City Gym Shorts part 4

So, after failing to make my daughter some scalloped edged shorts last year, this year I finally got around to it.  I traced the next size up of the City Gym pattern, cos whilst last years pairs still fit her, she does still keep growing and had pointed out to me herself that they wouldn’t fit forever. Whilst I was at it I added 2″ to the pattern length at the lengthen line (on both front and back pieces, obviously) and straightened the edges to lose the signature curve at the bottom. I also added pockets as before.


Construction wise, I started with those front hip pockets, except this time around I sewed the opening right sides together before grading my seam allowance, understitching and topstitching, as I wasn’t using bias binding.


Then I sewed the fronts to the backs along the side seam. I chose to use a 1/4″ seam allowance, like the pattern suggests for the crotch seam, and figures that way I didn’t have to add any extra seam allowance (when constructed as per instructions, that side seam is made by overlapping the bias bound front and back edges).  It was even narrower than my usual 1cm default. I finished by zig zagging with my overlocker foot on my sewing machine and topstitching the seam allowance down.

Next up I drafted a facing piece the width of the bottom of the short leg and about two inches deep and cut two of these out. Then I folded over the pattern piece paper doll style (after folding over the seam allowance) and cut out an arch.

That gave me a scallop template to trace onto my facing. I hemmed the other side of my facing before pining it to my shorts and stitching along the scalloped line. Then I trimmed, turned the facing and hand tacked everything in place so I could give it a good press.


Finally I unpicked my tacking and topsitched the edge of the scallops. Then  I added a second line of scalloped stitching, mainly to hold the top of the facing in place as I wasn’t liking the other options I could think of to do that (either a straight line of machine stitching going across, or hand finishing on the inside). I’m rather pleased with how they turned out.


After that the shorts finished up pretty quickly, sewing the crotch seams, inside leg and adding a waistband.


I’m pretty pleased with the result, which definitely has some growing room, and I don’t think you’d guess what pattern I’d used, they look so different from the original.  She is more reticent with her feedback, but as she’s wearing them the day after they’re finished I’m taking that as a win. She even was persuaded (just) to read standing up for a minute so that I could photograph them.


City Gym Shorts – parts 1 and 2

Last summer, The Girl and I went through her wardrobe to see what gaps there were and we noticed a shortage of shorts (so to speak).   So, we sat and went through my Ottobre magazines and she picked out these scalloped edge shorts from 01/2017.

Except when I measured up they didn’t go up to her size. So whilst I pondered over how to hack them, I made up some City Gym Shorts from the free pattern from Purl Soho. She only just fit into the largest measurements for the largest child pattern, so I used the smallest adult one instead. As they were a trial pair I  was determined to use something from stash and I just squeezed them out most of a fat quarter of fabric that I had only used a couple of strips from (for a communal quilting project, I was the turquoise row). I had to piece one of the back pieces at the top to make it work but in the end that is mainly hidden in the waistband seam allowance. I trimmed them in satin bias binding (which looked ace at the time but has pilled with wear).


The result?  She loves these shorts, declaring them her Peacock Shorts of Power (apparently when wearing them she can control all the peacocks in the world, not a superpower that had ever occurred to me).  She wore them All The Time and moaned when they were in the wash. Not bad considering that I was worried she wouldn’t wear them at all as the background of the fabric is black. Anyway, I said we could go back to the shop and buy some more of that fabric and I’d make her a second pair, maybe with a different colour trim. But of course, they didn’t have any more of that fabric left in the shop, so after a long time, she finally chose some navy blue fabric with bears, foxes, dear, birds, squirrels and rabbits on instead. She was particularly taken with the gold highlights I think.

Second time around I hacked them to have pockets, I was rather kicking myself for not doing this the first time to be honest. I just freehanded a pocket pattern piece that fit the fronts (making sure there was seam allowance included on that long curved L shape) and used that to cut my pocket piece.  Then I folded the corner of that piece over to make my pocket facing pattern piece and folded the front pattern piece over the corresponding amount to make the the pocket opening before cutting out.  I had a mere sliver of fabric left after cutting out and one of my pockets is pieced and one of the facings is cut crossgrain, it was so satisfying to make this work with negligable waste.

Once everything was cut out I attached the pocket pieces to the front along the opening wrong sides together then finished with bias binding (satin again, this was too soon after the first pair to realise it wouldn’t wear well). Then I sewed my pocket piece to the facing, finished the seam allowance, then tacked the pockets to the front piece at the top and side within the seam allowance. Then I proceeded as normal with construction, and voila.

Pair number two were nearly as successful as the first ones, but aren’t quite as popular despite the fact that you can control Even More animals in them AND they have pockets. Sometimes you just strike it lucky first time!







X marks the spot


In a (quite possibly futile) effort to persuade my son that some of the trousers that I made him previously really are getting too short to wear now, I have made the Boy some new ones.


This is a new to me pattern , Ottobre 01 /18, no33 Metsäretki sweatpants (jogging bottoms) with front and back pieces, inset front hip pockets, side patch pockets, no ribbing at the hem (unlike previous pairs I’ve made him) and no separate waistband.  Oh and they were supposed to have a mock fly, but I left that off and went with a straightforward front crotch seam cos I coudn’t be bothered.


This metre of looped backed sweatshrt fabric (French terry?) had been in the stash a while and I just managed to squeeze the pattern pieces on, so I couldn’t really do much with pattern placement. Which means when he next goes up a size I’ll need over a metre of fabric to make him trousers. Eek.


I was just putting some of the offcuts on one side to use to patch the knees later (he always wears them through in the knees and it’s nice to have matching fabric to fix them with) when I realised I could be a bit pre-emptive, and I quilted the a patch in place behind each knee to reinforce them.   My leftovers weren’t quite the width of the trouser front, but I extended the quilting lines right the way across.

The front hip pocket pieces were a bit of an unusual shape what with the included waistband, but after a bit of headscratching over the instructions I got there in the end.


I made liberal use of the “coverstitch” on my (regular) machine in matching yellow thread, but it did stretch the top of the pocket and the pocket flap out a bit, so maybe I shouldn’t have used it there (or maybe I should invest in a walking foot). I left the snaps off the pockets as I couldn’t be bothered and they’re not really big enough to hold much anyhows.

In general he approves, but he says the side pockets aren’t big enough. Oh and I still haven’t go the old pair off him yet.

Did you spot it?


So this hat only took me about 2 years to make. (The Boy started but never finished some embroidery for the “plain” side. Eventually he forgot all about it and I ended up re cutting that side from some dark green linen, which I think looks rather nice with some gold topstitching.)


Yet another reversible bucket hat from the Oliver and S pattern that I sized up long ago.  Finally finished for the walk and admired by a passing walker (wearing a baseball cap and envious of its superior 360 degree shade). Then it was left in the park the very next day and is now waiting safely for collection at my friends house. Sigh.

(I haven’t really been trying to take part in Me Made May this year, but I have been wearing something me made everyday because I generally do these days and quite often at least one other member of my family is wearing something me made too.  On the walk I had on my Mila Moose shirt, The Boy had this new hat, The Girl had her old hat and LSH was sporting the rucksack I made him.)


Starting a New Kind of Project

I have had an idea for a new kind of project brewing for a while and last week I made a snap decision to make a start. The Boy decided to get involved, I roped in LSH to help and The Girl and The Dog got dragged along for the ride.


So What Is This Project?  Walking the South West Coast Path, which goes from Minehead in Somerset, along the North Devon and Cornwall Coasts, back along the South Cornwall and South Devon coasts, then along the Dorset coast to South Haven Point, a whopping 630 miles in total. There are suggested ways of breaking this into 30, 46 and 82 day walks, but we’re starting off working from the standard 52 day list, although we won’t be tackling it in 8 weeks solid, I think a weeks worth of walks a year for 8 consecutive years will be challenging enough for us.

I’ve been musing on doing this for while, from when The Boy and I walked a couple of sections previously, and when someone gave me Walking Away as a present, and my brothers tales of walking the John Muir Way near his home in Scotland, but in the end, it was the fact that we had a bank holiday weekend coming up with nothing planned that spurred me into action.

After sorting and packing the camper van, we had brunch on Sunday and then drove from up the Exe Valley, through Tiverton and on through Exmoor to Minehead. When the iconic headland came into view LSH told The Boy “You’ll be walking up that tomorrow” and I thought “Eek, what have I done”.

We’d booked in a nice little campsite that allowed vans and kids and dogs and after settling in and making daisy chains we walked into Minehead to explore. I didn’t think much of the town itself, all Poundland style shops and not much else, but the kids had fun on the beach while I took The Dog (who was Not Allowed on the beach, it being high season now) past the harbour to explore the grassland at the start of the coast path. Eventually the rest of the family caught us up and then we all walked back to the campsite following a stream through some parks most of the way, ate and got an early night (well, for adults at least, later than usual for the Kids but there is no point trying to get them to sleep before dark on a campsite).

In the morning we had a cooked breakfast and packed up the van in record time and then drove down to have the obligatory photo taken by the statue that marks the beginning/end of the walk. Then LSH drove the van 2 minutes to the carpark whilst the rest of us walked. I’d been reading the everyone the initial chapters of Walking Away at the campsite so The Girl made us a sign to match the one Simon Armitage got. And then we all walked across the meadow and into the trees. But as the path turned steep, The Girl refused to go any further (despite their being a perfectly nice circular walk around the headland that starts on the SWCP) and it was time to say goodbyes.

The walk up the headland was steep, but the lovely woodland provided welcome shade from the heatwave we were having. Going was slow as I stopped to take photo’s and The Boy stopped to look at boats through his binoculars and kept wanting to look at the map. We were walking just as the ferns were getting ready to unfurl and I thought they looked like alien lifeforms.

We also found a “cave of bees” (several bumble bee’s going in and out of the holes in the rock, moving too fast for me to photograph), and puzzled over the many short branches coming diagonally of the track leading straight to the steep cliff.

Once up the top onto Exmoor, we chose the “rugged” alternative that hugs the coast and gave us spectacular views down the cliff to the see where we could see the sea mist / clouds below us (there was a bit of a debate on that one) and a shoal of fish moving around and breaking the surface. There were several coombes (steep sided valleys) to cross and a long straightish stretch where it was hard to tell how far along we were and The Boy starting worrying aloud that we had fallen onto an Infinite Path and would have to chose between eventually starving to death or plummiting to our doom off the cliffs when despair overtook us. There were lots of pretty flowers for me to take photo’s of, including some blue bells, which I associate more with woodlands than clifftops.

We did make it to the other side of Exmoor though and then down a really steep slope that I found very unpleasant to negotiate and a short detour to Hurlstone Point, where we finished our lunch and The Boy expolored the ruin, clambered on the rocks and saw a lizard a bit like this. Then after rejoining the path there was a short stretch through the lovely shade of the woods and along the river to Bossington (stopping to try out the tyre swing obviously) where there was a carpark with a  toilet, bliss!

We bought some apple juice from a farmhouse guarded by a large owl sculputre, then walked through the slightly eerie saltmarsh which was previously farmland but there is a managed retreat happening after a big breach of the natural shingle ridge that protected the farmland from the sea. The dead trees reminded me of the famous Salvadore Dali painting of Swans reflecting Elephants.

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology the Support Team came to meet us and walked the last bit of the saltmarsh and across the shingles to Porlock Wier with us, where we celebrated with icecreams. Then a very tired family set off for home, with a short stop for sustenance on the way.

So, 8.9 miles done, I guess that leaves 621.1 to go.