Messing about on the river

My son loves prints as much as he loves colours and it’s so hard to find boyish ones, or rather, not girly ones, so I tend to snatch them up when I stumble across them.

A while ago I bought this boat print, which is very lovely, but the long sleeved ADV T I made it into hasn’t got worn so much, on reflection the design is probably a bit young for him, or maybe just not his thing.


With the remnants of the long sleeve T I started making a short sleeved negative version shortly after this was finished. (I used turquoise ribbing for the neckband, the closest match I had, I didn’t want lots of bits of boats there!)


I had to piece the back as I didn’t have enough red left and I foolishly decided to applique a boat on it whilst I was at it to match the print. It looked naff. My son loved it and wanted me to make it the front, which a) I didn’t want to do and b) would’ve been very complicated. So it languished in a pile for far too long, until I unearthed it in April when I joined in with the Sew Alongs and Sewing Contests UFO Purge.


After a brief try at sprucing up the applique, in the end I just manged to re-piece the back out of red remnants so it was plain red. Phew. After that it was a quick finish.

I wasn’t sure how much it’d be worn though, however, there was a lot of the boat fabric left and still a little red, so I made up some matching Domi shorts to make a summer pj set.  I even retraced them in the next size up.


Night Night!

Another shorts hack

Anyone spot the deliberate error?  My short posts went 1, 2, 4  and that was not because I’m into doubling, but rather because I missed a pair out.  When we went looking for shorts inspiration last summer, whilst the Girls favourite were the scalloped hem ones, I rather liked these ones with a gathered hem and tulip pockets from Ottobre 03/2017.

They also didn’t go up to her size, so I hacked these too.

I used some red linen left over from trousers I made myself and I reckon I did a pretty good job, right?

I had the benefit of having the Ottobre pattern piece to hand and I used this when hacking the shorts. I started with the City Gym Shorts pattern again, which is the white paper on top, the pattern I ended up with is the brown underneath. This first pic is trying to show you that the crotch seams are the same on both patterns. Also there is a little extra wedge on the inseam at the front (left hand pic). I was following the lines of the Ottobre pattern.

Then I kind of swung the pattern out a bit so that the waistband line of the city gym shorts matched the angle of the waistband on the Ottobre ones and used the width of the City Gym Shorts waistband and traced down the side seam from there. This creates extra fullness which is then gathered in by sewing a casing and threading a drawstring through I was just kind of making it up as I went along. Also, like on the scalloped shorts I straightened the edge and lengthened them slightly. The extra length is to allow for the casing.


As on the scalloped shorts, the order of construction needs changing around, sewing up the side seams first so that you have a nice flat surface to attach the pocket too. For the pocket I just used the template from the actual pattern. You cut two for each pocket, sew them right sides together leaving a gap, then turn them. The top zig zag portion is topstitched before they’re sewn on.  The elasticated waistband is just done like the City Gym shorts

RED-y to go


My model was not being terribly helpful

Pattern: Semper Sweater from Sofilantjes patterns.


Fabric: Thick spongey mystery knit from my local fabric shop (probably containing some synthetic fabric) with slightly shiny right side and a stripey reverse (used here for contrasts). The same stuff (in a different colour) to my top.


Size: Age 11, chosen after comparing the finished garment measurements to an existing top. (Tops are more compliant when you want to measure them than boys can be). It has come out wearable with growing room for my lanky 10 year old. Perfect.


Modifications: The hood is unlined. I thought about binding the edge in knit bias tape but in the end I just turned the seam allowance over and topstitched it down with a fake coverstitch. (A bit of fudging was required where the hood piece turns a sharp corner as the front cowl-y bit starts).


Additions: Lots of topstitching in my favourite stretch “coverstitch” stitch (including sewing down the trimmed seam allowance where the two hood pieces meet).


Well drafted? Yes, everything came together perfectly.  Even attaching the made up sleeve to the scary looking U shaped underam hole. (Topstitching that seam however, was not so easy, I managed to catch the neckline and had to unpick it. That however is a mess entirely of my own making due to my current topstitching addiction.)


Most confusing bit? Trying to use the table provided to work out how much fabric to buy (it’s designed with colour blocking in mind, showing you how much you need of a given fabric for different elements of the different views in different sizes, less helpful if you just want to make it all in one fabric like me.)  In the end I just bought an overly cautious 2 m.  After washing the fabric and cutting out I still had 80cm left of 1m60 wide fabric (plus extra wibbly bits), so I could’ve got away with buying 1m20.

Review? It got a thumbs up. Literally that was all the comment I got.

On the4th Day of Christmas

I topstitched some jean pockets.


Before trimming

Hmm, not sure, but my daughter likes them. I tried doing a backstitch to start/finish and I shouldn’t have because it looks lumpy and I had to take the threads through to the back and finish them anyway.


They’re trefoil knots because I couldn’t think of a purple animal to emulate the success of my foxy jeans.

Are you managing to squeeze any sewing in at the moment?


Baby Cthulu Dress

Oh sorry, didn’t see you there, you been there long? Come in, I’ll put the kettle on, move that pile of stuff on the sofa and have a seat.

Things have been a little busy around here, what with ill children and really very tired children and visitors galore and the whole lack of daylight thing. I’ll pop on an episode of The Bridge in a moment – shh, don’t say a word about the plot, I’m not up to date. Anyway, once The Ever Patient Man who currently has Favoured Parent Status (lucky him, apparently I smell today so cannot dish out the regulation bedtime hugs) has put the kiddlings to bed we can all watch it together.


Ta Da

In the mean time, let me show you this dress that I made. Sorry you can’t see it amazingly well in this light, but it’s hidden away in the daytime as it’s a Christmas present for the girl. I hope she likes it, I’m a bit worried about the octopi, but hopefully the colour and the flowers and hearts will win her over. When I went to buy the fabric that I knew she’d like I discovered that they’d sold out, so I got this instead. When it arrived I wondered if I’d done the right thing. Someone tried to reassure me that they look like baby Cthulu. Now I know a few people who like to rock that kind of look, but she is not one of them.  Luckily I don’t think she’s heard of Cthulu so maybe I’ll get away with it. Fingers crossed.


New Neckline

The pattern is the Banana Sweet dress from good old Ottobre 4/2014. The observant amongst you will notice that I missed the hood off, because hoods are not her style.  While I was at it  I decided to save myself some potential sewing headaches and miss the placket* off too, so when cutting out I simply extended the line of the neckline curve to the centre front. When I made it up I was worried it looked a bit small for her head so I widened the neckline at the shoulders slightly and dropped it a bit at the front in an entirely unscientific way. Then I bound it with ribbing, I cut mine 3.5cm wide and 70% of the neck circumference (plus seam allowance) long. Amazingly the neck looks ok despite all my random messing. I will have to see how it looks on (assuming she’ll wear it). Oh and for some reason I decided to apply the ribbing like bias binding, but hand stitching it down on the inside. Not sure why. Not sure I know how to handstich stretchily either. Oh well, I used this finish for pockets, neckline and the cuffs. Obviously I’m a glutton for punishment this week (or just really dissatisfied with the options I know of for applying rib with a standard sewing machine).



Other than altering the neckline, I made it up in the “wrong” fabric (jersey not sweatshirt fabric, a fairly safe swap), added a couple of inches to the length and extended the cuffs too (it was the biggest size for this pattern and I was worried it wouldn’t be long enough, I’m pretty sure it’s wide enough by comparing it to other dresses though, presumably there’s extra ease for added for the intended sweatshirt fabric). I just managed to squeeze it out of my metre of fabric – even after realising I couldn’t place my back and front oppisite ways up to each other (there are clearly upside down hearts, so I assumed the fabric worked either way up, but on close inspection only 1 column in 4 is upside down, so it would look strange if cut the other way around).



So, why choose this pattern then if I was going to change it so much. Well, for the gathers at the sides (front and back). But boy did those gathers befuddle me at times. Here’s the pattern, as traced from the magazine, on my fabric. See the slits going in?  Well, as this is an Ottobre pattern, I still have to add my seam allowance, but I had no idea how to do it to those slits. I reread the instructions several times but could find nothing to help. Just that I needed to add 1cm seam allowance to most edges. (There were exceptions but this wasn’t listed as one).


So I bumbled my way through and as the seam allowances on the slip overlap it ended up like this, sort of like a pinafore dress. Which was fine, until I tried to make the gathers. See those blue arrows pointing in, you have to gather between those. When I tried that, it gathered the top fabric that I’m supposed to be stitching to up too. Unsurprising really when you think about it. The instructions are to sew “darts” (but they’re not marked like darts) by sewing “rows of gathering stitches along lower edges of darts as marked on pattern” (that’ll be between those arrows then) “and gather edges to fit upper edges. Stitch darts; as you approach dip of dart, stitch with gradually narrower seam allowance”. Rereading this several times didn’t help. I could only think that I needed to cut into my seam allowances but that seemed scary without more information.



So I emailed Ottobre and 2 hours later I got a reply, which I think is pretty amazing customer service, especially as my email was in English as was the reply and they’re based in Finland. And what did the reply say you ask? “You need to add 10 mm seam allowance only to the beginning of darts, on the sides. Then you add gradually smaller seam allowances as you approach the tip of the dart. It`s a bit tricky without having 10 mm seam allowances all the way but I`m sure you`ll get it done right. Hopefully this will help you to continue with your project!”

So, confidence bolstered, I drew a line that bisected my angle (please forgive me if I’m straying into geeky maths talk, I really cannot think of another way of putting it that’s clear). Then I cut along my new line just as far as the gathers have to go and no further.


So then, fabric cut, gathers now just gathering the bottom half of the fabric, I sewed it together like a dart best I could, tapering to a point and tying off the ends.


Once pressed it looked ok from the outside. Then I just did the same with the other three. So, I don’t know if that was the right way to do it, but it seemed to work.

After the gathers, it was plain sailing to make. Sew the shoulder seams, attach arms, join arms and side seams in one fell swoop, hem, cuffs, bind neckline. The pockets were a little fiddly as they have curved edges so you’re instructed to gather them around a template to press the sides under, but it was straight forward enough.

Now I just have to wait and see if she likes it.

I’m curious, what’s your favourite way of applying ribbing to a neckline (that doesn’t involve expensive machinery, trying to keep things simple here)? But tell me in a bit, after we’ve watched Saga doing some more investigating in her inimitable style.



*My friend who lectures in English once told me that placket used to be considered a rude word and now I struggle to type it without sniggering.  However I can’t bring myself to explain what it’s a euphemism for, you’ll just have to use your imagination.



What has it got in its Pocketsies?

Progress on my jeans has been slow. There are a lot of bugs going around our family and I’m really longing for a few days when no-one in the house is feeling ill/injured/tired.

However, I have managed quite a bit, including pockets. Eventually. I started with the front pockets, which I aimed to do “properly” before doing a basting fit. Oh, so many mistakes. First off, I used a different seam allowance to the front and back pieces, not a good start. Also I cut them out of my main fabric, but decided to stick with this as the denim is quite lightweight. Also I should’ve looked inside my shop bought jeans, because I got completely the wrong end of the stick of what I was trying to achieve. Or I should’ve paid more attention to my blog reading, as afterwards I realised that I had previously read a post on Did You Make That which clearly showed what my pockets should look like (clue, a lot like the bottom picture). Oh, the benefits of hindsight.

This is what I was working from

Front-Hip Pockets:Finish raw curved edges of pocket corner pieces. Pin corner pieces to pocket bags as marked on pattern, with both right sides up, and stitch corner pieces in place close to edge.

So, I know realise that the aim is a pocket bag in a different fabric with a patch of denim sewed over the top corner so that the pocket fabric isn’t visible when you’re wearing them. The instructions were to just zigzag/overlock the edge of this patch and stitch it down, which seemed terribly messy to me, but I have since realised that’s how my shop bought jeans are done and I never noticed, so it actually would work fine. Anyway, I bound my patch with bias binding, a scrap from my stash which didn’t match and was badly sewed it on as I tried to cut corners and not pin it. Now, the observant amongst you will have noticed that as my pocket lining is cut from denim this was completely unnecessary, but the ridiculousness of my former logic doesn’t end there…

So close, and yet so far

So close, and yet so far

Yup, I used my patch piece of denim and attached it to the curve of the pocket bag which is there to join it to the trouser fronts. I sewed it right down, and added an extra row of stitching for stability further up where the pocket lining curved edge was. I was feeling quite pleased with myself at this point for deciphering the instructions and put my coin pocket on over the fabric join. And then I went onto the next step of trying to attatch it to my fronts and realised my error. (In my defense, the line on the pattern piece showing where I should have put them wasn’t marked and wasn’t quite the same size as my pattern piece.) The lesson here is if the instructions are challenging, try reading ahead to see if your interpretation makes sense further down the line.

That's better

That’s better

Some unpicking later and I got it right. I forwent the unnecessary patch, but marked the line of where it would be in chalk. If just one person can learn from my mistake I reckon it’s worth it.

spot the deliberate mistake

spot the deliberate mistake

Here they are attached to the fronts, which looks wrong, due to aforementioned seam allowance discrepancies. I followed the instructions and understitched the linings, then pressed, then edgestitched them (in black), but it felt like overkill, surely you don’t need to do both and then topstitching? Is that usual? Although the topstitching is further away from the pocket as suggested in the pattern.

The back pockets went better – I ignored most of the instructions and used a technique I picked up on another pattern!

back pockets - first stage

back pockets – first stage

To start with I pressed the top edge down to the outside along where the top of the pocket will be (i.e. the wrong way), and then pressed the seam allowance in half back up. Then I sewed a line of straight stitching along the seam line on the other sides of my pocket.



Then after clipping my top corners, I turned the seam allowance at the top the right way (i.e. to the back) and pressed it. The stitching helps hold the top seam allowance neatly in place as well as helping give a neat line to press your other seam allowances along.

and top stitched (the tailors chalk mark is still there, making them look wobblier then they are, as I may not have quite followed it exactly ;) )

and top stitched (the tailors chalk mark is still there, making them look wobblier then they are, as I may not have quite followed it exactly 😉 )

I did add a line of stitching in black along the top edge, which wasn’t in the instructions. The instructions at this point are “Stitch decorative topstitching on pockets as marked on pattern” – I have checked and I’m convinced that in the mass of lines that form the pattern pieces on the sheet I was tracing from there is no topstitching marked on the back pocket piece. I could’ve done any kind of topstitching, or indeed none, but I actually copied the lines as best I could from the line drawing of the finished trousers. I made sure they were at the same points at the side of both pockets and also above the point of the v (which isn’t in the centre, I figured out they’re meant to be asymetric pockets, after a few moments thinking I’d cut them out wrongly) and I did the rest of the curve free hand. They work well enough for me. I did them all in contrsast thread, although the pattern suggests just the middle line to be like that, because I like my topstitching thread and how it brings out the subtle brown colour of the warp threads.

The pockets are now in place on the back, with a very short length zig zag at the tops to secure them rather than a rivet – a feature I’ve seen on ready to wear jeans. I couldn’t face rivets. After fiddling with the fit a bit, I’ve now taken them apart again (they were just basted) and I’m waiting for my sewing mojo to come back before tackling the fly. Fingers crossed that all this faffing is worth it and I end up with several pairs of lovely trousers from this pattern.

Do you have any top tips for keeping your motivation going on a longer project? Having abandoned a waistcoat to do this I’m struggling not to abandon this to make myself some tops that I can wear with them if they’re ever finished….