We love trains

Behold, the Trains Pride T shirt…


..the subtler, ironic and more colourful version of the Stonewall “Some people are trans get over it” t shirt.

Confused?  Take 2 minutes to read this article explaining it all, cos I’m not really qualified to explain, don’t worry, I’ll wait…

… all aboard now?


Anyway, this one off was brought to you via the Thread Theory Strathcona T shirt Pattern, some lovely, quality knit fabric the staff at my Local Fabric Shop have finally persuaded their buyer it’s worth getting, and a lot of hard work from yours truly.

There isn’t a pocket with that t shirt design, so I self drafted one, and used a freezer paper stencil to apply the iconic British Rail logo.  (If you’re wondering why that freezer paper has writing all over it, I tried out a company that prints sewing patterns onto A0 and sends them through the post (because my local print shop is prohibitively expensive).  With my order they sent a piece of freezer paper with it advertising a new “Thermo (Iron on) Adhesive Pattern” service, which I cannibalised to make this stencil.)

I’m pretty pleased with how this came out (apart from the one glaring error that no-one who doesn’t sew will ever spot) and I’m glad I took the time to trace 2 pattern pieces for the sleeves too so that the stripes run across. (Yup, this t shirt had 10 pattern pieces, 3 each for the front and back, 2 for the sleeves, plus the neckband and the pocket. I drew the seam lines at the 1/3 points on the front and back pattern pieces and added seam allowances when I traced them. I measured how far below the armpit the seamline between the pale and dark green was and used that to figure out where to draw the matching seamline on my sleeve piece).

Now to post it off to my friend along with this bonus double sided circular scarf.

The Placket of Doom

(On the Sorry You’re Feeling Ill T-Shirt with Get Better Faster Stripes)

So, the Boy got a tummy bug and got sent home from school. My children have a combined age of approx 20, so needless to say I have dealt with a few tummy bugs in my time. Never have I seen someone laid so low with one though. It wasn’t the typical symptoms so much that were extreme, more his general demeanor, listlessness, staring into space-ness, asking for help to sit up, not reading and barely talking. On Day 5, when he still wasn’t eating at all or showing any signs of improvement, I consulted our GP, which led to him being sent to the hospital to rule out appendicitis. It wasn’t appendicitis (the official diagnosis in the end was viral gastroenteritis), but he did end up getting admitted for 3 nights and put on a drip to counteract the dehydration.


It was a busy week. Sitting around doing nothing at the hospital is surprisingly exhausting. Taking my turn being the parent at home with The Girl was surprisingly stressful too. So I decided to make the Boy a t shirt. Ostentatiously that was to cheer him up in the hospital, but really, it was to take my mind of things, which is good, as I didn’t finish it until several days after he got home from the hospital.


Being unwell brings out the Aspergers side in my son, and as well as being the exact opposite of his normal chatty self at the hospital (one member of staff commented on how shy he was and I had to explain that he’s actually very outgoing usually, which is one of the reasons I knew he felt so ill), it also seemed to ramp up his sensory sensitivity and he kept complaining that his t shirt was too restrictive around his throat. By the time he was admitted to the ward, he’d stripped of his t shirt and covered himself up in a blanket instead and after that he couldn’t have put a tshirt on if he wanted as by then he had a line in his arm. We took some shirts in to the hospital so that he could wear them as unbuttoned as he liked, but mainly he rocked the bare chested “look you can see even more of my ribs than normal” look.


Hence I chose to make no 37 from Ottobre 03/2016 , a raglan Henly style t shirt with stripes up the side, because I thought he could undo the placket and it would feel less restrictive.  Great plan. The downside of the plan turned out to be that I had to make a placket.

Tracing and cutting went well. I made it in a size I was pretty sure had some growing room (as he wasn’t there to measure), but cut it to the length of the pattern 2 sizes up, for my string bean. At this point I was still delusional that I would finish it in an evening and take it with me to the hospital the next day. Ha.


Mistake no 1: The t shirt was made on a whim so I used scrap fabric that I had in. The grey knots was the only thing really suitable that I had to hand, and I decided to brighten it up a bit with the red (after all what is the point of a faffing around with an extra pattern piece for a side stripe if you never notice it). This was my first mistake as I think the red is a 4 way stretch and it shifted like billy o when I tried to wrangle it into shape and sew it down. Particularly troublesome on that placket. Which brings me to….


Mistake no 2: I tried to follow the Ottobre Minimalist Diagrams Are For Wimps Instructions when inserting the placket. This didn’t go well and I ended up with the hot mess you see above. After sleeping on it I decided to recut the front and try again.


Second time around I used the Thread Theory placket tutorial for their Strathcona henly t shirt. To make this work I cut the placket piece on the fold, rather than as two separate pieces. I didn’t quite follow the instructions to the word, but it went sooo much better this time again. Definitely still room for improvement but liveable with.  The sharp eyed may notice that this placket is the “wrong” way around, that’s because despite tacking the other side, it stretched as I was sewing it and has little tucks in. Grr.


Mistake no 3:  Prym poppers. Past experience shows that no matter how many times I reread the instructions or do trial runs on scrap fabric (ok, actually I did 0 trial runs this time), at least one of them always screws up on the real garment. I’ve never had the inserty applicator thingy jam onto the popper before though. Turned out it was due to the popper front and back being misalinged. Another sleep on it moment, before then taking apart with pliers and carefully lining up the replacement popper through the holes it’s predecessor left behind before attaching it.

Mistake no 4: I then sewed the original front with the awful placket to the rest of the t shirt and had to unpick the triple stretch lightening stitch raglan seems. Urgh.


The neckband isn’t technically a mistake, but I did follow the Strathcona instructions and tried the slanty edge look and it’s not entirely successful. In particular I’m not happy with the scruffy insides showing when it’s worn open.  However I am now officially past caring.


Because tis done now.  And it looks ok, although I wouldn’t want to subject it to close inspection from someone who knows how to sew. I think it has a bit of a cycling top vibe to it.  But most importantly The Boy is now home and on the mend. He hasn’t really passed comment on the new t shirt, but he did chose to wear it.


Secret Summer Sunshine


This is not a pair of jeans. I have nearly finished my 5th Liana’s, but procrastination and life in general keep conspiring to get in the way.


This is the scarf I’ve knitted my mum for Christmas, finally finished, ends woven in, blocked (kind of) and all ready to wrap. Not bad going considering that I bought the yarn at the beginning of January planning to make it for her mid March birthday.


Yarn: 3 skeins of Rowan Alpaca Colour one each of  Emerald, Agate and Garnet.  The colours change subtly within each skein, which I didn’t realise at the start.

Stitch: moss (seed) stitch, cos I like the texture and who wants a scarf with a right side and a wrong side.

Inspiration: My Birthday Scarf, as several times whilst I was making it my mum said she liked the randomness of the stripes, but it wasn’t in her colours. I’m pretty sure these are more her colours and I hope the substitution of baby alpaca for silk is acceptable too.

Length: All the yarn. And with 3 skeins, rather than the two last time, it makes a proper scarf. In fact, she will probably complain this one is too long. Also, this is a tad narrower at 35 stitches rather than 42.

Top Tip: For moss stitch, use an odd number of stitches so you start each row on the same stitch. I made so many less mistakes on this scarf than the last one.

This scarf was knitted in so many different places, including a long winding journey at the top of the front of a double decker bus winding its way slowly through Devon on a  Sunny day in May (it’s a long way to the VW specialist garage), and I like to think a little bit of all those places is knit into the scarf.

Fingers crossed she appreciates it.




Hello Goodbye


This week the wonderful Jewel is hosting a pop up sew a long over on the Sew Alongs & Sewing Contests Facebook Page to encourage us to finish up some UFO’s (Un Finished Objects, aka abandoned projects). Her enthusiasm is infectious and my 3rd finished UFO this week is this Jalie 3132 .


Scuse the wet hair, this was a rather rushed “while you’re on your way to work could you just take a pic of this” photo shoot this morning, the reason being so that I could take it with me to a coffee date to donate to a friend.


This top is just too tight for my liking (see concertina effect on my inner elbow). Yes, I can wear it, but I don’t find it comfy or flattering and rather than keeping it in the hope it’ll fit better at some stage in the future, or to wear as a base layer, I’m liberating it so that it can find a forever home where it is loved and appreciated.


I got this fabric about 2 and a half years ago on a tourist visit to Guthrie and Ghani thinking I’d make something for my then 6 year old with it, but when I got the pattern from Katrin in a CSC sewing swap I decided to use it for that instead. I got as far as tracing the pattern and doing a FBA but only cut out the back. The reason being that this fabric is thin and shifty and I was struggling to match the stripes up. Well, this week I commenced Operation Lower Your Standards and Get On With It and the top was duly cut out. The make itself was fairly straight forward, I even managed the binding on the V neck as per the instructions without any tears.


With such a big gap between tracing the pattern and doing most of the cutting out and sewing up, I can’t really comment on if the sizing issue was my fault in choosing the wrong size, the pattern drafting, or my shape changing in the meantime. The pattern came together nicely and had a sensible amount of notches for matching up. It’s drafted with a 2″ hem, wider than the markings on my sewing machine, so I had to use masking tape to help me line it up for sewing! The sleeve is cut on the fold, which is slightly unusual and I must admit as someone used to asymmetric sleeves I’m a little skeptical that this is the best way to go. My main conclusion about this top is that pretty as it is, I don’t like working with this fabric. It’s a bit see through and not that fun to work with. However, I think it’s made up into a lovely top and I hope it gets lots of wear with my friend.

Hello Goodbye it is then.

Stripey Tales

After making a top (as yet unblogged) from my holiday purchase of green and black stripey jersey, I had what seemed like quite a lot of fabric left. I thought about making a pair of comox trunks (any excuse to look at that photo shoot hey) and then I decided to make the boy a top as well. I started with his top. I only just squeezed it out of what I had, no room for trunks (probably for the best, I’m not sure what my other half would think of stripey underwear). When will I manage to get my head around how much fabric stuff takes to make?

For a pattern I had Simplicity 1573 in my stash. It claims to be pajama’s but a t shirts a t shirt right? I figured it would be useful for making long/short/layered sleeved t shirts as well as pajama bottoms and dressing gowns (a small girl was dropping hints about dressing gowns a while ago) so I bought it a little while ago for it’s versatility. I was going to make small girl some pajama’s with it recently but she spilt milk over the pattern envelope and some fabric and after the pfaff of cleaning it up, drying damp tissue pattern and rewashing fabric, it got put on hold. So this was it’s first airing.

I started off by looking at the finished garment measurements and comparing them to a fairly large but wearable t shirt he already has. This led me decide to make the age 7, which I lengthened, I think by 2″, I can’t decipher my notes now. My boy is a beanpole, tall and skinny, and has never grown out of something width wise, so it seemed prudent. Technically there isn’t a short sleeved option but I used the short sleeves of the layered sleeve option without the long sleeves underneath and this worked just fine.

I wanted to make the t shirt v neck, which isn’t an option, so I found this tutorial for altering a t shirt to be a v neck. It says it’s for babies but the theory is the same. Adjusting the pattern was fairly straight forward, I could’ve worked that out myself, but explaining how to cut the neck band, including length for self fabric (rather than ribbing which I can’t get locally) and how to put it on was really helpful.

Cutting out the t shirt proved a challenge, I didn’t have quite enough fabric for my longer length, so I cut an extra piece as right angles to the grain to go across the bottom of the back. Unfortunately I was so excited by the great hint Melissa gives “if you’re working with jersey, one way to tell the “right” side of the fabric is that the raw edges will curl toward the right side” that I sewed my extension piece on upside down. I was excited because I always struggle to tell the right sides of non patterned fabrics, including jersey, so I loved this hint. I noted which way my extension piece was rolling and the bottom of the back and sewed according to her rule, so pleased with myself for my new found knowledge that I didn’t look too carefully. Once sewn, I looked at the stripes and realised that it was on upside down (the stripes aren’t so neat at the edges on the wrong side, like when you knit something stripey, if that isn’t too obvious to say, after all this is a knitted fabric). I couldn’t work this out. Then I noticed that, on my jersey fabric at least, the horizontal cuts across the fabric curled to the right side, but the vertical cuts parallel to the selvage edges curled the other way. As my extension piece was cut at right angles to the grain, it had fooled me. Oh well, as I keep telling myself with little mistakes on the kids clothes, they’re never going to keep still long enough for anyone to notice (and I certainly wasn’t unpicking stretch stitches and twin needle topstitching).

optical illusion (are you eyes feeling funny yet?)

optical illusion (are you eyes feeling funny yet?)

My other alteration was to make a pocket, self drafted. I initially tried to make a v shaped bottom to match the angle of the v neck but it looked silly so I flattened it out. I cut that at right angles too to make a feature of the stripes and I’m really pleased with how I managed to line it up.

check out the black stripes going right angles.  (it might distract you from the not so need pocket sides towards the top)

check out the black stripes going down the pocket and then turning right angles onto the shirt (it might distract you from the not so need pocket sides towards the top)

Making up the main t shirt was straight forward (I don’t think I even looked at the pattern, go me and my new sewing confidnence). Soon I only had the neckband to do. I followed the tutorial instructions for adding a self fabric neckband. You basically sew it all around from the point apart from the last couple of inches and then you do that. I found I hadn’t stretched it evenly and there was a bit of a bulge at the front. It also looked quite small, which was confirmed when the boy tried it on, it was very high up.

What is this showing

Bias strip for neckline – work in progress

Pocket Tastic

High V neck with added “bulge”

I puzzled a bit how it had ended up so high, when the front should be lower than the original curved neckline on the pattern. Was this some freakishly high neck drafted pattern? Then I realised, the pattern had a 1.5cm seam allowance. But as my bias strip was self drafted I hadn’t cut it to have such a large seam allowance or used one. Doh.

So I chopped off the binding, which deepened the neckhole, cut some more binding and tried again. This time, I first marked the centre of my binding, then sewed the first couple of inches of the binding on as per the instructions but then I stopped. Then I sewed the last couple of inches on. Now I had the bottom of my “V” bound but the rest hanging loose. Then I matched up the centre of the binding with the centre back of the neck, stretched it in place and sewed it on. This worked much better for me. New improved bulgeless low enough neckline. (Not perfect, but it’ll do.)

finished garment

finished garment

I’m quite pleased with my first “proper” kids t shirt (if you don’t count the self drafted raglan top or shiny pink superhero self drafted raglan t, actually, come to think of it it’s not really my first at all), I’ll give it 7/10. The neck binding looks a bit odd because of the angle of the neck combined with the bias strip makes the stripes on the binding look a bit like I went wrong as they aren’t obviously at 45 degrees to the neckline, more not quite horizontal. It would’ve looked better in a solid colour, but I didn’t have anything appropriate to hand. I also tried stitching in the ditch to keep the seam allowance hanging right – need to work on that technique a bit, maybe top stitching 1/4″ in would’ve looked better. The couple of inches at the bottom of the back with different facing stripes looks less cool than I’d imagined and more odd, but I can live with it. I think a bigger band would’ve looked more fashion statement and less random cutting, but I’m not sure I had enough to work with that.

The boy’s verdict was that the pocket was too small, but other than that he’s worn it lots and there is certainly loads of growing room so as the fabric seems very good quality I’m hoping it has a lot of wear left in it. Despite him wearing it lots I don’t seem to have a photo of him in it though, sorry, as he is quite cute if I say so myself. Probably he didn’t stay still long enough.



Today, he saw the t shirt still hanging up from last nights photo shoot and wanted to know why. So this afternoon he insisted on a photo shoot. So, here are some gratuitous shots of my young man…











And to prove my point he staged this photo of him awarding his sister a rosette he made earlier (he also made the necklace she's wearing)

And to prove my point he staged this photo of him awarding his sister a rosette he made earlier (he also made the necklace she’s wearing)