Frost protection

Climbing beans (such as runners) are not hardy, you may need to protect them from frost, fleece can be used. My beanpole (who both runs and climbs), also does not like being exposed to cold. He does keep growing though, so while last years  extended and eeked out fleece backed starry jogging bottoms still fit (for now) the original pair have been passed on now leaving him with only one pair for the cold months ahead.


I wanted to go up a size, but I didn’t dare adjust the ottobre pattern further (I suspect the crotch curve would need changing), so this time I used my trusty Domi pattern. They are quite scarily big, I was worried I’d miscalculated, but on closer inspection they do look like they might be a similar size to the last pair, with a couple of inches extra growing room, so it seems that it might be my beanpole who is excessively big.


These have been put on one side for his upcoming birthday (we’re getting a daily countdown at the moment), so fingers crossed they fit and the brown and orange colour scheme is  approved (you wouldn’t guess it from here but they look a bit tame compared with last years). I’m hoping the super soft fleecey back  will win him over…

Cool Dude

When you see the fabric you bought full price on sale, it’s annoying. When you’ve had that fabric sat in your cupboard, for, your not even sure how long any more (over a year?), it’s probably a sign that it’s long overdue that you got cracking on the project you bought it for.


A long sleeved tee shirt for The Boy. Still, at least things loitering in the stash far too long is a different problem to not having enough fabric.


Unless you also don’t have enough fabric.


Luckily I’m getting good at eeking and piecing, must be all the practice.


This is a Semper, option A (without side panels and pockets), no hood, so slightly altered neckline (just cut a bit higher, make sure that you’re cut is at at right angles when you hit the fold in the fabric), neckband instead (quite wide to account for the fact that I decided at trying on stage I’d’ve preferred it cut higher still), no sleeve bands or bottom band, the pattern pieces were just extended instead, and the front and back were extended a bit extra too, as he’s a bean pole. (Are you still awake at the back there?).


After fiddling around with alterations and pattern matching at the cutting stage (Good marks for centering the patterns, getting things straight, pattern matching at side seam and underarms, could do better on raglan sleeve), it was a quick make.


And now I have a happy boy.  (Also modelling a circular scarf he just acquired).


Why is it the gorgeous fabric I don’t buy straight away always seems to sell out, and the stuff I do get ends up on sale?  Is this just me?


Recently I saw a 10% off code for Sofilantjes. It lasted 1 day.  So I quickly told my friend who I knew was considering getting the Domi pattern and she dully bought them. The next day I remembered that I was planning to get the Nivalis tunic and dress pattern, doh. Needless to say I bought it anyway as I had two lots of remnants with this pattern in mind. First up, use the colour block dress version to make a minuture copy of this black and pink dress to give to The Girls friend who’d admired the original (The Girl won’t touch that fabric with a bargepole). I didn’t have enough fabric, not even for a tunic, so I made myself commiseratory pants instead.  Never mind, I had plans to make the leftover of my floral mustard leggings into a tunic for the girl. Guess what, not enough of that either. (I think I’ve found something else to do with it though, so watch this space). When Will I Learn?

Now I had the pattern though, I had to do something with it. So I broke out my secret “this was going to be a Christmas present dress (in 2015, I ran out of time)” blue/teal/purple/pink/yellow peacock/rainbow/shell fabric and got to work. Directional print, limited fabric, I only just squeezed it out without having to have the back upside down or cut it in two pieces. I think I refolded it about 6 times before I managed it. Still Learning.

I used the layer printing option for the first time to reduce the number of sizes printed (several designers do this) and guess what, it makes life easier! This came together quick and easy (one evening to finish the last bits of pdf taping, cut it out and sew it), the most time was spent fiddling with the (optional) tabs (although I lost the mark of where to attach them on the pattern piece somehow and had to work it out based on the button placement mark) and the (self drafted) pocket (less said about that the better, it’s a bit wobbly). I didn’t do the hood (which she wouldn’t use) or the collar (not my style), so if you went for one of those options it’d take a bit longer. I got a bit confused as to how to finish the cap sleeves, the inside of the underarms are a bit messy, maybe I was supposed to hem them before doing the side seam? Anyway, that might well be me as I wasn’t having my best sewing day yesterday and there a couple of things on this that weren’t my best work. But the overall result is lovely, and she’s happily wearing it today. It’s slimmer fit that I’m used to seeing her wear, this pattern range seems to be drafted that way, so when I make it again (and I plan to, I want to try a long sleeve tunic top), I think I’ll size up a bit.

But overall, the Nivalis is a stylish, slender, quick win.

More Quick Wins

Sometimes I get the How Much Fabric Have I Got?  question right. Case in point, the leftover knit from a Hoodie for the Boy, enough to make a second pair of Cloth Nappy Trousers (now I know that the first pair fit) .

After it went in the post I realised that I didn’t take a full shot, so you’ll just have to make do with my “now it matches, now it doesn’t” shots of the front and back. This fabric is a nightmare for matching (those strong lines of pattern across the fabric, some of them wave up and down as they go) and I only just eeked these out, so I’m not too bothered. All together now “He won’t keep still long enough for anyone to notice”.

They have lined pockets, partly to neaten the edges, but also because this “woven sweater knit” frays and I didn’t want to risk just zig zagging the raw edges of the pockets straight onto the fronts as the pattern suggests.

For my newbie sewer friend who I recommended this pattern to, and anyone else who may be interested, here’s how I did it (follow the pictures from left to right).

  1. Retrace the pocket piece with an additional 1cm seam allowance along the three sides that get sewn down (extra seam allowance shown shaded).
  2. Use your new pattern piece to cut out 2 mirror image pockets, and 2 mirror image linings (only use jersey for the lining, two layers of sweatshirt fabric would be too thick). Also cut 2 pocket bindings using the standard pattern piece.
  3. Sew the pocket binding on as per usual but with a slightly smaller seam allowance.
  4. Pin the pocket linings to the pockets, right sides together, and sew along the three edges with the extra seam allowance, and also the bound edge, at the standard 1cm seam allowance for this pattern (so your initial stitching on that pocket binding will be inside the new stitching line and won’t show, yay)
  5. Trim your seam allowances.
  6. Turn the pockets right way out through one of the small unsewn edges and press.
  7. Sew on the pockets as usual. In theory you could just use a straight stitch, as now there are no raw edges, but as kids pockets take a pounding, I would suggest using a zig zag or your favourite flat lock style stitch anyway, for extra strength.
  8. Voila, you have lined pockets with no raw edges showing. Continue making up your Domi’s as normal.

In for a penny in for a pound, here’s how I did the waistband also for mainly for my same friend. There are several ways of sewing a waistband with elastic inside and many excellent tutorials out there. The main two ways are to either sew the waistband on first, leaving a gap, and then insert the elastic and finally sew up the hole or to sew the waistband on in one foul swoop with the elastic already inside it. Either way you need to anchor the elastic in some way inside your waistband to stop it getting twisted during wear. I’ve used the second method here.

  1. Make up your waistband piece and sew your elastic into a loop (the Domi pattern has a table of suggested lengths to cut your elastic if you don’t have your model handy to try it out on)
  2. Mark the quarter points on both (I’ve used pins here), I just fold them to do this.
  3. Open your waistband out. It’s hard to see in the photo but as I had pressed my waistband I could still see the fold line. I pinned the elastic to the waistband just below this fold line at the quarter points.
  4. Sew a vertical line at each of the quarter points through your elastic.
  5. Fold the waistband in half around the elastic. The wrong side is the one where you can see the lines of stitching holding the elastic in place.
  6. Pin the waistband to the main trousers, again matching quarter points, right sides together (so those stitching lines will be on the top side at the moment, sorry, this photo isn’t that clear).
  7. Sew the waistband on. I have put a pin to show you where the edge of my elastic is, so you can clearly see that I was only sewing through 2 layers of waistband and the trousers, not the elastic at this point.
  8. Press your seam, turn the waistband up, press again. You might then want to topstitch/flatlock in place. (I did if only to stop the main fabric fraying). And voila, you’re done.

Spiderwoman underwear

One day I will get better at estimating how much fabric I have left over from a previous make and not spend hours taping a pattern together only to realise I have less than half the fabric I need to make it.


Until then, I will continue to console myself by making ridiculous underwear out of the remnants instead.


There are a few reasons I make knickers, a main one is to cut down on waste (lets face it, home sewing can be pretty wasteful if you consider the amount of fabric left after cutting out) – especially of the lovely (pricey) scandanavian organic knits I’m addicted to so fond of, but also I like my undies bright and colourful (something that can be hard to find in the shops) and anyway I find making them pretty satisfying. So, when I discovered that my friend struggles to buy underwear for her daughter who likes all things bright and colourful and hates pastels, hearts and general cuteness, but most definitely wants to be wearing girls clothes, I quickly ascertained that my friend has a sewing machine and persuaded her that it would be the easiest thing in the world to make some herself. I also got her to join the stashbusting sewalong group on face book, where I spend a lot of time hanging out online. So, when she introduced herself there and said she was currently fighting with fold over elastic trying to make pants, several people questioned her sanity in starting off with such a difficult task. Whoops, mea culpa, hands up.


Now with added seam allowance

I’ve been meaning to try out different methods of elasticising  underwear for a while, so I decided the time was now and I’m documenting it here, for my friend and beginnerish sewer and anyone else who may be interested, not that I’m an expert mind. I managed to cut three sets of knickers out of scraps of the same fabric (that was frustratingly not big enough to make me some undies, the joy of kids smalls is that they are indeed small) and then I got testing. One pair I cut with a larger seam allowance on the leg holes, you’ll see why in a minute.


Half trimmed gusset (deliberately inserted so the inside will be the unprinted reverse of the fabric as it’s softer for this fabric)

I only have 2 pattern pieces in this self made pattern (that I have used before for The Girl)  as I use a rectangle for the gusset and then trim it to shape after it’s sewn on (it’s easier and prevents misaligned gussets).  (Learn how to draft your own pattern from Cal Patch here or download So Zo’s for free and buy her a coffee as a thank you).DSCF0808.JPG

For my experiment I sewed up the pair with extra seam allowance and one of the standard pairs, but I didn’t sew the side seams on the third pair.


Then I added fold over elastic to the side of that third pair. I used a triple (stretch) zig zag in a contrast colour. I find starting the FOE the hardest (I use a pin and try and get one stitch in without stretching it to get it started), after that I just line up the next section so that the edge of the fabric is along the fold, then tug the elastic a little to stretch it, fold that section over, hold in place and sew up to that spot, then repeat until I get to the end.


Then I made them up, pressing the side seams open (but I didn’t finish them, bad me) and then going over the stitching just around the side seams to hold everything in place and stop the raw edges peeping out. The top is then finished with some slightly wider FOE (only cos I had some), but before I sewed it down I added a little tab made from scrap fabric to the inside center back to help show which way around they go.  Helpfully you can’t see it in this shot, but it’s there, I promise, a little elephant.

Next up, the pair with the extra seam allowance on the leg holes. First the waistband, which I used some “proper” waistband elastic for. I really like how the rainbow goes with the cloud theme. I made an educated guess how much shorter to make the elastic, sewed it into a loop, marked the quarters on both elastic and pants, then pinned them, pinned inbetween the quarters, and then sewed it from the right side (it would’ve been easier to sew it from the wrong side, but I didn’t have a bobbin wound in purple thread and I was feeling lazy). Basically, this is how you sew on picot elastic (which the recipient has ruled out so isn’t included).

Next up, the leg holes. I used some standard flat elastic (albeit purple) for this and I tried to make my seam allowance twice the width of the elastic. First I sewed the elastic to the inside of the leghole using a straight stretch (lightening) stitch, so that the outside edge of the elastic matched the edge of the pants. This was quite tricky and I wondered if I’d’ve been better not to sew up the side seams on this pair either. Then when I turned them right side out, I discovered I hadn’t managed to catch both layers of fabric in places around the gusset, so I redid those bits from the right side. Maybe I should’ve basted the gusset and front together before adding the elastic or maybe sewing them flat, not in the round, would’ve helped here too. Finally I folded over the elastic and topstitched in a (triple) zig zag. This was quite tricky at the back gusset seam, as there were 6 layers of fabric there. The finish is ok, a bit scruffy on the outside. This particular elastic is fairly smooth and thin, if you had average flat elastic and/or someone who was sensitive to elastic, I guess you could add more seam allowance and turn under twice, but then you’d have 9 layers of fabric at that back gusset seam. Also, the finished result doesn’t seem very stretchy to me, not sure if that is the method, my accuracy or this elastic.

Anyway, pair number 2 complete (no tag this time, I’m hoping that the back seam in the elastic is enough to help get them the right way around).

Finally pair number 3, which I finished with bands like the Barrie brief pattern that I have (but it doesn’t however go this small).  To calculate what height to cut your band, chose the height you want the finished band to be, add your seam allowance and then double your answer. So, as I was using a 1cm seam allowance and I wanted the band to be 1cm tall, I cut it 2 x (1+1) = 2 x 2 = 4cm. For the width of your band, start by measuring the opening in question. Then I multiplied this by 0.85 for the jersey leg bands and 0.7 for the ribbing waistband (as ribbing is stretchier). Round to the nearest half a cm or 1/4″, and then add on twice your seam allowance. And voila, cut your band. Make sure the width goes accoss the stretchiest part of the fabric.


Once the band is cut, fold in half (short edges together), stitch the short edges at your seam allowance (to make a loop), press them open, press the band in half (long edges together), mark the quarter points (I use a pin) and mark quarter points on your opening, pin , sew, turn and press. I like to then stitch my seam allowance down (I used a normal zig zag above) to stop the insides from getting all crinkly and messy. Oh, and I deliberately didn’t line up the seam in my loop with a side seam, to reduce bulk, rather I staggered them slightly.

So here they all are for comparison. I think the bands gave the neatest result and the best shape, and the ordinary elastic folded over twice looks the scruffiest. The fold over elastic was probably the fastest for me to make.

They have now made it to their destination (complete with the secret spider, can you find it?) and are waiting for the young woman in question to return from her hols and give her verdict on fit and comfyness.

Do you have a favourite way of finishing underwear or any top tips? I just noticed that Zoe has tips for a flat elastic option and  I have in the back of my mind that some people use shirring elastic….



Red and teal for the win


Scrap busting, squeezing every last possible garment out of the remnants, I find it so satisfying, especially when the results look as good as this.  I think red and petrol/teal may be my new favourite colour scheme.

[Domi sweatpants, cut along age 3 lines, but to age 2 length (to try and get some extra width to accommodate a cloth nappy for a 2 year old), so that’s age 3 waistband, pocket, cuff pieces used, but elastic cut to the age 2 length (a whole 1/2″ smaller). One front and the waistband are cut in two pieces with an extra seam to eek the fabric out. The pocket binding and waistband and the reverse looped side of the main fabric. Beads stolen from my daughters stash when she wasn’t looking.]

Now comes the wait whilst they navigate the post to my friend before I find out if they fit.


Update, they arrived safely and the feedback is that

they really are a beautiful fit, room for nappy and still staying on

Just About Junipers

A few weeks and half a lifetime ago, it was a bit of a heatwave here and we were about to go on holiday. I decided I needed some new linen trousers, so I went to my local shop and dithered over some pin striped charcoal linen (nice too lightweight for trousers really) and some goldy stuff with a great texture (lovely fabric that would go with nothing else in my wardrobe) and then bought and prepped some plain red linen (reminiscent of an old pair of trousers I used to own) and cut out a pair of Junipers, which I thought was the perfect pattern to use as a) wide legs will be nice in heatwave and b) I have already adjusted it to fit me. I then attempted to sew them up the day before we left. Which wouldn’t have been so bad except it was the first day of the kids school holidays and they were under my feet, plus I was trying to sort out and pack too.


Not quite there yet

I used this tutorial to make pockets with french seams, but just like when I’ve made this pattern before my pattern pieces still didn’t line up right and my pockets still want to bag open and flash the insides more than I think they should. I really must double check that my pocket pattern pieces are traced correctly before I make them again. And if they are ok, that I’m inserting them the right way around. I also took full advantage of Collette’s zipper tutorial, not that this zipper is particularly hard to insert.

Needless to say, I didn’t get them finished the day before we left (I kind of jinxed it by making a draft blog post titled Just In Time Junipers, never count your chickens and all that). So I tried to finish them on the day of leaving. Which may have contributed to us leaving 2 hours later than planned, which just possibly was a contributing factor in hitting loads of traffic and having a nightmare journey. But somehow, LSH didn’t even mention divorce (too distracted by morris dancing).

I did manage get them to a state before I left where just the inside waistband, the hems and the ends of the belt loops needed doing, which is the kind of thing some people finish by hand just for kicks, so I packed needle and thread and some good intentions.


In my haste to leave, I only found poppers to take with me, not hook and eyes as the pattern suggests.

Needless to say I didn’t get them finished during the hot weather at a folk festival trailing around after the kids with a swollen ankle. So they came to Yorkshire to camp with Quakers with us too. Where, despite the weather not being so hot any more, I mustered enough shame to finish them before the end of the holiday, so there was at least some point in being so late. Well, I say finish, after catchstitching the waistband and a painfully slow speed and finish down the end of the beltloops, I only tacked the hems in the end. With a backstitch mind. Note to self, really must run them through the machine.



It looks neat, granted, but it took soooooo long

The shots of me wearing them are more atmospheric than clear, but hey. I need to get me some motivation to manage some sewing as I have done exactly zilch since we got back (too busy running around in circles).



Do holidays fill you with the sudden urge to make things in unrealistic timescales?