to sort a pdf pattern out.

cuff detail

cuff detail

The instructions are rather minimal, a few paragraphs of dense text, but it’s all there, you just need to read carefully. A bit like the Japanese instructions, but without the numbered diagrams, although there is a line drawing of the finished garment. I only went wrong with which edges to sew together at a particular point on my pocket bag (as I discovered further through the instructions, there was no harm done), but I did have to look up a couple of terms such as understitching, which were used with no explanation (I knew it involved sewing close to the seamline to keep facings on the inside, but I couldn’t work out which bits to sew, doh! Thanks internet). I think most beginners would struggle with this as well as visual learners. A sewalong with lots of photo’s it definitely isn’t!

pocket peep

pocket peep

The finish on the garment was great – I was very impressed. I think it was comparable to that on say an Oliver and S garment (I was sort of comparing these with the Art Museum trouser make in my head as I went along, which isn’t entirely fair as they’re such a different kind of trouser, but I think the finish is a similar high quality. Unlike my experience of Japanese patterns). The “inseam” side/front pockets on a 2 piece pair of trousers without a side seam worked really well – I would never have thought of attempting that let alone where to start it, or thought of the bartacks which help to help hold it in place (which I just winged as a zig zag stitch with zero length).

I did change the construciton order round, sewing the crotch seams before the inseam, thus negating the need to put one trouser leg inside the other, a minor detail. I also attached the elastic to the inside of the waistband (with 4 evenly spaced verticle lines of stitching) before folding it in place and stitching it down, a tip I picked up somewhere recently (she says vaguely).



The cuff has a stripe of a different coloured rib, which luckily worked ok despite the red being much better quality and less stretchy than the navy. Phew. I left out the drawstring on the waistband as I didn’t have the eyelets called for, I wanted to get them done and I wasn’t sure they were needed. There is a channel sized space below the elastic where they could have done.

Oh and as the instructions blithely called for a “flatlock stitch” I had a bit of a play with my machine and got something that I thought would do and used it on the waistband and cuffs. I quite like the look of it. Lets see if it holds up any better than when I’ve tried a twin needle for topstiching knits (some stitches invariable pop open as it’s not stretchy enough).

in the wild

in the wild

So, all in all a nice bright pair of warm trousers that he wore all day and are now in the wash as they got a bit muddy. Thumbs up for them and Ottobre patterns.


Funky Tablet Cover

don't let my mum know I've kept pieces this small, she wouldn't approve

don’t let my mum know I’ve kept pieces this small, she wouldn’t approve

1 pile of scraps + naked tablet + tablet cover inspiration + Quilt as You Go tutorial = RESULT

Wheee, funky tablet sleeping bag

Wheee, funky tablet sleeping bag

Want to see the back?

The owls are a pocket for keeping the kids screentime vouchers in

The owls are a pocket for keeping the kids screentime vouchers in

I don’t have any quilting batting and I don’t really want to start acquiring new stash and hobies, so I just used 2 layers of fleece left over from Pikachu (they were sewn together around the edge first). It was a bit of an experiment and I think it worked out just fine. There’s no Utility Fabric behind the fleece as in the tutorial, as this project doesn’t need strength, it’s rather to protect the screen.

Part way through, quilting done

Part way through, quilting done

I hadn’t done any quilting before and this was fun and relatively quick (but then I wasn’t worrying too much about perfect lines) and before long I was experimenting with wavy lines and diagonal lines (the latter worked better than the former, but I didn’t want to mess up the skulls or the camper vans). I’m not sure I’d want to make a larger project but I think I’d do something like this again.

The top is bound with a scrap of some satin bias binding. I sewed the bag seams right side togehter, the usual way and then turned it, which didn’t work so well as the fabric was so thick. I’m thinking I shouldn’t done something different – but what? Or is it just because I used 2 layers of fleece as my batting? I used one of my fancy skull and crossbone buttons that I got for Christmas as a fastening. I wasn’t sure how it’d work with a button hole, so I used a loop of elastic instead, which is a bit fiddly as it gets stuck round the cross bones – maybe a buttonhole would’ve been better?.

Peek inside

Peek inside at the yellow fleecey goodness

I’m particularly taken with the pink and grey side. And the kids are going to love picking out the fabric they recognise from things I used them. I see great small gift potential with this. Thank you Internet Sewing Community – I couldn’t have done it without you. Do you bin your scraps or keep them? And what’s your favourite thing to do with them?

Boring trousers

I wanted to make my son a pair of trousers, as he’s been feeling dissatisfied with his existing pairs (I previously described this as him having trouser issues which is a phrase that made Hubby wince and declare “never describe me as having trouser issues”). The Boy looks at his plain coloured trousers (blue denim, dark green cord, err black with loads of colourful pockets on) and he looks at his sisters leggings and tights with their riot of colour and patterns and it doesn’t seem fair. And it isn’t. There is no rhyme nor reason to it. I tried pointing out that the gender pay gap and glass ceilings for women weren’t fair either and he agreed wholeheartedly. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

He dubbed them his "mechanical leg" trousers

He dubbed them his “mechanical leg” trousers

So, nice bright trousers for the boy was my plan. Something to cheer him up. Then I went fabric shopping. Finding fabric suitable for clothing the legs of boisterous boys is not easy locally. Finding such fabrics in bright colours, nigh on impossible. I suppose I could have used some of the red and white stripey fabric I made an apron with but that is too much for my taste. So I came away with some, khaki-ish coloured mystery fabric, that feels like it has cotton in, looks almost like it’s double shot with a similar tone giving it a slight sheen, is thin but very dense, pins and needles leave marks in it and it feels almost like it’s some high performance/waterproof fabric. Wierd. Also, dull. But hey, at least it’s not black. Or blue. That’s a start, right?

Not having a boy’s trouser pattern for non-stretch wovens, I bought the Oliver and S Art Museum Trouser and Vest pattern. Hmm, that’s a cute picture you used to illustrate your pattern Oliver and S but the fabric you used for the trousers makes it impossible to see what’s going on! I bought the larger size for my 8 year old, which is billed as sizes “age 5-12”, but if you check the pattern envelope (I didn’t) it’s actually sizes 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12. Which was slightly annoying as I have a tall 8 year old so wanted an age 9 really.

Back pocket cog detail and topstitching

Back pocket cog detail and topstitching

After some measuring of the boy I decided to cut a straight size 10. I did change a few things around in construction. I started by adding the front pockets (as per the instructions) – wish I’d realised how near to the seamline the pocket edge was, they’re rather chino like (again, this is actually clear on the pattern diagram, I just failed to notice), I’d prefer something more scooped out and jeansey. If I make these again I think I’ll alter this. Then I “self drafted” patch back pockets (i.e. traced round pockets on his jeans and added seam allowance) rather than put welt one’s from the pattern in as I was going for a more casual look (I guess in America going to the museum is a more dress up occassion than it is for everyone I know?).

The thick, gold (but not metallic) thread that I used for topstitching was in some stash I inherited. It came on this cardboard bobbin that won't fit in my machine and I never knew what to do with. Until I realised it made the perfect trouser topstitching thread and sat ok on the bobbin winder spool on my machine. Hooray.

The thick, gold (but not metallic) thread that I used for topstitching was in some stash I inherited. It came on this cardboard bobbin that won’t fit in my machine and I never knew what to do with. Until I realised it made the perfect trouser topstitching thread and sat ok on the bobbin winder spool on my machine. Hooray.

Next, I flat felled the outer leg seams using the Coletterie tutorial. I think it’s more common to flat fell the inside seam (you can’t do both, because of trouser/sewing machine geometry), but hubby has a pair flat felled on the outer seam and I had A Plan.

Cog detail for the front right leg

Cog detail for the front right leg

The plan was to decorate the trousers and make them less plain. I had a complicated design idea of cogs (a bit steam punky) that was beyond my skills with a brush. Luckily I found some stuff rolled up in a stripey bag with my sewing things, it had no label but I thought it was freezer paper, so I tried and it seemed to be so. I’ve never used freezer paper before (the first time I came across it I wondered if they meant something akin to greaseproof paper, but it seams to be a craft product, so I’ve no idea why it has that name), which you can cut into a stencil, iron on and then peel off after painting. It was quite easy to use (even without instructions) but the stencil is obviously only as good as your cutting out skills! The advantage is that you can put bits inside others (e.g. you can cut the circle to go inside an O, unlike a solid stencil). After a bit of experimenting I decided to do a layer of black paint (it took a lot, the fabric seemed to resist the paint in a way I’ve not seen before, adding to my suspicions of slight waterproofness) then 2 layers of either silver or gold fabric paint, leaving it to dry and setting with the iron between layers. I used Dylon, which is the only fabric paint I’ve ever had and usually works fine.

that wraps around to the back

that wraps around to the back

A bit of time later and The Girl helped me reveal a cog on one of the back pockets and 3 interlocking cogs (go me) on one front leg that slightly wrap around the outer seam to the back. Some of the black is showing, but I’m happy with that, it helps the cogs stand out and just makes them look a bit dirty 😉

Botched fly

Botched fly

Next, more construction time. I used Oliver and S’s Zipper Fly Tutorial to make the fly functional. It was all fairly straight forward except step 10, where I got confused, and instead of sewing just the zipper tape to the faux fly (fly facing) I topstitched it from the outside. I blame the photo, which looks like that stitching line is pinned from the outside, so I assumed it was stitched from the outside (actually, I kept getting confused as to what photo’s went with which step, otherwise it was well explained. I prefer a good diagram to a photo myself, but I suppose for a free tutorial one can’t complain. Except they recommend adding a functional fly to age 5+ trousers, which is the whole upper pattern size, but they don’t add instrucitons as they’d be “too long”, so maybe a diagram isn’t too much to wish for seeing as the insructions with the patterns are diagrams). Anyway, I didn’t want to unpick it as this fabric keeps holes (and creases don’t iron out either), so I left it. It didn’t look so bad until I sewed an approximation of the topstitching line I should be sewing. The two lines together look wierd. But I’m hoping people will be distracted by the shiny cogs.

Angled belt loops

Angled belt loops at basting stage

Back belt loop variation

Completed crossover back belt loop variation

After the fly, it was fairly straight forward construction. Sew inside leg seam. Hem trousers (confession time, my first row of topstitching was too low down, so I had to do a double row). After that the boy helped me measure and cut out the belt loops. The pieces makes enough for 6 loops but you only need 5. He wanted to use all of them, so I suggested we do a cross loop at the back, as I’ve seen on Ready To Wear trousers. I basted those two belt loops at a 45 degree angle facing outwards at the two notches either side of the back seam, the other four I placed as instructed.

attaching elastic to waistband facing

attaching elastic to waistband facing

Then there just the waistband to do. I used some lining fabric for the inside waistband but I changed the construction order so I wouldn’t have raw edges on the inside. I sewed the lining edge down first, then I sewed the ends together (as you can’t have a continuos loop waistband with a fly) around the zip. Next I added a piece of elastic in the back of the waistband, attatched to the lining at either end and at the backseam. The amount to use was trial and error and got ripped out and replaced. It’s still a bit baggy, but hey, he’ll wear a belt with them. To finish the waistband I folded the outside edge down, tucked the seam allowance under and topstitched it into place all around the edges of the waistband (i.e. I sewed a rectangle when topstitching_. I realised at this point that all this stitching meant that the two lots of understitching I did when joining the waistband pieces and also when I’d attached the waistband to the trousers were probably redundant. Oh well.

Waistband part attatched (Zip from a bundled I got cheap from)

Waistband part attatched (Zip from a bundle I got cheap from Make do and Mend Pre-Loved Craft stuff Facebook page)

I used a short stitch length zig zag to attatch the top of the belt loops, like I’d done at the top of the patch pockets on the back (another idea from some RTW trousers). Last but not least, I well and truly messed up the buttonhole in what seems to be an unfortunate trend and ended up finishing it by hand. I used the sample button from Hubby’s wasitcoat.

Location - models choice

Location – models choice

And voila, one pair of trousers, not too hard to make, the complicated steps were the ones I added myself really, plus the functional fly. Another time I might try following the Grainline fly tutorial as I remember that went well on my Moss mini’s. Also I did skip the welt pockets, but I know the Oliver and S welt pocket tutorial is ace from my recent waistcoat make. The trousers fit, with a belt and a bit of rolling up at the bottoms, so maybe I could’ve got away with an age 8, but I didn’t want to make them and then him to grow out of them a month later. They have met with approval, so we’ll have to see how they fare in rotation with the pack of brightly coloured ready made trousers his cousin sourced and sent down.


Oh, I just remembered, I can banish all thoughts of my ineptitude at woodwork by telling you all about the Man’s waistcoat which I finally finished!

Finally managed a daylight photo shoot and it got photobombed!  He was trying to look like a Victorian Head of the Household apparently (so I was instructed to take a sepia shot, but as it's his camera I didn't know how, so I used black and white).

Finally managed a daylight photo shoot and it got photobombed! He was trying to look like a Victorian Head of the Household apparently (so I was instructed to take a sepia shot, but as it’s his camera I didn’t know how, so I used black and white).

I nearly finished it before Christmas. The welt pockets didn’t go too badly in the end, although they don’t look as good as my practice one. I had cut the pocket linings from the pattern, but then decided the decidedly simpler looking welt pocket tutorial on the Oliver and S blog was the way to go. Plus it doesn’t have a triangular flap of fabric that you have to fold under and handstitch into place (spot the potential shabby finish, handsewing is not my forte). However, they use a rectangle of lining fabric and I didn’t have much left. So I sort of bodged the two methods together, sewing the welt the Oliver and S way and then attaching the lining pieces to them and then sewing them up. It worked ok. The top of the pocket on the inside is wool and then lower down it’s green lining.

The slit is cut, the welt piece (currently looking rectangular) is on the inside and I'm figuring how and where to attach the lining pieces to it (hence chalk marks) before I can press and stitch the relevant folds that make it a welt into place and sew up my pocket bags)

The slit is cut, the welt piece (currently looking rectangular) is on the inside and I’m figuring how and where to attach the lining pieces to it (hence chalk marks) before I can press and stitch the relevant folds that make it a welt into place and sew up my pocket bags.

But after I attached the lining the collar was sitting wierdly, it had wibbles in it (can’t think of a better way to describe it). I’m fairly sure the lapels are attached to the back collar piece back to front, but I was loathe to unpick the collar from the lining and main waistcoat, and then unpick the collar from itself and restitch them. So I sulked. Then I tacked it into place and steamed it lots, left it a few days, steamed it lots, hubby wore it around the house, left it a few days, and repeat. Eventually I took the stitches out and it was better. Not right, but hubby was happy with it and I wasn’t confident it would look better after being attacked with a seam ripper.

In the colour shot you can see how well it matches the shirt my mum bought him for Christmas.

In the colour shot you can see how well it matches the shirt my mum bought him for Christmas as well as playing spot the still wibbly bits on the collar.

Next stop, to get some buttons. There was one with the waistcoat which I think hubby chose as a possible at the time (either that or I’ve lost the rest) but it was a bit small. They didn’t have any the same in the shop but I found something close that he approved of.

2 of the actual buttons with the original choice above

2 of the actual buttons with the original choice above

And then I didn’t get around to making the buttonholes. In my defenes we had 2 lots of family staying back to back and I was really ill with flu and there were Anna dresses to sew etc. In the mean time, he wore it out to his Christmas night out, with no buttons.

The Man decided to do Humourous Poses. (He was about to go on his Works Night Out and was in a good mood - so all these photo's are before the waistcoat was actually finished). I think this is him doing up his top button.

The Man decided to do Humourous Poses. (He was about to go on his Works Night Out and was in a good mood – so all these photo’s are before the waistcoat was actually finished). I think this is him doing up his top shirt button.

After that it was Christmas and we were busy and he kept wearing it! It goes really nicely with the shirt my mum gave him for Christmas. Eventually I added buttonholes, but the bottom one messed up badly so I didn’t cut it and he had 4 for a while. Again, I never got chance to sew it as it was being worn!

The bottom two buttonholes, that last one is a bit scruffy. Plus on the left you can see the lining attached to the self drafted facing.

The bottom two buttonholes, that last one is a bit scruffy. Plus on the left you can see the lining attached to the self drafted facing.

Finally, I unpicked the dodgy button hole and re did it. Badly. In the process I found a better colour grey thread I should have used for the others and then a third shade that I thought was the same as the others but is slightly different – I never knew I had so much grey thread! Also, for some unknown reason, I didn’t set the stitch length right, but didn’t work this out until after I’d cut the buttonhole. It was clearly going to unravel if I left it like that, so I hand stitched over my efforts with blanket stitch. It won’t win any prizes but it will hold. I think. Then I just needed to stitch up the lining seam where it was turned (more hand stitching, I must love him), sew the last button on and Finally it was done! Hoorah.

Closing the curtains back view pose

Closing the curtains back view pose

It really obviously looks hand made to me. The collar is the worse bit, but the button holes aren’t great on close inspection and the lining at the back appears to be shorter than the main fabric so it bags out a bit. But I don’t think a non sewer would spot these things and he wears it all the time.

Drinking a dolls cup of tea (note waistcoat matches his shop bought hat).

Drinking a dolls cup of tea (note waistcoat matches his shop bought hat).

I’ve also bought fabric to make a second one as I figured after all that messing around with the pattern it would help me recoup my time outlay. He chose green boiled wool, lining as yet undecided. I’ll see if I can get the collar better next time. Lets hope this one doesn’t take to long as he’s mentioned a black one too!

Lining Joy

Lining Joy. It’s actually a really bright green, not blue at all, honest.

Non Transferrable Skills

Our house has been extended to have a small conservatory at the back, sometime way before we bought it. So I’m not sure why when they built it why they left the open drain that the kitchen sink drains into in the floor of the conservatory. I’m guessing it was easier, but maybe there’s a more technical reason. I didn’t even see it when we were buying the house as it had a board cut to cover it. When we moved in the previous owner had left a post it note on it warning there was a deep drain underneath – I lifted it up, yup, that’s about a 2 ft drop, put the board back and then soon after it got an off cut of lino put over it and the cat’s bowl on top of that and I forgot all about it.

Until that period before Christmas, when I was ill and we had family visiting and everything was hectic and there was a funny smell, a not nice smell, in our conservatory that wouldn’t go away. Eventually I worked out that under the lino, the board had rotted and dropped into the drain blocking it and it had filled with stagnant water. Yeugh. I cleared out the drain and cleaned it up and there it stayed, open to the world, all the stuff moved over in the conservatory moved over to one side to make space for the clean up operation. I was too ill and busy to do any more.

So, last week, with the kids back at school, my mission was to buy a drain cover. Then I had a better idea, I’d make one how hard could it be? We had some wood lying around from some shelves that had given up the ghost, there are tools in the house (mainly they used to be my dads) – it wouldn’t take long, surely. After all I make things all the time. Make do and Mend it was then, reuse some of the junk resources I had rather than buying new, custom made to fit, rather than having to go with whatever piece of plastic the shop would sell me. And I could put it on the blog, after all, it would be a project, something I’d made, nothing flash admittedly, not in this sort of league, but still, we all have to start somewhere.

After it was assembled once, had both ends of each strut removed (even the glued on side), disintigrated and bodged back together.  Spot the mistake in how I aligned the strut on the right when reassembling.

After it was assembled once, had both ends of each strut removed (even the glued on side), disintigrated and bodged back together. Spot the mistake in how I aligned the strut on the right when reassembling.

I think my design was ok. But it quickly became apparent that I’m really bad at sawing. I don’t know why I’d forgotten this. Maybe the saw isn’t the best, maybe I used the wrong one, but I think the sad truth is I’m just not good at woodwork. So idea’s of a pristine looking cover faded in my mind, but at least it would be practical.

Next up I simplified my design as I realised that fixing some pieces to butt up to the pipe was beyond my skills. Still, most of the hole would be covered.

Then I tried to assemble it. I used a combination of wood glue and nails. It went badly. Turned out the right sized nails that I had weren’t the right sort for wood, they were too soft and bent. The next ones I tried were too short and didn’t bite into the underneath piece. Finally I bodged something together. OK, it wasn’t looking pretty but it would work.

Except it wouldn’t go on the drain. My cross pieces to hold it together and stop it sliding about were too long and it didn’t fit. Despite me having measured them, proffered them up, double checked. At this point I sulked.

So today I tried to saw the excess of the glued/nailed on pieces off. Then I tried chiseling. Turns out I suck at using a chisel too. Eventually I managed it, and then it turned out the other end was too long as well. So I sawed that off a bit (easier as no planks over this bit) and then the whole thing came apart, well, one of the cross struts came off. At this point I was losing will, so I put the strut over the exposed nail ends and hit it with a hammer until it just about stayed together long enough to put in place. Whereupon I discovered in my haste I moved the end off my strutt back to where it had been in the first place – i.e. slap bang in the way of it lying flat. Luckily it was barely together so I pulled it apart and tried again.

New drain cover finally in place. No prizewinner. I have since propped some spare bits of wood over the gaps at the back. I will not be attempting to attach them (as they'd need sawing first for a start).

New drain cover finally in place. No prizewinner. I have since propped some spare bits of wood over the gaps at the back. I will not be attempting to attach them (as they’d need sawing first for a start).

It is now in place. It technically a better thing to look at than an open drain, but it’s no work of art. Hopefully it will stay in place and stop children and cats falling down the drain or dropping stuff in there until we get around to having work done on the house and can get someone professional to sort it out. I have abandoned my plan to paint it – the idea was it would make it more durable, but clearly, this is not an object that will be with us forever.

The whole thing made me think. How come I’m so bad at woodwork. After all I sew stuff all the time. I can measure and plan and follow diagrams and read tutorials and work all sorts of stuff out if I’m sewing, but ask me to do it in wood and it all falls apart. Literally.

Am I alone in the nicheness of my making ability? Do other people make such a dogs dinner of supposedly simple projects? Is it really too much to expect myself to turn my hand to practical things other than sewing? Or is this some kind of mental block that I can blame on my woodwork teacher at school and get over with therapy? Or maybe I’m just going about it all the wrong way? Anyway, you are unlikely to be seeing any more woodwork projects here any time soon.

Non-Sewing Sewing Related Things I’ve done this week.

I decided I needed some new Tailor’s chalk. I have a box of stubby rubbish bits of Tailor’s chalk, some bits of which may well be older than me and none of which work well. I had a sudden realisation that if I bought some new stuff it might have sharp edges and actually work. The thrifter in me wanted to use up all the old stuff first but I pointed out to her that it’s pretty unusable and we could give the old stuff to the kids to use as plain old fashioned chalk. I was near a bead shop with a haberdashery department, but their suppliers had just failed to deliver any tailors chalk as they were out of stock, so I left with some pencils instead. I’ll let you know how that goes.

(At this point you have to imagine the chalk and the pencils as after a dozen times trying I can’t get the photo to upload).

Also, I saw an advert for a trouser making class! Previously the only locally available classes I’ve come across have been of the learn to use your sewing machine/make a bag/sew a simple skirt variety, except for one last year that was for making a coat, but you had to make their coat pattern and it was not my style. So, I have signed up for 5 weeks of zippered fly trouser making madness (well, five 2hr classes). I’m hoping this will mean I can finally make up the trouser pattern I bought on New Year’s Eve 2013 which has some slightly garish fabric from IKEA set aside for it, then I can conquer my fear of fitting trousers (I think I did ok on the zipper flies on my moss skirts and I can certainly do seams and waistbands, so this must be what’s holding me back) and TAKE OVER THE WORLD. OK, so, maybe not take over the world, but seeing the trouble and stress I go to in order to buy expensive, badly fitting trousers that don’t last well, this would be a really useful skill for me to have. I am also going to shamelessly steal Jenny from Cashmerette’s most excellent idea to photograph myself in shop bought trousers I own so I’m not comparing my efforts with some unrealistic Plato Ideal of Trousers.

Finally I’ve taken the 2015 Stashbusting pledge. I’ve been in the facebook group for a while, but didn’t get around to doing the pledge as I joined part way through the year. I pledged to make at least 12 items from stashed fabric (1 a month, can’t be too hard, right?) including some trousers and also to keep track of what I’m buying and how much it costs, which will hopefully lead to some more careful considering before splurging in future. I’d like to count only fabric bought before 2015 as stash for my pledge, hopefully all fabric bought this year will be for specific projects and made this year, but I haven’t actually stated that so there’s some wiggle room for me if I need it later.