Birthday Hoodie Tradition

Way back in September, I continued the tradition, and made him a hoodie for his birthday.


This one is from Ottobre 04/2017, no 30 – Salty Wind. (Nope,I’ve  no idea what is going on with the naming, maybe it makes more sense in Finnish.)

Getting the pockets in the right place with the obvious lines of this fabric was a bit of a headache.


Hey, getting the pockets in at all was a bit of a headscratch, as usual everything you needed to know was in the instructions and not a word more (and definitely no diagrams).  Water soluble marker pen was used a plenty!

I found some waxed cotton for the drawstring and added some adjusters from the box of reclaimed bag bits and some cool beads – I love how most of the faces are triangles but some are rhombuses, just like the fabric. The cotton and the beads are from Bunyip, a local craft shop.  Oh and I neatened the neckline finish on the inside with twill tape (which I think I originally got from this tutorial) and added a hanging loop.


The fabric all came from Kitschy Coo and I only just had enough – in fact I couldn’t quite cut out one sleeve, so I had to add a little patch at the edge, but shh, don’t tell, I don’t think anyone has ever noticed, especially as I “cover stitched” (on my normal sewing machine) it into place in white, unlike the charcoal I used elsewhere.

I altered the cuffs using Kelly’s excellent tutorial for thumbhole cuffs.  I’m glad I did cos not only was it a fun thing to learn, it made them longer, and I think the arms would be getting a little short now if I hadn’t (darn that boy for growing again).


That’s a lot of explanation and photo’s, because there was a lot of detail on this one, and I don’t even have a photo of the (slightly ridiculous) side zips. I’m really pleased with how it came out and the high quality finish I acheived.


Luckily the Boy loves it too, including the zips which he says he can zip up for ease of movement and zip down for keeping warm.  Here he is modelling it with the hat I also made for his birthday too (cos that’s how he rolls). He also likes pulling the drawstring so tight there’s just a small hole to look out of (cos then he can pretend to be a cyclops, natch).  Surprisingly with so much white in it it hasn’t acquired any stains yet, which is what I was most worried about!  And entirely unintentionally it goes very well with the triangle jogging bottoms I made him (I guess there are only so many variations on “non girly” prints).

The only problem is, how am I going to follow this next year?


Zip it up

Ottobre design 5/2012, how your minimalist zip insertion instructions intimidated me. How I longed for a diagram. And yet. After stepping away for a bit, when I came back to the zip it seemed to go in really easily. Minimal and yet complete. Still, a diagram wouldn’t have gone amiss.

As I plan to make these again, I thought I’d take notes to help me next time. So they’re here as well, in case they ever help anyone else or in case anyone else feels like enlightening me on what I could’ve done better. I don’t claim to be an expert, I wasn’t convinced I knew what doing at times. But it seemed to work in the end.

Finish raw edges of crotch seam allowance. Stitch crotch seam from back waist to bottom of zipper placket.

So far so good. Seams finished with use of overlocking foot. Zipper placket, that’s where the bit where one of the fronts has a stickey out bit that the other doesn’t, right? Crotch seam duly sewn.

Finish raw curved edge of fly facing. Pin and stitch fly facing to right placket edge.


This was straight forward, once I’d worked out I had cut a mirror image of my fly facing and recut it the right way around.

Understitch seam allowance to facing close to seamline. Fold fly facing and pants front wrong sides together and edgestitch along center-front edge.



Simple enough. What’s next?

Fold fly shield piece in half, right sides together, and stitch it’s bottom edge.

Which edge is the bottom? Err, it must be the slanty one, right, cos there’d be no point having that slant inside the seam allowance at the waistband surely. And that would make it the right way up on your picture of all the pattern pieces. OK, I’m 90% sure it’s the slanty one, lets go for it.

Turn fly shield right side out and serge of siz sag its open edges together


fly shield assembled.

Pin and stitch left zipper tape to left edge of fly shield

Left zipper tape, this kind of thing always confuses me, that’s the bit that will be on the left when I’m wearing them is it? So the bit on the right as I look at it. Ok, so I need to pin it to the left edge of the fly shield. Hang on, which is the left edge? You haven’t told me this have you. And as it was folded in half during it’s construction it’s not clear from the picture of the pattern pieces either. Grr….

At this point our author sulked, went off, read a different fly insertion tutorial (done completely differently so it just confused her more), mulled it over and then came back

The folded edge must be the one I see once its constructed surely, so I’ll pin the zip to the finished edge, that has to be right.


zipper sewn to fly shield

Pin and stitch fly shield to left placket edge, right sides together and with zipper in between.


fly shield duely stitched to left placket edge

Turn fly shield right way up and edgestitch seam close to zipper


This is looking promising.

Close zipper and pin fly in position from right side, matching centre front marks.

Centrefront marks? Surely I marked those? They must’ve got rubbed off. Oh well, that looks about right….

Turn fly wrong side up and pin free zipper edge to fly facing only (not to pants front). Remove pins from right side, open zipper and stitch it to fly facing carefully.


In the process of attaching zipper to fly facing only

Close zipper, pin facing to pants front and topstitch fly, using pattern piece for fly facing as template (flip fly shield out of the way as you stitch).


Using fly facing pattern piece (which has no seam allowance added) as my template to mark stitching line. The pins are holding the fly shield out of the way so it doesn’t get stitched accidentally.

Topstitch crotch seam with two parallel rows of stiching

I swear this was not in the instructions when I was sewing. I missed this step out. I noticed later the stitching lines on the garment diagram and “knew” this step had been missed out of the instructions.

Stitch bar tacks on fly as shown in design sketch

Bar tacks, zig zag stitch length 0, that’ll do right?


My slightly wobbly topstitching and bar tacks

Fairly painless in the end, once I’d got over my sulk at being expected to know which was the left side of the fly shield. I knew I’d inserted flys ok before on The Boy’s trousers and my moss skirts which only made it worse. I did contemplate following the grainline moss zipper tutorial but I have got seriously confused in the past switching instructions – the pieces are never quite the same shape or referred to in the same way. Plus it somehow feels wrong to not follow the “right” instructions for what I’m doing, but maybe that’s just me? Although with things I’m more confident on, I just surge right ahead and do things the way that makes sense to me, so maybe I just need more practise?

Do you have a set methods for doing things that you do regardless of the instructions or are you a stickler for following the pattern to the t?

Belated Birthday Hoodie

A couple of years ago I got the boy a gorgeous, subtle, multicoloured fleece hoodie made by Lizzie Shirt. It’s a really high quality garment, he loves wearing it and I love cuddling him when he’s wearing it (and when he’s not wearing it too obviously, he’s just a bit more snuggly in it). But it’s starting to get a little on the short side. Sadlly, the shop I impulse bought it from has now closed down and it’s going to need replacing. Of course, I could order a replacement online (and I may yet do that because I cannot emphasise enough the amazing quality and design of these hoodies) but then again I could make something similar…

I also have a pattern that irks me in the Sew Chic Kid’s book. It’s the Pull Over Parker that You and Mie and Elsie Marley jointly hosted a sew-a-long for recently – check out all the wonderful variations in their flickr pool.

So what irks me about this pattern? Well, I just can’t get my head around when you’d want to wear a 3/4 length sleeved light weight woven top with a hood. It seems neither one thing or the other.

At some point, these two thoughts melded and I thought I could adapt the pattern to make a fleecey top replacement, and maybe one for sister as well. I had half a mind to join in the sew-a-long and make a headstart on some sewing for Christmas but that never happened. I looked to see if anyone in the sew-a-long had made one in fleece to see how it went, but apparently not. So I sat on the idea some more.

And then I came across this funky geometric sweater knit fabric by Kitschy Koo. It’s perfect for the boy. He is a lover of all things bright and patterned – I think in part due to his fairly severely colour deficient vision. This ticks the geometric box big time and might help tone down the brightness on some of his outfits.

So, I had an idea (replacement snuggle hoodie), I had sourced the fabric and I had a pattern in mind. Then I decided it was the wrong pattern. It was a combination of the neckline elastic detail, which I wasn’t sure about (and surely wasn’t needed for a stretchy knit fabric, but I also wasn’t sure how to change it) and how to finish the sleeves once I’d extended them to full length, I thought I’d get away with it in fleece but I’d know chosen a knit fabric – plus someone had commented the hood was small, indeed I found that when I hacked this pattern hood for nativity spiders and wolf costumes. And so began the hunt for a boys hooded sweater pattern – I figured I could make up the kangaroo pouch detail. But I couldn’t find one. I changed my search terms, but I still couldn’t find what I was looking for (although I did discover that in the USA pullover seems to mean a dress for small girls, rather than a jumper/sweater).

I kept coming back to a free zip up hoodie pattern from The Boy Trifecta. It wasn’t quite what I wanted as it had a zip and I wasn’t feeling up to working out how to change the neckline/hood if I left that out. But it kept popping up in the search terms. Maybe a zip isn’t so bad I thought. But then I can’t have a kangaroo pocket. A half zip maybe? How to do that? Finally it dawned on me, half kangaroo pockets. Right, deal, order the fabric (got a little carried away there), try and print pattern, several times, finally get printer to work, print it again at 100% rather than 70%, get ill, be busy, lose the pattern, print it again, breathe and start.

After all that faffing, most of the actual make was pretty straight forward and came together very quickly. I had a couple of dips in confidence at first. The fabric when it came looked more knitted and less sweaterey than I imagined. It’s described as a sweater knit, which I thought meant it was sweatshirt type fabric that was technically knitted, whereas it looks and feels obviously more knitted than that. Indeed hubby commented when I was half way through the make that I looked like I was making him a cardy and I know what he means. However, the fabric has grown on me (and I must say there is nothing at all wrong with it, it’s great quality, just I’m a little inexperienced at understanding fabric descriptions) even if it is a long way from the snuggly qualities I originally had in mine.

PDF pattern time

PDF pattern time

The other minor wobble came when I printed the pattern – I was surprised to see a clearly hand drawn line marking our the one sized pattern. Also it didn’t have page match up markers, so all in all it didn’t look as professional as the patterns I’m used to printing off (free or paid for) and I was worried about cutting into my expensive quality fabric on the strength of it. But I gave myself a stern talking to about my prejudices, after all it’s a free pattern, which is very generous, and it has clearly been used by Emma to make a fantastic looking hoodie. Plus how is a Computer Aided Design package style line on a pattern any more or less accurate than a handdrawn one – it’s the skill of the pattern designer that counts and I certainly can’t judge that by glancing at the pattern. When I came to piece the pattern pieces together I found it no harder than a “normal” pdf to match up – in fact it was on the easy side, once I’d worked out what was going on with the hood shape.

Technical sizing process underway

Technical sizing process underway

Next off I compared it to a top he already has for a size adjustment, as the pattern is for “a tall 9 year old” and is “comfortable a size 12” (which I didn’t spot at the time, I just went with the 9 year old bit) and my lanky son had just turned 8. The width seemed pretty comparable, a bit baggier, but the length was huge. So I randomly on a whim scientifically measured and calculated took about 3 inches off the overall length and an inch and a half of the sleeves. And then I cut out a half kangaroo pocket (surely that’s not the correct term) pattern piece, I was going to copy the one on little sisters onsie, but she was snuggled up in bed asleep in it, so I did more impulsive guesswork careful measuring out.

pattern alteration in action

pattern alteration in action

Right, pattern pieces sorted, onto cutting the fabric. I found pattern matching on this fabric so very hard as it has a really obvious horizontal stripe of different designs, but some of them are wavy so they don’t always match up or have the same distance between them. Arghh. But I got it good enough I think. The fabric is 160cm wide. I think I would have got either a hood or the sleeves out of the same width as the front and back pieces if it wasn’t for pattern matching. As it was I glad I bought a metre and a half, just a metre and there would’ve been tears. Plus I have a biggish piece left.

For the hood lining I used some mint plain organic jersey that I had randomly bought from Kitschy Koo. I had completely forgotten to get hood lining when impulsively splurging buying fabric for the hoodie but had ordered 1/2 m of a smokey blue jersey – thinking of something for me (not sure what from that little fabric??) but then I had a lovely email apologising that they were out of it, so I picked the mint green instead. I had looked at the mint green when ordering, but was put off by the description of it as mint, which was a greener green in my head than the colour I saw on screen. Luckily when it came it was actually a bluer, kind of pale turquoisey green, which I love and is more like it appeared on screen. Also it handily looks good with the sweatshirt knit whilst still being subtle. I cut pocket linings from it too. I kind of wish I had enough to line the entire hoodie with it, but it was already pretty expensive (I don’t want to add up how much, more than I would spend on one new in the shops).

The sewing up started of well. I made the pocket’s first, bagging them out and then sewing them with twin needle to the main body – which took a bit of tweaking to get the patterns to match “well enough” (they’re not perfect now but they don’t scream at me). Then I nearly sewed the fronts on the wrong way round, I realised just in time. The reason for getting them mixed up was because I’d sewn the pockets on the wrong sides, so they opened in the middle not at the edge. Grr. I must confess I left them for a while and did some more hoodie construction before unpicking them because I was so cheesed off so I could use natural light.

The instructions didn’t mention a seam allowance that I could find, I assumed one was included in the pattern and used 3/8″ throughout (as I prefer using a smaller seam allowances to a larger ones that then needs trimming – due to my laziness. Plus lining up the edge the fabric with the edge of my presser foot handily gives a 3/8 seam allowance). I also tried a wide zig zag stitch (being fed up with the triple stretch stitch and the unitdy look it gives and how hard it is to unpick) and it worked fine. I was working on the assumption that knit fabric doesn’t need finishing because it doesn’t fray, but it’s a looser weave (knot? stitch?) than a jersey and I’m starting to think I may have to go back over my seams and finish them off. Also, I topstitched down the seam allowance on the hood/main body seam to help it lie flat. I considered finishing it with twill tape but didn’t know how. I did remember to add a hanging hoop.

surely we're on the home straight now

surely we’re on the home straight now, well, once the pockets are unpicked and resewn (the boy wanted me to leave them like this, he like the idea of crossing his arms over in order to use them)

Pretty soon I had a hoodie looking garment that just needed a zip adding. There isn’t much in the way of instructions with the pattern on zip adding, but I was confident as I’ve added many a zip to a Presido Purse/Bag. Oh silly, silly me. I have never made a bag from stetchy fabric. Adding a zip proved to be a nightmare. My zip was too long, I knew I would need to trim it, but no matter how I pinned it the excess was a different amount each side. So instead of leaving it, I decided sewing carefully up from the hem on each side would sort that out. It didn’t. It made a hot mess.

wrinkly, bumby, mismatched, uneven lengthed zip issues, gah

wrinkly, bumby, mismatched, uneven lengthed zip issues, gah

This time I asked for help from the Stashbusting group and the general consensus was interfacing of some kind. I unpicked the zip whilst sat in the waiting room at the dentist (I was there to accompany my friend home). The next day I decided to loot my mum’s stash for double sided fusible interfacing type stuff (she had some bondaweb) whilst I was there. I scored some and contemplated ironing my zip in place with it. I couldn’t work out how to do it. Then I tried pinning it in place first and I was back to the issues I had before pinning the zip in place. Then the inspiration struck me. I needed to tack it in place. Yes, tacking (a.k.a. basting), that we were always made to do at school and I’ve never done since.

So, I tacked the zip in place. Slowly. A section at at time. Starting with the rib and working up. I would mark off on one side of the zip where it came at the top of that section, match the mark on the other side of the zip, pin both sides in place at the top of the section and then carefully tack that section on either side. Then I would zip it up, check it matched and go on to the next section. I didn’t use any fusible anything or any kind of interfacing. I had to persuade some of the sections to fit as I think one of the front pieces had stretched, but it worked.

using my zipper foot to sew my pre tacked zip in place. (The zip is right side together with the fabric, teeth facing the wrong way at this point).

using my zipper foot to sew my pre tacked zip in place. (The zip is right side together with the fabric, teeth facing the wrong way at this point).

After that it was quite straightforward to sew the zip in place on my machine. Then unpick the tacking. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? (At least I didn’t buy expensive unnecessary sewing stuff I guess).

Overlocking, just in case

Overlocking, just in case

I used my overlocker foot to finish as I was becoming paranoid about the fabric fraying, then I pressed the seam to set it, then I panicked that I shouldn’t have done and that doing so had damaged the zip (it hadn’t), then I turned the zip the right way round (with the teeth facing in towards the other zip), pressed and topstitched in place.

topstitching the zip in place

topstitching the zip in place

In the end, I’m pretty pleased with how my zip came out. Oh I forget to mention the last minute design decision, I just extended the zip up the hood a little rather than trimming, which is fine as it’s absolutely huge on the boy.

zippin it up

zippin it up

The length (from nape of neck to end of ribbing) is a whopping 26″, the width is 16 1/2″ (so 33″ circumfrence) and the length of the sleeve (from the shoulder seam down to the end of the cuffs) is nearly 23″ – and remember I cut about 3″ off the length and 1 1/2 inches of the sleeve length of the pattern.


Luckily he likes it because it’s going to fit him for a while (should’ve read the age 12 bit!). Personally I’m really pleased with this one, thanks for the pattern Emma. And it was only a week late in the end.

I even remembered to pattern match the hood

I even remembered to pattern match the hood

However, it’s not a snuggly fleece top, so I may have to think again on that one. Let me know if you’ve tried the pullover parker in fleece or have a better pattern suggestion.

The pockets work

The pockets work

Hmm, I think this post has got ridiculously long, so should you have made it this far, feel free to skip the last couple of gratuitous shots.



I'm sure the zip isn't perfect but I'm pretty pleased

I’m sure the zip isn’t perfect but I’m pretty pleased

Pocket peep

Pocket peep

Done to a T

Last night I finally started, and finished a late Christmas present that I’d been cogitating on for a while. It’s a bag, for a child, whose name begins with T.



It’s made from scraps, recognise that pink fabric for the T? The purple is some home dyed calico from an abandoned project that’s in my stash. And the pocket on the bag is a scrap of fabric from a t shirt that has already been cut up and refashioned but yet to be blogged about. The lining is left over from the Christmas Shirt.

Now with added frogs

Now with added frogs

The idea for the bag came after our children were given Christmas presents by a folky family we know. I wanted to make a present in return and use some of left over fabric that I was making presents for my kids for. Except I wasn’t sure how suitable either material was for bag exterior, so I threw some of the purple fabric I was using to make a waistcoat muslin for my husbands Christmas present (still unfinished, the muslin that is, let alone the real thing) into the mix. Plus for some reason I decided that I wanted to make a bag where the sides were zips, so that it could be used to take some toys out and then zipped flat to be a playing mat. So I bought 2 zips that fully open, the colour choices were rather random, I opted for turquoise. And my daughter chose a button.

That was as far as I got. But I kept thinking about it. And about how to have zip sides without leaving a big hole for stuff to fall out of. Making two Presido Purse’s helped too.

Anyway, the thinking must have helped, because it all came together pretty easily. First, I drafted a pattern, based on the zip length.

Self drafted pattern

Self drafted pattern

Basically there’s a long rectangle that’s the bag front, then a very short one the depth of the zips to be the bag base but wider to create tabs that fold inside and prevent things falling out underneath the zips, then another long rectangle to be the bag back, with an extra bit to go accross the top before the trapezium flap. Then whack your favourite seam allowance around the outside.

Adding the zips

Adding the zips

I cut this template out from both my main and my lining fabric. I added the T to the front of my main fabric and found the scrap of purple jersey with a frog on lying about and whipped up a patch pocket and added it to the back. Then I basted the zips in place, face down (right side to right side with the fabric) and facing inwards, unsurprisingly like Erin’s tutorial.

Close up of the tabs

Close up of the tabs

At this point, I realised (luckily before I sewed the lining on) that I hadn’t thought about where to attatch the strap. Normally this is easy, sew it to the top of the sides, but, err, the sides are zips. After a bit of headscratching I worked out that I could probably attatch handles to the fold over bit of the back (between the back and the flap) but that it might work better with D rings. I went and raided my stores and found two plastic D rings and a clasp that had been cut off a long defunct rucksack and some navy blue soft woven tape (hey, the more colours the merrier) and added the D rings above the zips (zig zagged to add strength and prevent fraying).

Emergency D rings

Emergency D rings

Then to add a quick pocket to the lining (I’m a big fan of pockets). I didn’t match the pattern this time, but I did do a quick extra line of stitching to make a pen holder up the side.

Spot the pocket

Spot the pocket

Next I was ready to sew the lining to the main bag, all along the outside leaving just what would be the top of the front open.

lining sewn to main bag (right sides together) around the outside, leaving the front top edge unsewn (shown on right)

lining sewn to main bag (right sides together) around the outside, leaving the front top edge unsewn (shown on right)

Then I turned the bag the right way round, folded my raw edge inside at the top front forgot to press it flat as I had a phonecall and topstitched all around the outside (I went straight down the whole side along line of the zips rather than around the outside of the flaps, so that the line of stitching would create a natural place for the flaps to bend inwards) before adding the adjustable strap to the D rings and putting a couple of hand stitches to hold the bottom of the tabs in place on the inside.



A few hand stitches hold the bottom of the tab sides in place

A few hand stitches hold the bottom of the tab sides in place

Then I just had to put a button hole in the tab and sew on the button my daughter had chosen especially, which had purple, turquoise and pinky red flowers on it that picked up the colours of the bag.
And voila, a bag with adjustable strap an external and internal patch pocket, that you normally open by unbuttoning the tab but if desired you can unzip the sides too to make a playmat.

Opened out as a playing mat

Opened out as a playing mat