Sometimes a project just pushes to the front of your queue.


Like this, Pikachu hoodie, made for a young friend of mine, which I’m pretty sure is made from the same bolt of fleece fabric as the Pikachu doorstop.

I just found out the pattern I traced for The Boy a couple of years ago.


Cut the patch pocket from the leftovers.


Added a hem band cos I seem to be kind of addicted to them at the moment and I finally got the thumbhole cuffs to work!


I used the wrong side of the last scraps from some trousers I made for The Boy to make applique stripes on the back and for the base of the tail too. This tail was a pain to turn as the end was way bigger than the opening.  But I did the right thing cos according to Customer Feedback this is a male Pikachu tail (phew).


There’s a press stud holding the tail in place so that you can wear it up or down.


The face is appliqued on too (lets just ignore the fact that I really should’ve interfaced those cheeks before sewing them on) and the ears hang down. The hood front is finished with jersey bias binding, one of my new favourite sewing things, and matches the black finish on the cuffs and hem (so much more practical than yellow in those areas don’t you think).

Here it is on my in house model before being hand delivered to it’s new home.  Where I am reliably informed it’s proud new owner is now fast asleep in bed still wearing it.

Now, to get back to the To Do List…

Swiss Darning – Part 2


So, after I’d practiced my invisible stitches on a friendly piece of fairly large gauge, pale knitting at the Swiss Darning Workshop, I thought it was time to try some actual mending. Stephanie had already shown the person I was sat next to how to put in support stitches across the hole in the jumper she’d bought, so I got out the jumper I’d bought. The hole was about as big as the darning mushroom. Hmm. (As Stephanie only had 2 darning mushrooms she’d brought some table tennis balls to use as spares, what a great idea). I asked her advice on getting started and she suggested an alternative to straight swiss darning in cases where the hole is this big (presumably that would be relative to the stitch size, these stitches are pretty small (2mm across maybe) as this is a mass produced garment, I think if it was hand knit in a chunkier yarn this size hole would be fine).


First up a row of swiss darning underneath the gap a smidge wider than the hole at it’s widest point. Gosh, the change from a friendly gauge size piece of knitting in a pale colour, to a really fine knit in a dark colour was a shock to the system. Luckily my (black) stitches don’t show up too well in the photo (on the right as the knitting is on it’s side here) as I was pretty much working blind it was so hard to see what I was doing.

Next up, pick up the stitches onto a knitting needle. I didn’t have access to any knitting needles there, so from this point onwards the mend was done after I got home, i.e. without access to any help or supervision, so any mistakes/misinterpretations of the method as explained to me by Stephanie are my own. The easiest way I know to pick up stitches is to use a crochet hook, so here I am, slipping it under the stitch I was going to pick up (both the darn and the original stitch together, not because I thought this was right necessarily, just because this was the only way I could manage it), pulling some darning yarn through, then transferring the loop onto my needle (double pointed in my case though it wouldn’t have to be).

Next knit up until the patch is covered, but leave a thread at the end of each row. This was the quick bit. You can see that despite using my finest needles and darning wool the patch gauge is much bigger than that of the original garment. As I was using double pointed needles, I snipped the yarn leaving a tail at the end of each row, then started knitting again from the right hand side without turning the work around – just because that seemed easiest for me.

Next up, swiss darn the top of the patch to the garment. I was told it was easiest to do this whilst the stitches were still on the needles. So, I treated each stitch on the needle like the bottom of the point of a V in a Swiss Darn, bringing the darning needle up through the garment, then through the loop of the stitch on the needle, then up and backwards, into the garment and out (probably more than one stitch wide as my garment was a different gauge to my patch), back through the stitch on the needle, into the garment, and then out and through the next stitch to repeat the process again. When I ‘d finished I had the scary, remove knitting needle step, but nothing seemed to unravel, phew.

Then I decided to go back and forth a little with my yarn in continuing to swiss darn my yarn end in and help to secure my patch. I found a small bit above the patch where the garment was wearing thin (probably I should’ve made my patch a little wider), and swiss darned over that (again, not that neatly or consistently as the stitches are so tiny).  That’s the pic on the left, the one on the right is a small hole I found elsewhere and swiss darned immediately before I have to do this for that! (A stitch in time saves 9 after all).


The final thing to do is to swiss darn all your ends (!) in to hold the patch in place. Here I am half way up one side. In fact, I have at this point only finished one side, but I wanted to share it with you. When I was at the stage shown in the photo LSH commented that I appeared to be attaching a mustache to the elbow of his jumper! Now I just have to finish the other side, oh and then look at the hole in the other elbow which is nearly as big. And look at the place where there are holes forming in the join on the shoulder seam.

The darn is not invisible, but it blends in pretty well and darning the row tails in have helped with that, I can see if you had a good colour match on the thread and could get the gauge closer to the original this could be pretty hard to spot.

And so, my Mend It May continues. Hopefully I shall master a piece of “proper” swiss darning, across a hole with scaffolding threads and be able to share that with you too before the end of the month.

Slow Camels

Apparently camels have a gestation period of 13-14 months. Who knew? Maybe that’s why my new camel jumper took so long to make, about 12 months from buying the fabric to having something to wear.


I ordered this fabric before going on a screenprinting course last year. The inks used on the course would only work on paler fabrics, so I planned to print on some  of this grey marl fleece backed sweatshirting, but when I found that was sold out I decided upon some green instead, however worrying it would be too dark, I chose the latte as well. Turned out the green was fine to work with, so I decided to use the latte for a test garment.

People Tree Peter Jensen Bear Print Women's Jumper Burgundy Melange ...

Small problem, I don’t wear this colour, at all. I was wondering what I could do with it, and musing on the fact that it was more camel coloured than latte coloured when inspiration struck. Camels! I wanted to make an all over camel print jumper, inspired by the all over bear print people tree jumper that my friend has.


Turns out camels are surprisingly difficult to draw (go ahead, have a go, I’ll wait….., see, told you).  Luckily my niece is an arts student and she kindly rustled me up a quick sketch and emailed it over, which I traced over and shrank and then ordered it made into a custom screen from thermofax screens with some birthday present money.

More delays whilst I played around with screen printing and then in January I decided the time was now and made a pattern from an old beloved worn out sweatshirt, cut out my pieces and got printing. Which is when I realised that the camel was never going to work quite the same way as the original bear inspiration as a) it’s directional and b) I only had one sized screen (the bears come in a variety of sizes). LSH persuaded me that less was more and I ended up with a mainly camel coloured jumper with a few camels on (more on the back as he wasn’t looking when I printed that).

I was pretty pleased at how my self drafted pattern came out. Patch pocket: good. Ribbing at sides as per original: worked perfectly. Adding extra ease into the sleeves to account for this fabric being thicker than the original: spot on. Nice long cuffs that when folded down reach my thumb: check. And then I added the collar. Arrgh (see evidence above). Horrible, wrong, not what I intended. Despite this being my second attempt at the collar (having tried a collar first and redrafting the pattern pieces as it wasn’t right). I think partly my neckline is too wide (not much I can do about that) and this fabric is thicker than the original hoodie and behaves differently.


It sat, nearly done, in the naughtly corner through all the cold weather. Finally I redid the collar, taking length out the back and height out and reapplying the eyelets with interfacing added to the back now so they stay in. It’s not perfect, but I’m happier with it and the fabric is so snuggly and cosy I just know I’ll be wearing it anyway. Once I find something it goes with.

So, I now have a camel jumper, that came out nothing like I planned but is very snuggly and comfy to wear. Maybe now I can start on the “real deal” green version (with a few tweaks to the too wide neckline and probably a rib finish).

Oh and this is the twin of the Hobbit Hoodie, we were both wearing them today!




Finally, a jumper, for me, nearly made in the last weekend of Jan (hey I was ill) thereby meeting a key sewing goal.


I know, I know, it’s a bit wierd to start with a back shot and it’s not because there’s an exciting reveal at the front, just I could only get LSH to take 4 photo’s in total and it took some effort getting that many out of him. The back shot is the only one where I don’t look like a complete [insert mild insult of your choice here].

This Paprika Patterns Jasper sweater took sooo long to make. Not actually make you know, that was surprisingly quick, especially one the welt pockets were out of the way. No, it took so long to get  around to making it, as I’d built it up into some impossibly complicated thing in my head, partly due to the fact that there’s a flow chart to help you choose your size. (And also because the test garments on the Paprika website are so swoonworthy I was worried I wouldn’t do the pattern justice.) In the end, I was in such a strop with the Collar Of Despair on the Jumper That Shall Not be Named that I bit the bullet and, with a lot of repeatly muttering “this is a Muslin, a test garment, it doesn’t matter” to myself, I manged to get on with it.


[Seriously , this is the best shot by far. I may have to find a new photographer.]

As a fit test muslin goes, my thoughts are more space could be used at the bust, which might stop the front hem rising up a little too, the pocket is adding extra layers where there is too much of me to start with (and I forget it’s there when I’m wearing it so don’t use it), I’d like it longer (this is the sweater length, not the dress, but I like my jumpers on the long side), the arms are ok now but were tight (I redid them with a smaller seam allowance), oh and the arms seem shorter now I’ve added the cuffs, which is weird (yes, I did lazilly wear it before adding cuffs).

I decided while I was making it that I hated this fleece that I can’t remember buying (but I know it was always earmarked to test this pattern) and couldn’t understand why I chose this colour. I like it better now it’s finished, the colour is not one I normally wear but looks ok on, but the fabric quality isn’t great – I’m not sure how well it’ll wash and wear. I’m also worried that it’s not a good test for my final fabric, being both thicker and less stretchy.

The mental block on this project was definitely getting the size right and working out what adjustments to make. I’ll give you the details of my agonising, in case it helps anyone else.  In the end I took a deep breath, did some careful measuring and reread the instructions on choosing sizes and whether you need and FBA or not:

First up my measurements:

  • Full bust 106cm – size 7
  • Waist 96cm – between sizes 8 and a 9
  • Hips 120cm – between sizes 8 and a 9

So according to the flowchart I needed to print pattern file 6 -10 (based on my hip measurements). Which is good, as that was what I had printed out. Phew. (From a copy shop, this pattern has both metric and imperial copy shop options so I could get it printed easily, hooray! So no taping, double hooray)

Next up, the Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) decision. My Upper Bust measures 100cm which is 6cm difference from full bust and therefore falls in the 4.5-8cm difference C cup range that the size  6 – 10 is drafted for, so officially I was good to go without any adjustments. I find this weird as I wear an F/G cup bra, but I decided to trust the pattern and reminded myself this was a muslin, so it’s ok to go wrong. In the end I traced pattern size 7 for my shoulders and bust grading to 9 at waist and hips and marking my notches as best I could and trying to make sure that the blend started/finished in the same place on the front/side and back pieces. I think the shoulders fit ok, but a FBA would actually have been a good idea. Then again, the arms were tight so maybe I should do a size 8 top half grading to a 9 for the waist and hips? Or do I need a size 8 with and FBA grading to a 9? And there’s quite a lot of fabric around my centre back so do I need a different size at the back to the front, which is surely madness, or a sway back adjustment? Arrgh, fitting is hard!

As the markings for the welt pockets are different for each size, I lined my welts up with my lower dot on my pattern front (where my pattern was definitely size 9) and then just made sure they were parallel with the edge of the pattern piece (as I hadn’t been sure where to put the top dot as at that point my line was in the middle of blending from the size 9 to the 7).  I cut the pocket pieces a straight size 9, centred them on the front piece and trimmed the excess off to make them match.

After the welt pockets it was pretty easy actually. Just kind of sew it together. And there’s a great tutorial for the welt pockets. The only I did get a bit confused was whether I was supposed to sew the bottom band through the pocket as well as the front or not, in the end I decided not. The only thing I would change  construction wise is when trimming the seam allowance at the neckline, I would grade it so the longest piece is on top and then when I topstitch it would hold everything down together.

So, in conclusion, I need to be less scared of getting started and less precious about my muslins. This jumper is fine, I would find it perfectly acceptable size wise if I bought it in a shop. The pattern is great, seems well drafted and had lovely clear instructions. I definitely do want to make it again in my earmarked precious fabric, with a hood next time and in the dress length (if I have enough fabric). I will almost certainly leave the welt pockets off, seeing as I find them unflattering and not useful, however this is my personal preference, because on the test garments they look great. I’m still dithering about what size to use especially as the next fabric will be both thinner and stretchier.



Nothing like a deadline.

Ta Da

Ta Da

Life is busy sometimes. I’d been planning this a little while, but only started tracing the pattern yesterday afternoon. Finished in the early hours of this morning for his birthday today. Cutting it fine.

too busy opening presents to pose

too busy opening presents to pose

I’m not going to look at it too closely, cos I’m sure the sewing could be better (the seams are fine, it its the more visible pocket application and bindings that have room for improvement). But it is finished, it fits, and he’s worn it all day (despite it not being school uniform, not sure how he managed that).

side seams inside and out

side seams inside and out – you can just make out the reverse of the red fleece is looped

The idea was to replace a snuggly hooded fleece top that he’d grown out of. The pattern is a mash up of two hooded tops from Ottobre 4/2014, mainly the older boys top (number 39) but with the hood (and hence necklines too) of the girls top (number 37) as I couldn’t be bothered with plackets and buttons I preferred the look of the cross over hood. I also extended the sleeves by the length of the ribbing and left that off, and added a kangaroo pocket.

topstitching the seam allowance down

topstitching the seam allowance down

The skull and crossbone fleece was a holiday purchase. I can’t remember which came first, the decision only to buy a precut 1/2m length, or the choice to mix it with a contrasting solid. The red came from my local fabric shop and has a looped back. I knew the fleece wouldn’t fray so didn’t need a seam finish, but I was worried the seams would be bulky, so I topstitched the seam allowances flat (everywhere except the sleeves, as that wasn’t possible). I used black thread throughout, as I was feeling lazy a design feature.



I bound all the raw edges with strips of contrast fleece as if it was bias binding (not that it was cut on the bias mind). This is how the original hoodie was finished. Some worked better than others, probably as some were different widths than others.

Overall, I like this a lot, but would never enter it for a competition. My main issue constructing it was sewing the hood binding to the bottom edge (the one that gets sewn to the main jumper) by mistake, rather than to the front edge. I always struggle telling which way up an unattached hood is. That was 2 rows of stitching to unpick, stitching that had sunk into the fleece. Gah. Overall the fit is really quite skinny, even on my beanpole, maybe that’s bad fabric choice, the model looks to be wearing more a thick t shit fabric. It’s fine for now but I worry he won’t want to layer it over long sleeved tops and that it’ll be too tight before the arms are the right length.

I can’t comment on the sewing instructions as I ignored them, but the pattern was just fine, just be aware of the skinny fit. Oh, and I love the fabric combinations, my favourite bit, the two together are better than the sum of the parts. Slightly more grown up than his last top, but still fun, and me made this time.