Soft Cell

Until recently, if someone said “Soft Cell” to me I would mentally start singing Tainted Love.  ( A few weeks ago I found out (to my shame), that theirs wasn’t the orignal version of this song, rather that was Gloria Jones back in 1964).


Now I will also think of Soft Shell (technically it’s name but it will forever be Soft Cell to me), a water-repellent fabric with a cosy fleece reverse that “protects against wind, cold and moisture, making it ideal for sports jackets and other clothing”. I’d never heard of it, but I fell in love with these dogs from myfabric thinking that they were fleece backed sweatshirt fabric and was heartbroken when they ran out of stock whilst I dithered. So when they came back in stock, I bought some, even though by then I realised it wasn’t sweatshirt fabric. I figured I could make it work, I mean, check out those sunglasses on that collie!


It feels slightly rubbery to the touch, has that slight swishy sound when the right sides rub together that you get with waterproof trousers and hasn’t really any stretch. The fleece back is fairly thin so the fabric is quite flexible and I think it would be perfect for an autumn/spring jacket (or maybe a dog coat, that would be cute). I wouldn’t say it was the easiest fabric to handle, but it wasn’t a pain either (it helped that I had just made this pattern up, so I had it all down). It doesn’t fray, I did manage to pin it (with long glass headed pins) and they didn’t seem to leave holes, and I sewed it ok with a stretch needle in my machine.  I didn’t dare iron this 100% polyester fabric though, on either side, instead topstitching my seam allowances flat (particularly proud of that on the inseam, serious fabric manipulation was needed to get that through the machine).


Of course, I didn’t make a jacket with it. I made yet more trousers for the Boy, cos it’s getting colder around here, he’s been growing a ton, and his birthday is imminent. With turquoise ribbing to match the reverse and the fleece side inside the pockets for added snugglyness like last time. I’m slightly worried about how this fabric stand up to wear and tear, but there’s only one way to find out….

Frost protection

Climbing beans (such as runners) are not hardy, you may need to protect them from frost, fleece can be used. My beanpole (who both runs and climbs), also does not like being exposed to cold. He does keep growing though, so while last years  extended and eeked out fleece backed starry jogging bottoms still fit (for now) the original pair have been passed on now leaving him with only one pair for the cold months ahead.


I wanted to go up a size, but I didn’t dare adjust the ottobre pattern further (I suspect the crotch curve would need changing), so this time I used my trusty Domi pattern. They are quite scarily big, I was worried I’d miscalculated, but on closer inspection they do look like they might be a similar size to the last pair, with a couple of inches extra growing room, so it seems that it might be my beanpole who is excessively big.


These have been put on one side for his upcoming birthday (we’re getting a daily countdown at the moment), so fingers crossed they fit and the brown and orange colour scheme is  approved (you wouldn’t guess it from here but they look a bit tame compared with last years). I’m hoping the super soft fleecey back  will win him over…

Red and teal for the win


Scrap busting, squeezing every last possible garment out of the remnants, I find it so satisfying, especially when the results look as good as this.  I think red and petrol/teal may be my new favourite colour scheme.

[Domi sweatpants, cut along age 3 lines, but to age 2 length (to try and get some extra width to accommodate a cloth nappy for a 2 year old), so that’s age 3 waistband, pocket, cuff pieces used, but elastic cut to the age 2 length (a whole 1/2″ smaller). One front and the waistband are cut in two pieces with an extra seam to eek the fabric out. The pocket binding and waistband and the reverse looped side of the main fabric. Beads stolen from my daughters stash when she wasn’t looking.]

Now comes the wait whilst they navigate the post to my friend before I find out if they fit.


Update, they arrived safely and the feedback is that

they really are a beautiful fit, room for nappy and still staying on

Just About Junipers

A few weeks and half a lifetime ago, it was a bit of a heatwave here and we were about to go on holiday. I decided I needed some new linen trousers, so I went to my local shop and dithered over some pin striped charcoal linen (nice too lightweight for trousers really) and some goldy stuff with a great texture (lovely fabric that would go with nothing else in my wardrobe) and then bought and prepped some plain red linen (reminiscent of an old pair of trousers I used to own) and cut out a pair of Junipers, which I thought was the perfect pattern to use as a) wide legs will be nice in heatwave and b) I have already adjusted it to fit me. I then attempted to sew them up the day before we left. Which wouldn’t have been so bad except it was the first day of the kids school holidays and they were under my feet, plus I was trying to sort out and pack too.


Not quite there yet

I used this tutorial to make pockets with french seams, but just like when I’ve made this pattern before my pattern pieces still didn’t line up right and my pockets still want to bag open and flash the insides more than I think they should. I really must double check that my pocket pattern pieces are traced correctly before I make them again. And if they are ok, that I’m inserting them the right way around. I also took full advantage of Collette’s zipper tutorial, not that this zipper is particularly hard to insert.

Needless to say, I didn’t get them finished the day before we left (I kind of jinxed it by making a draft blog post titled Just In Time Junipers, never count your chickens and all that). So I tried to finish them on the day of leaving. Which may have contributed to us leaving 2 hours later than planned, which just possibly was a contributing factor in hitting loads of traffic and having a nightmare journey. But somehow, LSH didn’t even mention divorce (too distracted by morris dancing).

I did manage get them to a state before I left where just the inside waistband, the hems and the ends of the belt loops needed doing, which is the kind of thing some people finish by hand just for kicks, so I packed needle and thread and some good intentions.


In my haste to leave, I only found poppers to take with me, not hook and eyes as the pattern suggests.

Needless to say I didn’t get them finished during the hot weather at a folk festival trailing around after the kids with a swollen ankle. So they came to Yorkshire to camp with Quakers with us too. Where, despite the weather not being so hot any more, I mustered enough shame to finish them before the end of the holiday, so there was at least some point in being so late. Well, I say finish, after catchstitching the waistband and a painfully slow speed and finish down the end of the beltloops, I only tacked the hems in the end. With a backstitch mind. Note to self, really must run them through the machine.



It looks neat, granted, but it took soooooo long

The shots of me wearing them are more atmospheric than clear, but hey. I need to get me some motivation to manage some sewing as I have done exactly zilch since we got back (too busy running around in circles).



Do holidays fill you with the sudden urge to make things in unrealistic timescales?

On the third day of Christmas

I finally finished the trousers that I started on the 23rd…


If they look familiar, it’s because I’ve made them before, last year for a Boy who was desperate for colourful trousers. This year, while colours and patterns are still important to him, it’s all about warmth and cosyness and the staryones have a really soft brushed fleece back and are nice and snuggly. He’s currently refusing to wear jeans (too cold apparently, although he did manage his steam punk trousers to meet up with the Automata recently). The skull trousers that I made him are sweatshirt fabric, but looped back, not fleecy, so don’t tick the cosy box (or so I’m informed). Neither do the two pairs I bought. So he’s basically been living in the star ones when not at school and woe betide me if they’re not washed and dried. I had to break it to him that he couldn’t wear them for 2 weeks solid in the Christmas Holidays, resulting in me having to promise that they would be clean and dry on Christmas day (done, phew).



Still unable to find a suitably acceptable fabric (this stuff was bought last year online from My Fabric and is now gone from their website) I finally worked out that whilst I didn’t have enough leftover from the first time to make a new pair, I could squeeze a pair out if I introduced a below knee seam.




This time they have orange and navy ribbing at the cuffs, rather than red and navy (or they will once I’ve unpicked the one I sewed on back to front and reattached it so you can see it’s orange stripe). The Boy wanted them as similar to the original as possible,  so no-one could tell the difference. Although they’re the graded up size of the skull ones.


Also new this time, I actually followed the instructions for the waistband to the letter and they have a drawstring, which came in my Curvy Sewing Collective Christmas Swap last year. I was a bit wary about the grommets in the knit, but after a few tries on scraps it worked fine with a piece of woven polycotton at the back (as recommended).  The Boy is mightily pleased with this addition and it wasn’t as tricky as I thought.


New/Old Comparison

So, all in all, a sewing win. And a happy Boy. And I have resigned myself to him wearing both pairs of trousers a lot, at least it will make my washing easier.

Have you / would you ever recreate something you’ve already made?


Take one old pair of trousers…

… no longer fitting so well, but also ragged and threadbare at the cuffs, so no one else is likely to want them. The fabric however, a thick herringbone weave, that looks good in places, so get out the scissors…

A little rootling around the stash and some fairly basic sewing later and instead there is one zippered pouch, a makeup bag perhaps, or storage for small items, or useful when packing, who knows. With a large welt pocket on one side that was the back pocket of the trousers, adorned with a skull on the other (I remembered to interface my fabric before applique for once, doesn’t it make a difference!) and a pale yet interestin lining, so that things can be seen inside.

But wait, there’s more…

A shopping bag/tote, with ammonites screen printed on. Hopefully another “manly” bag. The palest grey ammonites are actually just white ink, that’s how it showed up. The black ink doesn’t show well on it’s own, but looks effective over the “white” or the mixed grey.

I was worried that I didn’t have enough fabric for a usefully wide bag, so of course I ended up with a bag a little on the wide side (with a side seam from the trousers preserved running down the middle of each side, just a little off centre). I mitred the bag corners, a current favourite trick that also takes out a little width, then topstitched a pin tuck (?) to make edges of the “sides” like  last time (sorry, no photo’s it would seem).

This bag is unlined and has petersham handles, how decadent (the handles, not the lack of lining, but it’s strong enough).

Both are now in foreign lands, bound with ribbon, filled with gifts, waiting for Christmas day.  Part of my reusable “wrapping paper” crusade I have unleashed on much of my family this Christmas.

So, I seem to be organised for once. But that is so alien of late that instead of feeling relaxed I am more slightly wary, waiting to find out what the gaping hole in my plans is.

Are you a natural airtight planner?


So, where was I before I was so rudely interrupted… ah yes, bags. I was raiding my scraps to see if I could make a more unisex and larger kind of wrapping paper bag.

I found some corduroy hanging around the dark green and red were unused scraps and I cut them into strips about the right width to make into a tote. The pieces of the lighter green (the fabric that keeps on giving) and the brown (some old trousers) weren’t quite as long so I put patches of other scraps on the end to make them long enough. My 4 strips were different widths and the grain was in different directions but that was fine with me.

Then I cut each strip roughly in half, mixed them up and sewed them back together, at this point it looked like I had a quilt and hubby was liking the colours. I sort of had this bag in the back of my mind, but I was going for a more slapdash rustic look.  So I cut the sides off (vertically, about a quarter in), flipped them and sewed them back. Then I cut my big piece in half so I could make 2 bags.


The construction process was quite simple. Sew sides and base together and mitre the bottom corners (but I sewed mine down rather than cutting them off). Then I made linings for them out of old shirts – it wasn’t part of my original plan but I’d forgotten how much corduroy sheds, even when the edges have been zig zag top stitched down and it was clear that they were going to be generating small pieces of fluff for some time to come if I didn’t cover the inside. I managed to cut the shirts so each bag has an internal pocket that was the shirt. Inner and outer bags were joined right sides together (with a gap), turned and  then the top topstitched down.  I then folded the cord layer where the sides from the base up the top would be (if I’d made it with a base rather than adding depth to a flat bag with a mitre) and then stitched close to the edge, kind of like pintuck – this gives the finished bag more shape. Finally more corduroy, folded in on inself and then folded in half was stitched into thick handles (hopefully the 4 layers will make it comfy even when carrying heavy things).

And ta da, we have 2 sturdy bags, one of which now has some of hubby’s gig stuff in (leads, pedals and assorted gubbins) and the other is going to be wrapping paper.


In other news, I finally made a long strip of remaining fabric from my self drafted dress and some left over brown jersey into a scarf. Then I posted it off – it’s now keeping a neck warm in Germany.

I know some people make many items from one piece of fabric, but I find it a bit weird if I only several things in the same fabric. I don’t seem to having garments that match my kids clothes though. Not sure there’s any logic to this. How about you, do you have  numerous items all made from the same fabric?