Tsarina Cape


Arty shot of The Girl putting her finishing touches on a birthday card before this cape got wrapped and taken with the card to a party.


A less arty shot, but a better representation of the colour and you can’t see the fact I had to piece the back of this Forest Path Cape in this shot.

I was inspired to make this one after seeing her friend slyly feeling the pom poms on her Princess Anna Cape, the red elephant cord was lying around in my stash and I was in the mood for making. I found the rainbow stripe polyester shirting in my stash too and it thought it would make a great lining. This time I added a welt breast pocket in the lining because every Tsarina needs a pocket, right? Talking of Tsarina’s, that wasn’t the look I had in mind, I mean I knew it would have to have pom pom trim, but I didn’t expect the girl to choose such shiny gold buttons (which were a pig to sew on).

I drafted a mandarin collar the same way as last time and used this braid chosen to match the buttons. There was just enough left for a hanging loop. Anyway somehow the thick red stripes of the cord manage to combine with the trim and buttons to make a very regal, opulent looking cape, despite the fact it’s machine washable. Hopefully it’ll get a lot of wear.


Oh, and I nearly forgot, it’s the first of May today. Which for LSH meant getting up at 4.15am so that he could be morris dancing on top of a hill when the sun rose. (The rest of us caught up on some sleep prior to a day of visitors, birthday parties and cooking). Anyway, for me, the first of May means Me Made May of course. So I better sneak my Crafting a Rainbow pilfered inspired pledge in on the line.

“I, Prolificprojectstarter, do pledge to wear something I’ve made each day in May 2016, to keep a track of my colour palette and to mend at least one thing each week”.

I wasn’t sure how to up my ante from just wearing a thing I made each day like last year, without making it too difficult (I’m not up for a huge challenge right now), but keeping track of colours will be interesting and I’m also keen to tie in with Jen’s Mend It May.

So, for the record, today is brought to you by the colour blue, I’m wearing navy jeans a mainly blue (with a hint of yellow) drapey top, and a navy and green stripe top from Seasalt.

So, bright May Day greetings to you, and for those with an extra day off due to the Bank Holiday in these parts tomorrow (assuming you’re not having to work it), I hope you make the most of some extra free time tomorrow.

What my man wants….

I don’t make many clothes for my long suffering husband. I offered to make him a t shirt recently, as he was eyeing up some henly style ones in a shop, I casually mentioned that I had a pattern for one like that at home, but he quickly dismissed that stating that he “liked to choose the designs on the front of his t shirts”. Then, a few weeks later, he brought home 3 plain short sleeved henly t shirts. I would sigh at this point but there’s no way I’d turn them out that fast.

However, I have made him several waistcoats, or vests if you prefer (which sounds weird if you’re British as here a vest is an undergarment, like a tank). First off was one to wear when he was being an usher at a friends wedding, a long time ago, before we were married. I was supposed to be making waistcoats for the groom, best man and the other usher too, but I got out of that little sewing obligation by getting shingles. Not recommended. He still has it (the waistcoat, not shingles, he’s never had that) but its definitely not everyday wear fabric.

Next up, out of a request for an everyday waistcoat, I made a muslin out of stash. It started very purple, but then he dyed it with black dye and it ended up a very dark indigo kind of colour. It has got worn quite a bit, even whilst it was purple.

The purple one saw less wear once I made the “final” version, which despite a dodgy collar and the lining bagging out at the back, gets worn a lot. However it took me a year to finish it and I only managed it in the end when he started threatening to buy a shop bought one instead.

During my post completion high though, I decided that waistcoats were easy and I would make another one, but this time with a better collar (I think I might have sewn the lapels on backwards on the grey one). We went fabric shopping, he chose some green boiled wool (I think) and a striking gold for the lining and I sewed up the lining and sewed the outer pieces together and did 3 of the 4 darts, then I stopped. No idea why. It got put on one side and languished.

Until a couple of days ago when a combination of my guilty coincidence, a desire to do something nice for him, and the bad light in the evening which meant I didn’t want to cut a new thing out for him spurred me on and I decided to finish it. At least I’ve taken under a year this time, rather than over!

“don’t get many of them t’ pound”

First I stuffed up the welt pockets. They were going fine, using this method, but then at some point when I turned my back they developed a gap along the top of the welt. I think it might be due to not being carefully enough sewing my lining together in a way I can picture but not described. Anyway, I put it on one side to see how I felt in the morning and discovered that I felt annoyed but not enough so to try and redo welt pockets.

welt gappage

welt gappage

So onwards it was and I cut out and sewed up the collar – making it an inch wider at the back than last time as that one gets really narrow there. Then I also made a hot mess of the collar. I carefully marked my pieces so I didn’t so the lapels on backwards but WHAT is happening with that seam, seriously? It doesn’t lie flat and hubby pointed out that the gap from collar edge to armhole is noticeably different on each side. Looking back on it now, I think the purple one looks better as the collar is stiffer, which at first I thought was calico rather than wool, but then I realised I didn’t interface any collar/lapel pieces this time around (can’t remember last time around) which surely isn’t helping.

don't even talk to me about this darn collar

don’t even talk to me about this darn collar

Again, I left it overnight and decided that whilst I wasn’t happy I wasn’t sure unpicking would help, so I finished it. At least the buttonholes went reasonably well this time.


buttons – the colour is all messed up in these close ups by the way, the full body shots below are a much better representation

So, in conclusion, hubby has a new waistcoat and is very pleased and smiley about it. And I know from last times experience that I will eventually stop wincing at it every time he walks into a room. And I do think the collar is less bad this time.

He does like it, honest.

He does like it, honest.

And next time? Surely there will be a next time. After all he shows no sign of stopping wearing waistcoats and struggles to find ones he wants in the shops (and those he does see cost around £100, so making them is definitely cost effective even after expensive wool fabric purchase) and I am determined to get it right.

he was taking the mick out of me making him stand in front of a “blogging wall” by doing “interesting” poses. The creases aren’t there when he stands naturally

Well, I’ve now spied a pattern which appears to have the “proper” collar he wants, rather than one that ends at the shoulder seam, so should be a better start for all the other alterations he requires, as my collar drafting skills, indeed my collar construction skills, are clearly lacking and I could use a little professional help here in the form of pattern pieces and instructions.

don't look at the seam with the collar, look at the hanging loop, but not too closely, my machine reset the stitch width without my asking when I was half way through sewing it on

don’t look at the seam with the collar, look at the hanging loop, but not too closely, my machine reset the stitch width without my asking when I was half way through sewing it on

Lets just hope I keep whittling down my construction times!

Talking of which, as an added bonus, I made myself some “subtle” pants, out of knit leftovers and some of my ribbing stash from impulse online ribbing purchase earlier this year (it is impossible to buy locally). These did not take long to sew up once cut out, in fact I sewed them up before breakfast on Saturday as it was such a dreary grey day and I needed cheering up. Another pair of Barrie Briefs, but this time the banding feels more comfortable around my leg, which I assume is because the ribbing has more stretch than using jersey.

can you make them out against the backdrop?

can you make them out against the backdrop?

Anna inspired cape

Hi there, how’re you doing? I hope the sewing gods have been keeping your bobbins full and lining up your pdf’s for you.

This week I have (probably unrealistic) plans for 3 woolly things with linings. This is the second started and the first finished. As The Boy decided to make his sister a dress for his birthday (blog post coming soon, well, as soon as he finishes it), I ditched my original idea of making her a dress (I didn’t want the competition!). Instead I decided to use the Oliver and S Forest Path cape pattern

Princess Anna is Elsa 's younger sister, Dez's Cousin and the main ...

to make an everyday wear cape that was inspired by Princess Anna (from Frozen of course)

Any resemblance?  (excuse the photobomb)

Any resemblance? (excuse the photobomb)

I couldn’t find the fabric I wanted locally, so after a lot of dithering I bought some wool suiting online. Turned out I did too much dithering before purchasing, as it only got here the day before her birthday. Having given up on it getting here in time, I then rushed out to gather the other supplies needed and planned an evenings sewing to get it finished in time. Only to end up falling into a deep sleep before the kids bedtime due to unexpectedly having to take medicinal antihistamine (note to self, don’t believe the manufacturer when they say they’ve listed all the potential allergen ingredients in bold, read the non bold items too, just in case). Probably a blessing in disguise as there’s less pressure to rush when you start a project after the deadline.

The fabric is from Remnant Kings and is described as “Colourful cerise lightweight coating wool. Ideal for a light summer coat or suit … 30% Wool, 70% polyester … Dry Clean Only”. It was more than I normally spend on fabric, but I only needed a metre and I’m really happy with how the end garment looks. Note to self, sewing with decent fabric has the potential to make your creations look more professional. However, the fabric doesn’t seem so very different from the cerise boiled wool available locally at half the price. I’m not sure how different as having initially dismissed the boiled wool, I’m loathe examine it in more detail only to discover it’s the same stuff. Oh well, like I said, I only bought a metre.

side view

side view

I also washed it on a wool cycle in the machine. Despite it being dry clean only. I was using Lladybirds theory of treat it how you want to treat the garment before you start. It seems to have survived fine although it stank of germaline when wet, presumably something they’ve treated it with.

Attatching the bobbles

Attatching the bobbles

I put bobbles on to mimic Anna’s cloak. I nearly didn’t, because they are so twee, but I knew my daughter would love them. They were the end of the roll and not quite enough, I thought I got some matching ones at another shop, also the end of a roll (hmm, local shortage of pink bobbles suggests that I am not the only person to be making something like this), but when I got them home they were bigger and orangier and clearly didn’t match. However, this lot went from the centre back to the curve at the front, so I decided that looked intentional. I attached the ribbon in my seam allowance, bobbles facing inwards, before sewing the main cape and lining together, like you do with piping. It went ok, but then when I clipped my curves I must’ve clipped the tape because one bobble each side under the arm had a snipped through thread and fell off, so I had to reattach them by hand. Other than that they went well.

Nearly there

Nearly there

The lining isn’t “proper” lining fabric, but a heavier fabric that colour matched better, possibly polyester satin, but I’m guessing here. My fabric knowledge is pretty low and the shops I use often have no labels on their fabrics. Anyway, it wasn’t as bad to work with as I feared and has added some weight to the lightweight wool which I think works well. I was good and tacked it in place before pressing it. My old sewing teacher would’ve been proud.

Mandarin collar

Mandarin collar

I used this tutorial to draft a mandarin collar. I figured I could always remove it if it didn’t work, but I’m really pleased with it. It’s 2cm high rather than 1″ as suggested, to scale it down a little (and because I had metric graph paper to hand 😉 ) and I changed the height by .5cm rather than 1/2″, but other than that I followed the tutorial exactly and it was remarkably easy. I didn’t bring the collar all the way to the front due to the overlap and I curved the end down. I also stitched some “stuff” on to make it look more fancy (no idea what to call this, not normally by cup of tea). I like how it came out. I was planning to put more “stuff” around the edge of the cape but the Girl vetoed it and I think she was probably right. Sometimes less is more. So now I have several metres of this “stuff” leftover and something similar yet different I bought in green (silly me, shopping without fabric samples so I bought both).

understitching on collar and hanging loop in action

understitching on collar and hanging loop in action

The only other change I made to the pattern was to add a hanging loop to the facing, because why wouldn’t you?



The buttons are just perfect, large, dark wood with a snowflake design painted on. I was so pleased to find those. (Yet I failed to get a decent close up of them sorry). I sewed them on with some vintage button thread I inherited.

Moon spotting

Moon spotting

I’m really pleased with this make, it’s come out better than I’d imagined and looks really smart, like something that you’d find in a trendy kids clothes boutique (with associated price tag). As we’re coming up to spring here I’m hoping it will get a lot of wear and will take less persuading for her to put on (she doesn’t like layers, but I’m hoping the Anna factor will win her over, combined with the fact that its not fitted in the arms, a coat over jumper is a major uncomfortable issue with that girl!). I’m not likely to make this pattern again in a hurry (I don’t think she needs more than one cape) but if I had a timemachine the only thing I might change is to add a pocket. I realised at the end this doesn’t have one. I think you could get away with a welt breast pocket on the lining.

I think she likes it!

I think she likes it!

The pattern is a super easy make and comes together quickly. The instructions are good and cover things like gathering the seam allowance of the curves before bagging it out to help the lining lay flat – I would never have thought of that. And, with a few minor tweaks, I reckon it makes a good practical every day dressing up item too.

What’s your favourite every day dress up make?

Buy Less, Share More

I like to think I don’t know any people locally that sew, but that’s not quite true. I don’t know anyone locally with a sewing blog and none of my friends my age sew clothes, but that’s not the same as knowing no-one who sews.

For instance I have a good friend who comes swimming with me and the kids each week, driving us there and back, helping me keep my patience whilst they’re getting changed, helping the kids build up their confidence in the “big pool” before their swimming lesson, lane swimming with me whilst they’re in their lesson and just generally being an all round good egg and an extra surrogate grandparent (so I can put up with her telling me off for wearing burgandy, just as she puts up with me teaching the kids to say “maroon” just to wind her up). She sews the most exquisitely executed cushion covers in gorgeous colour schemes. And I called in to pay her for a couple I’d brought as presents today, when I was on my way to the sewing shop to investigate pinking shears. As well as showing me her works in progress (how many cushions can I justify buying, I want them all, but at our house they end up on the floor as part of elaborate games), she also dug through her boxes of sewing things and dug out a pair of pinking shears for me to borrow. Hurrah. And especially apt as today is Black Friday / North American Buy nothing day (in the UK we get to take part in international buy nothing day tomorrow, but a lot of the blogs I read are north american and every little helps, eh ;)).

Pinking Shears of Nostalgia (these are very like some we had at home when I was a child that I loved cutting up paper with).

Pinking Shears of Nostalgia (these are very like some we had at home when I was a child that I loved cutting up paper with).

So, now I have been able to pink the seam allowances that will be on the edge of my waistcoat. And then I bottled out of trying welt pockets and made up the collar instead.

2 collar pieces and 4 lapel pieces

2 collar pieces and 4 lapel pieces, self drafted

I cut out the pattern pieces as I had done on the wearable muslin.

collar assembles and ready to turn

collar assembles and ready to turn

Not having just worked it out, something went a bit wrong when I sewed them together this time and the seam placement was off from the points, but I did some resewing and unpicking and I think I fudged it ok.

turned and pressed

turned and pressed

So. Now. Welt pockets. No escaping them.

Waistcoat update

About this time last year I had many plans of things to sew for Christmas. Well, the Girl got her PINK dress and the Boy (just) got his checked shirt but the Man had to wait until after his birthday in March for a wearable yet very purple muslin of his waistcoat. I did start the real thing, but it made it to The Pile and has been languishing there ever since.

Recently the Man (a.k.a. hubby) started dropping hints about waistcoasts. Then he got less subtle. Then he admitted to eyeing them up on the John Lewis website.

So, I burrowed deep into the pile and found a bag of stuff. I opened it with trepidation. I knew I’d started the waistcoat and not got that far, how to work out what was going on. I should point out at this point that this is not a straightfoward make. Hubby chose Burda 7799 view A. For the muslin I had to straighten the bottom of the pattern pieces (he didn’t like the style) and draft a collar piece as it had lapels that were at the front only and sewed into the shoulder seams, which was not approved of. Feedback on the fit is that the real thing has to be lengthened by 2″. Also on the design spec is that all the waistcoat, including the back, has to be in the main fabric (a grey wool), with a lining (green shiny polyester thing) on the inside but a facing of the main grey. Phew. So now you know where the Boy gets his fussy streak from.

Anyway, when I opened the bag I was pleasantly surprised at how organised I’d been. I’d drawn a clear list of what pattern pieces were needed in which fabric and put an order of construction together and done my own little japanese pattern style diagram. Go me. (I tried to scan them in to show you as this post is a little picture heavy, but then I became alarmed at the amount of time I was spending not getting them into the right format and decided I’d rather use that sewing, sorry). Hubby was also there at the time and he was dismayed at the number of pattern pieces, realising it looked complicated. Yes dear, it is complicated, that’s why it’s been languishing on the pile.

Initially I’d cut out the lining fabric and started sewing darts. I got hubby matching the various pocket linings to their pattern pieces while I started cutting out the main fabric, I stuck to the big pieces, the backs, fronts and facings. Then I attached the lining to the facing (hmm, facing is a couple of cm longer but apparently I have a 4cm hem allowance so I’m not worrying at the moment) and made up the lining for him to try on. Result.

Subsequently I have sewn and pressed the darts in the main fabric. This took a while as I was struggling to mark the fabric. But they’re now done. And I have a sinking feeling that I should’ve made the strap/belt things first and sewn them in. Oh well, maybe I can convince him he didn’t want them anyway.

Anyway, I’m aware that this waistcoat make is not perfect, but I keep telling myself it only has to be as good as the muslin and it’ll be better. As in, he wears the muslin, but only really around the house due to it’s extreme purpleness. As the real deal will be grey, if I can keep the same standard of sewing it will instantly be more wearable. Plus it will be 2″ longer. And it will be a heck of a lot more use than it is cluttering up a corner of my dining room (a.k.a. languishing on the pile).

So, now I have to do the welt pockets. Eek. Hence the prevarication of writing this blog piece. I know that the Oliver and S welt tutorial is supposed to be good but it seams to use different shaped pieces. I may do a trial run. Wish me luck. Or recommend me another good tutorial, but bear in mind I may have foolishly cracked on with the sewing in a fit of impatience before waiting to see what pearls of wisdom are offered (that’s what normally happens) so don’t be offended if I seem to disregard you. There’s always next time (I’m thinking, if i crack this pattern, I’m going to make it again if only to justify the effort needed).

Oh and does anyone know, am I supposed to finish the seams? They’re all going to be enclosed as the waistcoat is lined. I think I’m going to leave them but I’m slightly scared they’ll fray. I tried searching for expertise but I keep finding yet more explanations of how to bag out a waistcoat lining (which I understand already, having done it on a self drafted waistcoat for the boy previously). I’m thinking maybe pinking shears, but that means a trip to the shop down the road, which is dangerous….

Adventures in Mens Tailoring…

Ok, so it’s not really tailoring, but hubby wants a waistcoat (vest). Well, I did offer and it’s nearly 15 years since the only other time I made him one (which he nearly cut up for rags for the rag coat but decided against it in the end). His request is for one that’s not too farmer-ey (I think that means no checks, which is fine by me, no evil pattern matching) and has the main fabric on the back so he can wear it like a body warmer over a shirt without looking like he’s misplaced his jacket. I took him with me to the fabric shop down the road and he chose Burda 7799 view A, with lapels, welt pockets and shaping front and back. The pattern is for a single layer of fabric, but he wants it lined (just all the lining fabric on the inside, not on the back panel like a traditional waistcoat).

I decided to be good and make a toile to check the fit and get my head around how I was going to add a lining with the lapels and all. My instant reaction was what yucky instructions and would it really hurt to have all the english on one sheet. I read through them and drew a japanese style overview to get my head around what was going on. (And to stop me just scan reading).

My attempt at an overview diagram and summary of instructions

Then there were the patterns pieces, 9 sizes all together on top of each other in assorted styles of dashed line and no help distinguishing which of the 9 little circles (hmm, bet there’s a technical term for them, tailors marks?) relates to your pattern size. Which is fairly ok for the ones in a line, just count in to your one, but the one where 4 of them are in a line at right angles to the line of the other 5? No idea.

Anyway, to start with I just cut the fronts, backs and belt pieces for fitting purposes. I skipped the pockets (I figured I could add them later if I wanted) and went straight to doing to shoulder and side seams and darts. Hmm, darts, a new technique for me. But fear not, Tilly rounded up several methods of sewing them in a handy blog post recently. I tried a combination of a curved end plus small stitches to stop it unravelling. But my main problem was pinning them. They were quite narrow at the bottom, then widened slightly before tapering to a point. I had great trouble matching the two sides of the fabric up, probably not helped by my rather fient carbon paper markings. I decided not to worry too much as it was a toile. I’m not convinved by the end points of the darts, which creates a slight bagging out of the fabric. More practice needed methinks. I was glad that this is toile. I also abandoned the belt loops as I accidently sewed up a back dart (which they should be inserted into) and couldn’t be bothered to unpick it.

It worked well enough to try on and he liked the fit but wanted it straightened at the bottom and 2″ longer. I’m going to straighten the bottom on this one but leave the lengthening for the real thing otherwise I’d have to recut my pieces and start again. There are lines to lengthen on the pattern so it should be fairly straightforward anyway.

Next I tried the lapels, ironing on the interfacing before marking and cutting. It sounded fairly straight forward, sew the edge, turn right way and topstitch, but I got a bit confused. You see the piece is cut without the triangular divot, which is marked on as a triangle to be sewn and then cut. I wasn’t sure whether to sew my 1.5cm seam allowance outside the triangle, or on the triangle itself, like a dart goes on the marking. The instructions and diagram didn’t help.


I decided to sew on the triangle and see what it looked like. It was too small a divot, so I tried again going around the triangle, which was surprisingly hard because I couldn’t see the guides marked on the machine as the fabric was in the way.


Looking at them side by side it’s not hard to see that the second way must be right.

That sorted I basted them to the fronts. Which meant unpicking some of the shoulder seams as they’re designed to go into the shoulder seam, there is no collar at the back. Once you know this it’s clear on the pattern packet, but it was a bit of a surprise. It’s kind of a fake lapel really. Needless to say hubby would much rather have a proper collar, so I’ll have to think on this one. Looking at his coat collar, there the divot is at the point of the join between the lapels and collar piece.

made them both like the one on the left in the end.

spot the difference

I am really happy that I’m making a toile now with all these alterations (lining, shape of hem, lengthening, collar) to consider. And the upside of having so many projects on the go is that I can put this on one side to cogitate on whilst I work on another.