Last Minute Shenanigans

A present for my daughter’s friend, finished just a smidge too late whilst they are out at the birthday party.  It’s hanging up waiting for them upon their return. (Hence no modelled shots. Also, it is currently absolutely tipping it down with rain and dark and grey, not ideal light conditions for a last minute photo shoot).


It’s not the right time of year to make a cape. All the appropriate and even vaguely appropriate fabric that was in my local shop a few months ago is now in their warehouse to make way for the summer stuff. So I ended up with this cute denim fabric with an all over cross stitch design. Which is a little on the stiff side, but I think it’ll do.


The pattern is the Oliver and S Forest Path Cape, which I have made two times before.  This time I skipped my collar hack, as I didn’t think it would work in this stiff fabric, and I didn’t make an inside pocket, as I ran out of time, but I did include a hanging loop.  Oh and I definitely didn’t do pom poms, too much with this fabric.


Actually the whole thing ended up a bit rushed as my son has been ill and my mum is in hospital with a broken leg, serve me right for leaving things to the last minute. Still, it is a quick and easy make, especially third time around. My machine passed it’s first post service buttonhole test (hooray) and I sewed the buttons on with a cross stitch, it was meant to mimic the fabric, not sure it quite does, but the contrast thread still looks good.


In an ideal world I would’ve got some turquoise lining fabric, but I made do with this polyester shirting instead, due to budget constraints.

Right, now to await judgement from the 9 year olds…

Liana no 2 – the metallic ones

Right after I finished my first Liana’s I started a second pair. I was full of enthusiasm for the pattern, the fit, the instructions and the knowledge that it’s always quicker the second time around. WRONG. I hadn’t bargained on my fabric, which was a little too stretchy and WAY too Fraytastic and generally drove me a bit nuts. Oh and I also mysteriously lost all ability to topstitch during this project.


After languishing in the corner for a few months,  I finally finished them during the jeans sew a  long. And since then I have been trying to get decent photo’s. And failing. So here they are anyway.


The fabric, bought online, was described as silver. When it came I felt sure the silver was supposed to be the reverse and that it was made as a shiny metallic blue. I vacillated for ages on which way to go, could I be as sophisticated as Peter from Male Pattern Boldness, or should I play it safe?  In the end I faced up to the fact that my wardrobe was not going to reliable enable me to chicly style silver jeans with plain black or white items so I went blue, mainly, but with silver highlights.


Part I’m most pleased with? The Penrose Triangle illusion on my back pocket.

Thing I hated the most?  THE FRAYING (cut waistband, sew waistband on immediately, press, look at top of waistband, it now looks like this, seriously?!)


Do I wear them?  Yes, absolutely.(I seriously need a new photographer, he took these two shots then declared his job done)


Did they live up to my expectations? Nope. (what’s going on with all those wrinkles at the back?)


Will I ever buy metallic denim online again?  Unlikely.


Overriding emotion upon completion?  Relief.

Is it Sunday yet?

Yesterday was Finish Something Saturday over at the Stashbusting sewalong. I had plans. I had great plans. I did finish something, but something I started on Friday night and none of the planned sad projects that have been languishing a while.


  I’m dancing around manically because        IT WAS COLD and LSH was taking too long with the camera!

Today, however, I finally finished my purple jeans.  And the happy dance is partly due to the jeans, and partly due to the camper van in the background, which we just bought.


The reason that these jeans were languishing is because when they were nearly done, I discovered that there was a frankly obscene fold of fabric at the front. Which is odd because this is the same pattern I used for my foxy jeans, which have no such problem. Anyway, eventually, after sulking at them for a while, I unstitched the crotch seams and got my husband to pin them to try and get a better fit. Then I tacked and expectantly tried them on again. It was worse. Argghh. I ripped out the tacking and redid it a random way. Bit better. Then I got invited round to my friends to do some sewing with her. Aha. Along came the jeans. She thought I was going to help her, little did she know, instead she ended up repinning my crotch for me. Lucky me because the third time, if not exactly the charm, was at least wearable.

Hmm, this me removing a wedge that I’m pretty sure is almost exactly the same as the one I ended up putting in for the foxy pair to help with the fitting issues on my first pair. This fitting malarky makes no sense I tell you. We did end up taking more off the front than the back to help pull the creases out, that’s why my seam allowances don’t match up.


Anyway, all done now, phew and I’ve been wearing them today.

Out on a walk, admiring the details (like lining the pockets with the remains of LSH’s old pj’s).


Actually I’ve told a bit of a lie. Whilst they’ve been languishing I, err, misplaced the proper jeans button that I bought. So, as it’s Sunday I just wore them out with a belt, especially as my machine was eating buttonholes yesterday. But I will find the button or buy a new one and attach it and make a buttonhole soon. Promise. In the meantime, here’s more van!

Have you finished anything this weekend?

Vivian jeans

There she was just a walking down the street...

There she was just a walking down the street…

In a bright red version of

In a bright red version of Ottobre 5:2012 curvy fit jeans

She got the raspberry stretch denim from Minerva craft after a tip off on

She got the raspberry stretch denim (with a lovely soft fuzzy feel) from Minerva craft after a tip off on Karen’s blog

secret rainbows

and the pockets are lined with secret rainbows

action shot

despite making them the same size as before they are a little tight, even after letting out some seam allowance, but they’re still wearable and comfy

The zipper insertion instructions caused some headscratching until she realised that

The zipper insertion instructions caused some headscratching until she realised that
last time she’d written a tutorial


and her first ever proper jeans button went well, but the button hole needs to be further over as the fly gapes a little – a hook and eye bodge is planned

Perfectly turned corner pocket

The coin pocket has perfectly turned corners though

X marks the spot

she had fun with the centre back belt loops though

fox detail

but best of all is the back pocket topstitching

work in progress

taken from Ottobre 4 2014 and sewn on through greaseproof high quality tracing paper

Cushion love

Bad ProlificProjectStarter. The amount of stuff in my dining room has been growing again. I try and limit the stuff in my dining room to what I’m currently working on so in an ideal world this would be just one project (ha ha) and maybe some mending.

Currently it is an unknown and frankly alarming number of current projects, ranging from the in conception pile of fabric stage, through the tracing pattern stage, the adjusting pattern stage, the cut out but not sewn stage, the part sewn, the need finishing, need altering, need taking apart and redoing and the leftovers from old projects that need taking upstairs and putting neatly away (ha ha ha). Oh and some mending, a part way through project of the Boy’s and at least one part way through project of the Man’s (still, at least they can’t critisise me too much then).

However I have completed one thing this week. The person in question wanted a bucket hat. I have made a giant cushion cover (sans giant cushion). I think I may have got distracted, but I have plans for a bucket hat too. Some time soon. Honest.

Somewhere along the way I was thinking about denim for the hat (maybe that was even in the request), and then I was thinking about all the lovely raggedy edged recycled denim blankets I’d been seeing on the Make Do and Mend facebook page recently, hmm, along the lines of this sort of thing and then I realised I had a few different colours of old jeans and then it turned into a cushion idea as that seemed smaller than a blanket so less sewing more appropriate, and then I decided that if you’re leaning on it it probably didn’t want raggedy edges.

So I ended up with this.

Ta Da (stuffed with all my small cushions so you get the idea)

Ta Da (stuffed with all my small cushions so you get the idea)

It’s made of 25 squares on each side, 5 each in 5 different colours. They were cut to the maximum size the skinniest pair of jeans would allow. I made a template from squared paper glued to an old cereal packet. Three each from the front and back of the calf of each trouser leg. I cut the first 6 of each out, discarded the worst of each (a couple had holes in at the knees etc), made one side, then cut 6 of each out of the other trouser leg and made the second side. Once I had 25 squares cut for each side I played around with the pattern arrangement before sewing them together, first into rows, then the rows into a square. Then I panicked that my seam allowance was too small and would fray so I (badly) overstitched just either side of each seam.

one side done

one side done

Finally I found a zip that had outlived the garment it was once in in my zip box that was just the right length, so I attached the sides to it and then topstitched them (don’t look too closely, this part wasn’t great. Actually you can’t look too closely as I accidentally deleted my photo of zip insertion. But trust me, it wasn’t that interesting) before sewing up my cushion and overlocking my edges.

arranging the squares

arranging the squares

So, now all done, waiting for a hat to go with it so I can post it. Then my friend will help her daughter find things to stuff it with.

"overlocking" the side seams (I suppose I could've tried to press them and topstitch them like the others but life's too short)

“overlocking” the side seams (I suppose I could’ve tried to press them and topstitch them like the others but life’s too short)

Assuming I don’t accidentally keep it instead. I rather like it! (Plus the reused denim is very soft)

and the back view (I decided against symmetry in the end, that way she has a choice which way round she puts it).

and the back view (I decided against symmetry in the end, that way she has a choice which way round she puts it).


The keen eyed will spot my grainlines are not all the same way. Indeed, some of the pieces are back to front too. This is because had help from two small girls with the pinning, much to the disdain of my supervisor, who didn’t think they were up to standard and by the time I’d negotiated peace I couldn’t be bothered to rearrange things! (There are doubtless other “schoolboy errors” too, because patchwork/quilts are not really my thing, but hey, reusing stuff is. My respect for those who make stunning intricate quilt tops only grows every time I attempt a little myself!)


None of my peers sew, which means it could be a quite lonely hobby, but of course it isn’t. Apart from the friendly staff at my local fabric shop who are always happy to discuss fabric and projects, there is the marvelous online sewing community. Sure, sometimes it can feel a bit cliquey, but I’d still be sewing rectangles if it wasn’t for all the inspiration, tutorials, tips and encouragement out there.

Recently I joined the Sew-A-Longs & Sewing Contests facebook group, which is “a place to find the latest (as well as the past) sew a longs! Discuss, show off your marvelous work, rate them! Whether they be garments for any age, bags and purses, quilting related or home decor”. My sewing fairy godmother is also a member and we were planning on following Lladybirds Thurlow Sew-a-long together (I bought the pattern last month when said Fairy Godmother pointed out that Sewaholic had a sale on. Bad Fairy Godmother). A couple of other people wanted to join in with other but had other patterns, so it broadened out to a trouser-a-long. We’ve been supporting each other with the intimidating process that is fitting trousers, a kind of online self help group. We’ve been discussing muslins and processes on the facebook page and have set up a flickr group so that we can post photo’s of our rear ends and practise reading wrinkles and diagnosing adjustments. If you’re interested head on over to the facebook page to join in – you have to request to join but it’s a painless process.

Along the way I got sidetracked (ok, confession time, I kept failing to buy printer paper to print out the Thurlow pattern) and I’ve actually started making the curvy fit trousers from Ottobre 2012/5 (no 10 on the alldesigns pdf). They’re designed for stretch cordroy/denim. Expect more posts on them soon, because I couldn’t find any on the blogosphere (please let me know if you come across any). In general I find their magazines great value and I love the size range of the models, but the instructions are rather minimal, so I thought I’d share my mistakes as if it helps just one person it’ll be worth it!

Have you got any top tips to make the most of the wealth of information that is the online sewing community?

The tale of the long awaited trousers

Hello. Would you like to hear a story? (I warn you, it’s a long story with lots of photo’s, so make sure you have the right specs on.) Well, grab yourself a drink, make yourself comfortable and I’ll begin..

Once upon a time there was a woman. Once upon a time there was a woman who couldn’t find any trousers that fit. She went in this shop and that shop, in her own town and other towns but still she struggled. Some were just too small. Some were too low cut and left her tummy flolloping over the top. Some went round her hips but had a 2 inch gap at the waist that the wind howled through. Some were too high cut in the crotch and, well, I won’t go into what that meant but it Wasn’t Good.

Finally she was left with two pairs of OK jeans in her wardrobe, a purple pair and a pink pair that fit pretty ok and she wore them A Lot, but she wasn’t sure what she would do when they wore out. Then, one day she ended up in IKEA and found some denim fabric with woven in mulitcoloured stripes that she knew would make some great trousers, so she bought some.

Behold the stripey denim in all it's glory

Behold the stripey denim in all it’s glory

Having once made trousers before, she was wary of patterns that looked like they were for proper trousers, but didn’t actually have a zip, or had facings instead of a waistband. So she spent some time looking at blog posts about trouser patterns but didn’t get any nearer to making them.

Then came New Years Eve and the children were behaving so badly that she’d had it Up To Here with them, so she stormed out of the house (leaving her ever capable husband in charge) and walked in turn to every shop in the city that could conceivably be selling trouser patterns, until she finally found one that was open and was selling a pattern she’d seen reviewed well online, so she bought it, intending to start upon it the very next day. Which of course, she didn’t.

Eventually, she did start a muslin. She measured and cut and sewed. She sewed one pocket on backwards, but decided that didn’t matter. She kept going, until it was time to insert the zip. The thought of inserting a zip in trousers that were never going to actually get worn made her tired, so she put them on one side. And there they lay. And then a forest of rose thorns grew around them until one day a hundred years later, a prince rode along and … No, hang on, that’s the wrong story. She put them on one side on a pile of UFO’s and tried to forget about them.

The summer came and she wore linen trousers and skirts. And still the trouser muslin sat on the pile. Then the autumn came and she discovered her pink and blue jeans were starting to fall apart and had mysteriously shrunk over the summer. So she made tunics to wear with leggings and found a okayish fitting pair of expensive jeans from a different shop than the fallyapart ones and wore them. And still the trouser muslin sat on the UFO pile. Then autumn turned to winter and the weather grew colder and now she was wearing the jeans nearly all the time (except when they were in the wash) and she really needed more trousers but couldn’t face shopping. And still the trousers muslin sat on the UFO pile.

Then one day she saw an advert for a trouser making course locally, so she booked on the course straight away. As the time for the course drew nearer she got excited that she was finally going to have some trousers and also she might be able to take part in February’s trouser theme month on the Curvy Sewing Collective. As her ever capable husband was less capable than usual, since he was convalescing with broken bones, she arranged a baby sitter to ensure that she could get to the course and was really looking forward to it. Then, less than a week before the course started, she contacted them to find out what she needed to bring etc, and found out It Had Been Cancelled.

What I found on the pile

What I found on the pile (in two separate places, cue mild panic for several minutes as I thought I’d lost the pattern)

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued and her legs feared greatly for how they would stay warm and decent in the long term. Then, she remembered that someone had just posted a picture of their trouser muslin on the Stashbusting Sewalong group on Facebook and had received helpful sounding advice. She checked the post, it might even be of the same pattern. She dug out the pattern and amazingly her long lost UFO was also a Colette Juniper.

So she determined to tackle the unfinished muslin. A quick measure of her hips (Colette’s stated key measurement for trousers) put her in a size 18, the same as the muslin, so no need to start again. Next she looked in the booklet and determined that previously she’d got to the end of p 16 in the booklet. To try the muslin on with zip but no waistband she only had to get through 4 1/2 pages to half way down p 21 and she got to skip the topstitching, how hard could that be? She pored some wine and gave it a go.

Embarrassingly, tacking (basting) in the zip as took her a mere 5 minutes, not even long enough for Great British Sewing Bee to finish downloading. She couldn’t believe the muslin had sat in the pile for over a year waiting for what proved to be such a quick job The side seams whizzed together quickly, although perplexingly the back pieces were 2 inches longer than the fronts on the outside seam but yet they matched perfectly on the inside seam. However her first ever muslin was try-on-able she was ready to assess the fit.

Muslin, finally finished, made in straight size 18 as per instructions

Muslin, finally finished, made in straight size 18 as per instructions

Her first thoughts were “wow, these are wide”* “and they’re long”** (the woman is 5’8″and they were easily 4-6 inches long (depending on which seam you looked at)). Fit wise they seemed to fit ok in the hip but even with her inexperience at trouser making she could see the crotch curve needed more room and also that they were dipping low at the front (making her think she needed to look at a “who ate all the pies” adjustment).

More technical feedback came from her Fairy Godmother and fellow Stashbusting Sewalong Juniper maker about the work needed on the front crotch. “See from the front how it’s tight, pulling down and wanting to camel toe? And then from the side the leg seam is straight, but at the hip and waist it pulls forward which creates that chevron wrinkle on the back pointing to your bottom. I think if you add to the front crotch length (not add height at the belly, but make that U that goes from front to back more l__l wide that will stop it from pulling fabric from the back toward the front, and allow the front belly height that is already there to lay in the right spot and come up higher. Does that make sense? I had to do the same thing on mine and it made a big difference.”

The woman looked at techincal blog posts about trouser adjustments, got a little intimidated and decided to try and fudge it by unpicking the top u of the inside leg seam and restitching it with less seam allowance (as the pattern has 5/8″ seam allowance so there’s room to play a bit). She also took a wedge out of the centre back and added the waistband to see how that worked.

top right shows the new seamline at the top of the inside leg (with the old seamline marked).  Bottom right shows the centre back adjustment on trousers and waistband. Left the slightly improved fit

top right shows the new seamline at the top of the inside leg (with the old seamline marked in purple pen). Bottom right shows the centre back adjustment on trousers and waistband. Left the slightly improved fit

She was impressed how much difference such a small alteration made, but was steeling herself to start over again with a Second Muslin when her Fairy Godmother stepped in again with yet more useful advice, to add a wedge shaped piece to the front pieces to extend the crotch seam outwards, tapering down into the inside seam. And the best bit of all, she suggested unpicking the seams a little and zig zagging a wedge shaped extension piece on rather than making the whole things again. The woman was amazed at the simplicity idea and was starting to think this whole Muslining Thing might not be as tedious as she first feared.

2 wedges added to the fronts to extend the crotch length and resulting improved fit

2 wedges of scrap fabric added to the fronts to extend the crotch length (top right) and resulting improved fit

Adding a small wedge to each front piece made a huge difference to the fit (although, in hindsight, she could’ve chosen her scraps of fabric more carefully and not have alarmed her husband quite so much, as when he saw the altered muslin he was worried she was hemorrhaging) and she transferred this alteration and the centre back one to her pattern, shortened the leg length by 2″ and decided to start on the real thing.

the next crisis

the next crisis

However, she did not get far before meeting another problem. The Wicked Witch of Geometry cast a spell ensuring her pieces would not fit on the fabric, no matter how hard she tried. Her Fairy Godmother tried to help her by uploading sketches onto Facebook, but it was no use, the Geometry was too strong for her magic.

Until the woman remembered that shortening the pattern pieces by 2″ was a conservative estimate, so as they were easily 4-6″ too long, she shortened them by another 2 inches and by having some selvage in her seam allowance she JUST squeezed them on. Hooray.

Finally she could start sewing. But it was not long until she got herself into a right mess. She had tried to cut the upper fronts so the stripes matches but hadn’t got that quite right, or maybe it was because she decided to French seam her pocket linings, but before she knew it her pockets were a hot mess of mismatched pattern pieces and gappiness.

cheering myself up with chevron patch pockets to distract from trying to pattern match at the front and messing up sewing on the pocket linings.

cheering myself up with chevron patch pockets to distract from trying to pattern match at the front and messing up sewing on the pocket linings.

She knew she should walk away and do something else, but she wanted to sew more of her trousers, so instead she distracted herself by making funky patch pockets for the back and binding the seam allowances in a nod to the meticulous finishes her Fairy Godmother was using on her Junipers.

The next day, with a little help from her mum, she unpicked the pocket linings, cut them a little better so they were approximately the same shape as the pattern pieces (something had clearly gone awry when cutting out pattern pieces straight from an old blouse), resewed them on the right sides and just about bodged everything to fit together.

She steamed ahead and finished the zip and then probably far too late she tackled the waistband, which she probably didn’t cut the best possible way and she also shortened the wrong piece which played havoc with her overlap at the front. The belt loops that she made like the coletterie tutorial came out well, but her placement was a little strange, due in part to covering up the fact that her waistband side seam didn’t meet the trouser side seam. However, before long she had some almost finished, wearable trousers, which she proceeded to wear for 3 days straight, even though the stitching wasn’t finished on one back pocket (due to a neadle breaking at 1.40 am which she took as a Sign To Stop), the inner waistband wasn’t caught and sewn down all along it’s lenth, there was a belt loop flapping about that she’d forgotten to sew down and they were held together by a safety pin instead of a button.

However, she did manage to make herself fix these last little things after their first wash before she started wearing them again. It only remained to get some photo’s on a non-rainy day. However, as her No 1 photographer was feeling too sore to leave the house, she had to rope in some less experienced help….

Hmm, somethings not right

Hmm, somethings not right

Maybe if I push things this way a bit

Maybe if I push things this way a bit

help, the walls are closing in

help, the walls are closing in now

Oh no, now I'm the wrong way around

Oh no, now I’m the wrong way around

Ah, that's better

Nope, the perspectives all wrong

 Nope, wrong perspective

Ah, that’s better

And that everyone, is the story of how the Woman found her Fairy Godmother through the Online Sewing Community and despite her lack of experience, apprehension and difficulties with classes locally, she managed to make herself a pair of lovely trousers, and it shall not be her last.

pocket detail

pocket detail

What’s that you say, would she make this pattern again? After all that trouble getting them to fit so well, you bet she will.

peep inside

peep inside

And how about you, have you ever been helped by a Sewing Fairy Godmother?


*the packet describes the trousers as moderately wide, I’d hate to see their idea of really wide)
**the instructions say they’re cut long to give different length finishing options, but unless you’re 6 foot plus and/or planning to wear them with some serious heels, you may well find them long.