We have been without a boiler in our house for over a week now (and more than 2 weeks left to go until the plumber can “squeeze in” fitting our replacement).  We have a couple of electric heaters, but, err, my sewing room is too untidy to squeeze one in so consequently my sewjo has taken a big hit.

It also means that clothes are hard to dry (we don’t have a tumble dryer, not normally an issue but when the house is cold and the sun aint shining it does slow things down rather).

It also means that even my normally hot blooded daughter wants to wear winter pj’s in bed.


So, one pair of long pj’s still damp + one pair ripped + one tired girl = tears.

And tears = guilty mamma.

(These pj’s have actually been on the To Do Pile for a while. I was quite happy to whip up a replacement pair as I had enough of this fabric left over, but when I was informed that they had to have the same red satin cuffs (with ric rac) and waistband that nearly did me in the first time round my motivation withered somewhat and then it transpired she was quite happy wearing summer pj’s in the winter so they got pushed to the back of the cupboard)


So, I this evening, to prevent more tears, I got off my backside and sewed up a replacement pair in the next size up (no point making something she’s about to grow out of right?), with french seams none the less. I tapered the bottom of the legs to the width of the size below so that I could harvest the cuffs from the old pair and just sew them on.  I simply finished the raw edges on the new pair with a zig zag, cut off the cuffs from the old pair about a cm about the join, turned the raw edge under, pinned it on top of the new pair with an overlap and then sewed them on. I didn’t harvest the waistband (too small, too complicated), but to make up for it I added a little bunny to the inside at the back.


I was rewarded with a happy dance, big smiles and a cuddle.


No more tears, and not a bottle of shampoo in sight.  (Plus a couple of extra dusters for me.)

Pink Trouser details

I have been a bit trouser obsessed of late. Trouser making obsessed. First I made my amazing stripey junipers. Which I love. I wear them a lot, but even if I could I wouldn’t want to wear them all the time as they’re very wide and stripey so I can’t cycle in them and I can’t wear half my t shirts with them (the horizontal striped top half with vertical striped bottom half look isn’t one I want to adopt).

So, high of my first success I wanted to dive into more trouser making. I gave myself an £80 budget guilt free (the cost of the cancelled trouser making course that was refunded).

I decided to start up with remaking the junipers as the first pair were successful. I used the adjusted pattern pieces from last time, with the redrawn crotch curve at the front and 4″ taken off the length (still leaving me 2″ to hem them). The width of this pattern gives them very definite style and I knew I wouldn’t want more than 2 pairs, so I wanted the second pair to be in a quite different fabric. As soon as I’d thought that some fabric I’d spied locally popped in my head, and suspected wool mix (labeless fabric) pale pink with subtle flecks of colour it was. Which is odd, as that’s not normally my thing. Hubby was surprised.


Smartening up my finishes

As I had bought two colours of bias binding to choose from for the baby kimono I decided to take inspiration from my fairy sewing godmother and use the unused green binding to finish the pocket bags. I was very impressed, it looked very neat. I used some left over blue to finish the fly off too. This, combined with my knowledge I could flat fell both inseam and outseam on the junipers due to their width (do the outseam first) should’ve left me with gorgeous interiors. Except I’d not taken into account the itchiness of the fabric and ended up bodging together a lining and badly hand stitching it in. So all my beautiful binding is now hidden. Oh well.


My pocket bags lined up this time!

I managed to attach the pocket bags the right way round this time and they lined up perfectly. Hooray.


Ugly triangular “holes”

So I was surprised that I again had the problem with the pocket facing not lining up with the main front trouser piece – spot the triangular gaps where it should line up at the top and side? This happened last time and I assumed it was some mistake due to me fudging trying to match up the stripes. I have no idea why this happened as the notches where the pocket bag meets the facing lined up and the pocket bags lined up perfectly, so I can’t work out what I did wrong. The most likely explanation would seem to be an error on my part, but I also wonder if it is a drafting error. Both times I’ve made a size 18, the largest size. Any thoughts anyone?

There is a slight dip in the line of my waistband to make sure I caught all the fabric there.

Other than that they made up just fine. I swapped the zip opening around to the other side successfully, I prefer them opening on the right. I did the waistband properly this time, well, aside from not reading the instruction about shortening the facing on the opposite side to the main waistband (as they need to be mirror images of each other), so I had to patch a piece back on.

I’m not convinced by the overlap on the waistband. It seems overly long. Oh well. I guess it’s a style thing.

Anyway, one second pair of Junipers done. They’re not quite as nice as my first pair, but they are a bit smarter and the wool makes them semi waterproof and the lining means they’ll do in the winter nicely.

Now to get around to taking the machine basting out and to hem them properly by hand instead, they’ll look better for it.

Does anyone else wear things before they’ve actually finished them? (This pair had a safety pin for a few wears until I got around to sewing a popper (snap) on them).

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.

Oh no , not again.

Guess what? I made pants. Again. Ok, so I’ve also made pants American English style this week, well nearly, but I’ve been to busy wearing them to finish them and now they need a wash, so blog post soon. In the mean time, British English pants, yet again.

Not liking the stripe

Not liking the stripe

Spot the difference? Not an opening in sight. Because this time I followed Nicole’s tutorial and made them for me.

The back looks ok though

The back looks ok though

In theory this is so much simpler. Especially if you’ve already made them 3 times. But then again, if you will persist in wasting lots of time trying on fitting them onto some scrap fabric that simply isn’t quite big enough, then cutting the front piece too short so that you have to make that in a contrast too, then sewing the back piece on upside down, then unpicking one of the front seams by mistake instead of a back seam, then you too will not have an easy ride. As a bonus I discovered the back just fit on the last bit of the t shirt I bought for especially to make t shirt sleeves – there was just a sleeve left and when I cut it along the seamline the back fit perfectly.

I reckon if I hadn’t messed up so much they would’ve taken half an hour to construct.

Oh so technical pattern alteration

Oh so technical pattern alteration

At Nicoles suggestion, I cut an ammended piece 3 on the fold (losing one part of it so it’s pretty much rectangular, she has really clear photo’s and description if you’re interested). I only cut one though as I couldn’t see the point in 2 of them – normal womens pants don’t have double layer front, I’m pretty sure it’s just for modesty in the mens version. I also amended the back piece so it was 2 inches taller at the centre point tapering to 1/2 inch at the edge. I also extended the edge of the side piece 1/2 inch to match, tapering to nothing. Oh the joy of being sort of the same size as your other half and being able to use the things you make him as a muslin before you give them to him (shh, don’t tell).

Apart from the mistakes the construction was simple. The slippery viscose and the old t shirt played very well together despite my fears that they would fight. Gold stars all round.

Nicole said she finds the front roomy, but I was ok with it. But I think if I did make them again I’d extend the legs of the shorts a bit at the back (assuming I can figure out how) as they don’t quite cover everything in the way I’d like. However, they were comfy to wear (I forgot I was wearing them, always a good sign with underwear I think).

I’m not sure I will make them again though. They’re comfy to wear but not any better than my other homemade ones and more pfaff to make. I also suspect they take more fabric. However, they use a different type of elastic so they give me more options.

OK, that should be the last post about underwear in quite some time. Trousers next. Assuming they don’t fall apart in the wash, I actually get around to finishing them and manage to get some half decent photo’s. Fingers crossed cos I’m really pleased with them.

Star Turn

You may remember a while ago I was bemoaning the lack of hoodie patterns for boys. Well, a couple of months later I came across a couple of great kids hoodies on the Sew Write blog that had been made with an Ottobre pattern. Ottobre is a Finnish company that publish 4 magazines of childrens clothing patterns a year and they’ve also branched out and now do two womens clothing pattern magazine’s per year too. I first came across them when I saw this cool fleece coat that Philippa put on her Gloria and Me blog and I immediately bought that issue (5/2012) of the magazine intending to shamelessly make a carbon copy of her coat. (Needless to say, the magazine is still languishing in my sewing pile, I’ve not made anything from it yet, but I did flick through it the other day and there are a couple of possibilities, aside from the coat. I particularly like the fact they use models with a range of body shapes. But I digress….)

Anyway, Juliann kindly told me what edition of the magazine she’d used for the hoodies, but not before impatient pre Christmas me went ahead and bought Autumn 4 / 2014 which also has hoodies in. And may I say that I am very impressed with the range of patterns in these magazines. There is actually stuff for boys, not just a token unisex pattern and there is even stuff for boys over 5 – golddust I tell you. E.g. I read somewhere that the Japanese kids sewing book Sew Chic would be good for boys, but I would not have bought it for that alone as the number of boys/unisex patterns is definitely less than the girls patterns in it. (Luckily for me I need both). Also, my soon to be 7 year old daughter is right at the top of their size range. However, these Ottobre magazines would (in my humble opinion) be very useful for someone sewing just for boys and they have a wide range of sizes. Just check out the pattern for a fake leather jacket made in denim (how cool is that).


However, I have yet to make a hoodie, as in actual fact the boy has loads of jumpers and also we had entered the Great Trouser Crisis. I thought about using this mag to make trousers with the khaki fabric I found but the trouser patterns included are for some jeans made with stretch corduroy (which I didn’t have) or for some sweatpant/jogging bottom style trousers made in a knit. Hence I bought the Art Museum Pants pattern, which was a little dressy for what I actually needed but hey, it also includes a waistcoat pattern.  However when I saw


Sweatshirt Colourful Stars 2 - Cotton - Spandex - navy blue


this sweatshirt fabric on the My Fabric website I had a plan….



and in one evening these were born. Result.

front view by blogging wall

front view by blogging wall

They are pattern number 31 from the magazine, “Mock Denim Sweatpants” made in size 134 – the largest size this particular pattern comes in, for my fairly tall 8 year old and they fit well with a bit of growing room. (The sizing based on height is a sensible idea, but I’m still getting my head aroudn this as I’m not used to this system and don’t know my kids heights, let alone in cm). I wasn’t sure about the pattern, the model in the magazine has tight fitting cuffs up the bottom half of his legs with the rest of the trouser baggy above them – I’m vaguely aware this has been trendy but it’s not a look I like. Luckily these didn’t come out like that – I think a lot is to do with my fabric choice of a more rigid sweatshirt fabric (with lovely soft snuggly brushed wrong side) than the jersey knit recommended – it also has very little stretch.



The patterns in the magazine need tracing, they’re on 3 double sided pattern sheets, with many overlapping pattern pieces each with nested sizes. Luckily the different pattern pieces are colour coded, which helps, and this pattern only needed 4 – a leg (front and back with cut out for pocket), pocket piece, cuff and waistband. As well as tracing you have to add seam allowance. It was a bit of a faff but to be honest much easier than fighting my printer to sort a pdf pattern out.

cuff detail

cuff detail

The instructions are rather minimal, a few paragraphs of dense text, but it’s all there, you just need to read carefully. A bit like the Japanese instructions, but without the numbered diagrams, although there is a line drawing of the finished garment. I only went wrong with which edges to sew together at a particular point on my pocket bag (as I discovered further through the instructions, there was no harm done), but I did have to look up a couple of terms such as understitching, which were used with no explanation (I knew it involved sewing close to the seamline to keep facings on the inside, but I couldn’t work out which bits to sew, doh! Thanks internet). I think most beginners would struggle with this as well as visual learners. A sewalong with lots of photo’s it definitely isn’t!

pocket peep

pocket peep

The finish on the garment was great – I was very impressed. I think it was comparable to that on say an Oliver and S garment (I was sort of comparing these with the Art Museum trouser make in my head as I went along, which isn’t entirely fair as they’re such a different kind of trouser, but I think the finish is a similar high quality. Unlike my experience of Japanese patterns). The “inseam” side/front pockets on a 2 piece pair of trousers without a side seam worked really well – I would never have thought of attempting that let alone where to start it, or thought of the bartacks which help to help hold it in place (which I just winged as a zig zag stitch with zero length).

I did change the construciton order round, sewing the crotch seams before the inseam, thus negating the need to put one trouser leg inside the other, a minor detail. I also attached the elastic to the inside of the waistband (with 4 evenly spaced verticle lines of stitching) before folding it in place and stitching it down, a tip I picked up somewhere recently (she says vaguely).



The cuff has a stripe of a different coloured rib, which luckily worked ok despite the red being much better quality and less stretchy than the navy. Phew. I left out the drawstring on the waistband as I didn’t have the eyelets called for, I wanted to get them done and I wasn’t sure they were needed. There is a channel sized space below the elastic where they could have done.

Oh and as the instructions blithely called for a “flatlock stitch” I had a bit of a play with my machine and got something that I thought would do and used it on the waistband and cuffs. I quite like the look of it. Lets see if it holds up any better than when I’ve tried a twin needle for topstiching knits (some stitches invariable pop open as it’s not stretchy enough).

in the wild

in the wild

So, all in all a nice bright pair of warm trousers that he wore all day and are now in the wash as they got a bit muddy. Thumbs up for them and Ottobre patterns.