M is for?


Mind the Moose Mila shirt, natch (with printed selvage edge made into a label).



Stashbust? Check. Bought this last year on holiday in Wales (later found my local fabric shop stocks it too). Pretty much the whole 2m used.


Seasonal Sewing Wardrobe Challenge? Check.


Pattern? Itch to Sitch Mila shirt. So now I can be a total fan girl in this and my Liana jeans.


Well drafted? Check, all lined up perfectly and you get to chose your upper chest in A, B, C, D or DD cups.


Customer service? Excellent. When I got confused as to which size to choose someone suggested I ask Kennis on facebook and she looked at my measurements and suggested 12DD top graded to 18 a the waist and hips. Seams to have worked fine.


Instructions: Excellent, and leads to to really professional finish. I had never inserted a partial placket before and it went swimmingly.


Any deviation from said instructions? I wimped out on narrow curved hem and used satin bias binding instead.


Pattern Alerations: As it was drafted for people up to 5’7″ and I’m 5’8″ and like things long, I added 1 1/2″ to the length. I probably didn’t need too.


Sulkiest Machine Moment: Buttonholes. My machine, always fickle with buttonholes at best, decided to try and chew up the fabric. Eventually, I had a brainwave and unscrewed the throat plate and found a serious lint build up, eurghhh. I spent 15 minutes clearing it all out and after a wait while I made jeans, gave it a go, and it was much better. I also worked out that I need to turn the stitch length down 3 notches for the last step of the buttonhole (when it stiches forward down the right hand side) in order for the two sides to match up.

Overall? Not the quickest make, but the finish is great and I have a sunny yellow shirt.


Best pattern matching moment: Check out the moose down the placket and on the centre back of the collar.

Best comment: “with that label in it it looks like you bought it” LSH.

Fabric bought for the next one? You betcha (don’t tell the stashbusters, but I really don’t have much lightweight fabric in my stash).



Summer Fair Tops

A while ago I made my mum a Tova blouse for her birthday. I was so excited upon finishing it that I forgot to photograph it, so no blog post yet.

This is the second Tova I made, and like the first I was left with a lot of fabric left after cutting. Not just a few inches, we’re talking in the order of a metre left here (didn’t actually measure it, sorry).

So, I had a biggish piece of a beautiful soft cotton lawn left, in a floral print I would never wear (I am not a floral person). And my daughter has loads of clothes at the moment (and making something for her means having to make something for her brother).

Now my friend was expecting her fourth child, so I bought the lullaby layette pattern from Oliver and S. I thought the fabric would make a lovely shirt to help cover up a newborn in hot sunny weather.

By the time I got around to cutting it she was 2 months old, so I cut a size 3-6 months and I got a size 6-12 months out of the fabric too for the 9 month old who lives next door. I figured making 2 shirts at the same time was much less than twice the hassle of making one.

The instructions were (if you know anything of the reputation of Oliver and S) unsurprisingly very clear and easy to follow and gave a lovely finish to the garment. But I did have a little trouble of my own making. You see, I was wondering how to finish the seams (I don’t have an overlocker/serger) and it occurred to me that I had seen a tutorial on the Grainline website for French Seaming all the seams in a top – including the armholes. Now, a fiddly little baby top is perhaps not the best place to practice a new technique but as it came with a generous 1/2 inch seam allowance I decided to go for it as the idea of neat enclosed seams that would be itch free for delicate skin appealed.

So, front placket done and in place, back pleat done, shoulders french seamed, neck binding on, sides french seamed, sleeves french seamed, armhole gather stitches sewn all good. I’m ready to attach the sleeves to the blouse. Except they’re too big. Way too big.

armhole/sleeve sizing discrepency

armhole/sleeve sizing discrepency

Can you see the two pins marking the bottom of the armhole on the main blouse, and how that is nowhere near the bottom of the sleeve.

I was confused and unsure what to do next. Recut the sleeves? Gather them? Where had I gone wrong? I could end up with huge sleeves or too small ones or too tight armholes. I was sure the fault was mine.

I left my sewing for a week or more. When I came back to it I realised what my mistake had been. I had decided to sew my seams with a 1/4″ seam allowance, trim, turn and use a 1/4″ seam allowance to enclose the raw edges. But I had somehow forgotten that the 1/4″ seam allowance is marked by a line on my presser foot and instead decided that the edge of the presser foot is 1/4″, when in fact it’s 3/8″. So I’d used 3/8″ stitching line, making my finished french seams take 3/4″ seam allowance – which was 1/4″ more than intended. This made a big difference on such a small garment. After some more thinking I decided to gather the sleeve head between the notches (as a little gather more gather than intended wouldn’t hurt), and then trim a little bit out of the blouse, to extend the bottom of the armhole down to meet where the sleeve actually reached, hopefully thereby avoiding too tight armholes.

the fix

the fix

I cut little “v” shapes off the blouse and then sewed on the sleeves, actually using a 1/4″ sewing line to make the french seams this time.

frenching all my seams

view of the finished french seams

The french seams came out ok and attaching a sleeve this way was surprisingly easy despite how small they were. I must confess, I didn’t actually press them with an iron, it was too fiddly to contemplate and I don’t have a tailors ham, I thought I’d iron creases in everywhere, so I just “finger pressed” them which seemed to work ok in this lightweight fabric.



Once that was done the blouses were easy to finish and were both well received. Both mums have commented what a useful garment it is to cover up babies in the hot weather we’ve been having and how difficult it is to find such items in the shops. And apparently both babies went to different summer school/church fetes/fairs the weekend after I made them wearing their new tops.

It’s a little hard to see the details on the finished garment as the floral pattern shows on both sides of the fabric, so not having any babies to hand I requisitioned my daughters doll for a pose.

Still a little Growing room in this one

Still a little growing room in this one for Baby Taylor

So apart from that little drama of my own making, the pattern is great. I had a little trouble lining up the pdf as usual for any patter I download, as whatever I do (yes, including asking it not to scale) my printer stretches one side a bit longer than the other. It was really noticable what the problem was on this pdf as the pattern had helpful fient 1″ grid lines to assist with matching up.

The instructions were clear and concise. The finished garment has a placket (bound slit) down the front which is explained really well. It makes a really big neck opening – which is essential in babywear in my book (having to take off a garment that with a small neck after it’s been soiled by an exploading nappy is no joke). It does hang open slightly when worn, indeed like a Tova, which I wasn’t expecting. Looking again at the pictures on the Oliver and S website the shirt there seems to have a snap fastening placed half way up and indeed there was a snap fastening placement guide that I didn’t use. So this is probably my fault. But I’ve just looked at the instructions again and it’s not clear to me where the step is I missed. The issue is that the instructions for the shirt are mixed in with the instruction for the body suit, as many steps are the same. There is an “add the snaps” section and point 1 says that it’s for View A only (which is the bodysuit) so I assumed that all the instructions there were for the bodysuit. The picture for point 2 about attaching snaps to the placket shows the 3 snaps of the bodysuit – I’m assuming I was meant to figure out that I should be adding a snap to the shirt at this point too. Anyway, it works fine without a snap it’s just a different style.

I recommend making summer versions in a cotton lawn and it is surprisingly easy to use French seams throughout, provided you check what distance you’re sewing at!

Another one bites the dust

It has been a bit busy around here what with school holidays and visiting relatives and the like. I finally got around to doing some sewing yesterday and I was good. I finished something that has been on my pile for a year.

Last year I had complaints from a certain young lady about her summer school dresses. One sort had pockets, but weren’t twirly enough, the others were twirly, but had no pockets.

So I bought some gingham and made her a circle skirt (not feeling up to making a dress at the time and what could be more twirly than a circle skirt?). I put ric rac around the hem (part of my inherited stash) and made a girly pocket following Lauren’s tutorial. initially she refused to wear it at all as it wasn’t a dress, but I did persuade her she could wear it with one of her white tops in the end. I didn’t take a photo but you’ll have to take my word for it that she looked like a cute mini Judy Garland in a very long circle skirt with a polo shirt and plaits.

Around that time I started a top to match the skirt. I remember struggling to find the exact same check fabric in the shop when I went to buy some more. I used the same pattern as I had for the boy’s shirt. And then I didn’t finish it. And then it wasn’t urgent as it was the summer holidays. And then I still didn’t finish it. And then it was winter. I’ve been meaning to pick it up again since about Easter but I wasn’t looking forward to deciphering where I’d got to with collars and working out how to continue.

What a pleasant surprise I had last night. It just needed sleeves, the collar and pocket (another one from Lauren’s tutorial) were done. The sleeves weren’t cut, I think I’d been trying to work out how to do something a bit more girly, there was plenty of fabric left and I just dug out the sleeve pattern piece from Simplicity 4760 for an easy life.

How I found it

How I found it

I traced out the sleeve twice on a flat piece of fabric. Cut one out. Realised just in time I’d not flipped the pattern piece over, doh. Retraced and cut out the second sleeve (that’s the second time in less than a month I’ve done that now, doh). I winged the constrution, now I’m so used to fitting sleeves, I gathered between some dots on the sleeve had (what else could they be for) and trimed my seam allowance and used the overlock foot on it.

The side/underam seams I french seamed as I’d done that with the shoulder seam – just clipping the corner of the underam before I turned it and enclosed the raw edges (I didn’t think a french seam would work on a sleeve head). I finished the sleeves with some more of the ric rac I’d helpfully put in the pocket to keep safe. The bottom hem was really easy as they were all selvege edges (must’ve cut it at 90 degrees to get that I guess) so I just folded under and stitched in place. I couldn’t find the cute dark navy flower buttons that I’d planned to use from the stash, they’re floating around my dining room somewhere, but I found 4 matching darkish blue ones in the stash that did (she didn’t know about the others so no problem there, she’ll probably get them at some point in the future).

Happy recipient

Happy recipient

And voila, finished in one evening. Guess what, she didn’t want to put it on, said she hated it. But I asked her just to try it and when she realised it looked just like a dress when worn with the skirt (except you can lift it up and show the world your tummy) she now loves it. It’s a little long, and covers the pocket on her dress – I think I made the largest size for growing room. The skirt is no longer a little long, so they don’t really match size wise, but hey, they’re wearable for now and I can make another skirt when she grows out of this one. With hindsight I would have put a split at the bottom of each side seam, but hey. It’s finished, its been worn, it’s now in the washing pile (sigh).

You can see the skirt it was made to match a little better in this one

You can see the skirt it was made to match a little better in this one


I am a bad disorganised sewer.

I have not finished my to do pile.

I keep starting more things.

And then putting them on one side and starting yet more. (I feel like an out of control mathematical expression, all open parenthesis and not an end in sight.)

My fabric is in random heaps in the spare room.

I have not sorted out my hardware issues and have written draft blog posts which I can’t upload the pictures for and started yet more blog posts using rubbish pictures but haven’t finished them.

I was going to get organised (sewing wise at least) and make myself some trousers back in October.

It’s now nearly the end of November and I’m thinking about blouses.

I blame Erin from Seamstresserin as she keeps writing about bow neck blouses of every kind imaginable for her sewalong. Not that I’m tempted to try a bow neck blouse at all as they’re really not my thing.

However I have been tempted by all the lovely Wiksten Tova blouses out there in blog land, there are too many to know where to start linking to. So tempted that despite my reservations about whether I’m the right shape to fit in suit one I went ahead and bought the pattern to celebrate finishing my curtains (by far the bulk of the remaining pile) although I had to use my mum’s printer to print it out. In the end I was swayed by the fact that I think the pattern is a bit like my favourite blouse, so has potential. Wanna see?

My fave blouse (bought from Seasalt)

My fave blouse (bought from Seasalt)

It’s all floaty in a gauzey soft cotton fabric witha subtle little print on it and it’s floaty without being tent like and Holy Moly that keyhole neckline thing has a bow. A shoestring bow maybe but it’s a bow. Where did that come from?! How did I never notice that?

Anyway, I like the collar on the Tova and I have a large piece of plain blue knit fabric from the scrapstore that I’ve used a corner from to make a toile/muslin in which has the added bonus that I won’t need to bother about finishing the seams.

So I just need to match these pattern pieces up from my printout and …. hold on, I can match the little number triangle OR the edge of the pattern pieces OR the edges of the rectangles, but not 2 of them, let alone all 3. Oh well, I’ll bodge it together and soldier on.

Right now to cut out in my blue fabric. Hang on, this fabric, err, there’s not very much of it and I seem to have used over half of what there was. There is nowhere near enough to make a blouse.

Ok, I’ll rummage upstairs. Except I don’t make clothes for me so there is nothing suitable in my fabric pile. Except maybe this that I picked up from the scrapstore for £1, which horror of horrors is pink. Ok, I can do pink, it’s just a toile after all.

Next, cutting out, ok. Put on plackets, fine. Attatch to front piece. Hmm, I’ve attached it inside out, which is even more obvious as I couldn’t be bothered to wind a pink bobbin so there’s the white reverse of my topstitching showing. And a hole on one corner where I failed to attatch the inset correctly. This needs needs redoing. 3 times . Hmm, this fabric is loose weave, it frays easily and pins leave holes.

Ok, so the front is bodged together just about assembled. Maybe I’ll just sew it to the back to try it on. Pink is not my colour, this is definitely a toile. I’ll try and take in the back, which appears to be a couple of sizes bigger than the front and add the sleeves. Hmm, I’ve added one sleeve inside out. Never mind, I can still guage the fit this way. Hmm, I wonder if I could, yes I might….

This is the only time I will wear this

This is the only time I will wear this

Behold (but not too closely) the prototype bow neck Tova. I bet this has been done before, to solve the gaping placket issue, but I can’t find an example of it. I have found a collarless Tova (done properly with bias binding not just turned over and hemmed like this one). Actually I kind of like it and I think the unfinished wider sleeves balance it nicely. Shame it’s so badly made, not great fitting and pink.

Seriously, I’m not convinced about the way the inset sits on my bust. Although hubby thinks it’s fine. Also, the upper back and the top of the sleeves feel a bit tight so I definitely don’t want to try the full bust adjustment if that results in a tighter sleeve cap. Which is a shame as I saw some great fabric for making a Tova dress (with a collar) that I had imagined I could rustle up for my weekend away on Friday. I think I need to let my subconcious mull over next steps for a while, but I hope there will be a well made properly fitted version sometime and maybe a bow necked version one day too. And if I do try again then I need to start before 9pm, takemy time, concentrate and do itproperly! If not, my mum might have the pattern as she was eyeing it up!